Wolf sculpture at Coed y Bleiddiau
The woodland here is called Coed y Bleiddiau (“Forest of the Wolves”) because, it’s said, this is where the last wolf in Wales was slain. Wolves were hunted to extinction in England by the early 1600s but lived on in the wilds of Wales for much longer.
This ancient oak woodland is owned by the National Trust and is part of the Coedydd Maentwrog National Nature Reserve which is managed by Natural Resources Wales. The wolf sculpture was commissioned by the warden and designed by Beryl Smith, from Llanidloes in Powys. It was planted in March 2010 with help from wardens and volunteers.
It comprises 400 rods of salix viminalis, a particularly vigorous type of willow. The wolf’s head is lifted to the sky, jaws open and howling. The idea is that children will be able to walk into the belly of the wolf and crawl out through its oversized tail.
Coed y Bleiddiau is a small remnant of the Atlantic oakwoods that once stretched along the coastline of Europe from Scotland to Portugal. Because of the high humidity they are sometimes described as “temperate rain forests” and are home to many rare ferns, mosses, liverworts, lichens and fungi. The woodlands also provide ideal habitat for insects, birds, and mammals, especially bats.
They might also be home to the elusive pine marten, whose presence in Snowdonia has not been confirmed since the 1950s. There have been several unconfirmed sightings in this area and den boxes have been erected in the trees to try and verify their presence.
With thanks to Huw Jenkins, of the Snowdonia Society