Over the winter, new signs have sprung up along the Bike Quest trail at Newborough Forest.
The subheading of the sign is “our forests are under attack”…
This one is particularly ironic given that the main threat to Newborough Forest is probably Natural Resources Wales themselves.
The overblown tone of this sign is in keeping with the others. The previous one says “beware the bloodsuckers” and is about the medicinal leeches that are common in the forest’s ponds: it’s not really the kind of language that will help make people feel fondly towards the forest and its wildlife.
As well as the main footpaths and tracks throughout Newborough Forest, there are a lot of smaller orienteering routes waymarked. These trails take you into some of the nicest and less visited parts of the forest. On the weekend of 22nd and 23rd October 2016, there is going to be an open orienteering competition on these routes. See the poster below for more information:
When Newborough Forest was first being established, it was renowned for the diversity of species included in the planting mix.
The recent diversion of the Commonweath Run trail now takes you through an area where fragments remain of the labels used to identify trial plantings of pines from different native origins.
An old label in a Pinus contorta trial area – this one from British Colombia
Another old lodgepole pine trial label – this one from Oregon
Sadly, they are only fragments – most of the marker posts no longer have labels – but it is a lovely reminder of a happier time for forestry in Wales.
One of the dwindling areas of shoreline pines
Sylvia was a Shiba Inu dog who became lost and then sadly drowned off Newborough Beach in January 2015.
In memory of Sylvia
In a gesture of gratitude to the local people who helped search for Sylvia, and as a lasting memorial to the little dog, her owner commissioned a new bench.
The bench is now in place at the edge of the forest looking across the warren, to the mountains and the big forever beyond.
Sylvia’s bench and the view across the warren to the mountains beyond
You will find the bench about halfway along the path that leads from the Marram Grass car park (Llyn Rhos Ddu) to the edge of the forest and down to the sea.
Mmm. That doesn’t sound quite right, and it certainly doesn’t look right!
Newborough’s new pyramids
Early this spring, NRW and their contractors brought out their big toys – excavators, bulldozers and tipper trucks – to continue with their resculpting of the duneland. These sculptures are the result of their trying to make nature do as they think she ought.
These “pyramids” have been created to the south east of the forest – at the end of the path that runs from the Marram Grass car park. They’re accompanied by a huge scrape.
This is how it looked in 2013 – the last dune before the sea at the end of the path from the Marram Grass car park
…and this is how it looks now
…and the giant scrape that accompanies them
It’s ironic that the work is being done to “help rare plants and insects such as … mining bees” as the area which has been trashed was a very active one for the little mining bees to burrow in and they will have been unceremoniously scraped out of their winter sleep:(
Also gone for now are the many orchids, centaury, coltsfoot and other lovely plants that made the zone so attractive to people and wildlife. Fingers crossed that it recovers soon.
A view from the forest edge
For months now Newborough Forest has been thronged with machines and workmen. There have been warning signs and hazard tapes all over the place and, all in all, it’s seemed quite an unfriendly place to be.
Early stages of the felling operations along the Postman’s Trail
Happily, the works are now nearing an end and the results are open for all to see. To the south east of the main car park and along the Postman’s Trail felling and chipping of the pines and cypresses that fringe the dunes has continued. Now there are piles of brash and mountains of chippings. Further around on the Postman’s Trail the path has been re-routed and a new area of wetland has been sculpted. This is a favourite spawning area for frogs and toads so it will be interesting to see how they take to it over the next few months.
A newly cleared and sculpted wetland area – you can just make out the bund at the end which blocks the old path and diverts it to the right
Update late April 2015
Sadly, things didn’t turn out well for the frogs. They spawned prolifically, but by the end of April, before the tadpoles had become froglets, the ditch was dry: the wetlands became drylands:(
The new “wetland” area, now dry.
The bee orchids (Ophrys apifera) are just coming into flower at Newborough. They are particularly plentiful along the track (now called the Postman’s Trail and waymarked as a horse riding route) at the edge of the forest.
Bee orchid, Newborough, 3rd June 2014