We had all enjoyed a very good evening on the previous Tuesday, saying our goodbyes, to Stewart, so it was initially a little disappointing to find only three of us had turned out for this walk. It was not really surprising, though, as plenty of people were still on holiday and others had commitments preventing them from turning out on what promised to be a wild, wet and windy walk, in an area that some may have felt did not have all that much to offer. We three were not to be daunted, however, and had in fact an excellent day, with plenty of laughs, a good seven and a half miles walked, a good coffee stop and some delightful trees, although maybe they might have looked even lovelier in autumnal colours a couple of weeks later, and with a bit more sun.
We parked at Laleston, decided to avoid the very muddy gateway at the beginning by walking along the road to meet up with the Ffordd-y-Gyfraith and soon found ourselves on the greenway leading to Llangewydd road, with its delightful old oak trees which form a canopy over the road. This road is clearly quite well used, but somehow has quite a special atmosphere, it being old, canopied and with lovely trees on either side.
Frank, Marie and I had done this part of the walk back in June on what was another day of few walkers but lots of rain. It was at this next spot we had met, that last time, our young companions doing their D of E award, in their flimsy gear and mostly hating every minute of it. It made me wonder how they felt about the walk, once they had completed it.
For us, the next field gave some good views towards the hills and the vast solar panel fields, before we ducked down to try and find the nearly concealed little bridge over a small stream. Under the railway ….just as an Intercity 125 ( I think??!) was passing overhead, we then turned right, uphill and by this time I thought the suggestion of hot coffee and shortbread at Court Colman Hotel, might just keep us buoyant. As John then reminded us it was his big birthday, it seemed the right treat for him. We walked in, found about 80 nice champagne glasses ready by the door, but not for us, but a wedding about to arrive. We asked for coffee, and they suggested the bar for us for us to drink it in; I think we three looked like something out of “Last of the summer wine”, so were not exactly welcome where all the wedding guests would be entering shortly!! The sun showed slightly, so we opted for sitting on the terrace. We could pretend to be outdoor staff, being given a coffee!
The hotel need not have worried too much as we were soon back on our route, with a brief photocall in the entrance to the hotel grounds. I suggested we all smiled…. I think we did.
From here we went uphill, took a left and were soon by the M4, where we walked alongside it for a few hundred yards before going down through a very pretty wooded area to the north west of Pen-y-Fai. Passing through the village we spotted what had been an old pub, a malthouse and then possibly some almshouses. A nice village albeit rather hilly. Passing the new school, we were soon back into fields, a bit of steep uphill then out onto the road north of Court Colman. Opposite the hotel we turned into what was clearly an old, but exceeding overgrown lane leading to more fields. A bit of bush thwacking got us through and fields and country lanes were the route for the rest of our trip. We ate a very long overdue lunch on the edge of one of these fields, when I realised I could go no further without sustenance. Energies back up again, we walked down to the old pound near Llangewydd, where we had a brief rest break on one of the seats there. A brisk walk took us back to the car and we were home by 3pm, having had a very brief drive around Laleston, finding a very interesting looking old pub and some lovely houses in the little lanes off the main road.
Thank you to John and Graham for being good company; we had plenty of laughs, some good exercise and explored an area new to us all. Hopefully you will be able to come on the next walk, on Saturday 14th October when Phil and Claire will lead us.