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“Grateful but still wants more …”

Bringing you a special guest blog post …

Denmark Farm: Our Happy Place

Hello, my name is Rachel, I came to live in Llwynygroes in 1998 when the trees at Denmark Farm was still being planted – there were sapling trees and the beginnings of trails and lots of experiments going on in the landscape and fields. I remember learning about scrapes – shallow ponds in the fields and how lime puts moles off.

Since I’ve lived here I’ve been to visit Denmark Farm on a fairly regular basis with a series of Jack Russell terriers that share my life. It has become my happy place because I can just be outside with nobody telling me what to do or where to go.

Trevor enjoying the best view at Denmark Farm
Jessie in the Roundhouse

Here’s Jessie, who was with me till 2021, we used to hang out in the roundhouse when it was raining outside. It’s such a lovely place, you can be inside whilst still feeling like you are in the outdoors. We often came down at weekends and hung out together, I’d stop and look at mushrooms and lichens and other fascinating phenomena and she’d stop and sniff and sometimes have a bit of a dig.

Jessie was my beloved and I lost her in the middle of the pandemic when the rescue centres were emptying out and somehow I ended up with a puppy in May 2021. Yes, a pandemic puppy.

Trevor makes it to Denmark Farm Oct. 2021

I may have forgotten to mention that I’m disabled, amongst other things my mobility isn’t great so I use a mobility scooter to get around, it’s actually a golf buggy which means it’s so big it no longer fitted into my motability vehicle so the only places I can use it are anywhere in reach of home and fortunately Denmark Farm is only a mile away.

I am immensely grateful that such a place exists. I have collected many thousands of pictures of the fungi, lichens and slime molds as well as insects and the grazing cattle that Trevor likes to sit and gaze at.

I found my first Amanita muscaria there, I found plums and custard (Tricholomopsis rutilans) on my Birthday in 2022. Last autumn, whilst Trevor was having a dig, I examined one downed beech tree which had around 30 species of fungi on it. It might be a newer woodland, but the mycelium are getting on with it.

I’ve seen hair ice, star jelly, wild orchids, jellies and crusts and tiny mushrooms that need a special lens to see, with even tinier insects living on them – I saw my first springtail at Denmark Farm. I’ve foraged fungi including Velvet shanks and Ceps that went on for weeks as well as wild garlic, and the big berries that grow outside the main buildings – in 2021 I was the only one eating them and I ate a lot of them.

Wild garlic flowers

During the pandemic, Denmark Farm was the only place I could meet up with anyone and it became a regular thing to meet up by the pond and have a short social break. That was a valuable thing for both of us.

One of the places I can not go

So, it’s an important place to me for many reasons. But I have found a few other photos in my collection that document my one frustration. There are places I can’t go. I can’t go there because of lack of ramps – the path is there, the bridges are there, but nothing joins the two together. When I see that, I have to turn
around and go back. I know there’s a lake there that I haven’t ever seen.

I know there are probably many more species of fungi to add to my long list of fungi found there, there’s another ⅔ of the site waiting to be discovered. And although I love the loop through the woods that we are able to do, I’d really love to be able to access all areas, just like people who move about on foot can. It would bring a bit of variety to our walks.

Trevor wants to cross, but we can’t

I know I’m not the only disabled person who goes there because the existing infrastructure is better than it is in most places. Getting out into nature is just as important and beneficial to us as it is for everyone. It would be even better if a few more ramps could be put in place to facilitate a greater variety of options. Creating access for people who get around on wheels also creates access for people with push-chairs or people moving things around with wheelbarrows, it makes it easier for people who are a bit unsteady on their feet too. It’s not just me that needs them.

Here’s some of the other things I’ve seen in the areas I have been able to access. I’m excited to think that I might be able to see even more with the simple addition of ramps onto existing structures.

This is me, in May, enjoying the smell of bluebells that wafts across the path that they are trying to take over.

I like it there so much I persuaded all my work colleagues to come here on an office away-day (or two) and camp out for the night.

Next year I hope I can say that I’ve seen even more amazing things at Denmark Farm.

Rachel Stelmach

2 Comments on ““Grateful but still wants more …””

  • Jan


    Thank you Rachel and Trevor for your wonderful blog and amazing photographs.
    I met you both for a short while in June when on a therapy in nature course for NHS staff at Denmark Farm. A truly special course in a special place.
    You have so captured the wonder of nature and everything it does for us. I love your joy in the detail and in the whole. You have taken me back to June.
    Thank you for sharing your personal story. I do hope you are able to explore more and more in time and make new discoveries.

    • Mara


      Thank you for your comment Jan, We’re pleased that you have met with Rachel and Trevor too and enjoyed the blogpost. We look forward to seeing you very soon for some willow weaving. Warmest wishes. Mara

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