Diaries from my Wonderful Walks in Wales
April 16, 2012
Signs of Springtime
April begins with ‘the perfect spring day’.
The birdsong heralds the dawn, starting with a single chirping chaffinch, and building up to a veritable cacophony as the sun rises pink over the hills. One can sense immediately that this is a day to savour.
Oscar is raring to go well before breakfast, and so we explore the gardens. The air is pure and chilled, and scented with spicy perfume, and the smell of cut grass. The lawns are newly mown for the first time this year, and looking pristine with verdant stripes sweeping down towards the old oak tree. The grass is heavy with dew, glistening in the morning sun. Patches of tiny violas and forget–me-nots create little pools of blue amongst the green. The banks of daffodils still vibrant, now interspersed with fritillaries and celandines.
The little waterfall bubbles down under the bridge to the pond. The stream now lined with the huge arum lilies; -the forsythia and broom echoing their vivid yellow hues.
The camellias dropping petals like pink confetti along the path leading to our magnificent Magnolia, a mass of beautiful bloom. Our new Stellata already blooming prettily below it.
Already the early azaleas and Rhododendrons are showing their colours alongside the trees with the new leaves unfurling in every shade of green imaginable.
Only Mother Nature can clothe herself in such clashing and vibrant colours, and still look sublime.
The Foel looks wonderful in the distance, bathed in a soft purpley mist, the temptation too great to see the view from the top.
So we follow the path alongside the Einion river, which tumbles and gurgles over the rocks, swirling in deep blue–green pools.
The baby lambs play chase in the field, some so new they can only just walk on wobbly little legs, rejoicing in being alive on such a lovely day.
Reaching the road , we can see the huge waterwheel next to the Furnace, from which the village took its name, with the waterfall crashing down beside it. Oscar takes a dip in the foaming plunge pool .
The furnace was built in 1755 to smelt the silver and lead from the local mines. The waterwheel was used to power the bellows. There was a mint in Aberystwyth which used the silver for coins.
Later, iron ore was imported on sailing boats through Derwenlas port, and brought by horse and cart to the furnace, where it was made into pig iron. Once the railways were built and steam power dominated , the furnace fell into disuse.
After our refreshment stop, we head off up Artists valley, climbing steeply through the woodland, up the original ‘Stairway to Heaven’. This walk was the inspiration for that very famous song, and Robert Plant still has a house hidden up here.
The lower woods are mainly deciduous, predominately sessile oak. There are several pathways winding through these magical woodlands. The forest floors, rocks , walls and trees are cloaked in a thick, soft and spongy blanket of mosses and lichens.
These are like a forest in miniature, with colours from lime yellow, ochre, through jade to olive green, and an amazing variety of shapes. Their variety and abundance proves the purity of the air, as these are the most susceptible plants to pollution, and so the first species to disappear.
They provide a soft bed for all the ferns and woodland flowers and bulbs, and a springy path to tread, each step generating that wonderful musty woody smell, redolent of mushrooms.
As we climb, we get glimpses of the stunning views through the trees, the leaves just unfurling with that wonderful fresh new green, looking bright as the sun shines through them.
We reach the wide path dropping back down to the river, and leave the road .
As we walk downwards, we can hear the river crashing over the rocks below. Eventually it comes into sight, the little foamy waterfalls, the deep still turquoise pools, the rocks rounded and sculpted by centuries of erosion. Huge tree stumps , now covered in mosses, bear witness to stormier days . TheEinionRiveris crossed here by a little wooden footbridge, called the Joy bridge by all the locals. It was re built by Colonel Pugh in the mid 1900’s for his little daughter, Joy, who still lives in the village.
It is easy to imagine this as a perfect hidden playground. It is a sheltered spot, with the sunlight dappled through the new leaves, glinting on the water. The river is wider and shallower here. Lots of lovely pools for paddling and the air smells fresh and full of oxygen from the rushing water. The bridge perfect for Pooh sticks, bringing out the child in everyone.
We climb back up to the north side of the valley, and as we reach the top of the path the view opens up before us. I have walked this path many, many times, and yet this never fails to take my breath away. Stretching below, the winding silver streak of the Dovey estuary opening intoCardigan bayto the west, the dunes at Ynyslas clearly visible as are the marshes of Borth bog . The pretty little town of Aberdoveypicked out by the sunshine in the far distance, with the majestic Cader Idris on the skyline.
We take the path following the contours, around the Foel. The hillside is open here, and the wind rustles the dry bracken. An occasional rowan or blackthorn tree provides a perch for the buzzards, but for the mostpart the path is a springy turf and the magnificent views uninterrupted.
We can look down and see our Lovely Ynyshir and the gardens, sheltered by the rocky little hill behind. We run and slide down the grassy path, and make our way home, now ready for breakfast!