Barring the Way and Reviewing the Walk

The sheep that accompanied me on the last stage of my walk were barred from continuing by the effective but simple design of a kissing gate and a cattle grid. My geology walk this week with geographer Geraint Owen and other walkers was both thoroughly enjoyable and informative. The walk was arranged by our local library and I imagine they may be involved again in the arrangements for a second outing to complete the walk route.

gate and route home

gate and route home

Geology Walk Soundscape

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Simple Peace

At the foot of the hill on my walk this week, I parted ways with the other walkers on our geology walk up Cefn Drum. They had arrived for the walk by car whereas I had walked. The route by car is beautiful but the walking route is better still if only for the simple peace on a quiet day.

I only had the sheep and the river, the Afon Dulais, for company and looking at these images and listening to the sound clip takes me back to that peace.

I sometimes use my StillWalks videos as a means of relaxation at the end of the day but if I find myself unable to sleep through the night the most effective means of calming my mind is to relive one of my walks in my imagination. Photos such as those below describe a simple everyday aspect of the landscape but they still work as an effective trigger for my memory and when accompanied by the field recording, the sense of being there (at least in mind) is greatly strengthened.

Walking Home

sheep in the way

sheep in the way

Afon Dulais

Afon Dulais

Buttercups

Buttercups

Scratching the Surface

My walk this week followed the route of one of the geology walks described by Geraint Owen in Scratching the Surface leaflets. Geraint led a group of about 12 of us but we only managed to complete half the distance. The information he delivered at various stopping points along the footpath up Cefn Drum was fascinating and as a result slowed our progress.

Twyn Tile

Twyn Tyle from Cefn Drum

Had we continued on from the summit of Cefn Drum we would have reached the end of Twyn Tyle in the image above. The pattern of scars seen along the slopes of of the hill are old mine workings – closer shots can be seen below.

The full walk is estimated to take about 4 hours but when you take into account the interest of walkers in listening to the walk leader talking about the lie of the land and the make up of the ground beneath your feet, more time needs to be allowed. None of had brought a packed lunch so we decided to descend again and arrange a new date to complete the full circuit.

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Perspective on the Landscape

Looking across to the Gower Peninsula from Cefn Drum shows the Loughor Estuary and the dip of the rock strata made up of Pennant Sandstone on top with coal measures below, Carboniferous Limestone and lastly Old Red Sandstone. It is the Old Red Sandstone that forms the ridge of Cefn Bryn on the Gower and further north, the upland of Mynydd Du. Being on top of Cefn Drum we are right in between these two.

Loughor Estuary from Cefn Drum

Loughor Estuary from Cefn Drum

The sounds on top of Cefn Drum are typical of this landscape with a warm wind blowing from the south west and the skylarks entertaining us above.

On top of Cefn Drum

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Rocky Details of the Landscape

My walks up Cefn Drum, Cwm Dulais and Graig Fawr are some of my favourite local routes. The opportunity to find out from an expert about the geology of the area was not one to be missed. The landscape is beautiful at any time of year and just now it is particularly green.

Looking at the landscape as we walked up the side of Cefn Drum the colour of the non native rhododendrons was passed but similar colours were showing themselves in the foxgloves.

Cwm Dulais landscape

Cwm Dulais landscape

Our next stop on the walk allowed Geraint to show us more plant fossils and also a visitor to the area in the form of a rock that had been brought here from the Gower Peninsula not by truck but by glacier.

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Evidence of Plants

At the next stop on my walk this week the geology walkers took a closer look at the stones that made up the track under our feet. Geraint Owen showed us further examples of stones that revealed evidence of plant life.

Evidence of plant life

Evidence of plant life

Geraint also performed a simple test to prove whether some of the stones were limestone or not – the test was positive as can be seen by the fizzing acid on the surface. From this we were able to deduce that at least some of the stones making up the track had been brought in from elsewhere.

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My Walk this Week – The Geology of Cwm Dulais

My walk this week was organised by our local library with Geraint Owen, a geographer from Swansea University (UWTSD). Geraint gave an excellent talk at the library a few months ago and so when the opportunity came up to join him on his geology walk route for Cwm Dulais I didn’t hesitate to sign up.

The image below may not seem to have much to do with geology but there is a relationship here. I first have to admit to loving bog cotton as a plant and so when we came across it there was no way I was going to pass it by. However, in geological terms the plant is there because as its name suggests, the ground was boggy. Now wind back time several million years and consider the fact that bogs make peat which when compressed over millennia turn into coal . . . and that brings me to the starting point of our walk – the old Cefn Drum and Graig Merthyr colliery location in Cwm Dulais.

Bog cotton

Bog cotton

The start of my walk was a solitary one as I walked up the valley to meet the rest of the group near the site of the old colliery. The waste heap is no longer there now but is spread across the hillside of Cefn Drum. We scrambled about on this looking for evidence of ancient plant life in the stones and coal that now makes up a casual track used by motorbikes. It was higher up the hillside that we came a upon the bog cotton.

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Bright Yellow Buttercups – Reviewing the Walk

My walk this week started with the birth of an alpaca – a Spring / early Summertime event that was reflected in all that surrounded me on this walk, including these bright yellow buttercups on the banks of the lake at The Waterside. A place I will be visiting again next week so I guess I will get to see how the little ‘un is getting on and may even meet another newborn from what I have heard.

buttercups in the valley

buttercups in the valley

Listen to the soundscape and take a loo at the image sequence at the same time

The Waterside Walk Soundscape

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Two of a Trio – Unexpected Horses

Almost full circle on my walk this week and I get to meet two of the trio of horses mentioned at the start of this week. There is no equine element to The Waterside so I was surprised to be met by this pair.

It turned out that they had wandered here from several miles away and had to be rounded up at the crack of dawn. The owners were eventually rounded up as well but although they arrived in time to witness the birth of the new alpaca (see Monday’s post), they were not able to arrange for the horses to be collected until the end of the day. This was perhaps most significant for the mare (on the left) as the stallion . . . well, I will leave that to your imagination!

horses grazing

horses grazing

stallion and mare

stallion and mare

The horses were in the field next to the outflow stream from the lake. I stopped to record a short sound clip to use in the soundscape for my walk this week which will be posted tomorrow as usual. The last time I recorded this water flow it was more of a torrent.

waterflow

waterflow

Focusing minds, making connections

My walk this week is follows the lakeside at The Waterside, a place ideal for focusing your mind, making connections and reflecting on the discoveries that can be made there. Discoveries may be as straightforward as observations of the nature in this hidden Welsh valley – more likely they will be deeper still than that.

Whether I am simply amused by the alpacas or excited by the play of light on water in either rain or shine, the conversations I have here are always valuable. Being away from the normal working environment (however much I like my studio) and coming to a place where new and different connections can be seen and made all around me, helps to bring clarity to my mind. I look forward to my next visit on 1st July, another First Friday event.

Focusing minds, making connections

Focusing minds, making connections

I produced the first 4k version of a StillWalks video and I can’t wait to see it on The Waterside’s 55″ UHD screen!

Distant Voices Across the Water

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