People and nature thrive at Chirk Castle thanks to the creation of a Mindful Meadow
- 01 August 2023
0.65 hectares of SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest) at Chirk Castle has been improved for people and nature as National Trust Cymru team up with a range of organisations and local charities to create a new Mindful Meadow, where people can connect to nature, improving their health and wellbeing.
Over the last 12 months National Trust Cymru have been working with local organisations such as Cadwyn Clwyd, NEWCIS, BCUHB Health Improvement Team, Home Start Wrexham, North East Wales Mind, Rainbow Foundation and We Mind The Gap to design and create a Mindful Meadow at Chirk Castle.
From planting trees and wildflower seeds to building benches and wildlife homes, the groups have transformed the area into a flourishing meadow where people can sit back and gaze at the Ceriog Valley, find peace in the willow dome, observe wildlife buzzing about the orchard and watch the clouds float by.
Katie Rees-Jones, Senior Volunteer & Community Officer at Chirk Castle, National Trust Cymru said;
“We are delighted to have created this space together, enabling the passion, care and love we all have for nature and wellbeing to be woven throughout the whole meadow for everyone to enjoy.”
“In creating the meadow we drew inspiration from Octavia Hill, one of the founders of National Trust who in 1895 said:
‘We all need space, we all need peace, we all need beauty, without it we cannot find the sense of quiet where whispers of better things come to us gently’.
“We all have times in our lives where we need to hear these whispers. By working with community groups who have a real understanding of this need, we have created a space that can benefit everyone.”
“The mindful meadow is a beautiful space where people and nature will thrive for years to come.”
The Mindful Meadow was completed in spring 2023. The process of creating the space was just as important as the end product, enabling participants to reap the benefits of hand on connection with nature but also providing a real-life demonstration that things take time to blossom and flourish, mirroring the time improved wellbeing can take to build.
Julie Done, North Wales Community Maker, for WeMindTheGap said
“The Mindful Meadow at Chirk Castle is a wonderful resource for us to be able to access with our young people.
“It has been beneficial to our ‘gappies’ mental and physical health to be able to volunteer to help create this beautiful place. It has enhanced their sense of belonging in their local area and it has been wonderful for them to see how it has grown and developed through different groups working together with a sense of purpose.”
“Also, it’s an amazing free resource for us to be able to come and experience nature in small groups to help reduce the anxiety and improve the wellbeing of the young people we work with and our staff.”
It is not only people who will benefit from this project, but nature too. The area is part of Chirk Castle’s SSSI, designated for its rare invertebrates, lesser horseshoe bats and grassland fungi which means any changes to the landscape must be approved by Natural Resources Wales (NRW).
National Trust Cymru worked closely with NRW to develop the plans for the meadow, ensuring the design met the community need but also improved the overall biodiversity of the area.
Pollinator rich native tree species and wildflower seed mix were selected to boost wildlife food sources. The hedgerow mixture, location and length were adjusted to maximise the benefit to the local bat population, increasing their feeding area and creating wildlife corridors.
Clare Pillman, Chief Executive of Natural Resources Wales, said:
“Our connection and relationship with nature can play a key role in nurturing our overall health and well-being.”
“Not only will the Mindful Meadow project support this crucial connection, the design and improvements made to this Site of Specific Scientific interest will see the benefits stretch to the features, habitats and species we find here, supporting nature’s recovery.”
“This project is a fine example of nature and people thriving together and demonstrates what can be achieved when partners come together to deliver change.”
The meadow is free to access for anyone who may be seeking a quieter spot and is also available for groups to use to deliver sessions from counselling to tai chi, reflective walks to sketching.
The project has been developed by National Trust Cymru with the generous support of Cadwyn Clwyd’s Green Communities Project which is funded by the EU and Welsh Government Rural Communities Rural Development Programme and delivered in collaboration with Natural Resources Wales (NRW).
Cara Roberts Green Communities Support Officer at Cadwyn Clwyd said;
“It has been great to work alongside National Trust Cymru and the local community on the Mindful Meadow project, one of 42 successful Green Communities projects that Cadwyn Clwyd have delivered and supported in North East Wales. The Green Communities team at Cadwyn Clwyd are delighted to see the impact that the funding has had, and to witness the project develop into a valuable asset for the local community and environment.”
“The Cadwyn Clwyd Green Communities project is funded through the Welsh Government Rural Communities Rural Development Programme 2014-2020, funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD), and Welsh Government.”
“This £1.3 million project is supported by the Enabling Natural Resources and Wellbeing Fund (ENRaW), that will provide financial support to community-led projects in order for them to deliver green initiatives by embracing sustainable management of natural resources, in addition to supporting Covid recovery at a community level.”
Chirk Castle are delighted to have received a grant from Cadwyn Clwyd to create a Mindful Meadow at Chirk Castle working in partnership with local groups to contribute to its design and creation.
Magnificent medieval fortress of the Welsh Marches | Castell canoloesol odidog Y Mers