New scholar moves in to Snowdonia farm

Our first Llyndy Isaf scholar has recently moved to the farm that will be her home until next September. In a unique arrangement with Wales Young Farmers Club, we will provide an annual scholarship for a young farmer to gain valuable conservation-farming experience.

Caryl and sheepdog Mist take a break to enjoy the view at Llyndy Isaf.

Caryl and sheepdog Mist take a break to enjoy the view at Llyndy Isaf.
© National Trust / Keith Morris

Caryl Hughes, from Dyffryn Ceiriog near Llangollen, beat stiff competition from fellow Wales-YFC members to win the opportunity to farm and care for the extraordinary 614-acre upland farm in Snowdonia for 12 months.

Since arriving last month, she’s wasted no time getting to grips with caring for the landscape and habitats whilst preparing to take on a herd of breeding Welsh black cows and a flock of hardy Welsh mountain ewes.

We caught up with Caryl recently for an exclusive update, and here’s what she said:

“One of my main priorities was to start a new flock of Welsh mountain ewes.  I didn’t have to look far for them, because I knew that my colleague, neighbour and mentor, Arwyn Owen, Farm Manager at nearby Hafod y Llan farm had some to sell. I figured that if they can survive on the slopes of Snowdon, they should be ok for Llyndy Isaf, so I’ve purchased 100 for the farm, which will be the beginnings of our new flock.

“Managing any farm starts with the knowing your soil. So I’ve been taking soil samples so that we can decide how best to keep fertility in the better fields. I’ve also been doing habitat surveys with Helen, our Nature Conservation Advisor. It’s been fascinating to learn about the rich diversity of species on the farm and what sort of grazing I need to apply to enhance the wildlife of the farm”.

“This truly is a unique spot, and I’m really looking forward to learning how to produce a healthy environment as well as quality livestock to sell.”

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The power of Snowdonia

An exciting new project is shining a spotlight on a mysterious period in Snowdonia’s past, when the mountains of Eryri formed the power base of a dynasty that produced some of Wales’ greatest native rulers.

The power and the glory of Snowdonia. Llywelyn the Great’s stronghold at Dinas Emrys emerges from the mist beyond Beddgelert. © National Trust.

The power and the glory of Snowdonia. Llywelyn the Great’s stronghold at Dinas Emrys emerges from the mist beyond Beddgelert. © National Trust.

The craggy summit of Dinas Emrys, which stands at the entrance to Snowdonia’s beautiful Nantgwynant valley is known all over Wales as the mythological birthplace of the red dragon.  But few people know that the hill was also the site of a small castle linked to Llywelyn the Great.

As one of the partners in the European Union / Welsh Government funded Princes of Gwynedd project, we are enhancing access to the landscape of the princes in this beautiful part of Snowdonia through a range of activities.

These include the recruitment and training of volunteer guides to lead visitors to Dinas Emrys on a planned programme of guided walks, and the development of information displays, both at the Tourist Information Centre at Beddgelert and the start point for the walks at nearby Craflwyn.

The project also includes the creation of a new easy-access viewpoint for Dinas Emrys and a comprehensive programme of path repair and improvement to the site itself.

For more information about the project click here

The Princes of Gwynedd project is led by Conwy County Borough Council in partnership with Gwynedd Council, Snowdonia National Park Authority and the National Trust, as part of Cadw’s £19m Heritage Tourism Project which is largely funded by the Welsh Government and from EU Convergence Funds.

Wolves spotted at Erddig

 If you go down to the woods at Erddig today…a pair of magnificent wolves await you. The wooden sculptures are the latest additions to the property’s popular “Wolf’s Den” natural play area.

Simon O’Rouke putting the finishing touches to one of Erddig’s wolves.

Simon O’Rouke putting the finishing touches to one of Erddig’s wolves. © National Trust / Saul Burton

The play area is named after the ruthless First Earl of Chester, Hugh D’Avranches who built a castle here in the middle ages and was known as The Wolf.

Local artist and internationally renowned chainsaw carver Simon O’Rourke was invited to carve the wolves over the course of a weekend in front of a rapt audience. The timber came from a nearby windblown 220 year old sweet chestnut tree.

Visitors watched with fascination as Simon worked his magic and the wolves emerged out of the baulks of timber over the course of a few hours.

