The Buckland Estate once extended to 25,000 acres – a vast triangle of South Wales encompassing all the land between Bwlch, Brecon and Merthyr Tydfil. It was the estate of the Brecon Beacons and included the famed peaks of Pen-y-Fan and Corn Du and only in the 1930s was the estate broken up. The tenanted farms were sold off. Much of the uplands became common land. The estate of Buckland Hall is now a mere 62 acres though still surrounded by hundreds of acres of parkland pastures and protected forests and riverbanks.
And, it was this landscape that inspired JRR Tolkien to include some local references when he spent time in Talybont across the river writing The Lord of the Rings. According to the best research, this is the original ‘Buckland Forest’ – the childhood home of Frodo Baggin.
Buckland Hall has probably the best arboretum in Wales with amazing specimen trees going back to Elizabethan times. Of particular interest are the ancient Spanish Chestnut, Grandfather Beech tree, the Champion Silver Lime and the Monkey Puzzle. A great favourite is the ‘tee-pee’ tree actually Western Red Cedars which together form a huge enclosed canopy, large enough to hold ceremonies and gatherings of 50 or more people.
Some of the garden hedges and yews were laid out in the 19th Century in the formation of the British and French armies at the Battle of Waterloo.
However, each year in May, the pride of the estate is the 400-yard bank of rhododendrons. We’ve counted 12 hybrids distinct in colour and shape. A more discerning eye may identify others.
The river Usk flows by the estate and Buckland owns some river frontage reached via a delightful Dingle with its bank of numerous badger sets. The ornamental lake was created in a tranquil area in the gardens surrounded by lush vegetation and beautiful trees and is home for our resident swans, herons and all sorts of ducks and coots.
The estate owns several miles of tracks and paths which are available to resident guests. There are three main walks:
The Valley Walk from Buckland to Cilwych and on to Llangynidr. This passes through woodland, then emerges overlooking pastures and down to Usk with the majestic mountain, Tor-y-Foel on the far side.
The River Walk from Buckland along the Usk to Talybont. This passes through the Dingle, then along the river Usk using the disused old carriageway linking the mansion to the Brecon road. You get a feel for the original parkland landscaping of the fields alongside the river.
The Woodland Walk around Buckland Hill. This follows various paths that circulate through the Forest Enterprise woodland around Buckland Hill with connections via the commons land to Bwlch.