One of Neath Port Talbot’s most beautiful wildlife havens has been given £86,000 worth of funding to establish new nature trails, involve more people in conservation and to throw new light on its fascinating wildlife, geology and industrial heritage.
Craig Gwladus Country Park – a little known gem in Neath Port Talbot Council’s country park portfolio – straddles Cadoxton and Cilfrew around two miles from Neath and is shrouded in ancient and re-planted forests and features rushing streams, stunning views and strange rock formations.
A haven for flora, birds and other wildlife, Craig Gwladus features numerous trees fitted with “fairy doors” – tiny wooden entrances carved by local people to charm the children of visitors who play in the woods.
The park has now been given £51,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund, £25,000 from Natural Resources Wales, £6,000 from Neath Port Talbot Council and £4,000 from the Council’s Members Fund (via Councillors Annette Wingrave and Doreen Jones).
The grants will fund the employment of a part-time Project Manager and a Volunteer Support Worker for the Park to help develop it as a teaching resource, visitor attraction and nature park.
The new Project Manager and Volunteer Support Worker will support local people who want to be involved in caring for Craig Gwladus, providing free training, support and advice.
There will also be a big increase in free activities including guided walks and talks aimed at shining a spotlight on the special qualities of the park including its varied wildlife, spectacular geology (one rock formation looks like a human face) and its long industrial heritage.
A new history group is also being set up to research the history of the park in more depth. Those involved in exploring the area’s industrial heritage will be visiting local archives, meeting and recording local people with memories of coal mining in the area and of the site before it became a country park.
They will be looking for answers to questions like: how were heavy coal-filled drams lowered to the local canal? Those taking part will be supported by an expert historian.
Watch out too for art and photography workshops taking inspiration from multitude of subjects within the Park.
Schools will also benefit from a new trail and teacher support pack for the park which will enable them to plan curriculum led activities on what is a free outdoor space on the doorstep of people in Neath Port Talbot.
Throughout the project, staff and the Friends of Craig Gwladus will be seeking the opinion and support from local people to help develop a long-term vision for the park.
If you are interested in helping shape the future of this wonderful local asset, which has become a place to meet friends, enjoy nature, and walk, contact Lisa Kirman, e: [email protected] or visit the Friends of Craig Gwladus facebook page.
Richard Bellamy, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund in Wales, says:
“Our natural heritage is a most precious resource and National Lottery money has helped to protect an amazing range of landscapes, habitats, and species of plants and animals. HLF is delighted to support Craig Gwladus Country Park. An area that is rich in history and wildlife that should be protected for the future and shared with all of those around it. ”
Councillor Annette Wingrave, Neath Port Talbot Council’s Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Sustainable Development said:
“Both myself and Councillor Doreen Jones wanted to help the development of this precious resource.
“We are so grateful to National Lottery Players, Natural Resources Wales and local Councillors for the grants, which could now help to conserve, build and improve what is already a stunningly beautiful nature and education resource.”