Plans for restoration
Penllergare Valley Woods has been awarded a first round pass by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) under its ‘Parks for People’ programme. The Penllergare Trust has until summer 2010 to carry out further surveys and work up detailed plans to support the second-round application. Consultations with the public and key stakeholders on the restoration of parts of Valley Woods have resulted in overwhelming support for the proposals being prepared for submission to HLF in August.
As well as restoring the Observatory, the restoration plans include a small car-park with a café, information kiosk and toilets; restoring Upper Lake and the installation of a hydro-electric generator next to the Waterfall; improvements to circuit walks; rebuilding the stone arch (Llewelyn) bridge; and bringing the Walled Gardens back to life.
Thanks mainly to the work of our enthusiastic volunteers and despite the unusually cold winter, upwards of 15,000 broad-leaf trees have been planted in Coed Nydfwch. Following Forestry Commission guidelines the predominant species are common ash and common oak, with much smaller quantities of field maple, hazel, elder, wild and bird cherries and holly. During the next few years the Trust plans to intersperse Weymouth pines in the new plantations. Despite some fire damage through vandalism the priority is now to ensure that the trees grow properly while maintaining the sight-lines from the viewing points.
As well as the hard work mentioned above, volunteers have also been hand-pulling invasive bracken, dismantling log-jams in the river, building retaining walls to prevent bank erosion and rerouting footpaths. Some have also elected, under the tutorage of Volunteer & Training Co-ordinator, Benesek Monk, to take OCNs in Conservation Skills. Three separate groups are now involved with this accreditation in Valley Woods: Penyrheol Comprehensive, the Green Tangent Volunteers and the Trust’s own Thursday Group. Several participants, on the strength of this training, have found employment elsewhere, but particularly heartening is the fact that they have maintained their links to Penllergare Valley Woods, returning when time permits. Less obvious but nonetheless vital, is the contribution by the education volunteers, the litter clearers, those who assist on public walks and the volunteers who give such valuable advice and feedback on the Penllergare Forum.
Visitors will see three new notice boards recently positioned at the main entrances to Valley Woods. The colour and design were carefully chosen to blend into the woodland setting and yet be perfectly visible in all seasons of the year. The specification had to be robust and so included two stout locks and shatter-proof glass. This long awaited facility has been funded by the HLF and is a welcome improvement to the notices that previously were tied to gates.Woodland Centre
Visitors using the Pitstop entrance will have noticed footings going in for the new Woodland Centre. Designated as ‘temporary’ it will be a demountable building but, even so, we aim to lessen its impact within the setting. This long overdue facility is to be a classroom and meeting room and will be particularly useful in enabling school visits to last longer. Soon there will be a place for children, not only to wash, brush up and to have their packed lunches, but also to further their knowledge of Valley Woods by doing practical work and learning about the scientific experiments that went on at Penllergare in the 19th century.Education
School visits continue to take place from Easter to the end of October and numbers have increased during the last 12 months. The Wild for Woods walks are proving popular and, together with Penllergare’s unique history and scientific background, they make an unparalleled teaching resource for Swansea schools.
The Friends and Bi-centenary Year
2010 is the 200th anniversary of the birth of John Dillwyn Llewelyn (JDL), the person whose vision has guided the Trust in most of its plans for regeneration. It is being commemorated throughout the year by the Friends of Penllergare with themed meetings and events that link to JDL’s particular interests and achievements.
For further information: The Penllergare Trust, Coed Glantawe, Esgairdawe, Llandeilo SA19 7RT, email: email@example.com, www.penllergare.org