All posts by pembsnta

A tour of the restored walled garden, at Picton, with Head Gardener, Roddy Milne. 30th June 2021.

Roddy Milne points out that the bulk of the south wall was stable, and only to top part required repair. At the foot of the wall the border has plants of South African origin.

Eleven members of PNTA were taken on a guided tour by Roddy Milne, Head Gardener at Picton Castle.

For twenty years there have been plans to restore the walled garden. After many written applications for funding sources, with ever changing criteria, Heritage Lottery Fund provided great support.

The pineapples on the entrance pillars are copies of the originals, but the aim overall was to avoid the structures appearing “new”.

Ecology has been respected. Creating holes in the walls has been rewarded by a pied flycatcher nest. In the yard beyond the fernery, where wilder areas were being reconstructed, reptiles were trapped and transferred to similar habitat elsewhere on the estate. Lizards need to be caught early in the day, before they have warmed up, otherwise they move too fast!

The present walled garden was always used for show and prestige. (Fruit and veg were grown in another walled garden, that is now outside the area controlled by the Picton Castle Trust.) The records of the plants grown rely heavily on flower competition certificates, featuring mainly chrysanthemums.

Now visitor numbers to Picton are increasing, enabling the appointment of more staff to the gardening team. The work of 6-8 volunteers on one day a week remains invaluable.

Some beds remain the same, particularly the rose borders, where the bushes have been carefully chosen for their ability to cope with the Pembrokeshire climate.

Other themed borders have been newly planted. The Mediterranean section had a five inch layer of sand spread across the surface, then dug in, to give excellent drainage.

On the outer side of the southern wall, a South African border has been created, featuring 30 varieties of agapanthus, in addition to red hot pokers et al.

Herbs have been moved to an area beyond northern wall, near the fernery. This zone has not yet been opened to visitors, but it will be used for education, with teaching rooms and information displays.  The restored green house has an aluminium frame on a brick base, with excellent ventilation to avoid excessive temperatures.

Roddy was thanked for giving such an informative tour, and members were then free to enjoy lunch at Maria’s and explore more of the castle grounds.

Report by Andrew Weaver

Beyond the fernery is the future education zone. Rooms on the left provide teaching space. Herbs are displayed in the raised beds, near the restored greenhouse.
The borders at the centre of the walled garden remain little changed. Here astrantia give colour. In the distance you may just make out one of the pineapples on the entrance pillars.

Geology Walk at Amroth beach, with Chris Evans. 17th June 2021.

Chris Evans, astride the limestone pavement, points out the marker beds and the iron nodules on Amroth beach. Photo by Andrew Weaver.

This walk proved very popular, and was fully booked within 24 hours.

PNTA members were treated on a sunny day to a short walk across Amroth beach that allowed us to see many geological features, within a short distance. These were highlighted and clearly explained by our walk leader, Chris Evans, a retired teacher and volunteer at Colby NT.

Coal seams, sunken forest, limestone pavements and iron deposits were seen, with rock faults and folds explained. The band of the marker bed, which occurs across the world, was visible in the cliff and at our feet. (See photos.)

The lighter band of the marker bed can be seen in the lower part of the Amroth cliff. Photo by Chris Evans.
Freshwater bivalve shell marker bed. Photo by Chris Evans.

Chris Evans has kindly written a more detailed report on the walks that can be seen by clicking below.

Our thanks to Pat Morgan for organising the walk and to Chris Evans for sharing his knowledge, with clarity.

The Kilgetty Vein or coal seam. Photo by Chris Evans.
Two iron nodule boulders. Photo by Chris Evans.
Chris Evans points out a tree stump in the sunken forest. Photo by Andrew Weaver

This post is by Andrew Weaver.

PNTA donation to Pembrokeshire National Trust – 16th June 2021

Andrew Weaver, Chairman of PNTA, makes a socially distanced handover of a cheque to Rhian Sula, Leader for the Visitor Team for Pembrokeshire National Trust. Photo by Annie Weaver.

Funds raised from Pembrokeshire National Trust events, before Coronavirus restrictions, enabled a donation of £2500 to Pembrokeshire National Trust.

The funds will be used as follows.

 At Stackpole, a bench to commemorate 125 years of the National Trust will be constructed. An extra picnic bench will be provided for Stackpole Quay. Tenby Tudor Merchant’s House will have a flame effect fire basket for the kitchen. At Colby Woodland Gardens the money will be used to buy backpacks. When filled with equipment and information sheets the packs can be loaned out to help younger visitors find out more about trees, while visiting the estate.

In Search of Birdsong, in Minwear Woods, with Richard Ellis. 13th May 2021

Thirteen members of PNTA joined Richard Ellis, former Head Warden for Pembrokeshire National Trust and wildlife enthusiast, for a gentle stroll in Minwear Woods. Richard coaxed us to listen out for the variety of birdsong.

