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Funding secured to support nature recovery at one of Wales’ leading country estates

31 Mar 2024 4 minute read
Sunlight burning through autumnal oak woodland in Great Wood that surrounds Gregynog Hall in Mid Wales. Photo Bradley Carr

One of Wales’ leading country estates, has been awarded £246,966 through the Welsh Government’s Nature Networks Fund to improve public access and protect its natural environment.

Gregynog Hall was the home of the Blayney and Hanbury-Tracy families from the fifteenth to the nineteenth century, but there has been a settlement on the site dating back to the twelfth century.

The original mansion was rebuilt in the 1840s by Charles Hanbury-Tracy, 1st Baron Sudeley.

Its concrete cladding was designed to replicate the black-and-white timber-framed architecture of Montgomeryshire farmhouses and is among the earliest examples of concrete use in buildings in the modern era.

Gregynog Hall. Picture by Mr Penybanc (CC BY 2.0)

The 750 acres of gardens and park surrounding the house are listed at Grade I on the Cadw/ICOMOS Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest in Wales.

The funding supports nature recovery and encourages more public access to some of Wales’ most special natural environments.

Gregynog’s project is one of 17 in Wales set to benefit from Welsh Government conservation funding totalling £3.78 million.

Great wood

Gregynog’s Great Wood is an internationally significant ancient oak woodland and is home to rare lichens and to birds such as pied flycatcher, willow tits and wood warblers.

The grounds at Gregynog, located at Tregynon, near Newtown, are open every day and are popular with  walkers. However, rutted tracks make access difficult for both visitors with mobility issues and those with young children and the woodland walks can be muddy for much of the year.

The new funding will pay for repairs to the tracks and for pot holes to be filled and improved drainage to the drives to Bwlch y Ffridd.

A new, accessible path around the estates lily pond will also be created and the pond will be restored to create an accessible 360 degree bird hide on the island, accessed by a new bridge.

Invasive plants will also be cleared from the pond over two years.

All walks on the estate with have new signage and pathways and mapping will be improved while 50 bird boxes will be installed with help from Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust, which will also run public events for the next two years and monitor wildlife on the estate.

A children’s playground and covered picnic benches for adults and children using sustainable materials will be installed together with a bike rack for visitors and staff at the Courtyard entrance.

Meadow flowers and flowering specimen trees will be planted along the drives and work will continue to restore the walled gardens.

The Nature Networks Fund is delivered by The National Lottery Heritage Fund in Wales on behalf of the Welsh Government and in partnership with Natural Resources Wales.

Biodiverse reserve

Gregynog’s chair Carole-Anne Davies said: “We are very proud of our team and their work on the ‘Welcome Home to Nature’ programme. The project allows us to enhance and broaden visitor access and experience, as well as protect and nurture our richly biodiverse reserve as a haven for nature.

“It also helps consolidate our partnerships, opening up further potential for collaboration and helping us to reveal and share Gregynog’s magic with more people than ever – exploring the joy that comes with integrating nature, science and creativity.”

Ruth Jenkins, head of natural resource management policy at Natural Resources Wales, said: “We are delighted to see these projects, each driving forward the practical action needed to address what is one of the most urgent challenges of our times.

“These projects will seek to recover species and habitats through collaboration among a wide range of land owners and organisations. They are all superb and diverse examples of the exciting restoration and community engagement that is a critically needed step to bring about the recovery of nature in Wales.”

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