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Times travel editor compares Welsh place names to ‘cat walking across a keyboard’

03 Apr 2021 2 minute read
Brecon Beacons National Park boundary sign. By Jaggery CC 2.0

The travel editor of The Times has claimed that Welsh place names have “cat-walking-across-the-keyboard impenetrability”.

Duncan Craig, who is, according to the London-based paper, a keen advocate of holidaying in Britain, made the claim in an article about cycling through the Brecon Beacons.

The three-time AITO Travel Writer of the Year nominee, who was shortlisted for Travel Journalist of the Year at the Press Awards, gave the names of the ‘villages’ of Gwaun-Cae-Gurwen and Ystradgynlais as examples in his piece.

When describing his cycling experience in Wales, he said:  “However, while the weather holds, it’s all rather lovely — winding tracks along which cows nonchalantly slurp from big yellow grit-salt tubs; hills of glossy, well-watered green; a regular supply of castles so old that you can no longer work out where bluff ends and fortification begins.

“We drop down into villages with names of cat-walking-across-the-keyboard impenetrability (Gwaun-Cae-Gurwen; Ystradgynlais), then climb lanes so narrow that the breeze-stirred branches on each side almost meet, leaning in like an excitable Tour de France crowd.”


He added: “So, sure enough, as we pull up at La Patisserie in Llandovery, standing outside is none other than Robyn.

“He’s sipping something petite and punchy, like a tour pro on a rest day. We gulp down extra-chocolate capps with a flapjack and bread-pudding chaser, and get chatting.

“Robyn, it transpires, is cycling royalty in these parts — a commentator for the Welsh-speaking national TV channel S4C who is getting in a ride before guiding viewers through the Giro d’Italia.

“In the morning, with calves burning and kit still wet, we rationalise shelving the day-two ride in favour of lying in bed, eating Pringles and enjoying Robyn’s wonderfully mellifluous (albeit entirely incomprehensible) commentary of the Giro.”

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