Thursday, 18 August 2022

The next workday is 10am on 28 August, meeting at Heol Esgyn Bridge

This will be a hey rake and for the first time since covid there will be refreshments - Welsh cakes and cider!

All events can be seen in the calendar, which can be subscribed to. 

Monday, 27 June 2022

The latest workday

There was a good turnout for our June Workday on Sunday with 16 volunteers taking part.

Some people were cutting back vegetation whilst others helped Kevin to dig out a shallow pond in the Boggy Meadow. Hopefully this will be a haven for invertebrates, amphibians and birds.

Thursday, 21 April 2022

Wildflower walk - recap and photos

On the sunny, spring-like afternoon of 10th April, 17 people joined Ranger Kevin Date for a walk through the Cardiff High School Meadow and Woods Covert to learn about the spring flowers found in this area.  Over the next hour and a half the group not only learnt how to identify the various species but also learnt more about their ancient medicinal uses and histories.  

Starting in the wet meadow, alongside the High School, the first flowers seen were bright yellow clumps of Marsh Marigold.  This member of the Buttercup family is one of our ancient plants that has probably survived in Britain since the end of the last Ice Age, about 10,000 years ago. Like many of our flowers it has a number of common names, including Kingcup.  Kevin pointed out that this was an insect pollinated plant and the rich nectarines were an important food source for insects early in the year.  Close by we came upon the pale pinky-white/mauve flowers of Cuckooflower or Lady’s Smock, a relative of the cabbages and another flower with many common names.  It is also the food plant of the caterpillars of the Orange-tip butterfly, an early spring species that will be on the wing any day.

The bright yellow flowers of Lesser Celendine were everywhere along the hedges in the meadow and in the woodlands.  This is the earliest flowering member of the Buttercup family.  Kevin explained that in the past, when many plants were used for medicinal purposes, apothecaries used the shape of parts of plants to decide which complaint they could be used to treat.  This was called the Doctrine of Signatures.  Kevin explained that Lesser Celendine, also known as Pilewort, was used to treat haemarrhoids because the rounded blobs on its rooting system looked like piles!

Entering Woods Covert we found two of our common hedgerow and woodland shrubs; Blackthorn and Hawthorn.  These are both thorny members of the Rose family and Kevin explained the easiest way to tell them apart was to remember that with Blackthorn the flowers come out before the leaves – as we could see from those round about us – while with Hawthorn the leaves come before the flowers. Blackthorn flowers in March/April while the main flowering period for Hawthorn is May, which is where it gets its other name of May-tree from.  Sloes, the fruit of the Blackthorn, have been used to make Sloe gin for centuries but Kevin said that it was important to not pick the sloes until after he first frost that softens the skins.

Further into the wood we came across the leafy growth of two members of the Carrot family; Hedge Parsley and Hemlock.  Although not in flower yet Kevin explained how to tell the two apart from their leaf shape, an important identification aid as although their leafy stems both look rather like celery Hemlock, and its close relative Hemlock Water-dropwort (which is also found in Nant Fawr), are both highly poisonous.  We also learnt how wild carrots had been bred to be orange in colour to celebrate the reign of William of Orange!

The woodland floor contained carpets of white flowers, mainly Ramsons and Wood Anemone.  The leaves of Ramsons (also known as Wild Garlic) are used as a garlic alternative and when crushed release a strong garlic smell.  Wood Anemone is one of our ancient woodland plants.  Its delicate white flowers sway in the slightest breeze giving it its alternative name of Windflower.  It is a wind pollinated plant so has no rich nectaries to attract insects. Kevin explained that in Britain it rarely produces fertile seed so spreads by runners, but at a snail’s pace of about 6 feet every hundred years.  Thus, by measuring the circumference of clumps of the flowers you can gauge the age of the woodland.  Near the top of the wood Kevin spotted some Garlic Mustard or Jack-by-the –hedge, just coming into flower.  This is another member of the Cabbage family with a mild garlic smell, and can be used as a salad plant.  Itis also a food plant of the Large and Small White butterflies.

