Llanvihangel Crucorney is a small village five miles to the north of Abergavenny. We parked there and set off south-east and soon came to Llanvihangel Court. According to the guide books this is one of the most impressive and richly decorated houses dating from around 1600 in Monmouthshire: the interior has plaster ceilings, wood panelling, fireplaces and a magnificent oak staircase. We saw a large barn with only its heavy supporting beams remaining but there is also a notable stable block. The house is open to visitors. See the Historic Houses site for the opening hours. On the lawns as we passed several peacococks were displaying. A short spell on road brought us to a field of longish grass when we headed towards the Skirrid, an irregular triangular shape against the skyline. Continuing south and crossing a field we had great open views behind us and next took a path where the rock had split giving rise to a local myth that the ark had landed here. We were now wending our way through woodland “under the nose of the Skirrid”. After crossing a wooden walkway we started the climb to the north to reach the top. From the four hundred and eighty six metre summit there are magnificent views to the surrounding countryside. After passing the two entrance stones that are all that remains of St. Michael’s Chapel we stopped for lunch just below the summit to enjoy the view and to be out of the cool wind.
After the lunch break we took a grassy path which zigzagged more gradually down than our ascent. Half an hour or so later we reached a field of longer grass and started to go northwards. Once we had crossed another field we joined the road at Pen-y Park. In the stretch near to Cefn Farm there were yellow flowers of Meadow Vetch in the hedgerow and a little further on attractive wild roses. Almost a mile brought us to the Offa’s Dyke Path and we continued north-east in a warm breeze
although under an increasingly cloudy sky. After some forty minutes we crossed the main road and turned into a field with a view of the Skirrid back to the south of us. Here we were walking along the margin of a field of young growing sweet corn. From the corner the village was only a very short distance away but on the way we were passed by a lorry full of sheep. The walk totalled eight and a half miles and 1700 feet of climbing was involved, so some refreshment was definitely in order.
The nearby Skirrid Inn is reputedly the oldest inn in Wales. The stone structure is probably original and likely to date back to the twelfth century while the doorway and many of the windows ore mediaeval. Owain Glyndwr rallied his troops here and used the mounting stone in the courtyard. There are oak beams made from ships’ timbers which have the original markings and peg holes; It seems likely that that these and the oak panelling came from one of the Royal Navy’s fighting ships when she was being broken up. As well as its role as an inn and a public meeting house the Skirrid Inn also came to be used to hold courts. Hangings were held within the building, many of which today we would regard as being for trivial offences and as a reminder of those times there is a noose positioned from a beam. However away from the interior we enjoyed a drink outside in the fresh air where we were glad to relax.
In the May Footsteps there was mention of Woolly Pigs and some of you may have thought that the Wenvoe Walkers were hallucinating out on the Brecons Beacons. Some of you may have seen Country File and be aware of the truth but for the rest of you here is some information. These pigs , Lincolnshire Curly Coats, were famous for their hardiness. They became extinct in 1972. In the 1900s they were very popular in Hungary and Austria as they survived harsh winters. They were crossed with a Hungarian variety of curly coated ‘Mangalitza’ and the resultant cross was nicknamed the ‘Lincolista. There are in fact 3 different Mangalitza breed lines -Blonde, Swallow Bellied and the Red.
In the 19th century the Mangaliza was bred for lard and from crossing the traditional Hungarian Bakonyi and Szalontai breeds with imported Sumadia pigs from Serbia. The hair is similar to that of a sheep and they are now less popular as the demand for Lard has dropped but are kept as Rare Breeds.
So yes they do exist and we do see exciting and interesting things on the walks so consider joining us.