Wetlands visitor centre, West Nash, Newport
|Type||National nature reserve|
|Nearest city||Newport, Wales|
|Area||437 hectares (1,080 acres)|
The reserve was established in 2000 to mitigate losses of wildlife habitat when the Cardiff Bay Barrage scheme was undertaken.
The site is owned and managed by Natural Resources Wales, the successor body to the Countryside Council for Wales. A purpose-built visitor and education centre for the site was opened, in West Nash, in March 2008 by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) with help from Newport City Council and water level management assistance by Caldicot and Wentloog Levels Internal Drainage Board.
The reserve covers 437 hectares (1,080 acres) of the Caldicot Level, a low-lying area of land bordering the northern shore of the Severn Estuary. Part of the site is a reclaimed fuel ash disposal site, although some farmland in Goldcliff and Nash has also had to be flooded to complete the work.
Entrance is free, with car parking facilities open every day of the year from 8:30 am until 5:30 pm. The visitor and education centre opening hours are 9:00 am until 5:00 pm (except Christmas day).
Dogs and cyclists are permitted outside the visitor centre and along a specially marked six-kilometre (3.7 mi) circular route around the reserve's perimeter.
Habitats and species
The reserve includes a wide variety of habitats which include grazed pasture with hedgerows, ditches, reens, reed beds and grasslands. These help to attract breeding birds such as lapwings, redshanks, oystercatchers, little ringed plovers and ringed plovers, as well as visitors such as wigeon, shovellers, teal, shelduck and pintails, bitterns, hen harriers and short-eared owls.
Comprehensive observation data for the region can be obtained from, and submitted at eBird.
Tufted duck near Newport Wetlands RSPB Reserve visitor centre/picnic and play area
Ring-necked pheasants on shore of the Severn Estuary at Newport Wetlands RSPB Reserve
Great crested grebe calling on Newport Wetlands RSPB Reserve fenced lagoon
Little grebe on Newport Wetlands RSPB Reserve fenced lagoon
Grey heron fishing on Newport Wetlands RSPB Reserve fenced lagoon
Eurasian coot Near Newport Wetlands RSPB Reserve floating walkway
Tufted ducks at Newport Wetlands RSPB Reserve floating walkway
Canada geese Near Newport Wetlands RSPB Reserve lighthouse
Dunnock at cycling and dog path around perimeter of Newport Wetlands RSPB Reserve
Reed bunting near fenced lagoon at Newport Wetlands RSPB Reserve
Wren singing on branch facing Severn Estuary at Newport Wetlands RSPB Reserve
Carrion crow on branch facing Severn Estuary
Magpies foraging on field viewed from woodland trail
Picnic and play area
The picnic and play area situated next to the visitor centre provides a children's play area, education zone, and benches for picnics. It is surrounded by wetlands and reed beds, home to many resident and migratory birds.
Past the picnic and play area is a hill, which continues directly ahead south towards the floating walkway and lighthouse (see below). Three lagoons are located on the top of the hill, immediately before approaching the floating walkway. These are R5, R6 (fully viewable from two fenced overpasses on the hill) and R8 (partially viewable from a fenced overpass on the hill but best viewed from the woodland trail viewpoint).
View of Uskmouth power station
A new feature part of the reserve's development was an artificial floating walkway, which provides a direct route to the lighthouse over lagoon R7. This lagoon is part of a series of a total of three lagoons spanning the coastal path (east to west). The most eastward lagoon (R9) is overlooked by the bird hide in addition to being viewable from a fenced overpass (currently closed for the stated reason of protecting wildlife), and the most westwardly lagoon (R4) is viewable from a fenced overpass.
East Usk Lighthouse
East Usk lighthouse, near Perry Lane, West Nash, Newport
|Year first constructed||1893|
|Construction||cast iron tower|
|Tower shape||cylindrical tower with balcony and lantern|
|Markings / pattern||white tower and lantern|
|Tower height||13 metres (43 ft)|
|Focal height||11 metres (36 ft)|
|Light source||mains power|
|Characteristic||Fl (2) WRG 10s.|
|Managing agent||Newport Harbour Commissioners |
The East Usk Lighthouse is within the reserve on the estuary trail facing towards the Severn Estuary. It is a basic lamphousing with no accommodation. The more substantial decommissioned West Usk Lighthouse, currently operating as a hotel, is on the opposite (west) bank of the River Usk and can be viewed from the reserve.
The bird hide is located on the far side of the trail and provides shelter for up-close viewing of birds on one of the trail's many lagoons (R9).
Manager Kevin Dupè talking about the starlings at the reserve
Cycling and dog walking path
The cycling (and dog walking) route is accessed via a path next to the car park exit. Initially heading west, the 6 kilometres (3.7 mi) circular route follows alongside the power station then turns to the east past the East Usk Lighthouse and along the Severn Estuary (Wales Coast Path). After dropping below the sea wall the path splits, with a pedestrian and dog walking route returning to the visitor centre via a marked path to the left. A longer pedestrian and cycling route continues forwards towards Goldcliff village and the local road network.
The woodland trail is entered by turning left at the top of the hill. The trail travels past neighboring farmland, through the reserve's woodlands, past a lagoon viewing platform and bird hide, and onto the estuary trail.
Newport Transporter Bridge viewed from woodland trail
Woodland trail viewpoint
A notable feature of the reserve, which may be missed by the hurried explorer, is the viewing platform overlooking lagoon R8. It is located in a relatively secluded area of the reserve, found by turning right before leaving the woodland trail when heading southwards towards the bird hide/estuary trail.
- C&WLIDB News Article
- Newport Wetlands at bbc.co.uk
- CCW press release
- The RSPB: About Newport Wetlands
- "Sightings" at gwentbirds.org.uk
- The RSPB: Newport Wetlands: Facilities
- East Usk The Lighthouse Directory. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Retrieved 3 June 2016
- East Usk Light Lighthouse Explorer. Retrieved 3 June 2016