For the last weekend of September over 300 National Trust volunteers descended on Craflwyn, an NT property just north of Beddgelert in Snowdonia's Nantgwynant valley, for a weekend of camping and "slaying the monster", more widely known as rhody bashing... in other words, cutting down and burning vast quantities of rhododendron ponticum.
A lot of people wonder why it's necessary to get rid of rhododendrons, with their pretty flowers. The trouble is, they grow prolifically in acid soils, choking out the native wildlife and severely reducing the biodiversity of an area. I read in a piece of NT literature that while a piece of oak woodland can support 500 different species, this particularly type of rhododendron will support only two. Not only that, but its leaves are inedible to most animals and poisonous to livestock. When the Trust took over the Craflwyn estate in 1994, the land had not been managed for some time and the rhodies were covering a third of the estate, so getting them under control has been an enormous task which is still ongoing.
The event drew the attention of the local and national media and we were filmed by at least three different TV companies. I'm told that we were featured on the BBC local news on the Saturday night, and I know from first-hand experience that we were also filmed for the Sky Community channel and for a video about the National Trust being made by the BBC. The catering - which was excellent - was done by the Army, and on the Saturday evening we had the annual Working Holiday Leaders' Awards and a live Welsh band.
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Day 1: scenes on the worksite.
Views around the campsite on Saturday afternoon.
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