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The Upper Orchid Field
Last month we discussed Meadows – how important they are and yet how they are fast disappearing. This month we shall give some background on the Upper Orchid Field and how we got to where we are today. The history of the Upper Orchid Field beyond around 15 years ago is unknown although if anyone has any information or memories about it please get in touch with the Wildlife Group. At that stage it was known as the Sledging Field and on the odd occasion that snow still falls it is great that people can use it for that purpose. The field was purchased by the Vale of Glamorgan Council at the time they purchased Whitehall Quarry for landfill along with some other adjacent fields. The Public Right of Way along the bottom of the field has been used, probably for centuries as an important link between Twyn yr Odyn and Wenvoe. A decade ago some who walked along the path noticed that the field was becoming increasingly overgrown and at this point most of the slope was covered in Ash trees. Left to its own devices it would have become woodland.
It was suggested that an approach be made to VoGC to take over maintenance of the field and with a sympathetic response from the Council the Wildlife Group was started. In 2013 a formal licence was agreed. This licence stated that the Council would cut the field and the Wildlife Group would help with recording wildlife, creating and maintaining paths, and helping to restore the meadow. A few years later the Council indicated that they could no longer afford to cut the field and this role was taken over by WWG. Currently a contractor cuts the hay meadow annually and the costs are shared between WWG and the Community Council.
Over the last 10 years noticeboards and benches have been installed, new paths and accesses created; bird and bat boxes put up and trees planted around the periphery. Over 400 species have been recorded and the meadow is designated a SINC – a Site of Importance for Nature Conservation. This does not give legal protection but it means this designation should be considered in any land use planning decision. However no-one should be under any illusion that the site is safe from development or take-over by a third party. The site has received 8 Green Flag awards and numerous other certificates and accolades. Not least it is enjoyed daily by a large number of walkers, joggers, dog-walkers and other visitors.
Other than the shared cost of the annual cut referred to earlier WWG receive no financial or technical support in looking after the field and rely wholly on volunteers, a significant proportion coming from
outside the Parish including Dinas Powys, Radyr, Penarth and Cardiff. This year the Working Party have made inroads into the steady spread of brambles on the edges and hopefully the annual cut will help to consolidate this progress. Wildflower seed will also be harvested this year and used to create new meadows elsewhere in the Vale of Glamorgan. There is always masses of work to be done so if you can spare the odd moment to help out, do contact the Wildlife Group and help to ensure that we continue to get the benefit of this local treasure.
(The Editors are not responsible for opinions expressed, although every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of the information. The editors reserve the right to protect the anonymity of anyone who wishes to contribute articles or letters for the magazine provided they are aware of the identity of any such person. )
I would like to thank family and friends for the many cards and flowers I received following Malcolm’s sudden death on 7th July their thoughts and messages were a great comfort.
A special thanks to our neighbours in Gwenfo Drive who have been a great support to us both since Malcolm’s stroke in 2017 and especially to me these past weeks.
Thanks also to Rev. Jon Ormrod for the caring way in which he conducted the funeral service at the Vale Crematorium on July 26th.
Wenvoe War Memorial
The news that the war memorial is now a listed structure, has prompted research into the backgrounds of the names of the men who are inscribed on the monolith.
Are there any living descendants of the families of these men in Wenvoe today.
Also from WW2 Peter Hughes is commemorated, is there any information regarding this man.
This information is being compiled by historypoints.org and will eventually be available at the war memorial by means of a QR code accessible by smart phones.
If you are able to help contact please on firstname.lastname@example.org
Request For Used Stamps
I would like to thank everyone for the magnificent response to my request for used stamps to send to the Donkey Sanctuary. I have been able to thank most people personally but yesterday (July 10th) I received another carrier bag of stamps which was handed to my grandson and I was unfortunately unable to speak to her. A big thank you to her, and everyone. Please continue to save these stamps to help this charity.
Margaret George Settlers, Grange Avenue
RUNNING THE LONDON MARATHON FOR MARIE CURIE
I am incredibly lucky to be running the 2021 London Marathon for Marie Curie, a charity extremely close to my family’s heart. We lost my dad, Alun, to bowel cancer in 2008. At the time, I was only eight years old. Dad spent his final days at Marie Curie Holme Tower Hospice, Penarth, and Marie Curie were unbelievably supportive to dad and us during his illness. This support has remained ever-present in our family’s life in the twelve years since he passed.
Dad completed the 1985 London Marathon in an impressive 3 hours and 20 minutes, undoubtedly one of the best moments of his life. I feel so proud to be able to follow in his footsteps this year (although nowhere near as quickly), and to do it for Marie Curie.
