Gaer Fort, Bassaleg Road, NP20 3PX. OS Grid Ref: ST 288 869
Gaer Fort is an Iron Age hill fort with a prime position overlooking the Severn Estuary and defended on the one side by the River Ebbw.
There are wide-ranging views from the top on a clear day and as Newport’s only remaining heathland it provides an interesting habitat to explore.
What to see
On a clear day, the Gaer (or the ‘Gollars’ as it is known locally) gives views over Newport, Cardiff and the Severn Estuary.
The bracken slopes provide a warm microclimate which many reptiles and invertebrates enjoy.
In some areas there is too much bracken so it is undergoing annual management.
There are small pockets of heathland with heather and bilberry where acid loving plants such as heath bedstraw and heath speedwell may be seen.
Acid grassland and heathland are rare in Newport, so these habitats are particularly important.
On warm, sunny days you may be lucky enough to see slow worms and common lizards basking in open areas.
The Gaer is also used as a foraging habitat by many bats, and over 300 different kinds of moths have been recorded.
Mammals such as shrews, voles, moles and foxes are common, while birds like the skylark, with it’s beautiful song, can be heard.
The mounds in the open grassland areas are yellow meadow-ant anthills, and these show that the site has not undergone any management which has disturbed the structure of the soil, making it an ancient grassland of particular interest.
Gaer Hill Fort was built by Celts in the Iron Age (approx. 750 BC – AD 43).
It would have been in a very powerful position at that time, commanding the approach between the River Usk to the east and the River Ebbw to the west.
To the south-west, you may be able to make out another hill fort at Graig-y-Saeson, thought to be part of a network of forts in this area.
The hill fort was once part of the lands owned by the Morgan family of Tredegar and in the 17th century was incorporated into the landscape of 'The Park' surrounding the Morgan family estate at Tredegar House.
The main entrance to Gaer Fort is to the north of the site, off Bassaleg Road, where there is space here for a car or two to park.
There are also many pedestrian access points around the east of the site from the Gaer estate (off Shakespeare Crescent).
There is free access all over the site but there are a number of mown paths to follow if you choose - these paths are uneven, steep and muddy in places.
The Sirhowy Valley Walk, a 26 mile long distance route, crosses the Gaer from Bassaleg Road and joins Shakespeare Crescent on it’s way to Tredegar House.
Stagecoach Bus services 50 (Bargoed- Newport) and 151 (Blackwood-Newport) drop off along Bassaleg Road, and service 2A and 2C travels along Shakespeare Crescent.
As Gaer Fort is one of the best examples of an Iron Age Hillfort in Wales (and is thought to be one of the original Celtic settlements in south Wales), it is an excellent living history site.
There is no log circle on Gaer Fort, however it is open access all year, and so schools and other groups are welcome to explore the site whenever they want.
The mown paths can be uneven, slippery and muddy.
The remains of the hill fort enclosures, with banks and ditches have left steep drops in some places.