About Pwll y Wrach Nature Reserve
GRID REF : SO 165326
This is a splendidly atmospheric wood, with all the wildlife that one associates with the best of this habitat. The surfaced all-ability path descends only very gently through the trees clinging to the valley side, yet because of the lie of the land the path finishes almost at stream level with the wood stretching up to the left. The sure footed can continue along a rougher track to the viewing platform for the waterfall.
Here, likely as not, the dipper will put on a text-book performance running beneath and behind the waterfall in a tireless search for insect larvae.
Flowers are best in the spring and early summer before the shade of the trees gets too heavy. Bluebells carpet the wood. Soils vary widely and the flowers associated with them are distinctive. At the eastern end the soil is richer from the minerals washed out from above. Look out for the woodruff early in the year and early purple orchids. Rarities include herb paris, bird's nest orchid and the ghostly looking, leafless toothwort, which lacks its own chlorophyll and lives off the roots of hazel and elm.
The thick sequence of predominantly red and purple rocks was laid down about 400 million years ago in huge deltas at the foot of the mountain chain. Coarse grained sandstone beds alternate with softer silts and mudstones to give the characteristic stepped landscape so clearly seen in the profile of the nearby Black Mountains and Brecon Beacons. The harder steps give rise to waterfalls.
Animal life in woods is less conspicuous to the casual visitor. But even if you don't see much on the move, look for clues. This is one of few sites in the region to support a colony of dormice. They eat hazel nuts in a very distinctive way.
ACCESS : Public path through the wood, part surfaced as all-ability trail suitable for wheelchairs, pushchairs and partially sighted users. Also permissive paths.
PARKING : In roadside lay-by at reserve entrance. Do not obstruct lane or passing places if this is full.
TIME : Allow at least 1 hour for a complete circuit of the reserve.