Our Summer Events

10454 Cefn Ila multi event poster v5


July 8th – Bioblitz!

Wildlife experts will be on-hand throughout the day to help identify and record a variety of species, and you can get involved too with your own spotter sheet.

Take a stroll around the arboretum and the walled garden and join the line-up of FREE events taking place throughout the day, including:

  • Moth trapping
  • Guided walks and talks on birds, fungi, botany and much more!
  • Evening bat watching
  • BBQ at 6pm

With thanks to SEWBREC

This event will run from 11am to 11pm, (and there’s no toilets so be prepared to go for a wild wee!) Click here to book

August 10th – Junior Rangers!

Come and join us for a fun filled activity session at your local woodland!

Join us and Wild Spirit Bushcraft for a day of fun filled activities at Cefn Ila There will be lots to do including shelter building, wild food foraging! To get a taster of activities, please visit their website.

This will be an excellent way for your ‘budding Bear Grylls’ to learn some valuable bushcraft skills!

10am – 3pm

£5 booking fee, Click here to book

August 19th – History WalkMaternity Hospital

Join us on a history and dendrological tour of the Victorian pleasure grounds identifying trees and discovering interesting historical features.

£5 booking charge

Begins from the car park at 10am. Click here to book

Cefn Ila Open Day!

Join us to celebrate the completion of the ‘discover Cefn Ila project’. HLF have funded this project for several years and has brought new life into the site along with our team of dedicated volunteers! So what better way to finish than to go out with a bang!

Sunday 3rd September from 10am – 3pm651d923aa43a48b0cdab7b93e8ba04ba

Enjoy country craft displays, live music, bird of prey demonstrations, bushcraft, and buy locally produced products like honey and cider.

There will also be outdoor family entertainment from our onsite performers Rowanbank and will give a magical woodland walk at at 11.30 and 1.30, check out their amazing work! – http://www.rowanbank.org.uk/

This event is FREE to attend!!

NO PARKING ON SITE – take the free shuttle bus every half hour from the Usk Rural Life Museum, New Market Street, Usk, Monmouthshire, NP15 1AU

Click here to book


What went on in 2016

2016 was an absolutely fantastic year at Cefn Ila with lots of lovely new additions to the site and events.

The new signs!

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We’ve added new interpretation to the arboretum, walled garden and hibernaculum.

The Walled Garden

This is an interactive sign giving you a sneak peak of what the walled garden may have looked like in it’s glory days. Look through the drawing and angle your vision to where the shelter is!

The ArboretumMaternity Hospital

Our very own artists impression of the old manor house that once stood in the arboretum. This picture was based on an old image dating from it’s maternity hospital years –


The Bat Hibernaculum

This lovely slate sign depicts the various different species of bats at the hibernaculum.


Still to come

We’ve still got some more signs and way-marking on the way so keep an eye out.



The New Tree Guards!


The wonderful cefn ila volunteers are currently putting the last few hand made tree guards into the orchard ready for us to plant our new apple and pear variety’s. Not only to these stop the sheep from pruning our new trees, but they are also lovely to look at!

If you ever need to get in touch with us, or would like to come and volunteer please email – Cefnila@woodlandtrust.org.uk or phone Megan Jones on 07887534972.




Spring Events!

We are pleased to announce two fantastic Spring events at Cefn Ila that will launch you into a wild world of nature on your doorstep.

Flowers and Foraging – On Sunday 26th April we will be hosting two guided walks that will lead you to discover the species of wild plants found at Cefn Ila as well as a what foods can be foraged locally. Our biodiversity expert will show you a range of flowering plants to be found, including rare and unusual species. Then a local foraging aficionado Kate Jones will show you how to access nature’s larder and cook up some foraged delights to try.

The day will run from 1-5. Although the event is free, donations are invited on the day, please book in advance.

Birds and Bats – Our May event takes place on Saturday the 16th. Visitors are invited to join our Site Manager and bird expert Barry Embling on a guided to soak up the sounds of the evening chorus. You can learn to identify birds by their call and discover some of the less well known wildlife on your doorstep. The evening continues into the dark to find out which bats can be found at Cefn Ila. Steve Wadley, bat ecologist will tell us all about the mysterious nocturnal creatures. This event runs from 7:30- 9:30.

