Glyndŵr’s Way, day 10: Pont Llogel to Meifod

June 12, 2024 0 Comments

Eleri delivers us by car back from Meifod to Pont Llogel, for us to make the journey in the other direction, much more slowly, and by a different route.  There’s a change in the weather today: it’s cooler, rain’s spotting in the strong breeze, and we spend a lot of time through the day pulling our macs on and off.

We start by crossing Pont Llogel and following Afon Efyrnwy downstream, on a lane and then a path.  This is as fine a riverside walk as any in Wales.  At this point the river’s at its teenage stage, darting, gliding and galumphing through the narrow green valley.  The path’s skittish too: sometimes it allows us close to the water, sometimes it rises above it, and then it leads us away through buttercup fields. 

We’d have happily carried on like this – the Ann Griffiths Walk does exactly that, on the other bank – but Glyndŵr’s Way has other plans for us.  It takes us across the river and makes us climb north through fields.  By now the rain has started, and we wade through long grasses already laden with water.  Soon our boots are soaked, inside as well as out, and they stay uncomfortably damp for the next two days.  After one lush field we look down at our feet to find that they’re bright yellow with buttercup petals.  It looks as though we’re heading for the village of Llanfihangel-yng-Ngwynfa, but after a couple of miles of grass-swimming the magnetic force of the Efyrnwy starts to pull the path south.  We descend, past the rather grandiose gateposts on the lane leading to Dolwar Fach, the home of the short-lived eighteenth-century poet and hymn-writer Ann Griffiths

Towards the end of the nineteenth century the writer and educationalist O.M. Edwards wandered on foot in these parts in search of Dolwar Fechan, as the house was known then, and of Ann Griffiths’s grave at Llanfihangel.  A lyrical description of the journey, including a river walk, forms the first chapter in Edwards’s classic book Cartrefi Cymru, published in 1896.  His enchantment with the country and its people, though, is tempered by his discovery that local knowledge of Ann and her poetry has already waned.

In crossing Allt Dolanog we miss the path and struggle down a steep bank through bracken to rejoin it further down the hill.  Here we stop for lunch before resuming the descent to Afon Efyrnwy at the village of Dolanog.  We call in at the Ann Griffiths Memorial Chapel before crossing the fine old bridge and repeating the pleasures of riverside walking for several miles, all the way to Pontrobert.  We pass a weir and small hydroelectric power station, and a long series of stepping stones across the river, and then we’re immersed in deep green country, with only one cottage (in need of restoration, suitable for a hermit) and continuous woodland on the other bank. The only person we see, below us, is a man in a check shirt, maybe a poet, sitting stock-still on a rock and gazing into the stream.  There are, as usual, plenty of sheep.  We have a discussion about what sheep think about as they munch their grass; specifically, whether their minds can develop concepts, and how, if they could, we could ever know.  We come to no firm conclusion.

At Pontrobert we stop for lunch. The village, like Dolanog, is festooned with Urdd Eisteddfod decorations.  Next we’re sent on a second climb into the hills away from the river.  Near Dolobran I’m looking out for the secluded Quaker meeting house that the guidebook says lies next to the path.  And here it is, or rather the back of it, across a fence.  A bit further along we come across a picket gate into a wooded path that leads to the front of the brick building, the oldest Meeting House in Wales (1700).  C1 is reluctant to open the next wooden gate – he says it looks like a private house – but I insist that the house will be open and that we’ll be welcome to enter. 

Inside it’s a tiny space, a kind of miniature version of Brigflatts meeting house in Cumbria.  In the centre is the usual square of benches, to the right is a restored wooden gallery, and on the left a white-painted baking oven intrudes from the small cottage next door.  As we look round a man comes in to speak to us.  His name is Pete Adamson, and he’s staying in the cottage.  He knows all about the local Quakers: his ancestor was John Kelsall, who worked for the Quaker Lloyd family of Dolobran (of Lloyds Bank fame) and who recorded in his diary the doings of the local Quakers in the early eighteenth century.  Peter has edited and published his father’s transcript of the diaries.  He offers us coffee and leaves us to contemplate the house and its fine garden.

The rest of the walk is through fields.  More wet going.  We disturb a large flock of sheep, who set up a wild stampede and a deafening din.  A bit later a crowd of bullocks take an interest in us, bound across the field in our direction, and jostle us, like a group of club bouncers, as we leg it quickly to the exit gate.  Finally, we catch sight of the tents and pavilions of the Urdd Eisteddfod maes, now being dismantled.  There’s one more hill, Gallt yr Ancr, to be walked round, and before long we’ve reached Meifod, with its handsome houses and huge churchyard, where we wait for Eleri to pick us up.  Back at Tan-y-Graig she kindly gives us old newspapers to stuff into our boots to absorb the worst of the wetness.  It’s too cold this evening to sit outside before dinner.  June really hasn’t got going yet.

Next day

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