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Dan-y-Graig

Dan-y-Graig is located on a steep hillside above Risca. Although this is a small reserve, it contains a wide variety of habitats and supports many species of wildlife.

Habitats in this small reserve range from young deciduous woodland and remnant limestone grassland to a pond fed by streams and boggy springs. Lead mining historically took place in the surrounding area. Workings from a lead mine were found at Dan-y-Graig quarry and it is possible that linked tunnels could continue under the reserve.

Species

There is a good display of primroses in spring, whilst sections of woodland are carpeted with ramsons. Hart’s-tongue and soft shield ferns can be found all year round. Hairy violet and wild strawberry grows in the small area of grassland. In the summer,mullein, hemp-agrimony and burnet-saxifrage can also be seen.

An additional feature of the grassland is its anthills. The disturbed soil on top of the anthills supports plants such as scarlet pimpernel and annual pearlwort. Common blue butterflies and burnet moths are attracted to the grassland flowers. 

Ash and birch dominate the drier parts of the woodland, whilst willows frequent the damper spots overlying the underground streams. The lime-rich soil encourages a wide range of shrubs, including spindle and dogwood.

The pond, with its clear spring-fed water, is teeming with wildlife. It is thought to have been built to provide water for the copper works which stood on the site of the adjacent brickyard. The pond is now home to water shrews, minnows and dragonflies. On hot summer days, dragonflies patrol the pond, where three species of primitive horsetail – with their attractive whorls of branches – grow in and around the water. Marsh plants such as water mint and brooklime also appear in the damper areas.

Water shrews are curious mammals that live in burrows along the banks of rivers and streams. Studies have suggested that they may have venomous saliva which helps to immobilise their prey.

Rare species of caddis fly, crane-fly and soldier-fly, all of which have aquatic or semi-aquatic larvae, areassociated with the lime-rich trickles of water running down the hillside. In fact, the mossy flushes and stream edge are more important for rare wetland invertebrates than the pond itself!

Access

The reserve is on a hillside with some steep flights of steps. The paths can be slippery and muddy in places. Bridges and steps have been built at strategic points. The path adjacent to the pond is firm and fairly flat. There is a short circular walk which passes a viewpoint overlooking Risca.

Directions

From Newport take the M4 west (towards Cardiff). Leave the motorway at Junction 28 and follow signs for the A467 to Risca. Then turn off for Risca town centre. Heading north through the centre of Risca, turn left down Dan-y-Graig Road. Cars can be parked on the road outside a brick works. Walking back down Dan-y-Graig Road, take the next right into Tir y Cwm Lane and then 50 metres up the incline on the right go through a gate into the reserve (grid ref: ST 235 905).

Nearby reserves

Allt-yr-Yn in Newport.

What to see around the reserve

There are good walks in the hills above the reserve including the Rhymney Valley Ridgeway footpath. The Sirhowy Valley Country Park lies to the west of Risca and is the starting point for the Ebbw Valley Walk. The Cwmcarn Forest Drive is a popular local attraction.

Nearby nature reserves

Henllys Bog SSSI
2 miles - Gwent Wildlife Trust
Coed Meyric Moel
3 miles - Gwent Wildlife Trust
Allt-yr-Yn Local Nature Reserve
4 miles - Gwent Wildlife Trust

Nature reserve map

Reserve information

Location
Tir y Cwm Lane, Risca
Newport
Gwent
Map reference
ST 235 905
Get directions
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Public transport
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Opening Times
Open at all times
Size
1.00 hectares
Living Landscape schemes
Eastern Valleys Living Landscape
Access
No

Walking information
The reserve is on a hillside with some steep flights of steps. The paths can be slippery and muddy in places. Bridges and steps have been built at strategic points. The path adjacent to the pond is firm and fairly flat. There is a short circular walk which passes a viewpoint overlooking Risca.
Parking
There is roadside parking in Dan-y-Graig Road.
Dogs
Dogs allowed
Reserve manager
Gwent Wildlife Trust
Tel: 01495 307525
info@gwentwildlife.org