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Issue 19              September 2014


A newsletter for Volunteers and Friends of Monmouthshire Countryside Service


There's lots to look forward to this autumn, especially if you enjoy walking. In this issue we have news of forthcoming events and training, as well as updates on various projects and volunteering opportunities. 

If you have comments or questions or would like to contribute to future editions please contact me.  

Morag Sinton
Countryside Volunteer Coordinator

Building Bridges Project Coffee Morning

Monday 8th September
10.30am - 12 noon
Bridges Community Centre, Monmouth

All welcome! Please join us for tea and coffee and cake and an opportunity to find out about this project. 
The Building Bridges Project aims to support 14-25 year olds with a range of additional needs to get involved in activities in their communities throughout Monmouthshire. Many of the young people have an interest in the countryside and we are looking at ways in which we can offer opportunities for them to experience and get involved with different things. This could include walks, pathcare, conservation activities and much more. Mark Langley has already involved one group in testing a geocaching trail in Warren Slade wood.

We think countryside volunteers could play a vital role in this project, allowing much more to be offered. A lot will depend on what the young people want to do but there is huge potential  for linking up enthusiastic young people with tasks and activities which benefit them, our communities and the environment generally.

So come and join the discussion. All ideas welcome. If you can't make the coffee morning but have any questions or comments, please let me, Morag Sinton, know.

Offa's Dyke Path Training and Networking Day

Wednesday 24th September 2014

10am - 4pm

Pandy Village Hall, near Abergavenny

Ideal for anyone with an interest in volunteering on the Offa's Dyke Path or other long distance trails.
This aims to be an inspiring day, mixing updates on the Offa's Dyke National Trail, practical guidance on looking after the trail, and opportunities to meet other volunteers and staff involved with the trail.

Rob Dingle, the National Trail Officer, will join us for the day,as well as volunteers from Powys and the Brecon Beacons National Park. It will be an opportunity to share good practice, learn more about the trail and the standards that apply to it, and review the role of Pathcare volunteers. Lunch will be provided and there will be a walk on the trail to look at practical issues.

This event has been organised with Lucinda James, the Walking with Offa Project Officer, and funded through Visit Wales Partnership for Growth programme.

For further details or to book your place please email Morag Sinton, volunteer coordinator or phone 01633 644663.


September/October Pathcare checks 

Now that the schools are back and ther's a hint of autumn in the air it's time to get out and complete the autumn check for your Pathcare routes. This check is to ensure the route is in good condition for the winter, with waymarking in place and stiles, gates and signs free of vegetation. If there are bridges or steps on your route it is worth clearing the treads of any build up of soil or leaves, thus making them longer lasting and easier to use. 

Please try and complete your check and send in the report by the end of October..Ensure you have included the date of your check and the number of hours you have spent on it - I need this information for reports and grant monitoring.

If for any reason you won't be able to complete your check this time, please let me know as soon as you can. I'll advertise any one off checks that are needed, so if you fancy a walk in a new area get in touch and I'll send out the relevant details.

Pathcare Vacancies

There are still vacancies for Pathcarers on the following routes:
  • Wye Valley Walk, Brockweir to Redbrook
  • Tregare Penrhos, north of Raglan
Please contact Morag Sinton if you are interested in taking any of them on.

Woodland Trust Seek Volunteers for Cefn Ila

Cefn Ila consists of the remains of a small designed landscape formerly associated with Cefn Ila house, near Usk in Gwent.  Cefn Ila was purchased by the Woodland Trust in 2007 and 2009 for the purpose of opening the landscape to the public and establishing a new woodland on the site under the PLANT! scheme.  
The Trust has achieved these aims, but would like to develop Cefn Ila further by improving public access and interpretation, and conserving what remains of the walled garden and pleasure grounds.

Do you like trees, historic gardens and working in the fresh air doing practical work? Then joining our work parties at Cefn Ila could be the thing for you. Tasks will include improving access, revealing rare trees and shrubs, and helping in the orchard or the wonderful walled garden. Tools and training will be provided – no experience necessary. For more information please ring the Woodland Trust Site Manager, Barry Embling, on 08452 935 789.

September Guided Walks

The Countryside Service organises a programme of walks which usually take place on the first Saturday and third Sunday of each month. The walk leaders are countryside volunteers and often bring their own expertise and local knowledge to the walks. This year the walks have been selected from the 30 Pathcare routes available on the Countryside website.

Saturday 6th September 2014  
“365 steps to heaven!”

10.30am (Approx. 3 hours)
On this 5 mile (8 km) walk you will follow part of the 18th Century tourist trail through Piercefield Estate and ascend the 365 steps to the “Eagle’s Nest” view point with fantastic views down the Wye Valley to the Severn. You will also pass an ancient church and hill fort on your return to St. Arvans. 12 stiles, one steep flight of metal steps and steep rocky path up 365 steps. Bring your own packed lunch and a drink. Assistance dogs only please. There is no charge for this activity. 

Meet in the car park behind the Memorial Hall (ST 527 972, Postcode NP16 6DN)
on the main road (A466) through St. Arvans, near to the village shop.

