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Volume 13 No. 1 Spring/Summer 2011

Peninsula National Trust Newsletter for Gower

Contents Welcome


Enjoying Gower is good for you


Gower’s great outdoors


Work programme


Saturday Volunteering Group 7 Kids Pages A morning walk through Whiteford

8 10

Farewell Sarah


Staff News


Shop News




Tracker Packs


Find us on Facebook! visit Photo: Kathryn Thomas

Printed on 100% recycled paper, using vegetable based inks Please pass this newsletter on to someone else once you have finished with it.

National Trust Newsletter for Gower

Welcome... ‘The Great Outdoors’ is a phrase often used. But how many of us actually get out and about and appreciate the fresh air and natural spaces around us? In this Spring/Summer issue of Peninsula we are focusing on the National Trust’s campaign ‘Outdoor Nation’. Octavia Hill, one of the founders of the National Trust campaigned for ‘outdoor living rooms’ and this campaign continues the quest to help more people connect with and enjoy nature. Want to know more? Visit  On a local level, we want more people to ‘get out and about’ and discover what Gower has to offer – from a walk in the woods for those looking for peace and quiet, to the more adrenalin-filled sports for those seeking an active pastime – Gower has it all!

Photo: Chris Warren Images

All our articles in this issue are focused on the great outdoors – so we’re sure there’s something for everyone, whether you want to join us for one of our guided walks, try out some of the outdoor games and activities with the kids, join in with our volunteering opportunities, or pay a visit to our shop at Rhossili and take in the stunning views. 2011 is the ‘Year of the Bat’ and to celebrate this we’ve added a Bat Walk to our exciting


events programme. For information on this and all our other events in 2011, see page 14. Did you know that you can download walks from our website. There are five Gower walks available, visit  and search for ‘downloadable walks’. In addition to these, we have also produced nine walks leaflets to help you enjoy Gower. All of these walks are accessible by bus, and the leaflets are for sale at 50p each from the National Trust Shop in Rhossili as well as other outlets such as Tourist Information Centres. Are you a local business or organisation who would like to sell our walks leaflets? The leaflets which sell at 50p, can be purchased from us for 33p which means you make an immediate profit. You can choose to have a quantity of all nine leaflets, or just those walks that may be local to your own business. If you are interested, please contact me. Would you like to be kept up to date with all our events? If so, please contact me so that I can add you to our mailing list.

By Kim Boland Property Administrator 01792 390636

National Trust Newsletter for Gower

Enjoying Gower is good for you - fact! So what are your best and earliest memories? As you’re reading Peninsula there is a strong chance that like me, it will be having fun on a beach; you’ll love the outdoors and the freedom it brings- we know that 535,000 people walk in Rhossili every year - so they feel the same way.

There isn't much room left for spontaneous, unmediated activities such as playing pooh sticks, building a den or simply mooching around aimlessly on the nearest bit of waste ground- these are the activities that feed the imagination and enthusiasm. Contact with the natural world is as essential as sleep and good nutrition- if we lose it will it ever come back? The impact of this loss of contact is two fold: ■ physical: obesity levels for 6 year olds have doubled in the past decade; for 15 year olds, they have trebled

And maybe, like me, you would be astounded to know that 1 in 5 people in the UK have not walked on a natural surface in the past year. As the UK population increases, 80% of us now live in cities spending more time indoors. So what is this doing to our state of mind and that of our children? Children haven’t changed but the conditions in which they play have. Today’s children have less freedom to roam, have more controlled and timetabled lives, and less exposure to the natural world than their parents or grandparents.

■ mental health is also giving major cause for concern: 1 in 8 boys and 1 in 10 girls aged between 11 and 17 have a diagnosed mental health problem Nature Deficit Disorder is not a medical definition. It is the label that Richard Louv uses to describe this phenomenon in his book ‘Last Child in the Woods’. It can be cured right on your doorstep on Gower the prescription can be found on pages 4 and 5. Meanwhile, some 26% of teenagers believe that bacon comes from sheep and

Photo: Forest School SNPT

children are more likely to recognise a Dalek than a magpie. Also, one third of all under 16s avoids playing outdoors because they don't want to get their clothes dirty. It is obvious by the increasing popularity of wildlife programmes that we all still have a huge interest in nature and the outdoors, so why aren’t we out there enjoying it? In Wales we are very lucky to be so close to nature, whether it is in our gardens, parks or further afield- and it really is good for the soul. So make sure you get a good helping of the outdoors this year, much better for you and your family than seeing it on the box in the corner, and much more fun... ...and you are just as likely to see at Rhossili the Tardis on Tardis Photo: Siân Musgrave Gower!