Again please get in touch to book a place, contact Amelia on 08437705566 or email Cefnila@woodlandtrust.org.uk.

Returning Wildlife to Cefn Ila

At Cefn Ila we are working on lots of mini projects to improve the site for people and wildlife. Perhaps one of the most aesthetically pleasing is the creation of a wildflower area. An area of the old walled garden will be utilised as a wildflower patch to host annual and perennial wildflowers which were once common.

Lesser celandine as about to forma blanket of colour in the walled garden.

Lesser celandine as about to form a blanket of colour in the walled garden.

With thanks to our volunteers and Monmouthshire Meadows Group a large section of the walled garden will be nurtured into a wildflower area containing local seed. As many readers will know, the nettles and brambles currently dominating the walled garden indicate rich soils. This is no surprise as the soil is a rich dark colour, splattered with shells and pebbles from the seaweed used to improve its nutrient levels. The very experienced Stephanie Tyler of Monmouthshire Meadows Group advised that we should strip the soil of much of its nutrients to prepare it for wildflowers.

Volunteers prepare the ground for potatoes

Volunteers prepare the ground for potatoes

So this year we will be planting potatoes to do just that. Having turned the soil we will also get the chance to see what is lying dormant in the soil. Having possibly never been treated with herbicide the soil in the walled garden may already be host to an array of interesting wild plant seeds just waiting for their chance to germinate. So we’ll be keeping an eye on what comes up and keep you posted.

Come and find out about the wild flowers at Cefn Ila and learn which native and naturalised plants you can eat at our event on the 26th April 1-5. Be guided by foraging and wildflower experts to discover a range of plants you may have never noticed and taste some local wild delights. To find out more or book contact AmeliaLake@woodlandtrust.org.uk

Graft Your Own Fruit Tree

On Sunday the 29th March we will be inviting people to Cefn Ila to learn the skill of grafting fruit trees. We have a beautiful orchard on site which needs repopulating. So why not come and help us graft new apple and pear trees for our orchard and take home a tree of your own!apples

We will be grafting our own scion material from local varieties lead by Woodland Trust staff and supported by our fabulous volunteers. You will get the chance to learn the techniques required and practice them. We’ll provide a lovely fire and hot drinks so just bring some lunch, your favoured tools and dress up warm. The day will run from 10-3, meeting in the car park.

There are limited spaces for this event so please book by emailing your name, contact number and number of people attending in your vehicle to: AmeliaLake@woodlandtrust.org.uk

Roaring success!

On Wednesday and Sunday last week Cefn Ila welcomed over 30 new volunteers! During the two work parties teams of people worked hard to transform an area of the arboretum. Previously smothered by invasive laurel and Rododendron ponticum an area of the orchard was cleared to reveal the specimen pines.

Clearing bramble around a specimen Rhododendron

Clearing bramble around a specimen Rhododendron

Each day started with a small tour of this historic and beautiful site with Site Manager Barry Embling. Important work commenced, using bow saws, loppers and machetes to claim back the arboretum from invasive plants.

Fuelling the fire with laurel

Fuelling the fire with laurel

Volunteers learnt new skills including felling very large shrubs safely, plant identification and starting a fire with wet material. We all enjoyed a warming cup of tea from the popular Kelly kettle at lunch time and a good fire to clear the laurel foliage.

Team takes lunch

Team takes lunch

We look forward to seeing new and familiar volunteers on the 4th February, 10-3 to continue work in the arboretum and make a start on other projects.

Contact: Cefnila@woodlandtrust.org.uk or 07774786514

Let the Work Begin!

Next Wednesday sees us launch our regular work parties at Cefn Ila. At 10 am we will be pleased to welcome everyone who wants to do practical work on site. We will be clearing invasive rhododendron and preparing for grafting our apples and pears. All the work parties are aimed at getting people involved in the conservation and restoration activity at Cefn Ila.

Rhododendron ponticum - invasive species

Rhododendron ponticum – invasive species

The work parties will run every 1st and 3rd Wednesday 10-3 and every last Sunday of the month 10-3. Everyone is welcome and free to come along to as many or as few as they like. We ask that you let us know you are coming, bring lunch and wear appropriate clothing. We’ll provide tools, guidance and importantly hot refreshments!

If you would like to join us or know more just get in touch on 08437705566 or email Cefnila@woodlandtrust.org.uk