Friday, 27 June 2014

And one for the Crow....words and images



Shaft of a Dead Man

John Redhead offers a collection of digitally re-mastered, iconic images from his cult book, …and one for the crow

Reviewed by Toby Dunn for Climb Magazine, as one of nine most groundbreaking books that made British climbing great…

‘The humanity that Redhead uncovers through climbing is a complex mix of a primal hunter and an emotional gatherer, and refreshingly devoid of the faux-hippie musings of many a would-be climbing philosopher. Although some may dismiss it as the rambling of a madman, for those lucky enough to experience the routes that Redhead saw as part of his portfolio of artwork, they are far from whimsical, for often their boldness borders on sickening, and they contain moves which are shockingly hard for one who ostentatiously dismissed any kind of formal training.’

‘Like it or loathe it, it cannot be ignored’ - Paul Twomey

‘this book gives me an erection that threatens to prise me off the rock’ Tim Emmett

‘people will do anything rather than face their own soul…’ Jung

The book, as I now comprehend it, is an attempt to trace a passionate thread through my work as an image-maker and the creative climbing that I engaged in as a process to both anchor and release. It is an avocation of a more romantic, spiritual approach to movement on rock, and of the creativity that liberates that spirituality.

Throwing all these facets together, I hope a certain softness is nurtured, a lightness of touch, in climbing as in all things. The world needs to slow and tone down, and allow thought to penetrate experience…to slow and to feel. Perhaps when the rock climbers understand their language, far away from the domination of bodies and style and fashion, they will have no need to touch rock. Out of understanding and creative use, new language is born.



Margins of the Mind
 
Many of the ascents in this book were stalked through with a sense of annihilation, and were more ‘hunter gatherer’ than ‘farmer’ in concept. Sport climbing is like farming, in which the ascentionist reaps a profit and attempts to gain an advantage over nature. The product created, however, is not of the world but rather a manifestation of personality and quest for identity…

I see the sports climber efficiently and professionally clip-up his project. Ascending through practiced moves, it is a mimicry, a mimesis, a pretty representation of stalking. I see nothing for him to stalk! His actions are not true…

He gains the lower-off and is a rapture of personality, a rapture at his prowess, a rapture at his gain. I have seen beyond his flaccid rapture - for he lowers off at a point of contact - he lowers to remove an unconscious threat and a reality from entering him, and he must do more and more to bury this terrible unconscious threat. It must not reach him! His ascent and hasty retreat is of the same ‘male’ business of ejaculating into the female - of not lingering in the aftermath. The reality is nature. She abides in the vessel to mirror the capture. She reinforces the limpness. He slithers blindly in the subterranean horror that discards the male as used-up, pathetic and forgotten. So he retreats by lowering off uselessly and thereby instantly wants more, restless in confrontation with nature. He is restless as punishment for wanting more - more than already exists, for he doesn’t even understand that! Oh, the man, the man!

Women should know better than to climb for sport… Women should know better because man does not. She should know better because she is equipped to be constantly reminded of a ‘loop of remembrance’. This sing-song loop herds together the affairs of the male tribe, where truth is lubricated and pulls in his quest for control and exploitation into the structure of the score – into nature’s Belly-Ocean of life. There is no equality! Man is surely a spectator, the mere squirter of snot in this ineffable Belly-Ocean. His erect penis, like the ropes and quick-draws, twitches and twangs to her natural laws as she articulates the needs of the ocean…

She is the rock, or something far beyond it…


Shaft of the Dead Man

In my painting ‘The Huntress’, a shadow is cast over all mankind. The ‘Huntress’ appeared from a collection of 8,000 year old bones found in a cave at Giggleswick in the Yorkshire Dales (this collection was housed in my warehouse studio, which was, prior to being captured as a studio, the Pig Yard Museum, Settle). The bones of a twenty five year old female were found next to the bones of a red deer. A ‘nick’ in her shoulder bone suggests that she was an archer, a huntress, a Diana? A shamanic image - an image of good and evil showing beer-swilling males in a public house. The antlers of a red deer hang next to the bar. The atmosphere is pervaded by ‘her’ presence; the Huntress creates a primaeval presence, countered by modern male profanity and the prevailing misogynist discord which includes the females who propagate it.

Everyman, at heart, a misogynist?

Here we have occult power, of ceremonies that were conducted in painted caves – perhaps initiation and puberty rites. The whole vision is suffused by the deafening roar of the stag, confirming the relationship with the ancient she. The she in the modern setting demands abuse with perfume and pose, and will be taken and performed on with sexual lust. I see the Diana figure standing for the male amidst stone and sky; she is penetrated by the strong male – no subordination, no coquetry and no fingering disrespect. The shadows and shapes portray a good deal of guilt, twitching fingers and sudden stares. This is the weave of calcified man. This is the backdrop against which truly spiritual and instinctive values cannot be set. This is Christian doctrine.

