With the cost-of-living crisis biting hard, Coed Cadw, the Woodland Trust in Wales, has come up with a guide to its best woodlands for festive – and completely free – winter woodland walks for all the family to enjoy.
Coed Cadw has over 100 sites in Wales, a total area of 2,897 hectares (7,155 acres) which are all free to visit and open every day; plenty of choice to keep you busy during that weird time between xmas and new year.
Coed Cadw sites are open all year round, so visitors are advised to come prepared for nature in its natural state – unmissable views, fresh air and birdsong (not coffee shops and climbing frames). Bring a flask of tea (or something stronger) and stick to the woodland paths to avoid disturbing winter wildlife, and allow nature to thrive in its woodland surroundings.
Plas Power, Wrexham
Pictured above, this is one of Coed Cadw’s most popular sites – a haven for botanists, wildlife lovers and history buffs alike, with a rich and intriguing history and trails that lead you through the site. Visit to experience a woodland coming back to life; Coed Cadw is slowly removing conifers from this ancient site, allowing the light to return to the woodland floor and the native species to come back.
Wentwood Forest, Monmouthshire
Once part of the hunting grounds of Chepstow Castle, this wood offers breathtakingly beautiful views over the Severn Estuary. Its diversity of habitats means it is home to some wonderful wildlife. Make sure to visit the ancient Curley Oak while you’re there!
Cwm George & Casehill Woods, Dinas Powys near Cardiff
Containing an ancient monument of European importance, Cwm George & Casehill Woods is the perfect place for history buffs. Made up of four woodlands – Cwm George Wood, Casehill Wood, Pen-y-Turnpike Wood and Casehill Meadows, this mix of planted ancient semi-natural woodland and more recent native planting is home to a variety of flora and fauna.
Green Castle Woods, Llangain near Carmarthen
Green Castle Woods is made up of three woods: two ancient oak woods and a more recently planted woodland. This mix of ancient and newly created woodland, botanically rich meadows and hedgerows is a haven for wildlife. You can see bluebells in spring, wildflower meadows in summer and russet hues in autumn – but a visit to the waterfall during the festive break is a must.
Coed y Gopa, Clwyd
Coed y Gopa is an ancient woodland with a fascinating past. Explore its secrets using the way-marked heritage and wildlife trails. Climb up to the Iron Age hill fort on the summit and enjoy magnificent views across the vale. The limestone caves are one of Wales’ largest winter hibernation sites for lesser horseshoe bats.
None of these in your neck of the woods? Locate your nearest free woodland walk by entering your postcode at www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/visiting-woods/find-woods.