Tuesday, 21 October 2008


From Taffs Well you can already see how steep the climb is going to be, walking across the rusting bridge, the taff below is a groggy green shade looking like its in a constant hungover state.
Once the otherside of the Taff, you have to gear up a very steep worn footpath with benches at every turn, after struggling and sweating up that climb you enter Gwaelog-y-Garth.
Walking through the village, the school playground on the left is full, children running with untold amounts of energy.
Turning right and following the footpath up into the forest, the path climbs slowly up behind the houses, giving an oppurtunity to have a nose into people gardens and front rooms. Just as you enter the woods, the noise of the playground fades out and is replaced with an eeriy silence, the trees creek behind, like as if the preaditor is stalking you.
The whole forest is a monoculture failure, the trees are straight tall, blocking out all the light, slowly killing itself, looking into the distance the trees blur into what looks like a wooden panel fence.
Pockets of light flood the forest floor, forest fauna springs out of the ground, desperate for the light. Climbing over the hazardous rocky path cut out deep from the rainfall.
Once through the woods, you enter a thick grassed field full of sheep, making your way through this heavy field is hard going and at the top of the field you can look back down the field trying to locate the footpath that you just created is not to be found. It is satisfying to know that you've made no impact on the area, there are lambs sleeping under the trees, keeping out of the hot sun, the breeze here is cool but its still hot.
Climbing up towards the top of the garth, the footpath curls up, which has been replaced recenlty and looking at the state at the side of the hill, it looks like it needs constant maintance.
It is always tempting to stop and take a view now, I prefer to wait until I'm at the top.
There are two points to climb up onto the Garth, the first is the rocky outcrop with over looks Taffs Well, this rocky outcrop is very distinctive at the foot of the valley.
Sat on the rocks, drinking a refreshing cup of tea, the breeze here is stronger, so it is ideal for paragliders who lauch themselves off this hill hoping the thermals will carry them higher, the breeze picks up and I huddle down between the rocks using them as a windbreak, warmth from the rocks absorbed from the sun keep me comfortble.
Rested, I begin the climb to the very top of the Garth the footpath here look like the scales of a dragon, the symbol of Wales, walking up these scales of the sleeping beast, its spine continuing up the valley ridges.
At the top you look back down into Cardiff over the severn into England, the Millenium Centre in the Bay, shines like a polished copper kettle. Below me, trains rattle empty along the valley lines, once full and busy pulling coal to power the Empire, but now only shuttling to and from work.
Walking across the top towards the mount birds twitter and shoot out of the heather like missles, ready to defend their nests. Overhead birds of prey hover, looking down for their next meal adjusting thier bodies to deal with the strong changing breeze.
Standing at the top of the garth, the valleys are sprawled out below, the houses hug the valleyside like the contour lines on a map. From here you can see the old and the new, the old mines rusting away and far in the distance the wind farm crates a new form of energy rather than coal.
Walking back down the otherside of the garth, it leads down a steep, rocky footpath which is eroded away from the drowning rainfall, its a careful walk down which completes a loop back into Gwaelog-y-Garth.

No comments: