Friday, 1 July 2016

The Green Green Grass of Home

You really can't beat a bit of Tom Jones now can you?  A trip to South Wales seemed the perfect excuse for me to blast Steve with a few of his classics - especially as we drove through Pontypridd (Sir Tom's birthplace).

We were en route from Exeter (where I'd been working) to the lovely Camping and Caravan Club site near Llandovery (Rhandirmwyn to be exact).  The site was perfect - I'm such a huge fan of the C&CC - great locations. a friendly welcome and excellent facilities on site,  It was a bit of a windy road to get there, but worth it for the peace, quiet and secluded views.

We arrived in glorious sunshine so made the most of it with a nice cold beer on the grass next to Delores with nothing but the gentle sound of the River Towy running alongside to disturb us.  The lack of mobile phone signal anywhere around the site is either an absolute blessing or a dreadful curse depending on your viewpoint, but it does make for a wonderfully peaceful stay.

Campsite Entrance

Perfect Pitch
Thanks to the crack on the bonce big hikes continue to remain off limits.  Who knew one tumble could cause so much trouble?  Turns out severe concussion is not to be sniffed at.  I still tire easily and my short term memory remains on the fritz (I just got annoyed with Steve because he didn't understand where we needed to go tomorrow and apparently "at the end of the coast - begins with B but it's not Bognor" failed to convey that I obviously meant Barrow).  The sweet tooth is the part that's foxing me the most - I've always been more of a cheese and crisps kinda gal, but now I've gone all girlie and swoon over large bars of chocolate.  Most odd.  Anyway, back to Wales...

More green

So far as my research can tell me, Green Green Grass of Home wasn't actually written about Wales, but from the short walk we took on our first day you could see why Sir Tom "from the valleys" Jones has made the tune his own.  We only walked about 5 miles in total - from the campsite to the nearby Cwm Rhaeadr Forest but if there was a Buzzword Bingo game of superlatives for "lush green walks" then we'd have checked the lot.

There are a number of clearly signed footpaths through the forest, though the Waterfall Walk does warn you that you will only be able to glimpse the falls at the top.  If that sounds a little harsh then don't be put off - they mean the big falls, there are plenty of lovely views of the smaller falls to enjoy as you make your way through the spectacularly green woodland.  If you want to take your chances shimmying over slippery rocks then there is a rough route to the higher, larger falls. I decided to play it safe and enjoyed a picnic on a big boulder while Steve slipped and slithered his way upwards, treating me to an impromptu Tarzan impression when he lost his footing.

I know I'm going on about it, but it really was all magnificently green.  If I was a proper writer I a) would have used "were" instead of "was" just then and b) would be able to write something beautifully poetic involving words like "verdant" "lush" and "velvety emerald".  As it is you'll just have to make to with my version:  it was green.  Seriously flipping green.

Excellent ancient oak tree along the way that you could crawl inside
Inside the oak tree
River Towy

If there's one thing that greenery needs it's water - though the rain thoughtfully held off until we were back on Delores and planning day 2.  We decided to try a bit of a bike ride to Lynn Brianne- not too far and not too hilly but, it turns out, it was rather too much for me and I panted and wheezed like I'd smoked 40 a day for the past 20 years - still the views were definitely worth it.  (Assuming you're fit and well it's a nice bike ride along fairly quiet roads and it honestly isn't all that hilly).

If you do head off there, watch for the small car park on your left before the main reservoir, it offers superb views of the spillway.

View of the spillway from the lower car park

At the top car park you can access a bridge and walk out over the top of the spillway - and if you're thinking how much fun you could have on there with a giant inner tube or kayak, then these guys are WAY ahead of you...

Suitably exhausted we headed back to the campsite and cosied in for the evening.  The rains returned and, call me weird, but I actually find the drumming of the rain on the roof of the van strangely soporific and I went to bed a happy woman.

When we were away in Gozo, the thing I missed the most was green.  I remember as we came in to land when we arrived I peered out of the window and remarked how brown everything was.  Don't get me wrong, we had a wonderful time over there, but I really did miss the Green Green Grass of Home (you see what I did there, don't you?), so thank you Wales, thank you Rhandirmwyn and thank you Sir Tom.

(And if you're now inspired to visit Wales, take a look at our North Wales blogs that start here.)

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