Promoting observation, free range exploration, sense of place and citizen science, through the field notes of a naturalist.

Sunday, 8 November 2020

Woodland reawakening


Boundary stone

It's an area on my local patch that I've neglected over recent times. It's used by motorbikers too frequently to be comfortable so doesn't always confirm to my idea of a peaceful well-being walk. But with lockdown back with us I made the decision to risk the bikers and take another look at this marvelous block of ancient woodland near to Talywain.

This patch is a continuous wooded area that stretches from The British to Varteg and incorporates the woodlands of British Carnau, Graig Wen and Graig Ddu. A glorious mosaic of beech and sessile oak woodland interspersed with lightly grazing unimproved grassland that blends into ffridd habitat as the altitude increases. Boundary stones and dry stone walls mark changes in ownership and the remains of Graig Ddu farm sits within a clearing, above which is enclosed grassland bordered by fine examples of mature pollarded beech. All these trees should measured and entered on to the Woodland Trusts ancient tree register, but to do so would require a significant investment of time.

From Talywain Rugby Club a weathered wooden waymarker says Cwm ffrwd and points this naturalist towards Graig Wen and Graig Ddu. On the approaches to these woodlands is a stone boundary marker and from there the path snakes uphill. Trees here are characteristic of Welsh valley hillsides. Hidden within is a linear pond. Devoid of aquatic vegetation and now accumulating the debris of an autumn woodland, a part visible stone wall suggests this is not a natural waterbody.

Into the sunlight of a glade and another more industrial waymarker takes me to the ruinous Graig Ddu farm. A bench and interpretation board encourages you to dwell and take in the vista of Mynydd Farteg Fawr in the foreground and Mynydd Garn Clochdy in the distance. The farm itself is just a collection of short remnant walls except for an almost complete gable end structure that dominates the setting. Tracks ascend higher and descend lower all bordered by trees that demand the attention of an inquisitive naturalist. But alas on this occasion the light was fading and rain had set in.

On the return my mind drifted to the prospect of more visits and a springtime of redstart and pied flycatcher song.

Sessile oak and beech

Pollarded beech on field margin

Woodland birch


Mature pollarded beech

Unimproved acid grassland with ant hills

Woodland pond

Sycamore at Graig Ddu farm


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