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Wednesday, 30 December 2015

A Year to Remember

Bob Smith (drink in hand, centre) at the triumphant end of the Trident Trek, one of the events which marked the 50th anniversary of our Coastline Campaign
2015 was a big year for us.  It was the year that we put our wonderful coastline centre stage.

The occasion was the 50th anniversary of the initiative which saved hundreds of miles of our unspoilt coast, including some of Wales' best loved beaches, protected forever for future generations to enjoy. 

The initiative is the Coast Campaign, originally Enterprise Neptune, which has so far helped us protect over a hundred miles of Welsh coast - all through public donations.

Making an Impression

The year got off to a cracking start with a day's celebrations led by Springwatch star Iolo Williams.  The event was held in March, on the anniversary of the acquisition of the place where the Neptune campaign started - Whiteford Burrows on Gower.

The local team pulled out all the stops, with a fantastic programme of walks and talks to show what's been achieved since Whiteford Burrows was acquired.
Iolo Williams, launching our year of coastal celebrations at Whiteford Burrows
Our Gower volounteer team worked with sand artist Marc Treanor to create this huge map, marked with all the sites that have been saved with the Neptune campaign.

Walking and Sailing around the edge of Wales

June saw two ambitious sponsored circumnavigations of Wales - on foot and by sail.  The Trident Trek and Sails Around Wales events, both of which were covered extensively in this blog. Follow the links to enjoy tales from these two epic achievements.
The Trident Trek reaches Cardiff Bay - both trident and Welsh dragon held proudly aloft
Laura Hughes takes the helm on a 'commute of a lifetime' with Sails Around Wales skipper, John Whitley, in the Bardsey Sound.
Follow in my wake, starting on Day 1 of Sails Around Wales

A Toast to the Coast

July saw our Big Beach Picnic which gave beachgoers all over Wales a chance to get in the holiday mood and celebrate our coast with a picnic.  Hundreds of people packed their hampers, travel rugs and folding chairs and headed to on of our four events - in Llanbedrog, Marloes, Barafundle and Rhossili.

The highlight was a grand concert overlooking the beach at Rhossili beach, with the Morriston Orpheus Male Voice Choir and the Penclawdd Brass Band. 

Crowds gather in the July sunshine to listen to a programme of music at the Big Beach Picnic
Sale of the half century?

The Coast Campaign's latest acquisition, Y Parc, forms the summit plateau of the Great Orme
The cherry on the cake of this celebratory year was the purchase of Y Parc, a farm on the summit of the Great Orme headland.  The farm has been described as 'the missing piece of this internationally-important conservation jigsaw'.  We are now able to help a number of other conservation bodies, including PlantLife, Conwy Council, RSPB and Natural Resources Wales to better safeguard this important nature reserve.

Shifting Shores

The year's activities culminated with an important debate about the future of our coastline.  The 'Shifting Shores - the Next Ten Years' seminar saw policy-makers and coastal stakeholders from all over Wales meeting in Swansea to hear expert talks, to learn from case studies and to discuss priorities for working together to make our coast more resilient to climate change.
Cwm Ivy Gower - the sea wall breaches and 100 acres of farmland is flooded.  Disaster or opportunity?
A new bird hide, overlooking the new salt marsh at Cwm Ivy, funded by our Coast Campaign.  Just one of a range of exiting improvements which have come in the wake of the breaching of the sea wall.
Thank you for reading this small sample of our coastal celebrations in 2015, and I look forward to keeping you in touch with what's happening on the National Trust's Welsh coastline in 2016 and beyond.

Friday, 7 August 2015

Trident Trek Sucessfully Completed

Bob (middle) at the end of his epic 870-mile two-month trek around Wales, handing over the trident to our friends in the South-West of England - ready to continue it's journey.
 In an epic 870-mile relay like no other, the Trident Trek reached its end point at Chepstow on 5 August.

A huge thanks to the hundreds of people who took part and particularly for Bob for carrying Neptune's Trident around the entire Welsh Coast, and to George for coming up with the idea of the Trident and creating it for the Trek.

Bob has raised over £1,000 so far - every penny to go to a special project on the Welsh coast to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the Neptune Coastline Campaign.  Please show your appreciation for his achievement and help the Welsh coast by making a donation here.

