Why become a National Park Ambassador ?

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Carole Gledhill, National Park Ambassador

Ambassador: a person who is known, without national appointment, to represent certain professions, activities and fields of endeavour. A willing figurehead.

Such is one definition of an ambassador. In 2013 I became a National Park Ambassador and a Dark Sky Ambassador and I’m also a STEM Ambassador ( supporting Science Technology Engineering Mathematics) to boot. Am I a serial collector of ambassadorships? No, I don’t think so! It just so happened that I found myself with some free time and able to finally spend some of it doing things which interest me. The national park interests me. It’s where I live and it’s what brought me to Wales in the first place.

After almost 12 years here I am still discovering new corners and new activities and events and as a keen photographer, endless stunning landscapes to capture. I love it when friends and family come to visit and we can share our favourite  spots and walks with them. A natural extension was to convert our unused barn into a holiday cottage and encourage others to come and explore this special part of the world.

As I run a 5* holiday cottage in Crai  in the Upper Usk Valley region of the Brecon Beacons National Park, I thought it would be a good idea to undergo the excellent 3 day ambassador programme run by the Brecon Beacons National Park to better equip myself to answer the myriad questions which staying guests can throw at us. Brecon Beacons National Park Ambassadors are tourism businesses passionate about the National Park. Ambassadors aim to get visitors to discover the very Heart of the Park and to make emotional connections through meaningful experiences during their visit to the area. Hopefully by meeting one of the Ambassadors you will catch their passion and your visit will be made extra special. Once you qualify as a National Park Ambassador you can proceed to train as a Dark Sky Ambassador and Geopark Ambassador.

The 3 elements of the Ambassador programme are:

  • Sense of Place
  • Customer Care
  • Park in Your Heart.

I heartily commend this scheme to any business in the Brecon Beacons, I gained such a lot of new information but more importantly began to see things in a different way and to consider our own tourism offer here at Madog Barn through the eyes of a visitor. I also found the networking opportunity with other participants to be a very valuable part of the scheme and I’ve kept in touch with many via facebook and Twitter and we’ll meet up at the forthcoming Tourism in Action conference on  5th March and at other courses run by the Brecon Beacons National Park. If you would like more details on the ambassador scheme contact the park.

There are now several ambassadors living in the Upper Usk Valley and in the following weeks and months others will be writing a blog post to share their thoughts on being a National Park Ambassador.

As an ambassador what do I recommend to visitors to the Upper Usk Valley?  A few of my favourites are the Bluebell Woods behind Madog Barn, dinner and a drink at The Tanner’s Arms in Defynnog,  Trecastle Antiques Centre, a walk out to Y Pigwn Roman Marching Camp.

So now, let me ask you this……if you came to visit the Upper Usk Valley what would you hope to gain from an ambassador? Tell us, we really want to know!

Ambassador logo

Brecon Beacons National Park Ambassador logo

5 * Holiday Cottage in Cray

A 5* self catering converted barn in Cray, Brecon Beacons National Park.

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Stormy Sunday Stroll

Usk Reservoir Walks

Wandering down towards the Usk Reservoir

I guess after our experiences so far, the title might be a more apt name for our Community Walks!

9 hardy souls ventured out on Sunday, all well equipped and ready for a couple of hours of thorough testing out of waterproofs and boots. In fairness, only around 30 minutes were actually spent out on the open moorland, experiencing a thoroughly natural and very efficient exfoliation from the elements, with plenty of shelter in the forestry for the rest of the walk and a change of start point to ensure some added shelter at the start and finish.

To quote local Brecon Beacons Ambassador, Carole Gledhill:

There is some perverse kind of pleasure in being out on open moorland in this kind of weather. Not sure why but there it is, that’s what we experienced on the community walk this afternoon! I expect it was the good company.

