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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Restoring a way of life on Llŷn

An inspirational heritage project is underway on the Llŷn peninsula which is reconnecting a community with their cultural inheritance and breathing new life into the area’s architectural traditions.

Nestling among lichen-encrusted granite boulders and surrounded by gnarled gorse bushes, stand two small traditional tyddyn, or ‘crog-loft’ cottages, overlooking the dramatic sweep of Porth Neigwl beach near Plas yn Rhiw on the south coast of Llŷn.

Members of the community gather with National Trust staff to celebrate the restoration of Fron Deg.  © Gareth Jenkins / National Trust

Members of the community gather with National Trust staff to celebrate the restoration of Fron Deg. © Gareth Jenkins / National Trust

Tan yr Ardd, and its twin Fron Deg have been standing empty and apparently unloved for over thirty years; their chimneys lacking the wisp of smoke that indicated the presence of a community. But all that’s set to change thanks to the Heritage Lottery-funded Llŷn Landscape Partnership.

Fron Deg has been restored using authentic building materials and methods and is due to be opened as a destination for educational visits. Nearby Tan yr Ardd will be reunited with its dozen acres of overgrown pasture and let as a smallholding. The lucky tenant will be expected to grow their own produce whilst being available to welcome visitors to Fron Deg.

Meet a Countryside Ranger

Did you know that there are forty local countryside rangers looking after our outdoor sites in Wales? We asked Gwen Potter to reflect on a summer’s work looking after our beautiful Ceredigion coast.

Ceredigion Ranger, Gwen Potter, with local schoolchildren

Ceredigion Ranger, Gwen Potter, with local schoolchildren

The best thing about this summer was taking our team of local long-term volunteers to enjoy the fruits of last winter’s labour at Cwm Sodden, near Cwmtudu. Through one of the worst winters in living memory, this dedicated group worked incredibly hard to clear scrub from old woodland meadows and coastal heath. It was a real pleasure to see their amazement at how the wild flowers had returned to the meadows and the heathland plants were thriving – the whole place was buzzing with insects and birdlife.

We’ve also had a lot of help from visiting volunteer groups and individuals. These included student groups from Swansea, doing their Duke of Edinburgh Awards, and from as far afield as the Basque country. I’ve also been greatly helped by having a full time volunteer, Kristina, and our Passport To Your Future Apprentice, Richard, both of whom are better rangers than me by now!

We’ve been working hard at eradicating invasive Japanese knotweed and Himalayan balsam at several of our sites. The areas that were done last year needed very little work this year and because we managed to get rid of it all before it flowered, it should become less of a problem in the future.

It’s also been a fantastic for spotting wildlife as we went about our work.  As well as the usual seals, we saw dolphins galore and even a basking shark visiting Mwnt.  It was especially good for invertebrates. We saw far more silver washed fritillary, dingy skipper and pearl bordered fritillary butterflies than last year, as well as moss carder bees and elm feeding moths. Two highlights stand out: an unexpected marbled white butterfly and a migrant hawker dragonfly.

I’m really pleased with how our events went this summer. The bush-craft and beach fun day went well and I’m currently getting ready for a wild foraging walk on the 24th of September at Cwmtudu. I’m also working on a coastal wildlife tracker-pack which will be available for families to use next summer. All in all, it’s been a great summer; but now, as winter approaches, the real work starts.