On a Valeways Walk from Dinas Powys along the lovely Cwm George, we start at St. Peter’s Church on Mill Road. Cwm George is a glacial valley.The Cwm George was the site of a Celtic Hill Fort, long now disappeared but excavation in the 1950’s uncovered various items of high status value. It is now a site of outstanding beauty, with meadows of grasses and wild flowers and also a large Beech wood.
The first part of the walk takes us between open meadows and a brook overhanging with mixed trees and bushes, many of which are smothered in Ivy. The fields are full of Red and White Clover (Trifolium repens), old Cowslip stalks, Ribwort Plantain, Yellow Rattle (Rhinanthus minor) and Buttercups. In fact one field is carpeted from end to end in Buttercups: a haze of speckled yellow. Fields of meadow flowers are soon overtaken by fields of cereal crops. The path meanders through these; grasses, old rape flowers, Mayweed (Chamomlia recutita ), Wild Honeysuckle and Meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria) are arrayed along the path edges and hedges.
Before we arrive at one field you can hear sheep bleating, “baaaaaa…..baaaaaa….”. They are making a right hullabaloo. As we enter the field it is evident that the farmers are rounding the sheep up and inspecting them before setting them on their way. Lines of sheep snake their way to the other side of the field, well away from the pens and the farmers.
We take a right at a gate towards woods, over a stream and onto the road. This is a tranquil spot, the quiet stream banks brimming with grasses ferns and Irises and the sunlight piercing the overhanging branches leaving dancing reflections in the water. Turning left here and up the hill through part of Michelston-le-Pit village; houses to the right, a field with ponds backed by trees to the left. On previous walks I have seen Herons here, but no such luck today. The road border has masses of Ransoms lining it. Although the flowers have all faded there is still a very pungent scent in the air. Before reaching the top of the hill is a kissing gate on the left. We exit the road here. This path takes you towards the salmon leaps.
Brambles, Hairy Broome Grass, Nettles, Foxgloves (Digitalis purpurea), Marsh Thistles, Wild Carrot (Daucus carota), Water-cress (Rorippa nasturtium-aquaticum) and reeds line the path. Sunshine upon the leaves highlights an assortment of insects: Bees, Hoverflies, Speckled Wood and Small Skipper (Thymelicus sylvestris) Butterflies and Common Blue Damselflies (Enallagma cyathigerum ).
At the top of the path is a large sign stating the land is private and there is no fishing. Here you can overlook the salmon leaps and the ponds. The Salmon Leaps are formed by weirs on the Wrinstone Brook.These are full of little fish and pond weeds; the whole area is swarming with blue damselflies and Mallards are swimming in the water between the rafts of Duckweed (Lemna minor). In the water are mats of Hydrilla weed (Hydrilla verticillata) . The banks are strewn with Water-cress, Irises and Hawkweed (Hieracium species). The hill in front is covered with Foxgloves, both pink and the occasional white.
We retrace our steps until we cross the stream again and carry on straight along the path, not turning left back into the sheep field. House Martins are skimming the cereal crops and meadow grass as we approach the Beech woods.
The woods are alive with bird song, although I cannot distinguish one bird from another. However, one bird that is singing its heart out is a Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs) which I manage to take a photograph of. There are a number of Speckled Wood butterflies about and a pair are performing a wonderful acrobatic dance, one minute amongst the Brambles, then up into the air: mesmerising. Inside the wood the undergrowth is quite dense with the usual shade-loving plants; on the margins are Hedge Woundwort (Stachys sylvatica ). The wood then is populated with only Beech trees. The undergrowth is not as dense and comprises of mainly Ransoms which is all too evident by the aroma pervading the surroundings. Rays of light pour through the canopy, highlighting the straight silvery grey trunks of the trees. As we leisurely walk down the avenue of trees patches of sunlight spread lines and patterns on the ground. It is almost like a game I played when I was a child and tried to avoid the cracks in the pavement. To the left of the path it is possible to see the defensive banks of the of the Iron Age Hill Fort.
Once through the wood we return to the path between meadow and brook overhung with mixed trees and bushes. A pair of Robins call to one another, one on a Curled Dock (Rumex crispus ) in the meadow while its mate replies from an ivy clad tree. Soon we have returned to the road and another adventure has ended.
Many Thanks to Valeways, especially Babs and Jan who led the walk.
A guide to a longer self-led walk can be found on a Valways leaflet Walk No. 36, Dinas Powys. Also on a similar leaflet supplied by the Vale of Glamorgan, Vale Trails No. 6.