Tower Colliery has now closed, and the site is being restored through Tower Regeneration Limited (TRL). I have been to one working group meeting, representing Open Spaces Society (as the Local Correspondent for Rhondda Cynon Taf), and last Friday we had a site visit.
The whole Tower site is about 250 hectares close to Hirwaun and Rhigos villages, and over a third will be put in trust for local people’s use. The caption above some photographs of the site reads “If you think you are a person of influence, Try ordering my dog around.”
We were visiting the former tip 107, which straddles the bypass. TRL have created ponds and nature has been taking the tip back. Our group included the RCT ecologist Richard, tourism Ceri and regeneration officers, community councillor, Natalie Sargent from Coalfields Regeneration Trust and, of course, our guides from TRL, and the dog.
Since restoration began, the trees around the ponds have grown high and might hinder creating a more accessible route. (Later, I remembered my Kilvey Hill friend Blod and his horse Macsen who are trained loggers – maybe that’s a solution to tidy the birch and remove blackthorn.) The present path is made by using rubber and topped off to create a solid enough surface for walkers.
The nearby A465 and smaller roads are background noise to observing the diverse plants and fish, we were told, in the ponds. Like much of the Valleys, it is beautiful. On the far side of the pond is a stone bridge, with fossils, and then we walked up a slope where conifers have failed to establish (“probably a good thing” Richard the ecologist said, because many plants he hopes to see like poor soils).
That was the smaller triangle before we went under the A465. There’s parking available and the area could house various facilities and create jobs. I liked the tyres and reflections.
On the other side is a huge concreted area where buildings have been demolished, and the old railway line. Everything opens up – or maybe it was the sun. The wind was bitter.
We walked along and round the top of the site, groups chatting and getting split. there’s still the odd tangle of iron.
At the far end, we climbed back over the other side of the low hill. It is a massive area and could include a multi user path. I’ve looked out the leaflets by British Horse Society and Sustrans on good designs. Runners, cycling and horse riding or driving could all be accommodated and linked to other trails.
There’s a ridge of land with the road below, with great landscapes and also so many tiny flowering lichens making subtle colours under our feet.
TRL want people who “will do” actions to add to the success and sustainability of the project. I specifically want to see rights of way – probably multi user, bridleways or byways – designed into it and on the Definitive Map, and a status for the land which will protect it for the people of Hirwaun and Rhigos, well, the Valleys really, forever.