Time to wrap up the year

Getting close to nature

My role in the Brecon Beacons & Monmouthshire team is a job wearing many hats. My drive to understand our sites, the work the Countryside Manager and ranger team do to conserve our special places, and what I can achieve behind the scenes for them, has meant a busy first year for me, and I have loved every minute!

A job wearing many hats

I joined the team in 2016 as caretaker for Dan y Gyrn bunkhouse nestled in the Tarell Valley.  As caretaker, I wanted to present the space well for our guests, provide quality visitor information, along with the housekeeping tasks behind the scenes keeping things running smoothly.  Simply, I see my role as Business Support Coordinator for Brecon Beacons & Monmouthshire as something similar but on a much larger scale.

A moment to reflect
Under the old hornbeam tree at Pant Skirrid woods
A moment to reflect

Site visits have become a small chunk of what I’ve been up to.  Like today, after a morning with the woodlands team at Pant Skirrid woods, seeing how they have been taking this conifer plantation back to its ancient roots.  I sit here now under this old Hornbeam tree writing this blog, wondering what changes it has seen over the last 250 years.  A moment to reflect on what we’ve achieved as a team this year and what is yet to come.

Putting nature first

A highlight for our property portfolio was the new tenancy at Ffynnonau Farm near Abergavenny.  A lowland small holding on the Clytha Estate, the team had a busy summer of planned work giving the farm a new lease of life.  This new tenancy is an opportunity to demonstrate how nature conservation, land management and agriculture can work in partnership to have nature as it’s priority rather than production.

In the rugged wilderness of Mid Wales, we are tackling climate change at Abergwesyn.  We have been developing the peatland restoration plan, with the view to undertake practical works in 2020.  This is a five-year project, with the aim of preserving and protecting peatland, improving wildlife habitat biodiversity and helping to manage upland water flow in this ancient landscape.

Something for everyone

From engaging with visitors, I’ve learnt that our outdoor places mean different things to different people.  Whether it be a quiet moment to cherish with family or friends, a new `50 things before you’re 11 & 3/4‘ adventure with little ones, or reaching the soaring heights of Pen y Fan and grabbing that wanderlust picture at the summit.  At our places there really is something for everyone.

Making time to explore the Begwns landscape
All the views, none of the climb
Making time to explore the Begwns landscape

Wanting to explore our sites as a visitor, I’ve taken the opportunity to catch up with a few walking trails that I had yet to explore, my regular favourite with the children is The Begwns near Clyro.  I’m excited that we’ll be adding new and refreshed walks in 2020, but if you fancy something a little more challenging over the festive break have a look at our top walks. 

Warmth and kindness of people

With our many visitors, comes the need to maintain our sites and ensure they continue to be welcoming and accessible.  On the ground day to day, I’ve been overcome with the dedication of the volunteers who support the rangers in keeping our sites in great condition.  I’ve seen first-hand their love of nature and the outdoors.  Whether it be the chance to socialise, meeting new people and giving a warm welcome to visitors, a chance to learn a new skill like stone pitching or monitoring ancient monuments, or the chance to simply keep fit and breath in the fresh air.  If you have spare time, love the outdoors and are keen to get involved with the work the ranger team do, with a busy year planned in 2020 there will be plenty of opportunities for new volunteers. 

This year has been something special for which I’m truly thankful to be a part of.  From the whole National Trust team who look after Brecon Beacons and Monmouthshire, we wish you a happy Christmas and a new year full of peace, health and hope.