By Angharad Wynne, 18 May 2015
Cath and I chose the perfect weekend to recce our story-walk across some of the Vale of Glamorgan’s rich Neolithic landscape between Tinkinswood and St Lythian’s burial chambers. The sun shone, there was hardly a cloud in the sky and the air was Easter warm: perfect walking weather. Trouble is, when storytellers get together, we tend to get lost in the stories of the landscape, get drawn off the path by an intriguing wooded paths, ancient ent-like oaks or an enegmatic stones standing alone in a field. But, as anyone whose ever been reliant on an OS map for directions for the first go at a walk will tell you, there’s no room for a lapse in concentration from the marked path!
Walking such landscape is to tread upon a strata of stories as sure as the layers of geology beneath our feet. The stories held in landscape reveal themselves in the names of springs and streams, hills and woods, field names, farm names, the odd earthwork and settlement site, church, standing stone and burial chamber. The challenge is which stories to leave out.
Our walk for Valeways Vale of Glamorgan Walking Festival on 23rd of May is designed for families. We’ve created it in the hope that parents and grandparents will come along and bring the younger family members on a day long walk which will be gentle and interspersed with stops in amazingly potent places for cups of tea from a flask, a piece of cake, a sandwich a tale and a ballad or two.
There’s very little in terms of story material that we can say with any surety is ‘Neolithic’ in origin, though some of the Native Tales of Wales and the Mabinogi may have roots that reach back this far. We’ll share some of those, along with tales of totemic animals and ancestors that archaeologists believe were important to these early farmers that shaped this landscape 6000 years ago. We’ll journey through an odyssey of about three and a half thousand years, from the first agriculturalists to the arrival of Christianity in this landscape. And of course, no such day in such a place would be complete without a few fairy tales, or in this case, stories of the native Tylwyth Teg.
Our walk will be suitable for all ages from about 8 years +, so if you’re able to join us for an enchanting day of walks, stories and songs on the 23rd of May, then please do. It’s completely free, just bring along a packed lunch and maybe a few £ for tea and cake at Dyffryn’s teashop which will be near our start and end point. Cath and I promise that we will have recced the whole route by then, without getting distracted by the beauty of the spring and the stories that spring forth.
Steps, Stones and Bones will soon be promoted on the Valeways Festival site. We’ll meet at Dyffryn Garden’s entrance lodge (just as you turn off the road to Dyffryn’s driveway and car park) at 10.15am. We expect to finish by 4pm, just in time for a cup of tea and a cake at Dyffryn’s tea shop. The whole route is about three and a half miles in length over generally flat to gently sloping terrain across meadows and through woodland, with some walking on country lanes. Hope to see you there!