Make a day of it!

Gardens and nature in the landscape of the Grwyne Fawr

This day out centres on the picturesque and peaceful upper Grwyne Fawr valley which is deep in the heart of the Black Mountains, running parallel to the Llanthony valley but often over-looked.  A hidden gem.

This itinerary suggests 3 options for the morning followed by a visit to Nant-y-bedd Garden in the afternoon.  The options allow for weather, levels of fitness and seasonal interest.  This is a day for when the weather is too hot/cold/wet/cloudy for striding the ridges of the Black Mountains in safety and comfort.  None of the options are advisable without an OS map – Explorer Eastern Beacons.

A packed lunch is suggested for all options as this allows greater flexibility.  All options require a car as there is no public transport.

Option One

A 4-mile circular Walk from Coed y Cerrig National Nature Reserve (NNR), Fforest Coal Pit through farmland and woodland passing ancient farmhouses and skirting picturesque gardens.  

Take the path from the back of the car park climbing up through the reserve to a footpath which passes through the Pant, turning right up the road and then left past Pentwyn.  Continue, following a footpath behind the next cottage, down towards and through Ty Coch to meet the metalled road at the Tabernacle Chapel.  Turn left and go up the hill and across the main Grwyne Fawr road and take the footpath opposite to Ty’n-y-llwyn.  Turn right there to take the path to Partrishow Church.

  From here take the road turning left at the church gate, returning via 5 Ways junction – with its iconic and Grade 2 Listed grey phone box – to the NNR.  Then drive to 5 Ways to continue 

Suggested timing: 2 ½ hours with time for a coffee stop.  Reasonable level of fitness required – several steep climbs.  Walking boots essential.

Option Two

Three features of interest by car.  

First stop – park in the layby opposite Llwyn Celyn – a recently beautifully restored Landmark Trust Property – in order to visit the publicly open interpretation room in the Beast House.  Please note that the house is not open to the public. It’s just a short walk along the Road from the layby and up the drive.

Second stop – drive along the road to Coed y Cerrig NNR following the brown duck signs.

Park in the small car park and take a walk along the boardwalk. Information on site.

Third stop – drive along to 5 Ways and take the road to Partrishow Church.  Park in the small parking area and enjoy visiting this beautiful church. Leaflets available at the church.  Return to 5 Ways to continue with the afternoon itinerary.

Suggested timing: Each stop will require half an hour with 10 minutes driving between each.

Option Three

By car follow signs from 5 Ways to the Grwyne Fawr reservoir to come to a car park 5 ½ miles from that junction (i.e. ignoring an earlier car park en route).  From here you can take a path at the far end of the car park which brings you to an unsurfaced track (restricted byway) on the right of the metalled road.  This leads to the reservoir giving wonderful views of the surrounding forest and Black Mountains.  Return by the same route.   Interpretation panel give some information on the history of the building of the reservoir at the turn of the 20th century,

Suggested timing: 2 hours.  A steady climb and uneven underfoot.  Walking boots essential.

Nant-y-bedd Garden (see website www.nantybedd.com)

An afternoon visit for all 3 options – please see the Visit Our Garden page for days and times. Regret no dogs except guide dogs.

Full access audit is available on the garden website.

From options one and two continue from 5 Ways towards the Grwyne Fawr reservoir.  Nant-y-bedd Garden is 4 ½ miles from the junction. 

From option three.  Return back down the valley towards 5 Ways junction for one mile.

Nant-y-Bedd is ten acres of wonderful garden, river, meadow and forest deep in the Black Mountains. The garden is an RHS Partner Garden – free entry to RHS members (on specified days) and children, otherwise entrance is £7.

‘Sensitivity to the landscape and thoughtful combining of garden plants with wild species make Nant-y-bedd such a special place.’

Created over 40 years to sit effortlessly within its landscape of mature forest at 1200 feet in the Black Mountains, this garden explores sustainable management. The garden includes unusual fruits in the Forest Fruit Garden, Heritage varieties of vegetables in the Potager, a natural swimming pond (private use only) and a forest and riverside walk.  The river is the Grwyne Fawr – designated a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) the highest European conservation designation.  Native wildflowers and self-seeders are encouraged throughout.  

Visitors say ‘a magical garden – part of the landscape’, ‘absolutely enchanting garden.  Of the place and so imaginative.’

Self-service teas are available and picnics are welcomed.

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