The roots of this oak tree must surely offer shelter to many small animals that venture out when the coast is clear. On the wet day of our visit to Tycanol Wood, however, we saw only the sheep that nibble the saplings and help keep this ‘wood pasture’ open and light – just right for the 400+ species of lichen* that make it a rare and important site.
This is an ancient woodland, described by George Owen in 1603, where every rocky outcrop, every living branch and every fallen tree is wrapped in mosses and lichens. We walked through this fairy tale wood on a warm drizzly misty day and it was easy to believe that the openings in the low cliffs would lead to magic kingdoms, the small spring-fed streams would drop to hidden rivers and that every wet-weather creature had a message to deliver.
Tycanol Wood is alongside the Pentre Ifan neolithic burial chamber, about 3 miles east of Newport. It’s close enough to Dinas for several visits. For a different experience, visit at bluebell time, in winter after a snowfall or even on a summer’s sunny day. It’s magic!
*Jack Laundon who wrote this little handbook on lichens was a founder member of the British Lichen Society. They have a brilliant website you must visit if you want to find out more about these fascinating organisms that grow 1mm a year and are extraordinarily sensitive to pollution.