The Stones

My second walk began by walking along the green lane in my previous post. But I took a left turn into Rhos, in search of some Standing Stones that I had seen marked on the map. The purpose of standing stones is still a hotly debated topic. Perhaps they served as markers on a pathway, perhaps they denoted energy points in the land. Or perhaps they were even the pillars that supported a wooden structure, that has long since rotted away. I am not going to try and debate this here, but simply to note what I can about them, in an effort to contribute a piece or two to the huge puzzle that has been pondered for years.

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An unlikely approach to the stones, through a local playing park. But it was shown on the map, so I wandered along the path, soon finding a sign for a footpath through the field behind the recreation ground.

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Two beautiful silver birches in the hedgerow. The field that contained one of the stones on the map, was right ahead, and as is often the case, it was not fenced off as standing stones are supposed to be open to public access. However there was quite a lot of grass to wade though, as the path was a long distance from the stones, which apparently lay along the other edge of the field.

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I peered over the grass, hoping to catch a glimpse of the stones protruding upwards, but could see nothing. Checking the map again, I could see they lay close to the trees that were now in the distance.

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So off I ploughed through the long grass, trying to keep to flattened areas, as I was loathe to disturb any of the abundant wildlife that buzzed and fluttered around me. There were simply hundreds of Ringlet Butterflies, who seemed quite bold, flying around me.

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An abundance of various spiders, who I didn’t stop to photograph, but soon I was nearing the other side of the field, and still no sign of the stones.

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Finally I came to the edge and found the spot on the map where the first stone was supposed to be. It was a lot smaller than I had expected, and down in a dip from where the field itself is. However I have heard this does often happen, over the many years of soil build up, especially in this type of situation, stones can become buried several feet down, and also, from the look of this particular stone, quite a considerable amount of erosion has occurred too.

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Panning out a little, it can be seen how much further down the path is, and how high this ancient hedgerow has grown. It is also worth noting that the orange colour on the stone is also on the nearby tree, but not on the other trees in the line, nor in fact on any of the other trees surrounding the field. I’m not sure of the name of this type of lichen, but I was told it is caused by iron. Wales has a lot of Iron in the soil, sometimes more close to the surface, but this is obviously an isolated point of heavy iron deposit, just in the area of the stone.

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The barbed wire was very frustrating. There was no way I could get any closer to the stone itself, it was contained in a tunnel of barbed wire, fenced off from both sides. I walked further up the field to see if perhaps there was a stile or some way of crossing the fence, but unfortunately not. So I decided to try and get around the other side, into the field behind which contained the second stone.

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This proved to be more difficult that I thought, but I found a vandalised part of the fence, and noted it for a future expedition. However the second stone on the map, was in the field, not along the fence, this would be much easier to find later in the year, or early in the Spring before the grasses had grown so high. And with the onset of a huge rumble of thunder, I decided against further vandalisation to the farmer’s boundaries.

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I did find it interesting though, that both the sheep and the local children seem to be trying to keep the stones accessible by breaching the fences, even though neither parties are likely to know the stones are there at all. Perhaps there is a natural energy path that draws us all along certain routes?

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Sitting back on one of the benches in the recreation ground, I pondered this for a while, as I admired the huge oaks that lined the path to the stones. From a historical point of view, and from a simple geographic point too, this does seem to be the natural route up onto the mountain. Now it has been fenced off but I’m quite sure in the past it was the main route up to the ancient villages on the mountain.

 

The first steps

The Green Lane

 

The first steps on my way to walking in Wales, concerned taking a small trip around my new home, finding out which paths on the map were really navigable on the ground. And gathering the things needed to begin on my path.

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My over-riding aim is to visit as many local sites of ancient historic significance as I am able to. To document their positions on a map, to construct an interesting and hopefully easy to follow walk for each one, and to photograph the sites themselves. Observe any things that may occur, and possibly gather some local insights or historical comments on each site.

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Arriving at the start of the green lane, smiles on my face at such a delightful walk in store. On the map, the lane seemed to be blocked in one part,  so I was not at all sure if I would have to retrace my steps. However I enjoyed the wonderful wilderness of nature that had built up over hundreds of years on this very old green lane.

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Trees piled up on the thick dry-stone walls. Ancient oaks twisting and stretching up to the sky, clothed in moss and lichen. Bright holly leaves and various woodland herbs kept the journey full of interest.

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Was this the home of a squirrel? or perhaps an owl? I was not sure, but the clinging ivy and the rugged bark certainly made for an impressive home, whomever it may belong to.

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The path became narrower and narrower, and I began to fear that it would peter out altogether.

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Then suddenly I came to a little bridge, over the stream that had been running and babbling next to the path for some time.

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After crossing the bridge the walk changed completely, I found myself near to a housing estate, and the road widened and opened up. Smiling that I had got through as I had hoped, I said hello to the pigs who were happily enjoying their muddy homes.

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And continued on my way, the road opening more and more until finally all wildness had gone, and I was walking along a normal street. At the end of which, was the main A-road through to Neath. Across this main road, was the next part of my journey, onward and up the mountain.

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Crossing the road I saw a beautiful view, typical Welsh fields, edged with low dry stone walls, and stately cloud-shaped Oaks.

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However, without water or food, I did not want to continue my journey up into the barren mountain and over the top,  I had ascertained if the lane went right through, and that was all that was needed for this first short walk. Stopping to greet Anuwn, the blackbird, I then turned back toward home.

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One more look up onto the mountain before I left, anticipating the walk to come with a little trepidation, but a great deal more excitement.

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I did not return home through the lane, but decided to walk into Rhos and see if I could locate the park, then followed the road back toward Pontardawe, turning off to Alltwen and walking through the street once more.

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Catching lovely glimpses of the green and pleasant hills around Pontardawe, I was soon back home and eagerly planning the next phase of the trip to the Cairns on the top of Mynnydd Marchywel.

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