May 12 2022

Cefn Ila, Usk, Woodland Working Group take it up a gear!

Having recently recruited more volunteers to the Woodland Working Group at Cefn Ila, the gang have been spurred on by the input of new energy and enthusiasm!

Find out about this woods on our website –


Our small but longstanding cohort of volunteers at Cefn Ila have been making great efforts at our unique woodland on the edge of Usk. They not only care for the woodland by removing invasive species and maintaining paths, but are also custodians of the walled garden, orchard, arboretum and a large ornamental pond. These unusual features are the legacy of a stately home that once stood on the site.


The Kate Gustard Convalescence Home


It was purchased by novelist and adventurer Edward John Trelawny in 1846, a famous friend of Romantic poets Shelley and Byron. The house was 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. You can see a fuller history here –


Our recent drive for new volunteers to boost the group numbers was well received and the group has doubled in size! These extra pairs of willing hands are being put to good use by Sasha the group leader, in line with the management plan for the site.

Read the management plan here –


Cedar picnic benches…


Tree guards made of cleft chestnut….


Most recently, our Cefn Ila crew have been putting timber from the site to good use, thus saving the cost of importing materials. Cleft chestnut has been used to create large tree guards for new apple trees in the orchard. Cedar planks milled from trees grown on site have been transformed into a massive picnic bench to provide volunteers and visitors with a comfy lunch spot situated next to the bat hibernaculum. Our hard-working volunteers know the importance of regular rests and hydration!


As we move towards summer the group will be focusing on more seating in the form of benches in the orchard and the walled garden, thus ensuring more good use of the timber on site to provide accessible enjoyment of the woods and wildlife for our visitors.


A big thank you to our Cefn Ila Crew and all our other volunteers helping the Woodland Trust meet it’s goals!



Written by Martha Boalch, Wales VDO, with photos and other input from Sasha Ufsnowska, Group Leader.

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