February 2019 - Brecon Beacons appeal a year on

Volunteer helping to repair the footpath leading to Pen y Fan, Brecon Beacons

The relaunch of our Brecon Beacons appeal begun on a cold, dark and frosty morning in late February 2018 with a feature on BBC Breakfast TV and Radio Wales. Lead Ranger Rob looks back over the past year and the fantastic work achieved thanks to the support from our visitors...

It was very difficult giving interviews whilst covered in frost and shivering but it worked out well as we began to receive donations to our appeal from all around the UK.

Up up and away

In May, BBC Wales joined us on the Pont ar Daf footpath to film our annual airlift as we transported scalpings (stone and dust) by helicopter. The reporter filmed the whole process from collecting the scalpings further down the valley, transporting to the footpath and then spreading the stone. The hard work of spreading the stone was down to some of our Meet and Greet volunteers who usually base themselves at our welcome cabin at Pont ar Daf car park and litter pick the footpaths as well as our regular Thursday group known as the Skirridians who help maintain our sites in Abergavenny.

An iconic sign

A relatively routine matinenance task carried out last year to renew the National Trust omega sign on the summit of Pen y Fan turned out to be a much bigger job than expected. Due to the interest received and offers to buy the old sign we decided to put it up for auction with the help of Rogers Jones & Co auctioneers in Cardiff, which was a real bonus to our appeal funds.

Thanks for your support

All those donations helped pay for the three days needed for the airlift which transported 200 tonnes of scalpings to the Pont ar Daf and Storey Arms footpaths. We also transported some stone to Pen y Fan so we could lay a 20m stretch of path line. This section was trialled to see how long the scalpings would last and if it would be worth laying more scalpings in 2019.

Detail of the summit erosion on Pen y Fan, central Brecon Beacons
Summit erosion on Pen y Fan, central Brecon Beacons
Detail of the summit erosion on Pen y Fan, central Brecon Beacons

Another helping hand

With the help of various volunteer groups throughout spring and summer we created a level pathway through an eroded, uneven and slippery area. Several stone cross drains were built and side ditches cut to help control the erosion. The surrounding area was also landscaped by under cutting steep banks, spot turfing and using mountain grass seed and fertiliser to spread out over the bare areas.

The Cribyn footpath before restoration in the central Brecon Beacons
Before restoring the Cribyn footpath in the central Brecon Beacons
The Cribyn footpath before restoration in the central Brecon Beacons

Ongoing maintenance

The winter months are usually our quieter period which allows us to carry out ongoing maintenance at a lower level, providing there is no snow on the ground. Last winter we were able to load up our ATV (All Terrain Vehicle) and deliver 50 tonnes of scalpings to the path leading up from Storey Arms. Our priority is to control erosion and prevent further loss of soil by creating a comfortable path for visitors to walk on so the surrounding areas remain vegetated.

Beautiful panoramic views from a restored footpath in the central Brecon Beacons
Beautiful views from a restored footpath in the central Brecon Beacons
Beautiful panoramic views from a restored footpath in the central Brecon Beacons

By the end of the year we completed our planned work programme. A very big thank you to everyone who donated to this appeal, your support enabled us to airlift a large amount of materials to help control the erosion in the central Brecon Beacons.

As mentioned earlier the summit of Pen y Fan has also shown signs of erosion and we feel it is important to airlift more scalpings to this area to create a path line to the burial chamber. If we did not control the erosion the summit could become void of vegetation and soil, leaving the fragile stone exposed to the elements which would break up and become waterlogged.

As we look ahead to plan for future work and maintenance tasks, your continued support and donations to our Brecon Beacons appeal to help control further erosion in the central Brecon Beacons is very much appreciated.