MAPS : LR 124; PF Leisure map 18: grid ref SH 619289
TIME: This reserve is worth two or three hours for a reasonable exploration.
The joy of the Crafnant Nature Reserve is its atmosphere - literally. You sense the antiquity of the ancient oaks at the northern (Crafnant) end, encrusted in the greys and greens of lichens, mosses, liverworts and the epiphytic ferns (those growing on other plants) such as polpody.
The reserve climbs steeply up over the benches formed from resistant bands of grits. Amongst these strata are some manganese-rich beds which provide more alkaline soils, reflected in plants such as woodruff and ramsons. But most of the wood is neutral to acid, particularly so where the soil is thin and the vegetation healthy. In the ill drained area beneath the "vantage point", cotton grass, bog asphodel, bog pimpernel and sundew are found.
The southern (Dolybebin) part of the reserve is more open, as its trees were felled in 1904 and more oakwood removed twenty years later. It is now growing up well since the wood was bought as a reserve in 1972 and fenced against the expanding population of feral goats.
Continue up the lane to Cwm Bychan and there is a car park serving the wild and rugged Rhinog National Nature Reserve. From the car park you approch the reserve up the steep path known as the Roman Steps. Tackle this only in good weather and when properly equipped. You can also reach the Rhinog NNR by continuing up the footpath that takes you to the Coed Crafnant reserve. The heather covered upland here is so special it has been declared a Biogenetic Reserve - part of a European network of habitats established to preserve genetic variety amongst the wildlife of Europe.
For a less energtic excursion sample the farm trail or the nature trail on the banks of the Afon Cwmnantcol, the tributary of the Artro which you passed on the way up the lane. Or wander the paths laid out in the Woodland Trust woods of Coed Aber Artro (grid ref. SH 597267) and Coed Lletywalter (grid ref. SH 600275), which are divided only by the lane.