Eglwysilan: more blocked access on common land

A couple of weeks ago, we went back to the top of Penyrheol Ely Road on Mynydd Eglwysilan common with another Bonkas 4×4 Wales working party.  Sure enough, there was again a distinctive pile of muck, boulders and wool on byway PON 112.

Apart from the obvious disgusting nature of the deposits, this is also a criminal offence.  Meanwhile, a bike rider shared a photo from further along the byway which soon achieved its own notoriety as “gruesome” in the local press and even in the Sunday Times and on Radio 2.  It’s a black ram’s head topping a scarecrow figure with the testicles below.

Why is someone having a go at 4×4 drivers who are trying to keep highways useable? The problems on Eglwysilan affect walkers, riders, commoners, cyclists, drivers – in fact, everyone with a right.  It’s not a game. The owners are not showing any responsibility for maintaining those rights and are not supporting the restoration of rights like unblocking these byways.  Why?

We headed off to a long-standing blockage near the Rose & Crown in Eglwysilan. I’ve walked and driven the byway PON 113 in the past unhindered. This is the same gateway a year ago, May 2016, and now in May 2017 from the common side. The metal gate and kissing gate are both piled with earth.

We got to work with shovel and pitch-fork, and got the main gate open.  If this is a criminal offence, it should be reported to our crime-fighting police.

The police station in Ponty answered but then announced that its mail box (sic) was full.  It is hard to report to the police on 101 because they say that obstructions to the byway and beheaded sheep should be reported to the council.

The obstruction of this access point ignores the clearly signed “Llwybr Treftadaeth / Heritage Trail”, and a wooden sign for Eglwysilan Common has been thrown to the side of the earth well away from the kissing gate.

This used to be the quickest route onto the common from the Garth the other side of the Taff valley: before the A470 was built, I’ve been told horses would be ridden across and up behind the Rose &  Crown on the bridleway, and then up the byway.

Back at home, as the Open Spaces Society Local Correspondent, I emailed the forms notifying the Director of Highway of the obstructions on PON 112 and 113. I thought both were in Rhondda Cynon Taf CBC, but had an email back to say that the PON 113 is in Caerphilly CBC – the boundary runs down the side of the byway.  I’ve posted that off to Caerphilly.  Why RCT couldn’t forward the email, I don’t know: they need to work together.

Others have been busy: most important is the public meeting called under the “Community Trigger” because of the unsatisfactory responses to the issues on this common. So far, Bonkas4x4, Ramblers, Open Spaces will be represented among the public and agencies like council and police should be there.


Taff Meadow Community Centre, Broadway, Pontypridd, CF37 1DB

26 May at 18:30 to 21:30

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Rights restored around Eglwysilan common today

Tomorrow, pesky access-blockers may be back, but today belonged to the people who have rights on Mynydd Eglwysilan Common: commoners, byway drivers and trail, quad and pedal bikers, horse riders, walkers, roamers were all there to let the landowners know they have had enough of illegal blocks and actions.

Things were bad in 2012, when I first posted about the common, and have got worse since the changes of ownership in December 2015 and April 2016.  Today was a good day, and a huge THANK YOU to Bonkas 4×4 Wales who got everyone together and a lot more.

I joined them at the B&Q car park in Pontypridd, and caught up on some problems, such as commoners fearing to graze their stint because of losing stock. We drove up Penyrheol Ely Road in a convoy of over 20 from the town to the wild beauty of Eglwysilan, where horses and protesters were already there – almost a hundred in all.


To access the byway which leads to Nelson, we needed to move the blockage.  The Bonkas guys had brought shovels.  To be honest, they did most of the work, while everyone else was admiring their expertise and co-operation.

The blockage of shit stank, but more evil was the mafia-like sheep, beheaded and its guts falling from its slit abdomen.  It was there to greet the first arrivals, with all identification carefully removed.

Because this is classed as a protest rather than a gathering, the police had to attend in numbers, and were drafted in from Talbot Green.  This wasn’t a problem, in part because they were able to hear and see the agreed problems of the common.  A few of them knew the common too.  Maybe they can send the bill to those responsible for blocking access.

The shit proved nastier than first thought when a 4×4 couldn’t get over it and was towed back, then bottomed out on a boulder.  There are good YouTubes and shots on Facebook of a long process.

One quad bike got over, another stuck.

Some cyclists were helped to get past the shit. I finally got a nice shot of a leaping 4×4.

Time went by as the boulders and tree stumped required three vehicles in line to winch them out.  Time to take in the Valleys views around the common.

Finally the byway was open again, and the convoy could set off.  It was proof that we have far more to gain from all the different types of users working together.  I was sorry that I couldn’t stay longer.

I expect there will be more to do either personally or as Open Spaces Society representative for Rhondda Cynon Taf, with Welsh Assembly members aware and involved and the police keeping in close touch with the Rights of Way officers in Caerphilly and RCT.

The Open Spaces Society has several actions on commons which the Welsh Assembly might consider.  Most important is the need for local authorities to be responsible for – to have a duty to take – action against unlawful works.

