Shw’mae, Sistersiaid?

This should have been the post for Diwrnod Shw’mae, the day when we all try to speak Welsh, or at least to start every conversation by saying ‘How are things?’ in Welsh.  We thought we had the Cistercian Way from Llantarnam to Neath sorted, so we got the text professionally translated. But we keep coming up with little tweaks and updates – the last bit of the route to Llangynwyd, the logging trails on the Raven Walk, now a better way from Ynysybwl to Llanwynno. Is my Intermediate level Welsh up to it? Can I persuade our wonderful tutor to accept bits of translated web site as Homework?

So … the route from Ynysybwl. For many years it was really a pilgrimage and we went through the middle of the village. As it became more of a heritage footpath we took to going up the Llys Nant, the boundary of the short-lived abbey of Pendar’s lands in the area. Across the road to Buarth Capel, down to the Nant Ffrwd (which powered the monastic mill) and up to Mynachdy. From there we started off walking the stony track that leads to the forest road to Llanwynno. This was clearly the old road – the line of the right of way goes straight across the modern road to Pontypridd and becomes the track down to Pontygwaith and the line of the medieval bridge across the Rhondda Fach.

If you are going to the church and pub at Llanwynno, it might make more sense to take the footpath from ST 04341 94850 past the two wind turbines. We walked that some years ago and decided the stony track was better, but that was before the motorbike scrambling circuit got so very popular. It’s busy in the week, and at weekends it’s thronged with people. This time Andy and I went through the gate at ST 04341 94850 and along the footpath. Walk along the stony track towards the turbines, through the gate at ST 04213 95166, bear left across the next field to a stile in the far left corner and walk along the fence to another stile at the top left of the field.

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(The stiles are single-step and difficult with dogs. ) Turn left and walk above the scrambler circuit. The track bears right into the forest. Look out for a fainter path to the left at ST 03441 95598 (if you miss it, continue to the junction of the forest roads and turn left there.)

Cross the forest road at ST 03317 95602 and walk straight ahead up the bank and over another stile. Turn left and walk round the left edge of a little hillock and down to the road below the pub. If you can’t face the climb, stay on the forest road at ST 03441 95598 and turn left on the metalled road up to Llanwynno. Either way is probably better than the track through the scrambler circuit – unless you have dogs with you. We did manage to haul Nell over the stiles but it wasn’t easy and she did complain.

Having a bit of spare time we went to look for St Gwynno’s Well. This had a lot of restoration work a few years ago – here we are inspecting it in 2009.

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The path is signed from the road but very overgrown. It gets a bit clearer under the trees but the only way to find the actual well was to let Nell off the lead and follow her unerring instinct for water. It’s a pity – you can get funding for capital projects but not for maintenance, and once the path is overgrown people won’t use it.

The church at Llanwynno has finding for massive repairs including a new roof. This meant we couldn’t go in, but it will make the building secure for the foreseeable future. It may eventually have to go out of parish use – it would make a wonderful bunkhouse or camping barn for walkers, and could still be used for services.

Andy’s blog for the day is at https://pilgrimpace.wordpress.com/2016/10/22/arrived/ with a photo of the pilgrims at the well.

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Walking with Ravens

Getting someone else to walk the route from the instructions on the web site has been very useful. Andy has spotted a few places where the instructions need to be clearer or where we need to focus on waymarking. On Friday we both walked up the hill from Risca towards the Blackvein. Apparently we went past the cottage where Steve’s father was brought up, but its foundations are now lost in the woods. Someone has done a bit of clearing on the old line of the Raven Walk from ST 22375 91193

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(I must get back and have another look at that) but we stuck to the road, took the bridleway across the zigzags and headed for the top path at ST 22311 90954.

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This now seems to be the official line of the Raven Walk – there’s a waymark on the other side of the post. It looks a bit different from when I was last there because the forest below the path has recently been felled.  This opens out some wonderful views but the logging trail does confuse the path. We need to get some waymarking done here as well as a bit of maintenance further on.

