The Common, Ffordd-y-Gyfraith, 22nd January

Lead: Liz

After one of the dreariest days we have had this winter, on the preceding day, we were very ready for a good walk, in a nice expanse of open air and countryside and preferably with a bit of sunshine to get us feeling slightly more spring like. We seemed to strike lucky and were quite sorry for those unable to be with us, especially those who had to work or attend to other duties. So, five lucky ones set off for the common above St Brides Major. With one member of our party new to the area, it was good to show her some of our favourite parts, tell a little of the local history and indicate the several hostelries we passed/visited en route (well, only one visited!).

As wet weather is naturally anticipated at this time of year, it is always a little difficult to know just where to go to avoid TOO much mud. Again, we were lucky, especially after the downpour the day before. Soon parked, we set off across the common and quickly had good views in a number of directions. Going down Pant Mari Flanders was interestingly different from usual. None of the soft golden sand we usually plod through, but instead, very firm sand which had clearly been the bed of the temporary stream which must have flowed down it the previous day, cutting a little into the banks of what is usually the path. The evidence of the stream suddenly disappeared, presumably into a hole beneath, in the limestone underlying this area.

We had a quick look in the well, as usual plenty of water; saw the pine ends of the, possibly, old Mari, the weaver’s cottage and then followed the track down hill, on what is clearly an old made up track way, Is this possibly the remains of some wartime activity, Anyone know? We met the usual horrible amount of litter as we reached the Bridgend to Ogmore road, but took the path a little higher up through the bracken to the back of the Pelican Inn. (hostelry no 1, but closed until noon). For a first time we used the new bit of path alongside the road, a lovely bit of pathway, presumably put in by BCBC as this is on the Wales coastal path route.

We followed pavement until we reached Schwyll pumping station (opened in 1932- no longer used), crossed the road, looked at several of the houses along the way, usually overlooked if driving, and for a horrid moment thought that the Watermill was closed (I had checked though!). No, it was open, a nice round table awaited us, although the fire not lit as fan problems, but think we would have roasted had it been lit and we’d sat around it!

We had gone in for a coffee, but asked for the menus (why?) as we were then all tempted by a good offer of coffee and Viennese sachertorte. For those who don’t know, this is a VERY rich chocolate cake, always served with whipped cream on the side, as it was today. So 5 cups of coffee and 5 Viennese sachertortes later we staggered out, thinking that hopefully the bus might come along and scoop us up, as walking felt rather out of our reach by now. NO bus. So, we decided not to go back to the lane leading to the common, but head up a signed path opposite the Pelican. We were in for a treat. The path soon lead us up through heavily moss covered walls, clearly very old and most attractive. We went uphill between these and were soon at the top, near the site of an old fort, of which we thought we could see some remains.

From here it was a straight pathway ahead across the common. This must, we felt sure, be part of the old medieval route, the Ffordd- y-Gyfraith used by the “law” from the Vale to the tribes of Llangynwydd and beyond. Looking at the map, it is an almost straight line along this route up to the village of Ffordd-y-Gyfraith and beyond.

We realised we had had such an interesting and enjoyable walk that we had forgotten a group photo…..

22 jan

Chief Photographer to the fore with all his equipment, whilst the rest of us huddled on a mini islet in a flooded patch…and awaited said photographer doing a slide and falling in while running to be in the picture. He walked sedately! A shame…!

So, a good walk, plenty of laughs – oh and one more!… we were talking about career choices over coffee and one member of the group divulged that he had always wanted to be a surgeon and had practised by taking the squeaker out of his teddy, then taken its eyes out. He did NOT become a surgeon, fortunately.

Well, a good walk and thanks to all those who came along and hoped you enjoyed it as much as I did.