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Visit Lanlay countryside

Pink and white wildfowers in a green grassy meadow
Walk through wonderful wildflower meadows at Lanlay | © National Trust Images/Sarah Davis

Lanlay in the Vale of Glamorgan is a place of vibrant hay meadows and sweet-scented Rhos pasture, making it a haven for wildlife and a tranquil retreat for people. Enjoy a walk through the meadows; relics of pre-war farming with an abundance of wildflowers and veteran trees to be discovered.

Traditional hay meadows at Lanlay

Farmers created hay meadows like Lanlay to produce enough feed to get their stock through the winter. But after the Second World War, agricultural improvement of grassland intensified resulting in the loss of many natural and semi-natural types of grassland.

Here at Lanlay we’re keeping this tradition alive for you to enjoy the glorious results.

Wildflowers

Flower-rich hay meadows are remarkable places of beauty. At their height in late spring and early summer, before the hay is cut, they’re full of vast and varied colours, sweet-scented grasses and herbs, and the hum-drum of insects as they hurry from flower to flower.

Discover Devil’s-bit scabious, yellow flag iris, purple and yellow loosestrife, betony, and the rare and very poisonous monkshood, among many others.

A summer cut

The hay fields are cut in late summer (mid to late July or early August). If the hay was cut any earlier it would prevent the meadow plants from setting seeds. And in autumn and winter we bring in traditional breeds of ponies, or sometimes cattle, to graze.

This opens up the grassland for new growth and removes ranker vegetation allowing a greater variety of wildflowers to emerge in spring and summer.

So if you want to while away a few hours in a true wildlife paradise, then visiting Lanlay is a must.

A close-up of a small dog sitting next to its owner at Clent Hills
Enjoy walking your dog at Lanlay | © National Trust Images / James Dobson

Fancy a walk?

Whether you have 20 minutes or an hour, if you’re walking the dog or wandering with friends, Lanlay is the perfect escape. Two routes meander through the meadows and along the river.

A gentle walk around the meadows takes in the best of the place and boardwalks help you over the wettest areas so you can enjoy everything Lanlay has to offer.

Wildlife to see at Lanlay

Birds

Dense hedgerows, long grasses, veteran trees and winding riverbanks combine to make Lanlay a wonderful place for birds. From kingfishers darting along the banks of the River Ely to buzzards swooping overhead and woodpeckers delving into old oaks to a variety of songbirds flitting from bush to hedgerow, these meadows are worth visiting at any time of year.

Meadow brown butterfly on a thistle at Parkhill Camp, Wiltshire
Spot a meadow brown butterfly at Lanlay | © National Trust Images / John Miller

Butterflies

A huge number of butterflies make their homes here, from meadow brown to speckled wood and peacock to gatekeeper. And bees and other insects provide your soundtrack to lazy summer days.

Other wildlife to look out for includes bats, Lizards and small mammals. And if you’re lucky, you might even catch sight of an otter in and around the river.

Be patient

Wildlife watching takes patience, so spread out a blanket in the shade of an old oak or perch on the riverbank with the water rushing beneath your feet and you’ll find you can while away hours in this corner of the countryside. Lose yourself in the long grass with a picnic and you’ll feel a world away.

Veteran trees

The enormous oaks dotted around Lanlay are known as veteran trees and are around 500 years old. You can spot them by their gnarled and knotted limbs, brimming with character and providing a vital habitat for birds, insects and other creatures.

They’re often a great place to find some fantastic fungi, which along with lichen and dead wood, invertebrates rely on for survival.

The ancient oak

Whilst a veteran tree is very old compared to others of the same species, there’s no strict definition. Oaks of 500 or 600 years old like those at Lanlay are considered veterans, whilst beech trees are considered veteran at a more youthful age of 300 years. This is because different varieties of trees grow at different rates.

If you’re feeling adventurous, climb onto the lower branches to get a closer look and really appreciate the special environment of these giants.

Lanlay Community Orchard

Enjoy the tranquil setting of the Lanlay Community Orchard, created to provide a balance between good crops and valuable wildlife. Managed by Cyswllt Peterston Connect, the orchard is flourishing in the Lanlay Meadows Local Nature Reserve. In 2019 the site was awarded a Community Green Flag Award.

A good microclimate

The orchard was planted with a mixture of Welsh heritage apple, pear, damson and plum trees. A good microclimate has encouraged tall herbs such as comfrey, willow herb and red campion, retained in sections to encourage pollinating insects.

Being part of a floodplain, not ideal for deep rooted trees, the herbs’ deep roots help with drainage and provide mass floral displays in early summer.

In winter, there are insect bug hotels, bird’s nest boxes and areas to encourage overwintering reptiles.

The willow shelter

A woven willow shelter was created in 2016 using cuttings from Peterston Primary School with assistance from Clare Revera from Out to Learn Willow based at Ogmore by Sea.

If you want to visit the orchard you can park at the entrance or the nearby lay-by for parking opposite the village pub.

Meadow brown butterfly on a thistle at Parkhill Camp, Wiltshire

Discover more at Lanlay

Find out how to get to Lanlay, where to park, the things to see and do and more.

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