Jim’s Log 20.11.16

The winter months have suddenly fallen upon us!

It feels like only moments ago, when the forest was in full bloom and the rivers were flowing with sweet, warm water.


Many of my fellow keepers cherish summer. It’s a time when we can enjoy the long warm days at work and still have time to enjoy the sunlight in the evening. However, I’m happy enough during the colder months. Unlike my colleagues at the forestry commission, I don’t mind waking up in the dark.

In the early hours of the morning, even the animals and birds stay eerily silent. The only sounds you can hear are your own footsteps, crunching through the crisp, cold leaves.

Thankfully, the cold weather has driven out the spate of unsociable activity that the forest was plagued with during the summer months. Unlicensed tree felling has all but ceased now – this is good news for the trees and it also makes our job as park keepers much easier. Instead of constantly hunting down mischievous thieves, we can now focus on protecting and caring for the wildlife that lives within our forest.


This is good news all round – especially for our badger population, which is dealing well with the winter months, but has need for improved shelter. The soft nature of the loam and shallow depths of the roots of our younger trees often means that the average badger finds it difficult digging his sett.

We’re hoping to combat this in the coming months with the help of some friends in the timber packing cases (http://www.timberpackingcases.com/) industry. Their experience in the field of building custom timber units will hopefully aid us in preparing some pre-made setts for the indigenous badger population.

Using their knowledge of wood integration and complex plank arrangement, we are hoping to construct pre-fabricated setts. These will be the average size of a normal sett, but will be reinforced with additional timber, to ensure that there is no chance of a cave-in. Once these have been constructed, we are planning on burying them in populated areas and filling them with the soft loam, that our local badgers are used to.


Work will begin on designing and fabricating the setts in the coming weeks, ready for the winter months.

Lastly, the problems with the small fires, that were cropping up around the forest during July and August, have subsided. This is a great relief to us rangers, who were honestly baffled with their appearance. Often we would feel like we were closing in on the culprits, only to find a smouldering piles of twigs and bones – and the smell of cooked meat.

bliar-witchFor a long time we were sure that we were dealing with a group of individuals, perhaps living inside the forest, but now it appears that the fires have ceased.

In their place, rangers are beginning to report strange wooden sculptures hanging from tree branches. Once more, we’re baffled by the appearances of these vaguely creepy items – but as long as the forest is safe, we’re happy.


Jim’s Log 18.08.16

percy-1Summer is a wonderful time of year in Wood Bridge, the leaves in the tree are as green as you’d like and the forests are filled with the sounds of birdsong. With winter a distant memory in the mind, there’s never been a better time of year to be a park keeper!

However, with lovely weather comes an increase in visitors to this special corner of the world. Us rangers love seeing the forest being used by people, its so big that it never feels crowded and its always a nice surprise to bump into sightseers. With increased footfall, however, comes a higher risk of misuse.

Its come to our attention that there’s been some unlicensed felling taking place. Cutting trees down in Wood Bridge is illegal, there’s legislation in place to fine offenders heavily but we have to be around to catch them in the act. With that in mind, if anyone sees evidence of this kind of activity then please don’t hesitate to call us; our phone numbers are posted all round the park.

badgerIn better news, our badger population is on the up and they’re starting to look a lot healthier. The winter/spring months can often be tough on our furry friends and we were worried that numbers were dwindling. However, our badger cove cams have lifted our spirits – there are four separate mothers with healthy looking cubs!

As long as the coves stay well protected by our conservation fences, these cubs should have the best advantages in life. There’s plenty of water, food and light for them to get accustomed to the forest floor. In a few months time they’ll be venturing out amongst the undergrowth and getting to grips with their survival techniques and we can’t wait to see them flourish!

natural poolMeanwhile, we’re continuing our plans to create an outdoor swimming pool in one of our stargazing clearings. After reaching out to trade suppliers Paramount Pools, we’re close to reaching a finished design on our semi-natural swimming pool.

The folks at Paramount have been really helpful in talking us through the pros and cons of an industry that we’re really not familiar with. There’s just so many things to consider; skimmers, covers, filters, pumps. The list goes on and on. The aim is to create a decent sized pool which has as small of an impact on the environment as possible, building should begin in the next month!

forestLastly, there’s been some promising signs of regeneration in the South side of the Park after a few small fires were discovered two weeks ago. At this time of year the undergrowth can be extremly dry, even the smallest of fires can quickly spread and cause real damage to our Park. Trees, as well as the land-based mammals of the forest, are particularly vulnerable and we shall all have to work together to protect them.

The source of the blazes are still a mystery so, until we know what’s causing them, we’ll be increasing patrols in the next fortnight to ensure that no more fires are lit. Please remember that BBQs and fire-pits are strictly forbidden in the park grounds, why not enjoy a simple picnic instead!

Jim – Wood Bridge Park Ranger

Druids & Clearings

druidWood Bridge Park has long been known for its mythical roots, talk to any of the local historians in the area and they’ll agree. The beauty of this place is one of the factors that would have been taken into consideration by these ancient holy men, but were there other details about the Park that would have drawn them there?

The Trees

Beech-pleached-2The beech trees that grow in the forest have great historical significance when we consider the purposes the druids would have been using them for.  Beech is a tree that burns very well – as you probably know, Druids were in need of fire. Just like other ancient races, they relied on burning wood as a source of heat. Most importantly, many of their sacred rituals required fire as their source of power.

Fagus sylvatica was also used for medicinal purposes. It was believed that creating a poultice from its leaves could reduce swellings – treating anything from a sore tooth to a broken leg. Of course, these Celtic methods were soon disproved with medicinal research. Still, the great beech trees of Wood Bridge could have been a significant pull when the Druids of Wales were considering a place to call home.

The River
afon reurhThe Afon Rhiwddolion is quite a small offshoot from it’s bigger brother the Affon Lluggwy. However, common sense tells us that the Druids would have preferred a river that was easier to cross, rather than a larger, more dangerous one. Once more, water would have been a vital resource for these spiritual men – providing a place to wash and drink. However, there were also deeper reasons as to why they might have been drawn to this stream.

The Afon Rhiwddolion runs righ through the Park, creating a natural dividing line between the lines of forests. The Druids would have been fascinated with this divide. In ancient times, rivers were greatly revered for their symbolism. The endless flowing of the water was seen as a symbol for time itself, never ceasing and always moving.

The Clearings

forest walesOne of the Park’s most revered natural attractions, the clearings in Wood Bridge are places of real magic. Whilst the centre of the forests can often feel a little claustrophobic, with their oppressive silences and dark green majesty, the clearings feel completely different. The chopping of trees is now illegal within Wood Bridge Park, but the ancient Druids would not have lived by these rules.

Clearing sections of woodland gave them resources to burn, but also cleared a space of sky for them to gaze at the stars at night. The Druids would have been the earliest astrologers, their records indicate that they understood much about the movement of the stars and even used them to navigate with. They used the changing positions of the constellations to predict omens and would often make important community-wide decisions based on these predictions.

If you’d like to learn more about the history of the Druids and the role they had to play in Wood Bridge, then you can contact us here for a guided tour of the Park. Local astrologers also organise weekly stargazing nights, if you’d like to take a crack at predicting your future!