The nature of CAT – an interview with the woodland team

We are extremely proud of our biodiversity here at CAT and are very lucky to be surrounded by such rich habitats every day. We caught up with Alex Chadwick, a Conservation Development Assistant and part of the woodland team here at CAT, to learn a little bit more about how the site is managed for nature and to find out what wildlife to look out for at this time of year.

Continue reading “The nature of CAT – an interview with the woodland team”

Micro yet Mighty – Easter at CAT

At CAT this Easter we are celebrating all things Micro Yet Mighty, 8th – 23rd April.

This Easter holiday, we invite you and your family to re-discover the overlooked, marvel at the miniscule and explore the world in close-up. Shifting our perspective back to how it was when we were small enables us to re-discover the world in detail and make new connections with the complex environments that we belong to. Continue reading “Micro yet Mighty – Easter at CAT”

Welsh nature and beyond – nature discovery talks at CAT

This April a series of talks at CAT will take you on a journey from ancient Welsh woodland to the Amazon rainforest and beyond. 

On Wednesday 5th April we start our programme of evening talks with Adam Thorogood from the Woodland Trust. It takes many centuries to develop the rich, complex and irreplaceable ecosystems found within our ancient woodland but now this precious habitat covers just 2% of the UK. Continue reading “Welsh nature and beyond – nature discovery talks at CAT”

Celebrate with CAT’s architects of the future

CAT’s Architecture Professional Diploma students celebrate the end of their studies with a private view of their work and a party at CAT on 20th January.

This unique event invites industry VIPs, students, local people and friends of CAT to view the final projects of these up-and-coming architects after 18 months of intensive study. Transforming study rooms into exhibition spaces their inspirational designs and models will be available to view with the students themselves on-hand to talk guests through their visions. This will be a unique insight into the ideas of the architects of our future. Continue reading “Celebrate with CAT’s architects of the future”

A Wonderful Day in the Woods!

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Ailsa Mair Hughes playing the cello on the Quarry Trail

Winding up through the trees along CAT’s brand new Quarry Trail on this special Monday in autumn you would have heard the purest notes of a harp being played. Wandering up further to the reservoir a solo cellist could be heard, the sound drifting across Llwyngwern Quarry where it would eventually intertwine with the atmospheric voices of Welsh folk song projected into the Snowdonia National Park.

Two years ago the idea of opening up never-before-seen areas of CAT woodland was born. The three trails – all equally uneven, steep in places and absolutely spectacular – wind up through broadleaf woodland and skim the steep slope and beautiful views of the Old Quarry.

From here the two longer trails take you to a moorland heath area and tranquil reservoir before trailing through a canopy of trees to reach a panoramic view of the Snowdonia National Park. With CAT in sight below, you make your way down through managed dormouse woodland, a wildflower meadow and willow and hazel coppice until you’re back in CAT once again.

 

On this special opening day, as you explored the trails, you would have discovered musicians, singers and a storyteller who brought the trails to life, while experts in wildlife and history of the quarry helped visitors to gain a better understanding of their surroundings. A micro-landscapes tour provided a glimpse into the tiny world of mosses and lichens, a local ornithologist was on hand with tips and tricks for recognising bird song and an expert from Corris Mine Explorers talked through the geology and history of the Old Quarry.

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Adrian and Rob cutting the Quarry Trail ribbon

The day began with a packed out celebration and ribbon cutting on the platform over-looking the Old Quarry. CAT’s CEO Adrian Ramsay said:

“The new trail will bring people closer to nature and local heritage, illustrating the impact that humans have had on biodiversity, and helping visitors understand how we create landscapes that actively benefit nature. I’m really looking forward to seeing people exploring and enjoying the trails.”

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A walk in the woods

Special thanks must go to Natural Resources Wales who supported the project, CAT’s woodland team Rob, Joe, Eleri, Alison and volunteers Dan, Sion, Max, Jade and Hamish who have worked tirelessly behind the scenes to build the trails. Thank you also to all of the enthusiastic and talented people that brought the trails to life during the opening day and all the visitors who filled the trails with fun.

