I am delighted that Natural Resources Wales (NRW) is continuing the tradition of the annual eisteddfod walk. This year we walked part of the millennium coastal path between Llanelli and Burry Port in Carmarthenshire.
NRW came into being in April 2013 and is a combination of the Countryside Council for Wales, the Environment Agency and the Forestry Commission. Thus it is the Welsh Government’s adviser on landscape, wildlife, recreation and environment. The Countryside Council for Wales, inspired by Ramblers Cymru, had organised the walk since 1996. Although I travel the furthest distance, I have been on every one. It is a valuable opportunity for NRW to meet its partners, to show them its work and to discuss issues, and for me to catch up with all that is going on in Wales.
This year’s walk was only three kilometres but we packed a lot in, stopping along the way for an explanation of NRW’s work and the challenges it faces.
The millennium coastal path here was a forerunner of the Wales Coastal Path which was opened in 2012 and follows the entire Welsh coast (though it’s still in need of quite a bit of improvement). The stretch which we walked is tarmacked and suitable for riders and cyclists too, a great asset for locals and visitors.
There has been much flood-defence work undertaken by NRW to safeguard the village of Pwll, and we heard too about the international importance of the Loughor Estuary for its bird life and as a ground for shellfish, and the value of the coastal path for public enjoyment—bringing all aspects of NRW’s work together.
This is a former coal-mining area and until the 1980s it was degraded, polluted and covered in ash. Now the pools have been restored and provide an important wildlife habitat. We stopped by a reed bed and I could hear a host of reed warblers.
There were other points of interest, such as this plaque to Amelia Earhart who landed at this point after her transatlantic flight.
It was good to talk to NRW board members Madeleine Harvard and Paul Williams, and to staff whom I had not met before, as well as to Sarah Kessel from the South and West Wales Wildlife Trust, Stephen James, president of NFU Cymru and Angela Charlton and Gwyn Lewis from Ramblers Cymru.
As we came to the end of the walk we passed the appropriately named Ashpits Pond and Pwll Lagoon nature reserve.
The bus was waiting for us on the east side of Burry Port, to take us to Stradey Castle. Here we looked at environmentally-sensitive engineering work by Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water to prevent flooding, under the RainScape project. The problem was that houses had been built in the 1980s on a floodplain, necessitating massive and expensive works to protect them. We then proceeded to the Pen y Fai water-analysis laboratory for lunch.
It was a worthwhile and informative walk and I trust NRW will continue the tradition next year.