Friday 16 September 2016

Cwm Carn Forest - A Toddler Explores


Anyone who grew up in South Wales would know Cwm Carn Forest but we all knew it as Cwm Carn Forest Drive. A road around the mountains through the forest. Then a deadly disease hit the Larch trees and many had to be felled. The Drive became a walk, through beautiful woodlands and along a sculpture trail. Sadly this has now gone too and cars are restricted to the car park and only hikers and mountain bikes get to explore the bare mountain top. We hadn't researched this when we decided to take Bear for our Cwm Carn Forest - A Toddler Explores post and had hoped to walk the sculpture trail. Bear was also having a bad week with teething but the start look promising and Bear happily posed in front of the way marker sign.

Lots of trails from a quick twenty minutes to six hours!

There are lots of walks from a twenty minute stroll to a six hour hike. We opted for the twenty minute stroll around the lake. That was our second mistake. A contrary toddler on a bike next to deep open water is not something to allow a relaxing stroll. Just a warning. The lake is not fenced, only a few fishing stations on one side and there are lots of friendly ducks to attract a toddler too. For most of the walk I was trying to distract Bear from the water.

The beginning of the walk was perfect. A wooden board walk alongside the cafe, a tarmac path past the camping site and some distractions along the way. The playground advertised was just one small climbing frame which we passed without Bear seeing it. It did look wet and not very enticing. We discovered some large heads, a bird in flight and flower pots with lots of nature information on them. Bear paused at the heads but raced past everything else.

The start is good...

this path is perfect...


Head. Why Easter Island type heads? I have no idea haha!

I loved this sculpture, beautiful

Plant pots with some random engravings. A cat and a green man amongst them

Each had a little bit about local fauna on the side. This one describing newts.

Then we found the lake. It is very small and very deep, for a toddler. It attracted Bear on his bike, not a good combination. Luckily there were a few fishing platforms that Bear could stand on and get close to the ducks. He really, really wanted to get into the water. 
The Lake. 

Bear wanted to stroke the ducks, they on the other hand wanted to be fed.


Along side the lake was a steep hill and at the top a metal cutout of a wolf. This was a great distraction from the water but the hill was steep and once we'd got to the top I wasn't sure we'd get down without slipping as it was very muddy from the rain. Bear loved it. 


We also found a dear and some footprints.



We decided to take the woodland route back to the car as we had only walked a little way. This was a bit bumpy for a buggy but there were markers at regular intervals showing the wildlife that lived in the woods. It is a very short route and if you take the woodland path there are many, many steps back up to the car park and visitor centre.


Bear did find some water he could happily play in, so a quick donning of puddle suit and wellies and Bear had a splashing good time.


Below are a few photos from our last visit in 2012 when the sculpture trail was still open.

Top left to right; Mine shaft wheel, giant statue, owl
Bottom left to right; a leaping salmon, a wild boar, the view from the car park
All photos from 2012 when the sculpture trail was still open

The parking is free, the staff at the visitor centre very friendly and knowledgeable and there are toilets, a gift shop and cafe on site. We had a coffee and scones and they were delicious and good value.

Cwm Carn Forest seems to be very popular with dog walkers as there were many about when we were there.

We were a little surprised to find dogs with their owners having a break in the cafe but it seems very dog friendly. This is what I would recommend the place for. A great place to walk dogs but not toddlers.

Have you returned to somewhere and been disappointed or even better amazed at how good it is now? I'd love to read about your adventures in the comments.


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