Carmel NNR, 5 miles southwest of Llandeilo, consists of a mosaic of habitats with a pattern of woodland blocks, with intervening grassland rides. The woodland is dominated by ash with much coppiced hazel and also spindle and hawthorn. There is a typical spring limestone flora including bluebell, dog’s mercury, wood anemone, wild garlic and hart’s-tongue fern. Scarcer plants include lily-of-the-valley and herb Paris. Parts of the reserve are covered in large areas of freely-draining species-rich neutral grassland which host different species including common knapweed, bird’s-foot trefoil and devil’s-bit scabious. The lower parts of this block are marshy grassland, and parts of the upper limestone ridge are covered in a scrubby layer of bracken and gorse, which provides a good habitat for reptiles. Dormice have been found in the southwestern corner of the reserve and a wide range of birds can be seen in the varied habitats, including willow tit, green woodpecker and great spotted woodpecker.
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About The area
Carmarthenshire is the largest of the historic counties of Wales, and known to have been inhabited since prehistoric times. Carmarthen, its county town, with its Roman fort, claims to be the oldest town in Wales.
Carmarthenshire was a heavily disputed territory between the Welsh and the Normans in the 12th and 13th centuries, and many of the castles and forts dotting its landscapes date from this period. They include ruins at Carreg Cennen, Dinefwr, Dryslwyn, Laugharne, Llansteffan and Newcastle Emlyn, as well as the slightly better-preserved Kidwelly Castle. Carmarthen Castle, meanwhile, saw further fighting during both the Wars of the Roses and the Civil War, when it was captured twice by the Parliamentary forces, and ordered to be dismantled by Oliver Cromwell.
In these more peaceful times, the economy of the county is mainly agricultural (the 19th-century Rebecca Riots, in which local farmers and agricultural workers protested against higher tolls and taxes, started in Carmarthenshire), and its fertile farmland is known as ‘The Garden of Wales’. A more literal garden, the National Botanic Garden of Wales, opened in 2000.
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