Montgomeryshire MP Glyn Davies and Assembly Member Russell George were the first to try out a new ‘green gym’ in the grounds of a leading Mid Wales hotel, conference and events venue in their constituency yesterday (Monday).
The local politicians paid a visit to Gregynog Hall at Tregynon, near Newtown to officially open the ‘green gym’ and a new toilet block for walkers in a restored and converted former gardener’s hut. The opening is perfectly timed as 2016 has been designated the Year of Adventure in Wales.
Designed and installed by Playdale in woodland directly opposite the picturesque Gregynog Hall, the ‘green gym’ provides a challenging exercise circuit that offers physical activity for the community and hall residents. Although aimed at adults, older children can use the equipment with adequate supervision.
The new facility, which received funding support from Natural Resources Wales, allows visitors to enjoy great cardiovascular exercise in a setting that is unrivalled. Ten activity stations include push ups, pull ups, leapfrog and chin ups.
The new toilet block is housed in a beautifully restored building, which retains period details such as the original paint on its lovely worn doors and fireplace. This new facility is needed to respond to the Gregynog estate’s increasing number of visitors and outdoor events.
Last Easter’s bunny trail attracted more than 400 children and Gregynog Hall is hoping for even more visitors this Easter. The new toilet block is designed to enhance the experience of walkers and courtyard café customers alike.
Gregynog was designated as a National Nature Reserve (NNR) in 2013. A network of colour coded woodland walks encourages visitors to explore 750 acres of beautiful and varied landscapes. The Great Wood, one of the few remaining examples of continental lichen-rich woodlands, is home to internationally important lichens and fungi.
Mr George commented: “The green gym and toilet block are great additions to the facilities at Gregynog and should help to attract more visitors and increase public access to the National Nature Reserve, which will in turn boost the local economy. I commend the positive partnership that has been developed between Gregynog and Natural Resources Wales.”
Mr Davies said: “Gregynog Hall has been an important part of life in Montgomeryshire for more than 100 years and the estate is now developing a role that ensures that it carries on for the next century.”
Euros Jones, partnerships manager for Natural Resources Wales, said: “Gregynog NNR is a beautiful and rich mosaic of parkland and ancient woodlands. It has one of the best examples of ancient woodland in Wales with some of the oak trees being more than 350 years old.
“The area is becoming increasingly popular with locals and visitors alike and the newly waymarked paths and facilities will hopefully attract even more people here to enjoy the tranquillity of the parkland and take advantage of the well-being opportunities it offers.”
The gardens at Gregynog Hall are one of the many jewels in the estate’s crown. In its heyday, the estate employed 26 gardeners and the Grade 1 listed gardens are still hugely popular with visitors, especially when the brightly coloured azaleas and rhododendrons are in full bloom.
Gregynog has been described by CADW, the Welsh Government’s historic environment service, as one of the most important gardens in Powys, dating from at least the 1500s. The gardens include a magnificent yew hedge and water and rose gardens, while ancient oaks form a Site of Special Scientific Interest.
“The green gym and new toilet block are designed to increase public access to the National Nature Reserve at Gregynog and to contribute to health and wellbeing by encouraging visitors to get involved in outdoor activities in this fantastic setting,” explained Gregynog Hall’s director Karen Armstrong.
“We were delighted that Glyn and Russell could spare the time to come and officially open the new facilities, which will hopefully attract even more visitors to Gregynog Hall this year.”
The estate is open to visitors from dawn to dusk in the winter and from 8am to 8pm in the summer.
Estate admission is administered via a car parking charge of £2.50 per day and admission to the gardens costs £3.
Gregynog Hall offers an annual membership scheme at £15 year for an individual or £25 for a family, with income generated contributing to the maintenance of the gardens.
The estate, made famous by the art collecting Davies sisters, Gwendoline and Margaret, has been managed by the University of Wales for more than half a century.