Pilton Vale is an environmental open space to the east of Malpas, nestled between the A4042 and the Pilton Vale estate and originally owned by the Welsh Office.
When the Cwmbran Bypass, the A4042, was built, it sliced through an area of council owned land, Grove Park and the Welsh Office gave Newport City Council this space at Pilton Vale as compensation with money to improve the site.
Newport City Council created the circular path, boardwalk and a number of sculptures in 2005-6.
Find the site off Pillmawr Road where a small number of cars can park on the access road.
There are pedestrian access points from the Pilton Vale estate and Newport Bus services run through the estate.
There are some steps and steep inclines in parts of the site although the majority of the footpaths are surfaced and level.
There is limited access for wheelchairs.
What to see
Pilton Vale has a variety of habitats from grassland and woodland to bracken and wetland.
The site has never been extensively farmed so some of the grassland is unimproved resulting in an interesting range of plants.
Particularly around the entrance off Pillmawr Lane, look out for common knapweed, devil’s bit scabious and even a few scattered common spotted orchids.
The first boardwalk which goes off to the right will take you over Malpas Brook where you will see lots of damp-loving species such as alder and willow trees, common reed, meadowsweet and yellow flag iris.
This path will take you up to an old oak woodland (northern part of site) with fantastic views of the surrounding area.
In the spring, bluebells and violets cover the woodland floor, and in the autumn the oaks and birch can give beautiful autumn colours.
As you return from the woodland the boardwalk takes you over the seasonal pond and wetland areas where you may see dragonflies, tadpoles, newts and frogs.
In the summer, there may be wildflowers and butterflies in the areas of grassland and in the autumn look for fungi and newts and frogs heading out of the ponds to live on land over the winter.
Don’t forget the winter! Woodlands in the winter can be great places to spot birds, and the ponds become home to overwintering wetland birds.
Deciduous woodland – the main trees you will see here are alder, willow and oak, with spring flowers such as common dog-violet and bluebell in the oak woodland.
Ponds and streams – the ponds can be quite seasonal, sometimes drying out over the summer, but are still home to frogs to newts.
Wetlands – these marshy areas are valuable feeding grounds for many birds as well as providing damp, shady places for newts and frogs to shelter.
Amenity grassland – regularly mown grass is not the best wildlife habitat, but some plants and animals will still take up residence so keep your eyes open.
Bracken – generally found growing on the sides of hills as it needs well drained soil, it spreads quickly, so can take over and smother other habitats although small areas can be beneficial for a range of wildlife.
Anyone can visit Pilton Vale at any time of day, so schools and other groups are welcome to experience the different habitats on site.
The pond and wetland areas are sometimes suitable for pond dipping, but during dry periods can become rather shallow, it’s worth checking beforehand.
The paths can become wet and muddy in places.
There are areas of open water, which can be deep over the winter months.
At other times of year, wetland areas can become very muddy and boggy, so please do not stray off the boardwalks even if the surface looks solid.
Boardwalks can become slippery in wet weather.