VINE summary: Coed Allt Goch - Llanidloes

Written by Tir Coed / Tuesday 13 December 2016

This has been a very enjoyable and very productive year. We started out this year allocating the first four special activity days to the development of CARAD grounds in Rhayader. Volunteers developed a site plan and 8 months on were awarded one of the top prizes in the Tesco Bags Fund. Local volunteers worked very hard to develop an outside space to include seating areas, compost bins with a thinning of trees and planting of shrubs. With the additional funding Tir Coed will develop the site further, significantly consolidating the relationship with CARAD: important groundwork for the Elan Valley partnership


The Practical Conservation training course (Agored Cymru, Level 2) was conducted at the beginning of the year. Volunteers helped to maintain a number of important areas within Allt Goch woods including the heath, coppice and wildlife rides. Volunteers also repaired and maintained steps and other infrastructure and very importantly removed numerous dead or partially fallen branches that were posing a real risk to the public. In all this work was very important in order to ensure a longer lasting durability to the biodiversity and amenity improvements that have been conducted by Tir Coed over the past years.

This training course also marked a significant development this year within Llanidloes VINE: the introduction of volunteer mentoring. This was a reaction to the progression needs of trainees coming out of training courses within the second year. With a manifest desire to transcend the role of ‘service user’, these graduates returned to support trainees in the third year. The Trainee Mentor initiative progresses trainees from recipients of learning to supporting the next wave of trainees. It is a significant step for mentors to learn the art of facilitating the learning of others. Mentors have reported feeling of value to others and within themselves through this initiative as a major step towards becoming of value within their communities.

Local Artist Terri Sweeney facilitated three progressive woodland sculpture activity days on behalf of Tir Coed in April and May, teaching basic weaving techniques, participants made approximately 100 flower heads using raffia and willow. These were assembled onto bamboo canes and inserted into a central ball that was made by weaving and filling with soil and clay. By working on small manageable pieces collectively, stunning results were achieved. 

Two special activity days were allocated to our trainee graduate who had progressed to volunteer mentor, Dave Wilcox. Supported by our experienced tutor Colin Titley, Dave led two highly successful tree identification and information walks around some exciting sites in Newtown. One addressed identification when the trees were not in leaf and the second when the trees were in leaf. These were the first activity days that Dave has helped to facilitate for Tir Coed and we are very proud of his progression from volunteering, through mentoring and now into leadership. We are looking to use his skills in the large five-year project starting in 2017 in the Elan Valley.


The Kaleidoscope group (mental health and substance misuse organisation) enjoyed two activity days where they thoroughly enjoyed the woods with walking, dramatizing and team development followed by making ornate staffs, dreamcatchers, spoon blanks and spatulas. They made fires and cooked whilst engaging in deep discussions and learning bird songs. Another special activity day was designated to re-weaving the living willow structure to ensure that it grows in accordance to the design. The structure is now filling out within the gaps and is a real signature piece for Tir Coed’s legacy. 

This year thirteen activity sessions were allocated to Powys Young Carers Montgomeryshire Group, which occurred throughout the summer and autumn period, one weekend day per month. The young carers engaged in a plethora of activities within the outdoor learning environment of Allt Goch woods. This involved informative nature walks, fire safety, a range of play activities, tool use and safety, competitions, measurements, woodland survival and orientation, biodiversity identification, small scale charcoal making and charcoal pencils, leaf and bark rubbing, whistle making and culminating in an idiosyncratically ‘harmonious’ whistle-orchestra. It was so lovely to be able to offer the young carers such enjoyable respite from their otherwise busy and demanding lives and we look forward to offering more in the future.


The second training course of the year was located at Pen-Y-Garreg Dam at the Elan Valley. After considerable consultation and liaison the site was chosen as a base for the course and for future activities within the Elan Links Project. Fitting in with the needs of Elan Valley site management, we developed a bespoke Woodland Carpentry Agored Cymru course at level 2 accreditation. The course was also geared as a pilot to troubleshoot logistical issues with running training courses at this location. Work was also done to up-skill tutors in working with volunteers with very difficult backgrounds including sever social anxiety, mental health issues and substance misuse. The work paid off as the course achieved 100% retention of its volunteers. A team of twelve volunteers included 5 mentors and 9 who started and completed accreditation.


Three Biodiversity Monitoring days throughout the year at Allt Goch produced more new discoveries and there is now a comprehensive picture of the development of biodiversity within the woods as a direct result of Tir Coed’s woodland management courses and activities. The final biodiversity monitoring report from Vital Ecology states significant increases in new species discovered. Monitoring of the woods in years 1 and 2 identified ‘indicator species’ that suggested the previous management of the wood through coppicing and sporadic areas of traditional heathland. This year new species discovered supported these developments within the training courses. Examples include the Tiger Hawk Moth, discovered in the reclaimed heath area and Heath Speedwell within the coppice area, amongst others.


Thirty-four French residents of Derval (ranging from 5 to 69 years old) were treated to a descriptive walk around Allt Goch Woods, Llanidloes on the 24th July. Tir Coed led the walk to support Llanidloes Twinning Committee and the walk was aptly led by Dave Hughes. Dave is a remarkable person. Commencing with Tir Coed on a volunteering training course in 2014, he has progressed through mentoring others on the courses and has now developed to the position of Tir Coed support tutor. Dave's knowledge of Allt Goch woods is now second to none. This was the first time he had ever led a group and we are all so proud of his progress, courage and achievement. 

“We are all very pleased with the visit. All I have heard is it was wonderful and very interesting and the pace of walking and stopping was great for the children. We were especially impressed with Dave and with his knowledge, skill and great enthusiasm. Keep up the good work!” Derval Interpreter.


Tir Coed strengthened its links with the Severn Rivers Trust during a Rivers and woodlands activity day in the summer. This day was a lovely mixture of learning about the work of the Severn Rivers Trust, constructing soft revetment work and exploring the connections between Tir Coed and the Trust. Brash bundles were used to line the riverbank. They were staked into place and wired together to form a barrier for further erosion and to ensure the appropriate flow of the rivers. This was to ensure that the life of the rivers was maintained to its optimum level. It was also very exciting to discuss the potential for partnership between Tir Coed and the Severn Rivers Trust: both robust organisations with much in common.


There is now a real sense of the community coming together in Llanidloes and the wider catchment area due to the last three years’ interventions. Tir Coed and Both Coed joined together again to deliver the final VINE harvest celebration involving approximately 150 local residents, artists, the town council, the major, assembly minister and the press. The positive press release on this event was testament to the great support and appreciation that Tir Coed now receives from the Llanidloes community and the wider Powys catchment area.  This is not surprising as this year saw the continued involvement of 30+ referral and beneficiary organisations and social involvement from across the county and beyond. Through the combined delivery of activity days, training courses, open days and spin-off strategic commercial ventures, Llanidloes VINE year three has outreached to over 700 people, equating to over 7000 voluntary hours, and a significant portion of this will continue post-VINE.