Footsteps – Bedwas
Parking in Bedwas outside a church, we set off up hill walking towards Trethomas. Bedwas’s origins in the coal industry were clear as looking to our left huge spoil heaps crowned the hills; for the first time this year (on one of our walks) topped by a lovely blue sky.
As we progressed up the hill we came upon a ruin and this was to prove to be a feature of the day. It was a route dotted with ruins and even small slag heaps, one looking like a pyramid. From Trethomas our route took us northeast, west towards Ty canol, then in a generally northerly direction above the Sirhowy valley.
As we headed across a waterlogged field we found an old green lane with trees arching overhead, casting dappled shadows in the sunlight and dry underfoot – lovely. We came upon a farm and a sheep dog decided to join us. I’ll refer to it as ‘he’ but in truth he had such a thick coat that we couldn’t tell whether it was a male or female and one of our party named him/her ‘Fluff’.
On came Fluff through the farm gates (which he could have got under), across a series of fast flowing streams and through an area overgrown with bracken and brambles, all this uphill. At this point he got fed up with the rough going and went through a hole in the fence and ran across an open field – as if to say ‘what on earth are you doing scrambling there when there’s this lovely field to run across’.
We assumed that he’d got a bit bored with us as we watched him run off to herd some sheep in the distance. We continued upwards and, as we looked back, could see Fluff looking at us from the other side of a fence around the field below us. Now we thought 'he’s on the wrong side of that fence so that’s the last we’ll see of him'.
Still climbing, we were confident we’d lost him until 5-10 minutes later there he was again walking alongside us. We decided that if he stuck with us for the whole walk we’d bring him back home by car. Then we arrived at a boggy bit of moorland where a farmer and his wife were putting out feed for their cattle.
Being farmers they were well equipped and produced a dog lead, put it on the dog and lifted him into their tractor cab. They were amazed at how far he’d followed us and promised to take him back home. We carried on over the top of the ridge at the head of the valley and headed south. We were exposed to a very cold wind and even though the sun was shining brightly, we kept moving to stay warm.
Dark clouds appeared in the distance and cleared off quickly. There were superb views out to the channel and we could see England clearly. As we started to descend we came through some very wet lanes, some flooded. One was so deep that we walked tentatively through it, trying not to create any waves which would have allowed water into our boots.
Soon we found a high sided lane, which became our refuge for lunch. Towards the end of our break we heard the sound of a hunting horn, moving away and then coming closer and closer. A shadow passing across us let us know they were in the field behind us. A lone hound went bounding up the lane in front of us.
Some time later the master in his red coat came out of the field and passed us, followed closely by a pack of hounds, none of them paying us any attention so intent on their task were they. Four black jacketed riders and another red jacket joined them from the opposite direction and they disappeared back down the lane. One of them said they were out training and we hadn’t seen a fox. Some distance away we could see sheep on the hill flocking together and rushing across the hill side, we hoped none of them were pregnant ewes.
We packed up and continued, mostly down hill and crossing very full streams. Arriving in Bedwas we had walked 8 miles and climbed 1400ft. All day we’d been saying isn’t this marvellous – no rain and sunshine from start to finish magic!