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A long steep climb in Owl Service country - Helen's journal and online home — LiveJournal
In which an old dog attempts to learn new tricks.
A long steep climb in Owl Service country
As part of the reconnoitring for the geology book, G decided that he wanted to do a walk that he hadn't done for at least 30 years and I hadn't done at all. We drove over the pass to Dinas Mawddwy and turned off the main road and made our way to Cwm Cywarch where there is a car park. And then we started to climb...

The track was a good one and once must have been a well-used route from the community in Cwm Cywarch over the mountains to the larger town where we live.

Fleeting patch of sunlight

Fleeting patch of sunlight

The weather forecast had promised sunshine, or at least sunny intervals. This was it and it lasted for all of 5 seconds. But at least it didn't rain and the valley was remarkably sheltered from the wind -- as we discovered when we reached the top of the pass!

Cwm Cywarch. Owl Service territory. This is actually the next valley to the one where Alan Garner's book is set, but no doubt very similar. The weather was pretty gloomy, but it didn't actually rain.

Cwm Cywarch

I really would like to come here again with decent light and the DSLR. It was much more spectacular than I expected.

The valley bottom once was a lake. Now it's just a peat bog, but the floor of this valley was a lake at the end of the last ice age. Lakes are always transitory.They either break through the natural dam that formed them or they slowly fill up with vegetation.

Former lake

Almost at the top! Looking back at the village where we started our walk. You can see the sharp curve of the steep path we have just climbed up.

Almost at the top!

Top of the pass. Finally we reached the top and the wind hit us. I just took a quick shot of the view looking the other way and then we started back down the way we had come.

Top of the pass

The whole walk was only 3.5 miles, but it felt like more than twice that due to being so steep. My legs got a really good workout today.

And finally... I can't resist including this quote from The Owl Service about sheep.

Welsh sheep grazing

'It's the sheep are the problem,' said Gwyn. 'Mostyn Lewis-Jones breeds them with short left legs and Gareth Pugh breeds them with short right legs. There's the boundary fence between the two farms, see, right down the mountain. Mostyn's sheep eat from right to left, and Gareth's from left to right across the slope. When they reach the fence they have to walk backwards and then start again.'

'Isn't it cruel to the sheep?' said Alison.


'When they're on level ground.'

'No. They have special stilts for the short legs,' said Gwyn: 'called wether-go-nimbles. It's an old Welsh craft. They used to carve them in the long winter evenings, but now they're mostly made of fibre-glass.'

'Gosh,' said Alison.

And at this point Gwyn can't control himself any longer and collapses in fits of laughter. :)

Current Mood: tired tired

17 comments or Leave a comment
khiemtran From: khiemtran Date: December 22nd, 2016 07:08 pm (UTC) (Link)
Nice! I like the light on the curves of those hills in the second photo!
feodora From: feodora Date: December 22nd, 2016 07:22 pm (UTC) (Link)
Your pictures reminded me, as I just today wrote an article for my, german, blog about a hiking tour through parts of Wales and posted some nice pictures too

Edited at 2016-12-22 07:24 pm (UTC)
heleninwales From: heleninwales Date: December 28th, 2016 04:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
I love that slide show. I'm looking forward to doing more exploring now we've retired and have more time for walking.
feodora From: feodora Date: December 28th, 2016 06:29 pm (UTC) (Link)
I would really recommend Glyndŵr's Way. If I had to choose...I would say the parts arround Machynlleth are the best. But in the end the whole countryside was amazing and you pass so many different types of landscapes with this way

Edited at 2016-12-28 06:29 pm (UTC)
feodora From: feodora Date: December 28th, 2016 06:35 pm (UTC) (Link)
I love that slide show.

Yes thats a nice feature at wordpress to show many pictures in "one" spot. The problem than is, that I have to upload the pictures to my wp account to use this feature and the free space is only 3 GB. Therefore I did this extra flickr account just for this blog, there I can upload the pictures in high resolution and put just a html link into my blog.

Edited at 2016-12-28 06:37 pm (UTC)
steepholm From: steepholm Date: December 22nd, 2016 07:43 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thank you for the pics! That passage always cracked me up - but I like even better the part where Alison walks up the mountain on her own and is only reassured that she hasn't slipped out of her own century when she sees dye on the sheep. "That's modern," she thinks, with relief.

Is it?
Is it?
heleninwales From: heleninwales Date: December 28th, 2016 04:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
That really set me thinking and I don't know how modern marking sheep with dye is. I suspect the use of raddle (to see which sheep have been mated by the ram) is old. Surely it's at least Victorian? But for identification purposes, due to the limited number of colours available in the past, it's probably only 20th century -- though I'm happy to be corrected by someone who has actual knowledge and isn't just guessing! There is a very recent trend of marking the ewe and lambs with numbers. That only dates back a few years whereas the really old marking method is the ear notches. That must date back to time immemorial.
steepholm From: steepholm Date: December 28th, 2016 05:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
My only knowledge of the matter is literary, but I remember that Diggory Venn in Return of the Native is a reddle man, so the practice goes back at least that far - i.e. to 1878. Probably much further, as Venn is hardly a new-fangled chap.
From: cmcmck Date: December 22nd, 2016 08:12 pm (UTC) (Link)
Lovely part of the world!
heleninwales From: heleninwales Date: December 28th, 2016 04:53 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yes, it really is. I'm hoping we can do more exploring now we have more time.
sartorias From: sartorias Date: December 22nd, 2016 09:20 pm (UTC) (Link)
The top one once again looked similar to here, only the green would be February (assuming we get our usual one inch of rain per year), but after that they go way alien and gorgeous!
lizziebelle From: lizziebelle Date: December 22nd, 2016 11:02 pm (UTC) (Link)
Such a beautiful place! My uncle used to tell me (when I was little) about a special breed of cow whose legs were shorter on one side, so they could only go around the hill one way. He's a very silly uncle.
From: cmcmck Date: December 28th, 2016 05:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
They tell that story about haggises (haggi?) in my husband's part of the world :o)
heleninwales From: heleninwales Date: December 29th, 2016 11:26 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, yes! Wild haggis tastes much better than the farmed variety. :)
puddleshark From: puddleshark Date: December 23rd, 2016 10:52 am (UTC) (Link)
Stunning views and wonderful photos! That one of the path looping down gives me vertigo!
From: kaishin108 Date: December 24th, 2016 01:33 am (UTC) (Link)
You really did get some awesome photos.

The sheep with the shorter legs, omg I am way too gulible, lol.
asakiyume From: asakiyume Date: December 31st, 2016 06:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
I didn't comment at the time you posted, but leaving a comment just now on your most recent post prompted me to come back. I did so much love these photos of the steep hills, and your quote about the sheep with the fiberglass legs made me laugh.
17 comments or Leave a comment