About Me

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Bristol , United Kingdom
I'm co-director of the Leaping Word Poetry Consultancy, which provides advice for poets on writing, editing and publishing, as well as qualified counselling support for those exploring personal issues in their work - https://theleapingword.com. My fifth poetry collection, Learning Finity, is now available from Indigo Dreams or directly from me.

Thursday 3 May 2018

Climbing Twmbarlwm

I've wanted to climb Twmbarlwm in South Wales for some time - ever since its distinctive outline, which you can see from many places on our side of the Severn, was pointed out to me. Ideally, I would have gone with Dru Marland, as it is deep in Dru Marland Country, but these days she's headed east on the Kennet and Avon and somewhere in the Vale of Pewsey, so I went with my boys and our dogs instead. (And fine companions they were.)

First, though, we made a return visit to Caerleon - not to follow the whole route we walked three weeks ago, but just to see if the bluebells that grow all over the hill fort on the ridge at the back of the town were out yet. 

This has been a difficult spring to predict, what with the effect of all that late snow, but in this, our timing was spot on. 

Great waves of bluebells rolling over the ramparts of the hill fort ...

... and so beautiful. 
But we had a mountain - or at least, a sizeable hill - to climb, so after three quarters of an hour or so we headed west to our starting point at Cwmcarn Visitor Centre. 

I have to say, it was hard going, but fortunately for me, there were plenty of reasons to pause and take photos. 

On the way up we bumped into David Hockney. (Not really.) 

It was getting really tough now. Luckily, there was a raven overhead, chiding me into keeping going.

Bilberries - or whinberries - and very shouty larks
Eventually we reached the outer ramparts of the hill fort, which - like the one at Caerleon - is believed to have been constructed between 500 and 150BC by the Silures, a fierce Celtic tribe ...

... and then - with much relief - the trig point on the summit.
Brean Down, Steep Holm and Flat Holm in the far distance

There's a rather prominent tump on top of Twmbarlwm. 

Its origin is something of a mystery. It might have been built by the Romans as a signal tower after they defeated the Silures in the area ... 

... or possibly by the Normans during the invasion of South Wales in 1070, as a temporary motte and bailey structure. 

A small shrine to another mother and grandmother reminded us of a Welsh nanna who might have been celebrating her 97th birthday at that very moment in whichever place she is now. (Another mystery.)

Too soon it was time to go. We took in the last of the views, over to the River Severn and the two Severn bridges in the distance ... 

... and Ted had a final puddle about.

Then it was all the way back down, far quicker, admittedly, than the ascent but - in my case - on jelly legs with toes crunched against the toecaps of my boots.

Loquacious raven alert 

Next time I might just take advantage of the car park near the summit, the existence of which we only realised once we were up there ... 

... because, in the words of Son the Younger, You've done it now, Mum


  1. Hill envy here! -we set off one night to walk to Twmbarlwm across the ridge - it was a misty night and after we’d walked past the third similar pylon we finally realised we’d been walking in circles half the night....

    1. Ah, but seeing a couple of cuckoos in darkest Wiltshire is solace, I'm sure x

  2. You are good with words...
    Reading this was the perfect way to start my day.

    1. Thanks, Oscar - vicarious living is a boon, isn't it? x