33.89 ha (83.74 acres)

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Explorer 152
OS Landranger 171

Though Cefn Ila is a developing woodland, it has an intriguing history and contains many features which will spark your curiosity about its past. Set in the rolling Welsh countryside and surrounded by a wider landscape of small woodlands and farmed pasture, it is within walking distance of the historic town of Usk. A manor house once stood on the site along with a landscaped Victorian pleasure ground, and the relics of its past are waiting to be discovered, explored and enjoyed.


  • Parking at site
  • Public access
  • Grassland
  • Broadleaved woodland

How to get to Cefn Ila

This 29.1-hectare (72-acre) site is 1.6km (1 mile) from the historic town of Usk and its river. It sits in a rolling landscape of small woodlands and farmed pasture at the heart of the beautiful Usk Valley.

It's not far from Wentwood, the largest ancient woodland site in Wales which is already partly owned by the Woodland Trust.

From Usk, take the A472 towards Pontypool, heading across the bridge over the River Usk. Turn left immediately after the bridge, heading towards Caerleon. After around 0.8km (0.5 miles), turn right at the crossroads in the village of Llanbadoc, opposite the church and signposted to Cefn Ila. Follow the road for 1.3km (0.75 miles) and the track to Cefn Ila is on the right. Look for the sign opposite a lodge house that lies in the junction of the access track.

The nearest train stations are at Cwmbran, 12km (7.4 miles) from the wood, and Newport, 22.5km (13.9 miles) away, from where several buses run to Usk.

Visit National Rail for more information.

A number of buses operate from Cwmbran and Newport to Usk. From Usk, buses run along the A472 and stop at St Madoc's Church in Llanbadoc.

Visit Traveline for more information.

Facilities and access

The site is 1.6km (1 mile) from the town of Usk. A public footpath leads from a point between houses just to the north of the road bridge in Usk and divides approximately half way along its length, with the northern spur linking into the access track at Cefn Ila and the southern spur just clipping the southern boundary of the site.

You can access the site from the car park as well as the public footpath which runs from Usk.

There is a car park at the entrance to the wood, with space for up to 10 cars. There is also a public car park in Usk, plus a small county council car park along the Pontypool Road, just to the north of the start of the public footpath.

The nearest toilets are in Usk town centre car park, close to the Rural Life Museum.

Wildlife and habitats


From the humble hedgehog to rare birds, such as the hawfinch and the redstart, wildlife thrives in Cefn Ila. Foxes forage in the surrounding farmland, badgers take refuge and several species of bat rest in the bat roost.

Listen out for the ‘cronking’ calls of the ravens that breed in the site’s older trees, and watch for the flutter of the many moths that have been recorded by the Monmouthshire Recording Club. The locally-rare wasp spider also breeds at Cefn Ila, with over 25 recorded here.

Look out for:

Trees, plants and fungi

The new woodland was designed with the local community who helped to plant many of the trees here. An arboretum contains many mature conifer species, ornamental shrubs and a mix of non-native and native broadleaved trees that give a natural woodland feel. These mask a once-manicured 19th century terraced garden.

Be sure to visit the rare old orchard consisting of over 50 apple and pear trees, a plum tree, several elders, and some cherries still survives.

Look out for:


As this relatively new woodland grows and develops, so do its habitats. From varied grassland to young broadleaved woodland, and nearby pockets of ancient woodland, there is a wealth of habitats to be found.


About Cefn Ila

Cefn Ila was once the site of a magnificent manor house. It was purchased by novelist and adventurer Edward John Trelawny in 1846, a famous friend of Romantic poets Shelley and Byron.

The house was bought in 1918 and later given to Pontypool hospital and converted to a convalescent home and later a maternity unit. The hospital closed in 1973 and soon after the house burned down.

Hints of the site's lavish past include a walled garden, orchard and arboretum.

We acquired the first part of the site in 2007 and the remainder in 2009. We planted 36,100 as part of the Welsh Assembly Government's first PLANT! project. Each of the trees planted was for a child born or adopted in Wales.

Early purple orchid with blurred background

A lasting legacy

This wood is just one of many to have been protected by gifts in wills, securing it for generations to come. Your legacy gift could also make a real difference to woods, trees and wildlife.

Learn what your gift could mean

Things to do at Cefn Ila


There's plenty of space to explore at Cefn Ila. There are several routes which explore the historical aspects of the site, take in wildlife and enjoy stunning views.


Cefn Ila Management Plan

PDF  (137 KB)