The farm covers an area of around 60 acres, with sections of meadowland, woodland and pasture. The land is criss-crossed by a series of small streams which flow into the Abermarlais, a tributary of the Tywi river.
Spend some time in the land around Llwynbwch and you’ll see evidence of roe deer, badgers, small mammals and occasionally otters. Many kinds of wild birds are often seen and heard, including cuckoos, songthrush, nuthatches, gold crest, dippers, grasshopper warbler, garden warbler, willow warbler, bullfinch, goldfinch, chiffchaff, woodpeckers, pied wagtails, swallows and a kingfisher we’ve spotted a few times down by the Abermarlais river. We’ve seen sparrowhawks and buzzards and red kites are overhead frequently and we’ve even found a young goshawk in the fields.
We have periodical land, bird and bat surveys carried out by conservation organisations who have reported on Llwynbwch’s rich mix of species-rich habitats. Areas of damp neutral grassland were recorded as sustaining typical grasses such as Yorkshire fog, sweet vernal grass, timothy, crested dog’s-tail and bent grasses. There are large patches of nectar and pollen-rich flowers like yellow rattle, greater bird’s-foot trefoil, red clover and common knapweed. The wettest areas feature abundant hemlock water-dropwort, meadowsweet, yellow flag and rush. Devil’s-bit scabious is common in several of the fields – where this occurs in tussocky purple moorgrass there is ideal, lightly grazed habitat for the marsh fritillary. Whorled caraway, Carmarthenshire’s county plant, is also frequent here. Common spotted orchids grow in abundance and in the past few years we have found an increasing area of greater butterfly orchids.
We are very happy that Butterfly Conservation have repeatedly visited Llwynbwch. In 2020 they again recorded the endangered Marsh Fritillary butterfly’s larval webs and Brown Hairstreak butterfly eggs. We are pleased to continue to see both year on year. Numbers of both of these butterflies are generally declining due to loss of habitat. A variety of day-flying moths and other butterflies are often seen in the summer months.
In early spring the woodlands are carpeted in wood anemones which make way for a dense cover of bluebells in one woodland area. Since 2017 we’ve had a number of beehives on the land. These are owned by and cared for by local beekeeper Bydafau and the delicious honey is available in our Teeny Tiny honesty shop.
The meadows are grazed with very low stocking density. Originally when we moved to Llywnbwch we continued the ongoing grazing with a mixture of Welsh cobs and cattle, all of whom belonged to local farms. In the autumn of 2020 we were approached by a friend in the village who is extremely knowledgable about Exmoor ponies. She suggested we use Exmoors for conservation grazing and soon after, five beautiful ponies joined us on loan from local breeders in nearby Brecon. From this experience with these hardy little ponies, we now own three beautiful Exmoors: Rosemarie, Jasper and Bear, who live here full time, helping with our land management.
The fields are bounded by dense and species-rich native hedgerows with some mature trees. We have been laying hedges and re-opening old coppiced areas of wood. We carefully source all the firewood for use in Llwynbwch Barn, Hafan and Derwen cabins, Ty Mawr and our own home from the woodlands here at Llwynbwch.
For any guests wanting to know more about what we are up to here, please come and find us and we’ll happily tell you more about our sustainable and environmental development plans and the wonderful flora and fauna here at Under Starry Skies.