‘Running in the Hills Weekend’ – Pentwyn Hillfort Thursday

Witchy Tree Painting

Or an Unadventurous Princess, Birds, Trains and Rain and a Commune of Three…

It is cold and wet as we head to Wales on a most un-May like Thursday morning.

All is not right in Millie’s world; “She is such a Princess”, says Darrell as Millie sighs, groans and gives him the Jack Russell eye. “You don’t know you’re born”, he tells her. She peers out from beneath her blanket and growls grumpily at an innocent passersby. “You’re such a crusty old Jack Russell”, he says as he switches on the engine. “God knows what you’ll be like when you’re eight”.

Millie slumps down in abject misery. “Wales – mountains, sheep, strange people, Welsh farm dogs who promise to love you all night or at least for twenty minutes”, says Darrell gesturing through the windscreen at the rain, “… and adventures”.

Our singularly unadventurous Jack just sighs more deeply than ever and refuses to look at him.

We cross into Wales, the rain stops and we see a kite but there is no lightening of the deep Jack Russell gloom and as we pull in to the Caravan Club site at Pandy and she sees the surrounding hills it is obvious that that all her worst fears have just been realised.

We get pitched and eat hot chicken rolls to the sound of birds, trains and rain. As the rain seems set to continue we close the curtains and snuggle down under the duvet. We are woken by the sun streaming into the van and we stumble our way out for a walk in the late afternoon. The sunlit black clouds are alive with swallows, the first we’ve seen this year. We walk through a large field of sheep and ponies. They are very curious and follow us in a large bleating flock. We head uphill along a leafy sunken lane that overlooks the valley. Some of the trees appear to be Wych Elms covered with witchy paintings. On the hill itself we come on a dead foal, obviously a casualty of birth and then further on a small herd of wild ponies grazing unconcernedly.

At the top we arrive at the remains of Pentwyn Hillfort, one of the largest Iron Age hillforts in the area. Most of the community would have lived and farmed in the lowlands but the fort itself was the seat of power, storehouse, market and safe haven and was occupied for over 800 years. Coming down the tiny lane we are passed by an ancient Land Rover with its back door hanging open exposing a large dead sheep lying in the back. The farmer gives us a cheery wave. These quiet, otherworldly, often rather strange backwater places in Wales are places apart and we can see how and why communes thrive here. “But I could never join one”, I say. “I don’t like people”. “No”, Darrell agrees. “We’d have a commune of three”, he adds as he watches Millie trotting down the road, tail up and eyes bright.

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