Support our Nation today - please donate here

Y Filltir Sgwâr/The Square Mile: Old Quarry Paths

12 May 2024 4 minute read
A place to reflect (Photo: Tom Maloney)

In a year long series Tom Maloney, from Abersychan, shows how you can love a place so well it becomes a part of you.

If it is possible for somewhere to become part of your DNA then I think that the old quarry paths within the Lasgarn Wood at the beginning of May would have to be such a place for me.

My love of this part of the Lasgarn goes back almost ten years and although I have got to know it really quite well I am still never quite sure what to expect. One thing I do know for sure is that it will transport me into another world, ‘byd arall’ in the Welsh.

This is a moment in time that I look forward to so much and I am always a little sad to see it go. I guess the trick is just to enjoy the moment and not to ask for any more.

What is it that makes these old workings that date back to the Industrial Revolution so special?

Walking here at this time of the year feels like walking within the setting of a fairy tale surrounded by an an orchestra of mystical harmony. All the senses are captivated and like a great musical crescendo, all of the parts of this little orchestra are in full swing just now.

Melodious birdsong, magical colour and such scent … and of course Mother Nature is the conductor for all with not a note out place!

Early morning spotlight on bluebells (Photo: Tom Maloney)

The light of early morning or late afternoon is simply wonderful.

Bluebells (Hyacinthoides non-scripta) are real show stoppers and just revel in the spotlight as bright sun breaks through the protective sap green tree canopy.

These dear little flowers set out their spaces like little islands of colour amongst the rocky outcrops and trees. Their scent is a sweet perfume that is delicate and uplifting.

The garden of Seurat (Photo: Tom Maloney)

And then there is the Wild Garlic (Allium ursinum).

The aroma of these little stars is a different, delicious sensation, but for me when I see their flowering heads in full bloom I feel like I am stepping into a pointillist painting by Georges Seurat.

I am taken back in time to younger years when I travelled to America to see ‘Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte’ at the Art Institute of Chicago.

It is an amazing painting to see up close and so lovely it is that a moment of joy in the woodland is a reminder of a special memory.

Path through the old quarry workings (Photo: Tom Maloney)

Rather like all roads leading to Rome all the paths will take you to the old limestone quarries.

Every now again there is fresh evidence of quarrying, but not by man’s hand, Nature once again shows its power!

Cold winter frost is the quarryman at work where there are weaknesses created by the deep-rooted trees that line to quarry edges.

The quarries are numerous and perhaps surprisingly beautiful, tranquil places now.

There are big pictures that fill your eyes everywhere, but it is so worthwhile to get down low and take in the plants at a close level.

There is artistry in their shape and form and nothing is one-dimensional.

Hart’s tongue fern is so gloriously sculptural and thrives in the damp, rocky conditions of this sheltered habitat.

The artistry of wild flowers: Wild Garlic (Allium ursinum) and Hart’s tongue fern (Asplenium scolopendrium) cwtched in a bed of moss, Photo: Tom Maloney

At times, the hollows carved into the landscape seem to have a prehistoric feeling about them and my thoughts are drawn to ancient times, but more often than not I feel a spirituality of place on my walks now.

What were once places of toil and hard labour have over time become reflective spaces where you can just stop, let your mind drift and free yourself from the busy pace of life.

They are places to feed your soul.

Read the earlier installments of Y Filltir Sgwâr/The Square Mile by Tom Maloney

Support our Nation today

For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Our Supporters

All information provided to Nation.Cymru will be handled sensitively and within the boundaries of the Data Protection Act 2018.