Every year I write about the bluebells at Coed y Wenallt, Cardiff because the purple-blue haze across the woodland floor, which appears towards the end of April and disappears mid-May, is such an incredible sight and something I wish every local child could experience. And yet every year I wonder whether I should write about the bluebell woods because sadly not everyone gives this precious beauty spot the respect that they should. This morning we saw discarded bags of dog poo, litter in the woods and trampled bluebells and it made me both sad and angry. I’m sure that Cardiff Mummy readers are not among those responsible but I’m going to start this post with a reminder to take care of this natural beauty spot so that it can continue to be enjoyed by everyone. Don’t leave litter or dog poo. Don’t walk over the bluebells and don’t pick them. Right, lecture over!
How to get to Coed y Wenallt
Let’s start with the basics – how to get there. Coed y Wenallt, or the Wenallt as it’s more commonly known, sits at the top of Thornhill Road, the big hill on the way to Caerphilly Mountain, past the New House Hotel. When you get to the top of the hill, opposite The Traveller’s Rest pub, you’ll see an immediate small left turn onto a country lane. Take the turning and head down the lane for about a mile.
We tend to ignore the first car park and head for the second, which is the perfect place from which to explore the woods. It only holds about a dozen cars, so at busy times people park along the lane itself.
Both car parks are free. There are no toilets at the woodland, which is always a consideration when out with young children.
You can also access the 44-hectare woods via Rhiwbina Hill.
An important wildlife site
The Wenallt is an ancient woodland, which dates back to at least 1600AD. It’s designed as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) in recognition of its value for wildlife.
As well as precious bluebells, the woodland is home to bird species including Great Spotted Woodpeckers, nuthatches, jays, and even ravens and buzzards overhead. You may see Speckled Wood butterflies, while nocturnal mammals such as dormice and badgers have been spotted at the Wenallt.
The first area of the woodland is fairly accessible for buggies, although if you want to go further into the woods a carrier or sling would be better as it’s quite hilly and there are a few little streams to cross.
There’s an area for picnics (and camp fires) next to the car park.
As soon as you walk down the path from the car park, you’ll be greeted by a sea of the blue flowers. This is a really popular spot for photos as the light shines in through the trees perfectly. There are a couple of fallen tree trunks which are great for children to sit on against a back drop of bluebells.
If you have the time though, it’s really worth exploring these woods. It’s great all year round, not just in bluebell season.
There’s a map at the entrance showing different walking routes around the woods although it’s pretty easy to navigate around yourself though.
With the car park behind you, take the path to the left and you’ll come across a few dens and shelters made from sticks. My children always love playing in these. Continue along the path and there’s an unusual looking tree with wonderfully gnarled roots as well as an enchanting hollow tree with a gap that is the is perfect height for children to stand inside. We take photos here every year.
Great for children to explore
We usually then follow the path down the hill to explore more of the woodland, which is full of little rocky stream areas to cross, fallen tree trunks to play on, more dens and even a rope swing. You can go right to the bottom of the hill or break off half way. With either option, just keep following the path and then go back up the hill towards the car park in a big loop.
You might also like these posts – Fforest Fawr Sculpture Trail, Garwnant Visitor Centre and Sculpture Trails, Cefn Onn, Forest Farm and Glamorganshire Canal, Cwmcarn Forest, Porthkerry Country Park, Comseston Lakes and Medieval Village.