Having suffered some 18 years of the "Rat Race" in the
"Big City", it was
not difficult to be
captured by the peace and charm of the Gwaun Valley in the Pembrokeshire Coast
Not even a stone's throw from the coast between Fishguard and
situated in the foothills of the Preseli Mountains at the remote south west corner of
Wales known as Bluestone Country, one can easily step back in time and experience a
calm and tranquillity that nowadays money cannot buy.
Its roots pre-date history with neolithic and iron-age forts
skyline. A hint of mystery still surrounds Carn Ingli (Mountain of Angels) and the
famous Preseli Bluestone - the source of many of the stones that form Stonehenge.
Legends, traditions and old customs abound. Even the 'Old New Year' - Hen Galan - is
still celebrated in the Gwaun Valley on the 13th January of each year.
It is not surprising therefore, that given the opportunity to
"break away" from the
of England in 1980, I could not resist the lure of purchasing an isolated,
farmstead perched on the edge of this ice-age valley. Even then little did I realise
a treasure trove I had come to and what fortune was in store for me.
Commanding magnificent views across the Gwaun Valley to Carn
Ingli and at the end of
its own half-mile drive with grounds which include an iron-age fort, a 200 ft.
waterfall and part of an ancient oaken forest, Tregynon (a 14th century stone
farmhouse) was instantly home.
There is no question for those who wish to change down a gear
the frenetic pace
of modern life, that the area has magical qualities which draws them back year after
year. It is "special" as the locals say, and indeed it is.
Admittedly the views and scenery are quite exceptional, (on a
clear day from the
peaks you can see Ireland to the west and Snowdon to the north) but there are many
beautiful and stunning locations in Wales where you can stand in isolated wonderment
and awe of nature. Only in the Preselis, however, have I also experienced such a
compelling feeling of "belonging", of security and of peace.
This influence is also clearly echoed by the families who have
lived here for
generations. As a refugee from England, I can unreservedly say that in the 36 years
of my life prior to 1980, I had not enjoyed such warmth and hospitality as that
instinctively given to me by the locals from day one of moving here. Life here takes
on a different meaning. People care. They have values and are genuinely interested in
others around them without being in their pockets. In illness and misfortune there is
always a helping hand. What more could anyone possibly ask?
Within each of us, I believe, is a latent desire to escape
from the cut and thrust of
modern living to a completely different world. Very often the reality is
disappointment. For myself, I could write a book about my motivation for making such
a change. Despite the obvious pressures from time to time now caused by running a
successful award-winning Farmhouse Restaurant with my
wife, Jane, the strength and power of all that surrounds me is still such, that after
21 years, my love for the valley and the Preselis is as passionate as ever.
Items of note and interest.
- The Gwaun Valley is situated in the foothills of
the Preseli Hills, and takes its name from the River Gwaun, the mouth of which joins
the sea at Fishguard (Abergwaun - the mouth of the Gwaun - in Welsh). It's source is
high in the Preselis and one of its two main tributaries actually runs alongside the
½ mile drive of Tregynon.
- The valley has a population of roughly 200, and is of
some note due
to the fact that the local populace retained the 'Julian' calendar while the rest
of Britain moved over to the 'Gregorian' calendar in 1752. Due to this,
New Year, called Hen Galan, is traditionally celebrated on January
- The valley itself is regarded by geologists as one of the finest examples in
the UK of a glacial melt-water channel. Melt water channels occur when the pressure
of the melted water at the bottom of the glacier exceeds that at the top, resulting
in a steep-sided 'V' shaped valley being cut out from the underlying rock by an
uphill water jet.
The following images are hosted on a site unrelated to Tregynon itself.