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 !


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.


Want to improve your garden? Join the Community Garden Club!

Snowdrops at Madog Barn, Cray, Upper Usk Valley Brecon Beacons

Snowdrops at Madog Barn Self Catering Holiday Cottage, Cray


Snowdrops at Madog Barn in Crai, Upper Usk Valley

Following the hugely successful appearance of 6 Crai gardens in the 2013 National Gardens Scheme ‘Garden Open’ programme, a small friendly garden club was born which now meets on the first Monday of each month in Crai Hall at 7.30pm. All Upper Usk Valley residents are invited to join this informal group. By no means all experts, members aim to share ideas and learn from each other. Topics covered so far are such as – which plants best suit our local climate, the contained garden and a discussion around good seed & plant catalogues and useful websites to view. In the summer months it is planned to hold meetings in each other’s gardens.

With an eye already on participation in the 2014 Gardens Open programme, the next meeting on Monday 3 March at 7.30pm will welcome Mr Gareth Davies  to give an illustrated talk on 25 years of gardens under the National Garden Scheme. Everyone welcome, refreshments available. £2 at the door.

Why not come along and see what we get up to?

Garden Club contact is Robert 01874 636194

5 birds to spot in the Upper Usk Valley

If you’ve been inspired by the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch this weekend you’ll find plenty of birds to spot in the Upper Usk Valley in the Brecon Beacons National Park.

Upper Usk Valley in the Clouds

Visit the Upper Usk Valley

Eagle owl in Defynnog in the Upper Usk Valley Brecon Beacons

Many birds to be seen!

Special birds that have been seen in the area include:

  • Greater Spotted Woodpecker
  • Red Kite
  • Snow Bunting
  • Eagle Owl
  • Pied Wagtail

To find out more about birdwatching in the Brecon Beacons, Brecknock Wildlife Trust has bird-spotting tips and there are stunning nature reserves in and around the Upper Usk Valley area

Feed red kites – red kite feeding station