Upper Tarell Valley

View of the Tarrell Valley woodlands

Surrounded by the wild, open mountains of the Brecon Beacons, the Upper Tarell Valley in South Wales is home to some of our few remaining semi-ancient woodlands, full of wonderful wildlife waiting to be discovered.

Each day thousands of people travel along the edge of the valley on the main road linking north and south Wales. But it’s unlikely very many take in these remarkable woodlands clinging to the foothills of the Brecon Beacons in this glaciated valley.

Rise of the phoenix

Coed Carno and Coed Herbert are the two main woods in the Tarell Valley and are semi-ancient woodlands. This means they’ve developed naturally on undisturbed soils over hundreds of years, making these woodlands an incredibly valuable natural habitat.

One of the wonders of Coed Carno and Coed Herbert are the phoenix trees. These trees have fallen over but, instead of dying, they continue to grow, bringing the rich green canopy of the woodland down to the ground.

During spring, the woods burst into life, with migrant birds such as pied flycatchers, wood warblers, redstart and chiff chaff flitting between trees and filling the air with song. Bluebells, wood anemone, red campion and lesser celandine push through the woodland floor towards the dappled light filtering through overhead branches.

In winter, flocks of redwing and fieldfare feed in the surrounding fields.

A step back in time

The 18th-century Coach Road running along the eastern flank of the valley was a former drove route and later a toll road. Until the A470 was built, it was the main route between the Midlands and Cardiff.

In bygone days, the valley was also home to 10 dwellings. They would all have been connected to agriculture at some point but today only two farms remain – Blaenglyn and Ty Mawr. The others have been lost through dereliction, swept away by road improvements or changed to domestic houses.

Take a stroll

The Coach Road provides a gentle route from the head of the valley at Storey Arms, right through the heart of the valley and is part of the Taff Trail. You can download our walk, which also takes in the tranquil River Tarell – a tributary of the Usk and home to otters and dippers.

You’re free to walk in the woods along the way marked paths when forestry operations aren't in progress.