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Dyfi Valley’s lost woodland heritage

Free woodland heritage day at the Plas, Machynlleth 11am to 3pm on Wednesday 12 December

Woodlands have always been an important part of the landscape and culture of the Dyfi Valley. Trees and timber have shaped peoples’ lives throughout history, providing vital flows of firewood, tanbark and charcoal and as the source of raw material to build houses, barns and boats, not to mention supporting the livelihoods of farmers, foresters and the wider community.

Now Coed Cadw (Woodland Trust) is compiling a history of woodland usage in Dyfi Valley and is organising a special free woodland heritage day in Machynlleth on 12 December, to gather stories, histories, facts or tales, so they can be passed down to future generations.

Dave Crowley is leading this work, as a volunteer heritage researcher for Coed Cadw. He says:
“I’ve been working with source material from local archives and historical records as well as photographs and existing timber frame buildings. We’ll be telling story about the vital role woodlands have played in the history of the Dyfi Valley. However, a crucial element could be missing! We need your stories to bring this narrative to life and to make it a peoples’ history. Did you or someone in your family work in the forestry in the past? Are there woodlands or significant trees on your farm, next to your house or near your village or town? Is there a story or tale about a particular wood that is special to you? We would like to hear what you have to say about woodlands, forests and trees from the source of the Dyfi all the way to the mouth of the estuary through time from the distant past to the present day.”

Coracles on the River Dyfi

In doing his research, Dave has developed a particular interest in the history of the coracle on the River Dyfi in the 19th century. He says: “One of the interesting things our research has found is that there used to be a unique design of Coracle for the Dyfi which was used by local people to fish for salmon in the river, but the fish died out and the coracle with it. It would be great to find that an example or picture of one is still around – Does anyone have such a thing?”

Coed Cadw is inviting everyone who’s interest to come and meet them in Y Plas, Machynlleth on the 12 December to share stories and recollections. A bilingual team of Woodland Trust staff and volunteers will be in the Vane Tempest room from 11 until 3, everyone is welcome to drop in and talk about their woodland stories. There will be maps and photographs and other source material available to draw on and inspire our discussions. There will be sound recording equipment and a quiet room if people wish to record any of their stories, histories, facts or tales!

At 12 o’clock and 2 o’clock, Woodland Trust volunteer speaker, Brian Palmer will be making a short presentation about the project and what we have learned so far about the exciting story of woodland heritage in the Dyfi valley.