Hedgehogs – when did you last see one?

Around Madog Barn in Crai we have recently been very fortunate to see a large hedgehog snuffling along the lane, enjoying slugs and beetles. We hadn’t seen one for several years, a fact echoed by several people we have spoken to from different areas.

Hedgehogs were declared a priority conservation species in 2007 following 2 major surveys which indicated that a quarter of the hedgehog population had been lost in recent years.

Why hedgehog numbers are falling is not known for certain. Reasons could be:

  • More intensive agriculture – with larger fields and the loss of hedgerows
  • Use of pesticides such as slug pellets can reduce the amount of prey available.
  • Smaller and tidier gardens , often paved over and with fencing that prevents hedgehogs moving between gardens may have reduced suitable urban habitats.
  • Tens of thousands of hedgehogs are killed by road traffic each year and road deaths . Hedgehogs can travel 1-2km in a night over home ranges of 10-50ha.

How can we help?

Find lots of useful information about hedgehogs at Hedgehog Street and more locally at Howey Hedgehog Rescue which has a great page on encouraging hedgehogs into your garden.

We’d love to hear if you have spotted a hedgehog in the Upper Usk Valley so do let us know !


Home Sweet Home – who was Adelina Patti?

Those local to or familiar with the Upper Usk Valley will know that Adelina Patti was a very famous opera singer who made the nearby Craig Y Nos Castle her home at the turn of the last century. The castle is now a busy hotel and conference facility with Patti’s theatre, built to be Patti’s own private auditorium, much in demand for weddings. The castle has even featured in a Doctor Who episode! The castle is said to be subject to strong paranormal phenomena and haunted by the ghost  of Patti.The castle grounds now lie within the beautiful Craig Y Nos Country Park, run by Brecon Beacons National Park.

There is currently a beautifully curated little exhibition on Adelina Patti in the Game Room, an outbuilding of the castle. Look for the  sign ‘Home Sweet Home’ – Patti’s signature tune –  at the top of the car park on the castle side. Free to enter and you will hear recordings of her voice and see many mementoes of her life. Well worth a visit if you are visiting the area.

Patti 2 Patti 1

Crai Gardens Inspire and Delight – were you there?

Eight glorious gardens in the beautiful Crai Valley recently opened their gates to visitors as part of the 2014 National Gardens Scheme  . Over 200 people arrived from far and near, following the easily recognised yellow signs to share the delights of each very different garden. Some traditional cottage gardens with favourite blooms in the herbaceous border, some contemporary with sculptures and zinc troughs as containers for a riot of colour while others excelled in growing fruit and vegetables to perfection. Visitors enjoyed the chance to ask questions of their knowledgeable hosts. Beautiful willow gates enticed visitors to explore further and exclaim at the vistas beyond set to the backdrop of the  wonderful landscape of the Upper Usk Valley.

After a happy few hours touring the gardens visitors could return to the village hall to be refreshed by a fantastic array of cakes, tea and coffee and the opportunity to purchase some plants or produce to take home as a memento of a wonderful day out.

Money was raised for 3 charities including the excellent Gardening Leave which provides horticultural therapy for armed forces veterans.

Grateful thanks go to the talented gardeners who spent many hours getting their gardens into tip top condition ready for the event. Here’s to next year’s event!

 Open Gardens 3 Open Gardens 4Click here to go to the National Gardens Scheme home page

What is your favourite wild flower?

Chances are many people would vote for the beautiful nodding bells of Endymion non-scriptus, the much beloved Bluebell. At their absolute best right now in the month of May. The Upper Usk Valley probably has more than its fair share of fantastic bluebell woods and if you are in the area do seek them out and be amazed by both the sight and scent of these wonderful flowers. Particularly associated with ancient woodland it is protected under UK law and should not be picked or uprooted.

Bluebell flowers are rich in pollen and nectar, and are chiefly pollinated by bumblebees. Bluebells synthesise a wide range of chemicals with potential medicinal properties.

Did you know?…..In the Bronze Age, people used bluebell glue to attach feathers to their arrows. Bluebell sap was used to bind pages to the spines of books and the Victorians used the starch from crushed bluebells to stiffen the ruffs of their collars and sleeves!

These images were taken in the Crai Bluebell Woods by Carole Gledhill.


Click on the link if you would like some more details about the fascinating bluebell.


April 2014 Community Walk

Upper Usk Valley

Upper Usk Valley Community Walks

Upper Usk Walking Group

Our next walk takes place on Sunday 27th April from Trecastle Community Hall.

Please meet at 2.00pm, parking in the layby opposite the Hall, near the red phone box, or slightly further down the road beyond the Antiques Centre

The route takes in some of the ancient track ways around Trecastle, taking in the old roman road, bridleways around the village, crossing the River Usk and heading through old woodlands.

Spring is here, so there are plenty of opportunities to see the bird life and wild flowers en route.

The route is suitable for all ages, dogs on a short lead are welcome, though please ensure they are kept on a lead as there are young lambs in the fields on the route.

Some areas may be wet and muddy and the weather forecast suggests a possibility of heavy showers, so please arrive prepared for these.


Your invitation to the launch of the Upper Usk Rural Alliance

The newly formed Upper Usk Rural Alliance invite all members of the communities of Sennybridge, Trecastle, Crai and Defynnog to come to their launch event on Wednesday 30th April between 2 – 8 pm. Find out what’s happening in the local area and meet other local residents and businesses. Be amongst the first to see the wonderful new local guide leaflets highlighting local walks and history in each community. Refreshments served all afternoon and drinks & nibbles served before evening entertainment from your local YFC. Everyone welcome, drop in or stay throughout!    Invite to the launch of UUV

March 2014 Community Walk

Upper Usk Valley Community Walks

Spring is officially here, so perhaps we may be blessed with some reasonable weather for the next Community Walk?

Sunday 30th March 2014 – meet at 2.00pm: Crai Village Hall

Continuing our tour of the Upper Usk Valley area, the next walk is based from Crai, taking in Fforest Fach hill and the Crai Valley.

Starting from Crai Village Hall, the route will take us along ancient bridleways and tracks, above the old Neath to Brecon railway, the embankments and bridge foundations of which are clearly visible as you turn into Crai. The Fforest Fach hill itself, sits above Cwm Crai and Cwm Treweryn, which both show evidence of glacial formation.

The Northern summit of Fforest Fach overlooks Sennybridge and Defynnog and offer’s views of the Crai, Senni and of course Usk Valley itself. Please follow the Facebook Page Upper Usk Valley for updates.

Cray - Google Maps

Crai and Fforest Fach Google Satellite View