Walking in the Footsteps of Mary: September, Pwll Waun Cynon Nature Reserve

Pwll Waun Cynon Wildlife Trust Nature Reserve, Mountain Ash (Main entrance: ST035998 Site centre: ST034997) is situated in an area that was previously known as one of the most polluted parts of the UK partly as a result of the adjacent Phurnacite plant. The plant closed in the late 1980s and Lord Aberdare generously gave the reserve to the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales (WTSWW) in November 1986.

Mary and colleagues (including  Alex Coxhead, Bernard Curtis, Nigel Ajax-Lewis, Diana Phillips, Geoffrey Raum, Joan Raum and Ceri Williams) visited the site many times in the 1980s and 90s and found many interesting species and habitats.

The site itself has changed dramatically over the past 100 or so years as a result of an Oxbow from the Cynon detaching and forming a pond, an Alder woodland becoming flooded and causing a water meadow, the Cynon being diverted to allow for a new road, the construction and deconstruction of a railway line and the huge impact of the Phurnacite plant next door.

Mary’s photographic record of Pwll Waun Cynon

Over the past few years, however, the Wildlife Trust has been working hard to restore the site back to good health and great progress has been made. This month we are encouraging you to visit the site and see what you can find – download Mary’s species list and see how it compares!

PWC species list

An interesting feature of this site is the high proportion of melanistic (dark-coloured) varieties of animals such as peppered moths caused by industrial pollution. Although as the health of the environment improves the number melanistic individuals decrease you may still catch one or two! Eyes peeled!


Submit your records at www.sewbrecord.org.uk/Mary_Gillham or send them in a spreadsheet to dedicated.naturalist@sewbrec.org.uk. You can download a template spreadsheet from the Walks with Mary Gillham page on the SEWBReC website: www.sewbrec.org.uk/a-dedicated-naturalist/walks-with-mary.page.

Notes about Walks with Mary Gillham:

  • Please take a common sense approach to recording at these sites. We do not advocate any form of trespassing, and please do not take any risks with regards to your own health and safety.
  • All records are welcome, even the most common of species!
  • For a record to be useful, we need the following information: recorder’s name; date recorded; location name; grid reference (ideally 6 figures or more); species name. Please feel free to include extra information or photos.

One thought on “Walking in the Footsteps of Mary: September, Pwll Waun Cynon Nature Reserve

  1. Pingback: A mine of information – Mary Gillham Archive Project

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