What treasures are blooming this summer along Glyndŵr’s Way?

Summer 2024

As we say slowly say goodbye to the beautiful (and oh so welcome) spring flora, the seasons are gently shifting and with it a new chapter begins to bloom across Wales’ National Trails. Here,  the Trail Officer for Glyndŵr’s Way, offers some insight into what walkers can expect to enjoy along the route in summer.

Glyndŵr’s Way is a 135 mile (217 Km) long National Trail meandering through the open moorland, rolling farmland, woodland and forest of mid-Wales. Starting in Knighton and ending in Welshpool, the Trail is named after Owain Glyndŵr, Prince of Wales and Medieval Welsh nationalist leader who organised a rebellion against the English king, Henry IV in 1400.

Among my general responsibilities of managing, surveying and  arranging improvements to the Glyndŵr’s Way, my role means that I now know the trail inside out, and can offer some insight into the best seasonal offerings for those heading out for a hike, come rain or shine, and throughout all the seasons.

And while all seasons have their individual merits, there’s no denying that it’s summer when nature really puts on a show for us all, and along Glyndŵr’s Way you’ll find one of the most beautiful rural walking routes anywhere in the world.

So what should nature lovers you be looking out for?

As you walk the trail, look around and you will see grass verges displaying a riot of colour from a wide variety of wildflowers. Stitchwort, Welsh poppies, red campions, cow parsley, primroses and yellow pimpernel are all competing for space now that the sun is shining.

One of the less obvious and overlooked treasures of Glyndŵr’s Way are the ferns which emerge from here, there and everywhere. Bracken is prolific on the hillsides, but look out for the varieties that are less common, like the unfurling croziers of male fern, hard fern and hart’s tongue in the woodlands, the first clues of the dramatic display to come as they reach maturity.

Old walls and buildings are great places to look for ferns and wildflowers. Maidenhair spleen wort is a small fern that can take over a whole wall and is often seen in the company of ivy-leaved toadflax and its tiny purple flowers. Speaking of finding treasures among old walls, make sure to stop off at Powis Castle in Welshpool, the 300-year-old, world-class castle gardens are steeped in history, its flowers putting on a dazzling display of colour every summer.

In the many watery places along the trail, there is marsh marigold and common water crowfoot flowering. On moorland, look for tormentil and milkwort hidden among the heather.

At Glaslyn, a Site of Special Scientific Interest, the sights are breathtaking all year, but especially so from June to August, where the reserve turns white with cotton grass, followed by the purple of flowering heather. You might spy the lake’s speciality, quillwort, which washes up on its shores after rainy weather – typically a given wherever you are in Wales even in the drier summer months!

One last thing to look out for are the fencepost gardens. What at first glance appears to be a simple post, is so much more than that upon closer inspection – a fantastic habitat for micro flora and fauna! Some of the old gate and signposts on Glyndŵr’s Way have provided perfect growing conditions for tiny gardens of lichens, mosses, ferns and even trees. So, when you pass through a gate, be sure to have a look at the top of the posts to see what is making a home there.

Fencepost gardens on Glyndwr's Way
Fencepost gardens on Glyndwr’s Way