A hill farm of open moorland, flower-rich grassland and oak woodland sitting in the Marteg Valley.

Follow the various walks and nature trails to explore its wilder parts.  


Species & Habitats

There is a huge variety within this 411 acre nature reserve which has been designated a Special Site of Scientific Interest (SSSI).  There are currently over 70 species of birds with over two-thirds breeding here; an enormous array of insects and butterflies and is nationally a very important site for lichen.


Sample of breeding birds: red kite, dipper, grey wagtail, pied flycatcher, redstart, wood warbler, tree pipit, raven, whinchat, stonechat, linnet, yellowhammer, siskin, redpoll, marsh and willow tit, stock dove, wheatear, bullfinch, buzzard, kestrel, tawney owl, spotted flycatcher, meadow pipit, skylark. 


The meadows contain a range of ancient grassland species, including, moonwort, adder's-tongue fern, mountain pansy, parsley fern, heath dog-violet, and eyebright.  A large number of waxcap fungi (Hygrocybe spp.) are found across the reserve. The Gilfach nature reserve is particularly rich in lower plants, with 425 species of lichen found to date.


Along the River Marteg damselflies and demoiselles can be seen whilst within the meadows butterflies include ringlet, small copper, small heath, purple and green hairstreak, dark green and small pearl-bordered fritillary, along with the common green grasshopper and bloody-nosed beetle.  In 2009, the rare Welsh clearwing moth was found on the reserve, the first record for Radnorshire.


Larger mammals are much harder to see but otter, polecat, stoat, weasel, badger, fox, rabbit, brown hare and hedgehog can all be found here. In 2009 water voles were recorded on the river for the very first time, spreading out from a local colony.  Bats hibernating in the railway tunnel include Daubenton's, Natterer's and brown long-eared among the six species recorded on the reserve.


Walking the Nature Trails

There are some lovely way-marked trails to help you enjoy Gilfach and good picnic spots. Cattle, ponies and sheep may be grazing throughout the year, so please keep dogs on a lead and clean up after them to reduce their impact on farm animals and wildlife.  Please take care and wear boots appropriate for walking. Our paths are often uneven and sometimes quite steep. There are gates and kissing gates but no stiles to cross on the trails. Mobile reception is very poor.


The nature trail takes a circular route round the reserve, following the river upstream, past the otter hide, up the lane and out along the Monks Trod with fine views of the valley. It takes about 1½ hrs at a leisurely pace and goes close to the Old Farmyard and Longhouse. The shorter ½hr Oakwood Trail goes from the picnic area at the Old Farmyard, taking you through the woodland and back through the meadows.  Near the Old Farmyard is a short easy access trail - newly upgraded, with a picnic bench overlooking the valley. Follow the sign for Tynshimley out of the farmyard.


You can walk from Marteg Bridge up the sheep track to the viewpoint and burial chamber, where you can either walk back on the road or continue on down to the river and join the Nature Trail. The Wye Valley Walk, Monks Trod and the Gwastedyn Church Trail also pass through Gilfach.  


The Old Farmyard, Welsh Longhouse and Byre  

The traditional barn is now a 'Visitor Centre' and the old 'Byre' (attached to the longhouse) has information leaflets and a disabled toilet and is open all year for visitors.  The Visitor Centre is open occasionally and can be booked for meetings.  Please call the office on 01597 823298 to make enquiries.  If you are visiting with a group, please call us so we can try and arrange to open the Visitor Centre if you wish!


Radnorshire Wildlife Trust organises wildlife walks and children's activities at Gilfach every year - check out the Events page on the website for more information.

Nearby nature reserves

Rhayader Tunnel
3 miles - Radnorshire Wildlife Trust
Cefn Cenarth
3 miles - Radnorshire Wildlife Trust
Abercamlo Bog
8 miles - Radnorshire Wildlife Trust

Nature reserve map

Reserve information

Signposted off the A470, 3 miles north of Rhayader, on a back road to St Harmon
Map reference
SN 964 717
Great for...
a family day out
ancient trees
getting away from it all
historical interest
lichens and mosses
Best time to visit
Apr - Nov
Get directions
Find out here
Public transport
Plan your journey
Opening Times
Access to reserve at all times. Visitor Centre open from Easter as often as possible until September. The Longhouse is not open to the public but the Byre is open throughout the year and is unmanned. Drinks and an honesty box are generally available with a wildlife sightings board.
Gift shop
Visitor centre
Picnic facilities
Disabled toilet
165.90 hectares
Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)
Several waymarked trails including a short Easy Access Trail for the less mobile from the Visitor Centre. Dogs must be on lead and restrictions apply on oakwood path.
Walking information
Several waymarked trails including a short Easy Access Trail for the less mobile from the Visitor Centre.
Most people park at Pont Marteg, just off the A470, however you can also drive through reserve and park at Visitor Centre car park
Dogs must be on lead
Grazing animals
Reserve manager
Radnorshire Wildlife Trust
Tel: 01597 823298


Factsheets and guides for your visit