No time to feel sheepish

The Llyndy Isaf farming scholarship programme offered by the Trust in Wales in partnership with Wales YFC enters its second year by welcoming a new scholar, Tudur Parry.

The keys to Llyndy Isaf are handed from one scholarship student to the next. ©National Trust

The keys to Llyndy Isaf are handed from one scholarship student to the next. ©National Trust

When asked about his hopes for the scholarship Tudur said: “I was brought up on a cattle farm, so I hope to be able to develop that aspect of the business. I’d like to improve my sheep husbandry skills too and have already planned to enrol onto a sheep shearing course. I’m keen to make the most of this opportunity.”

The 13-month paid scholarship is designed to provide the scholar with valuable experience in managing and running a farm, including responsibility for the farm’s annual budget, administration and stock. Training is a vital part of the experience and is tailored to meet each scholar’s specific needs. Support and guidance is less than a mile away, in the form of experienced Hafod y Llan Farm Manager, Arwyn Owen, who acts as mentor to the scholar.

Caryl Hughes was the first to take part in the scholarship programme and had to start from scratch, purchasing a flock of sheep and establishing a small herd of cattle. Reflecting on her experiences she said: “I’ve enjoyed it so much, I can’t believe it’s been a year, it’s flown by! The work has been really varied – only days into the scholarship I was helping organize a helicopter lift of 1000 posts for the boundary fence. I’ve been on several training courses from sheep shearing to beekeeping! It really has been the opportunity of a lifetime and I’m sure Tudur will do a great job.”

In addition to all the daily farming duties she’s had to deal with a lot of media attention as well. “Because the project is so unique and I was the first scholar, who also happened to be a woman, there’s been a lot of press interest. I’ve been interviewed by Countryfile, Woman’s Hour, the BBC and Heno to name but a few”, said Caryl. “It’s helped develop my confidence and it’s also been a lot of fun – only a couple of months ago Welsh actor Matthew Rhys visited the farm and I taught him to shear a sheep!”

Caryl and her sheepdogs, Mist, Shep and Jess, will be moving onto pastures new knowing they helped play a very important role in the history of Llyndy Isaf. To mark her contribution at the farm Caryl planted an oak sapling in January, in what will become a tradition for all the Llyndy Isaf scholars. “Given the special nature of this place, we wanted to ensure it was looked after in a special way and we’re really pleased with the progress we’ve achieved through the scholarship programme. The partnership with Wales YFC has proved invaluable”, said Trystan Edwards, the Trust Snowdonia and Llŷn General Manager. “We’re so pleased Tudur has joined the team, I’m sure he’ll have a lot to offer to the farm and will build on the excellent work Caryl has achieved.”

Iwan Thomas, Wales YFC Rural Affairs Chairman added “as one chapter ends, another begins and we’d like to congratulate Tudur on becoming the second scholar.  We look forward to seeing Tudur continue the great work at Llyndy whilst also leaving his own stamp on both the scholarship and the farm. The scholarship has been a great opportunity for Wales YFC to work alongside the National Trust and other organisations to nurture the talents and provide opportunities for the rural youth of Wales.”

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The next chapter in the story of Llyndy Isaf

Llyndy Isaf farm drew international attention when it was saved for the nation in our successful £1m fund-raising appeal in 2012. Its story continues with the announcement of the 2014/15 scholarship winner at the Royal Welsh Show.

“1 down, 119 to go.” Matthew Rhys helps with the shearing at a recent trip to Llyndy Isaf, June 2014 © National Trust

“1 down, 119 to go.” Matthew Rhys helps Caryl Hughes with the shearing at a recent trip to Llyndy Isaf, June 2014 © National Trust

Tudur Parry a young farmer from Garndolbenmaen, who recently graduated in Agriculture and Countryside Management from Aberystwyth University, beat stiff competition to win the 12-month farming scholarship offered by the National Trust in partnership with Wales YFC.

In September he’ll take on the management of the 614-acre upland farm and told us he was feeling a mixture of excitement and nerves. “It’s going to be a fantastic opportunity. I’m really looking forward to putting the skills and knowledge I’ve gained at university into practice at the farm.” He takes over from Caryl Hughes, last year’s winner who will be there to offer some guidance during his first month.

The campaign to acquire Llyndy Isaf was spearheaded by Welsh Hollywood actor Matthew Rhys in his role as Snowdonia Appeal Ambassador. When he visited Llyndy Isaf in June he said, “I could see that such a beautiful and special part of Snowdonia demanded our support. I am delighted that young farmers such as Caryl and Tudur now have the opportunity to learn a vocation and time-honoured way of life, where they can contribute to the survival, preservation and future of this incredibly important place.”

Tudur Parry who was named the Llyndy Isaf scholar for 2014 © National Trust

Tudur Parry who was named the Llyndy Isaf scholar for 2014
© National Trust

For more information about Llyndy Isaf, click here.

Special delivery: One new footpath – in kit form!

When Caryl Mair Hughes moved onto Llyndy Isaf in Snowdonia she noticed: “One of the first jobs that needed to be done was arranging to repair the southern boundary fence, which is 4km long.”  It was easier said than done!

Helicopter drops building supplies high in Snowdonia Credit: National Trust/Lowri Roberts

Helicopter drops building supplies high in Snowdonia
Credit: National Trust/Lowri Roberts

Llyndy Isaf is an upland farm owned by us and managed by Caryl, our first ‘farm scholar’.  She won a Wales Young Farmers’ Club competition for the opportunity last year and has made a terrific impact in her first few months.

Work had already started on the zig-zag path and boundary fence on the farm, but much more needed to be done.  No lorry could negotiate the rough terrain so, despite heavy weather, the Snowdonia ranger team knew the only way to deliver the heavy building materials was by helicopter.

It took a tremendous team effort from rangers on the ground to guide the unorthodox delivery of wooden fence posts and stone… but they did it before the ‘serious’ winter weather set in.  So, now, the conservation work in some of the most beautiful uplands that we care for can continue – come rain or shine.

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.”