By Siân Jones Sian Jones retired from the National Trust in February. We would like to take this opportunity to thank her for all her hard work over the years, and wish her well in the future.


National Trust Newsletter for Gower

Gower’s Great Outdoors Do you get out into Gower’s great outdoors? What floats your boat? Walking? Horse riding? Surfing? Kayaking? Fishing? Rock climbing? Cycling? Kite flying? Soaking up the views? Chilling out on a beach? If you don’t get out into Gower’s great outdoors – what’s stopping you? There’s so much to choose from on Gower, something for everyone from the extreme to the relaxing. The peninsula is only 14 miles long and about 7 miles wide and yet there is so much variety and choice of what to see, where to go and what to do.

Kite flying is easy to do on Gower with its many open spaces and generally breezy conditions. To buy kites or just for advice contact the Gower Kite Centre at Pitton Cross. Sit back and enjoy the views of Gower’s stunning beaches and cliffs from the comfort of a boat with Gower Coast Adventures. Gower Heritage Centre which is based around a working 12th century water mill has lots to see and do both indoors and out. Is easy access to great views what you’re after? How about visiting Oxwich, Port Eynon, Rhossili, Cefn Bryn or Llanrhidian Marsh. There are a number of car parks on Gower, public toilets, shops, cafés, take aways and pubs, so make a day of it.

Photo: Chris Warren Images

Gower was the first designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in 1956. Within the AONB area there are over 190 miles (304km) of footpaths and over 50 miles (87km) of bridleways. Pick up a walks leaflet or book, follow a waymarked trail, make up your own route from an OS map, go on a guided walk or bike ride, or just go for a wander – safely please (don’t get lost!). As well as the National Trust leading guided walks, there are a number of other local groups too; Gower Society, Reynoldston Ramblers and the annual Gower Walking Festival in June amongst many.


The Gower Explorer buses run all year round, more frequently in the summer, go online to check out the bus times. From pony trekking to archery, Gower has an activity for everyone. Climbers at Boiler Slab Photo: Siân Musgrave

National Trust Newsletter for Gower

Gower Surf... Gower is hugely popular for surfing, there are a number of hire places and lesson providers. How about the increasingly popular Stand Up Paddle boarding? Or try out sailing, kayaking, water skiing… the list goes on, check out Euphoria Sailing for details.

Seashore Safari... Enjoy searching for marine life? There are plenty of places on Gower for rock pooling, but make sure you put back what you find! To learn about what you find, come along to one of our Seashore Safaris. See Page 14 for details.

Photo: Kathryn Thomas

And then there’s my favourite; cycling. Gower’s not exactly flat, but you can always push your bike up the hills! Discover Gower’s bridleways or make use of the network of roads and quiet lanes. If you prefer to go on organised bike rides there’s the annual South Wales Bike Ride (formerly the Gower Bike Ride) and the Gower Cycling Festival which was launched last year. So go on, get on your bike, or take a hike!! For further information, contact: Gower Walking Festival: Gower Kite Centre: Gower Coast Adventures: Gower Heritage Centre:

By Sarah Stevens, Warden

Unfortunately, this is the last article from Sarah. She has left Gower to take up a post as Ranger in North Cornwall – read more about this on page 12

Gower Explorer: The companies mentioned are just a few of Euphoria Sailing: the activity providers on Gower. The National Trust is not responsible for any of South Wales Bike Ride: the activity providers and does not endorse Gower Cycling Festival: any of the companies mentioned.


National Trust Newsletter for Gower

Work programme... With Easter here, a very late one this year, we will have finished our winter scrub clearance programme. Our main efforts this winter were again at Pennard, but this time on East Cliff. This was primarily to maintain a fire break between properties and the common, but also to restore the limestone grassland habitat, as well as expose and remove dumped garden waste and discourage further dumping. We actively discussed the work with the local residents to ensure a satisfactory result for both themselves and conservation purposes.