The community of Wenvoe has been vital to our family. From Saturday morning football matches, meals at the Wenvoe Arms with Dad, the village shop giving me my first ever job, the school, the park, the community centre…. The past year has been very difficult for all charities, with normal fundraising efforts being halted due to the pandemic. Any donations to the fundraising page from the people of Wenvoe would be hugely, hugely appreciated, and will help frontline nurses provide care to cancer patients and their loved ones.
Donations can be made at the following website:- https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiser-display/showROFundraiserPage? userUrl=HenryWaddon1&pageUrl=1
Alternatively, if donating to this website is difficult, you can contact me directly via the following contacts, and we can arrange to donate on your behalf:
Thank you so much for your support.
Parc Cwm Darran
On a fine day at the end of June we travelled to Parc Cwm Darran, north of Bargoed. Even the drive here was interesting as we found ourselves driving across an area which none of us had ever visited before – a vast coal reclamation site. We are so lucky that the industrial sites of our valleys have been redeveloped into wonderful Nature Parks. Parc Cwm Darran was created on the land abandoned when the Ogilvie mine closed in 1975. It now takes some imagination to picture the landscape covered in gantries and pitheads with millions of tonnes of coal waste in huge black mounds. Trees and grass would have struggled to grow in the wasteland created by the coal industry.
Since 1975 most of the coal buildings have been demolished, debris buried, and mineshafts capped. The mounds of waste have been reshaped to blend into the hilltops, the colliery feeder pond is now a reed fringed lake, a pond has been created and trees and grasses have been planted to provide habitats for wildlife. The result looks like a natural landscape and walking through the area makes you realise just how much can be achieved with what industry left behind.
Most importantly for us it has a network of footpaths and parking at the visitor centre we were able to use their facilities before starting our walk. There are several trails recommended from a stroll around the lake(1Km) for those with health challenges, a couple of slightly longer routes (up to 3Km) and cycle trails. For younger visitors there is even an Ogilvie Olympics obstacle course.
Luckily, we had a booklet with a recommended route that would take us up onto the hills for a longer walk. After a short walk along the lake in morning sunshine, we headed into the wooded hills. We had only just started out when we spotted some results of the regeneration, large furry caterpillars, and swathes of orchids in the grass.
We found a large stone entitled ‘Marquis of Bute Stone’ with an engraving ‘The Romans first introduced boundary and road marker posts. Until this time ditches had traditionally been used. The Roman marker stones, such as along the Apian Way leading to Rome, showed the name of the emperor only. The Marquis of Bute boundary stones demarcating land under their control, continued this tradition so that the letters MB are shown.’. In two places, once on the edge of moorland and again at the edge of the country park, we spotted these marker stones which rather grandly showed a B beneath a stylised crown.
Out in the open, a kite soared overhead, a sight which is always thrilling even though it is becoming more common. The land around us was lush and dotted with groups of trees. We entered an atmospheric stretch of oak woodland where all the tree trunks and branches were gnarled, bent and twisted. Maybe they struggled to grow during the industrial period this land experienced.
We emerged onto extensive moorland where we could see the outline of Pen y Fan and its accompanying hills in the far distance. We decided to break for lunch while we had sunshine and such good views.
Continuing, we spotted some strange structures at the top of the ridge, which looked like a 1970’s idea of a spaceship. According to a passer-by (one of the few people we saw all day) they are listening stations. Now we had a wide track to walk along and were surrounded by hundreds of sheep. The farmer drove towards us on his tractor, we stepped off the track and he had soon disappeared in a cloud of dust. Some sheep grazed next to a pond, and we noted the murky waters.
We skirted the Fochriw forest with its tall bare trunked fir trees and tumbledown stone walls and came back towards the country park. A long wooden sign at Cwmllwydrew Meadows Nature Reserve depicted a goods train with a tree branch covered with leaves as an engine.
Returning to the lake we saw plenty of waterfowl and yellow water lilies.
In medieval France, the yellow water lily was described as ‘the destroyer of pleasure and the poison of love’, the opposite to an aphrodisiac. Stonemasons carved flowers of the water lily into the roof bosses of Westminster Abbey to encourage celibacy.
Arriving back at the visitor centre we quickly changed out of our boots and sat in the shade enjoying tea and ice-creams whilst cooling down. By the time we left it was school chuck out time and the roads through the valleys were chock-a-block with parents trying to collect children. Avoiding the industrial route, we came by and the narrow valley roads with cars parked both sides some of us enjoyed a picturesque drive along a narrow mountain top road to pick up the main road to Cardiff, which rounded off the day nicely. Walk 7 miles, 800ft. Map 166
Vale Communities Unite
Vale Communities Unite is a community group set up by local people in the Vale of Glamorgan during 2020. Its aim is to give residents a voice and to protect the local environment from unwanted development.
Wenvoe is fortunate to be protected as a conservation area. It is a beautiful village surrounded by green fields and wildlife.
As a Wenvoe resident you are safe in the knowledge the village around where you live will remain unchanged and most importantly largely undeveloped.
