Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Welsh Interlude

I was down in the Valleys of South Wales last week visiting my youngest daughter and her children at their home in Bargoed. The town of Bargoed is a bit run down. It was originally a coal mining town but the colliery has long gone. Indeed many such towns in the Rhondda and Rhymni valleys have suffered this fate. The old slag heap that dominated the town has had trees planted on it making it into some sort of park. However, the new by-pass is being built and slices through this piece of land. Find out more here.

Away from the urban sprawl that creeps along these valleys there is a secret Wales. This is the Wales the locals tell you about. The land of myth and legend. Within a ten minutes or so walk from Bargoed a bridleway leaves the busy main road under cover of trees and climbs steeply up the mountainside to a hidden valley. See picture above. It is a world away from the town. This, the Nant Llan, can be found on an OS map, the grid ref is SO139021. This particular bridleway, so a local farmer told me, is the original packhorse route from Cardiff to Merthyr Tydfyl. In times past packhorses carried imports from the docks at Cardiff into the Welsh interior and slate and other rproducts back for export. Now it is only used by shepherds on horseback and curious visitors like myself. Looking back from wher the Nant Llan opens out into Cwm Rhymni you can make out the town of Bargoed far below.
Walking deeper into this small valley the track climbs ever higher until it crests the ridge of Celyn Brithdir, high above another small town, New Tredegar. On the crest of this ridge is an ancient graveyard with a celtic cross as a centrepiece. It stands amid the ruins of a chapel.
At a farm called Groes Ffaen you will see this Australian sign nailed to a tree. Koalas in Blighty? Must be global warming!
Talking of which, my sojourn in the Valleys enjoyed most un-welsh weather. Wall to wall sunshine and temperatures more akin to the Eastern Mediterranean.

While I was there, in Bargoed, my seven year old grandson showed me some of his drawings. I was quite impressed. They are featured in my other Blog, The Draughtsman.

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