Llangorse Lake –
Parking at the lake, we set off to circumnavigate it. We headed across fields to a solid bridge allowing us to cross a feeder stream. We spotted well constructed bird hides at the edge of a group of trees; three of the oaks here were probably planted when Queen Elizabeth I was on the throne. In the distance at least 2 dozen swans swam on the lake.
Llangorse is the largest natural lake in South Wales. It has been a feature of the landscape since the ice retreated 11,000 years ago. At that time the outflow to the Wye valley may have been blocked by ice. The lake would have been much larger causing it to spill over into the Usk valley. By the Iron Age it was only slightly larger than the lake we see today and it was important to local people for both food and ritual purposes. It is an important stopover for migrating birds.
We joined the road by the church at Llangasty with Celtic knot work on its notice board and a lovely rectory next door. The church is mostly Victorian but is built on an ancient ‘Llan’, or settlement, that was created by St Gastyn in 420AD. St Gastyn was a holy man and tutor to the Brychan family, who helped extend Christianity in southeast Wales.
Passing Newydd farm we took a road towards Cathedine. At this point we started to notice dark skies all around the surrounding hills, threatening rain. Silhouetted against the sky stood the beautiful skeleton of a tree, still standing though stripped of all foliage and signs of life.
Then we faced a steep climb. Passing Treholford light rain started to fall. As we stopped for lunch at the edge of some trees on a comfortable bank we had misty views of the lake below. Getting closer to Llangorse, we could see the lake clearly but the clouds gathering on the hilltops were getting darker by the minute. We donned waterproofs in preparation for the inevitable downpour. We walked through a field full of a white daisy type flower (oxeyes or feverfew?), the expanse of them was beautiful to behold.
To our right the bluff of a hill appeared – ‘we’ll be going up there in a couple of weeks’!
Across a couple more fields and we were passing a farm where a sheepdog was keen to let us know he was looking after them. Only one big field to cross and the sky was looking ominous ‘do you think we’ll make it back to the cars?’ Someone said ‘yes but we’ll have to get a shift on.’ So we did and the big drops started to fall as we reached the cars.
It had been the first damp walking day of the summer, a bit of a relief after the heat. 7 miles walked and 600ft climbed.