You know how it is when you’ve got every thing planned for a great day out, right down to the last ingredient of that picnic you’re going to have? And then things begin to go wrong…
Believe me, it takes courage to drive alone along the mountain road from Abergwesyn to Tregaron. I’d put off this journey so many times over the past few weeks, waiting for the ideal weather that so rarely arrives in Wales, i.e. a day when that bleakest of roads would not be shrouded in mist or fog. In the best of weathers it is a road as remote as any you’ll find in Wales. From the steep hair-pin bends of the aptly named Devil’s Staircase onward, the road twists and turns through an ever bleaker landscape of desolate moors and mountain waterfalls…
The road seems to go on forever and just as you’re thinking this can’t be right, you must have taken a wrong turn, you come across the reassuring sight of a telephone box in the middle of nowhere…
Eventually, the road threw me out in Tregaron where I heaved a great sigh of relief. But my destination was a remote valley beyond Strata Florida, so my adventure had hardly begun. I was on a mission to get photos of some remote ruins where my ancestors lived. It was a long way up that valley until the road peters out into rough track. So I parked up in this gorgeous location…
…and walked up the track that leads further up the valley…
All seemed to be going well until I needed to take a footpath off this track and cross the river. The river, of course, was in flood after all the rain we’ve had – something I hadn’t thought of before setting out. It was far too deep and fast-flowing to cross. Dashing and bothering, I take a few pics before heading back to the car. In the picture below on the right, up in the distance; that’s the torrent of the river cascading further up the valley.
It is a stunningly beautiful valley, all the same, and worth the drive over even if I hadn’t achieved my goal, I think to myself as I head back to the car.
The plan from here is to drive up another valley the other side of the mountain in search of some more ancestral ruins. I’ve got a picnic lunch to take with me. I turn the key in the ignition. Cough, cough, splutter. I turn the ignition again and still the damn thing won’t start. Oh, that horrible feeling of dread when you realise you’re a long, long way from the nearest garage and a whole lot further from home. I was up the creek with no paddle, so to speak, and at this point, bricking it. I turned the ignition again, my foot pumping that pedal like no tomorrow and willing the damned thing to start. To my enormous relief, the engine sprang into life. Having got the thing started there was no way I was going to stop anywhere else for fear of not getting it started again. So, I just kept going, back over that desolate mountain road. Oh, what joy it was to have descended the Devil’s Staircase and find myself back in familiar territory, well on the way to home…
So, it was no picnic, all in all. And I’ll have to do the whole thing again – when the rivers are not in flood and I’ve had the dodgy battery replaced in my car. I’ll let you know how I get on!
Jenny Lloyd is the Welsh author of The Megan Jones trilogy; historical suspense novels set in early, 19th century, rural Wales.
You can read about the books or purchase them by clicking on the links below.
Leap the Wild Water: http://ow.ly/jEoi302jXkd
The Calling of the Raven: http://ow.ly/4uRO302jXmd
Anywhere the Wind Blows: http://ow.ly/73tq302Ov71
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Oh dear, with sinking heart I just knew what was going to happen. Glad you arrived home safe (now I can chuckle!) We’ve been to Strata Florida Abbey and walked the walk.. Going over a hill in the middle of nowhere, we met two cyclists, carrying their bikes.I once wrote a blog on it. Must search. Wonderful photos by the way, Jenny.
Glad this brought back memories. It is gorgeous up that valley, isn’t it. I’ve not been up there before though I’ve been to Strata Florida abbey a few times – I have ancestors buried in the churchyard there. Looking forward to going back when I can rely on the car to start!
Well, it was worth it for the gorgeous pics!! Real food for the soul! Loved every single one. No wonder you are motivated to write in such glorious surroundings. And you were very brave to go on your own. Hope car is fixed soon – and summer is coming and maybe dat river will be easier to cross. But maybe take a friend? Not a good place to fall over all on your own…
Thanks, Malla, it was beautiful there, and your advice is wise. X
I’m from Nebraska in the U.S. (flat cornfields) and have never been to Wales. The closest I’ve gotten was London. I love reading your descriptive journeys and hope to see your beautiful countryside someday.
I hope you do visit Wales, it is like no other part of Britain. Meanwhile, I’m very glad you are enjoying the posts.
What a great adventure, Jenny! And fantastic photos! I hope you make it back and get to your destination. What joy!
Yes, it was. Currently still waiting for the car to be fixed – turned out to be more than a dodgy battery, I’m afraid.