Monday, 17 March 2014

Learning about trees in Wales

It's no secret that we love spending time outdoors.  We love forests and spending time breathing in lungfuls of fresh air and enjoying the seasons. Which is why we adore our holidays in Wales and the ever changing scenery on offer there.

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.



18 comments:

  1. That cottage looks amazing!! What a lovely place to stay, sad about the damage to the forest though

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    1. Hi Gina. The cottage was amazing, we're hoping to go back in the Easter holidays if it's free. Not another soul or house to be seen! Loved leaving the bedroom curtains open at night to wake up to the views!

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  2. It is amazing to see the power of the wind first hand, I came across some fallen and snapped tree on a walk recently. The wind in the last few storms hit North Wales at nearly 100mph, it was pretty scary, they don't really stand a chance. Great photos, Snowdonia is so scenic. Good to hear you enjoyed your holiday and at least you didn't get snowed in!!

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    1. Hi! I certainly wouldn't have liked to be there during the storm - scary stuff!

      We love Snowdonia, hope to go back again next month and we went in October too!

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  3. Wonderful post! (eventhough it is so sad to see such a big tree fall down!)

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    1. Thank you RedTedArt.

      It was very sad, but it's nature I guess? Great learning opportunity though. When else do you get to stand UNDER a tree?!

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  4. Wow! What an adventure! Although it is such a shame to see all the trees fallen, it proved an exciting adventure for you all. Wales is somewhere I have never really explored but this post is beautiful and may just have inspired me ....

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    1. It was a great adventure indeed! You really must visit Wales, so beautiful x

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  5. I remember seeing the damage after the Great Storm and finding it really upsetting. Learning in all these things though. Glad you had a good time. Commenting for myself and on behalf of BritMums and thanking you for taking part.

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  6. I remember seeing the damage after the Great Storm and finding it really upsetting. Learning in all these things though. Glad you had a good time. Commenting for myself and on behalf of BritMums and thanking you for taking part.

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  7. That looks absolutely stunning! Sometimes the best holidays are in the UK. Such a shame to see all the trees fallen but a great lesson about nature for the little ones x

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  8. I'm so glad you took something so distressing to give so much positivity. Wales is beautiful X

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  9. What a great learning opportunity, shame under such a sad event.

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  10. Looks fab, we have loads of fallen trees here on the estate from the storms and it breaks my heart. One of ours tat went was a 600 year old oak, it was so gorgeous. I've fallen in love with trees the last year. Mich x

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  11. That sounds like a wonderful holiday. What beautiful scenery, even after the storm.

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  12. Such a gorgeous place and never to early to learn about the power and frgility of mother earth

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  13. Gorgeous photos despite the fallen trees. Mother earth at her most mighty. xx

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