Historic Landscape Characterisation

Bala and Llyn Tegid - Area 11 Fieldscape above railway (north) (PRN 24711)

 

 

Historic background

The nature of the land and settlement here adds to the overwhelming impression of a picturesque landscape around Bala. The rural nature of the area has changed little since the 1840s tithe maps which show large, irregular parcels of land, interspersed with areas of woodland. Most of the houses in existence today are also shown then, and are probably early 19th -century in date. There is no (archaeological) evidence for earlier settlement or land use.

The field pattern depicted on the 1844 tithe map shows larger enclosures than in area 13 (on the same hill slopes but further to the south-west), and much of it is shown as being fairly heavily wooded. In the south of the area, Pant-yr-onen, for example, is an interesting building surrounded on its uphill side by woodland (an important feature of this area in general), with a smaller plot below; while the woodland (and drive) shown north of Bryn Hynod still exists. Several cowhouses are also shown in the area. The holdings adjoining the lakeside are fairly uniform in appearance, with some having the appearance of having been amalgamated ahead of the construction of the railway.

The northern part of the area is covered by the Llanfor tithe map (1849), which shows a series of small, irregular fields around the farms of Garth-lwyd and Y Garnedd towards the eastern edge of the area, much as they are now. As with area 13, the upper edge of the area follows the line of the former unenclosed (now designated 'Access’) land.

The 1946 RAF vertical aerial photographs (106G/UK 1468 2475), show that the northern part of this character area, particularly the fields below Ffridd Fachddreiniog, were exactly as they are today, with few trees and possibly crops of grass being cut. However, they do show the woodland around Ffridd Fachddreiniog as loosely planted , especially towards east end and southwards towards Graienyn. Also at this end, the area between the road and the railway remains unchanged since then, with smaller fields adacent to the road junction, and the open area with trees around Bryn-y-aber.

Further south, the photographs (106G/UK 1468 4363), show that the main road has altered its line slightly, while the extent of trees is much the same and the fields between Tan y bryn and Wenallt are open and unchanged, as is the land around Ffridd Uchaf. The tree-dominated landscape remains around Bryntirion, and Coed Bryn Hynod is much the same as now, only more sparsely planted (it has since also spread south uphill). The fields to the east are much the same.

The 1946 RAF vertical aerial photographs (106G/UK 1455 3171-6 2 May 1946) clearly show the very noticeable difference between this area (south of the railway) and area 10, whose dividing line follows the bottom contour of the hill slope.

Key historic landscape characteristics

Steep hill slope pastures, irregular fieldscape, Picturesque landscape and houses

There are indications that the eastern part of this area was owned and heavily influenced by the Rhiwlas estate. Pen y Garth is a classic example of an estate-built house, and there are also signs of the influence of the estate in the buildings at Bryn yr Aber (below the road – SH936355). In this area (just to the north of the road) there are several examples of an interesting form of field boundary which resemble a ha-ha, presumably intended so that one could look out from the house at Rhiwlas and have an uninterrupted view of the estate land to the top of the hill opposite. Ty’n y Wern on the edge of the area in the east is a good surviving example of a modest early farm with outbuildings.

Moving west, the remainder of the area is characterised by steep pasture slopes, with a considerable number of trees and woodland and some rocky outcrops. It is a classic example of an early, working landscape, altered in the 19th-century for more aesthetic purposes. The fields here, being rich in lime, support a number of rare flowers, including marsh hawksbeard, upright vetch, marsh orchid and, rarest of all, the frog orchid.

Y Fachddreiniog is an early 19th-century house, probably built under the influence of Sir Richard Colt-Hoare, and is a classic example of an early villa, or holiday home, again linked to the Picturesque: it was specifically designed for its views, being only one room deep so that one could see across the lake from every room (although not actually either end of it): interestingly, it has an outside kitchen. Other houses along this hill slope (for example Bryntirion and Bryn Hynod) may date from the same period (and have originally served a similar function). Pant-yr-onen, slightly higher up and on the edge of the area, is a squat, stone-built structure, decorative rather than practical in design and intent. They are all gentry enclosures, rather than working farms, surrounded by plantations of mature trees.

The field boundaries are largely well-tended hedgerows, many with trees. Where the traditional boundaries have fallen into disrepair they have been replaced by post-and-wire fences. Coed Graienyn is owned by the National Trust. There are also several trackways in the area, which are now public footpaths.


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