One of our regular contractors continued with the work started last year on improving habitat on the South Gower Coast around Fall Bay. More gorse was cleared from around areas of regenerating heather, and to allow limestone grassland species to thrive. At Rhossili, on the Vile we completed all the boundary work, including putting in fences, gates and stiles. A contractor then installed water troughs in various locations, once the ground has thawed out enough to put in the connecting pipes. We now have new tenants in place, actively farming the land and the area is looking really good.

Castle Park water tank – Photo: Siân Musgrave East Cliff fire break – Photo: Claire Hannington

The areas of West Cliff cleared last year were re-done primarily by tractor, though the work had to be postponed at times due to the very wet conditions on the ground, which would have done more damage than good. Those areas inaccessible by tractor were cut by hand or strimmers. We also opened up the path to Heatherslade which we will keep clear as part of our summer footpath work.


Hedging at Burrows Cottage Photo: Sarah Stevens

Following an outside fire at Burrows Cottage, Cwm Ivy, one of our holiday cottages, we have planted a new hedge around the back of the garden. The old hedge and log shed were completely destroyed in the fire and we were lucky the wind was blowing in a direction so as not to set fire to the adjoining woodland.

National Trust Newsletter for Gower

Saturday Volunteering Group Looking for something different to do on a weekend? Come along and join the Saturday Volunteering Group. We meet on the first Saturday of every month. We shall be undertaking litterpicks, scrub clearance, vegetation management, fencing and various other tasks at a variety of sites around Gower. We work in partnership with the Gower AONB Ranger, Huw Lloyd, City and County of Swansea (CCS) and also Countryside Council for Wales (CCW) this year, following a successful scrub clearance day at Oxwich last year. If you would like to become involved with the Saturday Group, then please email me to be put on the mailing list or phone the office if you would like to receive the information by post. Along with those on the Saturday group we are indebted to all those that have helped us with all the work we do. Last year the help of volunteers ensured a successful guided walks programme along with other events such as the Easter Trail and Gower Show. I shall be asking for volunteers to help us with all our events this year so if you are interested then please contact me.

And so with the help of all these volunteers we look forward to the summer. There will be the rounds of ragwort pulling and bracken clearance from sites all over Gower, with litterpicking around the coast. Lots of events and walks to get involved with, and all the smaller jobs that crop up along the way.

By Claire Hannington Warden 01792 390636

Saturday Volunteering Group Dates for 2011 7th May

Three Cliffs/Notthill – litterpick/vegetation management

4th June

Cwm Ivy Tor - bracken clearance

2nd July

Venue tbc – ragwort clearance

13th August

Slade – litterpick

3rd September

Cheriton – bracken clearance

17th September

Rhossili Beach - National Beachwatch Day

1st October

Whiteford – pine pulling / fencing

5th November

Mewslade – gorse clearance

3rd December

Bovehill - scrub clearance

Come along and enjoy the great outdoors while helping the National Trust to keep Gower special. If you would like to come along or want further information, please contact us on 01792 390636 or email

Saturday Group get down and dirty! Photo: Claire Hannington


National Trust Newsletter for Gower

Nature Matchbox Take a matchbox with you and see what you can collect – you’ll be amazed at what you can find, in the woods, on the beach, or just in your garden. Try and fill your matchbox with as many different natural objects as possible not living ones of course! Leaves, shells, seeds, are just a few...

...see what you can find! t to e ? Wanm or brate n r a le ng and cele t our

alo t’ a Come r of the Ba vent a ’e e s t ‘Y t t Ba the Abou - check ou y t t a t ‘B s u g vents th Au on 19 s on our E il deta 14 Page


Bat Facts!

Bats are the only flying ma mmals

Bats live in roosts. ey are found in All bats in the UK eat insects, some Th lots of places, in up to 3,000 bugs in one night! trees, caves, and Bats are nocturnal; they are most even houses! active at night and sleep during There are over 900 the day hanging upside-down. different species of Bat droppings bats, with 17 of these make species found in good compost . the UK.

