Magical forests to explore around Abergavenny
One benefit of living in the beautiful Brecon Beacons countryside is the many magical forests that surround us. Come rain or shine forests are an amazing place for kids to let their imagination run wild as they explore so today I'm going to share five of our favourite local forests that we venture to on a regular basis. You don't always need wellies, but there's a pretty good chance you'll encounter at least a little bit of mud any time of year so always better to be prepared!
Coed-y-Cerrig is a little known nature reserve just north of Abergavenny. My husband found this gem on one of his walks and I'm so glad he did. It's a little tricky to find because it's very hidden so check directions carefully before you set off as it's easily missed. The only parking is a tiny dirt lot on the side of the road and if the lot happens to be full there isn't really anywhere else to park. Having said that, it's worth the trip as this is a fabulous spot for little people to explore.
Directly across the road from the dirt parking lot is a boardwalk which circles through a small wetland area. You have the option of staying on the boardwalk and doing a loop back to the car which only takes about half an hour depending on how often the kids want to stop and look at things or you can head off up a dirt path for a much longer walk up the hill (may or may not be kid friendly depending on your kids). Back at the carpark there are additional paths that lead up the mountain in various directions.
When you're done exploring you can stop at the The Crown for a pint and some delicious food.
For more information including directions on how to get there visit the Coed-y-Cerrig webpage.
Location: Brecon Beacons National Park, Abergavenny
"Llanover Forest" is the name we've given this little piece of woodland just off the Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal that we discovered when we lived in the area a few years ago. There isn't a proper entrance so finding it is part of the adventure, but well worth it!
The best place to park is the small dirt lot next to bridge 80 just behind the village of Llanover. At bridge 80 turn left and walk to bridge 81. If you're into geocaching bring your map as there are a few geo's in the area. Once at bridge 81 climb over the stile, turn right and walk along the edge of the field until you come to the big metal gate. You'll see a wide path and the forest in the distance. You've found it! Once you've explored the forest you can either walk back the way you came or find the path that leads to the canal for a circular walk.
When you're finished head into the village for coffee and cake at Hummingbird Cafe.
If you prefer a longer walk - and another forest - you can walk a few miles up the canal to Goytre Wharf and the next forest adventure on the list!
Goytre Wharf Forest
Goytre Wharf forest is an easy to find forest located on the bank of the Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal at Goytre Wharf with a large pay parking area. The forest is filled with fallen trees that children love to climb and balance on and den's that they can explore. There are also a few amazing wood carvings to keep an eye out for! You can either explore the forest on its own or venture over the canal bridge and along the canal for a circular walk back to the carpark.
There is a cafe on site with a small play area, but call ahead as it's often closed even if the sign says it's open! Otherwise, it's worth a visit to super child friendly pub The Star at Mamhilad.
Check out the Goytre Wharf website for more information.
Location: Goytre Wharf, NP7 9EW
The next forest on the list is Coed Cadw, perhaps better known as Crickhowell bluebelle woods. There is a small, free parking lot that fits 4 or 5 cars otherwise you will need to park somewhere along the road.
This is a beautiful forest to explore as the scene changes drastically depending on what time of year you visit. In autumn and winter the forest floor is covered with a thick carpet of fallen leaves which the kids love to kick and play in. Then, come spring, it's transformed into the most beautiful forest full of bluebelles in every direction you look. There is an option to do a circular walk around the forest which takes about 45 minutes and includes beautiful views of the countryside beyond the trees or you can cut across the forest at any time for a shorter walk or to mix up your adventure. This is one forest not to miss, especially when the bluebells are in season!
When you've finished your adventure head to The Dragon Inn in Crickhowell for lunch or book an amazing Afternoon Tea.
Visit the Woodland Trust website for more information.
St. Mary's Vale
We love all the forests on our list, but St. Mary's Vale is our favourite. There is so much to explore and the atmosphere is magical once you reach the tree canopy and cross the stream. The forest is located at the foot of Sugar Loaf mountain and can be a little tricky to find through the lane ways so follow directions carefully. There is a small free carpark available.
As mentioned above, you enter the forest by crossing over a small stream. There is a wide paved path across the stream and the water is generally slow moving and shallow, but it can be quite fast and much deeper if it has been raining. Take care crossing especially with kids as the pavers are often slippery and wet. Wellies are definitely required year round when you visit! There's so much to do in this forest - kids can play for hours in the stream and climb the small hills that surround it. Keep an eye out for the small open grassy area up the hill and across the stream where people often have a camp fire and roast marshmallows or picnic. The forest sits below the summit of Sugar Loaf mountain so if you are especially keen you can follow one of the many paths up the mountain.
When you are finished in the forest it's definitely worth heading to Sugar Loaf Vineyard to sample some amazing local wine while the kids run around the vineyard. Unfortunately, it's only open in spring and summer so check their website before you visit.
To find out more about St Mary's Vale visit the National Trust webpage.
Here is a map to the forests to help you find you way!