You may’ve seen the photo but did you guess what this helicopter was up to this week?
Spectacular scenes were seen this week as over 400 tonnes of crushed stone were airlifted by helicopter and taken to a remote section of the famous Offa’s Dyke to resurface a section of the footpath.
Battling freezing conditions and changeable weather, Brecon Beacons National Park Authority airlifted the material to Hay Bluff (at 677 metres / 2221 ft above sea level) to create a sustainable path surface in areas where the path has eroded. It will create sustainable improvements to more than 3200 metres of the path to minimise further erosion damage.
The stone is taken in 1 tonne loads, one at a time to the site and will take approximately 5 days to transport the complete load. The aggregate has been specially selected because of its durability and compatibility with the existing stone along the footpath.
The sections of worn and eroded footpath are up to 2 miles from the nearest road, and due to its steep gradient and ground conditions it can only be accessed on foot or by helicopter. Wardens and staff from Brecon Beacons National Park Authority are being assisted by the Black Mountains Uplands volunteers during the operation.
Richard Ball, Access Officer for Brecon Beacons National Park Authority said: “Changeable weather conditions, the remote location and the altitude of the site meant that using a helicopter was the most appropriate option for this access work. Most of the upland area in The Black Mountains is protected as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) because of its upland habitats which are really special and we need to take care not to damage the site whilst completing the works.
“The area is also important economically in terms of farming and tourism and whilst this brings important income to the area it also costs money to ensure that it is protected and maintained. The Black Mountains Upland Volunteers play an increasingly important role in maintaining upland paths in the area and they have started to undertake essential maintenance on paths across the area. Most years we undertake upland path repairs across the National Park to improve the surface but mainly to discourage walkers from trampling sensitive upland habitat in the surrounding area. Walkers can also do their bit by following the Countryside Code remaining on repaired paths and considering how they could contribute to maintenance of paths.”
Margaret Underwood, Member Champion for biodiversity for Brecon Beacons National Park Authority said: “This work offers us the opportunity to provide a high quality path that provides good walking and minimises damage to the rich biodiversity of the area. Our wardens will certainly have a job on their hands given the current weather conditions but I am confident they will be more than up to the task.”
The path lies between Hay on Wye and Pandy and is one of the most popular trails used by walkers who are visiting the area.
The work is funded by Natural Resources Wales, Natural England and the Brecon Beacons National Park Authority.
If you are interested in joining the Black Mountains Upland Volunteers project please contact:
Jason Rees 01874 620484