Last Monday I went back to Kilvey Hill with Kate Ashbrook, Open Spaces Society‘s General Secretary (whose blog complementing this is at http://campaignerkate.wordpress.com/2013/04/23/kilvey-hills-culture/). OSS members Richard and Amanda had organised a tour of the hill, beginning with meeting Macsen, Richard’s well-behaved driving horse, who took Kate down the lane while Amanda and I walked over Morris Lane past Rhianon’s Garden in memory of Richard’s daughter.
Kilvey Hill is within the borough of Swansea, a much loved bit of country above the old industrial communties of St Thomas, Port Tennant and Bonymaen. Boroughs did not have to be surveyed in 1949 for Definitive Maps, and last year Swansea City Council recorded only footpaths where there were many other users like horses and carts and cyclists. All the unclaimed routes now have to be claimed, and that is hard work for Kilvey SOUL members – SOUL is Save Our Unclassified Lanes. (See blogs on 14 Dec 2012, 30 sept 2012 and 21 April 2012.)
We met local Ramblers John France and Andrew Morgan at the bottom of Richard’s land, and set off along Reservoirs Way. There are unrecorded footpaths needing clearing and a path needing a gate. And then there are the tracks and lanes, which are used by higher rights than pedestrian, as Macsen was showing us.
Richard has to lift the cart over the horse-step where the track mets St Illtyds Crescent and it could be a dodgey manouvre.
We met with Ian from Re-Cycle, himself a cyclist as well as running the cyclists’ shop. We continued past a quarry space, good for music maybe, which volunteers have cleared. There has been plenty of work and improvements along the paths, by the council and volunteers, such as Kilvey Community Woodlands Volunteers.
It was easy to forget the closeness of housing below us.
When Macsen had to turn back, Kate, Ian and I carried on up the track and met Trefor in his 4×4, and he took us round tracks over by Bonymaen. The importance of the driving and riding was everywhere: each smallholding had a yard and at least one cart. I got one photo – of the big carriage yard business, hiring out carriages fro weddings and funerals.
We stopped by the Crymlyn reserve close to the old landfill on the east side of Kilvey Hill: the colours of the gorse, now bright in bloom, offset against the browns of the marsh and trees ready to bud.
Trefor keeps horses and a few chickens and ducks. Before taking us to our next rendezvous, we went there. Welsh dragon flying, mist over the hilltop, really lovely.
We were handed over to Marian and joined up with Richard and Amanda at the council offices in the Civil Centre. Jenni Nellist, British Horse Society’s effective access officer who is coordinating the collection of user evidence to get the tracks recorded, joined us for a meeting with the council in the afternoon.
It was about a year ago that I met Kilvey people there, and it is always a pleasure to see them again. The hill is very distinctive once you see the bigger picture.
I cannot improve on Kate’s summary: “Swansea Council needs to regard the hill as a whole, recognise its value as the access land closest to Swansea, and invest in its opportunities for recreation on horseback and in carriage as well as on foot. It will find it has plenty of support.”