Good Friday, riding westward

posted in: Heritage Paths | 1

Pleasure or businesse, so, our Soules admit

For their first mover, and are whirld by it.

Hence is’t, that I am carryed towards the West

This day, when my Soules forme bends toward the East.


The Good Friday walk on Twmbarlwm is one of our Valleys traditions that seems to have survived into the third millennium. I wonder whether that has something to do with the fact that it goes along the old pilgrimage route to Penrhys – do the stones themselves remember?

The Twmbarlwm Society ( organises a walk every year, starting at the Stony Bridge in Pontymister, and we meet with the Ancient Cwmbran Society ( on top. So the Cwmbran group walk westward, as John Donne rode westward on Good Friday, meditating on the fact that he seemed to have turned his back on God’s suffering. Last year there was snow on the ground; this year the sun shone and there were lambs and early bluebells. The Twmbarlwm Society has organised some maintenance work on the top, mainly geared to trying to keep off-roading bikes and 4x4s from damaging the monument. These impressive double fences


reinforced with last year’s Christmas trees will protect the new growth on quickset hedges. There are sturdy new gates and an attempt to design stiles that will allow horses through but not motorbikes.

Here we are on the top


not just the organised groups but well over a hundred other people coming and going while we were there. Magnificent views


And walking along the ridge –


now we are the ones going westward, down to Pegwn-y-bwlch and the canal. I think this is another old trackway, one of many cutting down the hillside. We walked it last year as an alternative to the medieval route which goes through the housing estate at Ty-sign and along busy roads. This year we may try Moriah Lane and up past Dan-y-graig. We are trying to find a route as close as possible to the medieval route but one which makes a pleasant walk. The Cistercian Way project is back on track and our target is to get Llantarnam to Margam clear and waymarked for the Valleys Festival of Walking in 2015.

We had tea in the cafe on the canal and watched the ducklings


then took the car up to Danygraig to look at the family graves. Cara went to sleep in the sunshine.



I can’t help taking a professional interest in the cemetery, much to Rachel’s amusement. Some of the graves have weathered old wooden markers – you have to wonder whether the family moved away, or just lost interest. Of course, the biodegradable wooden marker is now the new trend, with woodland burials and eco-funerals. I still can’t quite decide whether I want the wicker coffin and plain wood marker or the full Victorian ritual with black horses, ostrich plumes and mutes with staves. Economy will probably win in the end.

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