WELCOME! I've been cycling through the Southeast Valleys of Wales since 2010 and I can't say (or show) enough about the place. I just love it. So if you've got the interest and would like to spend some time... sit back and let me show you some of the fabulous places I've discovered.

March 29, 2017

Winding House Ride

Going to the Winding House in New Tredegar to see the thing in operation was really impressive. The weather was fantastic. It was wonderful to see everyone and we shared a lovely ride up through Rhymney Valley. Ya can't beat that!

But the Winding House is all about the machine... on a MASSIVE scale. And you really have to see the thing running to appreciate the magnitude behind this force of engineering. It is humbling to reflect upon how its basic operation was central to the extraction of men and coal.

It's quite unnerving to see something this massive spinning - in an enclosed space... and you are so near to it. Crazy!

And yet, we can walk away and relax... have a coffee or tea with cake. (So unlike what the miners had!) I wonder what they would think if they saw us today? Sitting back and contemplating their lives... their struggle and hardship... was it all for this? I feel quite fat and lazy and extraordinarily fortunate, yet I hope to show my appreciation and understanding. I truly admire the people that lived and worked here.

Today, I was not in a hole in the ground. I was not digging coal. I was out in the sunshine, with my friends, having a bit of vacation, riding my bike like a crazy loon. I didn't have to come home to wash coal dust off in a dirty metal tub in the kitchen and go to bed early only get up to do it all again.

I am clean and the day is bright and I can look back and remember this day... this day was unique and I am very, very fortunate. Yes, I am a lucky boy, indeed. Thank you everyone.

Winding House Ride Part 1

Winding House Ride Part 2

March 16, 2017

Mad Explore & Discovery Day

The weather was glorious, the ride; an adventure.

I set out to cycle up to and around Langors Lake. On the way, I was going to explore a road that encircles Blaen-y-Cwm Reservoir just above Brymawr. That was at least my plan.

The scenery was enticing and though the road was unpaved, it was certainly passable. The views did not disappoint. The road, however; diminished quickly...

... and my plans for reaching Langors Lake fell away as I gave up the road and began a two-hour slog across the moors to escape the mire.

I followed "goat paths" when I could... but most of my time was spent dragging the bike sideways over the tall grass dodging the wet. And despite my best efforts to avoid the mud, I was covered in muck up to my knees.

It was physically exhausting. Sweat poured from my face and I could only go a hundred feet or so before having to stop to regain my breath. But the views...

And then suddenly, over the top of a small hill I spotted a vague sense of civilisation... and relief knowing that I might escape my mis-adventure.

Who were these people? What lives did they live? Way up here in the middle of nowhere... who knows of them now?

I stopped to reflect... I was completely overwhelmed with what I had just been through. Had I not given up the road to trail blazing, I would have never found this hidden treasure.

Then I was down... out from the moors, and never has a paved road been more appreciated.

(... pause for a moment...)

Because as I got back to cycling; new and different vistas began to unfold.

How can so much diversity be found in such a small place... over such short distances?

...and then there is this; Clydach Gorge.

This photo epitomises my claim; "Wales is like living in a model railroad". Note: There's a cycle path down there too... running along the old rail line. Hmmm?

But first let me finish this road ahead... what looms before me now?

The air was warm with a slight breeze. The road was well-paved, perfectly flat, and beyond traffic of any sort. So sometimes ya just gotta shut up and let the photos do the talking...

If you saw my post on Facebook, the road ended and became a wide footpath that snaked around the side of the mountain. I went as far as I could ride and stopped...

... to have my lunch overlooking the Usk Valley and the village of Llangattock.

Then I turned around and headed back as I came, thinking; the road deserved one more look, one more ride on this amazing day.

"You lookin' at me?"

I then needed to make a decision on how to cycle home. Riding to Langors Lake was completely out of the equation... I had spent too much time hiking across the moors. But I could go down through the valley to Llanfoist where I could get onto the Monmouth & Brecon Canal? I had a few hours of daylight left... AND I had my new dynamo hub light. 'Nuff said.

Then I was back through Brynmawr, into the woods, down the crooked path, and along the other side of the valley... into Clydach Gorge!

And just as quickly, I was then heading down the cycle path toward Llanfoist...

... and the Monmouth & Brecon Canal.

Dusk was setting in. I had been out on my bike for over eight hours at this point and I still had over 20 miles to cycle home...

... and just like the light, I was fading fast. I fired off a few more snapshots as I wobbled down the tow path, but soon it was dark and my head was down as I rode the final miles home.

Thank you Wales.

POSTSCRIPT: It had been an enormous day. It had been exhilarating and exhausting. But there is even more... yes. I've created a gallery of nearly 100 images (edited down from over 300...) that shows the full extent of my photography on this day. If you've further interest, here's the link;

Thanks for stopping by... cheers, cm