Monday 26 October 2009

Up the valley

Yesterday we decided to drive up the valley and see what "they" were doing to widen the road where the bank was threatening to subside ever sine we've been here. Over the past couple of weeks along our narrow single-track-with-passing-places lanes we have been passing (with difficulty!) lorry after huge lorry loaded with soil and shale from the hillside they have been digging away. Rather than use it, on top of strategically-placed cages of boulders to shore up the weak side of the road, they have been taking it miles and miles away - presumably as landfill . . . but there, Councils always know what they are doing, don't they?

The swell of Dan-y-Banc against the autumn clouds . . .

We parked a few hundred yards short of where the road was completely cut off to traffic - the gigantic digger parked the width of the road gave us a slight hint!

We finally worked out that the new road level would be along by those tree stumps . . . Hope they widen it a bit, or it will be a very interesting drive on a dark night . . . especially if you meet someone coming the other way!

They will have to put in the final piece of trackway up to the gate too, so the local farmer can bring his cattle back and forth from the hill grazing, and as it is also a trackway to the very top of the hill, so walkers can use it again too. I have only walked DOWN from the top of the hill - it is one heck of a climb UP it!

They will apparently be here for about another 14 weeks yet . . . according to a noticed pinned at the roadside.

The steepness of the wooded valley a couple of hundred yards before the photo of the digger shows you that they had their work cut out with the excavations.

I have always loved this hill as its bracken slopes remind me of Dartmoor, and I used to get very "homesick" whenever I drove past it in our first years here.

The sun was sinking in the sky, and gave a wonderful diffused light to the hillside.

An old abandoned barn, its back finally broken by years of weathering, sinking to its knees at the edge of the woodland.

I walked out onto what used to be the "hanging bridge" but is now like a cage across the river. I looked up and downstream, hoping against hope (I had been quiet) that I might see an otter, as they have been seen here, but the river was quiet - not even a Dipper to be seen.

Fungi of a Latin name adorning a rotten log.

Finally, two photos of our Inglenook and Hergom stove, to satisfy MM's curiosity to what the Hergom might look like! All sorts of doo-dahs hung up there - a pair of hames, old wooden spoons, several old horse bits, an old crane from a fireplace like this, and just above it (far right) a little "griddle" which came from an old Essex estuary sailing barge and which was put over the top of the stove for the kettle to sit in. Of course, at one side, my big old cauldron. You always thought I was a witch didn't you?!!!


  1. The thought of that new road absolutely terrifies me, after meeting someone driving very fast towards is in a single track lane last week, and on our previous visit to Shropshire disgracing myself by screaming as we drove the back way up the Long Mynd to the gliding club. But it does look beautiful, as does your stove.

  2. The stove is not what I imagined although it looks like a handsome and beneficent presence. As you have described it, there seems to be a certain balkiness in its nature [?]
    Even under assault by an excavator your part of the country appears so green and rural to this green-starved mind.
    The idea of "lanes" as opposed to "roads" has a romantic sound--but I think I perceive the difficulties in using them for modern traffic. It looks as though in rainy seasons 4 wheel drive would be an advantage. Is the soil of clay type or shale?

  3. In studying the photos again I must add that your chaldron puts me in mind of what our family calls the "moose pot." That is a heavy cast aluminum kettle with a very long handle--holds several gallons of whatever. J.'s mom acquired it when they lived for a time in Alaska. She used it for stewing up game meats, hence the title.
    I can barely lift it empty, let alone when full of something. As the household has twindled it doesn't get much use anymore.

  4. I do wish I could spot my typos before hitting "publish." "Twindled", indeed!

  5. MM - I think "twindled" is a magnificent word and shall use it at every opportunity!!!

    My neighbour has a stonking great fish kettle as she, her husband and son used to fish a lot (they own fishing rights on a stretch of our river) and a big sewin (sea trout) can be a big beastie. I should imagine your "moose pot" is along similar lines.

    The Hergom has its little idiosynchrasies. It really DOESN'T like damp weather when it's been off all summer, and sulks. I have to make sure that there's not too much (!) dust and fluff in the business end as it has a photo-something cell which defaults if it can't connect or whatever. . . You can tell I didn't get the technical genes in our family can't you? It's never been quite the same since we changed it from solid fuel to oil burning, but we really couldn't bear coming back to a beastly cold damp house when we were away for New Year at K''s brother's in the early years here. Oil was cheap then - HAH! Not any more it ain't.

    First rule of narrow lanes: you have to be very good at reversing. It is so green here because we have so much blardy rain, as a rule . . .

    Ann - along the valley, our biggest bogey man is the postie with the big Elgar-type moustache who hurtles along and takes no prisoners . . . Oh and of course, White Man Driver (do you have those in the States Sharon - delivery van drivers who drive like dingbats and drive like they've had a frontal lobotamy?)

    When I had the horses, it was the occasional cyclist (one in particular springs to mind) who would creep up behind you on pneumatic tyres - neither myself nor Fahly's acute hearing ever heard him - and on one occasion he then RANG HIS BELL! Queue Fahly and I practically over the blardy hedge from shock. What a pillock - and he gave ME a mouthful for not being "road aware".

  6. When you get near any US city, most any driver is crazy--hell-bent on reaching the next stoplight or thruway exit one car length ahead.
    In the states, to drive a semi [18 wheeler] dump truck, other sizeable rigs, one must qualify for a CDL [Commercial Drivers License.] My husband and son have held these for years.
    I haven't noticed small van drivers as a particularly offensive breed. Here in Wyoming, 4WD diesel pickups are extremely common--many have been "turned up" and the exhaust systems modified so that they make a considerable amount of noise and smoke. High on my list of nuisances are those who must drive through town, revving at every stop, roaring and blatting, leaving rubber.
    By the way: although horses and riders are not often seen on the main highway, horses are given great respect by other traffic.
    I should confess that put me behind the wheel of J's old "Snort'n Nort'n" or [some years ago] in one of my son's trucks, and a latent boldness throbs in my veins and I'm very, very tempted to double-clutch my way through the gears and make a [tiny] bit of a spectacle of myself!