Gilfach Nature Discovery Centre

LOOKING FOR: Animals & Farms, Parks & Gardens
ADDRESS: Gilfach Nature Discovery Centre
St Harmon
TELEPHONE: 01597 870301
Gilfach Nature Discovery Centre
Gilfach Nature Reserve is set in the heart of the Marteg Valley in the Cambrian Mountains, about four miles north of Rhayader. It's a lovely place to go for a walk, with a number of well laid-out network of sign posted walking trails, some of which are suitable for wheelchairs or buggies. The 200-acre 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. The Radnorshire Wildlife Trust, which manages the reserve, also offers guided walks and other educational trips.

As well as providing a haven for local wildife, the reserve has also preserved a piece of Welsh built heritage. Since 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 longhouse forms part of the reserve's Visitor Centre which includes a a gift shop and a refreshment area, in addition to picnic sites.

There is a Nature Discovery Centre on the site with displays and activites for all ages and children's events are held throughout the year. The facilities are accessible to wheelchair users. Now adults and children alike can enjoy a visit to the reserve even more, thanks to new interpretation boards along the Gilfach nature trail. The enhanced trail was officially opened by the well-known TV wildlife presenter Iolo Williams, watched by over fifty Trust supporters in March 2008. Grants to pay for the trail improvements came from the Community Tourism Capital Grants Scheme (an EU funded scheme administered by Powys County Council) and Environment Wales. A legacy from a Wildlife Trust supporter, the late Mr Derek Banthorpe, made it possible to use sustainably sourced Welsh oak for the information point. The new interpretation boards are illustrated with paintings by Powys artist Lizzie Harper. They describe wildlife highlights along the route, such as flower rich meadows where green woodpeckers forage in ant hills and waterfalls which salmon leap in late autumn. After the opening ceremony, Iolo led a leisurely walk along the trail. This starts out along the old track of the former Mid Wales railway and then drops down to follow the fast-flowing Marteg river. Where the trail meets the lane that runs up to the old farmyard, a bird hide overlooks the river. Here Iolo paused to admire a box beautifully decorated with natural finds which will house records of wildlife sightings made by visitors to the hide. The box was made by students from Celf o Gwmpas, the Powys charity which provides high quality arts experiences for adults with learning disabilities. It was part of the 'Log Book Project' in which students worked with the Wildlife Trust's People and Wildlife Officer Suzie Fraser, and similar boxes will be placed in hides on other Radnorshire Wildlife Trust reserves. For those wishing to walk the Gilfach nature trail for themselves, the start is at the Marteg Bridge car park, on the A470 about two miles north of Rhayader travelling towards Aberystwyth. The trail is fairly level apart from the last stretch up the lane to the Nature Discovery Centre. Here you can get refreshments at weekends and bank holidays and on weekdays during school holidays up until the end of September. To complete the trail and see the rest of the new interpretation boards, follow the lane back to the bird hide and then uphill to join the St Harmon road, where a left turn takes you back to the car park.

Opening Times The reserve is always open. In 2008 the Nature Discovery Centre is open 10am-5pm Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holidays until the end of September, plus every day during school holidays (21 March- 4 April, 26-30 May, 21 July -2 September). Admission Charges Admission is free but donations are welcome.