Unmanned aerial drones have a bad reputation, but in the right hands and with careful oversight the technology can be used to gain new and stunning insights into our surroundings. We want people to be inspired by the special places in our care, and so the Trust have commissioned a Denbigh company, Vizworx to undertake some aerial filming around the Welsh coast using a drone, and they recently visited Pembrokeshire.
The drone’s eye view of the Marloes peninsula, with the islands of Skomer (right) and Skokholm (left) in view.
The device is a Phantom II, a GPS guided quadcopter with a stablised HD GoPro video camera hung from its underside. Its quite small – about the size of a backpack – and surprisingly quiet and very stable in the air. Alan of Vizworx pilots the drone with a handheld controller that has a video monitor attached to it to display a live feed of the bird’s eye view from the device. Alan’s son Mikey acted as spotter, guiding Alan when the drone was high and far away in the bright sky, and then deftly grabbing it when it returned. The video below shows this decidedly delicate moment. The rotors, although small, could seriously mess up hands and fingers with ease!
Alan and Mikey visited last week and spent a fine but breezy day filming around Stackpole and the Marloes peninsula. It was too windy to fly at the Deer Park, Martin’s Haven, so they returned this week to capture some stunning footage around Wooltack Point, and then came up to Treginnis and then the Blue Lagoon, Abereiddi.
We’d discussed the possible risk of disturbance to seabirds with Natural Resources Wales beforehand, and got a thumbs up, given that cliff nesting birds are leaving the ledges at this time of the year and the device would be kept a healthy distance away from any gatherings. Alan was also distinctly nervous about flying near cliffs and out to sea as cliffs can obstruct the GPS link, and without this, the drone won’t be able to automatically return to the launch site in the event of a problem. With around £800 of kit in the air, the concern is understandable!
So why are we doing all this aerial filming? The sneak peaks that we’ve seen so far are amazing and a great tribute to the natural beauty of Pembrokeshire. Stay tuned, as the finished video will be unveiled in autumn, celebrating some amazing National Trust landmarks around the Welsh coast.
For a ground-level tour of the Marloes peninsula, try this walk…