It was a beautiful warm sunny day and I decided to go for a walk around beautiful magical Llangollen in North Wales.
As I drove nearer to Llangollen, the hill on which castell Dinas Bran (Crows castle) sits, rose up from the horizon and called out to me to climb it.
The Welsh castle built about 1260, is situated on an old Iron Age hillfort and is 1,000 feet above sea level.
After a steep walk along the road from a car park by the canal, I reached what is known as ‘The Pancake’. This is a flat piece of land just before you start the steep climb up the hillfort. The views were already amazing from here and I couldn’t wait to see the fantastic views from the castle.
Half way up the hill I decided to have a rest and luckily there was a bench so I could rest my weary legs. As I sat there admiring the view of the Eglwyseg escarpment I noticed a gorse bush in front of me. It was absolutely covered in thick white cobwebs. I thought to myself that it must be one of those caterpillars that I’ve seen in the media that cover trees and shrubs in silk.
I got up to take a closer look when to my amazement I saw lots of tiny little red spiders about the size of a full stop, maybe smaller. I thought they must be spiderlings, but what kind of spider could make such a huge web? I took a photo and decided that as soon as I got home I would look it up in my books or internet and hopefully solve the mystery.
Spurred on by my new find and the ruined castle before me, I walked up to the top of the hillfort with a spring in my step.
Wow! What a view! The castle is now a ruin which I think adds to the experience as you have a 360 degree view from the top. I saw a kestrel hovering over the field below and it was fascinating to look down on this beautiful bird instead of looking up into the sky to see one. It hovered so still looking for prey and its feathers glistened with a beautiful warm hue in the sunshine.
It was an awesome day and I can’t wait to return to walk to the top of the hill again.
As for the mystery of the web…..
I found out that they were red gorse spider mites.
These half millimeter rusty red coloured mites live in colonies within silk that covers the gorse bush like a ghostly blanket. They don’t attack any other plant but can do damage to gorse, and some countries use them as biological control where gorse is seen as a highly invasive species. I find it fascinating to think that such tiny little creature can make such vast complex webs, and I am glad I got to see them whilst I was walking and learn a bit about them.