Exploring the Past

Yesterday we decided to go for a short drive to try and dry off Molly after her usual “dip” in the Usk, Hamish having dipped his toe in wasn’t as bad thank goodness but as the odour emanating from the rear of the Freelander got worse I decided it would be a good idea to get out and dry them both out with a further walk.

I remembered reading Chris Barber’s book on following in Alexander Cordell‘s footsteps that they paid a visit together to see the ruins of the Clydach ironworks which run parallel to the A465 Head of the Valleys road that is currently being “duelled” through huge earthworks in the Clydach gorge.

So turning sharp left from the A465 under the new bridge being built and following the road round for 1/4 mile we saw the turnoff for the car park to the right.

By now it was quite hot and Molly was literally steaming as we made our way across the River Clydach on an old metal bridge into a clearing with some stone ruins to the rear shaded by some young trees.

Debbie & Hamish walking from the bridge towards the ruins
Chris Barber’s book was written in the late 1980’s and his photo of these ruins was bare of trees!
Closer inspection of the railed off ruins, with three blast furnaces in the foreground


After trying to identify the ruins today with the drawing of the ironworks above as it would have appeared in 1840 we retraced ourselves back to the car across the old bridge again, remembering that if we’d bought the house in Gilwern rather than Mountain View it ran all along the side of the property.

The same Clydach gorge that further downstream passed by Rock Cottage in Gilwern

With Molly and Hamish now only slightly damp we decided to continue exploring and rejoined the A465 only to double back at the next mini roundabout and take the road off to the left towards Blackrock running parallel to the main road but on the other side this time.

After reaching the Brynmawr summit we then decided to take a single track road called Hafod Road that followed the contour of the ridge of the mountain above the road we just driven up.  There were excellent views of the old quarries cut into the mountain opposite, as well as sadly a tin can that had been carelessly thrown out of an earlier car!

Following the road round to the left it readily became quite steep to the right and narrow so to take this photo I pulled into a passing point.  We didn’t encounter any cars thank goodness but quite a few pedestrians and their dogs and push bikers enjoying the scenery.

Sugar Loaf and Skirrid Fawr on the horizon

Continuing on to the left we passed the odd hill farm to the left until we reached a large cross roads with a car park to the left and a Youth Hostel sign to the right.  We carried on until we reached a dead end and having retraced our path for 1/4 mile we then headed off downhill hoping to find a country pub to refresh ourselves and the dogs.

This was when the adventure really started as the road down was very steep, very narrow with few passing points should a vehicle be coming up the other way.  With my heart in my mouth and silent from the three other passengers I threaded the Freelander down between two houses gingerly and made our way to Llangattock and civilisation!

There was nothing to do further than celebrate continued life by visiting the Bridge End Inn in Crickhowell where this selfie and picturesque view of the bridge over the River Usk made an excellent end to the adventure.

Beautiful spot to relax and take in the views of horses paddling under the bridge

By the time we got back to the car the hounds were dry, our thirst quenched thanks to San Miguel and we headed off home exhausted but happy!

Exploring the Past