An enchanting day out exploring ancient woodlands and chasing waterfalls – Review of Nant Mill Country Park and Plas Power Woods.
Nant Mill Visitor Centre and the surrounding woodlands of Nant Mill and Plas Power provide the ideal place for a free family day out in Wrexham, North Wales.
Families will enjoy visiting this ancient and enchanting woodland as outlined below, and if they decide to visit the Visitor Centre built in 1832, families can learn about the history of the Clywedog Valley as they stroll around this formerly used corn mill. Refreshments and information/children’s activities are also available here.
When we arrived at the visitors centre, we stopped to eat a quick snack and take in the beautiful surroundings as there were picnic benches adjacent to the river Clywedog. In the same vicinity, there are some story telling thrones. The Clued in kid really enjoyed looking at and sitting on these wooden thrones which had a number of woodland birds beautifully carved into them to make the story telling experience even more special. Carefully we then headed down the steps to the river for a quick splash in our wellies.
Access to the river near the Visitors Centre and picnic area. There is a Ford to the right of these images providing a safer space to get down with little ones.
Story telling thrones opposite to Nant Mill Visitor Centre.
Keeping the Visitor Centre on the left, head off to the right and there is a Ford for the kids and dogs to have another splash about, a wild garden and a play area for the children. The play area consists mainly of wooden adventure play apparatus which are in keeping with the woodland surroundings. Facilities included a large play frame with ropes and slide. There wasn’t much for our toddler here but she enjoyed sitting on the wooden horses and playing with the sand digger. The area is ideal for children over the age of four or five. There is also an area made up of stone walls, where older kids can imagine they are playing in the ruins of an old house. There are even sculpted pigs in their sty’s here. The area isn’t fully enclosed so extra care will need to be taken with toddlers so close to the water. However, as we’ve already highlighted, the area is more suited older children anyway.
Part of the Nant Mill play area, located just off the car park and picnic area.
There are several different trails for families to follow including the King Offa family trail which gives an insight into the vast and interesting history of the site, the seasonal loop which is ideal for seeing bluebells in the spring, and the Clywedog valley trail (9km/5.5 miles in total), where you can walk up the valley to Minera Lead Mines or down as far as King’s Mill. If you head to the Woodland Trusts website you can download the Plas Power Augmented Reality Trail app and step back in time. Meet foresters past and present and learn about the ancient woods as you wander around Plas Power. This makes your day out to Nant Mill and Plas Power Woods even more interesting. Today we went left at Nant Mill Visitor centre, following the family trail, down the valley towards Bersham. The trail meant we were following in the hoofprints where in times gone by, horses would have pulled limestone to the blast furnaces at Bersham Ironworks.
Following the family trail with the river to our right. Kids will love the wooden insect carvings.
There are a few things to look out for on the family trail e.g. the carved beetle and centipede, small feeder waterfall and of course the main larger waterfall. The smaller waterfall offered a relatively safe spot for our toddler to splash in her wellies whereas just before the larger waterfall, older kids and their dogs were enjoying a paddle and a splash in the faster flowing water. There were also some stepping stones which again the older kids enjoyed hopping over. It’s not as easy to get down to the waterfall as with other local parks but it is possible if you take your time. We have also been informed that you can also hire ducks from the Visitor Centre and enjoy a rubber duck race….a great way to raise money for a charity or local school.
There are two smaller waterfall features, one which provides a nice ‘safe’ space to jump in with wellies (left). Image to the right shows daddy and toddler carefully paddling above the main larger waterfall.
The main waterfall as you can see is absolutely stunning (above). There are also some stepping stones for the kids to enjoy (image below).
Had we continued further towards Bersham, we would have also come across a weir but we had a toddler meltdown. Apparently she couldn’t walk and demanded to be carried because “Im too little to walk”. Hmmmm!!!
In the Summer we have been informed that there will be an abundance of wildlife; Herons, Dippers, Adders, lizards, Fox and Grey Wagtales reside near the river and the Mill itself is home to Lesser Horseshoe Bats. The tree canopy will also provide some shade making a visit here a good choice on a hot day.
On our travels we noticed how peaceful and tranquil Plas Power woods are. We rarely encountered other people despite the car park bring full and we felt really relaxed listening to the birdsong and the sound of the running stream below us. We also didn’t notice any litter unlike in some other local country parks so the Woodlands are well kept despite there being few bins.
There are some areas to let toddlers roam but as you can see, extra care may need to be taken as some walkways are narrow with a steep drop.
We visited over the Winter period and so we would strongly recommend wellies. The walkways get quite muddy and in areas, narrow. Although we saw some pushchairs, we’d recommend you stick to a single pram or take the sling.
Due to limited internet connectivity, a visit here is great for families who struggle to get their kids mobile usage down….good luck to them getting online! Therefore you can enjoy some proper family time without distractions.
The only niggle for us was paying for the car park at the Visitor Centre. It’s only £1 to pay so its good value for all day access but someone vandalised the pay machine at the time of our visit and the locals were complaining that this has been the case for some time. You can download the JustPark app but given that internet connectivity is poor, there were a few frustrated locals trying to pay as payment is still expected. Signal does increase if you head towards the education centre. There is also free parking at Minera Lead Mines further up the trai if preferred. We would also like to see more play facilities for the younger children too because if you have siblings of different ages, this would be a tad awkward keeping them all entertained together.
So to conclude...
Our walk today was amazing. It was peaceful, quiet and the scenery was absolutely beautiful. It was very muddy but hey, that’s why wellies were invented right? We can’t wait to come back in Summer to see the Woodland spring back to life with an abundance of woodland plants and animals. If you enjoy strolling through the woods, Nant Mill and Plas Power Wood may be a good option for a family day out in Wrexham, North Wales regardless of the season.
Weir image kindly provided by Mike Lloyd Jones, Coedpoeth & Minera Lead Mines for use by Clued in with kids.
Hints and tips...
*Arrive early as the car park is small and the woods are popular with ramblers and dog walkers.
*The visitors centre is closed at the moment but a local group are trying to re-open it. Therefore, it’s best to take a few drinks and snacks.
*Dogs are not permitted in the visitor centre but are more than welcome in the ancient woodlands.
*Toilets and bins were located near the visitor centre but these rarely open. You can find some toilets in Coedpoeth at Plas Pentwyn or at the Parish Hall (or pubs/cafés)
*You may wish to avoid a visit in icy or snow conditions or park away from the visitor centre due to extremely steep roads towards the corn mill.
*You can hire the Education Centre as a party venue, it has a kitchen and tables and benches.
*The Clywedog Trail now extends beyond Minera Lead Mines to the recently opened Minera Quarry Nature Reserve, with lime kilns, orchids and expansive views. Not one for toddlers, really; a large area with a lot of walking!
*Spring 2020, you’ll be able to put an app on your phone and get historical and other information about any of the attractions on the trail.
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