In 2002, the artist Valerie Coffin Price worked in the Braint car park, off Penlon, to engrave a series of pictures showing some of the wildlife characteristic of Newborough Warren.
Although I look at the pictures every time I pass, it’s easy to take them for granted. And as time goes by, some of them are becoming less distinct. So here, for posterity, are some photographs of the slate fence art.
Y tywyn trwy’r tymhorau – The warren through the seasons
Some of the engravings of flowers and fungi (including a cinnabar moth caterpillar alongside the ragwort – top left)
Some of the birds drawn by Valerie Coffin Price at Penlon, Newborough in 2002
An iconic Newborough bunny; and a pair of ponies (becoming less distinct as the lichens grow)
These are just a few, there are lots more to see…
Newborough’s enjoyed a good spell of warm sunny weather recently. The biting fly season has also just begun. The ponies on the warren find some relief from both the heat and the flies by loafing in the bare sand areas.
…a lump of sand makes a nice place to rest your head…
This year is the 60th anniversary of Newborough Warren’s designation as a National Nature Reserve.
It might seem a bit obvious, but, obviously it’s a warren because of the rabbits. There are lots of stories about why the rabbits are here. And the rabbits’ relationship with the managers of the warren hasn’t always been a happy one, but they are an intrinsic part of the landscape now.
Newborough Warren with the mountains of the Llyn Peninsula in the background
So here’s to the warren – pen-blwydd hapus. And to the rabbits, blissfully unaware of the birthday celebrations going on around them. And here’s an old photo (the one I began this blog with some time ago now) of how things used to look when the trees of Newborough Forest were still tiny.
The view to Llanddwyn before the forest grew
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.
Heart attack hill isn’t really a hill – it’s a big dune. I don’t think anyone’s actually had a heart attack there either, but you do quite often find summer visitors bent double half way up it puffing and panting and wondering if they’ll make it to the top! So, it gained a nickname of heart attack hill.
The waymarker at the top of heart attack hill and the big view towards the Llyn Peninsula
The view to Snowdonia
The big views, abundant wild flowers and insects, hunting hawks and buzzards and, in summer, screaming swifts make it a fabulous place. There’s even a bench at the end to reward you for your efforts – although “the end” is only halfway because you’ve still to make it back to where you started.
The lonesome pine – close to the end of the path.
The bench at the end of the path looking over the Menai Strait to the mainland, with Abermenai Point to the right
The path over heart attack hill begins at the end of the lane that leads down past Hen Erw Wen – the left turn after St Peter’s Church. That lane is very narrow and there is no parking on it: it’s fine on foot, but don’t take your car down it. If you are travelling by car, the nearest car park is the Marram Grass one at Llyn Rhos Ddu. The start of the path is signposted at the gate (OS Grid Ref SH 42080 64440). There are waymarker posts along its length – although sometimes they’re buried quite deeply in drifting sand.
In total, it’s only about a mile and a half from the start gate to the bench at the edge of the Menai Strait tidal area, but it can seem a surprisingly long mile and a half. And whatever the weather, there will be more of it along this path: if it’s a windy day, it will be really windy; if it’s cold, it will be freezing; hot will be boiling; and wet will be super wet. But it will also be super nice and rewarding:)
OS excerpt from Bing showing where the path begins.
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
In the forest, the first froglets started clambering out of the pools and ditches at the start of June. Those forest froglets were big, strong and quite golden in colour.
Today, out on the warren, some of the froglets in one of the pony watering holes were climbing out. These froglets are tiny and so dark they look almost black.
A tiny froglet making its way out of the pool
The water level in the pond has dropped meaning that the froglets have to clamber through sand before they can get anywhere: becoming completely coated with sand grains in the process.
…scrambling up the sand bank…
…getting coated with sand…(there is a froglet here – right in the centre)
On the edge of the warren, a clump of hemlock water dropwort (the UK’s most poisonous plant) must have caught the eye of lots of people as a path has been worn to it through the scrub and rushes.
Closer still to the tide line, pretty little sea milkwort flowers carpet the path.
Sea milkwort (Glaux maritima)
There are plenty of colourful orchids flowering, and plenty of twayblades too – also an orchid, but an easily overlooked one as it has fairly inconspicuous green flower spikes with two broad leaves at the bottom: hence the name twayblade.