Saturday 21st August 2021.
Visiting an (early skyline) Cemetery and (equally early?) Industrial Revolution Site.
Leader: Peter Foulkes
Hafren Forest and Pumlimon Arwystli
We assembled at Rhyd-y-benwch Car Park, Hafren Forest on a morning of light drizzle, and assured each other that the weather was lifting and it would be a pleasant walk. And, indeed, for the most part it was – and with several new members to get to know along the way we initially barely noticed the mist above the trees on the track above Afon Hore. Once out into the open hillside the lack of vistas became a bit more obvious, but the clouds did lift from the ridges from time to time to show us the views we could have been enjoying.
Sadly, for our lunch stop at the Bronze Age cairns on top of Pumlimon Arwystli the clouds stayed determinedly low, merely opening gaps from time to time to offer us glimpses of Stallions Crag, the cwm inside the massif of Pumlimon and across the purple heather-lit peat hags around the source of the Hafren/Severn. And all this time we had not seen another hiker anywhere.
Of course, once we’d turned our backs on the top the clouds did start to lift. After admiring the large Bronze Age standing stone Carreg Wen (newly revealed to sight by NRW having logged the surrounding forest) we headed downwards to investigate the old copper (Bronze Age) and lead (Georgian and Victorian) mine workings on Nant Yr Eira – the stream of the snows or, as mining companies dubbed it for the purpose of tempting in romantically-minded investors, “Snowy Brook”. The mines are even more romantic overgrown ruins now, and never were much of a commercially viable proposition – but the setting, especially with Pumlumon now obligingly standing out clear above us, must have made for great advertising copy! Not much solace for the miners, though, since health and safety – and the poisonous nature of lead – were less well regarded back then; miners’ lives were short, and compensation for industrial accidents nil. A plentiful supply of bilberries all around, and even some alder buckthorn, are thriving away from the conifer-planted sections of the forest.
From the mines we strolled down back into the forest and the babbling Hafren – where the industrious midges met us – ending with a cup of tea and Welsh cakes kindly provided by Gill Foulkes from the back of the car.
About 14km all told, with 450 metres of height gain (approx. 9 miles & 1500 feet, old school). Two thirds on good tracks and paths, remainder over rough grassland & heath. Photos courtesy of Gill Foulkes and Neal Batchellor.