Parkmill is a deep wooded gorge, with a long history of occupation. In the Nineteenth Century, animal bones were found in caves here which date from the last glaciation approximately 18,000 years ago. These include mammoth, woolly rhino, red deer and giant deer. Cathole Cave on the eastern valley side contains some of the earliest cave art found in Britain, dating from the Palaeolithic (early Stone Age) period. You can climb up to the caves and stand in the entrance- can you spot the cat in its hole? On the valley floor is a prehistoric burial chamber, unusually sited within the valley rather than on high land, in which have been found the remains of at least 40 people.
In medieval times, Parkmill was part of the Parc le Breos estate, where deer were hunted. The animals would probably have been driven down into the gorge and then run towards the waiting archers. The deer park was surrounded by a park pale (a bank and ditch) which prevented the deer escaping. Several stretches of the park pale still survive, and have been incorporated into paths or field boundaries. There are very good views of Parkmill woods, and the former deer park, from the eastern end of Cefn Bryn.
The area also contains some later archaeology, including a very well-preserved limekiln, where limestone was burnt to create lime to improve the soil. If you look inside you can still see the original furnace.
The woodland is predominantly oak and ash, but there are other more unusual species, including ornamental conifers which may have been planted as part of a landscape park. There are also many different species of ferns and woodland birds including bullfinch and spotted flycatcher.
It is worth coming back to this area at different times throughout the year, as you will be able to watch the colours, sights and sounds change with the seasons. If you enjoy the woods at Parkmill then you may also like to explore the Bishopston Valley a couple of miles to the east, Nicholaston Woods to the north of Oxwich bay, and Clyne Valley Country Park between Mumbles and Swansea.