It is clear from George's spreadsheet of records counts for VC41 that there are lots of tetrads in remote places which need some attention. Much of the Garw Valley in Bridgend county falls into that category. I like these old villages, which have 'paid the price of coal' (Mark Knopfler), and the way they are almost reinventing themselves as they recover from their mining legacy.
But they are hard work! Nevertheless, on a nice day, like yesterday, you can take an easy, if long walk from the Bwlch (above Abergwynfi, in NPT) along the new, limestone-gravelled road that gives access to the Llynfi-Afan Wind Farm, which is what we did. The road also gives access to parts of SS99B (formally 15 records), SS89X (39) and SS89W (13).
Funaria hygrometrica is plentiful in the gravel and bare peat along the road, often with other common pioneers such as Ceratodon purpureus and Bryum dichotomum, but many of the calcicoles that one might expect such as Trichostomum crispulum and Ctenidium molluscum, which are so abundant along forest roads, are not here yet. The surrounding moorland is heavily grazed and unexciting but some of the peaty tracks have lots of Lophocolea bispinosa.
From Blaengarw there are a number of forest tracks which ascend through Scots Pine and finally into Sitka. There was more L. bispinosa here and lots of Calliergonella lindbergii along the roads, but there is lots more to do.
After all this the tetrad totals are still modest; SS89W = 43; SS89X = 60; SS99B = 45 and SS99C = 60; but the Garw will look a bit darker on the next tetrad map. There are also some exposed rock (Darren Goch) and gully habitats above Blaengarw in SS99B which were not accessible to us on the day and we (or anybody else) may try to get to them in the future.
North-facing gulley above Blaengarw