Conference 2016 Field Trips

Organised by the Clwydian Range and Dee Valley, Malvern Hills, Shropshire Hills and Wye Valley AONB Partnerships.

Under the Conference theme of Sharing, Learning, Inspiring, with particular reference to natural beauty and health and wellbeing, the local AONB Partnerships have organised a day which will give delegates an opportunity to see a wide range of initiatives and projects.

It is hoped that the field trips will provoke a lively debate and an exchange of views. These views will then be summarised and a resulting paper will be included with post-conference papers, which will be uploaded to this Conference Blog.

The field trips will take place on Wednesday 29th June.

Field Trip 1

AONB: Clwydian Range and Dee Valley
Field Trip Name: Our Picturesque Landscape
Leader: David Shiel


This trip will give delegates the opportunity to visit the Poncysyllte Aqueduct and Llangollen Canal World Heritage Site to look at the work that that is about to be embarked upon as part of a Landscape Partnership Scheme which focuses on the conservation of cultural and natural heritage in the context of high visitor numbers.

In the morning we will travel by mini coach to the Stream in the Sky – the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct which spans the Dee Valley 124ft above the valley floor. Here we will meet with an officer from the Canal and River Trust to discuss the work the Trust is undertaking locally.

We will then cycle 6 miles along the canal towpath to the Horseshoe Falls at Llantysilio where Thomas Telford’s circular weir on the River Dee feeds the Shropshire Union Canal with 12 million gallons of water a day. There will be an opportunity here to discuss issues around balancing the resilience of the World Heritage Site and River Dee SAC in relation to high numbers of visitors and the work the Our Picturesque Landscape LPS with be addressing.

Lunch will be in the tea rooms at Plas Newydd, Llangollen. Plas Newydd is Historic House and Gardens and former home to Lady Eleanor Butler and Sarah Ponsenby, the Ladies of Llangollen, the 18th Century champions of the Picturesque and Romantic movement.

After lunch we will continue by coach to Castell Dinas Bran, a Medieval castle and hillfort just outside Llangollen. Here we will take a short walk up into the castle with Denbighshire’s Archaeologist to look at recent reconsolidation works. NB: There is a steep climb up to the castle.

We will enjoy an afternoon tea in the Shepherd’s Hut before returning to Lilleshall.

Themes to be discussed

      • The work to be undertaken as part of the AONB Partnership’s Landscape Partnership Scheme in particular the importance as tourism destinations of
        • the Pontcysyllte World Heritage Site and,
        • SAC sites in the Dee Valley

Difficulty: Moderate – a towpath cycle ride of 6 miles and a 1.5 mile walk to Castell Dinas Bran with one steep climb.
Take walking shoes, sun hat, sun cream and wet weather gear
Meals: Local produce lunch at Plas Newydd Tea Rooms
Travel: Coach, cycle and walking
Outbound – 75 minutes mini coach from Lilleshall to Pontcysyllte Aqueduct
Return – 75 minutes mini coach from Castell Dinas Bran to Lilleshall
Depart Lilleshall 9.00am. Return to Lilleshall 6.00pm.
Max group size: 15

Further details:

Tel: 01352 810614

Field Trip 2

AONB: Malvern Hills
Field Trip Name: The Marvellous Malverns
Leader: Paul Esrich


This trip will take delegates on a 7 mile walk up, along and around the Malvern Hills. Beginning at the picturesque Elim College below the Worcestershire Beacon, it zigzags across the Hills to the Herefordshire Beacon (British Camp), before looping back and ending at the delightful Perrycroft Gardens. Stops and talks will take in many famous aspects of the area.

In the morning we will travel by coach to the Elim College, where we will have refreshments and a brief presentation on the AONB. This will be followed by a walk up Westminster Bank to the Dingle where we will meet local resident Brian Harper to discuss the famous Malvern Gas lamps and an ingenious project that addresses both their sustainability and the blight of dog mess in the area.

Continuing up onto the ridge of the hills, we will walk up and over Worcestershire Beacon to the Malvern Hills Geocentre at the Wyche Cutting. Here we will discuss issues around access and recreation, including mountain biking, the rejected cable car proposal and the SDF Tramper project.

We will collect a picnic lunch whilst at the Geocentre and weather permitting return to the hills to eat.