The line of the footpath becomes a stony track, crosses a forest road at ST 22471 90939

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and continues along the track, but you have to look out for a path turning right off the track and into the trees.

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We found this at the second attempt and it climbs into the trees and up to the stile.  From here the Raven Walk should go left along the edge of the forest to the gate at ST 23095 90588 and up the hedge to cross the minor road at ST 22933 90388. This bit is very overgrown with faint tracks through the undergrowth – Andy followed one of these and got to the road a bit to the west. There’s a right of way and several tracks running up to the road, one of which might be the hollow way I spotted there some years ago. Anyway, they all lead to the better track over the shoulder of Mynydd Machen and from there it’s clear all the way to Caerphilly and Pontypridd.

Andy’s blog post on this bit is at https://pilgrimpace.wordpress.com/2016/10/21/risca-pontypridd/ .

Earlswood and Wentwood

Andy Delmege is back on track with his pilgrimage and already thinking about how to fill in the gaps. On Tuesday we had a lovely service in Tintern with the Friends of Our Lady of Tintern and on Wednesday he walked west to Caerleon. Nell and I joined him to walk through Earlswood and up the first slope into Wentwood as I wanted to check some of the paths. All went well – the muddy bit at Coed Llwyfos was passable and the minor roads were very quiet.

From the Earlswood chapel you continue along the road then at ST 44447 94795 when the metalled road bears right you go left. There is a footbridge across the stream just to the right of the ford.

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Nell liked the stream.

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Over the bridge, turn right. The bridleway bears left up a steep slope

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then left again

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and through a gate.

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Here the line of the waymarked bridleway looks a little different on the ground from the 1:25,000 map. Through the gate, turn left and walk a little way along a forest track, looking out for a waymarked path to the right.

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This takes you up a muddy track.

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When you emerge on the forest road at ST 44116 94791,

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go straight on. At ST 43907 95007 turn left following the waymarks.

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The forest road sweeps up with good views behind you to the Severn Bridge.

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At ST 43333 95070, you meet two bridleways to the right.

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Keep going to the clearing.

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Andy took the path to the south of the clearing which is a good path, not technically a right of way but with waymarking posts for a promoted path. The bridleway goes to the right of the clearing and past the burial mounds and the radio mast to join the line of the old pilgrimage road from London to St David’s. The old road is now a muddy track which has been badly damaged by off-roading bikes but is now recovering.  You can follow it to the Usk Valley Walk and into Caerleon. The Usk Valley Walk should be well waymarked but there are a few gaps as a result of the extension of the Celtic Manor golf course – use your map and you will be fine.

Mynydd Maendy in the sunshine

Last time I went up Mynydd Maendy, west of Ton Pentre, it was bucketing with rain and visibility was minimal. Here’s Andy Delmege’s photo of us walking up the ridge from Penrhys –

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and it got worse! Strange to relate, most of the group gave up in Ton Pentre. I had planned to stop there but it seemed dreadful to let Andy go on his own so I went with him. We were running a bit behind time and I set far too fast a pace going up the hill: I thought several times I would have to give up but Andy was very patient and we made it to the Bwlch. Somehow we got on a track that I didn’t recognise, so I thought I’d better go back and see if things had changed since  I was last there ten years ago.

The other logistical problem is that Cara the pilgrim dog has decided she’s too old to do hills. In south Wales this does limit your options … But she is also getting deaf and sleeps very soundly, so we can sneak out without her.

Tuesday the sun was shining and the sky was blue so Nell and I went off on the train up the valley. The climb from Ton Pentre up the ridge was still pretty stiff but we took it at a more sensible pace and I made it. Wonderful views … this is better!

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Past the radio mast you go through a gate at SS 96073 95462.

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Don’t go over the stile ahead and to your right

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(this was where Andy and I went wrong – the track takes you down to the forest then back up). Continue along the line of the fence to your left, bear left with the fence and go up the track which slants up to the left of the next rise.

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At the top – more wonderful views –

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you will see the track up from the forest rejoining you from the right. Through the gate the path becomes a stony track for a while,

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here’s Nell on the path

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then after another gate it becomes fainter but still there. Climb the steep slope ahead of you

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then follow the track as it bears right round the shoulder of the summit.

There’s nothing like a nice bench to make you feel you aren’t on a serious walk!

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The track over Mynydd Maendy is actually nice and clear, but the track up the ridge from Penrhys was quite difficult with a lot of damage from motorbike and 4×4 scrambling. I did wonder if there might be an alternative – down the steep track from the well to Llwynypia and up the other side through the forest? There’s no obvious way up from Llwynypia but plenty of forest tracks and the old lane from Llandyfodwg over Mynydd William Meyrick. So once we got to the Bwlch we headed south along the forest access track.

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There’s a touching little memorial just south of the Bwlch.

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There are good paths on the north side of Cwm Clydach

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but most of the way we were in deep forest and the motorbike damage is just as bad. We’ll probably stick with what we’ve got.

Mind you, we do need to have another look at the tracks over Mynydd William Meyrick. According to the Royal Commission on Ancient and Historical Monuments in Wales (the Non-defensive Secular volume of the Glamorgan inventory – i.e. anything that isn’t a church or a castle) this is a medieval road, and it leads from Llandyfodwg in Glyn Ogwr to the other Tyfodwg church, Ystradyfodwg, what is now better known as Ystrad Rhondda. Tyfodwg was himself a pilgrim and this could just be the pilgrimage route between his two churches. Exploring it without Steve to drop me off at one end and pick me up at the other could be tricky but we will find a way round it.

Meetings, mist and mud

It’s been a two-steps-forward-one-step back sort of summer. We relaunched the project at the National Eisteddfod in Abergavenny. This wasn’t a full formal launch – we aren’t quite ready for that yet – but we filled the Churches tent, all the emergency printing of leaflets went, the retiring Archdruid Prof. Christine James spoke on the importance of pilgrimage and the Cistercians in the Welsh historical and cultural tradition

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my old colleague David Howell (now at the University of Gloucester) spoke very powerfully on the importance of heritage beyond the tourist honeypots and the need to experience heritage by walking through it rather than just visiting sites

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(more on his blog at https://historyglos.com/2016/08/31/cultural-festivals-controversy-and-a-heritage-trail-launch/ ). And I managed to introduce the whole thing in more-or-less fluent Welsh.

We made good contacts with Cadw  and the Ramblers which led to a meeting in the Ramblers’ office in Cardiff and an invitation to talk to the Glamorgan footpaths secretaries and the Glamorgan AGM. We have also been contacted by Lampeter Ramblers and we will be back to working in Ceredigion nest month.

On the other hand … our planned walk from Penrhys nearly drowned the participants: some amazing photos at https://pilgrimpace.wordpress.com/2016/09/18/cistercian-way-photos-1/ . And Andy Delmege, who had planned to walk the whole route as a sabbatical this autumn, has wrecked his knee and had to go home.

Mind you, it was just as well we gave up on that first day west from Penrhys before we reached the final off-road section. I looked at it again today and it really is impassable. It’s not so much the access from the lane past Gadlys at SS 85944 88007: someone has done a great job there bashing down the Himalayan balsam. The stile has finally collapsed but the gate next to it seems to be permanently open. But the track through the woods is so muddy and has been so badly ploughed up by stock that it really isn’t safe to walk. A pity – apart from that section it’s a very pleasant alternative to the road.

But there are other alternatives. The Bridgend footpaths secretary has sent me some of the Llynfi Valley walks leaflets. There’s a possible route through Maesteg and out along the Neath Road then south by footpaths and very minor roads along Cwm Cerwyn and Cwm Sychbant. This bypasses Llangynwyd, which is a pity, but it does go through Maesteg with its glorious nineteenth-century chapels. On the other hand, it goes very near to the high-level alternative route from Margam to Neath. Would walkers be tempted to cut across, missing out Margam entirely?

A shorter alternative goes down Cwm-du and through Pont Rhyd-y-cyff, over the railway bridge, turn right opposite the Railway Tavern and follow a waymarked path between the railway line and the houses. At SS 86892 89157 the path briefly rejoins the road. Turn right. After a couple of houses look out for a waymarked footpath to the right between the houses. Follow the path round to the right of the playing fields and up to the main road at a roundabout. Take the Maesteg road. In 0.15 km, after the first house of Cwmfelin, at SS 86375 89440, a footpath goes up to your left. Through the gate, bear left across the first field to a stile in the far left corner at SS 86285 89225. Walk along the hedge to your left and go through a kissing gate at SS 86180 89019 and down steps. Turn right on the metalled road and walk up to Llangynwyd. This avoids the busiest road around the new village of Llangynwyd and is only a little longer than the on-road route. I think this is the one to go for.

But can I translate the new route description into Welsh myself? With a bit of help, maybe …

We still have to decide what to do about the path through the farmyard at Cwmducanol. The dogs really are a problem, and the feeling at the Ramblers meeting was that we would be better recommending the alternative route via Fosse. On the one hand it really is a pity if the farm is allowed to effectively block the right of way; on the other hand, it seems unlikely that we can get anything permanent done about it. Rights of way diversions are simply too expensive. We will settle for what we can get and save our money for areas where there is no other way through.

Penrhys Pilgrimage this year

A bit different this year – set out from Penrhys at 10 am on Saturday 3 September, walk over the hills to Llangynwyd. It’s a hefty walk so there are drop-out points on the way and a back-up vehicle.

This year’s pilgrimage is a bit more freeform that what we’ve done in previous years. Andy Delmege, the vicar from the West Midlands who walked with us last year, is proposing to walk the whole of the Cistercian Way in September and October as a sabbatical. So we are going to set him on his way on Saturday 3 September, starting out from the estate church at Penrhys, walking up the ridge to the wind farm and down into Ton Pentre. From here an old trackway leads over Mynydd Maendy and across Bwlch y Clawdd. There’s a magnificent ridge route along Craig Ogwr and over Mynydd Caerau down to Pont Rhyd-y-cyff then footpaths bypassing the road up to Llangynwyd. Bronze Age burial mounds, early medieval tribal boundaries, 360-degree views. At Llangynwyd is a medieval church which was a great focus for pilgrimage, and the graves of Ann Thomas, the ‘Maid of Cefn Ydfa’, and her lover Wil Hopcyn.

Andy will be staying overnight at Llangynwyd and setting off the next day for Margam and the coast. He will be coming back down the Borders towards the end of October – he’s due in Tintern on 18 October. When we have a date for his arrival at Penrhys we can arrange to walk the last section with him, hopefully with a visit to Llanwynno.

Key times and stopping-off points for Saturday 3 September (start time is exact, times along the way are approximate):

10 am start at Llanfair Church, Penrhys, CF43 3RH, ST 0018 9495

11.30 – 12 (ish) Ton Pentre: we will be passing near the railway station, SS 9728 9535, then walk along Church Road and Maindy Road, past the police station at SS 9694 9542 and up the hill

1.30 car park at Bwlch y Clawdd, SS 9395 9459

5.30 bridge at Pont Rhyd-y-cyff, SS 8725 8910

7 pm Llangynwyd Church, SS 8572 8883

This is like a medieval pilgrimage – there is no official organisation behind it. We can provide the route and arrange some stops on the way, but the rest is up to you. We do plan to have a back-up vehicle to get you back to the start. You will need to be reasonably fit, and you will need weatherproof clothing, stout walking boots and suitable refreshment. We can take no responsibility for the welfare of participants.

More information: maddy [at] heritagetortoise.co.uk

 

West from Tintern – final version?

Having sorted the route across Earlswood from Itton to Wentwood, all that remained was to check the paths through Chepstow Park Wood. My French cousin Amy is staying with us, she loves the dogs, the dogs love her, it looked as though it might stay dry …

We started from Penterry Church and rewalked the route to Chepstow Park Wood from the old blog post. The fields between the Gaer and Pen-y-parc were knee deep in hay but apart from that it all went well. We did look at alternatives through the woods on the way back – walking across farmland isn’t easy especially with dogs – but we would have had to make quite a long diversion north to keep on walkable tracks. So what follows (partly repeated from the old blog post) is the recommended route.

Cross the main road past Tintern Abbey and walk up past St Anne’s (once the outer gatehouse chapel). Turn left and walk along the back lane past the Beaufort Arms. Once past the hotel car park, the track bears right. The OS web site marks the Wye Valley Walk up the stony track ahead of you but it’s waymarked to the left, past the limekilns and up to Rudding Farm. This is a long way up to go down again. Better to stick to the track up hill ahead of you. This is the Stony Way, built for the monks to provide access to their grange farms up the hill. It has been very eroded and overgrown, though it seems to be recovering. When you get out of the woods, the climb becomes less steep. At ST 524 988, there are stiles to left and right. Go right, walk up the field and cross another stile to a metalled road.

In wet weather the alternative is to follow the Wye Valley Walk waymark then turn right at the top and walk along the edge of the woods. Rejoin the Stony Way by a stile at the end of the woods, cross the track and take the stile up into the fields.

Cross the metalled road, walk up the hedge to your right, and bear left across the next field to the stile into Penterry churchyard.

Leave the church by the footpath going south-west across the fields. Cross the metalled road and take a stony track ahead. When the main track goes right to a cottage, keep straight on and into the forest. When the forest road divides, take the left fork, then bear left again up a waymarked hollow lane between massive stone walls. In 2005 it was possible to turn right at the top of the hill and walk on through the woods but this path seems to have vanished. Instead, go over the waymarked stile, walk to the middle of the field then turn right and walk to a gate in the far hedge, then walk along the hedge to your left. You are now on the St Tewdrig Trail (http://www.thecircleoflegends.co.uk/tewdrigtrail.htm ).

Turn left on the metalled road then right along a stony track. Bear left with the track and walk round the slope. There are wonderful views to your left. The big farm below you is on the site of Tintern’s Rogerstone Grange, and the reservoir was once a holy well. The St Tewdrig Trail goes downhill to the grange. When the stony track goes left into the field, keep straight on.

After some sadly decaying memorial benches the track bears  right into the forest. Take the first track to the left. This swings along the edge of the woods to ST 48770 96518.

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Here you bear left and walk down to the edge of the forest. Just past the Forestry office,

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turn right on the metalled road and walk down to Itton. Turn right on the main road, left past the council houses and right on a very minor road down to the Glyn and Coed Llwyfos.

I still need to check the routes through Wentwood but there shouldn’t be any problems there, so we are pretty much sorted from Monmouth to Llantarnam.

Ymlaen a ni i’r Eisteddfod!

Pushing Up the Borders

Llantarnam-Neath is sorted, I think I’ve worked out Monmouth-Tintern and Tintern-Llantarnam, time to push a bit further up the Marches. To be honest, we could just use the Offa’s Dyke Path from below Cwm-iou through Pandy, Llangatwg Lingoed and Llandeilo Gresynni. It’s a good route past castles and through pretty villages, it’s meticulously gated and waymarked, it’s clear but isn’t over-walked, it actually goes past Grace Dieu Abbey – why not?

I don’t know why not. But somehow it feels like cheating to make too much use of an existing route. We really ought to be able to commit to keeping a few more footpaths open.

The OD Path really is the only way to get from Grace Dieu to Monmouth. And it’s pretty much the obvious route from below Cwm-iou to Llangatwg Lingoed. Llangatwg is well worth the visit – the church has a splendid wall painting of St George (south Wales has 3 wall paintings of St George, all in churches dedicated to Cadoc, most awkward of saints. Two could be coincidence, three looks like a pattern – but why?), some intriguing medieval stained glass (very rare in south Wales – again, we don’t know why) and one of the most splendid post-medieval cross slabs I have ever seen, its shaft flanked with vividly-carved figures in late sixteenth century dress.

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From Llangatwg the OD Path goes south to White Castle. But another footpath heads east across the fields to the intriguingly-named Great Pool Hall and the Scots Baronial mansion of Glen Trothy. Here you join the Three Castles Way which takes you to Llanfair Grange. This was an out-station of a Cistercian abbey just over the border into England, Abbey Dore. The monks were so important that when they were given the grange they were actually allowed to divert the main road to go around it.

The Cistercian Way doesn’t go as far as Dore but the grange is worth a visit. You can see the remains of fishponds, and the terraces where the lay brothers cultivated grapes in the warmer weather of the thirteenth century.  This was one of the first sites excavated by our great Cistercian historian and archaeologist, David Williams. The muscle power was provided by young men from the Young Offenders’ Institute near Usk, working as volunteers and rewarded with lemonade and crisps. You wonder where they are now.

The grange chapel lies under the trees and a new church has been built along the lane.

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From Llanfair there should be footpaths to Plas Ivor and Llanllwyd. I walked that way but about ten years ago so it needs rechecking. Friday I went to look at the footpaths at the Grace Dieu end. There should be paths along the Troddi and the Llymon brook. They are stiled and waymarked, and there are even sturdy little bridges across some of the smaller streams, but the paths aren’t walked and they are hopelessly overgrown.

Back to the road and up to Llanfaenor. The church here has been converted into a house.

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There are no end of other Llan names in the area – Llandishty, Llancreaver, Llanllwyd. Llanfaenor and Llanllwyd (now a farm) are both recorded as chapelries of the great mother church at Llangatwg Feibion Afel – you have to wonder if the others were as well. Llandishty Cottages are on the route.

There’s a hollow lane from Llanllwyd down the valley to Littlemill Farm. It’s overgrown at the bottom but passable. When you get to the stream, cross the narrow footbridge and walk up the far bank. Turn right and walk above the hedge, cross a stile and turn left on a rough track up towards the farm. Through the gate, turn right and follow the roughly surfaced track up to Llanfaenor. From there the best route at the moment is down the very minor road to Onen, across the old Abergavenny-Monmouth road and down to Llanfihangel Ystum Llywern. Here you rejoin the OD path to Grace Dieu. It means a few miles of road walking but the road is very quiet and there are lovely views across the rolling hills of north Gwent.

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At Llanfihangel lies buried Sir Joseph Bradney, the great historian of his adopted county of Monmouthshire. He came from Shropshire, inherited an estate around Talycoed near Llanfihangel, fell in love with the area and its history and settled there. He learned Welsh and tried to employ all Welsh servants in his house. Very much the old-fashioned huntin, shootin’ and fishin’ Tory, he was also an old-fashioned antiquarian historian. He led the local militia and was desperate to serve in the front line in the First World War but by then he was too old. Eventually, after badgering all his contacts, he was taken on as commander of a labour corps, digging emplacements and latrine trenches just behind the front line.

Been there, though on the other side of the fence.

Back in the 1980s, as a result of a chance conversation on the bus to Aberystwyth, I discovered that the ‘missing’ final volume of Bradney’s History of Monmouthshire was actually in draft form in his papers in the National Library of Wales.  After some negotiating I got hold of photocopies and edited it for the South Wales Record Society. It was a major tidy-up job, checking transcripts of old documents and church monuments, assembling some very fragmentary notes and typing the whole thing on the latest in high-tech, an Amstrad PCW (remember those?). Most of the typing I did while nursing my daughter, typing with my right hand and nursing her on the left. Then I had to learn how to transfer it to a proper PC, just at the point when we were discovering the wonderful world of Windows. The book was published in 1993. It sold like hot cakes and put the Record Society on a good financial footing for some years. Eventually it sold out and the National Library decided to put it on line – it’s at http://welshjournals.llgc.org.uk/browse/listarticles/llgc-id:1044290/llgc-id:1044493.

I have always wondered how the very conventional Sir Joseph Bradney would have coped with having his notes tidied up and his transcripts corrected by a woman who had spent time at Greenham Common and felt the Labour party was getting dangerously right-wing. There might have been a few difficulties … on the other hand, we had many interests in common and I imagine he would have coped.

Now Sir Joseph sleeps in the churchyard with some of his children, their monuments all but hidden under seeding grass and marguerites.

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If the church is open, you can see the war memorial which commemorates his youngest son Walter. Walter was killed at Peronne in the spring of 1918. He died only a couple of miles from where his father was stationed, but such was the chaos in army communications by that time that it took weeks for the news to reach Sir Joseph.

From Llanfihangel the OD Path takes you along the west bank of the Troddi. It’s meticulously waymarked, almost too much so, and meanders along the river bank until you reach the road at SO 44694 13362. Turn left, and in about ¼ km turn right to cross the fields to the site of Grace Dieu.

I need to rewalk the stretch from Llangattock to Llanfaenor and we are there.

Earlswood at last

It’s taken a while to get back to that awkward section between Chepstow Park Wood and Wentwood but I think we are there, thanks to the detailed description of the route through Coed Llwyfos on Christopher Somerville’s web site at http://www.christophersomerville.co.uk/?p=456 .

It looks as though the way through Chepstow Park Wood will involve walking up from Tintern past Penterry Church to the St Arvans road and the lane from Pen-y-parc. When the stony track goes left into the field, keep straight on. At ST 50149 97391 the track bears right into the forest. Take the first forest road to the left. This swings through the southern part of the forest and emerges on a very minor road at ST 48774 96411. Turn right, and right again on the B4293 into Itton Common. At the telephone box turn left for Shirenewton but immediately take the very minor road to the right. At ST 47865 95996 go straight across the cross-roads. In just under 1 km, at ST 47104 96435, turn left down the lane to Coed-Llifos Farm. In about 100m. take the rough track to the right, along the edge of a small plantation.

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In another 100m. pass a barn on your right. Go straight on down a stony slope and through the remains of a kissing gate following waymarks.

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Pass the barns to your left and join a metalled track. Follow this round to the right, keeping to the right of the house,

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and go through a gate on your left at ST 46823 96406.

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Follow the waymarks, bearing slightly to your right

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and down the slope to a gate in the middle of the hedge at ST 46696 96298 (just to the right of a large oak tree). Walk down the next field and into the woods, heading for a footbridge at ST 46591 96113.

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Over the footbridge take the path to the left and follow it up to a gate.

Turn right and follow the hedge to your right, then when the hedge bears away to the right you bear left and head for the top left of the field. At ST 46510 95900 go through a gate and down the green lane to Pant-y-cosin.

(There were some very cute Shetland ponies and a goat in the lane.)

pantycosinlane

Walk through the farmyard and along the lane.

(The section through the woods is very muddy underfoot and would be impassable in wet weather. Stick to the road: or if you have got down to the woods and found them impassable, retrace your steps to the gate at ST 46696 96298, turn left and walk with the hedge to your right through a gate and across two fields to emerge on the road at ST 46165 96339. Turn left and follow the road through the gloriously-named Bullyhole Bottom (is it called Bullyhole Bottom because it hath no bottom?) and up the far side of the valley. At the top of the slope, at ST 46167 95968, when the road bends to the right, go through the gate to the left. No waymark but it is a right of way. Follow the hedge to your right until you join the green lane down to Pant-y-cosin.)

The lane from Pant-y-cosin takes you to the B4235 at ST 46575 95214. Cross CAREFULLY – this is a busy road. Take the bridleway ahead of you.

It was my day for cute animals. There were alpacas in the field.

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Also some of those little charcoal grey pigs, but they were the other side of a thick hedge.

At ST 46533 94899 you get to a metalled lane. The OS map looks as though you should turn right but in fact you bear left (virtually straight on) and follow the metalled lane to the road at ST 46389 94672. Turn left (carefully again: quite a busy road) then right almost immediately. There are footpaths but they do not follow a direct line: better to follow the road, which is quiet. At ST 45678 94885 turn left down an even more minor road. Go straight across the cross roads at ST 45366 94679 then bear right with the road and walk downhill. At ST 44919 94794 turn left and take the road past Earlswood Valley Chapel, the oldest Methodist chapel in Wales. Founded in 1791, largely by the efforts of a local woman, Ann Lewis, who had heard John Wesley preaching at Devauden, the chapel was built largely by local labour and tradition maintains that much of the stone was carried from the nearby quarry, by the local women, in their aprons.

Walk on past the chapel and down hill. At ST 44447 94795, just before New Mill house, bear left down towards the ford. Cross the footbridge to the right of the ford and follow the bridle way to your right up into Wentwood. This should take you to Five Ways and on through Wentwood and down the line of the old London-St Davids road (now an eroded track along the Kemeys ridge) and eventually to the Usk Valley Walk into Caerleon.

Job done?

Cwm Bodringallt

From Penrhys up the ridge and down the old Maerdy road to Pentre (https://cistercianway.wordpress.com/2016/04/19/penrhys-the-meadow-on-the-nose-of-the-forest/) was a wonderful walk but a long way up the ridge, and a long plod up hill to scramble a long way down again. Also the track is badly damaged by motorbikes and off-road vehicles. Measuring out the route along Cwm Bodringallt, it’s about 2 km shorter and should be an easier walk. Time to try it out.

Start as for the route up the ridge: from the statue, take the road round the west of the estate, and turn left on a roughly metalled road at the top, between the sub-station and what remains of the sports centre, at grid reference ST 00027 95074. Walk up the metalled road and bear left along the forest edge. The road becomes a  rough track along the ridge. Follow it bearing slightly west of north with the fence and the wind farm to your left. You get the best of the views but without the last climb. At about SS 99221 96229 you cross the road to the wind farm. At SS 98589 96828 go through a gate in the fence to your left,

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cross the road through the wind farm and take the track downhill just before the seventh of the eight turbines.

When you reach the gate at SS 98390 96289,

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don’t take the track ahead of you but turn left

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and walk across the fields down Cwm Bodringallt. At SS 98508 95830 you meet a stony track

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which continues down the valley. The current online OS map marks the bridleway on down the track and through the farmyard but the farm gate has a No Access sign. Instead, at SS 98457 95543 follow the waymark through the gate to your right

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but do not continue along the track to your right (this eventually leads to the tumbled ground of the land slip). Instead, turn left and follow the fence to your left. When the fence goes left, continue on the same line along the edge of the steep slope.

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Don’t be distracted by paths to the right but keep on the same line, going steeply downhill,

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through a gate and out to the lane behind the playground at SS 98285 95304.

Turn right on the lane. Cross the road at SS 98045 95328 and continue along the lane behind the houses and out onto the open hillside. Past the quarry, the lane goes steeply downhill through the heather, through a gate and into the trees, and emerges at the south end of Pleasant View (SS 97339 95436). Walk along the street for a few yards then down the steps to your left. Cross the road and railway bridge and walk into Ton Pentre.