I moved back to my hometown of Barry in 2019. My parents followed shortly after and settled in Wenvoe. They love the Vale as I do, but I am saddened by the seemingly constant destruction of our green spaces. Planning applications approved without a thought for future generations.
Look back and remember the changes you have seen in the Vale in just the last 10 years or 5 years for that matter. How many more green wedge spaces must be lost before it’s time to say STOP?
On July 14th, 2021, VOG Council voted by 9 votes to 8 to approve the building of a Business Park on MODEL FARM a one-hundred-acre tenanted farm in Rhoose, the farm backs down onto Porthkerry Park. The owner of the land L & G has yet to disclose the name of the potential developer of this land. Leaving local communities speculating as to what type of development may soon be on their doorstep.
As a Wenvoe resident you are surrounded by farmland and maybe you would not be wrong in thinking it’s just one farm. What makes this one so special? But does one farm become two and then three? When will we be ready to say STOP and fight for our environment, to give our children and grandchildren the same opportunities as us? To grow up in an environment with fresh air and wildlife. Not the concrete jungles we are getting so familiar with.
This mixed farm has been cared for by four generations of the same family. They are set to lose their home and livelihoods and the destruction of our local area will be irreversible. Imagine your idyllic Porthkerri walk, and then look beyond to the fields in the distance, remember them now as they are soon to be demolished.
There was considerable local opposition to this planning application with over 1000 objections that covered a wide range of issues including:
Alternative local brown sites were not considered including the St Athan’s airfield owned by Welsh Government and currently unused.
The additional problems caused by traffic congestion and resulting pollution on a road system already struggling.
Without the M4 link through Pendoylan traffic will be routed through our villages instead. More damaged roads and unfilled potholes.
The flooding impact from rainwater which already causes problems in the winter at Porthkerri park. Concrete will not replace the natural drainage system of our farmlands and fields, and it must go somewhere.
The wealth of the natural wildlife on this mixed farm included bees, butterflies and other pollinators attracted by acres of wildflowers grown here for seed.
The threat to ancient woodland.
The presence of several endangered species on the farmland.
The importance of the need to produce food locally and to reduce food miles.
For more information and further details of the planned development please refer to our Facebook page – Vale Communities Unite Against the Planned Development at Model Farm.
STRESS BUSTER STROLLERS
Anxiety and stress can affect anyone at anytime. Walking can help improve a person’s mood and overall well being. The first stress Buster walk set off from Romilly Park in bright sunshine and the strollers were treated to a superb display of sunflowers, fabulous coastal views and a cool woodland walk. This was followed by coffee or ice cream in a local cafe. Join us if you want a gentle stroll in good company, on the last Tuesday of every month,
AUGUST CARERS WALK
It was appropriate to be holding a walk for carers in the week of world friendship day. Being a carer can be a lonely and isolating occupation with very little time to spend outside the responsibilities of caring. This walk gives people a chance to chat, meet other people and enjoy the beauty of the Vale coastline.
If you’re wondering why this walk is illustrated by a circle of feet…the walk leader miscalculated the tide at Jacksons Bay and to get around an outcrop of rock wading became necessary! The wet feet didn’t stop people enjoying an ice cream when the walk finished!
Wenvoe Wildlife Group
A record for Wales and for Britain
7 Green Flags!! A record for us as a village, for Wales and for Britain. Previously we have achieved 6 Green Flag awards, judged and managed by Keep Wales Tidy but the addition of the Bee Loud Glade made it 7 – a site for every day of the week. A thank you to all those who have helped with the often challenging maintenance of the sites and the Reader family who own 5 of them and the Vale of Glamorgan Council who own two. Not only do we have far more awards than any other village in Wales but even many towns.
Donations are always welcome and we have received recently Wildflower Seeds from a local resident, two Cherry Trees and some slates from Radyr, Echinacea and Penstemon plants from Dinas Powys and a wheelbarrow wheel and mattock from Barry. We have been the first group to deploy Micromoth detectors in the Barbastelle Project aimed at seeing if this rare bat is anywhere to be found in the Vale. The Upper Orchid Field and Community Orchard are to be mowed and the wildflower seeds extracted for use elsewhere with the Upper Orchid Field receiving its full cut later in September. Benches in the Community Orchard and Welsh Orchard have exceeded their lifespan so if there are any spare benches that people are happy to donate they will be put to a good use.
Plenty of fruit is starting to mature in the orchards including Plums, Pears, Damsons and Bullace. One of our more recent apples, Nant Gwrtheryn, from the Llyn Peninsular, has produced its first good crop but will not be ready to taste until later this month (see photo). Least successful have been our Quinces – none of the 4 trees look very vigorous but we live in hope. There is the odd Quince doing OK in the village but the orchards may be a little more exposed and windy