The site is shown as a woodland in the 1840 tithe map, with a small orchard near the kissing gate. The woodland is managed as a combination of high forest and coppice-with-standards. An extensive boardwalk trail covers the length of the reserve and ongoing management consists of winter rotational coppicing of small compartments.
The wet woodlands alongside the River Ithon are home to lare Alder trees. The golden-yellow flowers of Marsh Marigold line the bank in early spring with extensive areas of Bluebell with Dogs Mercury, Red Campion, Yellow Archangel and Greater Stitchwort. The wood is an important location for Early Purple Orchids, and contains Orpine and Hairy St John's Wort, both scarce in Radnorshire, and the grass Lesser Hairy Brome. In the wetter areas Kingcup, and both Opposite-leaved and Alternate-leaved Golden Saxifrage are found.
A huge variety of breeding birds live in the woodland. Pied Flycatcher, Redstart, Great and Lesser-spotted Woodpecker, and warblers including Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Wood Warbler, Blackcap and Garden Warbler breed in summer along with Bullfinch, Buzzard, Spotted Flycatcher and Marsh and Willow Tit. Woodcock winter in the wood and Grey Wagtail, Sand Martin and Dipper are commonly found on the adjacent river, where Kingfisher, Pied Flycatcher. and Goosander may also be seen.
The woodland is rich in lower plants, Lichens, Mosses and Liverworts. Insect species include important beetle communities,erirn with all three British Cardinal Beetles, and the snail-killing ground beetle Cychrus caraboides found on the reserve. Butterflies include Orange Tip and Ringlet.
Along the river dragonflies and damselflies are common, including the Beautiful Demoiselle (Calopteryx virgo) and the White-legged Damselfly (Platycnemis pennipes). Mammals include Daubenton Bat and otter - their spraints often being found near Shaky Bridge.
In Llandrindod Wells at the mini roundabout on the A483(T), take the exit signposted for Welsh Assembly Government. Continue straight ahead for a mile. At the end of the urban area, bear right at the sharp bend heading uphill. Continue for approx a mile and a half and you will see a Powys County Council sign by the Shaky Bridge picnic area (NGR: SO 085 612). Park here. On foot, head back the way you came, turning right. The reserve is on the left opposite the church sign.