This stunning ancient woodland offers peace and tranquillity and a wealth of wildlife.

Location

Bettws Newydd
Usk
Gwent

OS Map Reference

SO 353 058
A static map of Priory Wood

Know before you go

Size
5 hectares

Entry fee

No

Parking information

There is limited parking for two cars at the reserve entrance but please be careful not to block our neighbour’s track that runs up the reserve’s western boundary.

Walking trails

A circular path leads through the reserve.

Access

The path is steep in places and includes flights of steps.

Dogs

Dogs permitted

When to visit

Opening times

Open at all times

Best time to visit

All year

About the reserve

Walking through the woodland, you’ll see a mix of trees from grand oak to slender silver birches. In the centre of the reserve, you’ll find a patch of wild cherry trees, recognisable by their coppery-red trunks. In spring, their white blossom is a much-needed source of nectar and pollen for bees and other pollinators. Later in the year, their fruit is popular with birds like hawfinches, Britain’s largest finch.

In spring, wildflowers like wood sorrel, bluebell and ramson are a beautiful sight as they cover the floor and provide food for insects. The deadwood left in the woodland is also vital for the many species of invertebrates found here. In 2005, a survey revealed 283 species of invertebrates on the reserve, including several rare species. In the older trees, deep crevices and rot holes provide the perfect roosting sites for noctule bats that can be seen hunting for insects around the tree canopy as the sun sets.

What we do here
Since 1982, Gwent Wildlife Trust has managed this woodland for wildlife. It benefits from a small amount of management, thinning out some of the trees and rotational coppicing to maintain diversity in the age and structure of the trees.

In 2002, we carefully felled four mature oak trees to open up the canopy and allow light to reach the woodland floor to encourage a resurgence of ground flora. The oaks were carefully removed, using horses to reduce damage to the surrounding woodland, and used in the restoration of the medieval barn at our Pentwyn Farm reserve.

Directions
By car
From Usk town centre, take the B4598 north (signposted ‘Abergavenny’). After around 6km, take the turning to the right, signposted ‘Bettws Newydd’ (just before the B4598 crosses the River Usk at Chain Bridge). Follow the road for about 600m, looking out for an old stone pill box structure in a field on the left. The reserve entrance is directly opposite. There is limited parking for one to two cars at the reserve entrance but please be careful not to block the track that runs up the reserve’s western boundary.

Near the reserve
Gwent Wildlife Trust’s Springdale Farm and Kitty’s Orchard reserves are on the other side of Usk.

The Usk Valley Walk, that runs through the Vale of Usk between Caerleon and Brecon, is located close to the reserve and the nearby Chainbridge Inn overlooks the river.

Contact us

Gwent Wildlife Trust
Contact number: 01600 740600
Contact email: info@gwentwildlife.org

Environmental designation

Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)