Porth-y-Parc started out as the gatehouse to a medieval deer park. By the mid-twentieth century it was a smallholding and dairy, delivering milk to households in Abergavenny.
When we bought it in 2009 the original farmhouse was derelict, Ty Gwyn was grey, cold and cheerless, and The Old Barn was – a barn!
Starting a new life after years of living and working in the south east, we set about transforming the buildings and improving the land, to create three beautiful homes (we live in the 16th century farmhouse), each with its own very special character and charm, and an organic smallholding which is also a haven for wildlife.
Care for the environment is at the heart of all we do, from the photovoltaic panels on the shed to the bird and bat boxes around the farm, and our own electric car….
We love everything about Porth-y-Parc and our lives here!
On the Farm
“With its position at the foot of Sugar Loaf and with lovely small, sheltered fields, Porth-y-Parc is already a place where nature is allowed to thrive. There is enormous potential for this site to become a shining example of just how abundant wildlife can be on a nature-friendly farm“Porth-y-Parc Baseline Ecological Survey, July 2021
We were awarded organic status for our land and flock in 2015. Over the past few years we have been laying and replacing hedges, planting and coppicing trees, putting up bird and bat boxes, and the land is rich with wildlife. Buzzards and red kite wheel overhead and in early summer a barn owl hunts silently over the hay meadows. Now, following our Baseline Ecological Survey, we are looking to enrich it further.
Over a hundred plant species and more than 50 different birds have been found here, and with more hedge and tree planting underway, and the restoration of old pond sites in the lower meadows, we hope to attract even more, including the return of our much-loved swallows, whose number have dwindled over the past couple of years.
“The fantastic location of Porth-y-Parc between two large areas of upland heath/grass and woodland habitats is a further incentive to provide a really effective joined up network of hedgerows”Porth-y-Parc Baseline Ecological Survey, July 2021
Our Black Welsh Mountain sheep thrive in our meadows, however wild and wacky the weather – some years even lambing out in the snow.
As well as the sheep, we keep a few chickens and ducks for eggs and often a couple of Gloucester Old Spot pigs too.
To support our vision of a truly nature-rich farm, we have significantly reduced our sheep numbers, and in 2021 our two beautiful Hereford cross heifers arrived.
Fanny and Mabel will make a real impact on the bio-diversity of our land, trampling down patches of dense bracken, opening up the ground in the wetter areas to allow specialist plants and insects to move in, and encouraging areas of shorter and longer vegetation and scrub to develop in place of the closely cropped grazing of the sheep.
We are sure we can indeed become a shining example, caring for our land in a way that is important not just to the local wildlife, but also to helping offset general species decline and wider climate change issues. We hope that returning guests will share our own joy and excitement as the fields become wilder, bursting with plant and animal life.
The Owl Service
Wild March winds left these two tawny owl chicks marooned on the woodland floor and unable to return to their nest. We whisked them down to the City Wildlife Rescue Centre in Newport.
Four months later, fully grown and able to fend for themselves, we brought them home and re-released them. You might well hear them calling in the trees up on the ridges above the farm.
Starry, Starry Nights….
Even if you don’t catch a glimpse of the owls, the night skies here are sensational – The Brecon Beacons National Park is an International Dark Skies Reserve, and Sugar Loaf is one of the top stargazing sites in the park.
“There is so much to bring joy in this hideaway valley beneath Sugar Loaf Mountain. The twisted old oaks, quiet pastures and sun-filled glades are quite magical…Thank you to Roz and Pip for sharing this hidden place….” Alison, David and Sam