Tuesday 4 November 2014

All change in our valley . . .

It might be colder, but at least the sun has been out long enough to plan some walks.  Yesterday, in between showers, I did a leg-stretching walk just up the valley.  This is the view between the trees looking towards the Iron Age camp on the hilltop opposite, though there's a branch and a big covert of gorse concealing the margins.

The view upstream from the bridge shows that many trees have been hanging on to their leaves.  There is beech and oak along this stretch, and some alder too.

Downstream there is more oak and ash, and the ash trees at the side of our yard and fencelines have already shed their leaves.  The remains of the Rosebay Willowherb here are now bleached and almost without colour apart from the odd yellowed leaf.

A slightly different angle for the view up the valley, looking through the copse beside the little hill leading Northwards from the bridge.  This was once a grazing field, a bit wet, but good rough grazing, but then the owner got a grant for planting it up with native trees and these have grown on well now.

The lane up the valley - a very familiar view.

Burgundy pink leaves decorated bare twigs in the hedgerow.

The lane ahead was tempting, but then I noticed the gates wide open into another stretch of former grazing planted up with trees, and a quarry-waste road had been laid across it.  Of course, curiosity got the better of me then.  What was our neighbour J up to?

The tree plantings had been thinned out, but there are some lovely young trees growing on - lots of hazel, birch, some oak and a other indigenous species are thriving.  Hard to imagine we used to canter the horses across here . . .

Gosh, this had changed.  Once a footpath and on the left a picnic area, trees had been cleared and a broader vista of the valley has emerged.  The conifers on the left are at Horeb, I believe.

Then - desecration.  I remember this as a quite grassy path along the riverbank, with a few small alder and birch and hazel trees growing thinly in front of stands of older ash. A lot of ash woodland still remains (for the moment), and alder too, hence no leaves still on the trees.

Now the sylvan setting where we would see deer was laid waste.  Some of the ivy-clad ash has benefitted from felling, I don't doubt, but what a mess . . .

I had to remind myself that the clearance would allow all sorts of woodland plants to flourish, once they had the light, like these Foxgloves, who already seemed to think spring had come twice in the same year!

Meanwhile the river keeps on flowing, as it always has done in some shape or another.  This is nothing it hasn't seen before, since this is no way primary woodland, or even secondary.  Judging by the sizes of most of the remaining trees, this area could well have been felled for pit-props for the mines, or for trenches during WW1.  It certainly hasn't been managed woodland since WWII.

One last bit of sadness - the big old barn beside what used to be a picnic site has now been dragged down and all its wriggly tin rent asunder . . .  Nothing stays still.  My son would regret its passing, as he and his mates used to camp here on summer nights, or down beside the river, just where everything is being flattened and cut down.  Mind you, we will probably (hopefully!!!) be long gone from Wales when he returns from his travels (he goes on to NZ in January) and so it may well be a long time before he comes back along this valley to see what the passing years have done to it . . .

Right, we have sold the big old rocking chair at the Unit, so I had better polish up its replacement.


  1. Nothing stays the same in the country does it? You are right though that clearing allows plants the light to grow. Time will tell what happens next.

  2. Hmmm - knowing J he may be moving in a herd of Illegal Immigrants to stay in tents! As long as they paid him enough he would allow it!!!

  3. What a beautiful valley you live in! It is the country-side of Britain I miss the most -- trees brooks birds and wild flowers.

  4. I find it strange that you are showing photos of the area I live in but have yet to have time to discover it :-) Thanks for showing me what is out there.

  5. What a lovely walk--and the photos of trees quite artistic.It is always sad when a memorable area changes almost beyond recognition--I'm glad you are thinking in terms of new growth that will benefit from the 'clearing'--but indeed 'logging' always makes a mess.

  6. Chris - ah, I dare say you have benefits that we don't - lots of sunshine for instance, and GOOD QUILT SHOPS!!!

    Dawn - if you drive down the valley from Brechfa to the A40, this is part of the route (e.g. up towards Abergorlech out of Brechfa, and then first right, between the bosoms of the hills!! You could even pop in for a cuppa and a piece of cake : ) We'll have to arrange something.

    Sharon - It upsets me because J has no respect for nature. He is the village alchy and ruled purely by money (for more booze). I wouldn't want to be one of his animals either . . .

  7. Woodlands look so sad and sorry after felling, but they look fab the following Spring when everything bursts into light and colour as you say. That river is moving some! x

  8. A lovely walk with you and although I can't share your vision of how it used to be, I can understand how upsetting it is to see it changed so much right now. However things will grow again with lots of lovely flowers and plants in the spring. I looked at the old barn and thought how useful pieces of the old roof would be for slow worms and toads to shelter under.

  9. Beautiful trees in a heavenly valley. It's so sad when things change like that. One of the advantages of a National Park I suppose, although there's currently a battle raging in Chagford over the fact that they want to build a new primary school and knock the old 1930's one down. Such a shame as it was previously a secondary school and so has nice high ceilings. Really pleased to see you out and about and sounds like the business is doing well! xx

  10. What a beautiful valley and such lovely photos :) I can imagine how upset you must be about the changes but hopefully there will be lovely wildflowers in Spring and making a clearing may encourage butterflies. A shame too about the old barn - its so upsetting at times when things change :(