Monday, 30 August 2010

Ravishing Radnorshire

Something must be wrong - the weather's been great on a Bank Holiday! Definitely time for a day-trip, and the Welsh countryside beckoned. So we took the A470 and zipped up to Brecon in no time. Then we slowed down and took the hill road over to Builth Wells via Upper Chapel, a favourite road with many people, I know. Then time for a coffee stop, and lo and behold "Cosy Corner Tea Rooms" appeared across the road from where we parked. Very nice, too.
Now it was time to venture into uncharted territory for me. We headed east then south, making for a tiny church called Rhulen or Rhiwlen. I found a reference to this in Simon Jenkins' guide to churches, houses and castles in Wales. He didn't let us down, as one lane led to another, and eventually we found ourselves in an idyllic hidden corner of silence in deepest Radnorshire. The church is medieval - humble  and whitewashed in and out. Churches don't come any simpler than this. Vases of flowers stood in the sunlight on the window-sills, and a deep quietness enveloped us. Outside a cow was mooing somewhere, and hundreds of sheep were on the hillsides, doing what sheep do. And the combination of whitewashed walls, bright blue summer sky and astonishingly green grass was stunning. My photo captures some of it I hope.
Simon Jenkins describes the road over the hill from Rhulen to Painscastle as "one of the loveliest in Wales", and again he was 100% right. We parked to look back on the hidden village and its church from high up on the sheep pastures, then a few moments later we had to stop again to take in a jaw-dropping view southwards. It took in the whole stunning panorama from Black Mountains in the east, through the Beacons in the centre, to Mynydd Epynt and beyond to Black Mountain in the west. Definitely into my Top Ten Views.
We were now in need of sustenance, and the Roast Ox at Painscastle soon appeared in our sights. A very pleasant Ploughman's with an enormous hunk of tasty Cheddar was washed down with a pint of Thatchers draught dry cider. Fr M approves. In fact Fr M approves of the whole day - cafe, church, views, pub, good company - what more would you want on a sunny Bank Holiday in Wales?...

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