Kevin also pointed out two very common plants; the Daisy and Nettle.  He explained that each ray in a daisy flower was an individual flower so that the actual flower is a composite of many individual flowers.  He also explained that the flowers close up for the night, which is where its name originated from – Day’s eye.  Lastly he took us all by surprise by picking up a piece of nettle stem without flinching from the stings, which is apparently because Rangers become immune to them over time!  He explained that if pick early in the year the soft leaves can be used in salads while the plant itself used to be used to make a green dye.

It was surprising how quickly the hour and a half went and how much Kevin had been able to cram into that amount of time.  We thanked him effusively for the walk and look forward to his next one 6th November.

Monday, 28 March 2022

March Workday

 Despite the competing attractions of Mother's Day and the Half Marathon, we were still able to attract ten intrepid volunteers to our workday in Woods Covert last Sunday.

 Under Kevin's instructions, we attacked the invasive laurel trees and were able to chop down several of them.

Then we turned our attention to the clump of invasive bamboo which has been growing behind someone's garden for many years (this is what can happen when people dump their unwanted plants in our woods!)

Thank you to those who worked so hard - it was good to welcome some new members also!

Next workday is on Sunday 24 April.

Dont forget, Kevin's Woodland Walk on Sunday 10 April - more details soon!

Tuesday, 1 March 2022

February Workday


Well, the weather was kind to us at last!

There was a good turnout as we tackled the saplings and young trees encroaching on Top Meadow.

Some of us cut back the greenery spreading out over the path through the "Ancient wood", Rhydypenau Wood. This path has become extremely well used by walkers in order to avoid the flooded paths.

On 9 March, we are hoping to meet both representatives from Cardiff Council and Welsh Water to discuss the flooding issues.  We will report back!

Monday, 14 February 2022

Latest up date on the cycle "super highway" plans for the Nant Fawr area

 We have received correspondence from the Office for the Cabinet Member for Strategic Planning and Transport in Cardiff Council informing us that they are still in the process of assessing all responses to the Active Travel Network Map (ATNM)  consultation report.  Any resulting changes to the ATNM will be published this year. 

The original deadline for the ATNM to be submitted for approval was 31.12.21, however this deadline has been moved to June 2022.

We were also given assurance that the Cabinet Office and Cardiff Council would involve the Friends of Nant Fawr as key stakeholders in the design of any cycleway scheme which could impact on the Nant Fawr Corridor. 

We will keep you updated as and when we receive any further details.

Monday, 17 January 2022

Nant Fawr flooding

Anybody using the Nant Fawr site over the last few weeks will be aware there have been some extensive flooding issues in the meadows alongside Llanishen Reservoir and in the ‘dip’ just north of the old reservoir car park.  The ‘dip’ has always flooded, which is why we created an alternative route through the woods to bypass the flooding and raised the main footpath. 

During the Welsh Water main works in 2018 a new drain and soak-away was installed at the bottom of the dip to take the excess water away and keep the area drained but, surprisingly, it still continued to flood during very wet spells.  A camera was put into the pipe that drains the water from the drain into the stream in Rhydypennau Woods.  The pipe was found to be blocked so was jet-washed to try and remove the blocking material.  This was only partially successful as a couple of larger pieces jammed in the pipe couldn’t be moved, leaving the pipe partially blocked.  This allows the water to drain away, but slower than it should, which is why the dip still floods from time to time.  At the moment the only obvious way to solve this issue would be to open up the pipe and remove the blockage but this is currently prohibitively expensive, so we will have to live the problem for the foreseeable future and use the diversionary route through the woods when the path is flooded.  Once workdays can get back to normal, we will look to repair the path through the wood and improve its condition.

The meadows alongside Llanishen Reservoir have always been a wet area, hence the reason for one of them being called Boggy Meadow.  However, since the works to replace the water main that runs through the meadows in 2018 the natural drainage appears to have become impeded causing extensive flooding in the meadows during wet spells, of which we have had a lot recently.  The flooding has been so extensive that the path has become impassable on a number of occasions.  Unfortunately this leads to people trying to find drier routes across the wet meadows, which creates a lot of damage to the grasslands.   We are trying to find ways to alleviate this problem, both in the short and longer terms, having raised the issue with both the Council and Welsh Water.  Discussions are ongoing and we hope that these will lead eventually to us finding a permanent solution.  In the meantime we would only ask that you bear with us and be assured that we are trying to overcome these problems in due course.