National Trust Newsletter for Gower

Bat and Moth! Did you know that bats detect their prey by using a method called echolocation?

This means that they find things using echos - the bats send out sound waves which bounce off their prey - a bit like when you shout and sometimes hear your echo.

Why not play a game of Bat and Moth to see if you can catch your prey? What you will need... a group of friends

and a blindfold

1. All form a circle, except 2 people in the middle. 2. One of these becomes the bat, the other the moth. 3. The bat is then blindfolded (or they can close their eyes – no peeping!) 4. The moth tries to get away from the bat, but has to stay within the circle. 5. The bat has to catch the moth by calling out ‘bat’ and the moth then has to reply by calling out ‘moth’. This is the sound the bat must follow to catch its prey. 6. The moth can move away from the bat, but must stay within the circle.

Once the moth is caught, chose a new bat and moth and play again.


National Trust Newsletter for Gower

A Morning Walk Through Whiteford Burrows National Nature Reserve I work as a part-time Property Administrator at Little Reynoldston Farm, but, along with my husband Paul, I am also a Voluntary Warden for Whiteford Burrows National Nature Reserve. I can think of nothing more exhilarating than getting up just after dawn on a

By Veronica Shenston Voluntary Warden & Part-time Property Administrator

beautiful Spring morning and going for a walk through the National Trust Whiteford Reserve.

The Swallows returned in April and are now hatching their first brood, they fly hither and thither catching insects on the wing and I can hear the Cuckoo calling from the marsh field. Cwm Ivy Tor is covered in Cowslips, Bluebells, Pyramidal Orchids and Meadow Saxifrage which have become more evident now that the sheep have been grazing in the Autumn and the volunteers have taken out most of the scrub – what a glorious sight! As I come over the hill towards the dune slacks I can hear the unmistakeable sound of Chough Cwm Ivy Tor calling. As I turn the corner, there they are, four beauties poking around with their brilliant red beaks. I have seen these four before, usually on Hill’s Tor and I wonder if they are nesting on the cliffs? As I turn to walk along the tide line towards the lighthouse, I notice that there are lots of jellyfish left by the tide. There seem to be many more these days, is this a sign of global warming? I wonder if there are any Leatherback Turtles out in the Burry estuary, as they eat jellyfish. This is good reason for not using plastic bags because if they end up in the sea, turtles often confuse them with jellyfish and eat them, causing them to choke and die. The flocks of over-wintering waders, ducks and geese have now gone to their breeding grounds, usually in the far north.


Red beaked Chough

The foreshore is much quieter, but the dunes ring to the sound of Skylarks and Meadow Pipits and the haunting sound of nesting Lapwing and Ringed Plover. As I follow the path through the Reserve I notice the beautiful butterflies which abound; Marbled White, Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock, Small Blue and the visiting Red Admiral and Painted Lady. I notice that they sit with their wings open facing the sun in the morning before they spend the day flying around.

National Trust Newsletter for Gower The butterflies love to feed on the Burnet Rose and the fabulous Viper’s Bugloss. There are so many plants flowering in the dune slacks at this time of year, my favourites being the different types of Orchid, Marsh Helleborine, Wintergreen and the bees and other insects which are enjoying this feast.

Viper’s Bugloss Photo: Siân Musgrave

I am hoping that the Red Kite that I saw in winter will eventually find a nesting place in the Reserve along with the Little Egrets which already roost in the plantations. I notice that a male Peregrine Falcon is keeping watch from the top of a sand dune, he looks like he has had plenty to eat this morning already, or maybe he just isn’t awake yet and is warming up in the early sun. As I make my way home, I notice a mass of broken banded snail shells. The Song Thrush has used a stone as an anvil and has taken his snails there to break open their shells so that he can have his breakfast, which reminds me that I am now ready for mine!

Marsh Helleborine Photo: Siân Musgrave Slacks from dunes at Whiteford Photo: Siân Musgrave

What an eventful walk, never the same two days running. I know that nature will always manage to surprise and delight me, as long as we look after these special, wild places.