All three trails are now open to CAT visitors but don’t forget to wear practical shoes and keep children close as the trails have steep, uneven sections and are absolutely breath-taking.

Quarry Trail Launch Party!

quarrytrail-copyJoin us on Monday 24th October as we celebrate the opening of CAT’s new Quarry Trail with a day out in nature for all the family.

Built with support from Natural Resources Wales, the trail explores the wildlife and biodiversity of the old slate quarry on which CAT is built, and looks at the history of changing land-use and industry in the area. Winding up through broadleaf woodland, three different trails of varying lengths allow access to never-before-seen areas of the CAT woodlands and gardens whilst offering spectacular views into the Snowdonia National Park.

The launch event will see the trail brought to life by musicians, singers and storytellers, whilst experts in the wildlife and history of the quarry will help visitors to get a better understanding of their surroundings.

Micro-landscape tours provide a glimpse into the tiny world of mosses anqtl-progd lichens, a local ornithologist will be on hand with tips and tricks for recognising bird song, and an expert from Corris Mine Explorers will talk through the geology and history of the old quarry. There’s also the chance to get involved in surveying a new wildflower meadow and to get to grips with green woodworking skills.

The Quarry Trail opens on Monday 24th October, with activities from 10am and an opening ceremony at 11.30am. CAT’s family activities continue throughout half-term week.

Download the programme and map of the day.

 

In search of a life change…

Joe Wogden started his 6 months woodland volunteering at CAT in March 2015. In search of a change of life, he gave up a job in Yorkshire in favour of gaining practical experience in the environmental sector. He gained a degree in Ecology some years ago and wanted to reconnect with the natural world, and for Joe CAT’s long-term volunteer placement fit the bill. After completing his long-term volunteering, Joe was offered a job within CAT’s woodland team which has meant he has been working on the creation of the Quarry Trail since its beginning.

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Joe collecting seeds in collaboration with Kew Gardens

When Rob Goodsell, CAT’s woodland manager, told me early last summer that by October the following year there would be a new 1.5km circular woodland walk open to the public I found it hard to believe.“The new walk will take in a view of the quarry”, he said, “as well as going up to the reservoir and linking to the other side of site”. Hmmm…I thought, gazing down from the top of a steep and slippery slope, thick with out-of-control rhododendron and brambles. I knew straight away that we would have our work cut out for us.

My first week on the project involved my fellow ‘woodies’ and I cutting all the rhododendron on the bank, winching out the roots, dragging everything to the other side and getting a good bonfire going. It was exhausting work but the more we cleared, the easier it was to imagine a footpath in its place. Well, that seems like a long time ago now and since then it has really taken shape, thanks to the hard work of project coordinator Eleri and long-term woodland volunteer Dan, as well as the other short-term volunteers who have helped make it happen.

It’s not just the satisfaction of seeing the path develop over weeks and months that is so pleasing – it’s also the opportunities it has given me to learn new skills. Before I came to CAT my practical skills were very limited, but thanks to the footpath project I can make fences and build gabions with the best of them! We’re in the final stages now, installing the last section of handrail near the reservoir so that the route will be safe and ready to open in the last week of October.

Every time I’m on the new path it makes me think of how far it has come in a relatively short time, and with so few people. The woodland walk is a fantastic addition to all the great things CAT has to offer. I’m proud to have been a part of it and I hope that you get the chance to experience some of its history, biodiversity and the fantastic views!

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View of the old quarry from the new Quarry Trail

After the Quarry Trail has been opened to the public on the 24th of October Joe will be working with the current volunteers on the core woodland management activities that take place in the winter months: felling trees, thinning, vegetation clearance (bramble bashing!) and firewood processing.

He is not sure what 2017 will bring but having gained experience as both a volunteer and an employee at CAT he is keen to pursue a job in the environmental sector, something he would not have considered applying for before.