We have managed the 40 acres of woodlands here for over 30 years under strict environmental best practice and planted new areas in 1998, 2004 and in 2012 and ongoing too since 2018. Visitors have access to all the farm including the ancient woodland, with 4km of paths and trails and a woodland BBQ and campfire areas. Ideal for adults, children and dogs. We have probably about 1Km of tracks and paths have been put in since 1990. We offer all visitors a 4x4 trip around the woods weather permitting.
For those interested in more information on the rules and regulations governing woodland owners you can visit The Woodland Trust for more details!
Historically most would have been felled on a rotation basis for charcoal production. In more recent times some would have been felled during WWI for pit props in the Welsh mines, so while all Ancient Semi Natural Woodlands will have been on the land for centuries over time their management will have made use of the timber. Obviously specific wildlife communities develop and survive in such woodlands and today we have many different species present. Today their management provides opportunities for recreational activities for visitors to Old Oak Barn who appreciate their beauty and diversity as much as we do. We take great pleasure in seeing youngsters explore and enjoy the woods, sometimes a very new environment for them.
The woods here are classified as semi natural ancient woodlands which means that woodlands have been here for several thousand years. Cwmpalis woods are not the purest type of ancient woodlands because there is evidence that some alien species have been planted there specifically Sycamore and European Larch. Today the main species in the 40 acres here are Oak, Ash, Sycamore, Birch, Holly, Hazel, Alder, Wild Cherry and Hawthorn and a few Beech and Aspen. We have also planted a few Nordmann Fir and Norway Spruce as a Christmas Tree crop. A lot of the trees here are over 60 years old and some around 100 years.
This picture shows a small area of clear fell at the top of the wood in 2014 and the glorious show of bluebells which emerged in May. The whole of the woodland floor is full of bluebell bulbs which of course only grow and bloom when light reaches them. These bluebells were visible half a mile away!
We have an extraordinary number of wild birds at Cwmpalis both in the woods, on our natural bog, on the pond and two streams and in the open fields. A few years ago we had a professional bird count done over two days March 31st and April 1st. During that night 3 chiff chaff arrived from the south being migratory birds and were included in the count. Swallows, House Martins and warblers were yet to arrive. We feel very fortunate to be able to see and hear many of these birds ourselves and many visitors to Old Oak Barn adore watching them too. We can put extra feeder out near the barn if you want to photo them closer up.
The noisiest time to come and stay is probably March through to end of April! It can be very loud sometimes and also very early starting at around 4.30 a.m some mornings!
You may well see or hear any of the following :-
Wren, Blackbird, Robin, Bue Tit, Chiff Chaff, Song Thrush, Wood Pigeon, Great Tit, Chaffinch, Dunnock, Nuthatch, Raven, Black Cap, Woodcock, Jay, Pied Wagtail, Spotted Flycathcer, Stonechat, Goldcrest, Coal Tit, Greenfinch, Buzzard, Red Kite, Greater Spotted Woodpecker, Magpie, Pheasant, Goldfinch, Mistle Thrush, Herring Gull, March Tit, Willow Tit, Redwing, Moorhen, Field Fare, Long Tailed Tit, Tree Creeper, Bull Finch, Willow Warbler, House Sparrow, Canada Geese, Jackdaw, Feral Pigeon,Lesser Black Back Gull, Grey Heron, Black Headed Gull, Sparrow Hawk, Mallard, Tawny Owl. Greylag Goose, Skylark, Curlew, Whimbrell, Swallow, House Martin, Tree Pipit, Redstart, Grasshopper Warbler, Whitethroat, Garden Warbler, Wood Warbler, Spotted flycatcher, Pied Flycatcher, Meadow Pipit, Grey Wagtail, Siskin, Linnet and Yellow Wagtail. Most of these we have heard or seen.
We generally have about 10 breeding pairs of swallows at the farm and every year between 30 and 50 fledge many of which come back every year. In 2014 we had House Martins once again after a lapse of nearly 10 years.
Visit RSPB for more details
A few years ago someone in America was doing research on her family who had originally emigrated from Wales. She got in touch with me to ask about what we knew about who had lived in Cwmpalis Woods. I was able to tell her the following.
In 2015 ancestors of Elizabeth from London got in touch with me to ask if I they could drop in to take photos and have a look at Cwmpalis Woods! And they filled me in with a little of what subsequently happened to her!
The Thomas family of Llwybrain lived here from 1943 until the 1980s. We moved here in August 1988.
Why not go to wikipedia to learn a bit more about the history of Carmarthen.