Discover Garn Lakes at the Blaenavon World Heritage Site

Around the Forgotten Landscapes World Heritage Site there are plenty of places soaked in history to explore and discover.  An important way to find out about these sites is to start off at the Blaenavon World Heritage Centre.

Garn Lakes

Garn Lakes

One place that is worth a visit is Garn Lakes.  The Garn Lakes nature reserve was created on the site of spoil tips as part of the regeneration of the area when mining ceased.  It comprises two large ponds, woodland plantations, meadows and, most recently created a boggy area with reedbeds.  The reserve thus contains a range of habitats that would occur naturally in the area and supports a wide diversity of wildlife.  The Forgotten Landscapes volunteers have been undertaking projects to enhance and to maintain the reserve, in order to maximise its value to human visitors and its other residents.  For the last year, volunteers have been conducting a monthly count of the wildfowl and wading birds on the reserve.  This data is included in the national Wetlands Bird Survey conducted by the British Trust for Ornithology.  Compared with major sites, the numbers at Garn Lakes are small but all these small sites nationally add up to a great deal, providing nesting habitats for some species and winter feeding for many more.  2012 saw the first record of Tufted Duck breeding at Garn Lakes as well as the ubiquitous Mallard.  Snipe, a wading bird of conservation concern on account of its declining numbers, have been recorded regularly and might breed in the reedbed area once the habitat matures.

Hill's Pit at Dawn by Nicholas Beswick ©

Hill’s Pit at Dawn by Nicholas Beswick ©

Garn Lakes are also a good site for many species of small birds, including warblers that visit in the summer.  Rich song from scrubby undergrowth may betray the presence of Blackcap or Whitethroat; wet areas may attract Reed or Sedge Warblers whilst the wistful song of the Willow Warbler may be heard in the woods.  The Forgotten Landscape project has recently installed an artificial Sand Martin bank.  These relatives of the Swallow excavate nest tunnels in sandy banks near water and it is hoped that they will take to ready-made homes at Garn Lakes as they do elsewhere.