Did you know that the landscape around Blaenavon is world important? It’s true! Since the year 2000 the Blaenavon Industrial Landscape has been on the list of World Heritage Sites and it therefore ranks alongside places like The Pyramids and the Great Wall of China!
Why is this? Well, to fully appreciate Blaenavon’s story you need to travel back in time some 200 years, back to the early days of the industrial revolution when the Ironworks at Blaenavon was one of the most important producers of iron in the world. If you were able to explore the landscape back then you would have seen that it was rapidly being transformed by human industrial activity – people were scarring it by mining, carving it up with their tramroads, canals & railways and burying it under tips! However, as the iron industry went slowly into decline so this industrial landscape became neglected and largely forgotten. Over time plants started to grow on the barren spoil heaps and gradually other wildlife began to return.
Today the Forgotten Landscapes are a rich mosaic of geological features, industrial relics and nationally important wildlife habitats. Much of the area is a working landscape too. By grazing their livestock on the uplands the commoners are keeping alive land management practices that are centuries old, and in the process they are acting as guardians of this precious & increasingly rare moorland landscape.
So, the Forgotten Landscapes are indeed a testimony to human endeavor but also a testimony to the healing power of nature. They are at times harsh environments, the kind that blow the cobwebs away, but they are full of character and surprise. They are rightly recognised as an international treasure – a chest full of hidden gems waiting to be discovered. Go on, get out there and discover the treasures of the Forgotten Landscapes for yourself!