Know before you go
Parking informationThere is a car park at the reserve entrance.
Grazing animalsParts of the reserve are grazed.
There are two trails you can follow to explore the woodland and a public footpath that leads further up the valley. These trails are unsurfaced and can get very muddy at times.
The reserve entrance is along a rough track. There are footpaths throughout the reserve that are steep and narrow in places, and are slippery when wet. There are short sections of boardwalk, and steep flights of steps in places.
When to visit
Opening timesOpen at all times
Best time to visitAll year
About the reserve
A beautiful woodland of towering beech trees gives way to heath and grassland on the steeper slopes of the Ebbw Valley. Each habitat has its own community of plants and wildlife so there’s always something to enjoy throughout the year.
In spring, the beech leaves unfurl and flowers like wood sorrel and lesser celandine carpet the woodland floor in white and yellow. Birds are joined in their song by choirs of common frogs, breeding in the small pools. Bluebells cover the upper slopes as far as the eye can see. In summer, butterflies like graylings and small heaths dance among the flowers and common lizards bask in the warmth. Come autumn, the beech trees put on a fiery display of yellow and red and fungi of all shapes and sizes erupt in the woodland. Winter is harsh but can give great views of the ravens that roost on the reserve and begin their acrobatic courtship flights in January.
Silent Valley has always been important to the local community, providing an escape from a bleak industrial landscape. One local Cwm resident says the reserve’s name was coined by workers at the nearby Ebbw Vale Steel Works for the relative calm it offered in contrast to their clamorous workplace.
The start of the 20th Century saw a dramatic transformation in the landscape of the Welsh valleys from farming and small-scale production to a booming steel and coal mining industry. The green rolling hills became scarred and blackened, huge spoil tips of waste were created and dramlines (a local name for tramlines) crossed the valley. However, nature is resilient and the landscape is now undergoing another transformation as nature returns.
From Ebbw Vale take the A4046 south towards Newport for about 3km. At the start of the Cwm bypass, turn left, following the signpost to Cwm. Continue down the hill (past a church on the left). After approximately 800m you’ll pass a pub and after the first block of terrace houses follow the brown nature reserve sign and turn left into Cendl Terrace. The nature reserve car park is at the top of the street, on the right. The reserve entrance is along a rough track to the north (grid ref: SO 187 062).
The reserve can also be easily reached from Newport by following the signs for the Festival Park Shopping Centre, until you reach the roundabout at the south end of Cwm. Rather than entering the village from the roundabout, it is easiest to drive past Cwm on the bypass until you see another signpost to Cwm, and turn right here. The directions to the reserve from the north end of the bypass are given above.
Near the reserve
Our Central Valley nature reserve is just a short drive away at the old Steel Works site, where you can see natural regeneration in action as nature reclaims this industrial site.
For the adventurous rambler, nearby long distance footpaths include the Ebbw Valley Walk and the Sirhowy Valley Walk, and Parc Bryn Bach is just off the A465.
You can learn more about the area’s industrial past with a trip to the Blaenavon Industrial Landscape World Heritage Site, that includes the Big Pit Museum.