Tag Archives: Brechfa Forest

The Magic of a Fairytale Forest – Brechfa Forest

The beauty of Brechfa forest captivates me offering magic and enchantment and a place to give respite to my weary soul. Gnarled trees clothed in moss and lichen. Tall, spindly spruce, pine, and larch decorated with cones and needles, interspersed with oak and beech, and hedgerows of bracken and fern. Jewel greens all year round finished with autumn copper then silver winter frost.

The Magic of Fairytale Forests – Brechfa Forest - The Last Krystallos

January brings snowfall, frost, and fog with wispy cloud dropping into the tall pines creating an ethereal landscape. Walking through the glare of light from the low sun makes it bright and crisp and magical as it shimmers across the frost and moss. You might even see the copper winter coat of a fox as it dashes across the forest floor.

Images of January Brechfa Forest trees

© Lisa Shambrook

February is another month of mist and magic, sparkling through branches clothed with the soft froth of reindeer moss. Reindeer moss swathes the trees like jewels on a chandelier in a soft seafoam green. Bright peridot greens contrast beautifully with the sharp burnt-orange and browns of dead bracken, ferns, mulch and leaves.

Images of February Brechfa Forest trees

© Lisa Shambrook

In March, and its preceding months, stormy gales whistle and rustle through the spires. Rain and wind are common in Wales and wet, windy winters add to the streams and puddles and saturated land. Pine and spruce are known to have shallow root systems and sometimes you’ll come across fallen trees. Brechfa is looked after by the Forestry Commission and fallen trees across the roads are cleared quickly, but sometimes you’ll need to hop over or circumnavigate fallen logs on the tracks.

Images of March Brechfa Forest trees and moss

© Lisa Shambrook

April brings lighter showers and the moss swathing the forest floor act like sponges, holding many times their own weight in water aiding the forest as sponging, cooling and humidifying systems. New growth becomes evident as bright green sprouts from branches and spring flowers like bluebells and toadflax intermingle with moss over the forest banks.

Images of April Brechfa Forest trees

© Lisa Shambrook

May spring growth spread across the branches, and the past seasons’ dead leaves are covered with grass, lichen, and golden-green moss. Green tinged cones are pushing upright on spruce trees like decorative candelabras.

Images of May Brechfa Forest trees and a dog

© Lisa Shambrook

June is predominantly green, autumn colours are gone, and peridot-green is back in charge. Moss swathes the forest floor, trees, and rocks and is sumptuously soft and yielding. There are over one thousand species of moss in Britain, with more yet to be discovered, though many people will only ever notice two or three varieties. Get right down on the woodland floor and you’ll see the intricate ecosystem living right there amongst the moss and lichen.

Images of June Brechfa Forest tees and moss

© Lisa Shambrook

July sees the forest thickening up with moss, leaves, and foliage, and the additional colour of pink threads through Brechfa. Thistles become homes to the bees, and it’s a real treat to wander through the forest on a warm summer evening and come across purple thistles bending under the weight of sleeping bees! Foxgloves grow tall and said bees also adore their pink bells nodding in the breeze.

Images of July Brechfa Forest trees and Foxglove

© Lisa Shambrook

August and springy moss carpets the forest floor and drapes like swags of feathery curtains from the fir trees. The woods are thick with green and if you look carefully you could swear the fae are hiding in the undergrowth. Magic emanates from every branch.

Images of August Brechfa Forest trees and moss

© Lisa Shambrook

September’s autumn sunshine glistens on the gossamer webs that suddenly fill the boughs and you could be lost in Mirkwood. Find the wider tracks to walk if you’re keen to avoid the spiders! Toadstools and mushrooms emerge amongst the moss and mulch, and enjoy the colours as the leaves begin to turn on the oaks and beech trees, and the sunset touches bracken and fern with gold.

Images of September Brechfa Forest webs and mushroom

© Lisa Shambrook

October and autumn is here. Leaves have been painted with brass and copper, mosses are tinged with gold as they sport thready stems ready to spore, and larch needles turn golden-yellow before they drop. Cones adorn the firs, and acorns, beechnuts, and hazelnut shells are strewn underfoot, crunching beneath your feet. There’s magic in the air as the cool breeze wafts through the forest.

