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Branches Fork Meadows

Branches Fork Meadows lies below the conifer plantation of Tranch Wood and along the Torfaen cycle path. This small reserve supports a variety of habitats including a pond, damp heathy grassland, willow scrub and young oak woodland.

Species

Heather and devil’s-bit scabious are prominent in the drier areas. Heath spotted-orchids can be found in the marshy areas amongst purple moor-grass and sharp-flowered rush. The young woodland is notable for alder buckthorn and a good range of mosses and liverworts. Flowers such as St John’s-wort and eyebright can be seen along the verges of the cycle path bordering the reserve. 

The mix of habitats also makes the site very good for insects, from hoverflies to grasshoppers. On hot summer days, dragonflies skim over the pond and butterflies such as small skipper, large skipper, meadow brown and small heath can be spotted in the grassland.  

Goldcrest, long-tailed tit, bullfinch and treecreeper occur all year in the woodland. Siskin and redpoll are frequent in winter and crossbills have occasionally been recorded in the larch plantation next to the reserve. Summer visitors include willow warbler, blackcap and occasional wood warblers. 

Access

There is easy access along the adjacent cycle path. The reserve is on a moderate slope.

Directions

From Pontypool, take the A4043 north. Approximately 1km north of the town centre, as you approach Pontnewynydd, turn left up Merchants Hill (after the Texaco garage and just before the Baptist chapel). Turn right after 100 metres into Elled Road, just after the narrow bridge. After about 200 metres, just beyond the Little Crown pub, the road meets the well-marked cycle path. There is car parking next to the pub. Walk for 5 minutes out into the countryside along the cycle path, and the reserve entrance is on the left (grid ref: SO 269 015). Various bus services run within walking distance of the reserve.

Nearby reserves

Henllys Bog and Coed Meyric Moel

What to see around the reserve

Pontypool Park is considered to be one of Wales’ finest parks. The Blaenavon Industrial Landscape World Heritage Site covers the head of the valley. It includes Big Pit and the Pontypool and Blaenavon Railway (the highest standard gauge railway in Wales). The nearby Brecon Beacons National Park is excellent walking country.

Nearby nature reserves

Coed Meyric Moel
5 miles - Gwent Wildlife Trust
Henllys Bog SSSI
6 miles - Gwent Wildlife Trust
Priory Wood SSSI
6 miles - Gwent Wildlife Trust

Nature reserve map

Reserve information

Location
Off Elled Road, Wainfelin
Pontypool
Gwent
Map reference
SO 269 015
Get directions
Find out here
Public transport
Plan your journey
Opening Times
Open at all times
Size
2.00 hectares
Living Landscape schemes
Eastern Valleys Living Landscape
Access
No

Walking information
There is easy access along the adjacent cycle path. The reserve is on a moderate slope.
Parking
There is an unsurfaced car parking area next to the Little Crown pub.
Dogs
Dogs allowed
Reserve manager
Gwent Wildlife Trust
Tel: 01495 307525
info@gwentwildlife.org