Beneath the cliff lies a boulder field with dozens of gigantic individual rocks that fell from the face of the Devil's Kitchen, forming a scree. Although a few other flowers such as Snowdrops and Lesser Celandines bloom before Marsh Marigolds, the first glimpse of this magnificent wildflower is always enough to convince me that I have survived another winter and that spring is well and truly on its way. You should wear suitable footwear and take care. Although it could hardly be described as pretty or beautiful, this parasitic woodland wildflower definitely qualifies for the 'interesting' tag. Here you'll see a collection of large fractured rocks known as Darwin Idwal Boulders.
Its population seems to be increasing in the wet woodland part of the reserve, which is shares with other typical wetland plants including Water Mint , Hemlock Water Dropwort and Yellow Pimpernel. There are spectacular beechwoods at Cwm Clydach and beautiful mixed woods of lime, oak and hazel coppice at Coed-y-Cerrig, which is always busy with butterflies in summer. Idwal was sent away to stay with his uncle, Nefydd, while his father was at war. The dense canopy of trees creates a shady, secluded environment. Table 64 Cwm Clydach Species list — Beech dominated woodland Agrostis capillaris O Ctenidium molluscum O Dicranum majus R Eurhynchium striatum O Fagus sylvatica F Fissidens taxifolius O Kindbergia praelonga O Plagiochila asplenioides O Polytrichum formosum R Rhytidiadelphis loreus O Rubus fruticosus agg. There is plenty of evidence of historic industry all around the gorge with old railway lines and quarries associated with the quarrying of lime for construction and agriculture.
Nearer the river, the humid conditions allow a more lush vegetation to flourish, including several species of ferns and mosses. The rare Bird's-nest Orchid is one of them. Numerous butterflies and other mini-beasts are also found on the reserve and the list is growing as more and more species are spotted. The area is also good for birds of prey, and you may catch sight of sparrowhawks, buzzards, kestrels and various owls. As with all beech woods little light penetrates the dense foliage, so ground flora is scarce.
The myriad of autumn leaf colours makes this a magical season at Cwm Clydach; shades of green turn brown, bronze and red. We have also several National Nature Reserves that are delightful to explore. There is also an entry point off the roundabout on the A465 at Brynmawr at the top of the gorge. Redwings and fieldfares feed on hawthorn berries and mixed flocks of tits, treecreepers and nuthatches move through in search of food. Once across the footbridge over Afon Clyd, which tumbles steeply from a hanging valley to your left, go though the gate in the wall.
It quite literally invades another grassland fungus called the Earthy Powdercap, , by growing its own stem and cap up through the stem of its hapless host. Table 63 Cwm Clydach Species list slumped soil clay-rich below seepages without Palustriella Asplenium scolopendrium F Carex sylvatica R Chrysosplenium oppositifolium F Fissidens bryoides spor. This makes the woodlands at Coed y Cerrig a very interesting place, rich in its diversity of wildflowers and lower plants that need these very different habitat types. Live the lifestyle of the rich and famous at one of the few first-rate establishments that are within easy driving distance. Penderyn is also the home of Welsh Whisky, and there is a Visitor Centre with facilities in the village. Research shows that, like many orchids and other plants, germination of a Bird's-nest Orchid seed is possible only if it becomes 'infected' with particular kinds of fungi; however, the jury is still out as to whether or for how long the plant remains dependent on its relationship with fungi. Far more beautiful is Nettle-leaved Bellflower.
Although the woodland at Cwm Clydach is made up mainly of trees, , and can also be found in the area, and on the steeper slopes and limestone outcrops, there are also some rare Whitebeam trees. Along the riverbank A walking trail leads along the banks of the River Clydach as it cascades down the gorge. Steps to the left of the building are the start of the path which ascends steeply at times for approximately 56 yd 50m through verges of heather, towards the mountain gate. In spring at Cwm Clydach, wood sorrel carpets the ground and woodland bird activity is at its peak. O Leaf litter A Condition assessment The overall assessment is that Cwm Clydach should be classified as being in favourable ecological and hydrogeological condition. The vegetation growing there gives us a glimpse of how the Cwm may appear in years to come, without the grazing pressure of sheep and cattle. There is much less industry in the area today however and small villages such as Blackrock and Gellyfelen are nearby.
The reserve is atmospheric throughout the year, but for sheer spectacle, come for the summer or autumn foliage. This route passes through the drier woodland habitats before dropping down again into the car park. At the bottom of the gorge is old red sandstone, rising to pale grey limestone and then to ironstone and coal measures. After travelling for 2km along this road you will come to a fork in the road at the unsigned little hamlet of Stanton. This is a saprophytic plant which, being devoid of chlorophyll which plants must have if they are to manufacture food for themselves , is incapable of photosynthesis. Farr, G, Graham, J, and Stratford, C.
Beech trees grow mainly in the shallow soils on the limestone rocks, but there are also areas where the soil is more acidic and in these places, where oak trees tend to be dominant, there is generally a greater diversity of wildflowers. The dense foliage of the beech canopy results in a rather minimal ground flora but species like bird's nest orchid are found amongst the leaf litter. Redstarts and wood warblers can be seen in more open woodland, with bullfinches and marsh tits present in scrubbier areas. Take a moment to look to the back of the Cwm and absorb the scale of this natural amphitheatre. There are pubs, shops, cafés and public toilets in Abergavenny, which is about eight km five miles from the reserve. Access This reserve is open all year round. The latter is a strange plant and definitely a 'quality indicator' for woodland; its presence shows that the area has remained unchanged and unaffected by human activities for a very long time.
During the Industrial Revolution, the trees were cut to provide charcoal for the local ironworks; evidence of charcoal burning can still be seen along some of the paths. Look out in the winter for soaring buzzards, red kites and ravens over the valley, more easily visible now the leaves have fallen. Of course, the passage of time has changed things, and for the better. Dippers and grey wagtails feed along the river and smaller streams and all the summer migrants have arrived and are busy rearing young. How to get there The reserve is beside the A465, two miles east of Brynmawr, on the Abergavenny to Brynmawr bus route.
In the alkaline fens the sedges include Tawny Sedge Carex hostiana and Flea Sedge Carex pulicaris. Purple Moorgrass Molinia caerulea , Devil's-bit Scabious s and Sharp-flowered rush Juncus acutiflorus can be found there along with two wild orchid species: Heath Spotted-orchid and Marsh Helleborine. The footpath follows the lake shore towards the south for 550yd 500m , until you arrive at a gate through a wall. The primary water supply mechanisms are diffuse seepages that occurs along the cliff face via joints, bedding planes and fractures within the bedrock and also vertically down the cliff face. On the plateau at the top of the steeply sloping reserve, where the ground is driest, there are mature , , and trees; lower down, the more moist conditions support , and ; and on the valley floor, where the ground is very wet for most of the year, the trees are mainly and.