New Visitor Hub Hidden

In May the Meet & Greet container finally arrived. We had to get planning permission to site it at the Pont-ar-daf, which required it to look nothing like a container. The answer was to heavily disguise it as a shed!

Pont-A-Daf container a

A big secure box


The woods team put aside some Larch trees from the plantation only a stones throw from where the container is sited. This was cut and milled to produce waney edge boards to use as cladding and 4×2’s to attach it to

Pont-A-Daf container b

The roof needed to be corrugated tin sheeting and it also needed to have separate doors. I certainly did a bit of head scratching working out the best way to do it!

Pont-Ar-Daf c

A plan is coming together


I got two of my Volunteers, Allan and Kathy to make the doors. After a bit of trial and error with the hinges (finding something strong enough to take the weight) we got the doors on.
As anyone who has fitted waney edge board will know it is not as straight forward as you might think to get a random pattern, it takes a bit of working out!

Pont-ar-daf container d

Pre-planned randomness


Meet and Greet Shed 002

Looks just like a shed


Here’s the shed finished. As you can see you wouldn’t know there was a container underneath it. I would estimate a quarter of the time it took me to build this was spent talking to people using the area, so I think the Meet & Greet Volunteers are going to be kept very busy!

Simon – Estate Ranger

Have a lot of enthusiasm for the Brecon Beacons to share? Interested in becoming one of our Meet & Greet volunteers? Find out more by contacting Rob via

Black Mountains ‘Special Places’ Campaign


A spot I know well for the same reasons.
Good choice.

Tim – Woodland Ranger

Originally posted on Brecon Beacons Tourism Blog:

The Brecon Beacons National Park features in a short film of a stunning mountain bike trip to coincide with The National Trust’s ‘Special Places’ campaign

They launched the initiative at theHay Festival in May to find Wales’ most special place.

NT Director for Wales, Justin Albert, said: ‘Our research shows everyone has their own special place, and we want to start a national conversation that gets everyone involved and shouting about their own – from school children to grandparents, to well-known names and politicians.

‘We want a summer of celebrating our favourite places and sharing them with everyone to enjoy. We can’t wait to see which location comes out on top!’

Grwyne Fawr Bothy

Grwyne Fawr Bothy

Voting has already closed and the shortlist of ten special places will be announced at the Royal Welsh Show in Builth Wells in a fortnight.

But in the meantime, feast your eyes on this video…

View original 146 more words

Somewhere up on the hills

Now that the summer season is upon us the access team are in full swing and spend most days up in the central Beacons including the three highest peaks – Corn Du, Cribyn and Pen y Fan. Work includes undertaking the essential maintenance of the drainage ditches and culverts, stone pitching the paths and re-grassing areas to limit erosion on the mountains.

Borrowed the Nature Conservation Rangers to help bag stone.  Not really butterfly survey weather.

Borrowed the Nature Conservation Rangers to help bag stone. Not really butterfly survey weather.

The last few weeks have been spent sourcing red sandstone from a local quarry at Cwm Gwdi that was once used in the 1700’s. This stone is due to be air lifted in the middle of July (weather dependant of course!) to be dropped at selected areas on the Beacons and will then be laid as a path using a pitching technique that pre-dates the Romans. This means it will hopefully last a long time.

Working holiday group having to put up with our fine Welsh weather as they help with our path maintenance and construction

Working holiday group having to put up with our fine Welsh weather as they help with our path maintenance and construction

The Trust is responsible for maintaining a large area of the Beacons and groups of volunteers that have come from all over the UK have done a great job at helping to carry out this work over the last few months.

Jess – Seasonal Access Ranger

Where does it all go?

As recently mentioned on our facebook page, one of the things I really enjoy is seeing the timber we fell, from the woods we manage, going on to be used.
This is most obvious when we are milling the timber for use by ourselves and the rest of the ranger team across the Brecon Beacons and Monmouthshire.

Ready, set, go. Milling day.

Ready, set, go.
Milling day.

A few weeks ago the mobile sawmill came to help us do just that. Not only is the process just mesmerising, but also seeing the calculation of what is on the cutting list and how the sawyer estimates as he goes along, what he’ll get out of each log. And best of all, there is no waste. The sawn timber heads off to the rangers for their projects, the slab wood (the outer edges of the logs from something round being made square) goes into the log store for our bunkhouse and office and even the sawdust gets cleared away as our tenant farmers find it useful for animal bedding or when they are tagging to keep the yard clean.
On the cutting list this time around, we had timber for new benches and gates, a roof purling to repair storm damage to a historic grain dryer, planks for making habitat boxes, timber for cladding a shed in wavy board – these are boards where one side hasn’t been squared to show the contours of the tree as well as all the regular sizes that we just seem to get through repairing stuff.

This however is just a small amount of the timber the woodlands produce, the rest goes its different ways, all dependent on species, diameter, length and how straight or knotty it is. All the species have their own properties that make them desirable to particular uses. It may be strength, flexibility, colour, resilience to weathering, ease of working. Whilst all softwood may be referred to as pine, you’re just as likely to be picking up spruce or fir species.

Similar, but different.

Similar, but different.

Thinking of the trees we have been felling at Pont-ar-Daf, the biggest and best will often find itself in mills, destined for the building industry as beams, boards, studwork, joists, batons, kitchen carcasses, almost anywhere in your house. Second pick probably goes to industrial or outdoor uses. Here the timber may be heading in to fencing, farm gates, fencing panels, pallets and many more uses that we are probably yet to hear of. The final picking will be the bendy bits and odd length off-cuts, these will make their way into the fuel market, either for firewood logs or to be chipped and fed into power stations or boiler systems.

Tim – Woodland Ranger