Brynna Woods was once a busy coal-mining area, with up to three shafts operating and as many as 400 men toiling underground, a tramway trundling away coal and spoil, coke ovens carbonising coal, and an engine house belching out smoke. Fortunately for today’s visitors, those processes had all ceased by 1934 and the woodland has been allowed to regenerate, becoming a tranquil area for walking and wildlife watching.
Adjacent to the main trail in the woods there sits an old man of the forest, the aptly named Ancient Oak. Its actually age is the subject of much speculation – some say it’s 400 years old, I read in a Cardiff Naturalists’ newsletter that it’s 300, and was told by a local that it’s more likely 250 years old. And there is also speculation about whether it is one single tree or two trees that have grown together. Certainly, when you look at its trunk, you can see where the two-tree theory arose as there is a dark line of vertical bark seemingly separating the two halves of the tree. Whatever the truth, it is a stately representative of nature’s majesty that deserves to be cherished and admired and protected for future generations to enjoy.