Visitors have access to 40 acres of ancient woodland, with 4km of paths and trails and a woodland BBQ and campfire area. Ideal for adults, children and dogs.
About the Woods
We have managed the 40 acres of woodlands here for 25 years under strict environmental best practice and planted new areas in 1998, 2004 and in 2012.
The main features include
- Mainly semi natural ancient woodland in other words there has been a woodland here virtually for ever.
- Probably about 1Km of tracks and paths have been put in since 1990.
- We offer all visitors a 4×4 trip around the woods weather permitting.
- The main species are Oak, Birch, Sycamore, Ash, Hazel, Wild Cherry and Alder.
- Old Oak Barn and the farmhouse are all heated with wood from Allt Cwmpalis.
- In addition firewood is sold locally which has been seasoned here on the farm for minimum of 2 years.
- When we renovated the barn in 2004/5 a lot of the timber you will see in it came from our woods including the alder floor and the oak lintels and sills.
- There is a small log cabin in the woods which serves as a base for the BBQ area.
For those interested in more information on the rules and regulations governing woodland owners you can visit Woodlands in Wales for more details!
The pic across shows ‘Big Blue’ extracting timber which had blown in the January gales 2014 – work being completed in September 2014.
The woods here are classified as semi natural ancient woodlands which means that woodlands have been here for several thousand years.
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.
We have managed the woodlands for 25 years and during that time some timber is extracted for firewood purposes, some for beam oak used in building work and some planking is routinely done too. 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.
This picture shows a small copse planted 10 years ago near the pond where Greylags nest every Spring.
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. The most recent plantings were in 2014.
This final 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!
Bird Life at Old Oak Barn
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. The following is a list of what was spotted.
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!
The list includes:
Wren Blackbird Robin
Bue Tit Chiff Chaff Song Thrush
Wood Pigeon Great Tit Chaffinch
Dunnock Nut Hatch Raven
Black Cap Jay Pied Wagtail
Goldcrest Woodcock Coal Tit
Greenfinch Greater Spotted Woodpecker Buzzard
Magpie Pheasant Goldfinch
Mistle Thrush Herring Gull Marsh Tit
Red Kite 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 Greylag Goose
In addition we were asked to look out for:
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
What we know about who lived in the Woods
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.
- Cwmpalis Farmhouse and the barns were built in 1906 and we believe some stone came from the woods.
- In 1919 it was sold by Godfrey Evan Protheroe to a WM Davies. GE Protheroe Eynon died in Narberth after WW2.
- When we moved here in 1988 the sites of two cottages were clearly visible one towards the west end and one in the middle of the woods.
- The American lady believes that her ancestors, John and Hannah Richards, lived in this location in 1841.
- She found them on the census, living in Mydrim Parish in 1841.
- On the day the census was taken (June 6, 1841) their daughter Hannah was just two days old and lived at Cwmpalis in a dwelling in the woods.
- I went to Carmarthen Records library and was able to see this entry in that first ever census which shows three dwellings named in the woods.
- One dwelling was called Isaf and one Uchaf (Lower and Upper). One is referred to as The Cottage
- Looking at the census details we see that many people lived here with surnames including Richards, Jones, Griffiths, Howells, Davies, James, Rees and Thomas!
- In 1871 there was a 39 year old widow Elizabeth Jones with her 7 children, William age 12, John 8, Anna 7, Annie 5, Mary 3, Henry 2 and baby James just a year old. How difficult it must have been for her raising such a young family here.
- However in 1871 there also lived another family the Griffiths. Thomas age 31 was a carpenter and he and his wife Hannah age 30 had Margaret age 11, David 9, Ben 7 and Isacc just 2. It is comforting to think they may have helped Elizabeth with her young family.
- 10 years later in 1881 Elizabeth is still living here with 4 of her children but the Griffiths have moved and by 1891 she had moved on too.
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.