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Bleak Beacons

Blaen y Glyn

This blog is as much about where not to go as where to go, so yesterday was productive. Actually its very final act was productive but the rest of it…

Started well enough with Wales just fifteen minutes over the Severn Bridge and within forty the wooded slopes between Pontypool and Blaenavon looked mighty fine. I bet they’re all in private ownership – good solid British deciduous woods. Even the industrial landscape beyond Blaenavon looked dramatic on a chilly May morning, as did the moors heading over from Brynmawr.

For a while.

Then it all got a bit tired. Forestry Commission plantations broke it up round Talybont Reservoir and they too paled when I finally parked and tried to find some birds. Oh, they’re fine for coal tits, goldcrests and siskins. Tree pipits like the cleared edges and the odd redstart clings on. However, I can see most of these species locally. I also know that above the treeline it’ll just be meadow pipits.

These are all that can survive the grazed hills. I’ve mentioned them already in the context of the Black Mountains section of Brecon Beacons, for the main park is where I was yesterday.

Pen y Fan

Park – ha! Sheep farm cum timber production unit, as Fray Bentos on Flickr calls the blocks of Commission pines. I still can’t believe the fuss that kicked up a few months back when the government threatened to sell off the Forestry Commission. What a fine opportunity we had then to rescue our native woodland from decades of industrial occupation. Then the Great British Public forced a backdown.

It was the same with licensing licensing dogs, as I recall.

OK, so the upshot to yesterday was that Llangorse Lake is still the only site worth visiting in the National Park. It provided a feast of swifts, swallows, house martins and sand martins and, right at the death of the day, a spotted flycatcher hawking from the vicarage. Is it a vicarage? It should be, next door to the church.

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