22 Jun 2020

Summer Wildlife Walk – take a 2km walk around the Garden

Bruce Langridge

Length: 2km

Calories: 130 -150

Steps: 2500-2800

Special Features: Wildlife, beautiful lakes, sculpture, plant beds

Suitable for wheelchairs or pushchairs although the section across Cae Trawscoed can get muddy. Sensible outdoor footwear is recommended.

Due to the Covid 19 virus, you must keep 2m apart from anyone not in your household.

Beginning at the Gatehouse entrance, follow the yellow arrows.  You immediately come across Pwll Yr Ardd on your right. You’ll regularly see mallards, damselflies and moorhens here but for the past few years, otters have became a regular sight, even during the day.

You’ll pass a circle of tall trees around a water sculpture. These are dawn redwood trees, a species thought to be extinct until 1948 when a wild population was found in China. It grows very very fast.

When you come to the Circle of Decision, the fountain with a stonework design in the shape of an ammonite, turn right and follow the path along the edges of two lakes. Notice the Bog Garden on your right – this was beautifully restored in the winter of 2019/20.

You’ll pass flower beds that have been mulched with Welsh slate and former lawn which we have turned into wildflower meadows. Notice the wide variety of bees, hoverflies and butterflies feeding from all these flowers. The Garden’s scientists, with the help of many volunteers, have been tracking which flowers are visited by specific pollinating insects. Much of that research is contained in the Gardening for Pollinators booklet which you can see here.

Maybe you could try planting some of the most pollinator friendly plants in your garden?

The bird life can be really varied here but one of the highlights is green woodpecker, swooping down in search of ants, whose hills are dotted around the Wild Garden. Overhead you may well hear the plaintive squeals of red kites and buzzards, commonly seen being hounded by gangs of crows.

Take the path up the hill, past the Tarw Welsh Black sculpture by Builth-based sculptor Sally Matthews. We often graze real Welsh Black cattle on the on the field on your right, Cae Blaen.

Follow the signs into Fairy Wood. Not only will you pass some lovely large wooden fungi sculptures of fly agaric and bonnet fungi, as this is one of the best places to look for woodland fungi. They usually start to appear here in late summer. You might also notice quite a few features that suggest that fairies live here too.

Out of the wood, follow the yellow arrows across the field we call Cae Trawscoed. In the summer, this hay meadow is full of wildflowers including four species of wild orchid, none of which existed here until we started to manage this field as a hay meadow in 2000. We don’t add anything and just cut it once a year, late in the season. We have started collecting wildflower seed from here and we will be selling it.

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As you make your way across the meadow to a farm gate, look for signs of badgers – they often scrape away the top of the soil to look for grubs and then dig small holes that they use as latrines.

Turn left down the wildflower-rich old lane. Teeth marks on hazelnuts found on this lane strongly indicate that the very rare and secretive dormice live in the trees along the lane. Look for hazelnuts that have  a smooth, round hole in the side of the nut, with tooth marks running around the inside of the hole. If the nut is split neatly in half then that’s probably a grey squirrel that’s eaten it.

As the lane runs out, head to the white old building in front of you – the Stable Block. This would normally be  a great place to enjoy a well-deserved lunch – you have just walked 2km after all. But our restaurant, shop and art gallery here are sadly closed during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Feeling good? Let us know how this walk has made you feel good by leaving a comment here or on our social media pages.