Sennybridge Training Area
Sennybridge Training Area (SENTA) consists of approximately 31,000 acres (12,000 ha) of MOD freehold land and 6,000 acres (2,500 ha) of land leased from Forest Enterprise. It measures approximately 12 miles (19 km) SW to NE and 5 miles (8 km) SE to NW.
The majority of SENTA is situated on the Mynydd Epynt, a wild plateau covered largely by blanket bog and grass, but intersected by several stream valleys containing woodland and meadows. These streams provide the main drainage from the Epynt, flowing some 5 miles (8km) SE to the River Usk.
The uplands of the Epynt Plateau lie between the Brecon Beacons to the South and the Cambrian Mountains to the North. The area became famous as the breeding ground for Welsh Cobs - the very name Epynt originating from an ancient expression meaning "haunt of horse". Epynt was the ancestral home of a community of Welsh speaking hill farmers until 1940 when most of it was compulsorarily purchased by the War Department for use as an artillery training area.
The geological features consist of Old Red Sandstone in the south and centre of the area, with a band of Silurian shale in the north. Much of the upland area is above 1,250 feet (380 m) with the highest points at the Summit (Grid SN 927434) and the Lookout (Grid SN 961464) at 1,533 feet (475 m) and 1,563 feet (478 m) respectively. Most of the stream valleys lie between 784 - 899 feet (240-275m).
SENTA is the 3rd largest military training area in the UK and was requisitioned in 1939. In 1940 the Training Area became the site of a Royal Artillery Practice Camp. Since then a wide range of developments have taken place to create sophisticated live firing and dry training facilities for light forces including light (105mm) artillery.
All the above is underpinned by the training camp located at Sennybridge which provides the administrative base for units conducting training and the headquarters of the Defence Training Estates Wales& West. The camp can accommodate up to 1760 soldiers.
The dawn of the third millennium featured a general desire for wider public access to the countryside, which found political expression in the Countryside and Rights of Way (CROW) Act 2000. This brought a response from The Defence Training Estates, the land management arm of the Ministry of Defence, in the form of a strategic stance in favour of safe public access to its estate.
Being in the heart of a major tourist area, Commander Defence Training Estate Wales chose Sennybridge Training Area as having the greatest potential for safe public enjoyment. With the enthusiastic support of the local access groups and Powys County Council studies were initiated as to how this might best be achieved. It was concluded that it should take the form of a peripheral bridleway following varied terrain on or near the training area boundary, so routed that its use would not conflict with military training.
In January 2003 an access forum was set up to initiate the project. Interested parties from a wide spectrum of potential stakeholders were invited to participate and four major organisations (the major stakeholders) allocated funds to finance a twelve-month pilot. The idea was launched in a blaze of publicity in October 2003 and soon afterwards a full time dedicated project officer was appointed and took up the post of Epynt Way Development Officer (EWDO) on 17 November 2003 with the remit of planning the route.
The project has been acclaimed as a shining example of the practical benefits of Defence Training Estates Strategy. It has become a source of pride locally and nationally with the many stakeholders. By dint of winning the Sanctuary Award for an unprecedented second time, the training area was elevated to the top of the DTE conservation and access table. DTE has become a major player in local access matters.