St. Arvans can be reached bus Contact  for more information. Tel 0870 608 2 608 daily between 7.00am and 9.00pm.Text 84268.

Sunday 21st September 2014  
 “The White Swan Walk, Skenfrith”

11.00am (Approx. 3 hours)
This 5.5 mile (8.7km) walk of paths, lanes and byways is along a riverbank, through woodland and a variety of farmland in an undulating part of the Monnow Valley. There are splendid panoramic views along the way. One steep slope and lots of stiles. Bring your own packed lunch and a drink. Assistance dogs only please. There is no charge for this activity.

Meet in the large lay-by on the Herefordshire side of bridge over the river Monnow just outside Skenfrith village (SO 458 202). Postcode NP7 8UG.

For further information please contact Mark Langley, Head Countryside Warden, 01291 691237.
The programme and booking for this year's Monmouthshire Walking Festival are now available on their website

In this centenary year of the outbreak of World War I many of the walks feature some aspect from the two world wars. Amongst other things you can find out about the role of pigeons and why there were pigeon parachutes, search for secret auxiliary resistance unit hideouts, or recreate the march of the men of Monmouth as they went to catch the train which would take them to war, many never to return. 

Coming Soon - Monmouthshire Community Walking Website

Some of you may have been involved in recent videoing for a new community website which has been funded by adventa and developed in conjunction with Monmouthshire’s IT and Countryside Service Sections.  The website will provide a one stop shop for anyone interested in volunteering to support walking in Monmouthshire. In particular it will provide information and advice to community groups maintaining walking and other access routes in their local area. The walking toolkit contains guidance on how to plan, develop, maintain and promote walking and riding routes, with links to a wealth of further information should you need it. 

This website also lists all the existing community groups involved in maintaining Monmouthshire’s access routes. We hope the site will encourage conversations between groups and sharing of resources and volunteers.  It will contain a forum with a list of all current calls for volunteers, or you can explore the list of local community groups to see if there are any you’d like to join.

A launch will take place in November where you will be welcome to come along and see the website whilst enjoying some refreshments and the company of other volunteers. If you would like to receive more information about the launch please contact   

Rights of Way Improvement Plan Grant

This year the authority received £41, 403 in grant funding.  This is being spent principally on the purchase of sleeper bridge kits to resolve 33 outstanding small bridge issues.  The rest of the funding is being spent on surfacing issues and improving our on-line mapping facilities for volunteers.  There is also a very small amount allocated to simple bridge survey training for volunteers. 

Bridge Survey Training

If you are interested in the simple bridge survey training funded through the ROWIP grant please contact  

Coast Path

A Regional Coastal Path Officer has been employed by Natural Resources Wales to help us deliver surfacing improvements on the Wales Coast Path in Monmouthshire.  These improvements will take place shortly at the following locations:  Nedern Mouth (sea wall), Blackrock East to St Pierre Pill (sea wall section), Moynes and Wallstone Farm (across cropped fields).  A feasibility study for establishing bridleways on and in the corridor of the Wales Coast Path is also being undertaken with Newport County Council.  Additionally it has been confirmed that the Welsh Government will part fund the cutting programme on the Wales Coast Path next year.  Discussions are underway with other partners who cut the sea wall to ensure this is spent wisely and in accordance with legislation on biodiversity. 

Monmouthshire Local Access Forum

Recently representatives of the Monmouthshire Local Access Forum visited a farm to discuss a permissive access proposal for a Glastir scheme in Monmouthshire.  

The routes were generally thought to be of great value to walkers and horse riders in particular.  

The landowner will be publishing a map of the routes shortly.  
The next Local Access Forum meeting is to be held at Tintern Old Station, at 2pm, 30th September 2014, where there will be discussion on the prioritisation system.  

Tourism Infrastructure Fund Grant

Following the severe weather and flooding last winter we have now completed £77,000 worth of grant funded projects to repair and improve paths on the Usk and Wye Valley Walks, as seen below.
The Wye Valley Walk at Old Station Tintern before work was carried out.
A stone flagged surface will cope with regular flooding on the Wye Valley Walk at Old Station Tintern.
Resurfacing work was done on the Wye Valley Walk between Dixton Church and Monmouth Rowing Club.
Near Whitebrook new steps and handrails have improved a steep and slippery section of the Wye Valley Walk.
This bridge replaces one washed away from the Usk Valley Walk at Clytha.
The Usk Valley Walk from Llanellen village to the Mon & Brec Canal has benefited from some resurfacing and a new kissing gate.

Working in partnership with the Canal and Rivers Trust and Brecon Beacons National Park authority, a 600m section of the canal towpath, forming the Usk Valley Walk near Govilon, has been widened and resurfaced and the drainage improved.

Websites and the Internet

Some forms for volunteers (expenses claim, timesheet, pathcare survey form) are now available to download directly from the MCC website at .

You can also view a working copy of our definitive map of public rights of way at, download pages to print off and report problems you have come across. 

Much more information and documents to download can be found on the Monmouthshire Countryside website -
Copyright © 2014 Monmouthshire County Council Countryside Service, All rights reserved.

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