In the 21st century what is meant by a “natural landscape”? What is it that makes a landscape special? How do the people who live, work and play in a particular area relate to It? What part do these landscapes play in the lives of those who live in more urban environments?

In the event of changes to the landscape brought about by significant climate change, how will people respond to any measures taken to help protect that landscape and its possible uses?

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Elan Valley

Elan Village

The sun was shining as I left Worcester, but by the time I arrived at Llanwrthwl Church the cloud was down and there was a steady light drizzle. I had arranged to meet a National Park Warden in order to find out a little about the job of a warden and what the work entailed.

As we started to climb up along the side of the Elan valley and out onto the top, the cloud rolled in and out and on and off the tops of the hills until gradually lifting to reveal patches of blue sky and warm sun.

We visited a blanket bog where work was underway to try to slow down the deterioration of the site. This was on a much smaller scale to the work being undertaken at Craig-y-nos. Whilst the bog was still holding water, and contained large patches of healthy bright green sphagnum moss, there was also evidence of dry peat and deeper gullies. The peat bog on top of the hill has always moved, but sometime during the last hundred years the sides have blown out causing the subsidence and exposure of bare peat. This problem has been worsened by fires at different times and the combined effect has been to allow more invasive species to take hold and therefore unsettle the fine balance of life within the bog.

Walking through this landscape even to my untrained eye it was apparent that there was a richer diversity of insect life, lichens mosses and grasses on this great expanse of protected land. Protected by people but not inhabited by them, one or two ancient cairns still survive to mark the way for the occasional walker, but mostly this is a landscape without people.

I had met my guide in the morning for the first time, a young woman half my age. As we walked, we talked, looked and learnt about each other and our understanding of the world we are living in. This for me is the essence of what a good walk does.

Quote from the walk

“Things that evolve over a short period of time tend to die out very quickly, but things that last, evolve over millions of years. In 10 thousand years of civilisation I can’t believe our brains have changed that much, we are not that different from those people 6 thousand years ago, it is just that we have advanced the technology……..”


  1. Lovely area Sandra. We've walked the hills thereabouts on and off over about the last 15 years in all different weathers from blazing sun to driving snow. I'm quite interested in the old Drover's Routes too which cris-cross the area - often taking the most straight and direct route with either cattle, pigs, sheep and even geese [with tarred and graveled feet]!

  2. Hello Worcester Children's Storytelling Festival 2010.

    Nice to hear from you, thanks for responding to the blog.

    Have you read E Bowes Traditional Industries of Rural Wales: Self Sufficiency to Dependency in the county of Brecon? Snappy title-no- but full of insights into the lives of others in another time that seem so relevant today.
    It would be nice to see some of your photos, or hear some stories of the waks you have taken in that area over the last 15 years.