Footsteps – Rockfield and St. Maughans
Rockfield, a country village just outside Monmouth was our starting point. From the church we walked a short way on road and transferred almost immediately into a field with the occasional pale lilac of Lady’s Smock flowers and white flowers on spikes of Annual Nettle. We turned west and went over a field of stubble with evidence of recent muck spreading; ahead were two oak trees just coming into leaf and in the next field was a sole Canada goose. We passed a group of Longhorn cattle, many having one horn pointing upwards and the other downwards. Avoiding a growing crop by keeping to the field margin brought us to a restored farm building in a delightful spot with a stream and trees adjacent. We continue north-west and reached St. Cadoc’s church at Llangattock-Vibon-Avel where the lych-gate has a plaque commemorating the meeting of Charles Rolls and Henry Royce in 1904. The Rolls-Royce Company contributed towards the refurbishment of the lych-gate and Chares Rolls is buried in the churchyard because his family the Llangattocks have their roots here. Taking a path along the edge of a growing crop we reached woodland and had a lunch break sitting on a fallen tree trunk.
Continuing on a path through the woodland we started to go north-east; after a section uphill on grass we came to a group of bullocks and passed them by remaining close to the hedge. As we left their field they bellowed loudly. We now reached a stream down in a fairly steep gully without any obvious crossing places and were forced to take a detour. As an alternative was being established there was time to enjoy the groups of spring flowers on the top of the bank and birdsong from the trees. Once we picked up the original intended route we headed towards St. Maughans. The sky was overcast and the hills ahead showed misty light rain but so far we were being lucky. The church tower at St. Maughans had square spaces in it rather like a dovecote but possibly to amplify the sound of the bells. Regrettably colours in the landscape were muted and the undulating hills ahead were mostly grey.
We reached Tregate Bridge over the River Monnow which takes the road over into England. In the early 1600’s at the time of Roman Catholic persecutions this area was the scene of much clandestine activity; many of the landowners here were sympathetic to the Catholic cause and Mass was held illegally along the river bank. On occasions Catholics fled from England and sought refuge in Wales and vice versa. We continued with the river on our left leaving three realistic scarecrows in a field behind us. Ahead willows marked the borders of two fields while in one place the river bank had eroded and collapsed. On the other side of the river we could just see the remnants of a Motte and Bailey. As many will know this is a form of castle of stone or wood on raised earthworks and surrounded by a protective ditch and fence. They became common after the Norman Conquest.
Our final leg was south-west and we took a track which brought us past an ancient square tower by a farm.The earlier sixteenth century building here was named Plas-yn-y-berth (the mansion within the long fence) and had been a manor house, a mesne manor of the Lordship of Monmouth i.e. within the domain of the Lordship. Back in the modern world there was a camper van by the farm with a young child sitting looking expectant about a drive. We crossed the stubbly field to go towards Rockfield. The road into the village passed a studio where some famous rock groups recorded: Led Zeppelin did some work and Queen recorded "Bohemian Rhapsody" here. All in all what appeared to be a quiet corner of Monmouthshire had given us a most interesting and varied walk.
ANSWER THE HEDGEHOG SOS.
The humble hedgehog is now as endangered as the tiger and could disappear within the next decade so now is the time for action so what can we do?
Hedgehogs travel over great distances – the size of 2 football pitches to find food but it’s becoming more difficult with the increase of walls, fences and other boundaries in their way. A hedgehog – hole at the bottom of a fence or a brick removed from the wall will allow hedgehogs safe passage across gardens to forage more widely. Such a small thing can make a really big difference to the life of these creatures. Slugs and snails are food for hedgehogs but don’t use slug pellets