Whilst you decide how much to give, enjoy this slide show - featuring the entire Welsh coast in 2 minutes:

More images and the full Trident Trek story

Friday, 17 July 2015

Watch: Hymns and Arias on the Coast

Thousands of beach-goers showed their love for the coast recently by attending our Big Beach Picnics.  Local teams at four of our most popular coastal places hosted these special events on the 4th of July to celebrate the 50th anniversary of our Coastline Campaign.

At Rhossili, Gower, beachgoers basked in the sun on the headland overlooking one of Britain’s most spectacular beaches as they were entertained by the world-renowned Morriston Orpheus Choir, the Penclawdd Brass Band and other musical performances.  Happy picnickers at Barafundle, Marloes and Llanbedrog beaches were also treated to storytelling, surfing lessons, beach games, fancy dress photography and face painting.

There was no danger of anyone leaving any litter behind.  We teamed up with our friends at Keep Wales Tidy and organised popular two-minute beach cleans.  Event organiser Lowri Roberts said, “Everyone had a great time – and the beach was left cleaner than it was before.”

Enjoy this slideshow of pictures taken during the events or click here

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Tales from the Trek #2

I joined Bob today on his 22nd day walking on the Trident Trek around the Welsh Coast.  The train dropped me off at Barmouth where today's leg started.  I soon met Bob and we got started on the first section - a pilgrimage to the National Trust's first property, Dinas Oleu.
Ready to trek.  Me and Bob ready to start.  NT support vehicle to take Bob's tent to tonight'scampsite.
We soon got to Dinas Oleu, and met Vicky and Simon, a young couple who were on the last day of their holiday.  The were very interested in the Trek and took a photo of us at the NT commemorative plaque.
The plaque recording the founding of the NT at its first property, Dinas Oleu, the Fortress of Light
Simon and Vicky - Supporting the Trident Trek

The path then took us over the Mawddach on the famous railway bridge.  We then passed Fairbourne and started the stiff climb up to the Blue Lake quarry.  On the way we met a group of volunteer walk leaders from South Staffordshire Walking for Health.  They'd come on the train for the day to check  out the route of a walk their were planning.
South Staffs Bilbrook Walking for Health volunteers
The Trident makes a great toasting fork..
The path took us to the ancient road that leads from Llynnau Cregennan (NT), passing a number of Bronze Age standing stones on it's lonely course over the mountain.  It was a strange feeling to think that people have been walking along this trackway for at least 3 or 4 thousand years.
One of the standing stones along the lonely route over the mountain. (John Pritchard)
On our way down to Llwyngwril, we met locals Carol and Josie, out for an afternoon stroll.  They looked a bit surprised when they saw us, then admitted that one had just said to the other "you'd be lucky if you see two people walking this way in a day".  They obviously didn't expect to meet a pair of mad men wielding a trident.
Carol and Josie
We eventually reached Llwyngwril and found a little shop which served us coffee and Welsh cakes.  We shook hands and I dashed to catch the train back, leaving Bob to continue with the remaining 520 miles.  Of course, we couldn't leave Llwyngwril, before saying hello to Gwril the giant, who made a pretty good impersonation of Neptune.
Gwril the Giant

Friday, 26 June 2015

The Welsh coast needs your help

Bob, our Trident Trek hero asks for your help....
We asked Bob, our Trident minder to explain why we need your help:

"For over 50 years, people from all over Wales and beyond have been helping us to save and look after special places on Wales’ beautiful coast.

"Did you know that as well as saving special coastal places through ownership, our Coastline Campaign also helps us look after the coast, doing important work such as…
  • protecting places of priceless historic or archaeological interest
  • restoring valuable wildlife habitats
  • mending eroded paths
 …all so that you and your family can get more from your visit to the coast.

"Did you know that it takes an average of £3,000 a year to look after one mile of the Welsh coast?

"That’s what it takes for our rangers to look after footpaths, wildlife habitats, heritage features and
provide a great welcome.

"You can help our coastal conservation work by making a donation now.  Please visit our JustGiving site and give what you can.

"This is what we are fundraising for through the Trident Trek:

£100 to restore five metres of traditional Pembrokeshire flower-rich bank, or produce 100 education packs for local school children.

