Stopping livestock, but not hedgehogs

Parc lodge cattle grids a

There are 2 cattle grids on the way up to Parc lodge farm. I had spent time and money repairing both of them over the years but they had got to the point of no return this year.  They were losing strength and not really stopping the livestock and there was no escape from them for wildlife that fell in.

Parc Lodge Cattle Grids b

I decided to go for 2 x 50 ton rated grids. Graham, the tenant, agreed to make a financial contribution for the new uprated grids, as well as helping out and making his tractors available to move everything around.

There were a few logistical problems; this is the only road access and it is used by another property as well as the farm. Picking days to close off the road that suited everyone, and sticking to them with the weather, proved difficult!

Parc Lodge Cattle Grids c

Because of the design of the new grids the central support pillars had to be removed.

Parc Lodge Cattle Grids real d

As well as making them wider so we could still fit 3 metre wide farm machinery over them. The old ones were made of reinforced cast concrete which was hard work to break up.

A compacted sub base was needed for the grids to bed into.

Parc Lodge Cattle Grids e

Here are the completed grids!

Parc Lodge Cattle Grids f

Parc lodge cattle grids g

They also came with drainage holes and hedge hog escape ladders – as standard!!

Cheers,
Simon Rose – Area Ranger

 

Our path ahead

A review of his activities over the busy sunny season from Rob and his plans for next year as the leaves fall and rain returns.

This summer has to go down as one of the best for many a year as regards the good weather. A minor blip in early August when the temperature went down to 4 degrees for a few days in the morning, That was a shock to the system, especially for some of our volunteers from Spain and Southern France who were on a working holiday with us up Pen y fan.

120 volunteers have been assisting me and Jessica through the year and we have stone pitched over 135 metres of path leading up to Pen y fan from Cwm Gwdi, we have seeded and reinstated 400 sqm of eroded ground, and we have so far, stone pitched 150m of side ditches leading up the Pont ar daf.

We're gradually making our way to the top with the help of volunteers.

Looking back on where we’ve come from. We’re gradually making our way to the top with the help of volunteers.

This November we are hoping to take up a further 32 tons of scalping’s and spread them over and build up the top section of the Pont ar daf path” weather permitting”

We will also be receiving a donation towards the repairs of the routes from WAAT4 challenge, which we will buy more scalping’s.

Our lengths group has increased by a further four members, so most of the paths now have two lentghsmen looking after them and we have also had a few days where some have come out to help us with stone pitching.

Our Meet & Greets volunteers have also increased by four with one doubling up as lengths men.
The new info shack at Pont-ar-Daf is opening its doors more regularly due to the new intake of volunteers. The new maps with routes on them have been a success and asking for donations has helped cover the cost of producing them, so there can be more for next year.

Getting wild in St. Marys Vale and ticking off 50 things activities.  More to come next year.

Getting wild in St. Marys Vale and ticking off 50 things activities. More to come next year.

We carried out a few 50 things to do events with children, again proven a success and this we will increase next year mainly down the Sugar loaf, Abergavenny. Our guided walks, 18 in all, sadly had very low attendance not always helped by bad weather, but our 5 walks with Monmouthshire community learning centre based in Abergavenny were well attended.

Sadly the Pont-ar-Daf car park is yet to take off, hopefully next year? The Skirrid car park extension is planned for happen next year and that will take about 50 cars, freeing up the  road for this increasingly popular site.

Rob – Lead Ranger, Brecon Beacons

Always more to be done

We manage a lot of our woodlands with assistance from grant schemes. As a charity this helps fund work that wouldn’t pay for itself and helps us manage our woodlands for the best of flora, fauna and sustainability.
You have probably seen a lot on these pages and our facebook page about our work at Pont-ar-Daf – helped by the Better Woodlands for Wales (BWW) scheme. We are about halfway through this management plan now and have the bulk of the major work done.

New plan up on the office wall to remind us what we have to do.

New plan up on the office wall to remind us what we have to do.

So to make sure we get no rest, we have just started work at Coed-y-Bwnydd with help from the Glastir Woodland scheme.
Coed-y-Bwnydd sits on a hill top above Clytha Estate, to the south-east. Possibly best known for its display of bluebells in Spring under a high canopy of trees, it is also an ancient hill fort with its large earth ramparts still visible and with a steep bank of trees below it with evidence of charcoal burning in more recent times.

Are we felling all the trees? Will we lose the bluebells? Are we stoning big tracks through the middle? NO. The aims are to preserve the sites features and character. On the top we will be working to push back the gradual creep of bramble and bracken on the ramparts and over the hill fort. This will help reveal the ramparts to show the sites previous life as a hill fort, as well as allowing more light to the woodland floor for a greater variety of plants to come through and support a wider selection of life, not to mention that it will make it a lot easier for you to get around.

Don't worry, it's only harmful if you are bracken.  Crushing it makes spraying easier and improves the chances of reducing it.

Don’t worry, it’s only harmful if you are bracken. Crushing it makes spraying easier and improves the chances of reducing it.

Already we have started by crushing and spraying bracken to hinder its re-growth on the ramparts near the north entrance.

To my right, waiting to be done...

To my right, waiting to be done…

As well as cutting the growth on the top, we have also been using a smaller tractor and strimmers to cut back where we can on the ramparts. Where it gets steeper, we will probably have to do this with volunteer groups as the many hands will make light work.

To my left, just been done.

To my left, just been done.

Down on the wooded bank we will be thinning the woodland edge to allow more light into the woodland and create a varied age structure that will benefit the wildlife on this steep undisturbed bank. At the same time we will be replacing the fence with the neighbouring farm to help keep the livestock where it should be after a few incidences of cows wandering the woods and hill-fort – apparently its not the easiest place to chase them out of.

So there we are, Coed-y-Bwnydd will be getting a little bit of care over the next few years to reveal its features. All this work will improve access around the site, so come visit and explore. We’re hoping for more flowers, insects and butterflies and better views across the site.

Tim – Woodland Ranger

What did you get upto this summer?

Getting kids outdoors and closer to nature
You may or may not have heard of the National Trust’s campaign – 50 Things to do before you’re 11 ¾…

This initiative was set up a few years ago in response to information about how today’s generation of kids are spending far less time outdoors doing the things we all used to do like climbing trees, running around in the rain and making mud pies.

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This summer, we ran a very successful bushcraft club at our site at Coelbren and Henrhyd Falls, with the help of local bushcraft expert Angus. The aim was simply to get kids out and about playing and thinking outdoors, learning new skills, making friends and having fun.

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Over the four sessions we did a whole variety of activities – firelighting techniques, whittling and sanding our own walking sticks, building shelters, making mini shelters for action figures, archery, toasting marshmallows, making our own paint and doing some cave paintings and aboriginal style art, cooking Welsh cakes on the fire, clay modelling, bug hunting and damming the stream!

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These are some of the pictures of what we got up to – everyone had a great time and got suitably wet and muddy!

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Keep an eye out on our Facebook page and website for more kids’ events coming up soon across our sites, the next one is a kite flying day on the Sugarloaf this Saturday the 30th of August with rangers Jess and Ben. There will also be things going on at Coelbren during the October half term so watch this space!

For more information take a look at the National Trust’s 50 Things website.

Beth
Community Engagement Ranger

 

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!

Cheers,
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 brecon@nationaltrust.org.uk

Black Mountains ‘Special Places’ Campaign

NTBreconBeacons:

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…

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