February half term we headed off to Snowdonia and were lucky enough to book a beautiful cottage in the middle of the Coed Y Brenin forest.
We were apprehensive about what we'd find when we arrived - the owner called the day before we were due to tell us that the cottage and surrounding area had been without power for 4 days following the terrible storms that hit. From our provincial town it was hard to imagine, but when we arrived the devastation was clear to see.
Mother Nature can be cruel at times, and hurricane force winds had whipped through the area toppling hundred foot high trees like dominoes. The shock and sadness didn't abate each time we saw another fallen tree. There were just so many.
Luckily for us, the power companies; local engineers and Forestry staff had been working incredibly hard to get lines back up and roads cleared and we did have electricity by the time we arrived.
The air was thick with the scent of pine oil from where the trees had been cut and moved away from the roads.
The fallen trees, although devastating to see, offered some amazing and practical learning opportunities. We counted the rings on the cut trunks to see how old they were. We were surprised to find that some incredibly tall trees weren't as old as we expected. This area is predominantly spruce trees which are very fast growing. Luckily there were loads and loads of tiny saplings already growing strongly ('baby Christmas trees'), and these would eventually replace those lost to the storm.
The rocky landscape here is evidence of the former volcanic activity which took place hundreds of millions of years ago. The land is rich in minerals such as copper and even gold, but the harsh landscape means that tree roots cannot grow deep.
With the uprooted trees we were able to get up close and investigate their root system in a way we'd never seen before. It was fascinating to talk about how the roots provide nourishment for the tree, but yet just how shallow the roots to such enormous trees really were.
We looked at how and where the trees had fallen and talked about the domino effect. We discussed which direction we thought the winds had been blowing in. We thought about how frightening it must have been to have a house in the area, and how terrifying and confusing for the wildlife and animals who built their homes in the forest.
Finally, we discussed the age old conundrum - If a tree falls in the forests and nobody is there to hear it, does it make a sound?
That was pretty philosophical for a 5 year old, but we reckoned that yes, it does!
This post is an entry for the Visit Wales #Wales4Kids Family Holiday Challenge. Wales is the perfect place for a fun-filled family break. See the Family Holiday Challenge on BritMums for more details.