Thursday, 28 August 2008

Round Robin walk

I have started walking regularly again, to get fitter, try and lose weight and improve my lung capacity. The latter is not difficult as living on the side of a river valley as we do, every walk I take involves a hill either at the beginning or the end of it, and lots in the middle too. Yesterday I did a 3 1/2 mile round robin walk around the local lanes, a plastic bag in my pocket should I come across any tempting blackberries (and yes I did . . .)

This is Orpine, and until we moved to this part of Wales, I had never seen it growing anywhere before, but is seems fairly common along upland Carmarthenshire lanes. It is a member of the Sedum family. There are several clumps of it on the bank beside the lane going uphill from our house.

Here's the steepest stretch of the hill behind our house, and whilst it doesn't look terribly steep, if you walk it, you would find out the hard way!


A little further along I met up with an old adversary of ours - a neighbouring farmer's goat. A neighbouring farmer's billy goat in fact. Everything they tell you about billy goats smelling rancid is completely true. I smelt this one a hundred yards back down the lane. He was up to no good - and when he caught my eye, he tried to pretend that he wasn't really demolishing the shrubs on the top of my neighbour's wall. Oh no, he was merely rearranging them.

I drew closer, and he withdrew to consider the best strategy. He decided if he looked away, then I couldn't see him. When I told him off, he gave me a dirty look and calmly hopped over the wire fence back into his field, which he shares with some cattle, sheep and a couple of Welsh Cobs. I know him from when he came visiting at our house, and I came home to find my darling Arab hurtling round the paddock, covered in sweat, and the above billy goat running after him, demanding that his New Friend Come Back. Poor Fahly - the billy had rammed him in the tummy with his horns (fortunately he just gave him a graze and not a puncture), but neither of us was the least bit amused. It took days to catch the little beast, and involved me and a bucket of feed and having to launch myself at his horns and get him in a headlock, whilst my husband phoned the farmer to come and remove the little horror.


Further along the lane another neighbour has a good flock of ducks, gees and hens. His donkey mares had all had foals too.


This ruin was once the family home - probably until about the First World War or just after. It was thatched once (now hidden under the wriggly tin), and is a little cruck-framed cottage. It suffered the fate of many such buildings when the family wanted - and could finally afford - a new house (which was built with windows resolutely facing AWAY from a beautiful view . . .) Then the old cottage was used to house cattle, and store farm implements and feed, and gradually became more ramshackle and decrepit until even the hens declined to roost in there. The road-end wall finally fell over after a bad storm some 5 or 6 years ago. We had been taking bets on which winter it would fall, and which way the wall would collapse . . .


As you can see, yet another hill. Not so steep, but this far into the walk, still a challenge to the thigh muscles. . .

At the top is a lovely example of an old Carmarthenshire farmhouse, with its characteristic slate "weatherboarding" (we have it on the back of our house too, which faces S-W - the way of the prevailing weather). This slate covering is also used in many parts of Cornwall, which also suffer from S-W weather patterns.

Looking across to Merlin's Hill from the farmhouse. It was pretty drizzly on my walk, but it was too hot to keep on a top over my t-shirt, so I just got gradually wetter (and cooler). On top of Merlin's Hill is an Iron-Age hillfort, and the associated farm on the hillslopes now has a Merlin Visitor Centre, but I am too mean to check it out as I don't think it's worth the visit. In the 1970s, Mary Stewart wrote a book called The Crystal Cave which was set here (brief summary of plot at http://www.bookrags.com/studyguide-the-crystal-cave/plotsummary.html
There is actually a spring here, but I think it's at the bottom of the hill near the roadside - not in a cave at the top of the hill. Sorry to disappoint you. A good read all the same, and first of a trilogy I think.

Autumn has come early this year, although the hips, haws, blackberries and other wild fruits seem to be very slow this year. Here the haws of the Hawthorn (or May tree, as I know it from its white spring blossom) are gradually colouring up. I've not made jelly or sauce from them, but some folks do.

Here is a flower which reminds me of my garden when I was a child growing up in Southampton. Along with Yarrow, it grew at the margins of our garden, and is Toadflax - a wild Snapdragon (or Antirrhinum).

On the homeward part of the journey, here is an old cottage which has been restored and extended and is a lovely family home now.


A neighbour's horses thought I was Very Scary Indeed!

Nearly home, and this is the barn conversion belonging to our nearest neighbours up the hill. Downhill all the way from here.

6 comments:

nita x said...

jennie your walk and area looks lovely.
i can see why you enjoy your walks :)

Goosey said...

That's a lovely walk Jennie, it makes me more determined to move away from the town and the streets Wrecks and I walk every day. What a lovely area you live in

Greentwinsmummy said...

Wow thats a splendid walk! I can tell sure enough those hills are steep,its soooo good for you,keep at it poppet & you will reap the benefits!I feel a new person since moving around more,honestly quite quite different :o)
GTM

Arlene Grimm said...

Thanks for taking us on a walk with you!! Lovely area.

Mam said...

I can't find enough superlatives to exclaim about your lovely walk. I really DO feel like I've been on a beautiful outing when I go through these photo journeys with you. I loved seeing the hawthorn - don't think I ever have. The old farmhouse with the slate weatherboards is beautiful. Thank you Jennie, for another great trip!
Nancy

Bovey Belle said...

I'm glad you all enjoyed my walk. It was a regular ride too, when I had Fahly-horse. I know it so well, I tend to take it a bit for granted, but the view from Colomendy across to Merlin's Hill is always stunning.