Berthlwyd's wonderful wildflowers

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Vibrant colours, sweet-scented grasses, the hum-drum of insects and the rich melodies of birdsong are all part of life on an isolated upland farm in Powys, South Wales.

Berthlwyd Farm, at the top of the Neath Valley, is one of our most important farms for its conservation value and is a true safari for the senses.

As winter gives way to spring and summer, the fields of Berthlwyd suddenly burst into life with the vivid, vibrant colours of thousands of hay meadow flowers. Butterfly orchids, bird’s-foot trefoil, ox-eye daisies, hay rattle, common knapweed, eyebright and many more all carpet the ground in a rich mosaic.

Butterflies including small heath and meadow brown, along with a huge variety of insects take advantage of this precious habitat.

Generation game

Six generations of the same family have farmed Berthlwyd, and it’s this long-standing relationship with the land that’s created and sustained this vitally important place for nature, without the use of fertilisers or pesticides.Hay meadows are created through the use of traditional farming methods, to grow enough feed to get the stock through winter.

The agricultural improvement of grasslands has intensified significantly since the 1930s, leading to the loss of many natural and semi-natural types of grassland. Today, the increasingly rare and fragmented upland semi-natural grasslands of high conservation value, such as those at Berthlwyd, are protected by law. Berthlwyd Farm is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and Special Area of Conservation (SAC).

In 2013, Berthlwyd Farm was awarded Coronation Meadow status.

Traditional management

To keep these wonderful wildflower meadows returning each year, traditional farming methods are used. This involves cutting the hayfields once a year in late summer – mid-July to early August. If it was done any earlier, the plants would be prevented from setting seed for the following year.

The cut grass is then turned and dried on the field, allowing more seeds to set. Sheep graze the fields until April or early May, allowing the hay crop to grow and plants to flower and set seed.

This method of haymaking has created rich, neutral grasslands with an intricate mix of flowers and grasses. It’s a prime example of the link between sustainable farming and wildlife.

Can I visit?

Unfortunately there’s no public access to Berthlwyd, but we do occasionally hold events here.

If you’re a special interest group, such as botany or history, and would like to visit, please contact us.