Rafts down the Amazon, matchsticks in urine striving painstakingly for the drain…what has been forgotten.


Demons of Bosch

Visions of Hell or visions of a future? The demons keep flying over and they keep missing me! They flew over The Demons of Bosch… I soon realized that the ‘dark ones’ were again upon me. Their attention is surely summoned by a bad-faith, a greed, perhaps a lie? Nature cannot abide arrogance! Somewhere, someone was cracking their sides at the site of these creatures. Missing me, they were consoled by unclipping my neat little bolt on the crux, and throwing what was left of me to the top of the cliff


Training Tips for Him

If in any doubt about your authentic desire to climb a route, retreat to a safe distance and read a little of Heidegger’s Confrontation with Modernity. If this confuses you even more, chill out into the biggest beech tree you can find with a copy of Louise Hay’s, You Can Heal Your Life.

If more traditional, physical training is failing to achieve the required results, try masturbation. A basic approach: the inspiration necessary to maintain the erection should follow rhythmically along the line of the route of your desire. Move by move, stroke by stroke, visualize your ascent until the ejaculation sees you pulling out on the finishing holds. Do not allow sex, partners or money to enter the ritual. An advanced approach: back of the helmet, held close to the stomach, is the best technique for quick reversal of gender. Practice until reversal can be realized at will. Thinking that you are female, you should be able to climb three grades harder than you thought you could.


Training tips for Her

If contemplating a serious E7 don’t be duped by the male contenders in Petes Eats Their accounts and gesticulations are all symptoms of mental illness. This randomness of the male’s achievement ties in with his psychological state of mind in which the female can completely dispense with. You can gauge more accurately this vital state of lunacy by only attempting a serious route during your menstrual cycle. Your monthly performance will be stunningly justified.

Depilation is essential. Pudenda definition is crucial for a front page spread. When depressed at longer being able to do the moves it is reassuring to see yourself in the back room of The Heights, as centre of attraction with the darts team.



Organ Flagellator

I mention in the intro to Cloggy of a gnarled, bent Rowan hiding from the jaws of unnecessary hill farming. Hill farming! What is it that fills me with angst? Is it the barbed wire trailing fragments of black plastic, the fallen down walls, the dereliction, the discarded machinery and plastic feed bags, the diesel trains with juggernaut horns, the rubble, the ruts and piles and rot and stink of sheep piss…? Is it the tourists, poets and dreamers et all, who come bountifully in to walk the ‘wild hills’? The landscape is not what brings me here and it is wilder in Liverpool! The landscape seems a postcard for the blind, for those ‘looking on’, for collectors of relics, and other people’s baggage – left by those who have abused the landscape as a toilet for fashionable catharsis. What fills me with angst is the lack of a ‘now’ – that fresh, vital, potent, living communication with the land. What fills me with angst is the lack of future – all is past, flaccid or abusive.

Moving higher on the hill one can tiptoe unexpectedly onto a tenuous thread or drift into an ominous light that connects to a Celtic, Druid, Pagan, archaic potency. This is the ‘laying on of rock’. For those protected by a Gore-Tex shell and shades it is rarely felt. It is a commodity, a hobby, a photograph, a reminder – a past. This is a dull sleep not the sharp claw sprung with intent. The landscape has become a consumer visual, a full-colour pop-up photo book of the wild, like a page three spread, encouraging our eyes to address the ‘poundage’ – pornography in the sense of warping our perception, warping the way we interact with the real thing. I do not need the landscape to affirm that I am not in my Liverpool studio, which does not mean that my studio is not here, or the landscape not within my studio! I return here in much the same way as a child returns in its nightmares to the monsters and predators of the past. When I am here I dream of summoning the spirits to regain a relationship with the land – the potency would be banned by the National Park and would be too real for Anthony Hopkins! Those who quite lose themselves in wonder at the ‘landscape with railway’ before them would do well to feel the images blur with the sudden realization of a mountain lion hurtling in from behind. Climbing sometimes does this. I would prefer the real thing.


Womb Bits 

Masters Wall (second ascent) slipped by almost unnoticed – the movement soft and gentle. It seems strange that most do ‘battle’ with the mountains to escape complacency or domestic affairs and such like of the modern world. I slip away from my mistress in the mountains from days of idyllic lovemaking. If I stay, I could stay for good. The valley below beckons me for more crazy, human suffering. I cast an eye at the death-like passage that remains…a little leftwards…can there ever be enough love?

Love!

