A wonderful world of wildlife has opened up for children with disabilities at Poppit Marsh, after a volunteer group teamed up with Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Rangers and Wardens to create a surfaced path.
Since 2010 St Dogmaels Community Association Cymdeithas Llandudoch has methodically cleared 18 acres of the invasive species Himalayan balsam from its source at the head of a stream to Poppit Marsh, through which an accessible gravel footpath runs.
National Park Authority North Area Warden Manager Geraint Harries said: “Authority staff repaired the path to a wheelchair standard while hard-working Cymdeithas Llandudoch volunteers systematically tackled the marshy areas where this ‘pink peril’ grows adjacent to the path.”
Gill Wislocka, a long-standing volunteer with Cymdeithas Llandudoch is delighted with the resulting facility and said: “I felt almost tearful to see families with disabled children on the new wheelchair accessible path through Poppit Marsh.
“It is a joy that these children can access the marsh not as some special ‘disability’ feature but as a normal path that other families use.
“Now the balsam is very much depleted, people can see the stream, the dippers, the beauty and variety of flowers and plants such as the tussock sedges. They have also seen froglets crossing the path and heard the birdsong, which is far more varied than when this area was just a Himalayan balsam forest.”
She added she had spoken to some of the visitors, who wanted to extend their thanks to the National Park Authority for creating a path which has ‘made their holiday a joy and a place they will return to’.
Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority Chairman Cllr Mike James said: “We are continually working to make more and more of the beautiful Pembrokeshire Coast accessible for wheelchair users, people with pushchairs and those who are less able.
“Cymdeithas Llandudoch kick-started this project by making such tremendous efforts to clear the area of Himalayan balsam.
“It’s always pleasing to be able to work with communities in the National Park to bring about tangible improvements and I’m delighted that the path is now being so well used by local people and visitors.”
For more wheelchair accessible routes in the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park log onto www.pembrokeshirecoast.org.uk/WalksForAll.