Woodlands and forests are not abundant on Llŷn, especially those of native broadleaf species such as Oak (Derw) and Ash (Onnen). The landscape has been transformed over thousands of years into an area largely dominated by heathery hilltops and improved pastureland for livestock. However, small patches of woodland remain here and there, scattered across the landscape in patches; often clinging to steep river valleys or in areas too wet to turn into productive farmland. What areas of woodland do remain are valuable reservoirs for biodiversity, harbouring a wealth of species of plants, animals, lichens, mosses and fungi.
Given the right weather conditions, these woodlands can transform into a spectacular display of vivid colours come autumn, as the green chlorophyll pigment in the leaves are broken down and other pigments such as carotenes (yellows) and anthocyanins (reds and pinks) are revealed.
If you're on Llŷn from mid-October to mid-November, it's definitely worth visiting one of the woodland sites to enjoy this display of colour and the wildlife hiding within. From Jays (Sgrêch y Coed) frantically squirrelling away acorns, to the roving feeding flocks of mixed woodland birds like Blue Tits (Titw tomos lâs), Nuthatches (Delor y cnau), Treecreepers (Dringwr bach), Goldcrests (Dryw eurben) and Chiffchaffs (Siff-saff). Any woodland is worth exploring if you get the chance, although the top four we've outlined below are a great place to start...
Gallt y Bwlch
This unique Dwarf forest of oak and hazel clings to the cliffs near Nant Gwtheyrn, stunted and twisted by the topography and salty sea winds. An amazing wood which feels like an Elfin wonderland within, keep an eye out for the flocks of Feral Goats which roam the surrounding hillsides
Walking along the Afon Dwyfor from the small village of Llanyswtumdwy takes you past Oak trees dripping in ferns and mosses, prehistoric-feeling Hazel stands and spacious Beech woods. Keep an eye and ear out for the sight of a Dipper (Bronwen y Dwr) whizzing by over the surface of the rushing river.
Plas Glyn y Weddw
A mixed woodland straddling the impressive Oriel Plas Glyn-y-weddw, which springs into an amazing tapestry of colours in October and November. A number of trails within the wood take you onto the headland of Llanbedrog and give a spectacular view across the woods and out across the sweep of Cardigan Bay. Take a look at one of these trails here
Plas yn Rhiw
A woodland of Ash trees and Sycamores populates the grounds of the National Trust-owned manor house, Plas yn Rhiw. A number of trails allow you to explore this wood and the surrounding hillside and enjoy the rich wildlife and history of the site. Head over to their website for more info.