This reserve is easily visited via the Elan Valley Cycle Trail and gives fine views over Rhayader and the local countryside. It includes a disused railway tunnel (no access except for bats!) with damp wooded cuttings at either end, a spoil heap and small meadows which are full of flowers in the summer
he reserve covers approximately 5 acres (2 ha.). The site was purchased by the Radnorshire Wildlife Trust in 1992 with a generous donation from the Vincent Wildlife Trust. The tunnel serves as a hibernaculum for bats. There is no public access to it.
The railway was formerly part of the Mid-Wales line which closed in 1963. The tunnel entrances were bricked up and grilled to prevent any disturbance to the hibernating bats. The scrub on the west facing bank is coppiced to encourage a wide range of invertebrates, small mammals and birds, and the meadows are cut every summer to encourage a more diverse botanical community to flourish.
There are several public footpaths that link with the reserve, or you might like to carry on up the trail to the Elan Valley. Its a good place to put a rug on the grass and picnic!
Wildlife of Interest
Bats, including Daubenton's, long-eared and Natterer's hibernate in the tunnel. On the grassy embankments a number of interesting plants are found, including Wood Bitter-vetch, Broad-leaved Helleborine and Prickly Sedge. There is an abundance of Willowherbs and rare lichens include Abrothallus bertianus and Arthonia clemens. Nationally scarce or country-rare Woodlice have been recorded as well as the local snail-hunting ground beetle Cychus caraboides. Inside the tunnel the cave spider Meta menardi hangs its webs.
Birds include numbers of finches in the winter attracted to the thistle seed-heads. Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Brambling and Siskin may all be found, as well as occasional Tree Sparrows. The Rhayader Tunnel reserve holds breeding Linnet and Tawny Owls. Grey Wagtails are often found in the cutting. Overhead, Raven, Buzzard and Red Kite are often seen.