National Trust Newsletter for Gower

Farewell Sarah! In December 2010, Sarah Stevens left her post as Warden on Gower, to take up a new role with the National Trust as Ranger in North Cornwall. Before she left, I asked her a few questions about her time on Gower. So, Sarah, after eight and a half years as Warden on Gower, what have been your highlights? There have been many. Projects like resurfacing Rhossili beach path through a Scheduled Ancient Monument; being able to pass on my knowledge and skills to others. Also the many people I have met through the various guided walks and talks that I have done. On a recent guided walk, one of the group went to free a sheep stuck in brambles, however once the sheep was freed, it ran off with the lady’s bright red glove on its back. Unfortunately, it was her favourite pair of gloves, but none of us could help but laugh!

What will you miss the most about Gower? I’ve met some great people during my time here, and I will also miss the unique scenery. Yes, Gower certainly has an abundance of amazing locations. What is your favourite place on Gower? I have two favourite places. Worms Head, as it is a great place to ‘get away from it all’. Also the stunning cliffs that open out in front of you as you walk from Rhossili around to Tears Point. With the right light, you can’t beat it. Is there anything that you won’t miss about Gower? The wind at Rhossili, it messes up my hair! Thinking back over the years, what has been your most memorable day? The first time I had to pick up dead, oiled birds off a beach. It was a really horrible job and brought home to me just what devastation us humans can cause this world.

And, your funniest moment? There have been SO many funny moments over the years! Including racing up and down the stairs with Emma in the office collecting paperwork from the printer, and when Sian and I lose the plot and have conversations in silly accents. Gower Show planning meetings have had us all in hysterics. I have been lucky enough to work with a team of staff and volunteers who regularly make me laugh! So, a new post in a new location. Do you know what’s in store for you in North Cornwall? More stunning cliffs and lots of new people to meet and get them involved with the great outdoors and the National Trust. If you could sum up your time on Gower in one sentence, what would it be? Varied, enjoyable, eye-opening, never to be forgotten.

By Kim Boland Sarah with Derek Brockway Photo: BBC Wales


Property Administrator 01792 390636

National Trust Newsletter for Gower

Staff News

Alix Morley - Seasonal Car Park Attendant at Pennard

You will have read that Sarah Stevens left her post a Warden in December, and that Sian Jones, Property Manager retired in February. We have successfully appointed a new Ranger, Alan Kearsley-Evans, and we are in the process of recruiting a new Property Manager. Welcome to Alix Morley, our new Seasonal Car Park Attendant at Pennard.

Shop News Firstly, a big thank you to everyone who came and supported us over the Christmas period. Our Mince Pie and Christmas Punch event at the end of November proved very popular - especially Sian’s secret recipe punch. It’s an exciting time at the shop and visitor centre at the moment as all thoughts turn towards the towards the season ahead. In the shop, we will be having a number of new exciting ranges to tempt you. Some practical, some beautiful - and some just deliciously tasty. As the seasons change, so will our offers. In the visitor centre, we are busy updating our displays and events calendar to keep things fresh and new including a programme of exhibitions later in the year. And remember, all profits from the shop stay on Gower. All the more reason to pop in and say hello every time you pass.

Shop Opening Hours Open 7 days a week 1 April – 31 October 10.30am – 5.00pm

By Richard Williams Rhossili Shop & Visitor Centre Manager 01792 390707


National Trust Newsletter for Gower

Events April – December 2011 Sunday 3rd July 2pm-5pm Whiteford National Nature Reserve Guided Walk Join the National Trust team on a circular walk of approx. 8km around the beautiful and tranquil Whiteford Burrows National Nature Reserve. A chance to look at and learn about the many birds and plants that thrive in this unspoilt area of Gower. The walk starts and finishes with a steep hill. Cost: £3 adults, £1.50 child. Booking essential as spaces are limited. ‘Scrambled Eggs’ Easter Trail

Sunday 24th April – 11am-3pm ‘Scrambled Eggs’ Easter Trail Call in to the National Trust Shop and Visitor Centre at Rhossili anytime between 11am and 3pm to take part in our family Easter trail. Along the trail you will discover egg-citing facts about Gower’s birds and collect letters, which will need to be unscrambled to win a delicious Cadburys Easter Egg. Cost: £1.50 per child, accompanying adults free. Booking not required – call in anytime between 11am-3pm.

