The Kerry Ridgeway / Fforddlas Ceri

The village of Llanfihangel yng Ngheri from the Ridgeway

The village of Kerry (Llanfihangel yng Ngheri) in Mid Wales with its 12th century church, sits in a valley below high moorland that runs west towards the Cambrian Mountains and east across the Clun Forest to the border with England. This high ground is crossed by an ancient track which passes Bronze Age remains and is known today as the Kerry Ridgeway (Fforddlas Ceri). To walk this track on a clear day is to have a panoramic view of a great swathe of Wales and the English border counties. Up at the highest point on Kerry Hill, watched by a huge herefordshire bull guarding his herd of cows, we identified the peaks and high places that receded to the horizon in every direction. Eastwards towards the English county of Shropshire we could see 'The Long Mynd' , the jagged profile of the Stipperstones clearly outlined against the sky, and Breidden Hill. Southwards the Black Mountains receded into a haze. To the West and moving North we could clearly identify the outlines of Pumlummon, Cader Idris and the Rhinogs. Further North the mountains around Snowdon were hidden from view by lower hills nearer to us, but turning nearly full circle to the North-East the Berwyns rose to some low-drifting clouds.

To be human in such a landscape is to be small. Smaller certainly than the bull that ambled towards us as we returned to the path from the viewpoint and continued our traverse of the ridge with more immediate views of the field systems either side. The descent back into the valley brought the world in closer. A hedge of rowan trees was already red with berries and sprays of blackberries offered ripe refreshment in the hot, sticky afternoon as we left the cooling breeze of the ridge. Summer almost imperceptibly drifted - as if that very afternoon - towards Autumn. The stone benches in the porch of the old church were refreshingly cold as we sat and drank from our water bottles before entering. Inside it was cool, semi-dark and mysterious. The oak roof and the stone walls enclosed a space that had nothing spectacular about it but contained an atmosphere that hinted at hidden depths in dark corners. I pondered this a while and left, ambiguous as ever in my attitude to such places. There was still some walking to do across the valley fields to Newtown and a deadline for a train home.

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