Sunday, 19 April 2009

Radnor Redux

Some pictures from our week in a farmhouse near Llandegly, Radnorshire (or Powys, if you prefer the modern mega-county). We awoke to frost on our first morning, but the weather changed through clear sun to mist to steady rain over the course of the week -- exactly what you'd expect, and we wouldn't have had it any other way.

"Our" field

"Our" fence

The mid-Wales borders are perfect walking country, the ancient hills have eroded into smooth ups and downs, and tracks head off in all and any directions -- none of that brash young alpine stuff. The area has that feel of being in a time warp that seems to characterise borderlands. Even now, there are shops in the market towns where you step back into 1958 whenever you set the bell above the door tinking. Somehow, hill farmers seem to start out as normal youngsters and gradually mutate or erode into their forebears: we started visiting Wales at Easter in 1978, and this year's cloth-capped old boys leaning on gateposts were probably the young men modelling themselves on Kevin Keegan back then.

Castle Bank

Looking towards Gilwern

You can still get lost, though. Once the mist starts to come down, your map-reading had better be pretty good, or you'll find yourself in the wrong valley, up to your knees in boggy ground. Wherever you go, though, you walk with ghosts, and respect is due -- some of these tracks go back to before the Bronze Age, and you usually end up having a rest on the bank of a hillfort or Roman encampment, or out of the wind in the lee of a cairn or standing stone. Naturally, the area has been a magnet for several generations of people looking to live an alternative lifestyle. You may have trouble finding a replacement power cable for a Nintendo DS, but there's never any shortage of organic wholefoods or blissed-out amateur artwork.


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