Spring Walks

There is no better way of seeing Spring coming into season than being outdoors.  All around there will be signs of spring – buds on trees, bulbs and new growth peeking from the soil, lambs frolicking in fields, bluebells and snowdrops starting to appear, bracken starting to unfurl new leaves.  There are lots of places that these signs can be seen and here are a few of my favorite places to visit in spring, and a couple of reasons why thrown in too!

Pontypool Park

Pontypool Park is around 120 acres of park land, with grassy areas, mature trees and the Afon Llwyd river running along one edge of the grounds.  There are lots of different paths you can take that lead to so many different things, like the walk up to the refurbished Nant-y-Gollen ponds where, if you sit quietly, you can see frogs and tadpoles in the water.  There are walks through woodland where you will be able to see new growth appearing on the trees, buds of blossom starting to form and other plant life just starting to emerge.  And if you are feeling energetic, up a short, steep slope lies the Grotto and not too far away is the Folly which to get to, you will need to cross some pasture land and might get a chance to see some lambs in the nearby fields!

Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal

Walking along the canal from Goetre Wharf towards Abergavenny is a lovely walk to do in the spring.  Walking by the water, looking a the reflection of the sky and being able to look at all the animals grazing as you make your way on your journey is a perfect way to spend a few hours on a weekend.  The canal weaves its way through wooded areas, fields and past some waterside houses.  You might be able to spot fish in the water, see ducks and ducklings, swans and cygnets along with sheep and cows and their babies too!  You should be able to spot sings of spring all around you from trees and plants to animals and insects.

Talybont-On-Usk

Talybont-On-Usk is set in the Brecon Beacons and is beautiful to walk any time of the year yet for me there is something magical in seeing this landscape starting to wake after the months of winter.  There are lots of different walks to go on and plenty of things to see along the way, waterfalls, streams, woodland, grass land, and all the wildlife that goes along with it.  You should be able to spot lambs in the surrounding fields and bulbs starting to shoot up as well as see the new growth on the bracken as you walk through the landscape.

Wherever you are planning on walking please adhere to the Countryside Code of Conduct, keep dogs on leads and be careful around baby animals – not only can they scare easily but the parents can be very protective of their young and become aggressive if you approach to closely.

Where are your favorite spring time walks?

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Pontypool Park

Pontypool Park is around 250 acres of park land which was originally leased to the family  around 1655.  Further land (which became known as Pontypool Park) was purchased by Capel hanbury in 1689.  The Hanbury family built their home on the land around 1694 and the Park Gates were erected some years later in 1720.  You can still see the house, complete with stables and an Ice House today, the house now makes up part of St Alban’s R.C High School, the stables are now home to the towns museum and the Ice House remains virtually untouched and is sited opposite the museum. (The ice house is a double chamber building that is unique in its design and build and unlike any other of its kind!)

There is a lot of history in the park, commemorative stones placed in memory of the Pontypool and District Hospital which finally shut its doors and was demolished shortly after in 1994, the Italian Gardens and Fountain which are a short hop over the river, behind the bus station on the edge of town (added in 1924), the bandstand at the center of the park, an addition in 1931.

Further into the park is the Pontypool RFC pitch which was developed and laid out in 1925 (which the rugby team had to share with the cricket team!) with the addition of the grandstand almost 20 years later in 1945.  And keeping with the theme of sport from the path that runs along the top of the rugby pitch toward the leisure center you should be able to see the ski slope that was added in 1975!  The tennis courts that should be seen if you face toward the clock tower (added in 1952) were added to the park around 1924.  There is a bowling green set next to the tennis courts that was added in 1925 too.

If you venture even further into the park and up towards the ski slope you will come to Nant-y-Gollen ponds, originally a mill pond to feed a forge, it was remodeled back in the early 1990’s, there are lots of stories about the pond (a good starting point of research is here )

Then there is the proper heart of the park, for me that is the Shell Grotto and Folly Tower, the Shell Grotto is worth a visit when it is open, the inside is decorated with shells, animal teeth and bones, it was built as a summer get away/picnic area for the Hanbury family in the 1830’s.  The Folly tower was added earlier, around 1765 but later demolished in 1940, when World War 2 was taking place – it was feared that the tower would act as a reference point and guide for German aircraft.  The tower was finally rebuilt in 1994.

There is a walk called the Pontypool Park Circular which takes you past many of these landmarks and places of historical interest, the full walk takes around 4 hours and is moderate in its rating – there are some steep parts and muddy trails along with woodland and rough ground.  If you would like to do this walk then details for it can be found here.