Shopping & services in the Upper Usk Valley

We hope you will find this list of local businesses useful – there are three who can offer you a good day out and the rest of the information is on where you can shop locally. Continue reading

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Crai Gardens Inspire and Delight – were you there?

Eight glorious gardens in the beautiful Crai Valley recently opened their gates to visitors as part of the 2014 National Gardens Scheme  . Over 200 people arrived from far and near, following the easily recognised yellow signs to share the delights of each very different garden. Some traditional cottage gardens with favourite blooms in the herbaceous border, some contemporary with sculptures and zinc troughs as containers for a riot of colour while others excelled in growing fruit and vegetables to perfection. Visitors enjoyed the chance to ask questions of their knowledgeable hosts. Beautiful willow gates enticed visitors to explore further and exclaim at the vistas beyond set to the backdrop of the  wonderful landscape of the Upper Usk Valley.

After a happy few hours touring the gardens visitors could return to the village hall to be refreshed by a fantastic array of cakes, tea and coffee and the opportunity to purchase some plants or produce to take home as a memento of a wonderful day out.

Money was raised for 3 charities including the excellent Gardening Leave which provides horticultural therapy for armed forces veterans.

Grateful thanks go to the talented gardeners who spent many hours getting their gardens into tip top condition ready for the event. Here’s to next year’s event!

 Open Gardens 3 Open Gardens 4Click here to go to the National Gardens Scheme home page

April 2014 Community Walk

Upper Usk Valley

Upper Usk Valley Community Walks

Upper Usk Walking Group

Our next walk takes place on Sunday 27th April from Trecastle Community Hall.

Please meet at 2.00pm, parking in the layby opposite the Hall, near the red phone box, or slightly further down the road beyond the Antiques Centre

The route takes in some of the ancient track ways around Trecastle, taking in the old roman road, bridleways around the village, crossing the River Usk and heading through old woodlands.

Spring is here, so there are plenty of opportunities to see the bird life and wild flowers en route.

The route is suitable for all ages, dogs on a short lead are welcome, though please ensure they are kept on a lead as there are young lambs in the fields on the route.

Some areas may be wet and muddy and the weather forecast suggests a possibility of heavy showers, so please arrive prepared for these.

 

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.