For the last 20 years there has been a walk starting from the Eisteddfod. The idea came from Ramblers Cymru but the walks have been organised by the government agency the Countryside Council for Wales (CCW) and then Natural Resources Wales (NRW). Although I am the only person from England, I have (uniquely) been on every walk.
However, readers will recall from my blog that I detected a lack of enthusiasm from NRW in organising last year’s walk from Meifod. This year NRW decided it could not continue to do it. And so the Ramblers (mainly) and Open Spaces Society took it over.
We had short notice but nevertheless Rebecca Brough, Ramblers Cymru’s policy and advocacy manager, did a splendid job in organising the route and sending invitations.
And so 15 of us met outside the entrance to the maes (field) of the Eisteddfod which this year was in Abergavenny, a Walkers Are Welcome town on the edge of the Brecon Beacons National Park. Among those present were Ruth Hall, a member of NRW, Joe Daggett from the National Trust, Abergavenny Town Councillors Maggie Harris and John Prosser, and the new clerk Mark Bristow; Ruth Coulthard from Brecon Beacons National Park and Steve Rogers, former project officer with the Blanaevon World Heritage Site; Karen Anthony from the Country Landowners’ Association, Matthew Lewis of Monmouthshire County Council, and members of the Walk 4 Life team from the council. The great thing about these walks is the opportunity to catch up with people and swap information.
Rebecca led us along the River Usk, and we learnt from Matthew Lewis about the management of Castle Meadows, on which the maes was situated. The meadows are at the meeting point of the Rivers Usk and Gavenny. Parts of Llanfoist Bridge over the Usk date from the fifteenth century.
We climbed to the old railway to Brynmaw, which is now a cycle track, and we stopped at the offices of the Canal and River Trust on the wharf at Govilon, where we had coffee and chat.
This was the opportunity for a group photo too.
Then we set off back along the peaceful Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal.
We stopped within sight of Skirrid to hear from Joe Daggett, countryside manager for the National Trust in the Brecon Beacons, about the management of this popular site, and of the nearby and equally-popular Sugar Loaf.
Then we headed back to the maes and said our goodbyes.
Later I wandered around the maes with my friend Helen Lloyd Jones. We were delighted to bump into Elinor Gwynn, who earlier in the week had been crowned the Bard of the Eisteddfod for her collection of poems on this year’s subject of Llwybrau (paths).
Elinor used to work for CCW and NRW and was responsible for organising some of the Eisteddfod walks. It was lovely to be able to congratulate her in person.
The day began with an early walk with Helen from her house in Glasbury on the River Wye where we had stayed. We set off over the common behind her house
and then along the Wye with a backdrop of the Black Mountains.
It was a most enjoyable day.