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I am currently working in Old Colwyn and as it would have been a pity not to take advantage of some of last week’s sunny spring-like weather, so I ventured out during my lunch breaks to explore some  of the locality. In a recent blog – What a beautiful day- I featured photographs that I had taken in the small area of woodland alongside the final stretch of the river Colwyn. This is called Min-y-Don woodland and is a remnant of an ancient woodland that would once have covered the whole valley. From there it is possible to walk along a footpath leading up to the village that follows the course of the river. At the top, if you cross the Abergele Road and follow the signs to ‘Fairy Glen’, you reach a narrow wooded dell that the river runs through, bounded by roads and houses.

In present day Old Colwyn, much of which sadly has seen better days, Fairy Glen seems an incongruous name for a part of it, but it harks back to when this whole area was wealthier and hugely popular with well-to-do Victorian holidaymakers. This area of woodland was said to contain many different spirits including fairies, hence its name, which dates from the Victorian era and is a common name from that period (another local one being the “Fairy Glen” in Penmaenmawr).

The wooden road sign for Fairy Glen

Fairy Glen has recently been designated as a Local Nature Reserve and has undergone  regeneration with funding from the local council and it is now possible to walk through it easily. Presently the Fairy Glen is subject to an ownership dispute between Conwy County Borough Counciland the water company, Dŵr Cymru, each claiming that the maintenance of the area is the responsibility of the other. The trail was funded by Cydcoed Forestry Commission Wales.

“A path broadly follows the Afon Conwy which, with the Fairy Glen (then known as Y Nant), was mentioned by the traveller Edward Llwyd in 1699. He described the area as having seven wells and being completely wooded. There are, in fact, remaining indicators in Fairy Glen which identify it as an ancient woodland.”

I doubt that today’s Fairy Glen would have suited the Victorian visitors romantic aesthetic, but it is a pleasant enough place to spend half an hour. It is barely a five minute walk from work and I headed there for my first ‘reccie’ last Friday afternoon; I was very pleasantly surprised by the sightings I had there.

My first surprise was finding this violet plant flowering at the base of a large tree

A tracery of bare twigs and branches against a perfectly blue cloudless sky

Blue Tits seemed to be everywhere

Blue Tit picking delicately around the sticky leaf buds

Hazel catkins

A grey squirrel sat on a tree branch eating something held in its paws, possibly an acorn it had buried back in the autumn

A beautiful male blackbird was picking off ripe ivy berries

The blackbird contorted himself to reach a berry

The blackbird with a berry in his beak

A big surprise was the sighting of this lovely coal tit

A wren singing from a low branch

Another wren flew across the path and perched on the fence. It looked a little odd, but it took a few seconds to realise it was because he was missing his characteristic upturned tail

The missing tail did not seem to be inhibiting the little bird too much – he was bright eyed and flitting around singing enthusiastically

A robin singing beautifully, but in the shade

A pair of nike trainers thrown up into a tree. A reminder that this is a just an oasis in a small urban jungle