Dinefwr cattle are TV stars for the night

Dinefwr Park’s ancient breed of White Park Cattle enjoyed the limelight once again when they featured in one of Britain’s most watched television programmes this month.

The famous White Park cattle at Dinefwr ©National Trust

The famous White Park cattle at Dinefwr
©National Trust

On 18 January, the National Trust property in Carmarthenshire will showcase some of their most famous assets as BBC’s Countryfile covers the fascinating history of the iconic Dinefwr herd of White Park Cattle.

Records of the White Park Cattle at Dinefwr date back to the year 920 and they were mentioned in the laws of Hywel Dda (Hywel the Good) who lived at Dinefwr Castle, overlooking the designed landscape that the cattle now graze in front of Newton House.

Presenter Adam Henson, famous for his segment ‘Adam’s Farm’ on the show, is no stranger to handling the primitive breed as he, along with the National Trust, has one of the last remaining herds in the UK. He stood amongst the cattle as he chatted to staff and helped the stockman with the daily tasks.

National Trust Rangers Carol Bailey and Dai Hart represented the Trust during the day’s filming and highlighted the animals’ importance for conservation and the legacy that they represent in Wales.

The story of the White Park Cattle’s origin was of particular interest to Adam Henson, who has always believed that they were introduced to the UK by the Romans.

Marketing, PR & Media Officer for National Trust Carmarthenshire, Sophie Thomas, said: “We were able to challenge Adam’s theory about the White Park’s DNA as our herd of cattle has recently undergone genetic testing, proving there to be little or no link between our cows and the Italian White Cattle.

The episode of Countryfile featuring Dinefwr is available to view here via BBC iPlayer.

There are regular tours and a self-guided walk around the White Park Cattle at Dinefwr. Please call 01558 824512 or visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/dinefwr


The Neptune Story

Places of outstanding beauty like Rhosili Bay, Stackpole, and the stunning, secluded beaches of Ceredigion, Llŷn and Anglesey, are only in our care through the success of the Neptune Coastline Campaign, a special fundraising campaign launched in 1965.

A view across an area of rippled sand at Whiteford Burrows, Gower Peninsula, Wales ©National Trust Images/David Noton

A view across an area of rippled sand at Whiteford Burrows, Gower Peninsula, Wales
©National Trust Images/David Noton

In the 1930s, at a time when the Trust’s protection of the coast in Wales extended to a mere eight miles, historian Charles Trevelyan visited Pembrokeshire and was shocked at how development was threatening the beauty of the coast. He said “It is urgently desirable that the coast should be preserved in its natural beauty”. It took until the mid-1960s to launch the appeal with the purchase of Whiteford Burrows on Gower. Since then, our protection of the very best of the Welsh coast has increased to a total of 157 miles, which is approximately one mile in every ten.

The idea of a coastal preservation appeal was first officially broached by Christopher Gibbs, the then Chief Agent, at an Executive Committee meeting on 16 March 1962 when it was proposed that a campaign might be launched “for money to buy land or covenants for the protection of the English and Welsh coasts” in conjunction with the Council for the Protection of Rural England.

Originally named EnterpriseNeptune, the first official function of note was held on 12 November 1964. This was a small dinner at the Fishmonger’s Hall which aimed to bring the project ‘to the notice of the leaders of industry and commerce.’

The appeal was brought to the attention of Trust members at the annual National Trust gathering at the Royal Festival Hall on 8 March 1965 and to the attention of the public at large on 23 April 1965 when a series of beacons and bonfires were lit on high points throughout the country by various youth organisations to signify the commencement of the campaign.

The official launch of the appeal took place at a luncheon at Mansion House on 11 May 1965 when Prince Philip, who had consented to become patron of the appeal, gave a speech to 250 selected guests enlisting their support. As a result of this function a number of sizeable donations were received (in addition to a contribution of £250,000 which had already been given by the Treasury), and Neptune had made a promising start.

Welsh Coast 2015

With the fiftieth anniversary of the Neptune Coastline Campaign in mind, we are making 2015 the year of the Welsh coast with events and new projects to demonstrate our care for some of the most beautiful coastline in the world.

Flying a kite in Rhossili Bay, Gower, Swansea, Wales. ©National Trust Images/John Millar

Flying a kite in Rhosili Bay, Gower, Swansea, Wales.
©National Trust Images/John Millar

Along with a special booklet, the Trust in Wales is planning a stunning new video presentation of the coastline from the air, which will be available online. We’ve been working with Keep Wales Tidy to further develop the Welsh Coast app and there will be events at coastal sites around the country.

The Trust in Wales looks after 157 miles of the coastline you love, which is an amazing achievement only possible through on-going public donations – that’s an average of two miles of coast a year saved since the campaign began in 1965. Thank you for your support, without which we could not protect special places for everyone, forever.

Electric vehicles get a plug

The Trust is helping to “bump start” the electric vehicle market in Wales by installing charging points at locations across the country. This first-hand article by enthusiastic electric vehicle (EV) owner, Neil Lewis, explains.

A member of staff driving the National Trust electric Land Rover in Snowdonia ©National Trust Images/ John Millar

A member of staff driving the National Trust electric Land Rover in Snowdonia
©National Trust Images/ John Millar

Living in Carmarthen and working in the Gwendraeth valley, my job helping small businesses address environmental/energy concerns was taking me all over our beautiful county. The beaches of Carmarthen bay one minute, the hills above Llandovery the next.

