‘Tha Last Welsh Wolves Weekend’ – Radnor Forest Sunday

Butterfly

Or Grumpy Dinosaurs, Loud Deer and Just Not a Water Dog…

We leave the camp in the cool of what looks to be another ‘Welsh Weather’ day.

We drive to the Radnor Forest . This was once a royal hunting ground, but it is not a forest in the modern use of the word but as in the medieval idea of an unenclosed area used for hunting deer. It is an area of hill farming and moorland, steep narrow valleys and hills, rising up to the highest point in Radnorshire, Black Mixen at 650m (2150ft). Open areas within the forest offer views to Cader Idris and Snowdonia in the north-west, the Long Mynd to the north-east, across to the Malvern hills to the east and the Brecon Beacons to the south. Due east of Black Mixen hill at the top of the forest the next highest point is the Russian Urals. The nearby village of Bleddfa means ‘place of the wolf’. Tradition has it that the wolves of the ancient hunting forest of Radnor were cleared by being driven into the valley here, and shot. These were the last wolves in Wales.

We walk into the forest and follow the Black Brook up to Water-Break-its-Neck waterfall. We take a dusty, butterfly rich track through Warren Wood. Foxgloves grow in clumps everywhere we look. Nearby on Fron Hill a herd of cows bellow like grumpy dinosaurs. Millie is shocked at the noise but is even more frightened by the sound of a Red Deer hind who barks loudly from the hillside above us. The deer continues to complain vociferously while running along the slope and jumping a fence. Another more relaxed individual eats grass until we are just a bit too close for comfort whereupon she leaps into the forest a la prancing deer on a French road sign.

We have lunch on a large rock overlooking Black Brook . In the very far distance we can see the faintest grey smudge of the Beacons. We come back through the trees, the scent of pine strong on the still air. After a chill out afternoon we head to the lake but only I go in. Millie follows me down the dock at a run but skids to a halt at the last moment. Her concern for me just can’t overcome her profound dislike of swimming. The water is surprisingly warm and the peace is absolute, clear skies and not a breath of wind.

We sit outside listening to the sheep and the buzzards while Millie is already in the camper fast asleep. Later we take a slow walk round the campsite and then round the lake. Swallows skim the water’s surface and a buzzard wings past mobbed by clouds of small birds. There are hardly any froglets tonight. We see a rainbow like reflection on a few wispy clouds in the far distance.

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