Starting at the Valley of the Rhiangoll, or Cwmdu, just above Tretower, I needed to stop and photograph the standing stone. There is one in the middle of that valley that I could never see because it forms part of a hedgerow and is covered in greenery during the summer. I thought I had seen it as I drove by on the narrow highway up that valley. At Tretower they told me I should just stop at a farm gate and walk along the highway to take photos.
It actually worked. Even on that narrow highway, the fast drivers slow down for pedestrians. There isn't much shoulder to walk on, less to park on, but I did find a farm gate and parked only halfway in a ditch. And I got it!
|Well over two meters, it is higher and produces that bump in the hedgerow to look for.|
|The stones relative position in the valley. Bwlch in the background. Remember barn on the right.|
|Looking down the valley towards Tretower from the stone pic location.|
If I had found a farmer, I would have asked to walk the field to touch it. I think there's a connection. My bones spring from the mud and the stones in these valleys.
|Grave of Henry Vaughan, Silurist (1622-1795), Llansantffraid, Old Brecknockshire|
There was a Vaughan walk nearby in honor of Cousin Henry.
|The Usk below Llansantffraid at Talybont.|
And on the canal at Talybont is the most amazing drawbridge which I hope to see in action some day.
A guy in a canoe told me that if you have a boat that is licensed for the canal, then you get a key that will allow you to raise the bridge. But you can't do it during the hour before and after school when in session. I want to push that button!
There was still another churchyard that I needed to visit. It was just down the Usk and past Abergavenny. As I climbed the narrow farm roads towards Tregare (Tregaer) the view of Raglan Castle off to my right surprised me!
A river! "Whoa!" I said to myself, "That must be the Monnow!" Knowing that I was somewhat north of Monmouth and didn't know of any other big rivers coming out of the Black Mountains. And myself checked and told me I was right! (I'd been in Wales alone for a while now.)
What continues to amaze is the rural, seemingly unspoiled nature of much of Wales. And when you are alone at a castle in the rain, you can make amazing discoveries as if you were the first one there.
Except you weren't because in the past many people, my people, were here. And in many capacities as yet unidentified. There were a few of the gentry, even royalty, on my lines and certainly some illegitimate peasants. Farmers, tailors, puddlers (iron workers), drovers, labourers, all combine to give the past and make me what I am.
And I still had one more castle in the rain to go.
The Welsh are still here and the castles are in ruins.
I hastened north and a little west to Merthyr Tydfil for the Good Friday music program. Knowing I would be wet and muddy, I had a change of clothes and shoes. I forgot socks so I had purchased some at Waitrose in Llanfoist on the way down from Talybont. Arriving in Merthyr, I stopped at the fancy strip mall just above the LDS Chapel. I even went into a drug store to buy some wet wipes to clear the mud from my toes. The windows in my Fiat 500 were fogged up enough I could change even if a bit cramped.
The Merthyr chapel was near full. They handed out a song sheet with some in Cymraeg that I expected we were all going to sing. In changing my clothes I had left my reading glasses in the car so I rain out in the rain to get them.
The Stake President opened the meeting in Cymraeg. It was such a shock and I got most of it. He then restated in English. We sang. We had tears. The mixed-culture choir from the Cardiff Stake, with some songs in Cymraeg, was great! (As Leanne Wood, Plaid Cymru Party Leader says, anyone can be Welsh if you want to be.) And the Dowlais Mens Choir was fantastic!
Among many others, they sang this song: