Its autumn and the trees are going into their dormancy. I can hear the River Usk roaring through the valley after yet another heavy spell of rain. In the distance I can hear a chainsaw. My husband, daughter and grandson are laying one of our hedges…passing the ancient skill on to the next generation.
After the storm there is calm. The sun is shining down on my face, there is a brilliance of colour from the autumnal leaves.
I pick up a chewed hazelnut shell. Red squirrels have returned to the area. I show my granddaughter where the squirrel had nibbled the shell, removing the nut.
I think of the past…
I shouldn’t have worried so much. I was so scared that the Park was merely a preservation society. Its role being to stop any development in the Park, allowing only the suited and booted to buy property. I was afraid that the Park would become full of soulless dormitory villages, but I was wrong.
Our farm business is a beef, sheep and eco-tourism business, which continues to thrive today. We are grateful for the BBNP’s new approach which has enabled us to build a modular energy-efficient eco- home within the farmstead. We were eligible as we could prove that we make our living principally from the land, which incidentally carries over to other land-based sectors too. This means that my husband and I can still live on the farm where we have lived most of our lives and we are able to pass our knowledge on and support future generations. I’m now able to watch the grandchildren while my kids tend to lambing, shearing and guiding school groups around the land. My grandchildren are also now able to live on the farmstead, which is of vital support to me too, keeping an eye on, fetching and carrying, enabling me to still be independent and useful.
When this area was designated a National Park my father-in- law went to Ystradfellte school, my mother- in-law went to Trallong school. In later years my husband went to Crai school and I went to Libanus school – all of these schools were long gone by 2022. Young people were migrating out of the area because of the lack of jobs and housing. Now, in the year 2047, these trends have been reversed; not only is the wildlife flourishing but so are our communities, with different generations living alongside each other, learning from each other and supporting each other.
Against the odds, the Park managed to get the balance right. They didn’t merely preserve a landscape – a photo in time – they have enabled it to become a living, breathing and dynamic place, with vibrant communities of all ages, and all species.