Autumn is always a beautiful season in Penllergare Valley Woods. This year, the wet weather resulted in muted colours as the leaves on the trees turned, but there have been some stunning yellows and golds as November progressed. The muddy tracks and paths and heavy vehicle movements of October were replaced by drier conditions underfoot with a carpet of colourful leaves and needles everywhere – the woods really are a magical place at this time of the year. It’s lovely to see so many people enjoying the wet, muddy and wild conditions in Penllergare Valley Woods. It’s a great place to get outdoors, in all weather for all ages, and to follow the development of the restoration project!
CAR PARK & VISITOR CENTRE
We’re pleased to say that the coffee shop is still going strong thanks to the commitment of our brilliant team of volunteer visitor centre assistants (and our regular customers!). We’re open 7 days per week from 10am – 4pm. We have over 30 volunteers giving three hours per week in order to keep it open and welcoming for our visitors and to serve a delicious range of hot drinks and home made cake. We can’t thank our volunteers enough for their hard work and commitment over the last 3 months since opening and we all look forward to 2014. If you would like to join our brilliant team of volunteer visitor centre assistants in the New Year, do get in touch.
Did you know that you can even stock up on the perfect Christmas gift – “Penllergare: Echoes from Valley Woods”. This fantastic book – available in the coffee shop – brings back to life highlights from Valley Woods spanning two centuries. And it’s only £10!! All proceeds go to the Penllergare Trust.
You may have also noticed our brand new rustic welcome signs. Over the coming months we hope to introduce better maps and leaflets and information points for you all to enjoy.
UPPER LAKE & ARCHIMEDEAN SCREW
Exciting news! This month, the Archimedean screw hydro turbine arrived and was placed in position in a tricky operation involving a large crane and an articulated lorry deep in the woods by the waterfall. Have a look at this time lapse animation video of the installation here thanks to the great work of volunteer Pete Thomas:
Why are we installing this screw? For two reasons. Firstly to generate much needed income for the future management of Valley Woods. Secondly, we believe that it is in the spirit of the progressive approach adopted by John Dillwyn Llewelyn in the 19th century. The electricity produced is fed by a cable to the new visitor centre and a connection to the National Grid. We will use some of the electricity ourselves and the rest will be ‘sold’. We estimate that this will produce £10,000 each year – to be used for the upkeep of Valley Woods.
A good crowd turned out to see this spectacle and many folk enjoyed a hot chocolate in the coffee shop – a good winter warmer on a very cold day! Thanks to everyone who turned out to help. The equipment will now be connected up before Christmas and the screw will be christened as soon as possible.
Did you know that fish can pass downstream through the screw without any problems at all? An eel pass is also ready to be installed – it consists of a channel of bristles in a purpose made metal structure that is to be attached to the side of the screw. These bristles enable eels to wriggle their way up the channel more easily. European eel stocks have declined. One of the causes is the number of physical obstacles to migration, preventing young eels from migrating up rivers to feed and grow, and adult eels from returning to sea to spawn.
The lower track is still part of the construction site, so public access is restricted for another few weeks. We’re really sorry for any inconvenience caused. The programme for completing the lake desilting in 2014 is being planned at present.
We’re pleased to announce that this is now complete apart from some landscaping works on the banks.
David Connick, Site Manager, led an autumn walk in November and christened the “new” Llewelyn bridge. It’s looking really good and everyone gave it their approval. A formal ‘opening’ is planned as soon as the lake contractors site office and compound is removed. The bridge is a great step forward and opens up many more possibilities for circular walks and views of the valley and the waterfalls.
Did you know? This bridge is likely to be of some antiquity as it was given the appellation ‘old’ on mid 19th century photographs by John Dillwyn Llewelyn and a watercolour by Emma Charlotte Dillwyn Llewelyn of 1864. It is also shown on 19th century Ordnance Survey maps. Historic images show the bridge as a simple, stone-built, single arch structure. Prior to the re-modelling of the Penllergare estate in the 1830s by John Dillwyn Llewelyn, including the provision of several footbridges, it provided a crossing point of the Afon Llan between Pont Melin Llan, 600m to the north, and Pont Cadle, 2.4 km downstream. Can you believe that in the last 200 years it went from this….
Woodland volunteers this month have been working on the carriage drive – opening up the verges for wild flowers in the spring. They have also planted thousands of wild daffodils and snowdrops around the car park and upper gardens. We can’t thank our woodland volunteers enough for their continued enthusiasm and dedication – rain or shine!
Our appeal for funds for this has resulted in us buying even more bulbs – so thank you to everyone who has supported this. It’s not too late either to donate. Visit http://penllergare.tictail.com/ for further information.
We have been out and about these past few weeks spreading the word about Penllergare Valley Woods and the restoration project. You may have seen us at Swansea Museum’s Book Fayre or at the Green Fayre at the National Waterfront Museum.
What’s more, 17 staff, volunteers, family and friends were treated to an executive box at the Liberty Stadium to watch the Ospreys v Glasgow rugby match. This was courtesy of the Leader of the City and County of Swansea – the Penllergare Trust was drawn out of a hat of voluntary organisations that have been supported by the Council. A good time was had by all, despite the final score!
The Friends of Penllergare are organising a Concert with Carols at St David’s Church, Penllergaer on Saturday, 14th December at 7 pm featuring the Morriston Rugby Club Male Voice Choir. Tickets are SOLD OUT. The proceeds will be going towards the restoration and maintenance of Valley Woods.
HAVE YOUR SAY!
Being half way through the restoration project and with our thoughts turning to how we can look after Penllergare Valley Woods sustainably for the future, we would be most grateful if you could spare 5 minutes to tell us what you think about your visits to Penllergare. Your ideas, suggestions and feedback will really help us plan for the future. Thanks a million! 🙂 Click here to access the survey.
IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO FIND OUT MORE…
Do feel free to pop in to chat with our volunteers, to have a cup of tea and/or to pick up a leaflet at any time.
See you soon!