Beacon View, Wye Valley, near Monmouth
Woodland walks with views to the Brecon Beacons
One of the best sites in Wales to see wild birds, reedbeds, saltmarsh and saline lagoons
Tucked between the city of Newport and the Severn estuary lies one of the newest and most distinctive nature reserves in Wales.
Part of the tranquil Gwent Levels, Newport Wetlands National Nature Reserve is made up of a diverse range of low-lying habitats, including wet grassland, reedbeds, saltmarsh and saline lagoons.
It is this combination of features that makes this reserve one of the best sites in the country for viewing bird life and the visitor facilities here allow you to do just that.
There is a seven kilometre network of re-surfaced paths around the Uskmouth reedbeds. Five of the reedbeds have viewing screens across the deepwater channels. One reedbed has a raised viewing platform and one has a raised bird hide.
A floating pontoon forms a direct route to the East Usk Lighthouse which is over 120 years old.
In spring, the reedbeds are alive with song. Warblers abound here, including a significant proportion of Britain’s Cetti’s warblers. Scan the pools from one of the viewing platforms and you should also see mute swans, tufted ducks, coot and families of little grebe.
In summer, you will be able to enjoy the reserve’s plant life in all its glory. Orchids are abundant, look out for the rarer shrill carder bee amongst the everlasting pea flowers. Walk over to the saline lagoons and you will encounter a quite different habitat. This is the only breeding site in Wales for the avocet, a long-legged wading bird with a distinctive upwardly curving beak.
Autumn is the best time of year for birdwatching at Newport Wetlands when migratory wildfowl and wading birds begin to arrive.
In winter there are the largest flocks of birds - look out for merlin and peregrine falcons when the lapwing flock is startled.
The RSPB manage the Environmental Education and Visitor Centre which is open every day (except Christmas Day) free of charge.
The centre includes space for group and family activities, conference facilities, a large retail area and a Fairtrade/organic coffee shop.
Newport Wetlands is a National Nature Reserve.
National Nature Reserves are places with some of the very finest examples of wildlife habitats and geological features.
There are over 70 National Nature Reserves in Wales.
During the year, the landscape changes at Newport Wetlands National Nature Reserve.
Depending on when you visit, you are likely to see different wildlife, too.
Read on to find out what you could see here during the different seasons.
Look out for displaying lapwing and avocet and listen for the song of warbler species and skylarks.
Over on the saline lagoons, you may see migrant wader species.
At this time of year, visitors with young children enjoy spotting ducklings and chicks all around the reserve.
In the warmer months, the hay meadows around the reserve are rich in wild flowers.
If you make your way along the paths around the reedbeds, look out for orchids, dragonflies, hobbies and shrill carder bees.
As dusk falls, barn owls come out to hunt over the grasslands.
This is a great time of year to watch migrant wader species on the saline lagoons and the starling roost on the reedbed.
Meanwhile, flocks of redwing and fieldfare are busy feeding on the hedgerows along the Wales Coast Path which passes along the edge of the reserve.
There’s plenty to see at Newport Wetlands in the winter – look out for big flocks of wigeon, teal, dunlin and lapwing.
In the wide open skies above the reserve you are likely to see hunting birds of prey such as peregrine, merlin and marsh harriers.
All of the walking trails are waymarked.
1m, 1.6km, accessible
Look out for orchids in late spring and early summer.
1m, 1.6km, easy
Go through reedbeds, over the floating bridge and past the lighthouse.
1½m, 2.3km, accessible
Go through reedbeds, woodland, past open water and the estuary.
3m, 4.5km, accessible
This route combines the orchid trail, the woodland and estuary trail and part of the Wales Coast Path.
4m, 6km, easy
Highlights include the East Usk Lighthouse, views over the Severn Estuary as far as Exmoor, bird-hide, and green lanes (Fish-house Lane can be very muddy in winter or after heavy rain).
Dogs on a short lead are welcome on this walk, please clean up after your dog.
All of paths around the Uskmouth reedbeds are accessible to wheelchairs and there are benches approximately every 100 metres.
The paths are level with some gentle slopes and a zig-zag ramp to climb the five metres up to the raised reedbed levels.
The Environmental Education and Visitor Centre, which is owned by the RSPB, is open free of charge from 9am until 5pm, seven days a week all year (except Christmas Day).
The car park is open from 8.30am to 5.30pm.
Newport Wetlands National Nature Reserve is five miles south of Newport off the A48.
The OS grid reference is ST 334 834.
From 22 January 2018 car parking will cost £3. It will remain free for RSPB members
From M4 Junction 24: take the A48 west and then follow the brown duck signs to the Newport Wetlands National Nature Reserve car park.
From M4 Junction 28: take the A48 east and then follow the brown duck signs.
The car park is on the West Nash road, just before the entrance to the Uskmouth Power Station.
Sustrans National Cycle Route 4 has a branch to Newport Wetlands using cycle paths and quiet roads. There is a covered cycle stand in the car park.
The post code for SAT NAV is NP18 2BZ.
The nearest train station is Newport.
There is a bus stop in the reserve car park but it is a request stop.
For details of public transport visit the Traveline Cymru website.
Tel: 0300 065 3000 (Natural Resources Wales) or 01633 636363 (RSPB)
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