Being a relatively new Arts Alive Wales volunteer, having graduated this summer, I was open-minded about the Woollen Line project as I didn’t really know what to expect. I initially learned about the project while producing an article promoting the Woollen Line volunteer events through the Arts Alive Wales website. Justine, Rebecca and I met in Crickhowell bright and early, before making our way up to the meeting point. I recognised a few people, including my old English teacher who taught me when I attended Crickhowell High School.
My immediate impression was elation; there was an energy in the air, with a diverse mixture of ages and backgrounds gathering together to make a difference to the environment. I was amazed to see how many locals felt strongly enough to take the time to volunteer and engage in Pip’s Woollen Line project. I was also pleased to see tea and cake on standby for when we all arrived back.
After everyone was parked up, Pip gathered everyone around and gave a brief introduction about what the project involved, some information about the process of making the wool “sausages” and felt strips, with some special thanks to those who helped make them, as well as what we could expect from the day. For more information about the Woollen Line and Pip Woolf, please click here. Pip then proceeded to organise a group of volunteers who wished to lead horses up to the top. I was one of those volunteers. Riding the horses down the mountain was an exciting experience for me and I wanted to take the opportunity to do something different.
While waiting for the horses to be loaded up with bags full of felt and wool, I took the opportunity to get to know some of the other volunteers. After tackling the task of choosing a suitable helmet, we proceeded to discuss safari parks, snakes and baboons. I loved hearing about the various experiences with animals that others had been involved with. I also listened to how the volunteers heard about the Woollen Line and what inspired them to become involved.
After a brief tutorial about handling the horses, we set off. My horse, Scooby, had a muzzle. I was slightly anxious about this, however, I realised it was just because he was especially greedy! On the way up to the top, we met some Duke of Edinburgh walkers, who were intrigued about the project. After pausing a few times for the horses to drink, eat grass and succumb to mother nature, we reached the top. The volunteers who walked up were already there, soaking in the sunshine and fabulous views.
After a scenic ride down and a break for a spot of lunch, we proceeded to lead the horses back up to the top. After we reached the drop-off point, Pip held my horse while I ran up to the Woollen Line scar, which was caused by a fire in 1976, exposing the peat and leaving the land starved of life. As I approached the area, I noticed the grass beginning to change. It became darker, more coarse as I drew nearer to the scar and then disappeared. When I finally reached the scar, I whispered “wow”. I felt overwhelmed with awe and simultaneously, sadness. It was upsetting to see that such a large area had been affected. Immediately after this, I felt proud that I was involved in a project that aimed to improve the landscape and help restore it to its natural glory.
During the walk down the mountain, I had the chance to speak to Pip, who initiated the project. I asked her lots of questions including how the project came about and how she has brought her vision as an artist to it. Here’s just a taste of what she explained “The idea began as image of transforming a black scar of eroded peat and making it white, all 70,000 square metres! Instead, with a huge amount of help I drew a line in felted wool 300metres long. The line has become a whole number of things, from a line of felted wool that might assist repair of a damaged peat bog, to a line of thought, connections, ideas, actions and indeed new life. ”
I truly enjoyed the day and it was great to be out in the fresh air while knowing I was taking part in a project that is, to put it simply, amazing.
Mary Clare Ellana Isaac
Arts Alive Wales volunteer
See the pictures from the 6th September trip:
Watch the video with Woollen Line volunteers here:
For opportunities to get involved, please keep checking the Arts Alive website and like the Facebook page for more events and information:
To contact Pip Woolf directly with any questions you may have about the project or anything else, her email address is: