Maintaining Our Boundaries – Clytha Railings Project

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What railings?

At the end of last year we decided to replace an old section of parkland railings that formed part of a field boundary on Ffynonnau Farm. The original hedge had grown up around them making them impossible to maintain.

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The Woodlands team have been hard at work

 

The Woodlands team cut back as much of the trees and bushes as they could but were hampered by the original railings being entwined in the trees. Traffic lights were also needed as some of the bigger trees had to be felled on to the busy adjacent road.

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Some of the many supporting stanchions

 

I needed to replace 150 meters of railings which meant getting 120 stanchions (metal frames) made to support the railings. With the help of my volunteers we managed to paint most of the frames in the workshop before starting the job. Because cattle will be kept in the field we concreted every 10th frame in place to give extra support to the railings.

I used a solid metal bar connected with short sections of tube for the railings which was then welded together on site using a portable welder generator.

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Making use of an old style

 

There is a right of way that crosses the field and the fence so I had to put a style in as a legal requirement. I recycled an old one and re-enforced the railing with steel tube to take the weight of people climbing over it. As part of the Clytha river walk we are encouraging people to walk along the inside of this stretch of railings and cross the road through the 4’ gate. This is a lot safer than walking along the edge of the busy road.

We had a working holiday at the beginning of March carrying out a variety of work during their week of volunteering. With their help, and the aid of a few days dry weather, I managed to get the railings under coated and top coated. As you can see below they seemed to enjoy the task! The work was mostly funded from the tenant farmers farm improvement grant and goes a long way to maintaining the historical views around the Clytha Estate.

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Happy volunteers providing vital support to the team

Cheers
Simon – Area Ranger

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Time for lunch?

My plan was to develop the seldom used over flow car park at Clytha into a much more user friendly area. The first job was to remove the old barrier and replace with some much more functional gates.

Custom made gates copying the estate style.

Custom made gates copying the estate style.

These would allow the public to access the picnic area but restrict vehicle access. A local engineering firm made up the gates using an existing pair as a template.

Bit of pruning back and digging required to fit.

Bit of pruning back and digging required to fit.

The opening had to be enlarged to allow for the bigger gates and the new posts needed to be concreted in to carry the weight of them

Gates in and benches in.

Gates in and benches in.

Allan, one of my Volunteers, has made up some picnic tables which I’ve sited at the near end. The rest of the area I’ve left to grow wild to encourage more wildlife and wild flowers. My hope is this will become a great little spot to sit and have a picnic.

Finished and waiting for you.

Finished and waiting for you.

Enjoying the flora and fauna as well as the local wildlife!
Have a look at our Clytha walks to build up that appetite.

Cheers, Simon – Area Ranger

Summer summary

What a change in the weather, that north wind came and the temperature dropped.  Could not feel my fingers on the first day in October and winter has not started. What made it worse is we were back to stone pitching cross and side ditches, which have cold water running down them.  We were spoilt with the summer this year; dry, warm and there was a bit of sun up on the mountains.

It has come to the end of the season for week long volunteer groups as the cold wind and rain make for very short days and when it continues day in day out they lose interest, so it is down to myself, our lengths group and any volunteers who would like to come out for a day weather permitting?

Thank-you to all the volunteers that have joined us this year.

Thank-you to all the volunteers that have joined us this year.

A very big thanks to the volunteers that have assisted this year on the Beacons, we had a great summer, and we got a lot of work done. We stone pitched over 165m of path and over 100m of side ditches as well as seeding to recover over 600m of bare ground to help prevent erosion and reduce the visual scar on the landscape.

I will be spending some of the winter on the Pont-ar-Daf adding more stone to water breaks and adding more soil onto the path to try and build up the height as we lost up to 3ins (8cms) of soil last winter and I do not want gullies running down the middle of the path, so I am afraid the path might be a bit mucky until the soil compacts down, which should be around two weeks?

The meet and greet wardens have had a busy time talking to people in the car park at the Pont-ar-Daf and carrying out a visitor survey which has had good positive feedback to the work we are doing over the Beacons.
I can tell you that up to the end of September the visitors going up and down to Pen-y-fan from the Pont-ar-Daf have been 110,000 and that is not including people walking over the river, as it’s been shallow  this year, I estimate well over 10,000 have opted to splash across this year.
2 of our route guides are also in the top 5, most downloaded walks from the National Trust website.

