Hills, Stiles, Hills and more Stiles…
St. Andrew’s Major, Dinas Powis Common
I joined the Valeways walkers on a sunny afternoon at the end of March on the road opposite Tynwyn, Dinas Powis. There were a number of cars already parked and people were donning their walking boots. The trees on the Common were starting to come alive after their long dormant winter. Buds were beginning to fill out and would soon unfurl their delicate leaves. We leave the Common and the views of the rugby club and walk up Tynwyn road. At the top we take a left past Long Mead, Long Drive and The Spinney. The hill then becomes much steeper. Hedges and houses are on both sides. Again signs of Spring life are all around. Our merry little group puff and pant as we make the ascent, testimony to the fact that we have also been dormant during the long Winter. Periwinkle, Comfrey, Celandines, cultivated Daffodils, Clevers, Ivy and Lords and Ladies are all growing in small clumps. Halfway up the road there is a seat, most welcome, where views of Dinas Powis and Barry are possible on a clear day. The houses have disappeared and Ivy clad trees emerge at the sides of the road. In the shade Wood Anemones are emerging. As the sun reaches them they unfurl their petals and glorious bright, white stars appear.
We soon turn left into the trees following the Public Footpath signs. Ferns, Male and Hart’s Tongue, and Ivy predominate. Over a stile and into a field bordered left and right by trees. Catkins are hanging from the branches of the Hazel trees, a sure sign that Spring is on its way. The trees have some “fuzziness” about them; they seem to be preparing to burst into leaf but not just yet. The branches no longer look so stark and skeletal. The trees to the left appear to be mostly Oaks, if the layers of leaf litter are anything to go by, whereas, the trees to the right are a mixed bunch: Hazel, Beech and some Sycamore. In front of us we see a large house with an equally large garden and a fairway and green belonging to Dinas Powys Golf Club. At the bottom of the field is another stile. The ground in front of the stile is covered with big pine cones from a Pine tree. The path then snakes around the large house and gardens, which are hidden behind a Laurel hedge festooned with Ivy. Under the hedge there are patches of Dog’s Mercury, Wild Garlic and Herb Robert. Also a Periwinkle, which has escaped from the garden the other side of the hedge, sprawls across the path. In places a Fir or Spruce has also shed its pine cones, these being much smaller than the previous ones encountered. Yet another stile, which has to be clambered over, leads us onto a road. The trees here are certainly gearing themselves for the oncoming season. Pale floppy leaves are emerging from large bulbous swellings at the end of the branches. These are mainly Sycamore trees. Cheery yellow Celandines are arrayed along the banks of the road.
We walk past St. Andrew’s Church, which is over 600 years old, before turning right onto a narrow road which rises steeply in front of us. It was time to gird our loins once again and forge upwards slowly but steadily, thinking to ourselves that “What goes up must come down again”. Areas of the moss covered banks are clothed in delightful lemon primroses and blue, white and pink Spanish Bluebells. The woods to the right belong to a large house, where Ivy, Ferns and cultivated Daffodils are emerging. Moss and Lichen are growing on the trunks. A turn in the road and we are still climbing. A rest, I think , is called for.
We talk to some horses in a field next to the road which has eventually flattened out, then pop over another stile onto a path through some fields which border the St. Andrews Golf Course. The route is a little muddy in places but we all have sturdy boots. So traversing the spot is a piece of cake. Primroses and Lords and Ladies in the undergrowth and magnificent views over the surrounding area are the rewards for the uphill climbs. It’s downhill from here, hooray!!! Although a little hazy, on the right, you can see Dinas Powys, Barry, with the Dow Corning Chemical works, and the Bristol Channel. If it were clearer you could see Somerset on the other side of the channel. To the left, a fine view of St. Hilary, the BBC television mast, Llantrithyd and the hills towards the Rhondda.
As we stood admiring the view a large, but friendly, black sheep came trotting up to us. It seemed to be all alone in the field. We crossed another fence or was it a stile which was a little worse for wear. Then onto more fields which circumnavigated the Golf Course. An interesting notice was displayed here. The fields were full of sheep with lambs. The lambs were gambolling all over the place or sitting quietly with their mums, some partaking of well deserved sustenance. Talking of lambs and their wagging tails many Catkins were also wagging or blowing in the wind, some yellow some orange and some green: Hazel and Alder trees. We soon saw why the Golf Club notice was strategically placed, as the field seemed to contain a number of golf balls, some of which we returned over the hedge to a fairway or green. There may be a few puzzled golfers about when they encounter them.
Another stile and we are back on a road through the woods. The buds are bursting here too. This time the Sycamore leaves are red or bronze. Elder are also starting to sprout. Some Holly berries still cling to the Holly trees. The majority of the trees are still bare; they are showing their magnificent architecture. Their branches loom above us. The small ones looking like fingers stretching out to snare us. Brown dried leaf litter is everywhere, an ideal place for creepy crawlies.
We retrace our steps after the Public Footpath sign which we turned in at on the outward journey. A few Wild Strawberry plants and Field Pansy can be seen flowering in between the Celandines as we descend towards our starting point. I must have missed these on the way up. Too busy catching my breath!
The scientific names of the flora and fauna can be accessed via the photo galleries.
Many thanks to Valeways for another interesting walk led by Babs and Jan.