Initially venturing through Aled’s “20 metres of mud”, the route took us North of the Usk Reservoir, heading swiftly to the edge of the forestry and a brief description of the many hidden elements of Mynydd Myddfai and the Roman Road over Mynydd Bach Trecastell including ancient earthworks, cairns and the Roman Marching camps at Y Pigwn and Waun Ddu – the walking with Romans app is available from the App Store (iOS) or Google Play (Android)

brecon beacons mountain ponies

Mountain Ponies doing their best in the weather

Having being ignored by some equally unimpressed mountain ponies, we ventured over the moorland, eventually dropping back into the forestry some 100 metres from Physician’s well – try finding this spot without some local knowledge – where a few braved a taste of the healing waters.

Now nicely sheltered from the wind and drizzle, we wandered through the forestry, witnessing some brief views above the reservoir itself, before the cars and some dry conditions appeared.

Sadly we were finished too early to visit the Castle Coaching Inn, though we would like to take this opportunity to wish John, the landlord well as he goes into hospital for surgery this week.

Let’s hope for better health for John and better weather for our next walk on Sunday 30th March, details will be posted here.

Physician's Well usk reservoir

Usk Reservoir and Physician’s Well route map

Thanks to all that came along, we hope other’s will join us when the weather improves…..no wonder the Roman’s went home!

Reconstruction on the Roman fortlet at Waun Ddu:

Community Walks 2014

Usk Reservoir Car Park

Car Park next to the Usk Reservoir

The next Community Walk is on Sunday 23rd February 2014, starting from the Usk Reservoir Car Park and Picnic area at 2.00pm.

Sunday 23rd February – Meet at 2.00pm

Usk Reservoir Car Park

This month’s route takes us out on to Mynydd Myddfai, exploring the wilder side of the Upper Usk Valley area, with stunning panoramic views over the Towy and Usk Valley’s as well as tempting glances towards the Carmarthen Fans and the source of the Usk itself.

Dropping down off the common, we will enter the shelter of the forestry surrounding the Usk Reservoir, stumbling across the hidden Physician’s Well, the renowned healing water’s used the Physician’s of Myddfai, before trekking back through the forestry above the reservoir, quietly enjoying the peace and hopefully seeing woodcock, jay’s and woodpeckers on our return to the Car Park.

Some of the route involves walking on open moorland, therefore boots or wellies are required, the open moorland can be cold, so wrapping up warm is advisable, you may also want to bring a small drinking vessels if you feel like braving the water’s of the Physician’s Well.

Post walk gathering will be at the Castle Coaching Inn, Trecastle, where they may be the opportunity to warm up next to the open fire.

These free walks are being organised by Trecastle based activity provider – Expeditions Wales who run walking and camping activities for well over a 1000 people a year – so you’re in safe hands!

Upper Usk Valley Community Walks

Upper Usk Valley Community Walks

Want to improve your garden? Join the Community Garden Club!

Snowdrops at Madog Barn, Cray, Upper Usk Valley Brecon Beacons

Snowdrops at Madog Barn Self Catering Holiday Cottage, Cray

 

Snowdrops at Madog Barn in Crai, Upper Usk Valley

Following the hugely successful appearance of 6 Crai gardens in the 2013 National Gardens Scheme ‘Garden Open’ programme, a small friendly garden club was born which now meets on the first Monday of each month in Crai Hall at 7.30pm. All Upper Usk Valley residents are invited to join this informal group. By no means all experts, members aim to share ideas and learn from each other. Topics covered so far are such as – which plants best suit our local climate, the contained garden and a discussion around good seed & plant catalogues and useful websites to view. In the summer months it is planned to hold meetings in each other’s gardens.

With an eye already on participation in the 2014 Gardens Open programme, the next meeting on Monday 3 March at 7.30pm will welcome Mr Gareth Davies  to give an illustrated talk on 25 years of gardens under the National Garden Scheme. Everyone welcome, refreshments available. £2 at the door.

Why not come along and see what we get up to?

Garden Club contact is Robert 01874 636194