walking and writing

Trails and trials of the writer who walks

Working with the National Trust in Pembrokeshire

For reasons I forget, I travelled down to Pembrokeshire on Saturday 18th April to be a National Trust volunteer for the week. By coincidence, it was my birthday (63, if you must know), and I expected it to be a dry one, but as I approached the pretty village of Mathry where the bunkhouse was located, I discovered that it not only had a fully functioning pub, but that the pub was holding a beer festival. Now that’s something well within my comfort zone.

Village Green Mathry

View from the village green of Mathry

The National Trust run working holidays throughout the year, and despite the fact that you are contributing free labour to their various projects, you do actually have to pay for them, although it’s not much (typically £150) and in return you receive full board, including packed lunches, accommodation and activities.

I’d never been to Pembrokeshire before and was bowled over by its similarity to the coasts of Devon and Cornwall (without the crowds). Every inch of headland delivered pebbly coves, abundant wild flowers, sandy beaches, intriguing islands, diving gannets.  The obvious beauty was further enhanced by the amount of time the two NT rangers devoted to our little group, by accompanying us on the best coastal walks to fill in fascinating details on the history of the headlands as well as the flora and fauna. (Without the ranger, I would not have realised that the pair of crows busying themselves nearby were actually choughs – only 500 breeding pairs in UK). We were also taken sea kayaking with full kit and instruction.

SAM_1006

Typical empty beach of Pembrokeshire

In return, our little gang of eight (six foot soldiers, with two trained volunteer leaders), spent three and a half days rebuilding two traditional Pembrokeshire gate pillars. This involved clearing gorse and brambles, removing all the loose stones (which left two stumps) and rebuilding. In addition to kayaking, I can now confidently mix mortar and do pointing!

Gate Pillar, before we started on it
BEFORE
Lunch break, first day on site

Lunch break (the ranger is in the barrow)

When the job was over, we were all ridiculously pleased with ourselves. I know I will have to return to the area just to take another look at those beautiful gate pillars.

Last day (weather turned but job finished)

The Finished Job

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One comment on “Working with the National Trust in Pembrokeshire

  1. milligan308
    April 29, 2015

    Happy belated birthday 😀 best wishes for many more. Beautiful job with the hate pillars.

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This entry was posted on April 28, 2015 by in Walking, Writing and tagged , .
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