Departure lounge ramblings on music, places, climate change and stuff outdoors

Sunlight on the Welsh Dragon

Markontour is taking a week away from the office to read, think and plan, stimulated by early morning hikes in the Brecon Beacons, and book-ended by late evening blogging. Today’s inspiration comes from a cracking walk up Hay Bluff to see the red dragon cairn (above) that proudly marks the summit. To the east lies England, to the west is Wales. The dragon watches in all directions.

Today the weather was winter perfect. Last weeks’ snow was receding, but still firm along much of the main path despite the glorious sunshine. It’s a short, sharp hike to the summit from the Hay Bluff car park (which sits adjacent to what my guide-book described as a “stone circle”, albeit one of gnomic proportions), although a bit of zigging and zagging was necessary today as part of the most direct ascent was cordoned off due to soil erosion.

Once astride the Bluff’s back, however, a gentle stroll along the escarpment to Twmpa (aka Lord Hereford’s Knob) yields magnificent views of the Beacons, the Black Mountains and the Wye Valley for almost no additional effort. With the sun behind me, I enjoyed lunch a little further on, watching the para-gliders I’d met in the car-park earlier compete with the crows to be silhouetted against the snow dusted peaks beyond. The wild ponies below paid no attention to any of us.

An hour later I was back at The Old Vicarage, the stunning Golden Valley holiday rental that is my home for the rest of the week. Lewis Carroll, author of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, used to visit his brother here when the latter was serving as vicar of Vowchurch. On Sunday I visited the amazing Norman church in which the lesser-known Carroll preached, to add my vocal chords to the Christmas Carole service. The walls of this nine-hundred year-old building have been stripped back to reveal layers of centuries old frescoes and you could imagine the ghosts of people of past armourial ages belting out hymns beside us.

With that lead in, this blog needs to conclude with a musical reference. It really should be ‘Hark The Herald Angels Sing’, or perhaps ‘Silent Night’. But as the immortal Half Man Half Biscuit went to all the trouble of singing a homily to the hill of today’s excursion, I have no choice but to reference it. In my defence, it does contain the lines: “I gave up hope / ironically / for Lent”..

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