Chairman: Frances Llewellyn
Secretary: Noel Davey
Telephone: 01758 713300
The Caernarfonshire Branch covers the districts of Arfon and Dwyfor in the North and West of Gwynedd.
We liaise closely with the Meirionnydd Branch regarding developments in the South of Gwynedd, with the Anglesey Branch particularly regarding the Menai shores, and with the Snowdonia Society in matters relating to the National Park.
The Branch holds formal committee meetings 4-5 times a year and meets regularly for social events. Our active Planning sub-group continuously monitors planning applications with particular reference to Dwyfor.
Each year the Branch organises a number of social events and visits. Our planned programme for 2020 has been overtaken by the Coronavirus crisis. We are hopeful that some events can be scheduled from September onwards including our branch AGM provisionally scheduled on Saturday October 3rd. More details will be given when social distancing restrictions are lifted or sufficiently reduced to allow events to be resumed.
Report on Caernarfonshire Branch Summer Events 2019
This year our themes were Community Enterprises (notably drink) and wild plant communities. We started in May at Moel y Ci Farm, near Bangor which had gone through some difficulties since our last visit, but has now re-established itself as a Community Interest Company. Twelve of us arrived for a very good lunch of home produce followed by an interesting talk from Colin Keyse about the struggle to establish the CIC and their plans for its future sustainability within the ethos of ecologically sensitive land-use. Finally we toured the farm looking at the existing allotments and at the locations for new developments, such as a new type of small wind-turbine.
In June we went to Nefyn to visit the brewery Cwrw Llyn, in their new shiny premises on Parc Eithin alongside the longer established Dwyfor Coffee. Because of licencing laws we were not allowed in until the stroke of noon when we went upstairs to hear the story of its foundation -- or re-foundation if a Bronze Age site near Llanengan with evidence for boiling barley, can be identified as an early brewing site (the story is on the wall in the foyer) – then we saw the modern vats and finally we tasted the product and bought several bottles. After lunch in Morfa Nefyn we drove up to Caeau Tan y Bwlch above Clynnog where we met Rob Booth of NWWT. These fields, bought by Plantlife in the 1980s, had never suffered from modern farming and were ablaze with orchids and other meadow flowers. As well as identifying the flowers Rob gave us a mobile seminar on the challenges of managing these fields -- should incipient gorse be cut? how long should the Welsh blacks be grazing them? the cattle are inoculated – the cowpats don’t decay quite as quickly as they should. What seems entirely natural is very difficult to maintain! After this visit some members went on to Coed Elernion above Trefor to look at woodland flora with Maggie Mason.
The trip in July to Abergwyngregyn was very similar: concentrating on alcohol and plants. We started with gin on this occasion – the new distillery at the mouth of the river. The Aber Falls Distillery plans to distil whisky and gin, but whisky takes many years to mature – whereas gin can be sold within months. So, all ten of us bought several samples of their innovative flavours after our tour. We then went up the valley to the Community Restaurant in the old mill in the centre of the village. This has been a very successful community enterprise for many years under the auspices of the Aber Regeneration Company. This same group has successfully delivered a Community Hydro scheme and, with one of the directors, Dr Gavin Gatehouse, we visited the Turbine House beside the river after lunch. This is just at the edge of a famous area of Ancient Woodland and with the help of Philip Green, ecologist with NRW , who had given us notes on the definition of Ancient Woodlands, we wandered up the path towards the Falls in the afternoon sunshine.
Our last trip was in September when we visited Llanystumdwy under the leadership of the conservation architect, Adam Voelcker. We foregathered for lunch at the recently established community pub, Y Plu, where we were joined by Siôn Aled, manager of a local supermarket who was giving his time at weekends to the management of this new enterprise. He spoke about the anxieties and pleasures of the job. After lunch we visited the Lloyd George Museum and then walked up to Ty Newydd, Lloyd George’s house, which had been renovated for him in the 1930s by Clough Williams Ellis. In more recent years this has had quite a chequered history. It has been a centre for literary courses for some years. It is now in private ownership and is also in wider use for conferences and special events. On leaving the house we spent some time at Lloyd George’s grave above the river, in a most subtly beautiful enclosure designed by Clough Williams Ellis. Then we went down to look at the parish church, sadly just about to be closed, and also the large Welsh Calvinistic Methodist Moriah Chapel (another Clough design) in the main street; this is now on the market with an uncertain future.
