Thursday, 14 August 2008

A Welsh Valley

The steep-sided valleys which run north-south through the heart of industrial South Wales provided much of the coal that kick-started the industrial revolution in Southern Britain. The towns which line the valleys developed rapidly and while the coastal city Cardiff is now the capital of Wales, Merthyr Tydfil, at the head of the valleys, was at one time the biggest and most productive town in the principality. The coal industry went into decline and the valleys suffered badly during the economic depression of the 1980s; however, they have bounced back recently - there is now no sign of the dereliction so obvious on even the main streets twenty years ago.

Our walk in Cwm Garw on a bright but showery day took us along the side of the valley near its head at Blaengarw. The views showed us how lovely this landscape is now that the physical scars of the mining industry have healed and buildings and infrastructure are being well maintained. The clean environment means that wild plants, insects and other wildlife now thrive here. Phoebe found the wild strawberries growing along the path much to her taste.
The number of bees and blossoms, but especially the large amount of berries growing in the brambles and bushes makes me suspect there will be a hard winter coming for this part of Britain - folk wisdom says a fruitful summer and autumn is a sign of a frosty season to come.

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