Following lunch, we will visit Holywell Water – the spring where the famous Malvern Water is bottled. We will then continue along the hills to the Herefordshire Beacon (British Camp) before looping back around the West of the hills to Perrycroft Gardens. The trip will end here with a talk about the gardens while enjoying refreshments.

Themes to be discussed

            • Historic Environment, dark skies and their effect on biodiversity (Gas Lamps)
            • Enjoying protected landscapes and health and wellbeing: accessibility and recreation for different user groups (mountain biking, tramper, cable car)
            • Tourism and heritage (Malvern’s Holywell Water and Perrycroft)

Difficulty: Strenuous/active – @ 7 miles of walking with some steep up and down hills.
Take walking boots, sun hat, sun cream and wet weather gear.
Meals: Picnic lunch on the Hills.
Travel: Coach and walking.
Outbound: 90 minutes mini coach from Lilleshall to West Malvern.
Return: 100 minutes mini coach from Perrycroft Gardens to Lilleshall.
Depart Lilleshall 8.00am. Return to Lilleshall 6.15pm.
Max group size: 25

Further details:

Tel: 01684 560616

Field Trip 3

AONB: Shropshire Hills
Field Trip Name: Long Mynd Adventure
Leader: Phil Holden

This trip will allow delegates an active experience of the Long Mynd, looking at commons management, recreation and tourism and a variety of other projects. There will be moderate mountain biking along and down the Mynd, followed by walking in some of the deep hidden valleys, and a cold water dip for the brave.

NB Optional wild camp out to start (pre-booking needed)
Tuesday night at NT wild camping site at Pole Cottage on top of the Long Mynd (a Dark Sky Discovery Site). Depart Lilleshall c9.45pm after formal dinner, arrive 10.45 – 11pm.
Tents will be in place, delegates to bring sleeping bag and mat. Breakfast will be provided but facilities are extremely basic – composting loo and a tank of water!).

In the morning those not camping out the night before will travel by coach to the Long Mynd to join the campers for a short introduction to the AONB. We will then cycle south along the Long Mynd with periodic stops to discuss issues and projects including Commons, Landscape Partnership Scheme and schools work and to partake of refreshments.
We will cycle back and descend to Plush Hill and Inwood along grassy and stone tracks. NB: There will be some rough sections.
Our morning will finish at Little Stretton via Church Stretton.

Lunch will be at the Ragleth Inn, Little Stretton.

Following lunch we will walk up Ashes Hollow with Pete Carty, National Trust Countryside Manager, to look at Commons management, SSSI ecology and recreation. After dropping down to Carding Mill Reservoir where there is an option for a wild swim at your own risk (changing facilities are also wild only), we will discuss NT’s micro hydro electric proposal before continuing along Carding Mill Valley to finish the day with tea at the National Trust Chalet Pavilion tearooms.

Themes to be discussed

            • Commons management – biodiversity and heritage: grazing and bracken control, Uplands Commons project.
            • Recreation and tourism: managing recreation impacts, sustainable tourism (including the European Charter)
            • Education and schools: John Muir Award
            • Conservation projects: AONB Conservation Fund, current Landscape Partnership Scheme, proposed Stepping Stones project

Difficulty: Strenuous/active @ 8 miles biking on and off road (no big hills) and @ 4.5.miles walk including rough ground and some steep up and down hills.

Take shoe/boots for walking and biking, sun hat, sun cream, wet weather gear and swimming things (spare kit can be accessed at lunchtime).
Meals: Pub lunch at Little Stretton and tea at NT Carding Mill Valley.
Travel: Mini coach, mountain bike and walking.
Outbound: 55 minutes coach from Lilleshall to Long Mynd.
Return: 55 minute from Church Stretton to Lilleshall

Depart Lilleshall 8.30am. Return to Lilleshall 6.00pm.
Max group size: 12

Further details:

Tel: 01743 254741

Field Trip 4

AONB: Shropshire Hills
Field Trip Name: Clun Pearler
Leaders: Mike Kelly and Alison Jones

This trip will allow delegates to explore the Clun Valley looking at projects delivered by Shropshire Hills AONB Partnership and its partners: The River Clun Recovery Project seeks to balance the needs of nature conservation with changing farm economics and practices in the context of a European Protected Site (Clun SAC). We will also have the opportunity to meet with Sustainable Business Network Members, representatives from the SDF funded Clun Forest Community Landscape Heritage Project and explore the River Clun as an educational resource.

