The view’s the thing

Holiday over and loafing around done, it was time to get the walking boots back on this week. There’s a ruined castle not far from here called Castell Dinas (not to be confused with Castell Dinas Bran at Llangollen) which sits on a hilltop overlooking the main road between Crickhowell and Talgarth. Talgarth was the capital of the ancient Kingdom of Brycheiniog, ruled by King Brychan who allegedly fathered at least twenty four daughters. It’s probably just as well that they didn’t have any bathrooms then because he’d never have got into one.

We parked in the car park at the Dragon’s Back inn at Pengenffordd and paid £2 into the honesty box put there by the owner. He’s raised an astonishing amount of money here which is paid to a group of charities. I can’t remember what they all were but Water Aid and the Mountain Rescue team were included.

I’d forgotten to take a route book or map with me but I’d been assured by people who know that this was a short but fairly steep climb and was well signposted. I warned Mr B that it was all uphill, honestly! It took us about thirty minutes to get to the top, dodging the sheep and stopping to catch our breath every now and then. The footpath went to the right just as this wider path on the left started to curve up to the ruin. I’m guessing that when the castle was in use this was the way the Waitrose deliveries went up.Castell dinas 1 2016 5.jpg

There’s not much remaining of the castle, which most likely had been built in the earliest years of the Normans’ incursion into Wales. This dates it to the 1070’s or 80’s, though there was an ancient hill fort here long before that. As is usual with castles in southern Wales, it probably changed hands several times between the new Norman overlords, the native Welsh and Llywelyn ap Gruffydd in the 1260’s. It may have been destroyed by followers of Owain Glyndŵr or other locals but certainly records show that by the mid sixteenth century it was just a heap of stones.Castell dinas 3 2016 5

Castell dinas 8 2016 5One small section of remaining wall

The real joy of this walk is the view from the top, which is stunning. We could see right across to Talgarth in the north.Castell dinas 11 2016 5Mr B making his way back down via the wider path

It was almost trickier going down than it had been on the way up. I got the feeling that if I slipped I’d be rolling right to the bottom with nothing to stop me.Castell dinas 13 2016 5The way down

We made it in one piece though and agreed that it had been well worth the effort to see the view. We occasionally watch Escape to the Country  still, which may seem idiotic considering where we now live, but I’m very nosy about other people’s houses and I also like to see different parts of the UK. It always makes me laugh when the house-hunters peer through a window at a completely flat field with no trees and say something like ‘Oh, look at that lovely view!’

No. That’s a flat field with no trees and nothing of any interest at all. You want a view? This is a view:Castell dinas 12 2016 5

We were a bit dismayed when we looked at Mr B’s pedometer to see that we’d only walked 1km. How ridiculous! We may have only gone 1km across but we’d gone half that distance up! And yes, I know my Pythagoras as well as you and I realise that the actual distance wasn’t much more than 1km but the energy we used was much more than on a flat walk.


After an exhausting trek it’s always good to get home and sit in the garden, particularly if the sun is shining. Which is exactly what I was doing when I became distracted by Radio Wales and Eleri Sion’s daily puzzle – the ‘mindboggler’. I’d listened to this a few days ago and was depressed at how easy it was, thinking that nobody could possibly get it wrong. Correction – many people did. So when I heard this new boggler my interest was stirred because it had a bit more about it. Still not complicated or difficult if you could be bothered to sit down with a pencil and paper for five minutes – one of those things about someone paying a pound, the next paying two, the third doubling it to four, etc. Anyhow I decided to enter – why not? Mr B was inside the house doing jobs unknown and had left me to my own devices. I picked up my phone and sent off a text with my answer.

Ten minutes later the phone rang – it was a private number. Now due to our completely neurotic attitude to life, we never answer our phones (mobile or house) unless we recognize the number. Too many years of being bothered by callers wanting to sell us double-glazing (on one memorable occasion this happened at 7:30 am) or help us claim money for an accident that – astonishingly – had never happened.

So I didn’t answer the call – the first or second time. When it rang again though, I did. And it was a young lady from Radio Wales asking me if I’d be happy to speak to Eleri on air. This clearly meant that I’d got the answer right…and I was going to win a prize!

At this point I need to explain about the prize, which had egged me on a little. Usually this is a BBC pen but today, Eleri had announced with excitement, there would not only be a pen but…drum roll here…a notebook!

What would you have thought? Once upon a time this would have meant a small bundle of paper sheets, loosely bound, which you could doodle in. But today, in these times of iPads and other electronic tablets, a notebook is a small laptop…isn’t it? Anyhow I scurried indoors past a bewildered husband, yelling “Can’t stop, I’m going to be on the radio” and headed up the stairs while he went to listen to the radio in the garden.

While I was waiting for the music track to finish, I mulled over what had been said earlier and suddenly it struck me. Notebook. This is the BBC. The prize is usually a pen…obviously the notebook is just that, one of those small items that even to this day I put into my daughters’ Christmas stockings in case they should want to write something as mundane as a shopping list. (I’m fairly sure the books find their way to a bin or sit at the bottom of a bag for a year, to be replaced the following Christmas by the new version).

Eleri was charming, Mr B was giving me what can only be described as withering looks, and I’d had my two minutes of fame. Five days later I’m still waiting for the postman to deliver my pen and notebook. Though hang on…it’s taking so long maybe I’m waiting for a DPD driver to deliver a small laptop?

may 2016

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