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.



Snowdon at the heart of a theatrical success

The Trust in Wales was at the heart of a very exciting, moving and innovative theatrical production in the foothills of Snowdonia in September. “The Gathering” took place to widespread critical acclaim and, luckily, some very fine weather.

Actors Emyr Gibson and Gwion Aled Williams from The Gathering. ©National Theatre Wales Used with permission

Actors Emyr Gibson and Gwion Aled Williams from The Gathering.
©National Theatre Wales Used with permission

The powerful exploration of the annual cycle of sheep-farming, “The Gathering/Yr Helfa” was the culmination of three years’ observation of life at Hafod y Llan, the Trust’s working hill farm on Snowdon.

National Theatre Wales staged a remarkable journey on foot through installations and performances, inspired by this breathtaking location, its day-to-day workings, its history and its people. It was created and directed by Louise Ann Wilson and featured new poetry by Wales’ national poet, Gillian Clarke.

Lyn Gardner gave the event a glowing review in The Guardian: “It … makes you pay attention to what has always been there and will remain long after we are gone: the fall of water, the moss creeping across tumbled stones, the dark, secretive peaks against an endless sky.”

Vanessa Griffiths, Assistant Director of Operations for the Trust in Wales, was delighted to welcome the event to Hafod y Llan: “It was a terrific combination of sights and sounds across the valley; deeply moving and thoroughly engaging. We are always keen to find ways to raise the profile of the work we do on the land in Wales and this was a tremendous joint effort in partnership with National Theatre Wales and Migrations.”

Wales Coast Path

Visitors and locals alike prize the coastline of Wales, cared for in part by the Trust and a combination of other public bodies. The new Wales Coast Path smartphone app now makes navigation of the route easier than ever.

The welcome page for the new Wales Coast Path app

The welcome page for the new Wales Coast Path app

The official Wales Coast app is the only app to detail all 870 miles of the Wales Coast Path. A key feature is its ability to provide information about the entire Wales Coast Path as well as recording walkers’ progress along its length.

Lesley Jones, Chief Executive for Keep Wales Tidy said: “We have witnessed an array of awards for our beautiful beaches here in Wales. People want to know where to find Blue Flag, Green Coast and Seaside Awarded beaches this summer, as well as finding out about the local area, facilities and amenities. The Wales Coast App is the perfect tool for walkers, families and individuals looking to explore the Welsh coast.”

The app offers information on many of the beautiful beaches in Wales and will soon provide details of our National Trust coastal places, as well as local businesses and attractions – everything from hotels and restaurants to shops and cafes. It works in and out of areas with mobile reception by downloading maps and data before you start, making it easy to start exploring the entire Wales Coast.

For full details of the Wales Coast Path visit their website.

LATEST NEWS: An updated version of the app is now available featuring the top 25 Trust locations on the Wales coast

Get stuck in while on holiday in Wales

It’s easy to see why National Geographic recently voted Pembrokeshire the second best coastal destination in the world, sharing the honour with the Tutukaka coast in New Zealand and beating places like the Seychelles, Bermuda and Costa Rica.

Holiday-makers hedge banking in north Pembrokeshire Credit: National Trust

Holiday-makers hedge banking in north Pembrokeshire
Credit: National Trust

This magical corner of Wales is blessed with dramatic coastal scenery, wildlife, clean air, quiet lanes, ancient history, and world-class outdoor recreation activities.

And we think one of the best ways to experience this is by coming on one of our working holidays in north Pembrokeshire.

You’ll spend five days alongside a ranger, getting stuck into all sorts of conservation and access improvement tasks.

We’ve planned some amazing working holidays for 2014.  Click HERE to find out more.

But it’s not all work! We want our volunteers to leave with extra special memories.  Your ranger will provide a day’s guided walk along the Pembrokeshire Coast Path, highlighting the history, archaeology and coastal management of Wales’s most westerly edge.

To get closer to the sea, you’ll spend another day sea kayaking or surfing.  It’s a truly unforgettable way to see our beautiful coastline and the special wildlife that lives here.

Run the Park at Tredegar

Bang! They’re off!  “Parkruns” are the latest great outdoor activity that’s taking hold in Wales – they’re free, well organised fun runs open to anyone of any ability organised by volunteers across the UK.  The National Trust in Wales is right at its heart, using our open spaces to help everyone get the most from outdoors.

Runners at Tredagar Park Run Courtesy _NiallS via Flickr.com

Runners at Tredagar Park Run
Courtesy _NiallS via Flickr.com

Tredegar House, near Newport, is the celebrating five years of success and organiser Chris Davies says “it’s the perfect location – it’s been a really good partnership, working with the National Trust in Wales. They’ve been so helpful in creating the circuit”.

He went on: “Our original target was 50 to 100 runners per week, but we’re now averaging over 300”.  Bob Sugden, Head Ranger at Tredegar commented, “it adds real value to what we can offer here at Tredegar.”

Parkrun UK is a not-for-profit organisation organising regular outdoor run events across the UK.  They meet at Tredegar House at 9.00 each Saturday morning.  Runners need to register online HERE before arriving, but taking part is free and another way for you to enjoy outdoors activity through the National Trust in Wales.

There are runs and many other events happening at Tredegar House throughout the Christmas period – find out more HERE.

The Great Welsh Walk

Discover great Welsh walks with us.

Enjoy special places in Wales this autumn with our Great Welsh Walk – part of the Great British Walk 2013.

There are plenty of organised walks as well as dozens of walks to download on our useful map.

Why not add your own great walk and share your walking photos with #GBwalk

So let’s get outdoors this autumn and discover special places on foot.

The caption would be.  Walking to the Gribin, Solva Harbour, Pembrokeshire.  One of Wales’ great walks. Photo: ©National Trust Images / Leo Mason.

Walking to the Gribin, Solva Harbour, Pembrokeshire. One of Wales’ great walks. Photo: ©National Trust Images / Leo Mason.

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.