Sunday, 8 April 2018

Muddiest. Easter. EVER.

Llynheilyn Lake is spreading

I must have mentioned before that we have been visiting the Welsh Borders every Easter, now, for over 40 years. In fact, I have probably mentioned it at least once every year on this blog, now just six months away from its tenth anniversary. But it is what we do: drive to the area west of the border around Presteigne and Llandrindod Wells, and spend a week or so off-grid in a rented cottage, reading, walking, exploring, or (in my case) just gazing vacantly into the landscape. In all these years, however, I have never encountered so much mud. Snow, yes. Rain, yes. But somehow the land itself had always remained pretty firm underfoot, except where livestock had trampled it into a mire around gates and similar points of concentration.

On Gilwern Hill

Flooded trees at Shaky Bridge

This year was very different. It felt as if the entire soil-covering of the Radnor Forest had become semi-liquid, turning solid, springy upland into a boot-sucking morass. I ended up wearing wellingtons on every walk, rather than ankle-height hiking boots. Previously reliable parking spots had become treacherous, wheel-spinning mud-traps, with the result that the sides of our brave old Renault Scenic now look as if they have been coated with heavily-textured brown Artex. It did snow the night of our arrival, but the subsequent mild, drizzly weather caused this frosting to melt away swiftly and merely topped up the water levels in the soil.

On Gilwern Hill

On Bryn-y-maen

But, never mind, despite the dismal weather and the mud we did get out every day and, apart from the sheep, kites, buzzards, and the occasional farmer on a quad-bike, had the place to ourselves. Anyone with any sense, of course, was indoors, watching TV, eating Easter treats, in bed, or rendering themselves happily senseless. Perhaps all at the same time. But we can do any or all of that now we're back home. Although at some point someone is going to have to wash the car, it's true. But there's no rush: I quite like the "we've been off-road over Easter" look, and it might well rain heavily in the next fortnight or so, anyway.

On Shepherd's Tump

On Gilwern Hill


Anonymous said...

Even though it's annoying if your car becomes stuck, wet mud certainly is photogenic! And these minimalist colours of late winter -- hues of green, yellow, and blue -- are something special, too.

On the other hand, I really hope that Wales dries up a bit before our summer vacation.

These round ponds - didn't Jem Southam create a body of work around those?

Best, Thomas

Mike C. said...


Yes, he did -- they're generally called "dew ponds", and AFAIK have been created for the purposes of watering livestock. I'v never seen so many, though -- the water table is ridiculously high, and filling any available hole to the brim.

It'll all be gone by summer, though!