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Y Filltir Sgwâr/The Square Mile: The Call of the Lasgarn

18 Feb 2024 5 minute read
Lasgarn Woodland Photo: Tom Maloney

The Call of the Lasgarn

Tom Maloney

Within my square mile, ‘fy milltir sgwâr’, lies the Lasgarn Wood. As each day begins my eyes turn to view the woodland.

It is like a ritual now. I like its moods, the creep of mist like dragon’s breath slowly coiling along its sides, the vibrancy of an orange, red sunrise casting its glow over the treetop canopy and the changing colours of the Seasons.

The Lasgarn is my constant companion, my teacher and like a good friend is always there. Sometimes, when I am gardening it feels like it is calling me to walk and it is very persuasive!

Lasgarn Rising Sun Bridge
Photo: Tom Maloney

The joy of a walk in this beautiful, little woodland begins when crossing the Rising Sun Bridge. There is such an elegancy in the design of its span across the Afon Llwyd, the ‘Grey River’.

It is probably one of the oldest structures in the village and yet, is probably one of the least known as well.

Curiously, the river is hardly grey or dull just here. Mustard yellow pebbles, shaped by the erosion of time line the riverbed and on a bright, crisp day its surface shimmers with darting jewels in the sunlight.

Though, make no mistake, this river has the power of a beast after rain.

A weather worn path into the woods beckons as you cross the bridge. The ascent is immediately steep and rocky and there is a sensation of entering another world where the hand of history has played its part.

Meandering trails through old limestone quarry workings lead to a broad path that was once a tram road at the heart of the woodland.

In winter, the lines of the track bed for this early primitive railway make themselves known.

Winter defines the History Photo: Tom Maloney

In some places the remains of the stone sleepers that held the iron rails in place are remarkably well preserved.

It would be easy to mistake these odd shaped relics as stepping-stones, but the characteristic two holes, though sometimes more, define their story.

Lasgarn Woodland Ecosystem Photo; Tom Maloney

This industrial highway was born out of the Industrial Revolution with the limestone being used to feed the hungry iron works nearby.

I like to imagine how life may have been, the clank of the wheels turning on the iron rails, the shouts and quite probably the swearing too, as the rails surely must have broken during their heavy use.

In my mind’s eye I see a landscape largely barren of the trees that first drew me to the Lasgarn, an environment where man, perhaps unwittingly, sowed the seeds of an uneasy relationship with the environment.

The Lasgarn Woodland Tramroad Photo: Tom Maloney

The passage of time and the demise of heavy industry locally in turn led to the demise of quarrying here. Nature has laid its healing touch on the land. Wildlife habitat is abundant.

Often, the call of a buzzard can be heard circling above searching out its prey and if you are careful and very lucky, you will see such delights as a wood mouse scurrying into its little underground burrow.

It may be February, but just now the woodland floor is a picture of new life and it captivates my senses.

Bluebells, Lesser Celandine, Lords-and-ladies and Wild Garlic are announcing their presence with emerald green shoots. There is freshness about the air and sense that spring is on the way.

Wild garlic Photo: Tom Maloney

These are lovely moments to treasure and I have come to learn and really appreciate how Nature keeps everything in balance. It is such an excellent teacher.

The woodland eco cycle of life and decay is all around and there is a wonderful lesson every day.

Waterworks Lane Photo: Tom Maloney

In so many ways I am a creature of habit, but not I hope, without reason. There is such pleasure in returning to the same places.

As the weather changes, so to the mood of place changes as well, sometimes in moments.

There is a feeling of reward when seeing something new within a familiar location and one of the best rewards is to complete a walk through the Lasgarn wood at the top of Waterworks Lane.

What better than a sunset worthy of Monet to finish the day and a grand panoramic view beyond a dry stone wall, with its  duvet of moss, looking towards Cwmbyrgwm, the setting for my next walk in the series.

More from the Lasgarn Woodland down the line.

Read the first installment of Y Filltir Sgwâr/The Square Mile by Tom Maloney

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