Pwll-y-Wrach Nature Reserve
This peaceful reserve contains 17.5 hectares of beautiful, ancient woodland, lining both banks of the River Enig. Near the eastern end of the reserve the river plunges over a spectacular waterfall into a dark pool called Pwll-y-Wrach, Witches’ Pool.
Spring flower displays
Beautiful carpets of white wood anemones and yellow lesser celandines in early spring. Late spring sees shimmering blue of bluebells mixed with white flowers of wild garlic, filling the air with scent. Rarities to look out for include toothwort, bird’s nest orchid and herb paris.
Many of the rocks you see around Pwll-y-Wrach are old red sandstone, reddish-purple in colour from iron oxide, which in turn makes the soil red. These rocks are found throughout the Brecon Beacons.
At the main waterfall you can see different layers of rock – a harder limestone cap at the top wears away more slowly than the soft mudstone underneath. Over many years the falling water has created Pwll-y-Wrach, the Witches’ Pool.
Dappled shade from the oak, ash and alder trees along with spray from the waterfalls makes this a pleasant visit on a hot summer’s day. See how many different leaf shapes you can find as you walk through the wood.
Look and listen for many different birds including redstarts, chiffchaffs, pied flycatchers, dippers and grey wagtails, feeding on the many insects flying, crawling and climbing in the trees and by the river. Also down by the river you may find footprints or spraints (dung) left by otters.
Hazel nuts and berries are important food for the resident dormice. Fungi appear on the reserve floor. The toadstools which you may see above ground are the fruiting bodies of fungi mycelium which help to break down dead wood and leaves below ground.
Damp decaying wood is an ideal place to look for mini-beasts.Get down to ground level and watch, or turn over a piece of rotting wood (please put it back again afterwards) and you will be surprised at the creatures living there.
Although the wood may seem quiet, many birds will be using the ivy clad trees for shelter and eating the berries. Foxes and badgers will be visiting the reserve daily; look for their footprints along the paths or in snow. Several days of below freezing temperatures can turn the waterfall in to a dramatic winter sculpture.
About the reserve
The reserve is managed by the Brecknock Wildlife Trust for wildlife and people. The majority of the woodland is left to develop naturally where trees can grow on to maturity and eventually die back creating standing and fallen dead wood, a very important habitat for wildlife.
Annual coppicing takes place in some parts of the wood. Here canopy trees are thinned and the shrub layer is cut down creating temporary open areas that receive more sunlight benefiting the spring flowers. As the cut trees re-grow and new young trees develop they produce more flowers and fruit for wildlife. The coppiced material is used to create habitat piles that will rot down over time.
The nature reserve is open to the public, free of charge. There are several short walks to enjoy. The walk from the car park to the main waterfall and back is about 1 mile. The paths are narrow in places with an uneven surface and steps. Sturdy shoes or boots are recommended.
How to get there
Pwll-y-Wrach lies one mile south-east of Talgarth, off Hospital Road. The main site entrance and small car park lie on the right where you will find an information panel. Nearest post code: LD3 0DS.
Nearest town or village
OS grid reference
Brecknock Wildlife Trust, Lion House, Bethel Square, Brecon LD3 7AY, tel 01874 625708, www.brecknockwildlifetrust.org.uk
Small car park
An easy access path leads from the carpark to the centre of the reserve and a waterfall. All other paths are unsurfaced and can be very muddy and slippery at times.