The Dragon Of Radnor Forest
Think of a forest and you’ll picture dense woodland. However, Radnor Forest didn’t get its name from today’s meaning of the word – in medieval times the word ‘forest’ was used to describe an unenclosed area for hunting deer. Radnor Forest was given its name as it was once a royal hunting ground. Now though, it lives up to our understanding of a forest, and is largely covered in rich and diverse woodland.
The wooded part of the forest is now looked after by Natural Resources Wales (formerly the Forestry Commission Wales) and is available to enjoy on foot, horseback or mountain bike.
According to local legend Radnor Forest is home to the last dragon in Wales who sleeps undisturbed in the forest. A ring of churches built around the forest, each dedicated to St Michael, the angel who defeated the dragon, are said to contain the sleeping dragon. Churches located at Llanfihangel Rhydithon (Dolau), Llanfihangel Nant Melan, Llanfihangel Cefnllys and Llanfihangel Cascob form the ring. Local folklore suggests that should any of the four churches be destroyed the dragon would be woken!
Trails in the forest link up with the locations of Bleddfa, Llangunllo, Pilleth, Whitton and Cascob, home to the church of St Michael which is said to be one of the ring of churches offering protection from the last dragon in Wales who sleeps in the Radnor Forest!
A number of interlinking walks and numerous trails take you through the forest, giving you the opportunity to explore its valley bottoms, open plateaus, impressive trees and wildlife. It is also home to the beautiful ‘Water breaks its neck’ waterfall which is very much worth a visit.
The forest is home to diverse and interesting wildlife including roe deer who enjoy the forest’s quiet hideaways. Buzzards and goshawks take full advantage of the steep valley sides, while the crossbill and siskin also thrive in the woods.
The large spruce and larch trees offer cover and a woodland home to large populations of badgers, rabbits and foxes.
Keep your eyes open for signs of wildlife and you’ll be sure to see plenty of interesting creatures and their woodland homes.
There are plenty of opportunities to take part in an impromptu wildlife safari and quick game of wildlife detectives with the children, with places to explore and new animals and mini-beasts to discover. You might even find the Radnor Forest dragon if you look and listen hard enough!
Located on the A488 between Knighton and Presteigne but can be accessed from a number of different locations. Please visit: http://www.forestry.gov.uk/website/recreation.nsf/LUWebDocsByKey/WalesPowysNoForestRadnorForest for more details.