…he chases his phallus around toyland in a perpetual neurotic state. Sometimes, in a rare momentary stillness, or, when blown limp from some sexual act attempted or otherwise, or, when done talking alcohol, he will crank his thick cranium unnaturally upwards at the Great-Sky and rage a voice of terror – “Keep back.”

I sketch him.

He hunts. He hunts time. Time hunts him. He is terrified; emerged in banal adolescence. The life he so energetically seeks does not exist. It is really a blissful promise of death. I wish to speed him on his way, but he is my man – the sketch only halts him briefly for a little twitch.


Menstrual Gossip

It is a sad age that cannot celebrate such natural cycles. A sad loss from the pre-literate peoples who formed ‘women’s societies’ to deal ceremoniously with the dripping of the wise wound. Hanging out in the sheds with seats of moss was a sanctuary of earthy communication with the pull of the moon. There is a wealth of native folklore that asserts you do not touch a woman who is menstruating. Derived from this is the notion of being dirty, I am sure the non-touching is misplaced sacredness. In our society, such a woman hating taboo isolates and confines the female cycle, furthering the misplacement of knowledge relating to this essence of nature.


All forty photographs from the book are available. A collection of prints can be seen at the John Redhead website

Each print £100

John Redhead 1997/2014 
 

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Once upon a time...Pen y Pass



Siegfried Herford and George Mallory outside Gorphwysfa (Pen y Pass: Photo The Alpine Club

The Rawson Owens moved up from Pen y Gwryd to Pen y Pass around 1902 and greatly enlarged what had been not much more than a cottage. Of the years before and immediately after the Great War I am not qualified to write, being rather like a substitute who is brought on around half-time. My first Visit being at Easter 1927. Pen y Gwryd had long had a regular contingent of hill walkers and scramblers, who also stayed at Owgen Cottage, or visited Wasdale Head or the old Dungeon Ghyll in the Lake District. The Pen y Gwryd pioneers stretch back to Charles Kingsley, Tom Hughes (who wrote Tom Brown’s Schooldays) as well as the later Pilkington brothers, the Hopkinson family, Cecil Slingsby, Owen Glyn Jones and the Abrahams and Solly, who first led Eagles Nest Direct on Gable. In general,the development of rock climbing began first in the Lakes, but Snowdonia came soon after.

At the heart and centre of the Pen y Pass tradition was Geoffrey Winthrop Young, who, in the days before cars were more than rare freaks, describes being met by the landlord, Owen, at Betws station with his smart brake and high-stepping horses, all silver pipe clay and gleaming brown leather, as became the sometime whip of the Hussar regimental four-in-hand.’Round him Geoffrey Young gathered a remarkable group meeting at Pen y Pass usually at Easter and Christmas, who can fairly be said to have invented Welsh rock climbing.


Nowadays they would be dubbed an elite: there were the Etonians, Hugh Pope, H.O. Jones, Trev. Huxley, Claude Elliott, but it was climbing that brought them together, and they and most of the group that Geoffrey Young attracted were then or later greatly distinguished in their professions and influence, and by no means all because of their social origins. Geoffrey confesses that he adopted the newly enlarged Pen y Pass ‘since no mountaineer will walk where he can drive or sleep’, so to move there was to be nearer Lliwedd and the other great cliffs. And so Pen y Pass ‘became the very place to assemble friends.

It should be made clear that the Easter gatherings were just that of friends and the friends of friends. You didn’t join them unless specifically invited, or already automatically included through long and close acquaintance. Geoffrey and ’Len' Young (herself daughter of Cecil Slingsby) recruited many through their Sunday evening parties at their then Cambridge home,and the time when I was first asked to Pen y Pass (Easter 1927) coincided with a singular blossoming activity of the Cambridge University Mountaineering Club; so from about that time the Pen y Pass Easter would include usually Lawrence Wager, Wyn Harris, Ivan Waller, Peter Lloyd, George Lowthian Trevelyan, nearly all of whom were also found in the Alps every summer,climbing together or at the same resorts.
 
Bit by bit, as they grew old enough to start climbing, the children of Geoffrey’s friends came to Pen y Pass too, the Mallory son and daughters, Courtenay Young (Geoffrey’s nephew) and a cheerful gaggle of others. What their parents shared was a passion for the mountains, and Geoffrey Young’s benison. Unobtrusively but firmly Geoffrey Young sorted out the climbing parties, and saw that everyone, however young or inexperienced, enjoyed an appropriate climbing day. Lliwedd of course, instead of being today’s neglected lump, was a Mecca, and new climbs were made there almost every Easter.


