The Coedydd Aber Nature Reserve is located on the northern side of the Carneddau mountains just off the A55, roughly mid-way between Bangor and Llanfairfechan. It forms part of the Coedydd Aber Site of Special Scientific Interest [SSSI] and the Coedydd Aber Special Area of Conservation [SAC].
This extensive western Oakwood occupies the slopes of a steep-sided valley south of Abergwyngregyn. The walk from the village follows the riverbank from which Dipper and Grey Wagtail may be observed. The main path follows the valley floor to Aber Falls, a stunning waterfall serving as the primary source of visitor attraction in the area.
Ash, Downy Birch and Rowan populate the area around the falls, where a lack of grazing allows Great Wood-rush, Wild Angelica and Lady’s Mantle to grow. Brown Trout and Common Eel are the main fish species, with small numbers of Sea Trout and Salmon.
The geology and variety of landform has influenced the area to become rich in a range of plants and animals. The soils of the valley floor are deep and fertile supporting an array of plants. This is in contrast to the higher ground where soils are thin and acidic. Trees of the valley floor are mainly Alder and Ash, with Sessile Oak dominating the drier rocky slopes. The understory is of Hazel and Rowan. Yellow Pimpernel, Meadow Sweet and Tufted Hair-grass are fairly typical species of the woodland floor. The steep and rocky terrain on the drier, nutrient-poor slopes have fewer undershrubs, with the Oakwood giving way to some scattered Hawthorn and Crab Apple. The ground flora is typically grass-dominated, with Sweet Vernal Grass, Common Bent, Yorkshire Fog, and some Bracken and Bluebell.
Due to a rich growth of lichens, which act as environmental indicators, the woodland is of national importance. Areas of notable acidity typically boast a rich ground flora of mosses, liverworts, lichens and scattered ferns. This is tempered by pockets of base-rich soil that support herbs, which include Ramsons (wild Garlic), Dog’s Mercury and Moschatel (Town Hall Clock). It is also rich in fungi, particularly around the edges of the plantation.
The woodland birds are of special interest, ranging from the Sparrowhawk to inconspicuous songbirds such as the Treecreeper, Green and Great Spotted Woodpecker. Nuthatch, Redstart (summer visitor) and Siskin provide colour, while a good range of warblers frustrate the novice birdwatcher in summer. Birds of the more open habitats include Wheatear, Tree Pipit (both summer visitors), Meadow Pipit, Skylark, Stonechat, Raven and Buzzard.
Reptile species include Adder, Slow Worm and Common Lizard. The mammalian fauna is characteristic of native Oakwood. The larger species include Stoat, Polecat and Badger with Otter present upstream and Brown Hare sighted on the upland areas. Bat species include Pipistrelle, Natterer’s Bat, Noctule and Whiskered Bat. While rich in invertebrates, most are inconspicuous. However, the black slow-flying adults of Chimneysweeper Moths are evident in sunny glades during summer.
All the paths on the reserve have a rough stone / gravel surface and the slope varies from level to relatively steep ground. Parking facilities are available at Bont Newydd (includes reserved space for disabled visitors) or further along the road at the Forestry Commission site. The nearby village of Abergwyngregyn also has a car park.