Images of October Brechfa Forest trees

© Lisa Shambrook

November brings frost and the pines are dark and foreboding, but the rest of the forest glistens with winter sun and crisp coppers and burnt-orange as the bracken dies and autumn leaves fall. The colours dance in the late sunshine and the birds twitter with warnings of weather and cold.

Images of November Brechfa Forest autumn trees

© Lisa Shambrook

December and the forest opens up again, with winter light glaring across bare boughs and weaving through the mist. It’s quiet and expectant and maybe snow will fall, coating the trees and drifting over the roads like icing sugar.

Images of December Brechfa Forest trees

© Lisa Shambrook

And into the forest I go, to lose my mind and find my soul
– John Muir             

Forests that Claim your Heart

‘It is not so much for its beauty that the forest makes a claim upon men’s hearts,
as for that subtle something, that quality of air that emanation from old trees,
that so wonderfully changes and renews a weary spirit.’

Robert Louis Stevenson

Forests that claim your Heart - The Last KrystallosForests are inspiring, especially to writers. Imagine Tolkien without Fangorn Forest and the Ents, or Lothlórien, or Mirkwood. And Walter De La Mare’s The Listeners would be nothing without its haunting forest’s ferny floor. Even Shakespeare’s Macbeth awaiting Birnam Wood… We have been inspired by trees and forests since the beginning of time, and I can’t see the fascination ending.

I recently read these two articles, the first on Brechfa Forest and the second a list of Twenty of the Best British Forests, and it made me reflect on my local woods and forests. Having a dog means exploring forests becomes a way of life and I have my favourites.

Roxy - Green Castle Woods - The Last Krystallos

Roxy – Green Castle Woods © Lisa Shambrook

Green Castle Woods, just outside Carmarthen on the road to Llansteffan, was one of Roxy’s best places. She loved to lope through the trees and the bluebells, sniffing, wading through mud and/or leaves, and enjoying the fresh outdoors. Bluebells are always a major reason for visiting Green Castle – they’re my favourite flower and have influenced my writing – and they bring me peace. Bluebells and white wood anemone with fairy wings blanket the woods in spring and leaves of bronze, gold, and brown colour autumn.

Bluebells - anemone - Roxy - Green Castle Woods - The Last Krystallos

Bluebells at Green Castle Woods © Lisa Shambrook

The circular walk ends, either in 30 minutes or an hour, at the old oak. This tree has captivated me for years. When I first saw it, standing alone, I thought it was dead, especially as it was midwinter and bare, but as spring dawned I noticed new growth and my own excitement burgeoned just like its leaf buds! It spread gnarled branches, and foliage erupted and beauty ensued. It quickly became the most beautiful and unusual tree I know.

Four seasons - Old Oak - Green Castle Woods - The Last Krystallos

The Old Oak at Green Castle Woods © Lisa Shambrook

This oak is not much more than ten feet tall, and hollow. I know nature withstands a great deal, and the fact that it is fully alive amazes me seeing as it’s almost completely hollow. It stands alone in the middle of a reclaimed meadow in Green Castle Woods, and reminds me that even when I’m spent I can still flourish.

Kira - Brechfa Forest - The Last Krystallos

Kira – Brechfa Forest © Lisa Shambrook

Kira is a different dog altogether, so our forest of choice for walking is the much quieter Brechfa Forest. Sixteen and a half acres of forest spread across Northern Carmarthenshire allows you to find your own paths, and due to Kira’s fear reactivity to both people and dogs it’s an ideal place to walk her when we’re not training. It gives her freedom and though, unlike Roxy, she remains on a long retractable lead she enjoys the liberty and opportunity to explore.

