Pensychnant nature reserve
The stone walls here mark the boundaries of the Pensychnant estate, now a nature reserve covering 148 acres and managed by a charity. The Estate as we see it today was largely created in Victorian times around the country house of Abraham Henthorn Stott, whose company designed Lancashire cotton mills.
It’s said he paid 4d a day (about 2p in today’s money) to have the roadside walls built, and that if the workmanship was not to his satisfaction he would order that it be pulled down and the men went unpaid! Stott also planted many trees to beautify his estate. The woodlands would have been much more manicured in his time than today.
Areas of ancient woodland in the reserve are dominated by the native Welsh oak, birch, rowan and holly, but were it not for the Stotts, most of this area would be rather bleak. The hillsides were laid bare millennia ago by the first pastoralists and farmers in the Bronze Age, Iron Age and medieval era. There are several examples of Bronze Age and medieval settlements on the Estate, and others nearby.
In early summer, the woods are alive with the singing of migrant birds including redstart, pied flycatcher and wood warbler. The heathlands, in the reserve’s southern area, are of special natural and scientific importance. Here ravens and choughs cavort, and cuckoos lay eggs in meadow pipits’ nests.
The heaths, rich in invertebrates, are the best-known location to see two rare moths, Ashworth’s Rustic (photo, upper right) and Weaver’s Wave (lower right), which occur in the mountains of North Wales and nowhere else in the world. In Victorian times there was tourist trade in Penmaenmawr based on collectors travelling to catch (and later pin) these moths. Now people will travel from all over Britain to see them when they fly in July.
With thanks to Julian Thompson, of the Pensychnant Foundation