Erddig Park & Garden Manager, Saul Burton takes up the story.

“Simon used a variety of chainsaws to craft the lifelike creatures and finished the fine detail with a very small amount of sanding. He then used a blowtorch to give definition to the facial features, which really brings them to life”.

The sculptures are a big hit with visitors to Erddig and perfectly compliment the theme of the new natural play area.

Find out more about Erddig

A wildlife haven in the making

A pioneering conservation project is beginning to breathe new life into one of Pembrokeshire’s most precious wildlife areas and is attracting interest from nature enthusiasts from all over Wales. 

Wildlife enthusiasts visit Gupton Farm on a recent visit organised by Natur, the Welsh Association of Countryside and Conservation Management.

Wildlife enthusiasts visit Gupton Farm on a recent visit organised by Natur, the Welsh Association of Countryside and Conservation Management.
© National Trust / Moyrah Gall

The project is located at Gupton Farm, which has recently come back under our direct management after many years as a tenanted cattle-rearing farm. The holding lies next to Freshwater West, one of the county’s most famous beaches. It includes Castlemartin Corse, a relic of what was once a much larger area of coastal wetland, as well as an expanse of superb flower-rich dune grassland.

The area is vulnerable to the effects of climate change and this, coupled with the need to find a more wildlife-friendly form of farming, has led us to develop a far-reaching vision for the site.

As Operations Manager Rebecca Stock explains, the project comes with some interesting challenges.

“Large parts of the farm are only 5 centimetres above high tides, meaning that the water table is rising on the wetland and with sea levels predicted to rise by up to a metre in the next 100 years, these will be tidal by the end of the century.”

But Rebecca and her team see this as an opportunity to be embraced rather than a threat.

“As the meadows around the Corse get wetter we need to find livestock able to cope with these conditions; we’ve been looking into using Highland cattle or even water buffalo. By combining a range of beneficial wildlife management approaches with the sensitive provision of public access to hides, we hope that the farm will eventually become a nature-lover’s paradise.”

Snowdon hydro construction passes half-way mark

Last month saw our Snowdon hydro-electric project reach its half way mark, when our local project team held a ‘topping-out’ ceremony high on the flanks of Hafod y Llan to celebrate the completion of the weir and intake.

The Hafod y Llan hydro being constructed at the Gilkes factory in Kendal.

The Hafod y Llan hydro being constructed at the Gilkes factory in Kendal.
© National Trust / Keith Jones

Since then, our contractors have been hard at work moving their way down the mountain, burying the pipeline and carefully landscaping the hillside back to its original appearance as they go.

The Snowdon Hydro is the largest renewable energy project in the Trust, and work is on target to install the 6 tonne turbine in about a month’s time down at Hafod y Llan farm.  Once it’s fully operational early next year, it is expected that the turbine will generate 2Gwh of electricity per year – roughly the amount of electricity used by our mansions in Wales.

Keith Jones, Environmental Practices Advisor, said of the mammoth project: “The involvement of our local team has been an invaluable part of the project, and has made the work of our contractors much easier.  Our little celebration was the perfect way to mark this crucial milestone towards the completion of this ambitious project.”

For more information on all things green in the Trust in Wales, click here

Taking the plunge at Abereiddi

The world’s top-cliff divers recently amazed the crowds at one of our most dramatic Pembrokeshire beauty spots, as they competed at the two-day Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series.

People watching cliff divers at Abereiddi, Pembrokeshire

Abereiddi Red Bull World Cliff Diving competition © National Trust

When the event was first held last year at the famous Blue Lagoon, the spectacular flooded quarry at Abereiddi, the competitors and spectators enjoyed it so much that the organisers decided to return for a second year.

3,000 extreme sports enthusiasts from all over the word flocked to watch the world’s top 12 divers plunge 90 feet (27m) into the deep waters of the lagoon. Many of the spectators watched the dives at a safe distance from their own small boats and kayaks, making this an unique event of its type.

Making sure that everything went smoothly with was our North Pembrokeshire Ranger Nicky Middleton-Jones, who takes up the story.

“We worked closely with the Red Bull team, who consulted with us on all the environmental and community relations aspects of the event.  Their fee for the event enabled us to take on a local Ranger, Jon Rellie who was available to help with welcoming the thousands of spectators and ensuring that everything went smoothly.”