A trip to the upper Cammarch Valley. It was inspired by this story from Ruth Bidgood's booklet on the churches of Abergwesyn
The legend says that the original plan was, indeed, to build Llanfihangel church about 4 miles from Llanddewi, in the Cammarch Valley. The chosen spot, according tradition, was at or near the little farmhouse of Dolcegyrn, the ruins of which can still be seen upstream from Llednant. But St. Michael disapproved of this site, and hard though the builders might work by day, their labours were undone each night, when St. Michael would, by superhuman means move all the stones up to the side opposite Llanddewi. Eventually it was recognized that resistance was futile, and the second little church was built where the saint wished.
We are planning a pilgrimage/walk from the Cammarch Valley to Abergwesyn inspired by this legend and our visit was a first scouting out of the ground. Dolcegyrn seems pretty inaccessible, the bridle way near it has disappeared but there is a beautiful site in the bend of the river near an old slate quarry and a forestry track seems to run all the way up the valley. We were thinking of carrying stones as symbols of prayers, so the quarry is perfect.
The forestry track is blocked at one point by numerous uprooted trees. This puzzled me at the time but on reflection I wondered if it was to prevent off-road vehicles using the track. You would need serious equipment to shift them. Earlier in the year a section of forest was felled leaving a ravaged landscape but the valley itself is spectacular: steep sided and wild, mainly given over to the forestry but a stunning setting.
This morning a mist hung in the valley, above it the sun rose, promising a fine day, then as its bright rays burnt into the mist it caused there to appear in the river fog the smudged suggestion of a rainbow. I was unsure whether to believe it or not, wondering whether my eyes were just bleared with sleep or I had, indeed, glimpsed my own private epiphany.
The anniversary of our arrival in Llangammarch. A warm sunny day. I ambled down through the churchyard, under the railway bridge and over the Irfon bridge to the Post Office, greeting dogs and people that I have got to know over the past year.
The river has achieved a summer peacefulness. There is still plenty of water but it is far from being a torrent. I experiment with taking photos low to the surface of the water. All that is missing is a dipper.
LlangammarchDown by the river, once again.
Shining of water
swirls between rocks,
its bones protruding now
after dissipation of summer floods.
Trees in dark August green
flush with the rainfall;
hardly a hint of autumn
except the round swelling of nuts on the hazel trees.
We three men, two dogs in tow
talk otters and the disappearance of the curlew
before passing through thistle-sprung fields
into the basking village.
But hidden there still, down by the river
the dipper plies her busy trade
on the margins between land and water.
August 15, 2012
This is my final entry in this regular journal now that I have completed the turn of one year, but I will continue to add sporadic observations as I continue to explore the Irfon Valley... today is Mary's day and the rain has swept in from the southwest. I will not visit the river today.