On October 12th and 13th, Storm Callum dropped a lot of rain in South Wales. Many places further up the Usk valley than Abergavenny had aound 200mm of rain in 48 hours – more than they usually get in the whole of October. The results on the Meadows were dramatic.
But this is what flood meadows are supposed to do: give the surge of water somewhere to go so the floods are reduced downstream. Indeed although the Llanfoist Bridge water gauge appears to have recorded its highest lev el ever, further downstream the levels were less extreme.
Down on the Meadows, our pond is nicely full of water. Like this it can attract moorhens, kingfishers and many other wildlife species. In the past the level of water in the pond depended on how much rain there had been – in summer it could dry out completely – but in future it should be a lot more reliable. We’ve used our share of the 2017 Food Festival’s Community Fund to install a pipe that will divert a small quantity of water from the Cibi Brook when the pond needs topping up. Better for wildlife to live and feed in, and for humans to look at.
With water courses the main focus Keep Wales Tidy’s 2018 ‘Spring Clean’ programme Friends of Castle Meadows volunteers recently played their part by ‘Clearing the Afon Cibi’.
The event had been scheduled for St David’s Day itself but the heavy snowfall and freezing temperatures led to its postponement. One week on the Friends’ clean up, along with the faster flow resulting from the snowmelt, meant that a previously part blocked 60 m stretch of the river was running clear and fast towards the Usk by the end of the session.
Along with the 6 bags of waste taken away at the end, among the more noteworthy removals was a car wheel and tyre as well as a vehicle’s complete exhaust pipe cunningly camouflaged as a fallen log.
Although the river Usk is a major factor in the meadows, flooding them most winters, we don’t know much about the water the rest of the year. We’re planning to improve our knowledge by installing dip wells – small, covered holes about a metre deep – so we can take regular measurements of how far below the ground surface the water is. While digging, we also took a soil sample that will be analysed to see what nutrients it contains. Since each flood leaves rich silt on the surface of the meadows, we’re expecting quite a lot.
Winning entries in the Friends of Castle Meadows photographic competition are being showcased on the Maes during the National Eisteddfod.
The theme of the competition, sponsored by Shackleton Photographic, was to capture the best of the natural world of Abergavenny and its surrounding area. Seventy-nine entries were submitted by forty-four entrants.
Prize winners were presented with their prizes of certificates and vouchers by Councillor Chris Woodhouse, the Mayor of Abergavenny, Councillor Paul Jordan, the Vice Chairman of Monmouthshire County Council, Mr Vince Penticost, President of the Welsh Photographic Federation, and Darren Cox, of Shackleton Photographic, one of the judges
“We would like to thank Monmouthshire County Council for including the exhibition in their space on the Maes and thank Shackleton Photographic for their support and sponsorship,” said Helen Trevor Davies, Chair of the Friends of Castle Meadows.