Sunday 15th May 1pm-3pm Rhossili Cliffs, Fall Bay and Mewslade Guided Walk

Saturday 16th July 12.30pm-3.30pm Seashore Safari Join marine biologist Judith Oakley (Oakley Intertidal) on a ‘Seashore Safari’ adventure to discover the amazing hidden shore life of Gower. Please wear suitable clothing and footwear as you will get wet feet and the ground is uneven! No nets please. Children MUST be accompanied by an adult. Ages 3+. Be prepared for a 20 minute walk to the Causeway. Cost: £3 adults, £1.50 child. Booking essential, and should be booked directly with Judith Oakley on 07879 837817 email: Seashore Safari

A circular walk of approx. 5.5km with the National Trust team around the coast from Rhossili to Mewslade. Take in the stunning views, learn about forts, limestone quarrying, farming, birds and other wildlife. The walk is varied from flat surfaced paths to steeper narrow paths. Cost: £3 adults, £1.50 child. Booking essential as spaces are limited.

For further information on any of our events or to book places*, please contact 01792 390636 or Email: *except Seashore Safaris which should be booked directly with Judith Oakley


National Trust Newsletter for Gower Sunday 31st July 12.00-3pm Seashore Safari

Saturday 3rd September – 3pm-6pm Seashore Safari

See 16th July for details

See 16th July for details

Sunday 7th August Gower Show

Saturday 10th September 9.30am-2pm Walk to the Worm

Come and have a chat with us at the National Trust stand from 9.30am at Penrice Parkland. We will have tea, coffee and cakes for sale, and a selection of goods from our shop in Rhossili. We’ll also have children’s activities and a fun display about us and our work on Gower.

See 29 August for details.

Monday 15th August 12.30pm-3.30pm Seashore Safari See 16th July for details

Friday 19th August - 8.15pm-10pm Batty About Bats? 2011 is the Year of the Bat, and to celebrate this, we are holding an evening walk through the woods at Cwm Ivy and Whiteford. Using special bat detectors you will be able to listen to their echolocation sounds as they hunt for prey. On hand with all the knowledge will be Bat Officer Steve Lucas and Siân Musgrave, Head Warden for the National Trust. Bat capes optional. Bring a torch if you have one. Cost: £3 adults, £1.50 child. Booking essential as spaces are limited.

Monday 29th August 10am-2.30pm Walk to the Worm

Saturday 17th September 1pm-4pm National Beachwatch at Rhossili Bay Help the National Trust team take part in National Beachwatch in partnership with the Marine Conservation Society (MCS). Survey the litter whilst cleaning the beach to help protect marine life and keep the bay beautiful. Families welcome. Gloves and bags provided. Wear suitable clothing. Cost: free, please ring to book.

Wednesday 26th Oct 10am-2.30pm Walk to the Worm See 29 August for details.

Sunday 27th November 11am-3pm Mince Pies and Hot Christmas Punch Enjoy a complimentary mince pie and some hot punch at the National Trust Shop and Visitor Centre at Rhossili with an opportunity to browse and buy Christmas gifts. Call in anytime between 11am and 3pm.

Saturday 10th December 10am-1pm Three Cliffs Bay & Pennard Cliffs (west) Guided Walk

Discover the wonders of Worms Head, the tidal island at the end of Rhossili. Walk with the National Trust team out to the far end of the head. Enjoy spectacular views and find out about the island’s human history and its wildlife. This walk is for the sure footed as it is rugged in places, so sturdy footwear is a must. Please bring lunch, drink and suitable clothing.

Set yourself up for Christmas with our circular walk of approx 9km through Three Cliffs Bay, along Pennard cliffs and back to Penmaen. Three Cliffs Bay is a view known to and favoured by many, come and experience it yourself. Bring a packed lunch with you or eat at Three Cliffs Coffee shop.

Cost: £4 adults, £2 child. Booking is essential as spaces are limited.

Cost: £3 adults, £1.50 child. Booking essential as spaces are limited.


National Trust Newsletter for Gower


Peninsula - National Trust Newsletter for Gower - Volume 13 No. 1 Spring/Summer 2011.  

Peninsula - National Trust Newsletter for Gower - Volume 13 No. 1 Spring/Summer 2011.

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