Posted in Active Travel Act, countryside, open spaces: commons, open spaces: rights of way & highways, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

IWD 2017: some women’s art

There have been lots of International Women’s Day events in March 2017  (the day itself is 8th March), and I usually get round a few.  A rotten cold for me and voiceless Mike as company meant we only made it to a couple which involved women artists of Women’s Arts Association.

Swansea’s artists Rose Davies, together with Sylvie Evans and Patricia McKenna-Jones, organised a month-long exhibition of over 20 artists in Cinema and Co, and the opening was packed.  I worked in Swansea for years oblivious to the city’s lively creativity – or maybe it has thrived since I retired.

There was food and bar, an innovative BogArt in the toilets, and Amelia Thomas creating one of her Art Millimagics near the screen. Poet and rapper Rufus Mufasa was among performance art which included drumming by Patricia McKenna-Jones.

And there was a wide range of art to suit every taste.

In Cardiff, Women’s Arts Association had an open exhibition at Llanover Hall, curated this year by Patricia Clifford.  One of the most remarked-on pieces is Jacqueline Alkema’s dramatic “Ingrid Bergman”; another highlight is a delicate working of “Lord Buddha” from India by Vishakha Manesh Lad.

On Fridays, I go to the drawing class and have been able to revisit the exhibition.

There are thoughtful insights into feminist issues.

… as well as some bright exuberances, new women in art and old friends developing.  These are always shows to which I look forward.


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Lost Connections in Art in the Attic, Porth

Marion Cheung-Webber’s art works are well worth a visit to the gallery at The Factory, Porth called Art in the Attic.  It’s a really nice space.

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“Lost Connections” is a series of subtle works capturing young people absorbed in digital images backgrounded by a world of e-waste.  Marion worked with schoolchildren from Bassaleg High School on these – she engages with community successfully to develop her projects.

We used to have one of these at home, lost in his PC World.  I really like the light and layered depth to her work.

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I have been intending to see Marion’s work since the exhibition was in Newport a while ago – I hear about her from Women’s Arts Association.  Her show in Porth is on until 17th March.

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Celebrating in the Wilderness

The Wilderness near Mitcheldean in Gloucestershire was the choice for my friend and ex-colleague Emily’s 50th birthday weekend.  As well as the wonderful company, food and drink and brilliant passtimes, games and musical talents, the place itself was great.  I woke up to watch the morning sunrise and slow emerging shapes.

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The house lit up too.


The walk took in forest paths and a frozen Wigpool, returning via Mitcheldean.

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Clouds and sun around the Garth

Long winter shadows on the fields and cloud inversions are a frequent sight on the Garth mountain and in the Taf valley.   I see them as I go up to the stables in the morning. These photos were taken in early January.

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Later that day, at about one o’clock after mucking out and riding, this appeared.

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A month later, in early February, the cloud inversion along the Taf valley was thick and woolly below, and the sun bright looking west to Mynydd Eglwysilan: I stopped on the lane above Dryscoed, and the cloud curls up the valley past Pontypridd in the background.


This is more southerly, over Mynydd Meio.


The clouds smothered Coed-y-Gedrys below the farm.

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This is the view over Coed-y-Gedrys without cloud, with my horse sharing a happy moment with my other favourite companion.

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Green ways in new estates: an attack on Footpath 48a

I have written about Open Spaces Society’s promotion of a wide grassy route through the new development between Tonteg and the Church Village by-pass on a few occasions since March 2013.  Then, the fields and footpaths were a short cut through to the shops on Main Road, and mainly a walkers’ and children’s place for dogs and dens.

There have been Temporary Footpath Closure Order on this path renewed, and next a proposal to extinguish the path in the estate.  I replied:

“Open Spaces Society will oppose any application to extinguish the footpath through this site.  Throughout the planning process for this development, OSS has supported the Rights of Way Officer in seeking to maintain a right of way of adequate width within green space in order to avoid a significant loss of enjoyment by users. …..  I believe this is in line with the Local Access Forum’s views on encouraging non-car travel including to shops.”

I would prefer to have the footpath remain, with a cycleway separated from it.  This would keep the permanent footpath on the Definitive Map, whereas a cycleway is on streets and not the Definitive Map, and is easy to extinguish. I walked through the estate to have a look on the ground. Here is the new way down the field, and it is a nice broad pavement with greenery, although it runs beside a road.

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The estate roads beside the pavement path are narrow, and not everyone likes to park their shiny car on a narrow road.  Furthermore, I fear for the maintaining of the pavement for walking, because once the roads are made up to the height of the drains, the kerbs will be low enough for a car to drive over easily.

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People are not waiting for the roads to be made up to park on the pavements, even while many houses are empty.  This not the right place to be extinguishing rights of way.

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It got worse at the top of the path, where we met people trying to get through to buy teabags from the Co-op on the main road in Tonteg (over a mile round without this path).  The arrow shows where the path should access The Ridings and I can only hope that the very permanent looking fence will be removed, eventually when the developer feels like it.


This is the same path when the developer moved in and I had high hopes of a broad green swathe and not a wide pavement.

footpath to the ridings tonteg phase 2 building

footpath to the ridings tonteg phase 2 building

Posted in Active Travel Act, open spaces: rights of way & highways, open spaces: urban spaces, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments