Wednesday, 1 August 2012

some mountains


 I was up in Crickhowell at the weekend, and walked up to Crug Hywel, or Table Mountain, at first light on Sunday. It's a good place to be on a summer morning like that one. A great flock of pipits rose up from the rocks on the south face of the hillfort, peeping as they went; I guess they were roosting there because the rocks were warm.

 I watched the sun making its way into the Grwyne and Usk valleys, eventually lighting up Crickhowell church, though Llanbedr was still in shadow when I went down again. I remembered the night I spent on Crug Mawr over there behind the sheep; the coldest night's camping I've ever had; we just huddled together, people, dogs (the dogs' own tent had blown down) and waited for morning, which took a long long time to arrive....

But that was then, and this is now. Or at least, Sunday. I drank the half bottle of Coca Cola I'd brought up for sustenance, and cooled down from the ascent. The sheep thought about it, and decided to ignore me. A buzzard called in the distance.

There were harebells in the meadow I dropped down through.

Heading home, I went up the side of Mynydd Llangatwg, on the steepest lane the Trav's ever been up. The engine temperature behaved itself. At the top, there's White Walls, a caving cottage where I got snowed in with the Portsmouth Poly Caving Club in 1980 (or thereabouts). We spent three days digging the minibus along the narrow mountain track, then dropping down to the pub in Llangattock in the evenings. As being snowed-in goes, it was pretty civilised.

That narrow mountain track goes round the top of the Clydach Gorge, to Brynmawr. Just short of Brynmawr, the way was blocked by a rescue lorry; someone had driven off the side, into the trees. So I had to turn round and go back. Still, they were lucky they hadn't gone off the road here, a few hundred yards further along the road.... it's a long way down, here.


I finally got to Mynydd Maen. Most of Hafod Fach, where I used to live, has been blasted into a quarry; but the big top meadow is still there, and had recently been cropped for the hay. I remembered sitting on this bank resting, grateful for a bit of shade, rather like we were doing here a few fields down.


Today I had the place to myself. The lane steamed in the after-rain sun. Somewhere out of sight a tractor was rumbling. I dropped down into Llanfach, past Llew Taylor's, where a jay flapped up from the gatepost and a three legged squirrel hobbled into the hedge. Heading for home.