News from Southwood Farm, the home farm for the National Trust in North Pembrokeshire
From Andrew Tuddenham, Manager North Pembrokeshire
Looking across from Roch towards Newgale and Solva coast recently you may have noticed a large excavator working in the fields around Southwood Farm. We’ve been hard at work this winter getting an ambitious project underway to restore some of the lost hedgebanks of this fabulous farm.
The £70,089 grant from SITA Trust is funding the work to construct 1.1km of Pembrokeshire hedgebanks across three pasture fields at Southwood farm, and one in an arable field near Maidenhall car park. These hedgebanks and their valuable hedgerow habitats were removed by agricultural changes during the last century.
It’s a significant boost for nature conservation, one that will greatly enhance the farm’s value for wildlife. The hedgebanks will be planted with nearly 8,000 hedgerow trees and we’re hoping to see farmland birds and bats moving in to use the new habitat as it becomes established.
The smaller fields will allow us to sensitively graze the pasture with cattle and sheep, and the livestock will appreciate the extra shelter on this exposed farm.
Contractors are building the hedgebanks, in part using the traditional methods of the Pembrokeshire stone–faced cloddiau. The cost per metre for hand built cloddiau is around ten times that of machine-built earth and turf banks, and we’re limited by the amount of grant available, so around 220m of hedgebanks around the farm will be constructed by hand – the rest by machine. Volunteers will plant the hedgerows in the next few weeks – and we’re looking for help with this part!
Do get in touch if you’d like to join in when our rangers start this work. Call the North Pembrokeshire office at Mathry on 01348 837 860 or get in touch through our Facebook or twitter pages – NTNorthPembs. It’s a very simple task and all tools and gloves will be supplied.
The first phase of our footpath network across the Southwood Estate opened just before Christmas. It’s taken more than two years of work with volunteers to install gates, sign posts, steps, fencing and a bridge and we’re really excited – and relieved! – to finally be able to open the route for everyone to enjoy.
The 1.5 mile path we’ve created loops inland and parallel to the coast to connect Maidenhall car park with Pinch Hill. You can make a circular route with the coast path or along Newgale beach. We think it’s best walked in a clockwise direction, starting from Maidenhall car park amongst wildlife-rich fields, crossing the charming wooded valley at Southwood farm, and returning via cliff top viewpoints, Newgale beach and the coast path. But don’t take our word for it – check out the route map on our Facebook page and on the signs at Maidenhall car park and try it for yourself. Better still, please let us know what you think!
The next phase will be a route through old South Wood to connect to Southwood farm, and we should have this finished by Easter.
2014 open day events at Southwood farm
We had such a positive response to our series of open days at Southwood farm last year that we’re running more, starting with some Cadbury Easter Egg Trail events (www.eastereggtrail.com) on 16th and 18th April. Follow the clues, answer the questions and complete the challenges to find your way to a prize just for you! Trails cost £2.00 and the events run from 10:30am to 3:30pm each day.
Southwood Farm restoration
After a change of builders we’re preparing to offer the farmhouse for letting soon, and the work to finish this large renovation project is now very close to completion. Meanwhile we’ve re-roofed a collapsing corner of the historic range and will be working on the next section this summer.
The old metal hay barns came down in high winds in December and we’ll have them cleared away this spring. Already the view of the farm and its fine 19th century range is much improved. Sadly, the East range was hit hard by the 80mph winds of February 12th, and one roof section has been badly damaged – more repairs!!