£25 to enable us to create a metre of  wildlife trail around the flower-rich dunes and meadows at Freshwater West, Pembrokeshire.

£50 to cover the cost of establishing an apple tree in the community heritage garden at the traditional crog loft cottage at Fron Deg, Llyn  

£2,000 to pay for a bird hide at Cwm Ivy, Gower and £100 to pay for a wildlife-spotting  sheet for visitors to use to identify what they see from the hide.

"I asked three of our Rangers to share examples of improvements being made THIS year, thanks to donations into our Coastline Campaign."

Monday, 22 June 2015

Tales from the Trek: Confessions of a Trident Minder

Coastal supremo and Trident Minder, Bob Smith, heading for Caernarfon this morning
I caught up with coastal supremo Bob this morning.  He'd just crossed the Menai Bridge, and was heading for the Community Day at Glan Faenol before heading for Caernarfon.

As we strolled along I picked up a few stories about his first 200 miles, which I'd like to share.

What's the experience that sticks in the mind most over the last couple of weeks?Bob: Losing the Trident...We stopped at the Spar shop in Conwy to buy lunch.  Half an hour later when we stopped for our picnic we realised it was missing and had to run back.  We were mightily relieved to find that it was where we left it, leaning against the wall.

What's the most bizarre moment?

Bob: without doubt, it's where my fellow volunteer George suddenly grabbed the trident and headed out to sea at Trearddur Bay on Anglesey to do a passable impression of Neptune.
Neptune rising from the waves. Brrr!

What was the most shocking incident?

Bob: I was walking along a street in Prestatyn when a woman drinking cider took one look at my trident and shouted "Fork Off!", or at least that what I think she said.

Friday, 19 June 2015

Day 13: The Last Mile. Penarth Marina to the Senedd.

This is the final blog post of a 13 day voyage on-board the yacht Capercaillie, made to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Neptune Coastline Campaign in Wales.  

To follow our adventures as we visited the Trust's Neptune coast in Wales, go to our first blog post and follow the links through the days.
Capercaillie is dwarfed amongst the playthings of the conspicuously wealthy, at Penarth Marina
Last night’s late arrival caused us to put off the final step of our round-Wales coastal marathon, the short trip across the Cardiff Bay lagoon to the pontoons in front of our government building, the Senedd.  

We set off through the Penarth Marina lock and soon the familiar landmarks of Cardiff’s political and cosmopolitan tourist centre moved into view: the copper carapace of the Millennium Centre, the red brick Pierhead Building, the white painted Norwegian Church and, of course, the Senedd.  

“I think we may have a problem.” John was scanning the quays with his binoculars on our approach.

It turned out that the visitors’ pontoons had been taken over by performance racing catamarans and official race vessels.  We found a space and cheekily squeezed in amongst a few hundred thousand pounds worth of carbon fibre super-yacht.  Predictably, we were immediately approached by a man in a dayglow jacket and walkie-talkie who pointed to an official-looking notice and stated that the whole area was cordoned off for the duration of the racing event. 

But we had an event to complete too, I argued, and a brief stand-off ensued.  This was a public pier and we’d also been planning our event for over six months, I argued.  Nevertheless, a contest between two slightly disheveled tee-shirted blokes with a 30 year old yacht and a uniform-clad security officer backed by a multimillion-pound sponsored yachting event, there could only be one winner.
We moored cheekily amongst the super yachts before being moved on by security

With our inscrutable adversary watching impatiently over us, John and I cut one of the Sails Around Wales banners off, threw my bags onto the quay and gave each other a manly farewell hug.  I thrust the rolled-up banner under my arm, turned to the officer, who seemed to be at the point of calling for reinforcements, and I asked him to evict me from the pontoons.

On the Senedd steps, Tom, a friendly young man who explained that he’d just completed a survival training course and was heading for a big breakfast, agreed to photograph me holding the banner. Feeling slightly disappointed that John was not able to join me for this last step of our journey around Wales, I smiled for the camera as, over Tom’s shoulder, I spotted Capercaille and its skipper, heading off to prepare for their return journey.  

I thanked Tom, picked up my bags and headed off to find a taxi back to life on terra-firma.

Journey's end.  Sails Around Wales reaches the Senedd
Go to Day 1 to follow the whole voyage