Darren Fawr

Reserve Information


Location

Heading South towards Merthyr Tydfil from Brecon along the A470, take the left turn that runs down Upper High Street, the old road into Merthyr Tydfil. At a cross roads just before you pass over the Heads of the Valleys Road (A465) turn left up Vaynor Road signposted towards Pontsticill, and after 100m turn left again up Cloth Hall Lane. Take care, this is a narrow and steep lane. Follow it all the way up to its end, passing over a cattle grid and in to the car park of Merthyr Tydfil Golf Club. Park here. Near the entrance to the car park is the reserve information panel and a signposted footpath heading up the hill. On foot, take this path for just over three quarters of a mile up the hill, following a fence line on your left and way marked by BWT posts and arrows. The reserve starts at the point where the fence line becomes new and has a stile in it. The reserve is then in front of you on both sides of this new fence.

Nearest town: Merthyr Tydfil. Post code CF48 2NT.

GridReference
SO 022 102

Directions

Find out here

Public Transport

Find out here

Opening Times

24/7/365

Size

52.6 hectares

Walking Information

The reserve features steep and hazardous terrain including cliffs and scree slopes with loose and unstable rocks. These areas should be avoided at all times. Additionally care should be taken when walking by the golf course - watch out for flying golf balls! The reserve is an open access reserve, you are allowed to visit the reserve on foot for your quiet enjoyment of the wildlife present.

Access

Unsuitable for wheelchairs.

Geology Trail


Parking

Park at Merthyr Tydfil golf club.

Dogs

Dogs must be under close control.

Grazing Animals

Yes.

Factsheets and Guides for Your Visit

Darren Fawr

Darren Fawr is the largest and most spectacular of the Trust’s reserves. It consists of a steep hill-side, covered with loose, grey limestone scree, cliffs and an undulating hill-top with good views of the surrounding landscape.


The rocks here have been eroded by the weather and inhabited by rare plants

What to look out for

The scree slope is home to the rigid buckler fern. This is one of only two Welsh sites at which it has been found.

Above the scree slopes are the imposing cliffs of Darren Fawr and Darren Fach. Clinging to the rock face of Darren Fach is the rarest tree species in Britain – Ley’s Whitebeam; named after Reverend Augustin Ley who discovered it at this site in 1896. It has a total wild population of about 15 individuals, most of which are at Darren Fach.

The limestone pavements on the reserve are long, low, flattened pieces of rock whose tops are only a few feet above ground level. The limestone has been broken down into blocks by the weather – producing gaps in the limestone, resembling a “pavement”.

How to get to Darren Fawr

To Get there by car: Heading South towards Merthyr Tydfil from Brecon along the A470, take the left turn for Cefn Coed . At a cross roads just before you pass over the Heads of the Valleys Road (A465) turn left up Vaynor Road signposted towards Pontsticill, and after 100m turn left following the sign for the golf club. Take care, this is a narrow and steep lane. Follow it all the way up to its end, passing over a cattle grid and in to the car park of Merthyr Tydfil “Cilsanws” Golf Club. Park here. Leave by the lane at the far end of the car park- Lon Maes Du which brings you back to the Pontsticill road. This brings you to a layby which also serves as parking for Taf Fechan Nature Reserve.

To Get there by Bus: Buses to Ponsticill from Merthyr Tydfil. Take the Cefn Coed Cloth lane stop on bus 24 and 25.

Description of Route to the reserve

1. Go through the gate by the cattle grid. At the nature reserve interpretation panel go straight ahead for a short distance. At the Merthyr Naturalists sign go right to the edge of the green . Follow this left hand edge looking ahead in case of stray golf balls.

2.Take the path straight on which may be somewhat over grown but improves further on. Avoid following the wider track as this passes under where golfers tee off down the course and they may not see you.

3. Take this path uphill parallel to the electricity pylons about 50m away. The fairways/mown grass should always be on your right, the track veers left a bit.

4. On Reaching a broken down wire fence almost at the top of the golf course look for a track carrying on uphill between two old gate posts. Follow this faint track over open ground for about 500m until on the left you can see the first stile with its post. By this point you are in the nature reserve on both sides of the fence which was erected as a safety feature.

You can cross the stile into the reserve where interesting flowers and ferns thrive with less grazing pressure. For the surefooted with a head for heights it is possible to walk along a way and then exit at stile no. 2 or 3.

It is possible to carry on north following the ridge along sheep tracks and then return over the small summits and cairns of Cefn Cilsanws. This is across open country and should only be attempted with a map compass and weather giving good visibility.

Please return via the out-going route to avoid the golfers.

PLEASE NOTE. This route replaces the old one which has become mostly impassable by summer due to bracken growth. If visiting winter-early summer there are more routes passable.

Darren Fawr route displayed via dotted white line.

A rare buckler fern, with Paul Green of BSBI

Species and habitats

Habitats
Limestone Pavement, Upland Calcareous Grassland, Upland Mixed Ashwood
Species
Ash, Bird's-foot-trefoil, Blackthorn, Bracken, Carline Thistle, Cock's foot, Common Lizard, Crested Dog's tail, Daisy, Dog's Mercury, Elder, Fairy Flax, Field Maple, Grayling, Grey Squirrel, Hart's-Tongue, Hawthorn, Hazel, Herb Robert, Holly, Ivy, Lady-fern, Linnet, Maidenhair Spleenwort, Male-fern, Meadow Pipit, Mole, Mouse-ear-hawkweed, Polypody, Quaking-grass, Rabbit, Raven, Ribwort Plantain, Rock-rose, Rowan, Salad Burnet, Selfheal, Seven-spot Ladybird, Sky Lark, Small Tortoiseshell, Small-leaved Lime, Stinging Nettle, Sweet Vernal-grass, Sycamore, Tormentil, Wavy Hair-grass, Wheatear, White Clover, Whitebeam, Wild Strawberry, Wood Avens, Wood-sorrel, Wych Elm, Yarrow, Yew

Nature Reserve Map