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Volunteers at Cwmbran beauty spot celebrate completion of £7,500 path improvement project

a group of people sat on a bench outside a pub
Volunteers from Blaen Bran Community Woodland

Volunteers who look after one of Cwmbran’s most popular beauty spots held a celebration event today to mark the completion of a project to improve access for visitors.

Blaen Bran Community Woodland in Upper Cwmbran was given £7,500 from Transport for Wales to upgrade three parts of the site. The money was used to train volunteers and buy materials and tools.

Work has been carried out on :

  • the main track from the stream up to the events area.
  • the paths by the arboretum.
  • the path that leads through the beech woods next to the reservoir.

Access to certain parts of the site is restricted at the moment due to larch trees being felled as part of the site’s management programme. It is expected to be fully open by Easter. Keep an eye on the woodland’s website for more information. If you visit the site before then please look out for any path closure signs and avoid those areas.

people sat in the bar of a pub
Guests at the event in the Bush Inn in Cwmbran

A group of volunteers met at The Bush Inn this afternoon to be thanked for their work over the last year to carry out the improvements.

Faye Hedley, sustainability impact delivery lead at Transport for Wales, told the crowd they had bid for money from the Heritage Lottery Fund to improve woodlands across Wales. She said: “It’s been our pleasure to work with you. You’ve been so helpful, so welcoming and so proactive. It’s really exciting to see what you’ve done.”

Rob Nantcarrow, chair of the group, said the woodland was used all year round by walkers, dog walkers, horse riders and other groups. He said they hope the latest improvements will encourage more volunteers and increase the partnerships in the community.

a man gives presentation in pub
David Williams, former chair of Blaen Bran Community Woodland

David Williams, former chair of the group, gave a history of the woodland and how the charity was formed just over 20 years ago and became a company limited by guarantee in 2003/4. Torfaen Voluntary Alliance helped them become a trust.

He said they want to rebuild links with schools and youth organisations as these were affected during lockdown periods of the pandemic. He told how volunteers had learned new skills thanks to the funding.

Last year Gwent Fungus Group held a walk at Blaen Bran and it attracted around 50 people.

In 2021 the group installed footfall monitors at the six entrances to the site to measure footfall over six months. The busiest month was March with 7,300 visitors. If the group can get funding they will carry out this exercise again.

Reducing food and reusing

The group teamed up with Lauren Morse, owner of Zero Waste Torfaen, who provided plates and cutlery for today’s event to avoid anything being thrown out. And Tasty Not Wasty gave a soup and other ingredients that were used by Rhys Bailey, landlord of the Bush, to make the buffet.

two men and a woman standing in a pub
(l to r) Lauren Morse from Zero Waste Torfaen, David Williams, and Rhys Bailey from The Bush

Volunteer at Blaen Bran Community Woodland

Visit the Blaen Bran website for more information.

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Volunteers at Cwmbran beauty spot celebrate completion of £7,500 path improvement project