Blaen Bran Community Woodland sits just North of Cwmbran; a small town situated near Newport, South Wales. Blaen Bran was named due to it’s location next to the Bran brook which runs through the Cwmbran valley through to the Afon Llwyd river.
There is an old tale that a priest used to live at Blaen Bran when it was previously a farm in the middle ages. The tale is that the priest fell out with Queen Elizabeth and was hanged on the moor. The reason behind why they fell out remains unknown but its speculated that the priest criticised her father King Richard for his many bad deeds.
The moor land is thought to be where the industrial heritage of Cwmbran began. Coal was sold to the tin works in Caerleon in the mid eighteenth century and signs of this can be seen in the woodland!
The woodland is made up spectacular trees, bird songs and stunning views over the Cwmbran valley. Blaen Bran Community Woodland is maintained by volunteers, it’s open to members of the public and it makes a lovely afternoon walk with the dogs! You can find more information about it here.
I had a wonderful stroll through Blaen Bran a few weeks ago! Luna definitely enjoyed herself so I’ve included a couple of photos from our afternoon stroll! The bottom middle photo was taken back in the summer.
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Wales’ Wildlife Calender 2018
A5 Matte Wall Calender filled with photos of some of Wales’ most loved wildlife. January – Mute Swan Cygnet, February – Great Tit, March – Rabbit, April – Mallard Duckling, May – Small Copper, June – Puffin, July – Grey Squirrel, August – Common Darter, September – Red Admiral, October – Red Kite, November – Hedgehog, December – Robin
Wales’ Landscapes Calender 2018
A5 Matte Wall Calender full of pictures of some of Wales’ beautiful landscapes. January – Keepers’ Pond (Blaenavon), February – Goldcliff (Newport), March – Caerphilly Castle (Caerphilly), April – Black Rock Beach (Chepstow), May – Gilgrin Farm (Rhayader), June – Caswell Bay, Gower, July – Wentwood Forest (Caldicot), August – Lighthouse Park, Saint Brides Wentlooge (Newport), September – Waterfall Country, Brecon, October – Gilfach Nature Reserve (Rhayader), November – Penclacwydd (Llanelli), December – Tintern Abbey (Tintern)
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Well, what a day! Do you ever have one of those days where nothing seems to go right? You set off with the most amazing plans for the day and everything just seems to go wrong. Well, that was how our trip to Ystradfellte Waterfalls started …
Last week my brother Wesley and I set off from Newport in South Wales for a short afternoon stroll to the waterfall country in the Brecon Beacons National Park. Waterfall country is nestled into the southern slopes of the Fforest Fawr massif, west of Merthyr Tydfil which isn’t just an array of beautiful landscapes but it also a SSSI, a Special Area of Conservation and an area of historical significance. The landscapes are made up of steep, tree-lined gorges, four waterfalls, caves, shallow holes and wooded gorges as well as over 200 species of mosses, liverworts and ferns.
After the hour and a half drive we arrived at the Gwaun Hepste Car Park the most Northerly car park for the waterfalls (being unaware there are closer car parks!) and seeing the grey clouds appear we were enthusiastic about going for a quick walk before the rain arrived … ! We set off on what we didn’t know was going to be FOUR hour hiking expedition, probably burning a total of 100,000 calories and in the rain!
After 20 minutes into our journey, we stumbled upon the first sign that this may be a long journey, we decided to ignore it. A further 20 minutes of walking after this we passed two committed hikers looking pretty exhausted and rather muddy, who also told us of the difficulties ahead, which we also ignored. Surely it can’t be that bad?!
At this point we had no idea how muddy we were about to get, but after 40 minutes of walking and still no waterfalls we were committed and even more determined! The first waterfall we came across was so worth it, Sgwd Clun-Gwyn was absolutely amazing, the height of it was so impressive. Named as the ‘fall of the white meadow’, it is made up of two sets of falls a few hundred metres apart which are really popular for white water kayakers in the summer.
Our journey between Swgd Clun-Gwyn and our next waterfall Swyd-yr-Eida, the ‘waterfall of snow’ took an additional 30 minutes but this part was through thick mud, so just in case you were hoping to visit soon I highly recommend good walking boots that you don’t mind getting a little muddy! Swyd-yr-Eida is the most Southerly waterfall at Ystradfellte and the most photographed of all the waterfalls because you can actually walk behind it! It’s absolutely spectacular, it really deserves it’s title and it was well and truly worth the walk!!
For anyone who hasn’t been, I HIGHLY recommend it but a few wise tips before you go …
- Take sufficient food and water
- It WILL take about 2 hours each way from this car park
- Don’t leave two hours before sunset
- Make sure you have a fully charged phone
- Make sure you take LOTS of beautiful photos!!
This Autumn, Dan Rouse and I decided to venture out to new pastures around Wales looking for some new places to explore. It was Dan that suggested a trip to Gilfach Nature Reserve to watch the wild Salmon which is located within the Cambrian Mountains of Mid-Wales. Extending across 400 acres of beautiful landscape, Gilfach which is managed by The Wildlife Trust is Notoriously famous as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) for it’s diversity of wildlife including Salmon during the Autumn and Winter months.
The area extends throughout a variety of different habitats including Farmland, Grassland, Healthland, Meadows, Ponds and Woodlands which as you can imagine is popular with many of our most loved native animals. Depending on the time of year and time of day, you can be lucky enough to see anything from Brown Hare, Otters, Stoats, Salmon, Siskin, Dipper and Wheatear!
Although we unfortunately didn’t get to witness any Salmon or otters this time, we did get to spend some time by the beautiful waterfalls situated just down the river from the otter hide.
The walk itself took us a good 2 hours from the visitor centre all the way back to the entrance car park. It’s a really beautiful walk with the chance to see so much wildlife and so many different habitats and we’d both highly recommend it! Be sure to check the recent sightings book of otters and Salmon sightings left in the otter hide!