countryside hedgerows pathways trees Wales wildlife

A short walk along an Anglesey Hedgerow

About 18 months ago we spent a family holiday on the isle of Anglesey, spending some of our time seeking out ancient sites.

We walked along a young native hedge, planted by Cadwy in the last few years, along a gravel path that led us towards the wonderful prehistoric burial mound, Bryn Celli Ddu.

Some shrub species were flowering well but we were also fascinated by the number of wildflowers already established and growing happily in the new hedge’s shade.

The main hedging species was Hawthorn which was interspersed with Gorse and Elder punctuated by taller trees such as Damsons, Sycamores and Field Maples. even the odd Oak sapling was trying its luck beneath the hedge.


Flowering perennials and even a bulb species have colonised the shaded area beneath the leaf canopy of the hedge and the accompanying trees. We spotted Herb Robert, Celandine, Bluebell, Daisy, Vetch, Primrose, Lady’s Smock, Germander Speedwell and Dandelion.


Even in shady places plants found it to their liking. Ferns enjoyed the shade at the very centre of the hedge and ivy clambered over he stone built wall where the hedge ends.


Insects and invertebrates move in as the number of plant species increase and that leads to predators including other insects, birds and mammals.


The delights of Dandelion and its “blowing clock” were experienced by our granddaughter Arabella after Jude shared its magic.




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Through the Garden Gate – part two – getting lost!

From the pool we could look back at the wood we had just left and enjoy a different view of the hill that we usually look at from our garden and over which we watch Buzzards riding the thermals created by its slopes.

Well we may never have been more than a mile from home on this walk from our garden gate, but we did manage to get lost. The footpath signs kept disappearing, or that is our excuse. Our wander took us along sections of the long distance path, “The Shropshire Way” and on a local path “The Chris Bagley Walk”.

Leaving the fishing pool we followed the valley of the stream that fed it. The grassland here was rich and was being enjoyed by dairy calves, who watched our every move as we passed close to them.

The valley widen out but the wooded slopes and tiny stream running through it kept it intimate. The fields of grass on which the calves fed was a lush green but was devoid of wild flowers, a sad sign of modern farming practices. we followed the path until it took us up a gentle slope away from the stream and up into a wood which was partly coppiced.

On the slope up to the wood we spotted this Scarlet Pimpernel in flower on the pathway beneath our feet. Although only a tiny flower its orange petals glow so it can be seen from a distance. We now lost the footpath and had to consult maps on the smart phone, which rescued us nicely.

The wood gave away its past. Signs of the work of woodlanders abound. Their homes were now mere ruins covered in Ivy as Mother Nature reclaims her woodland. A clearing showed signs of coppicing.

The darkness of the wood and its cooler atmosphere was in stark contrast to the brightness and warmth that greeted us as we left it behind and returned to farmland. The path narrowed and took led us around a field edge where the sterility and silence of the arable farming on our left clashed with the natural exuberance of the hedge and the wildflower filled verges.

This was modern agricultural practice at its worse. We crossed over several of these fields and saw no signs of life apart from two Wood Pigeons flying overhead. The only flowers were a few yellow Rape plants from a previous crop and brave purple flowered Vetches attempting to clamber the Barley stalks close to the path. Years of pesticide and herbicide use coupled with monoculture has wiped out wildlife from these acres of land. To illustrate the point a small group of Swallows flew over the crop in search of insects, but it was in vain and they quickly moved on. At least until the footpath signs disappeared once more and we relied again on the smart phone maps to rescue us.

The path crossed one of these fields creating a narrow band of green which cut through the drab grey-yellow of the Barley. The only good part of crossing this desert was the rattling sound that the ears of Barley made as our elbows brushed past them.

Walking across the field we aimed for a style in the distant hedge. It seemed a long way across as there was little to look at or to listen to. The style in the hedge turned ou to be a double style, one each side of a thick, dense, tall hedge. there was a different world awaiting us on the other side. The grassland here was full of clovers and there were many different grasses, not just the ryegrass we had walked through earlier.

We were now within the land of our local organic dairy farmer. The hedgerows had deep verges full of wildlflowers, thistles, mallows and vetches. No hedges had been removed and the fields were much smaller.

As we passed through to another field we were hit by a sweet. rich aroma from the hedge. It took us a while to find the source – a Sweet Bryony clambering over an Elder.

It was downhill now all the way home and we enjoyed lovely views through gaps in the tall hedges.

As we left the final field of pastureland we spied our house across the hayfield. We had to pass our big old oak tree which we admire from out back garden. As we walked along the fence to the garden gate we called out to the chickens. They looked totally confused – we were the wrong side of the fence.

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Through the Garden Gate – part one – to the Pool.

This post features a wander in the countryside beyond our garden gate. We literally walk down to the bottom of the garden, past the chucks, go through the wooden gate and enter our borrowed landscape. We ambled for four hours spending much of the time standing, looking and listening or sitting and taking in the atmosphere. At no time were we more than a mile from our home.

An alternative title for the post could be “Why we live where we live and why we love where we live.” Join us as we wander around our local patch, our own personal bit of countryside.

We walked alongside the fence line along the paddock to join the public footpath which led us diagonally across a field of winter wheat. Reaching the far side of the field we looked back to get a view of our home snuggled within the short row of houses.

Looking back across the field we have just crossed gives us a different view of one of the hills we can see from the garden.

We needed now to walk along a lane for a while, a narrow lane with high hedges on each side and verges full of wildflowers. Climbers clambered over the hedging bushes.

A bonus was the appearance of the first ripe blackberries. We enjoyed them and thanked the blackbirds for sharing their larder with us.

Luckily this gently uphill trek on tarmac was short-lived and we soon clambered over the hedge via a wooden style and revelled in walking with the feel of soft grass beneath our feet. Here the land is rich pastureland enjoyed by dairy cattle. The cows here were all lazily sitting down chewing their cud.

A tiny stream acted as our guide across the pasture and to the edge of our secret wood with abandoned fishing pools now overgrown and in places looking more like swamp land.

Whenever we walk this wood, whatever the time of year and whatever the weather, the light has a special quality which lights up the overgrown pools and turns trees and bushes into silhouettes.

We can look up into the tree canopy of the steep valley sides as we walk along the water’s edge and appreciate just how tall some of the trees are. Below them is a thick carpet of brambles displaying their white flowers with hints of pink and their glossy, black fruits. Occasionally a tall rose-coloured flower spike of Rosebay pushes up through the bramble carpet. The trees are busy with mixed feeding flocks of Warblers and Titmice, the brambles resonating to the powerful song of Wrens and Dunnock.

As we reached the end of the wood walk an old wooden gate invited us back into open countryside. Jude the Undergardener glimpses the next part of our walk leaning on the gate as she waits for me as I finish taking photos.

A walk across a sloping field on ground churned up by the feet of cattle takes us to the fishing pool, our halfway point and the perfect place to sit on the grass slope and enjoy our usual fruit and coffee. By the pool the farmer has provided a picnic bench and today a family are enjoying a picnic and three generations are doing a spot of fishing.