Our AGM in October also took place in a Community Enterprise : hall, shop, cafe and bunk house, newly created by Gwynedd County Council from the old village school at Y Fron above Carmel. Our speaker was Colin Cheeseman of Plantlife who spoke about endangered ‘arable weed’ species in Wales.
Seven years of Renewable Energy Day Schools
Over the last seven years the Branch has been running an annual Day School on various aspects of renewable energy and energy conservation. These have been designed for CPRW members who wish to adopt a greener lifestyle and the speakers have been local academic researchers and consultants who have generously given us an insight into their on-going work. We have particularly benefited from the advice of Keith Jones of the National Trust, Prof Stuart Irvine of Glyndŵr University and Prof Gareth Wyn Jones of Bangor.
In 2010 we started with a day on small hydro electric schemes, starting with the 19th century ones and concentrating on their technology and construction. This was followed by a day on the science behind photovoltaic panels, and then we looked at house insulation, especially the options relating to our stock of stone houses in Gwynedd. The following year, 2013, we studied new-build houses, the passi-house and its associates. In 2014 we returned to science and discussed Power Storage: the history and future of battery design, and also pump storage (so appropriate since we meet in Electric Mountain, Llanberis). We followed this with a discussion of various low-energy heating systems: ground, water and air source heat pumps and also the improving technology of wood burning stoves.
In 2016 our Day School returned to hydro-electricity, looking not so much at the technology of generation, as at how local communities can use and benefit from their own power sources. Last year we discussed electric cars and how we need to prepare for their widespread use. This year (2018) we had hoped to look at the Swansea Barage and other such major schemes, but politics defeated us – and also the fact that Electric Mountain is closed for 6 months refurbishment.
Grants and Awards
In recent years the Branch has given small bursaries to support Bangor University students in Conservation and Land Management complete MSc theses with topics relevant to CPRW interests. In 2014-15 we maintained our link with the University and with Treborth Botanical Gardens by donating a grant for the expenses of external speakers in the new Applied Plant Conservation MSc course.
In 2018 the Branch gave a Rural Wales Award to the Llŷn Maritime Museum for its informed and enthusiastic promotion of Nefyn’s history and its active engagement with local people and visitors alike to expand the understanding of that history.
In 2016 the Branch gave a Rural Wales Award to Dylan’s Restaurant in Criccieth in recognition of their restoration of the beach cafe, Morannedd, designed by Clough Williams Ellis in 1952, and of their care for the ecology of the beach on which the building stands, as well as their establishment of a flourishing business bringing life and vibrancy back to this part of Criccieth.
In 2015 the Branch gave a Rural Wales Award to Welsh Slate Ltd for their work on restoration of native vegetation on the slate tips of the Penrhyn Quarry at Bethesda.
In 2014 the Branch gave its Rural Wales Award to Richard and Iola Wyn Huws for their work in establishing the Pant Du Vineyard in the Nantlle Valley near Penygroes.
In 2013 the Award went to the local arts and cultural centre of Plas Glyn y Weddw in Llanbedrog in recognition of the excellent Winllan development, comprising an open air amphitheatre and the restoration of woodland and paths which have been adopted for the Coastal Path route.
We would like to welcome new members. Please contact the Secretary if you would like more details about Branch activities or if you would like to join us in helping to protect local rural landscapes and communities.
We are looking for members for our Branch Committee and for those interested in reviewing planning applications on a regular basis, particularly in Arfon.
Current Branch Interests and Concerns
Draft National Development Framework
Joint Local Development Plan
Protected Landscapes in Gwynedd
Sustainable Development and well-being policies
If you would like to read further information about these issues, then please download the latest Branch News from the link below:
Links to other local partners
The Snowdonia Society: www.snowdonia-society.org.uk
Llŷn Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty: