Sunday, 16 March 2014

Mynydd Illtud


For about six months in 1966-67 our family of four lived at the Mountain Centre on Mynydd Illtyd (nowadays "Illtud"), near Brecon, (Powys, Wales). For the first three months we were in an old immobile Bedford coach with our lolloping labrador puppy, then we overwintered in two rooms while our furniture went mouldy in the basement that became the cafe. (During this period my dad threatened to resign from his new job as national park warden if he received no help with housing. Tudor Watkins, our Labour MP, liked my dad and used his contacts to direct us towards a converted Congregational chapel coming onto the market at Cantref. My parents paid too much for it - £6,000).

Meanwhile I went to Libanus school and rode my new Dawes bike all over the common, out to Forest Lodge along Sarn Helen, sometimes even up to Storey Arms after school.

And Idwal Jones' mum at Llanilltyd farm used to give us Welsh cakes and, before the cattle grids came, children used to open the farm gates with a hand stuck out for sixpence from the cars that came to the Mountain Centre carrying 12,000 visitors on a fine weekend.


Across from the farm and encircled by pine trees was Llanilltyd church - now long since demolished. And Llanilltyd farmhouse looks unoccupied and the barns and yards little used, if at all.



Saturday, 15 February 2014

Farming Today

Did you find recently yourself even briefly caught up in the romance of two farmers driving tractors towing 30 tonne trailers loaded with four days of almost certainly imported cattle "fodder" at 30mph for 230 miles from Yorkshire down the A roads to Somerset to give their loads to more farmers making unnecessary use of the wrong kind of land so as to grow cows that can be killed at 30 months, although they can live for 30 years, so that you can eat those cows, or they can be "milked" so that you can unnecessarily drink their babies' food, before those babies are made into meat, and their mothers too?

Doo doo-bee doo.

Ferraris are red,
Bugattis are blue,
I'd rather a campervan.......,

Doo doo-bee doo.

Thursday, 6 February 2014

▶ Ren Kyst - got a spare afternoon? - YouTube


Ren Kyst = Clean Coast (but, of course!).

Last week in Scotland and a few days ago on the tidal Lune in Lancashire I was sickened to see so much plastic litter.


▶ Ren Kyst - got a spare afternoon? - YouTube

Walking on Warton Crag

Today I walked up Warton Crag from the car park at the east end of Crag Road, (Warton, Lancs., UK). After calling at the Carnforth bookshop for two OS maps of Galloway ordered from hive.co.uk (only £5.71 each for new 1:25000) and, as predicted, getting distracted by the secondhand books, yes, and buying a guide to Bulgaria, I'd left it late, late enough to watch a wall of dark rain advancing determinedly from the south. I saw Heysham's hideous nuclear power stations fade out of view and, shortly afterwards, Ingleborough too. Then, halfway up the hill, I heard a distant call and thought perhaps a cow's calf had been taken away, but the bellow had come from a locomotive at Steamtown in Carnforth.

My inexpensive, unpretentious, totally waterproof jacket, a new, dark orange 1970s-style Helly Hansen, not (yet) a smelly Helly, was causing me to steam as I approached the beacon on the summit. At 163m (535ft) Warton Crag is only a hill, but my route from the south had brought me over several false summits formed by concentric rings of limestone crag. The rock was slippery, more so in the rain, and even more so with wet clay stuck to well-worn boots.


To the northeast are two incomplete, but very large, long, curving, defensive walls of limestone rocks covered in moss so thick it would look at home in a rainforest. Before slip-sliding southwards I came upon my second disappointment (the first was bringing my camera without its memory card): great amounts of well-seasoned ash wood, much of it in one metre-ish lengths and quite portable, if only I'd brought my 1970s-style external-framed backpack (bought 2-3 years ago very cheaply on eBay), and some good strong straps. There is no better burning wood than ash.

And talking of burning, as I arrived home in Lancaster, a real steam locomotive was chuffing up the West Coast main line towards...., well, Carnforth probably.