Rhondda Valley, South Wales (17. Hillside overlooking Mountain Ash)
Royal Geographical Society
17. Hillside overlooking Mountain AshFénykép: Society Royal Geographical, Royal Geographical Society
At this point of Emily’s walk she would have been met by a family member, usually one of her brothers, who walked with her the rest of the way. From here we can see down into the Cynon Valley and the town of Mountain Ash. It’s surprisingly English-sounding in this area full of Welsh names. In fact Mountain Ash has a Welsh name, Aberpennar (Mouth of the Pennar brook). The English name is said to come from the bride of a local landowner. The story goes that she visited where a new inn was being built and picked up a leaf from a rowan tree - also known as a Mountain Ash. She suggested that the inn be called the Mountain Ash Inn. The name soon spread to the town. Until the 1800s there was only a scattering of farms on the mountains and a few houses grouped around the Inn. The scene from here would have been quite natural. But the coal industry changed everything. Development began in the 1830s, with coal extracted for use in the iron smelters of Dowlais and Merthyr. After 1850 more collieries were opened. The impact can be seen in population statistics. In the 1841 Census the population was 250 but by 1871 it was 11,463. Like the view over Ferndale, here too we can see evidence of regeneration. The collieries have gone and the waste tips have been removed. In their place are landscaped areas and a light industrial estate. We can also see the River Cynon. Once a polluted stretch of river, full of silt and rubbish, it has now been cleaned up. The banks are protected and there’s also a walking track along it with a series of stone wall sculptures. Directions Follow the path towards the farmhouse and then diagonally downwards below the grounds of the farm. Continue following the path diagonally down the hillside. When you are almost beneath the overhead power lines and close to a pylon look, for a small quarry below. Stop here.
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