Here are Richard’s notes on the findings:-

“We gathered at the picnic site in Minwear Wood. Plenty of birdsong greeted us: mistle thrush, song thrush, blackbird, robin and blackcap were all in good voice where we were parked. Chiffchaff and willow warbler – similar species told apart by their songs – sang in the young coppice woodland along the road, the monotonous “chiff-chaff” of the former, and the liquid cascade of the latter. Great tit, wren, woodpigeon and nuthatch sang or called from the wood, raven and long-tailed tit flew over. We then walked up into the tall beech woodland on the south side of the road, and after a few hundred yards found the bird we were looking for – a wood warbler, who put on a fine performance for us near the track. This specialist of beech and western oak woodland, with not many sites in Pembrokeshire, sings and feeds in the canopy, the two elements of his song being a shivering trill and a ringing “pew pew pew”. Further along a surprise bonus – two spotted flycatchers feeding high up. Not everyone saw these, but nice to know they were there. Back to the road and into the woodland on the north side, and another wood warbler. We walked further west and down past the limekiln to the shore, where we added to our total with shelduck, a pair of Canada geese, buzzard, lesser black-backed gull and mallard. Back through the wood and up the steps to the road, clocking up yet another wood warbler and a great spotted woodpecker. We saw or heard around 25 species in all.”

Our grateful thanks to Richard for leading the walk and sharing his knowledge and enthusiasm. Thanks also to Pat Morgan for arranging the event.

A wood warbler in Minwear Woods. Photo by Richard Ellis.

Nature Walk with Richard Ellis : Marloes Mere to Deer Park. 1st October 2020.

Strolling towards Deer Park, with Skomer in view.

In the first PNTA activity since March 2020, a group of twelve gathered at Marloes, for a socially distanced stroll with Richard Ellis, former Head Warden for Pembrokeshire National Trust and wildlife enthusiast. Having seen numerous swallows flying over Marloes Mere, using it as a refuelling venue en route to Africa, we headed across the fields to join the coast path. There choughs made their appearance. Walking on to Deer Park we looked down on the beaches to see grey seal pups.

Thanks to Pat Morgan for organising the event. See below for her detailed account of the of the stroll and extra sightings.

Richard Ellis points towards the choughs.

“Mining the Colby Coalfield” – a talk by Steve Whitehead, NT Manager. 5th March 2020

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Steve Whitehead points out a capped mineshaft on a previous visit t Colby by PNTA.

With the benefits of many old maps and aerial photographs Steve Whitehead told the tale of Colby’s mining history and the scattering of mineshafts through the grounds that lead to an exit on Amroth Beach. The tough conditions for the miners, often children, were detailed.

Derek Brockway, in a recent TV programme ‘Weatherman Walking” featured volunteers at Colby with Steve, making areas of past mine workings visible, but safe.

To read Jim Price’s report on the talk click –>5 3 20 Talk Steve Whitehead on Colby Mining

 

“Historical Tour Through Pembrokeshire – In the Footsteps of Richard Fenton” by Dr Robert Davies MBE. 6th February 2020.

Richard Fenton was born in 1747. Dr Davies described his  early years in St Davids, followed by education at Haverfordwest Grammar School and Oxford.

After a time in the legal profession in London, Richard Fenton was a circuit judge in Wales. An inheritance from his uncle enabled him to build a home in Lower Fishguard. He spent time on various tours of Pembrokeshire, usually on horseback. These he recorded in a book, and Dr Davies detailed some of these journeys, illustrated by some fine recent photographs of places visited.

For Jim Price’s more detailed report click —>Talk 06 02 20

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St Davids – the area of Richard Fenton’s early life.

 

 

“The Forgotten War” by David James

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David James with some of his books.

David is secretary of the West Wales Maritime Heritage Society.

He talked about ships torpedoed off the Pembrokeshire coast in the final months of World War 1. A restored memorial at Angle Church has led to new links with Japan in recents years, both at ambassador and family level.

To see Jim Price’s more detailed report click –>Talk 02 01 20

Photo by Andrew Weaver
The new memorial at Angle Churchyard.

“Early Postal Services in Pembrokeshire” – a talk by Rev. Roger Antell. 5th Dec 19.

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Images courtesy of Rev. R.Antell.

This talk covered the evolution of Postal services from the 1600s to the middle of the 19th century, initially serving Government needs, then the well off, before the penny post made its use widespread. Pembrokeshire featured in the early postal service, as mail needed to get to Ireland, and Rev Antell showed maps of the evolving routes and photographs of envelopes with challenging limited address information.

To see Jim Price’s more detailed report on the presentation click –>Early Postal Services Talk 05 12 19

post boy 18th c
18th Century postman.

PNTA Lunch on Saturday 9th November, at Wolfscastle Country Hotel, with guest speaker Chris Harding.

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Chris Harding tells nautical stories at the PNTA lunch

About 50 members and guests attended the lunch.

After the meal, Chris Harding entertained us with stories from his life at sea, rising through the ranks to become a Captain, in the Merchant Navy. His subsequent career was more local as a Pilot on the Milford Waterway.

A presentation was made to Arnold Williams, to say “thank you” for the many years he has served on PNTA committee, arranging many varied and entertaining talks in his valuable, long stint as Programme Secretary; a post that he has recently relinquished.

Jim Price was handed a badge and certificate to commemorate 20 years service on PNTA committee, having been there from the outset. His work as Vice Chairman, organiser of summer walks, and Newsletter compiler has been invaluable.

IMG_8322 Jim Price recieves his 20 yrs NT certificate 600
PNTA Chairman, Andrew Weaver congratulates and thanks Jim Price (on the right) for his 20 years and continuing service to the Association.