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What a difference the weather makes! The woods have really come alive in the past couple of weeks – the trees are getting fuller and greener, the woodland floor is covered in bluebells and the rhododendrons are splashing the valley pink! What’s more, it’s lovely to see so many people enjoying walks, picnics and dips in the river! The coverage that we had on BBC Wales News at the end of April has no doubt inspired many to visit us too and to find out more about the magical hidden gem on their doorstep. If you missed the TV feature, you can see it here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-27126090
As a local independent charity, we rely on an amazing team of volunteers from all backgrounds who work tirelessly to protect and revive Penllergare Valley Woods for public benefit. Local people have breathed life into the woods and have come together because they care about its history, wildlife and people. There has been an incredible amount of work going on behind the scenes by volunteers over the past 14 years to get us to where we are today and faced with the exciting but challenging prospect of the second half of a major restoration project and a 104 year lease of the woods, we are thrilled to be welcoming more and more enthusiastic and committed people with a passion for Valley Woods to our growing team of volunteers.
We are now well into the second half of the three year landscape restoration project and what a transformation we’ve seen already? Even though there is still a lot of physical project work to be done, our attention is turning more towards future financial sustainability and next steps. We are greatly encouraged by the regular positive feedback we receive, and our visitor survey just before Christmas shows that we are going in the right direction. We’ve teamed up with the Groundwork Trust to gauge opinion and support on our next steps.
There’s no doubt that, as an independent local charity, to achieve our ambitious vision requires courage, determination, optimism and a great deal of effort! We are already getting the feeling that this is more of a community ‘movement’ than just another project – ‘people power’ in action for a cause worth fighting for! Above all we ask people and organisations who value Valley Woods, as a growing number already do, to lend us your support – we do not receive any public subsidy. We are very grateful for the support and confidence shown to us by our current funders and we look forward to building on that. We’re building up more support through membership and volunteering – our membership has increased by over 20% since September last year, and we’re developing a fundraising plan to sustain us in the future – so if you love Valley Woods – come and join in and be part of the adventure! Here is a summary of what has been happening since Christmas:
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!
Autumn so far has brought about many exciting events and challenges. The photo below – taken in early October 2013 – shows the extent of the work currently being carried out in the north of the valley. It also shows a snippet of the vast area of woodland that we now manage for local people and wildlife – primarily through voluntary management and support. To see elements of the restoration project finally reaching completion this month has been most rewarding for us all.
Edward Tucker, Woodland Warden, and Keith Clements, volunteer ranger, organised a wildflower walk on Saturday 15th June to mark Wales Biodiversity Week. Nearly one hundred species were seen and named – these were just a few of them.
Weekend Woodland Volunteering Session
Saturday 4th May. Interested in conservation? Like working outdoors? Come along and get stuck in on a range of woodland/restoration tasks. Meet in the Woodland Centre. 9am-12pm. Wear sturdy footwear, waterproofs and gloves. Free.
Volunteer Researchers involved in the restoration project at Penllergare Valley Woods met on Monday to discuss the replanting of the rock work and terrace gardens above the Upper Lake. We had a range of contributors from local gardeners to historians.