The family car was our beloved Galaxy 7-seater with a 1.9 turbo diesel. State of the art when we bought it in 2000. We’d run a bird watching business all over west Wales with it. Gone on family holidays to the Netherlands, Spain and the south of France (3 times). It had carried surfboards, dogs and especially mountain bikes. Permanently sandy and smelly! And that’s just the kids.

However the 35 miles per gallon was starting to nag at my conscience. I scanned the internet and newspaper adverts and it seemed electric technology was advancing. My lips-red EV arrived on a flat-bed and our family heirloom was driven away in the traditional puff of smoke.

My wife and I drove up to Cwmcerrig farm shop on a Sunday morning for breakfast in Cross Hands – half the charge had gone – would we be able to get home? What had I done?

Slowly, but surely, I learned. We thrilled at the acceleration, marvelled at the recharging on the downhill sections. Slowly travelled further. Fixated by the range display the whole time, I started getting a neck ache…seriously. Crucially, I learnt eventually that the range display is a “guessometer” based on how you’d been driving recently. The range extended from 40 miles to 50 to 60 to 70 … and now I’ll take on 80 miles!

Where are the charge points? What’s a Zap-map? At first, January 2013, the only charge point in the area was at Home Farm, Dinefwr Park, Llandeilo. Provided by Zerocarbonworld and installed/hosted by The National Trust near to their 50kw solar array. It was comforting to know that I wasn’t alone!

We’d put the kids and the dog in the back and visit Dinefwr, have a coffee and return home with the smug satisfaction of spending our money on fairtrade coffee rather than diesel. The joys of slow travel were a revelation. We’d drive down to National Trust Stackpole, trying to catch sight of the otters, whilst walking down to Broad Haven beach, stunning. Over the butterfly rich cliffs to the Boat House for coffees. Return via Bosherton, bat spotting, to a fully charged car. Bliss.

Charge points being discovered in Llandovery, Llanwrtyd, Llandrindod, Swansea Transport Museum, Rhosili. All slow chargers but the coffee! We even get up to north Wales via Aberystwyth, CAT and the Eco guesthouse at Blaenau Ffestiniog. Range anxiety? Pah!

We are saving £1000s every year with our low-carbon transport. However I am spending £100s on coffee”.

The full text of this blog can be found at the Trust’s “Going Green” blog, here.


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.”

A fine legacy at Whiteford Burrows

Wildlife watching at Whiteford Burrows just got more comfortable with the opening of a new observation hide. The area, at the far end of Gower’s north coast, is widely recognised for its ecological diversity and varied birdlife.

The beautiful new bird hide at Whiteford Burrows © National Trust

The beautiful new bird hide at Whiteford Burrows
© National Trust

The old bird hide, provided in memory of Sir William Wilkinson by friends, was located at Berges Island since 2000. It withstood all the elements threw at it, in an exposed site. However time took its toll and timbers started to rot.

The new bird hide has been made possible by a legacy from SC John, who wanted the money to go towards work on Gower. Inside the hide are beautiful illustrated panels of the birds you likely to see in the area, thanks to an additional donation by the Abertawe Centre.

It was a week’s work for Andy Roberts to build the hide – a man who obviously takes a great pride in his work. The new hide is bigger with more windows and has a ramp for easier access. It also boasts a turf roof.

We’d like to thank all who contributed to this project and we hope the hide will be enjoyed for many years to come.

The Gower has so much to offer – click here for more information.


Retaining the spirit and charm of Pembrokeshire

One of the last unaltered examples of a classic Pembrokeshire cottage has been bequeathed to the National Trust by the late Mr Glyn Griffiths with the wish that it is restored and its character is preserved.

One of the last unaltered examples of a classic Pembrokeshire cottage, bequeathed to the National Trust. © National Trust/Jonathan Hughes

One of the last unaltered examples of a classic Pembrokeshire cottage, bequeathed to the National Trust. © National Trust/Jonathan Hughes

Close to the coast near St David’s, the Grade II listed building is a small ‘two up two down’ traditional lime-washed cottage which dates back to the late 1700s. Mr Griffiths lived there since childhood and it was unaltered, thanks to his stewardship. Its photo adorns the front cover of several publications celebrating the special character of the landscape and places of Pembrokeshire.

Jonathan Hughes, General Manager Pembrokeshire said: “We’re delighted that Mr Griffiths has chosen us to safeguard his cottage and we know it holds a special place in the hearts of many people. The restoration work planned will preserve the layout as far as possible to provide simple accommodation, whilst retaining the spirit and charm of the traditional Pembrokeshire cottage.”

The cottage and range of outbuildings are in a very poor state of repair and in need of substantial consolidation and conservation work. Funding from the National Trust’s Neptune Coastline Campaign – set up almost 50 years ago to raise money to protect our coastal heritage – will be made available to do this.

In order to allow as many people as possible to enjoy this special place, it is planned to let the dwelling as a National Trust Holiday Cottage, with regular Open Days each year for visitors to see the restoration work.

For regular updates on our progress visit www.ntnorthpembs.wordpress.com