Back In The Magic Woods

Coed Crafnant cover 1Cover

Or at least that is how this particular woodland feels.  Nestled on the crags and ledges of a remote North Wales valley but quite close to the sea, a walk, or scramble, through this wood takes you into a different world that works on a different timescale to the rest of us.

Coed Crafnant woods 1

Centuries of timber harvesting, grazing by upland sheep and feral goats, and mining for manganese have shaped this wood.  Boulders are covered in carpets of mosses, liverworts, lichens and ferns because this is essentially the temperate rainforest, with high humidity and (relative) warmth and grazing by the wild goats has kept the under-story open, which the lichens and mosses love.

The diminutive filmy ferns

The diminutive filmy ferns growing on rock faces

This is how we’re trying to keep the wild goats out.  If we don’t they’ll eat and strip all of the saplings and young trees, and the woodland will never regenerate.  But they still manage to get in…

Coed Crafnant goat fence

And the remains of past lives can be seen in the wood.  Sheep pens, boundary walls and mine entrances…

Coed Crafnant mine adit

Old mine entrance

Coed Crafnant archaeology








About Mike Howe

I am an ecologist and a composer of guitar based instrumental melodies signed to the Real Music label in California. I like to write about my work, music and nature conservation and how it all comes together. I try not to write about things I don't know much about.
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28 Responses to Back In The Magic Woods

  1. Wonderful landscapes, Mike!

  2. drawandshoot says:

    Green and luscious. Lovely.

  3. I like your magical woods, Mike.

  4. Pat says:

    Mike, have you checked out the Death Valley site? This is their basic info about a summer visit.
    Is it safe to visit Death Valley in the summer?
    Yes, but you must be prepared and use common sense. With an air conditioned vehicle you can safely tour many of the main sites in Death Valley. Stay on paved roads in summer, and if your car breaks down, stay with it until help arrives.
    Always bring plenty of water in your car in case of emergency and drink at least 2 to 4 liters per day, more if you are active in the heat. Summer hiking is not recommended except in the early morning hours and in the mountains.

    The site is at

    • Mike Howe says:

      Thanks Pat, yes I’ve seen the nps website as we are visiting many places. We’ll only really be driving across Death Valley en route from Vegas to the Sierras. We may have to camp on the western side near Lone Pine for one night before heading up into Sequoia NP, which I’m dying to see again. We’re camping at the Grand Canyon too but I’m hoping it won’t be too uncomfortable….:)

  5. Thanks for the visit. Such a magical place!

    • Mike Howe says:

      You’re welcome Emilie, it was a pleasure to go there I can tell you. What’s the weather like with you at the moment? We’re flying into Phoenix on 29th before heading north up into Utah…can’t wait…such a beautiful country 🙂

  6. elkement says:

    I am again (as by one of your earlier postings) reminded of the magic landscape of Lord of the Rings! I need to do a Wales – New Zealand comparison now by googling random images 🙂

    • Mike Howe says:

      It does have that kind of feel, but New Zealand does it on a much bigger scale I think, although I’ve never been, I really want to though 🙂

  7. Jo Woolf says:

    How beautiful, Mike! I love woodlands like this. I really hope you manage to keep the goats out!

  8. Pat says:

    Is this where you work!? What a wonderful place to be. The problem of feral animals has no easy solution. I remember when they removed feral donkeys from Death Valley National Park. They had to use helicopters to round up some of those in remote areas. It was a rather expensive operation.

    • Mike Howe says:

      Hi Pat, yes I was up there working last week, I get around all over Wales so it’s always really interesting to learn about new places and help people out with their management, which is what I do. I’m going to Death Valley in July – you mean I won’t see any feral donkeys? Shame….;)

      • Pat says:

        If you’re there in July, I do hope you’ll be in an air conditioned tour bus. Not much shade in DV. 😦

      • Mike Howe says:

        I know I’m a bit worried about that, but we’re only crossing it from Vegas to the Sierra Nevada, although we will be camping somewhere on that side…..gulp…:)

  9. Leya says:

    Straight to my heart. This looks like home to me – except for the mines.

  10. Gallivanta says:

    Amazing landscape. I think I would be scared of falling down a mine, though.

  11. Ash says:

    What an amazing landscape! I’ve never been to that part of Wales so I will have to make some time to travel there.

  12. elisa ruland says:

    This area of North Wales has a charming, mystical quality about it. I could hike around there for days and never be tired of the layers of beauty.

    • Mike Howe says:

      Thanks Elisa, I know you’d love some of the places because you’re right, they are charming and mystical. This wood in particular was one of the most interesting I’ve ever been in, just when I thought I was getting to know it the next rise or bend would bring a new surprise, it was fab 🙂

  13. I find it intriguing to explore places where there are remnants of history. The stories those rocks could tell!

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