We held an archaeology event at Cwm Gwdi that got some great support.  The Community Archaeological Project surveyed the old army ranges at Cwm Gwdi.  There is still more to survey and the more you look the more you find, so hopefully we will repeat this again in the future.

Alas its time to say goodbye to Philippa who has been my Seasonal Warden this summer, managing the maintenance of the access routes across the Beacons in the busy summer season.  Philippa is a bit camera shy, so here’s a picture of a Golden Eagle that visited as part of something we can’t say too much about yet.

New pest control volunteer?

New pest control volunteer?

Thank-you,
Rob and the access team.

Introducing…..the access team

Slightly earlier than you may have expected, we have a new update for you.  Rob, our man on the hill is now contributing to the blog about all the things that his access team are up to.

Meet and greet - PaD

Meet and greet volunteers at Pont-ar-Daf

It has been a busy summer carrying many guided walks from the height of the Beacons to the lowlands of Clytha, some in conjunction with the National park, some with walking festivals such as Monmouthshire, Hay, and we have done some with the Cambrian Mountains Society up on Abergwesyn, so if any of you have attended those walks many thanks for coming, there are still more this year, so please check our website or Walking Festival pages.

At the Pont ar daf the meet and Greet Wardens have been busy at the weekends and now weekdays advising walkers on best routes and what is on and about, so if you are around let them know, it is good to have some feedback.

Wish this rain would stop we might enjoy working out doors for a change, so instead of being covered in mud we can get a tan and be covered in that same colour, only it will not wash off that same day.

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The sun always shines for our working holidays?

Having said that, cannot believe it, last year you could count on your one hand the number of dry days we had working on the Beacons with Volunteers, this year we have had three weeks of working holidays and only three days of rain. It’s a pity the numbers in the groups have been down this year and we have been lacking in leaders to help run the camps “Any offers for next year”.
So far we have been able to stone pitch 100 square metres of path line this year and with 1 group remaining  and weather permitting we should pass 120 square metres.
I think I might have just put an X on the weather for this group, well at least 4 of them are returnees from last year and the year before and the year before, so they are used to rain, of course they will have me to blame.

Bagging stone

Access team bagging stone, making ready to fly.

We will be having an airlift the week of the 17th of September (weather permitting) up on the Central Brecon Beacons, the quarries on Cefn cwm Llwch to be precise.
The only problem is we have to locate, sort, gather, and shape 80 tons of stone.
65 tons will be for pitching the path up to Pen y Fan from Cefn cwm Llwch and 15 tons will be for building side ditches on the Pont ar daf this winter.
Once the stone has been sorted we will then place them in 1 ton dumpy bags and await the airlift.
All of this will take up to 1 month

See you on the hill,
Rob and the access team.

’tis the season for cutting

In our last update we told you about our thinning work at Pont-ar-Daf.  This work has now been scaled up after Phytophthora Ramorum was discovered to be affecting a tree on the roadside.  This disease primarily attacks Larch trees (the only deciduous conifer).  As a result, the Forestry Commission has given us notice to fell all our Larch trees along the road edge.  A block of Sitka Spruce will also have to be felled to avoid wind damage affecting the A470 or Storey Arms centre.
More information on the disease can be found at:
http://www.forestry.gov.uk/forestry/INFD-85TDX6
In the mean time, keep an eye out for harvesting works and follow the advice on signs in the Pont-ar-Daf car park to clean boots to help avoid spreading the disease to other woodlands.

We’ve spent a bit of time in the woods with the little old tractor and saw-bench.  Cutting a little firewood to restock our basecamp, but mostly cutting hedging stakes.  The stakes are used to pin and tie hedges as they are layed.  Most hedges are layed over winter so as to have the least effect on wildlife.
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We have also found time to join Penmaes School as part of their Industry Experience day.  We spent the day with pupils building a gate that will eventually be installed along the Tarell Valley walk. Here’s the walk if you fancy it.
From it you can see a lot of the work we have done in the valley recently as part of our Better Woodlands for Wales scheme.  The Penmaes School gate along with another built by our Full-time Volunteers will be the last parts along with some fencing to complete the scheme next year.

Finally, getting into the festive spirit, we provided a Christmas Tree for the National Trust pavilion at The Royal Welsh Winter Fair, which has now made it’s way to Penmaes School as a thank-you for the gate making.  Hopefully we’ll get some pictures back of it decorated to put up here or on our facebook page.

For now, we wish you a Happy Christmas and New Year.
The woodland team.