Dolau Dyfi Project

Red Clover

As part of the Dolau Dyfi project, Ennyn comissioned a song by the Welsh folk singer, Owen Shiers. 

Owen beautifully arranged a poem by Crwys to music. The poem describes a herb garden his mother had, and refers to many of the herbs people would use for medicinal purposes, including Mint, Thyme and Lavender. 

Here is an English translation of the lyrics by Sharon Larkin: The Small Border
Along the edge of a narrow path
that divided the garden in two
my mother had her little border,
the prettiest flowers of the parish.

A little root of this and that,
here and there, now and again
and, in this way, a little Eden
came quite simply into being

somehow, by chance, every time.
I don’t know how, but Dad always
swore that nothing ever failed
when planted by the hand of Mam.

Yes, almost all the plants were
simple flowers of poor people
and miraculous vegetables, notable
for goodness rather than appearance.

Among them were snowdrops,
mint and thyme and moschatel,
winter savory, sweet lavender,
and a vigorous bush of box.

Two or three primroses
and daffodils were sure to be
– all the plants of the small border
in the care of some ‘old man’.

They were a host of common folk.
None of them in that small border
could claim the pedigrees of those
blooming in the mansion’s gardens.

With a stab to the chest one day,
I came across an old alien, wild,
without precedent in the border –
a dandelion blown in from a distance,

smiling an insolent smile
in sun and dew, and
I wondered how that old coloniser knew
that Mam was growing old.

Owen Shires

“Nature inspires me when I write music. It’s somewhere I go to have peace and to escape. Somewhere that offers itself to the imagination. Sometime feels otherwordly or different to everyday life.”

Owen Shiers
Owen Shires

Herb Robert

= Fflim / Film

= Sŵn / Sound

= Dro / Walk

= Blodau Gwyllt / Wildflowers

Introduction to the Dolau Dyfi Project

Lowland semi-natural grassland has suffered dramatic losses estimated at 97% in the UK since 1930. The remaining habitat is fragmented and often in poor condition due to a lack of management including appropriate grazing.

This project took a local approach by supporting landowners and managers, including the RSPB at Ynys hir, to help reverse this decline and restore native flowering habitats.  A vital part of the project was to engage communities and raise awareness of the cultural, ecological and well-being value of native wild flowers.

Find out more

Managing Habitats: The project encouraged habitat management for native flowering plants by investing in infrastructure, and advising on management to improve and restore meadows and other habitats. The owners and managers of the farms and small holdings engaged positively with the project and signed 5-year management agreements to continue the work after the project finished. 

A successful field visit was held for meadows owners at the RSPB Ynys hir Reserve in March 2022 and a scything workshop at one of the farms in August. 

For those who love to get out and look at nature spotter guides for native wildflowers and pollinators can be found on the land management pages.

The Dolau Dyfi project invested in many activities to connect people to their local environment, learn about native wildflowers and get active:

Health walks and activities were run in collaboration with the Trywydd Iach project. The walks included:   

  • Maintenance walks where participants helped to maintain footpaths as they walked by cutting back bramble and picking up litter
  • Cultural walks where local experts talked about local features of local cultural and historical significance e.g the cultural importance of Welsh place names 
  • Surgery and well-being walks which offered opportunities for people with mobility or other health and well-being issues to access short, supported walks through their health provider

The project also contracted a local Volunteer Manager to run volunteer activity days.  People were invited to take part in activities such as Hedgelaying and walling. The activities were an opportunity to get out in the countryside, learn new skills and socialise with other volunteers and we really appreciated the contribution the volunteers made. More information and photos from the walks and the volunteer activities can be found on the Health and Wellbeing pages

A programme of Arts activities was organised and run by a local Community Interest Company, Ennyn. Lots of activities were held with local schools including drawing wildflowers, guided walks and during Covid an on-line art workshop.  Towards the end of the project a flower and bulb planting workshop was held at a local care home in Machynlleth. 

Local artists and residents contributed in various ways and supported the community events with live performances enjoyed by all. At the Celebration Event there was a very special visit from the Dyfi Dairy goats who were really popular. 

The project has created plenty of resources to share, all of which are available on these web pages. The main resources are an interactive map, a walks story book and a beautiful film about the area, all created by artists, musicians and school children who live and work locally.  

Improvements were made to local footpaths and bridleways. The project invested in replacing gates on rights of way so that they were easier to open, this was particularly important on the bridleways. There was great support from landowners many of whom allowed stiles to be replaced with gates and where this was not practical the old wooden stiles were replaced with galvanised steel stiles which will be stronger, safer and last longer. 

Four beautiful walking guides were produced by walk leader Jenny Dingle and can be found on the Access Improvement page. You will also find simpler maps which show the routes that were improved with each gate or stile marked on the maps.


Who was involved with the project?

Pori Natur a Threfadaeth (PONT) led the project and employed a project officer, however the project was only able to achieve its ambition thanks to all those who got involved. 

The formal partners sat on the Steering Group and contributed to guiding the project and supporting delivery. This group was Chaired by Partneriaeth Ecodyfi. These partners included the RSPB at Ynys hir, Powys, Ceredigion and Gwynedd local authorities, The Ceredigion Bridleways Group, The Trywydd Iach project and NRW. 

The success of the project and all it has achieved is due to the positive and active involvement of many people including: the land owners and managers, Ennyn CIC, the Walk Leaders and members of the walking groups, the Volunteer Manager and volunteers, all the artists, musicians and local experts, the school teachers and children, the care home staff and residents, local contractors and all the other people who actively got involved. 

The Funders

This project has received funding through the Welsh Government Rural Communities – Rural Development Programme 2014-2020, which is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Welsh Government. It was only possible because of the funders and we very much appreciate the investment they made in the Dolau Dyfi.

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Ennyn Logo
PONT logo
EAF logo