The Ramblers’ trustees took some time out during our July weekend in Cardiff to visit the Llynfi valley north of Maesteg in Bridgend. Neil Perry of the Ramblers’ Maesteg Group led the walk and other local members joined us, including Huw and Joanna Irranca-Davies.
Huw is the Welsh Assembly Member (Labour) for Ogmore, having previously been MP for the constituency. He resigned as an MP in 2016 to stand as an AM in the Welsh election.
He is a good friend of Ramblers: as minister in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs from October 2008 to May 2010 he did much for us, in particular ensuring that the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 made provision for the England Coast Path, and securing the confirmation of the South Downs National Park. After Labour lost the election in 2010 Huw became shadow environment minister. Now as an AM he takes every opportunity to speak for Ramblers in the Senedd, just as he did in Westminster.
Huw and the other members of the Maesteg Group were proud to show us their patch. It is the site of the former Coegnant colliery and Maesteg washery, transformed into woodland and meadows. The operations here ended in 1981 and many of the workers were transferred to St John’s colliery, which closed in 1985.
Maesteg means ‘fair field’ It is in a deep valley. The surrounding hills, which include commons and other access land, rise up to provide great opportunities for recreation.
There are firm tracks through the Llyfni valley suitable for all users with great views.
We met Chris Evans, chair of the Llynfi Woodland Group, who told us of how the group works with the Ramblers and others to improve access for all, benefiting the health and well-being of the local population and increasing people’s knowledge and appreciation of nature.
We climbed to the statue of the Keeper of the Colliery, carved by Chris Wood from Newport. With his beautifully incised face (Chris Evans would not tell us on whom he was modelled), the keeper watches over the valley from his commanding position.
Huw has written about our visit on his website.
Only days after our visit I learned that the Llynfi Woodland Group had won the Keep Wales Tidy Green Flag Community Award. Congratulations!