National Trust in £1m appeal to buy Snowdonia farm

Hollywood actor Matthew Rhys has launched a £1m National Trust appeal to buy a farm in Snowdonia.

Llyndy Isaf, a 600-acre holding in the Nant Gwynant valley near Beddgelert, Gwynedd, will be sold by Ken Owen when he retires.

The trust says it needs to be protected because it is "an unspoilt gem".

The trust's Richard Neale said: "I can't think of a more deserving location for National Trust protection."

In 1998, in another appeal, Sir Anthony Hopkins helped save a farm on Snowdon.

A part of Llyn Dinas would also be secured with the holding, provided the trust reaches its target by 31 December.

Mr Owen, who has no son to follow in his footsteps, said he would like to see his 35-year effort on the farm managed sensitively in future.

"The decision to retire and leave Llyndy Isaf was not an easy one," he said. "It's a beautiful place and we've spent 35 very happy years here.

"We've worked hard and over that time we've realised more and more the importance of farming in harmony with the environment.

"It's amazing to see the wildlife returning to places where it hadn't been for years. I'd like that to continue and that is why we have offered the farm to the National Trust as I know they will continue to farm it in the same way that I have."

According to the National Trust, the farm's purchase would be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity because of its importance environmentally.

The £1m would buy the farm, a 19th Century farmhouse and outbuildings, a modern farm building, two bunkhouses and a campsite, and allow what the trust calls "immediate and essential environmental improvements."

The improvements would include work on footpaths, restoring traditional buildings and encouraging wildlife like otters and birds.

Image caption Llyndy Isaf has been farmed by Ken Owen for 35 years

Conservation rather than agriculture would be the main interest for the trust, which says the property includes dry heath, wet heath, mire, sessile oak woodland, reed bed, river, valley mire and marsh grasslands.

Dinghy sailing, canoeing, windsurfing, walking, camping and orienteering would also be on offer.

One reason for controlling most of Llyn Dinas would be to try and deter motor boats and jet skis from the lake.

Mr Neale, the trust's Llyn and Snowdonia manager, said: "I hope that people from Wales and beyond help us, so that we can buy the farm.

'Stunning beauty'

"If we don't raise the money, we will lose Llyndy Isaf. There is, frankly, no plan B."

The campaign will evoke memories of an appeal 13 years ago.

Sir Anthony Hopkins helped raise £3.5m for the Hafod y Llan estate - a 4,000 acre parcel of land including the slopes of Snowdon itself.

Matthew Rhys, star of American drama series Brothers and Sisters and the film Patagonia, said: "The stunning beauty of Snowdonia is enjoyed by so many but now part of it is under threat.

"We have a once in a lifetime chance to buy and protect Llyndy Isaf, including Llyn Dinas, the beautiful lake that played a part in the dramatic scene which witnessed the birth of the Welsh dragon emblem.

"If we don't act now we risk losing the peace of this tranquil valley to commercial development."

If £1m can be raised Llyndy Isaf would be managed in liaison with local people and other users.

The trust says it would invest in the farm and provide an opportunity for a farmer to earn a living at Llyndy.

Another potential earner could be a bunk barn for walkers and a no-frills campsite for a limited number of campers, during the summer.

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