Brechfa moss - Kira - Brechfa Forest - The Last Krystallos

Brechfa Forest © Lisa Shambrook

Brechfa is magical, like the description in the linked The Independent piece, and it always feels enchanting and ancient. Green is the predominant colour throughout the year, olive, peridot, and emerald. Swathes of moss hang from the spruce and pine, and lichen and moss spread across the grassy forest floor. Reindeer moss hangs in trees like chandelier jewels and like snow on the ground. In autumn toadstools and mushrooms decorate the stumps and fog moves through the trees like ghostly spirits.

Toadstools mushrooms - fog - reindeer moss - oxalis - Brechfa Forest - The Last Krystallos

Brechfa Forest © Lisa Shambrook

Trees offer balm for my soul, wisdom, and pure natural beauty. I could spend all day winding my paths beneath them. Having a dog is a bonus, giving me even more opportunity to walk and share the peaceful gratitude of the forests.    

Do you have a favourite woodland or forest?

The Fascinating World within Nature’s Carpet – Gathering Moss

Moss swathes the forest floor, old stone walls, and creeps leisurely onward.
It drapes the trees and cloaks the ground in a jewelled garment of green.
Moss creates its own miniature ecosystem – a forest within itself.

Gathering Moss - The Last Krystallos

Brechfa Forest - Gathering Moss | The Last Krystallos

Brechfa Forest © Lisa Shambrook

My favourite colour is very much lead by nature and lends itself to my romantic soul which finds delight in anything serene and beautiful. My favourite colour is the honey green of moss, the earthy colour of the forest floor softened by the peridot jewel tone.

When I need to unwind or just return to my roots, I wander in the forests and the earthy tones of green and soft breeze lull my soul.

One gram of moss contains... - Robin Wall Kimmerer | The Last Krystallos

Robin Wall Kimmerer © Lisa Shambrook

 

 

 

 

 

There are over 1,000 species of moss in Britain, with more yet to be discovered, though many people only notice two or three varieties. If you get right down on the woodland ground you’ll see the intricate detail and real ecosystem living right there in amongst the moss and lichen, especially if you have a magnifying glass. Moss is nature’s carpet.

Reindeer Moss - Gathering Moss | The Last Krystallos

Reindeer Moss © Lisa Shambrook

Moss and lichens don’t have root systems, they anchor themselves with rhizoids. They don’t draw nourishment from the ground but through photosynthesis, air and water. They hold many times their own weight in water and aid the forest as sponging, cooling and humidifying systems. They are also able to go dormant when they’re under stress.

Elan Valley - Haircap Moss | Gathering Moss | The Last Krystallos

Elan Valley – Haircap Moss © Lisa Shambrook

They have great strength, especially as they grow dense and low to the ground, but they are still vulnerable. They are stripped for the florist industry and are constantly trod upon. As our society, towns and farms spreads into their territory they try to grow, as you’ll see on walls, paving slabs and rooves, but many new building materials are not moss friendly. Many people will also treat moss with weed-killer killing off their tiny ecosystems. My garage shares its roof with my neighbour’s garage and my side of the roof was blanketed with little hedgehogs of cushion moss, and my neighbour, who follows a regimented gardening style used a weed-killer to remove the moss and thereby prevent damp in the garage. This made me sad – I suppose I don’t mind a little damp…

Moss in its element - Gathering Moss | The Last Krystallos

Moss in its element © Lisa Shambrook

One of my most favourite places locally is the Brechfa Forest. It’s like a fairy-tale forest and I expect to bump into Galadriel. Moss covers the forest floor in a springy carpet and drapes like feathery curtains from the fir trees. It’s a magical walk, and the dog loves it too!

Brechfa Moss - Gathering Moss | The Last Krystallos

Moss in Brechfa © Lisa Shambrook

Ancient conversation moses and rocks - Robin Wall Kimmerer - Gathering Moss | The Last Krystallos

Robin Wall Kimmerer © Lisa Shambrook

What do you love about moss? Or do you have a different favourite woodland flora?
One of my most favourite photos is one I took on Exmoor of a tree swathed in moss…pure magic…

Exmoor mossy tree - The Last Krystallos

Exmoor moss swathed tree © Lisa Shambrook