“A llonydd gorffenedig, yw llonydd y lon goed” – R. Williams Parry
It was a lovely afternoon, very warm be it a tad cloudy, 4 o’clock was looming as crazy Nel was making her presence known to me here in the office. She always has a very well polished habit of coming in, brushing against my legs and going out again, as if to remind me ”don’t forget about me”. Where shall we go today I thought to myself…. I don’t have a planned agenda when it comes to walks, its a case of ‘where shall we explore today?’, yes I have some ideas spinning around – when the hamster is awake that it. Today is was an old classic ‘Lon Goed’ or ‘Lon Mon’ as some die-hard stalwarts of the area call it.
Lon Goed is a stunning, tree lined track which runs south – north east for approximately 7 miles between Afonwen, skirting against the village of Chwilog and ending at a farm called Hendre Cennin nr. Bryncir, here in Gwynedd.
Locals to the area prefer to call it by its original area name of Eifionydd rather than Gwynedd, must say it is a nicer name, some say Gwynedd is a modern name but it is actually one of the very oldest as in ‘Kingdom of Gwynedd’.
The name stems from medieval times during the period of Medieval Cantrefi of Wales. Eifionydd was the northern half of the minor kingdom of Dunoding within the kingdom of Gwynedd, and took its name from Eifion, son of Dunod, grandson of Cunedda Wledig. Now there is a very short lesson for you in Medieval Welsh history .
To do the walk properly then you must drive to the beach at Afonwen and park up then take the road up to roundabout, cross over the road, then walk right for about 50 metres and you will see a turning to the left. It does look as if you are walking through someones private property but you will instantly recognise the beginning of the trees lining the dirt track ahead. Take this for about 500 yards you will come to a busy main road, cross straight over and carry on. Now I must say I do cheat a bit as this is where I do actually start, more space to park up and you cut out crossing two busy roads, well none of us are perfect.
As you progress up you will notice numerous tracks coming in and out of the ‘lon’ it will also cross numerous small b roads and can be quite confusing at times trying to wonder where you are, and that’s from someone who knows the area, one small tip, just follow the signs and just make sure you have trees either side and you can’t really go wrong …… famous last words.
Sometimes whilst out exploring magical things happen, totally random. After getting the rucksack on, Crazy Nel attached, car keys and everything else in place I started on my explorations, relaxing into a nice walking rhythm and enjoying the peace and tranquility associated with the lon. I then came across an elderly lady who was walking the same way, she was walking home and does the walk every day for the past very many years. Once we got the formalities out of the way “Who are you then?, where do you come from?, who is your family? and why are you here?” she asks me along with many other questions. It is a tradition around these parts to be able to associate yourselves with everyone else, be it through family, friends, associates or even someone living close by, anyone living in ‘Cefn Gwlad ‘ will understand exactly what I’m going on about.
My pace reduced to a slow shuffle for the next half mile whilst I walked and had a good chat with the lovely lady, she confirmed many of the facts I had come to know about the Lon.
How Chwilog got its name from an old medieval stream and marsh called Y Chwilogen, translating Chwil meaning beetles, Chwilog – Abundance of Beetles, all from this marsh on the left she eagerly pointed out to me. Fascinating.
She then went onto proudly educate me about the lon. How it was built between 1819 – 1828 by John Maughan, Stewart of Talhenbont Hall at the time, and why many of the older generation still call it ‘Lon Mon’ after Maughan rather than ‘Lon Goed’. I was listening avidly absorbing all these priceless jewels of information. She then carried on to explain it was originally destined to carry on all the way to Caernarfon but it was never completed and it was built in order to carry limestone from a kiln factory at Afonwen up towards the rural farms and they used to carry peat back from the hills, bit of a modern day local motorway I thought to myself. It all ended when the Afonwen – Bryncir railway line opened late 1800’s. The information just kept on coming. I then asked about the trees, what were their purpose and then started history lesson no 3. She explained that it was very wet in parts and they raised the level of the road above the fields, Maughan had the vision that if he were to plant trees either side it would create a natural boundary wall, the roots reinforcing the raised road and also helping to soak up the drainage. Well to be fair it has worked for the past 200 years she explained. After about half an hour the lady turned off to the right where she had farmed for over 60 years with her husband, I bid her farewell and thanked her for her time , she even invited my down for a ‘panad’ and look at some old maps but I made my excuses and carried on otherwise my supper would be in the bin.
By this time Nel was very frustrated at the lack of walk so we upped the pace and forward ahead. One thing you will notice are the dozens of gates along the track where it intersects with other roads and, paths and country tracks, it can be quite disorientating at times.
After a while you come across an old converted chapel on the left Capel Engedi – now a private dwelling. A very busy place indeed they tell me during the 1800’s as it was quite central to all the old roads. The avenue itself is lined with a mix of beech , local welsh oak and plenty of holly, this seems to be the pattern all along. As you are walking along you will see numerous patches of farmland along the way with a good mix of sheep and cows intermixed with pieces of scrub-land and even some private dwellings. At times it seems to be an endless landscape and then you turn a corner and see something new. Crazy Nel became aware of a few squirrels, when she tried to up the pace somewhat without informing me or the rucksack she is attached to, dragonflies were also in abundance today.
It is very true what the great poet R.Williams Parry wrote ‘A llonydd gorffenedig, yw llonydd y lon goed’ – translates to ‘Truly endless peace is the peace of the Lon Goed’, now that is my translation, I’m sure there will be many a better one out there. Much of his work was based on the contrasting landscapes between the quiet rural way of life in Eifionydd as compared to the industrial legacy of Dyffryn Nanlle. A great man indeed.
After a good while you come across a very pretty quaint picture postcard house in the middle of nowhere, total out of place with its lovely cottage garden, just the other side is a gate with a large tin circle on it which give away its past secrets. This is the railway crossing where the old Afonwen – Bryncir line crossed the track, known as ‘Croesfordd Rhosgyll’ look both ways and you can imagine the locomotive going off in the distance. The walk is worth it if only to see this beautiful little place, except for the cars parked outside you really could be transported to a bygone age. We crossed and carried on up for a further mile before turning back and walking back down. If you were organised then you would leave a car at Afonwen and a car at Hendre Cennin and walk its full length, but who wants to be organised, its all about exploring.
Along the way you will see numerous wooden sculptures and some lovely seating if you need to park up your backside and enjoy a panad, thoughtful people this Eifionydd lot. These were part of an initiative to highlight this really wonderful path a few years ago, well done whoever organised it.
On the way back I noticed a chap walking his dog in his car, popular pastime round here on quiet roads, throw the dog out and drive. Strangely enough I recognised him from a few years ago when I knew him as a beater on a local shoot, we stopped and had a good chat, after 20 mins crazy Nel was expressing her desire to go home so again we parted out separate ways .
What are the chances that you meet two local characters on a short blast out in the countryside. As I was walking back I was thinking to myself ‘what if I did pop down to the lady’s farm and saw some total stranger who knew nothing about her’, did she exist or was she from a time gone by, stop thinking Ger , of course she did ………….
I wonder if I will see her again…
Back home we went again with more magical memories .
Thank you for reading