Out today with a group of Welsh-speaking walkers and naturalists. This is a qualitatively different experience from walking with an English-speaking group, not just because all the conversations are in Welsh, but also because, walking in Wales, there is more of an engagement with the land as a place that has been lived on for generations. We stopped often, sometimes to look at particular plants or trees, but also to be given an account of different field systems or to be told about people who had lived there. Family histories were related, that farm there had been occupied by the same family for generations, that one was the home of a famous bard who wrote this -: and an englyn was recited. Because the walk leader and several of the walkers were local, farmers didn't ignore us or eye us suspiciously but stopped the tractor for a chat as we went through the field where winter silage was being cut.
It was a beautiful day. High pressure is sitting over Britain and all the low pressure systems which roll towards the island over the Atlantic, giving us our mild, wet climate, are being diverted around us. It is a 'Haf Bach Mihangel' as such weather at this time of year is called in Welsh.
We traversed a small, quiet valley with very steep sides and through the woodland along the stream on the valley floor there were blackberries and hazelnuts to pick. On the valley sides hawthorns and rowan trees were a blush of autumn red with their berries all on show. It is not dramatic landscape in spite of the steep valley sides. We had begun up on a plateau and wound down into the valley across the slope. Coming back from further down the stream the ascent was steeper. But these narrow mid-Wales cwms are intimate places. You feel contained in them. As we did, too, by the September sunshine and the lush green that the high rainfall also brings. The stream rushes along the valley floor to a much wider valley running at a right angle to it some miles away. There it joins a river and has not far to go to the sea. Back on the plateau the coast was visible in the distance over the hill tops in the clear air. But it was of the quiet valleys between the hills that I thought as I journeyed homewards.