Sugar and Water
Glyn-neath Travel Blog› entry 1 of 1 › view all entries
August 3rd, 2008 – by: CosmicTen
"I'm bored." said Matt immediately, "Watcha doin'?"
"Just a bit of writing, why what's up?"
"Well do something dangerous, let your intellectual hair down for the day and do something really silly and get yourself into a bit of a sticky situation."
And that we did.
My car was now fixed, after many oily fingered weeks I'd managed to put it back together and it even passed the MOT. "There's no point in taking two cars is there?" Matt asked.
"No, I don't mind taking mine, I really need to take it for a run and make sure nothing is going to fall off." and with that Matthew bravely entered my car. The sun was out and the roof was off, well, may be the sun was out I don't remember but we needed all that fresh air to let the smell of the burning new grease and oils which would remain with us for a little while.
We arrived at the same car park I'd used on the many times I'd been to the waterfalls before. We're quite privileged with some of the mountain ranges, even now only thirty minutes away from my house are mountain ridges you can walk along, looking down into misty pastel green valleys lined with pine trees and endless black tarmac that cuts through and over the black mountains becoming dark, quiet and twisted.
The small car park was nearly full but we found a space and just about scrapped the four pound charge in change for the machine. I raised the soft top while half eating my sandwich and moaning that, "I really want to eat my second sandwich as well" while Matt set up his camera on the top of the car to take an undescribable photo of us two unprepared idiots.
Almost immediately the pine trees lined the entry path to the forestry. Only a few minutes in did we find a thorny bush on the side of the white gravel pathway lush with perfectly ripe raspberries. You couldn't even buy them this fresh or as bittersweet. We eat a few samples before moving on, saying hello to the few other walkers who passed by.
The pathway opened up into a long slightly muddy trail that sat balanced on the top of the ridge. We were possibly going too far. We'd already passed a turning and so decided to head back a little; only after trying the local forest surfboard (see silly photo).
"Lets go this way!" said Matt excitedly, wanting to walk the sloping track, cut heavily by some gigantic forest truck that left its tyre prints in the earth like some prehistoric dino. After much moaning, from me, we took Matthews short cut that lead into an opening containing just the shards of tree remains. "Lets go into the forest then." Matt replied to my, "We're NOT going through that lot" complaint, and soon we were sloshing through soft peat-like trails towards the soft-focused dark fern light-filtering entrance to Narnia.
Thankfully Matt had chosen the right way to go and we joined up to the wooden shelved steps that lead down to the waterfalls that I remember. The effort was soon rewarded, thirty minutes or more of walking lead us to the sign that the local council had left telling us that it was too dangerous today to visit the falls, but we went anyway squeezing past the sign and heading down the ever steepening steps. The rushing white noise of water soon became loud and the bottom of the steps fell into an opening with few people already there looking at the panoramic view of the fall.
Matt had the idea to walk in behind the water fall and when I noticed other people doing the same, I agreed, despite the danger after all the rain we'd had and the thundering amount of water coming from the top of the river.
We finally dragged our cameras away from the idyllic tourist spot and headed up the other steep side of the ridge. We decided to hunt out the other waterfall that I remember so well. Forty or so minutes later we had travelled quite a way down the other side of the ridge and became concerned. We'd travelled along the top of the ridge, the view of the river blocked by the high forest trees that dipped into the steep river side cliffs.
Unsure exactly where we were we decided to just follow the edge of the river along the obvious foot trail back in the direction we'd come, after all, we were now back on the same side of the river weren't we? Walking on we passed some old buildings, which according to the signs and the automated wind-up tourist talky box, was an old gun powder factory. We pressed on, time was also moving against us. We reached two openings that had signs of previous life.
Things were now becoming confusing and unreal. We'd reached a split in the river. It took a few minutes before Matthew worked out that the river we were now aside was the wrong one and we had no way of getting to the other side. Low on water and only a little chocolate left it was becoming harder to think straight. It sounds so mellow dramatic and in the scheme of the outdoors it probably was, but after walking for over five hours some confusing and dangerous decisions were easily made.
"I think we should go back." Matt said, serious concerned.
"Do we go on for say two minutes and then turn back?"
"No, I think we should go back, we've had some scary bits already.
"You're right, we know we can get back that way."
We came to a joint decision, adding together what sense we had left and made our way back slowly at first, sliding and having some close calls, this was now a situation.There was four hours of sunlight left and I didn't to be spending the night here. Despite the late light nights, the clouds had long returned and the light had faded to a dull near dusk spread. Finally we got back to the flatter grounds and our walk moved to a sprint, stopping only once at the first clearing and then jogging onwards until we reached the gun powder factory.
We didn't dare head back entirely the way we'd come.
"Yeah, lets get a drink, we're out of water, it's going to take two hours to walk to the car." he said pointing out that it was already nearly six o'clock.
"We might be able to get a taxi as well." I suggested.
We entered the typical valley pub.
"Oh no, not on a Sunday luv, they'll 'av all finished by now."
I just looked at Matt with surprised, it was like being transported back twenty years, of course in reality we're just spoilt.
Grabbing another bottle of water each from the bar before we left and being wished good luck by the locals, we headed up the steep road that lead back into the countryside away from the village.
"Go for it."
"You staying here or walking on?"
"I'll walk on yeah!"
"See you in a bit" and with that I adjusted my bag and got into a light jog. I was soon back into a walk, I'd forgotten we'd been walking for hours already. Back into a jog, a walk, a jog, I couldn't keep it up, my knees were shot, Matthew hidden behind the few bends in the road behind. I tried again and then a car pulled up.
"Uh..." breath, breath, breath "uh, no mate, uh, uh, I'm not from round here, um, I know the car park for the waterfalls is up this way."
"No problem, thanks mate." and they drove off. No lift then.
The day light had reached that sticky point that only appears on a Sunday where it hits a certain dullness and never seems to get darker or lighter for what seems for eternity. I crossed a few cattle grids, passed a woman who stood in the doorway of a small shop in the middle of nowhere. She just slowly moved her head looking as I walked by on the other side of the road.
IPod, I thought, I always run better to music, and I have my IPod! Soon I was sprinting at a good pace, my bag on my back, my knees in shooting pain but the run felt good. The rain started a short hard shower but I didn't care. Despite reaching Pontneddfechan I'd seen a sign that pointed to the car park and read one and half miles, so Matt was right, it really nearly was not far off seven miles. Soon enough I was in the car an hour after leaving Matt, changed and driving the car bare foot down the country lane and flashing my lights and beeping the horn as I reached Matt who was standing on the side of the road. He'd walked three miles.
Only minutes later were we back on the dual carriageway, then the motorway and then back at my house in record time drinking a very refreshing cup of tea.
So this leads to my advice. If you ever want to see the picturesque waterfalls at Glynneath, take plenty of water. Take plenty of food. Take a map, a torch, but above all, DON'T TAKE US!
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