St Mary's Vale at the foot of the Sugar Loaf

St Mary's Vale at the foot of the Sugar Loaf near Abergavenny, Monmouthshire

Tucked beneath the distinctive summit of the Sugar Loaf Mountain lies a world at utter contrast to the peak’s rugged wilderness. St Mary’s Vale is nestled between the rounded ridges of the Llanwenarth and Rholben hills, where miles of wonderful oak and beech trees cling to the valley sides and the Nant (stream) Iago begins its journey.

Seeing the woods for the trees

These wonderful woodlands provide a canopy from the rest of the world. In spring the vivid green of so many trees forms nature’s own majestic cathedral, with the sunlight streaming through creating dappled shade and bouncing off the water of the Iago as it makes its way down into the town of Abergavenny.
 
Dead leaves form a natural carpet, and in autumn the rich greens slowly turn into burnished reds, oranges and yellows.
 
Large areas of these woodlands are designated Sites of Special Scientific Interest and Special Areas of Conservation and the vale holds a large population of the rare red wood ant.