Iolo Williams explores the wonders of Wales’s country parks.
Part 1: Great Orme Country Park
He starts with the magnificent Great Orme in Llandudno. It is a park full of history and ancient mines, and thousands of people visit the magnificent limestone headland every year for its fantastic views of the north Wales coast, but few visitors are aware of the special wildlife living there. Iolo meets some local experts and finds the Orme’s rare moths and butterflies, ferocious stoats and migrating birds.
Part 2: Margam Country Park
He visits the Margam Country Park on the outskirts of Port Talbot. Once owned by one of the richest families in south Wales, it features beautiful parkland, lakes and mature woodland with three species of deer, eleven species of bats and other hidden gems.
Part 3: Padarn Country Park
He visits Padarn Country Park near Llanberis in Snowdonia, created on the site of an old slate quarry. The park is home to ring ouzel, one of the most sought-after birds in the whole of the UK, along with wood warblers and pied flycatchers, which have established territories in the park’s ancient woodland, and slow worms – legless lizards – which have colonised the old quarry work levels. The trains of the old quarry have also survived and have been lovingly restored by Llanberis Lake Railway. Llyn Padarn is the second largest natural lake in Wales and is used by otters as well as being home to Arctic char fish.
Part 4: Dare Valley Country Park
He visits Dare Valley Country Park near Aberdare, the first country park in Wales, and the first in Britain to be built on reclaimed land. Once the landscape would have been toxic for wildlife thanks to the coal mines in the valley, but it has now been completely transformed from an industrial landscape to managed wild parkland. Dippers, herons, cormorants and kingfishers frequent the Dare River and the newly constructed lakes. The thin soil over the old coal tips attracts scarce butterflies, like the dingy skipper, and the smaller insects and ants living amongst the grassy tussocks attract lizards.