The Woods

Ffynone and Cilgwyn Woodland

Ffynone and Cilgwyn Woodland is situated in a secluded valley in North Pembrokeshire, about seven miles south of Cardigan.

The woodlands were previously part of the Estate of Ffynone mansion and extend to about 325 acres. Initially it would have been mostly native woodland of oak standards over coppice. In the 1780s a number of conifers were planted.

The woods have four rivers and a waterfall. The remnants of the ancient woodland are mainly located around the river. This includes a number of veteran oaks. The woodland is protected under the Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and also a Special Area of Conservation (SAC).

The woods have four rivers and a waterfall, with the remnants of the ancient woodland and veteran oaks

The woods have four rivers and a waterfall, with the remnants of the ancient woodland and veteran oaks

the changing uses of trees

…and the need for sawn timber

The origins of society are underpinned by the history of woodlands. Fencing, sawn timber and food are some of the wide range of woodland products that can be produced. The fact that it once covered the whole landscape shows that silva culture (the management of trees) is old. Even compared to agriculture.

Creating fields from woodlands took a huge amount of effort. This is reflected in the choice of clearing the best land first to create fields. The woodland that remained provided for many of the needs of the people. This included fencing to enclose stock, sawn timber to build homes and barns, peasticks and beanpoles to grow veg in the garden, and giant oaks for ship building

Every tree had its timber use. Elm was used for wheel hubs because it doesn’t split. Springy Ash was used for the spokes. And Oaks provided carts with their wheel rims.

The impact of the industrial revolution and World Wars

The clearance of woodlands increased during the industrial revolution as alternatives were found. As a result, woodland often only remained in valleys and other places where the land was marginal. 

The modern Ffynone and Cilgwyn woodlands contain the remnants of that history. They also contain plantations from the post war era. The thinking at that time was to grow fast growing trees to provide sawn timber in case there was another war. In this rush to grow timber at any cost, slow growing oaks were removed and replaced by the fast growing conifers. 

In the late 1950s the estate was broken up and the site was cleared and planted with conifers.

Balancing the needs of the site with the local need for sawn timber

Our plan has been to find a more sensitive balance. This is beacuse modern thinking is that important habitats are lost through this approach. And so aim to balance the needs of the site with the needs of the community over the long term.

Once, timber was only used locally. But over the last 50 years modern transport has enabled sawn timber to move around the world.

We think it’s a good idea to plant a wide variety of tree species to cater for varying local needs. This might be needed in a post-fossil fuel, deglobalised world which we may return to in future.

Since buying the woodland, we have adopted a continuous cover policy

We have diversified the timber species with many edible trees, such as sweet chestnut, hazel, walnut and fruit

Woodland Management

When we bought the woods in 2006 they were made up of:

  • around 170 acres of plantations on ancient woodland sites (PAWs)
  • 30 acres of ancient woodland
  • 125 acres of plantation on former agricultural land

Since acquiring the woodland we have adopted a continuous cover policy and have been thinning the conifers. We process aawn timber from the woodland at the sawmill, which provides products including rough sawn timber for the local community.

What is continuous cover?

Continuous cover means that the trees are thinned as they grow, to give the ideal amount of space between the trees. Tree seeds in the ground germinate as the light and heat reaches the forest floor, and start to grow. Over time this will create a mixed age range of trees in each area.

Some areas were clear felled and replanted initially, to increase native broad leaf content. Also in 2014 there was also a major wind blow event, which has also been replanted.

Access routes for walkers, cyclists, and horse riders · Click the image to enlarge · Click here to print.

History of Ffynone Woodlands and Estate

The Ffynone estate was originally 2500 acres and was made up of 12 farms. The land supported a much greater number of people historically. The woodland would have been managed for hunting, fishing and a vast array of materials for industry, craft and households. Clay was dug and exported for bricks and pottery.

Changes and developments over the centuries

The Colbys bought the estate in 1752 and in 1793 they planted a number of trees, mainly on the steep river banks. John Nash, the famous architect of St Paul’s Cathedral, built Ffynone Mansion in the 1790s. It was one of his finest private works.

The lake was once a seven acre farm, flooded and dammed in 1921 to provide electricity to the mansion. In 1956 the estate was split and the trees were cut, including the largest tree in Wales at the time.

Calon yn Tyfu acquired the woodland in 2006. Since then the work described above has been done to manage the woodland. Additionally we have established a local timber yard to provide sawn timber and other products. 

The Mabinogi

The waterfall in Fynone woodland is understood to be the site of the story of Pwll, Prince of Dyfed and his famous trip to the Annwn. Annwn literally means ‘here but deeper’. The story is one of the collection of stories known as the Mabinogi.

The Fynone waterfall is said to be the gateway to the Underworld as mentioned in the Mabinogi