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16 April 2014
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Grasslands - Gilfach Farm

Wildlife paradise

Gilfach Farm

If you're looking for a bit of summer serenity and the very best in Welsh wildlife, Gilfach Nature Reserve is just the place. The Reserve is set in the heart of the Marteg Valley in the Cambrian Mountains, about four miles north of Rhayader.

The archetypical Welsh hill farm landscape at Gilfach


Situated in a beautiful setting at the confluence of the Marteg River with the River Wye in the Cambrian Mountains of Mid Wales, Gilfach is locally unique because of its wide variety of habitats.

These range from high moorland and enclosed meadow to oak woodland and rocky upland river.

Rich in wildlife

Rainbow over GilfachThe farm supports a tremendous abundance of birds and animals within a comparatively small area.

This richness of wildlife has adapted to living in the various habitats created over the centuries through the practice of traditional farming.

The wide range of wildlife includes birds, small mammals such as Badgers, amphibians including Toads, and reptiles such as Grass Snakes.

Also look for the distinctive mounds of ant hills in the meadows which have never been ploughed.

The Radnorshire Wildlife Trust, which manages the reserve, offers guided walks and educational trips.

It is a lovely place to go for a walk, with a network of sign posted walking trails, some of which are suitable for wheelchairs or buggies.

Bird paradise

Red KiteThe 80 hectares site has its fair share of birds - look out in particular for glimpses of the Dipper, the Pied Flycatcher and the Red Kite.

You can take a closer look inside some of the nest boxes via closed circuit television which is relayed to a television monitor in the reserve's Visitor Centre.

There's recorded footage too of the area's Badgers - but if you want to see the real thing, sign up for one of the reserve's evening Badger-watching sessions.

As well as providing a haven for local wildlife, the reserve has also preserved a piece of Welsh built heritage.

Welsh longhouse

Mountain pansy taken by James BlairSince buying the old Gilfach Farm in the 1980s, Trust members have renovated its medieval longhouse, a traditional Welsh farm building which was used to house both people and animals.

The farmyard, with its Welsh longhouse, is central to the reserve.

The longhouse is a traditional building in Wales, developed over many centuries from a wooden cruck-framed medieval hall.

The Gilfach Longhouse forms the perfect complement to the Education and Visitor Centre which has been created through the conversion of the 18th Century stone barn opposite.

Inside the nest boxes

Gorse and heather taken by James BlairThe Centre utilises a 'high-tech' approach to the interpretation of the wildlife of the reserve.

Nest-boxes fitted with cameras link to a monitor system in the centre, as does pre-recorded footage of Gilfach's badger and other mammal activity.

A gift shop and restaurant area, in addition to other picnic sites, complete the facilities which are accessible to wheelchairs.

There is a Nature Discovery Centre on the site with displays and activities for all ages and children's events are held throughout the year.

Gilfach from the east taken by James BlairPhoto credits

Images of flora, fauna and location courtesy and copyright of Jonathan Stone, James Blair and Radnorshire Wildlife Trust.

 

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