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 National Park.

Not even a stone's throw from the coast between Fishguard and Newport (Pembrokeshire) 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 dotted across the 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 Bank of England in 1980, I could not resist the lure of purchasing an isolated, run-down farmstead perched on the edge of this ice-age valley. Even then little did I realise what 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 from 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.

Peter Heard

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 13th.
  • 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.
Images:

The following images are hosted on a site unrelated to Tregynon itself.
External Image 1 External Image 2

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