Standing tall and bereft on an escarpment near Llangattock, the Lonely Shepherd has endured many centuries of regret. Below his spike of limestone, fields fed by Welsh rain sparkle in the post-thunderstorm sunshine, their emerald splendour liberally flecked with pure white Hawthorn blossom. It’s not a bad place to face an eternity of penance, nor indeed to pause midway on a May bank-holiday walk.
Llangattock is the beautiful new home of our little narrowboat. The route to the Lonely Shepherd is more ore less straight up Twr Pencyrn, behind the old lime-kilns we are moored alongside, and past an old chapel that has been turned into a nesting site for bats. It’s a beautiful route, requiring some strenuous uphill walking, but nothing requiring an inhaler.
Once atop the escarpment the views are stupendous, taking in Gilwern Hill, Sugar Loaf , and then round to Crickhowell and Llangattock, separated by the River Usk and, yesterday at least, bathed in sunshine.
We disturbed a hawk that had been standing sentinel on the Lonely Shepherd as we arrived and as followed its glide path away above the moors, so the clouds started to part and the landscape was revealed. Later a pair of buzzards came to survey the lambs, at least until the crows made life unbearable with their bombing. A couple of hours passed just taking in the view.
Then it was time to wander back to our floating home. On the way down we met a professional cyclist, recently returned from the Commonwealth Games and out on a fell-run with her ageing sheep-dog. Like everyone else round here she was effortlessly friendly.
Back at the boat we watched the sun go down as the crow chicks in the abandoned kiln cried out for their last meal before nightfall and a brave Jackdaw tried join in. As darkness fell, clouds prevented all celestial bodies bar the Moon from making their presence known, but this is a Dark Sky zone and so next time maybe it won’t be lonely stone shepherd’s I’ll be writing about, but hunters in the sky.