A Walk Across The Welsh Mountains
I was staying with some friends at Treherbert nearly at the top of the Rhondda valley, South Wales, when one Sunday afternoon my friend took me to the top of the Abergarky mountain. From there, I had a most wonderful view of a whole range of mountains, from there I could see in the distance a very large mountain. My friend told me that it was a part of the Swansea range of mountains, I also saw from there, a road winding round the mountain that led to Aberdare and looking down from this mountain you could see the little town of Maerdy. Maerdy is at the top end of the little Rhondda. I said to my friend, "I should love dearly to walk these range of mountains, do you think it could be done"? He said, "Yes, if you will keep your eye on those Swansea range of mountains". "Well", I said, "I will have a go for it one day". So the following Thursday, it was a lovely day, I got up before Breakfast and walked to the top of the big valley to get my bearings and then back to breakfast. The landlady put me up some food and a large bottle of tea and off I went. From Treherbert to Treorchy - here I aught to have taken a turning but I missed my way so I had to walk round to get my starting place. From Treorchy I went to Pentre, Ystrad, over the Penree Hill to Tylorstown where Jimmy Wilde the Fly weight Champion of the World lived, and I saw the Coal mine where he used to work as a collier. Then I went to Ferndale, here I had a drink then went to Maerdy, the top of the little Rhondda. From there I got to the top of the Abergarky mountains, here is where I started my walk but I had a rest and some food first then off I went.
Well I had my objective in front of me and on I walked, first over one hill then another. When I was walking up one hill I could not tell what it was like the other side. So hour after hour I walked but my mountain did not seem to get any nearer. Not a soul or habitation did I see, the quietness and loneliness got on my nerves. Bye and bye, when I got over one hill, I came across a long flat piece of ground covered with grass over three feet high. I had to walk through this before I could reach the hill opposite. I was warned to look out for cracks in the mountains but of course I could not see where I was walking. I had my stick to help me but the sweat came out of me before I got across. I was thankful when I did, then up over the hill and on again. Then I came to another flat place in the mountain. Some parts of the mountain sink owing to the mines underneath and during the wet season, this part forms a bog and of course is dangerous to cross. When I saw it my heart nearly gave out. I looked round to see if I could tell where I came from, for I meant to go back but I lost all directions and I had been told not to turn back or else I may lose myself. I had to cross this bog some how. As luck would have it, it was baked hard with the heat. I felt my feet go up and down as I walked but thank god I got across. And then up over another hill, I was getting higher as I walked. I came to a stream running down the mountain side. I thought then I should be able to get off the mountain, I followed the water for a long way down, then I came to a waterfall, it was too deep for me to take so I had to walk all the way back up to where I started from.
I laid down on my back to recover for I was done up and wet to the skin with sweat and fear. There I wrote a letter to my wife telling her where I had been and if she got my letter she would know I was safe. It was five o'clock then and I thought if anything happened to me they that found me would know who I was. So I rested myself and ate the last of my food and drank the last of my tea and off I went again. The mountains got higher as I went on my way and I saw some sheep but they ran away when they saw me. After about two more hours walking, I saw in the distance a small hamlet of about a dozen houses and children at play. They saw me and must have gone in their homes to tell about a man coming, for just then I saw three or four men come out of the houses and stood waiting for me and when I reached them they were surprised. I told them how I came and where I wanted to go, they told me to take a cut across the mountain and it would save me a mile or so walk, but I was not having any more mountains. So they were kind enough to put me on a road that would take me to the valley and on I went thankful to know I was safe at last. The first thing I did when I reached the valley was to post my letter. Then I looked for a place where I could get a drink, at last I found one, my tongue was like a ball in my mouth. I had a job to speak. I asked for a pint of beer but they did not know what I said so the landlord asked the men there if they knew what I wanted. The did not, so he brought me a pint of beer and a Bass. I paid for it and drank the lot. I felt better after that and reached my lodgings some time after eight o'clock in the evening. The landlady was glad to see me and said she would get me something to eat I said please give me a towel first and I will give myself a rub. I went to my bedroom and took off my clothes and gave myself a good rub down and put on some other clothes. Then I was ready for my meal. It was a very hot night and when I finished my food I sat in the garden. Her husband came in just after and I heard him say 'Is Harry come home?" His wife said "No", "My God then that means a search party tonight!". Then his wife laughed "Yes, he's home and in the garden". Before going to bed that night, I told them my story and I said to my friend, "Is that right, the men would go looking for me?". "Yes nearly every man in this valley would have been out searching the mountain for you this night". After I went to bed husband and wife had their chat and said to one another "I bet Harry won't go for another walk" (of course, I heard this after).
The next morning I was up and away on the mountain opposite their house and when the man came down about seven o'clock he saw me through the window. He called his wife, "Look there, Harry coming back across the hill" They thought I was in bed but I was as good that morning as ever and ready for my breakfast.
When I was a young man, I stood on the Hoe at Plymouth and I saw Eddystone Light House away across the sea. I was told it was 14 miles away. Well the mountains are like that, so near yet so far. You could keep on all day and never reach them.
I was about 54 years of age and weighed just over 8 stone and I believe I walked over 30 miles.
There were men in the valley that said I walked more.
Back to Main Page