In the morning we will travel by mini coach to Whitcott Keysett in the Clun Valley. On arrival we will walk down the Clun Valley to look at land management in the Middle Clun and have an introduction to the River Clun Recovery Project. The walk will end at Clun Castle with a short exploration of the Castle and a brief presentation on the Clun Forest Community Landscape Heritage Project with Gill Binks and Viviana Culshaw as well as a discussion about the River Clun as an educational resource led by Fiona Pidduck, who has been engaging school children from St Georges’ Primary School, Clun.

Lunch will be at the White Horse Inn and Micro-brewery, Clun which is a member of the Sustainable Business Network where we will meet with Environment Agency and Natural England colleagues.

After lunch we will travel to Lawn Farm to look at one of the sites of the River Clun Recovery Project before continuing to Jay Bridge to walk the Clun SAC to Leintwardine.

Finally, arriving at Leintwardine we will pause at the Sun Inn – a member of the Sustainable Tourism Network – for tea and cakes before returning to Lilleshall.

Themes to be discussed

            • Biodiversity: Clun Recovery Project – looking at the challenges of returning the Clun SAC to Favourable Condition
            • Partnership Working: Clun Catchment Partnership and local structures. How these are essential to ensure delivery of projects
            • Sustainable Business Network: Visit to members with opportunity to discuss merits of being a member
            • Clun Forest Community Landscape Heritage Project: Outcome of Down to Earth project funded by SDF

Difficulty: Moderate Flat walk of 4 miles (2 miles before lunch and 2 miles after lunch).

Take walking boots, sun hat, sun cream and wet weather gear

Meals: Pub lunch at the White Horse Inn and tea and cake at the Sun Inn
Travel: Mini coach and walking
Outbound: 90 minutes from Lilleshall to Whitcott Keysett
Return: 90 minutes minibus from Clun to Lilleshall

Depart Lilleshall 9.00am. Return to Lilleshall 6.45pm.
Max group size: 14

Further details:

Tel: 01743 254743

Field Trip 5

AONB: Wye Valley
Field Trip Name: Wye Valley well-being triathlon
Leader: Andrew Blake

Description This trip will allow delegates to experience some of the recreational, health and well-being initiatives and opportunities in the heart of the picturesque Wye Valley. We will be canoeing, walking and cycling along the River Wye, hearing about the Wye Valley River Festival, visiting the mindSCAPE project and the famous Yat Rock viewpoint.

In the morning our first stop will be at Goodrich Castle where we will discuss heritage and visitor management. After morning refreshments we will canoe downriver and disembark to use the hand ferry to cross the River Wye. From there we will walk to the Forestry Commission’s Biblins Youth Campsite, one of the best places in Southern Britain for young people to enjoy outdoor education in spectacular scenery..

Lunch will be a picnic at Biblins.

After lunch, we cross iconic Biblins Bridge and the activity continues with a cycle ride along the Peregrine Path on the former railway line to the AONB Office and then on to Braceland for a presentation about MindSCAPE, the Big Lottery funded the AONB Partnership project delivered by local community art group Artscape Cinderford, helping people with dementia and their carers to benefit from re-connecting with the landscape.

Then it’s onto Symonds Yat Rock for refreshments and a view of the River Wye from this popular access-for-all viewpoint where we will discuss enabling wellbeing, heritage and visitor management.

Themes to be discussed

            • Heritage & visitor management: Goodrich Castle, Peregrine Path and Symonds Yat Rock
            • Recreation and wellbeing: canoe trip and riverside walk with historic connection to 18th century Wye Tour and cycle ride
            • Mental health and wellbeing: MindSCAPE project and Wye Valley River Festival

Difficulty: Moderate – 50 minutes gentle paddling downstream, 40 minute flat walk before lunch, 30 minute flat cycle ride after lunch, short incline to viewpoint at Symonds Yat
Take trainers/walking shoes, sun hat, sun cream and wet weather gear.
Meals: Picnic lunch at Biblins Campsite.
Travel: Mini coach, canoeing, cycling and walking.
Outbound: 110 minutes mini coach from Lilleshall to Goodrich.
Return: 110 minutes mini coach from Symonds Yat to Lilleshall

Depart Lilleshall 7.30am. Return to Lilleshall 6.30pm.
Max group size: 16

Further details:
Tel: 07947 856773