Sky high help for footpath repairs

With funding support
from the Welsh Government (WG) and the Countryside Council for Wales (CCW),
staff from the National Park Authority and contractors  took to the skies
last month as part of an airlift operation to carry hundreds of tonnes of
gravel and stone onto Hatterrall Hill in the Black Mountains and Bwlch Blaen
Twrch, on the Black Mountain.


Challenging weather
conditions and the altitude of the sites meant that using a helicopter was the
only option for the access work, which included improvements to the Offa’s Dyke
National Trail and the Beacons Way routes trodden by thousands of walkers every


Both sites are
protected as Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs), meaning wardens and
contractors had to work sensitively to protect the precious surrounding
vegetation and habitat while carrying out the improvements to the path


More than 100 tonnes
of stone and 50 tonnes of gravel were lifted onto Bwlch Blaen Twrch as part of
the four-day operation, while 100 tonnes of gravel was also lifted onto the
Offa’s Dyke National Trail on Hatterrall Hill.


Paul Sinnadurai, Senior
Ecologist and Policy Advisor for Bannau Brycheiniog National Park Authority
said:  “The Black Mountains SSSI is one of the largest Sites of Special
Scientific Interest in the Park and includes some of the largest known areas of
eroded upland.  Eroding peat bogs are contributing to greenhouse gas
emissions owing to the volumes of carbon that are released to the atmosphere or
into streams.  Erosion has a range of causes including footpath erosion by
walkers and pony trekkers, historic management, wildfires and atmospheric
pollution, each of which contribute to declining conditions on the hill. So
rejuvenation work of this kind will not only help reduce that trend but will
also recover conditions on the hillside, which will see heathland plants and
grassland recolonisation and improved peat formations processes underway. 
This will also improve grazing conditions for livestock.”


Richard Ball, Access
Officer for Bannau Brycheiniog National Park Authority, said: “This year we have
used Rights of Way Improvement Plan funding to improve sections of the
Offa’s Dyke National Trail, the Beacons Way and a number of other paths in the
National Park.


“All of these paths
are heavily used and the works are designed to improve visitor experience as
well as protecting protected habitats.”


project was funded through the Authority’s continuing Rights of Way Improvement
Plan programme, a scheme which is grant aided by the Countryside Council for
Wales and the Welsh Government. The Authority received £72,159 through this grant
 scheme in 2011/12 and more repairs are planned for the coming financial