The bespoke wooden seats mark either end of the Beacons Way – a 95 mile linear walk from Skirrid Fawr Mountain, near Abergavenny, to the village of Bethlehem, near Llangadog – and were unveiled during a ceremony last week.
With growing interest and the walk gaining increased publicity, the Beacons Way Steering Committee responsible for the route decided last year to erect special markers at each end of the route to celebrate arrival and departure, increase understanding of the Beacons Way and further engage with visitors.
Welsh sculptor Robert Jakes was chosen to create the new benches, and his design was carved out of two halves of one Welsh oak trunk sourced from sustainable woodland on the Lawrenny Estate, Pembrokeshire. The carvings were then charred so their design created a representation of landmarks on the local landscape – Llyn y Fan Fach and Skirrid Fawr.
The seats were installed earlier this year, but were officially unveiled on Saturday, July 28 by author and television personality Trevor Fishlock and Brecon Beacons National Park Authority Chairman Julie James. The event coincided with the end of the annual Beacons Way Walk organised by Brecon Beacons Park Society, and Mr Fishlock and Mrs James were on hand to present certificates to walkers completing their eight-day trek across the National Park.
Julie James, Chairman of Brecon Beacons National Park Authority, said: “As the first official route to span the whole of Brecon Beacons National Park, Beacons Way really is a remarkable tribute to the work and determination of the Brecon Beacons Park Society. The walk is the brainchild of the late John Sansom, former Secretary of Brecon Beacons Park Society, written and researched in conjunction with Arwel Michael and Chris Barber.
“I think it’s fitting to pay tribute to the forward thinking they shared and showed back in 2001 to help create this beautiful route during the dark days of the terrible Foot and Mouth outbreak – which had a severe impact on tourism here in the National Park. The Beacons Way is a fantastic legacy for John Sansom to leave behind for his family, for the Park Society and for the National Park and its millions of visitors. I’m sure it will be enjoyed by walkers from near and far for many, many more years to come. “
Jim Wilson, Chairman of Brecon Beacons Park Society, said: “The Brecon Beacons Park Society is very proud to have devised this route and we welcome the introduction of two unique features to raise awareness of the Beacons Way. We believe they are a fitting tribute to the work of John Sansom, Chris Barber and Arwel Michael who worked tirelessly to create this long distance route.”
Ruth Coulthard, Funding Development Officer for Brecon Beacons National Park Authority, said: “The benches provide a unique marker to celebrate either end of this special route that traverses the Brecon Beacons. The use of Welsh oak and the reflection of the landscape in the design, plus the fact they can be used by weary walkers, fit well into the landscape and will hopefully give the route the recognition it deserves.”
Co-creator of the Beacons Way Walk and Brecon Beacons Park Society member Chris Barber, added: “The two benches provide a definite start and finish to the walk and anyone completing it in either direction will not only be glad of a sit down but may also wish to have a photograph taken to provide a record of their achievement. To walk the full length of this very special route is a very rewarding experience, but navigational skills are essential.”
Notes to Editors
A new revised book on Beacons Way – ‘The Beacons Way: The Holy Mountain to Bethlehem’, complete with maps, instructions and points of historical interest – is available in the National Park’s visitor and information centres, local bookshops or direct from Blorenge Books (01873 856114) priced at £9.99 plus £2 p&p.
The Beacons Way route itself is managed by a steering group comprising the Brecon Beacons Park Society, the Brecon Beacons National Park Authority and the Countryside
Council for Wales.
It was during the dark days of the Foot and Mouth disease outbreak in 2001, that former Brecon Beacons Park Society Secretary John Sansom had the idea to create an official National Park trail. John worked tirelessly to publish the official Beacons Way Guide which was written in conjunction with Arwel Michael and Chris Barber in 2005. Sadly, John passed away in 2005 but he left an incredible legacy in the form of the route and guide which is now one of the most popular walks in the Brecon Beacons National Park.