And not only on Lliwedd. I can’t  remember how the party I had with me on the Javelin Blade took shape at Easter 1930, but I know it included a splendidly tough American novice, Coleman Williams, and one of Geoffrey’s young nieces - not bad for what was allegedly the first British Extreme climb. The West Buttress at Cloggy we had to take three bites over, but they all originated from Pen y Pass. The first two attempts by a party which included Frank Smythe, Graham Brown and Ivan Waller were defeated, the first by a howling wind that was tearing away those whole overhanging grass ledges by which the cliff was  then decorated, and the second by sheer difficulty, a gathering rainstorm, and perhaps because there wasn’t a single piton between the party.

But it was to Pen y Pass that we came back at Whitsun that same year of 1928, driven from Cambridge by Ivan in his legendary Alvis (a shortened version of which won the Phoenix Park T.T.few years later - Alf Bridge being the mechanic who miscounted, and forced Ivan to drive an unnecessary extra lap!) And, of course, Geoffrey Young came with us, striding across the moor with his peg leg; I remember envying him his dive into Llyn dur Arddu several hundred feet below me, as I wrestled with the intricacies of Faith and Friction’s slab! Once again, Pen y Pass lay very much at the heart of it all, and provided the champagne we drank together that evening!

Pen y Pass evenings were quite something special. It will shock today’s tigers, but I can’t remember that we drank much at any time - a pint and a half at most was all that seemed to be needed. There were other things to do - especially the singing! There were always songs after dinner, some of them led by musicians with really trained voices, and Geoffrey had a repertoire of his own mountain songs. In sober truth, some of us younger ones got a bit fed up with the singing, though we joined in: I remember my wife (then fiancee) confessing she was a bit bored with it. So we engineered indoor gymnastics as a substitute, for some evenings at least: jumping onto a highish mantelpiece without falling over backwards: balancing a half-full glass on your forehead, removing it on to the floor between your knees, drinking it without touch of hands,using knees again to put it back on your forehead, and then standing up again with the empty glass back on your forehead - my special trick: Oh, and of course, climbing around a kitchen chair, and back on the seat without the chair tilting over!

 Much climbing talk as well, those Easter evenings. I am not sure I have conveyed at all the general belief that climbing on Welsh crags was, in part at least, training for bigger ventures on the Alps and elsewhere.Himalayan expeditions were beyond our scope, unless luckily selected for a rare Everest party. But I suppose we were gradually absorbing the knowledge that British rock climbing was a game that stood in its own right, provided you didn’t cheat and that, as things then were (Everest 1933  kept me nearly seven months away from my job) the greater ranges were reserved for the professional mountaineers, such as my friend Frank Smythe. And for much of my active climbing, Pen y Pass lay at the heart of it. As Geoffrey’song puts it: 


GW Young and his wife Eleanor 'Len'.

When the Wind from Cwm Idwal,  Cwm Dyli, Cwm Glas,
Comes Whispering over the scree, 
Come back, mountain friend, to your home on the Pass,
Come back, mountain climber, to me....GWY

Jack Longland: First published in Mountain 123
 

Friday, 13 June 2014

George Borrow...The day he went to Bangor

Moel Siabod-Instagram image

Wild Wales published in 1862 remains one of THE greatest British travelogues of all time. Its author, George Borrow harnessing a rare-for a Victorian Englishman- ability to understand and converse in the Welsh Language... then the dominant tongue in north and mid Wales... with an acute observational eye,an enthusiasm to engage with local people and a passion for local history and culture.. Combined with his remarkable energy and capacity for long walks-like Coleridge, covering great distances in a single day- These physical and creative attributes came together in a book which has never been out of print in 162 years! This extract offers a brief example of his incredible walking powers. Describing a walk in a single day between Cerrigydrudion in North east Wales to Bangor on the North Wales coast. Passing several landmarks familiar to modern outdoor folk. The climbing crag of Dinas Mawr, Swallow Falls, Plas y Brenin and the ‘hovel’, Helyg, which became of the UK’s first climbing huts.



After leaving the village of Pentre Voelas I soon found myself in a wild hilly region.  I crossed a bridge over a river, which, brawling and tumbling amidst rocks, shaped its course to the north-east.  As I proceeded, the country became more and more wild; there were dingles and hollows in abundance, and fantastic-looking hills, some of which were bare, and others clad with trees of various kinds.Came to a little well in a cavity, dug in a high bank on the left-hand side of the road, and fenced by rude stone work on either side; the well was about ten inches in diameter, and as many deep.  Water oozing from the bank upon a slanting tile fastened into the earth fell into it.  After damming up the end of the tile with my hand, and drinking some delicious water, I passed on and presently arrived at a cottage just inside the door of which sat a good-looking middle-aged woman engaged in knitting, the general occupation of Welsh females.

I departed, and proceeded some miles through a truly magnificent country of wood,rock,and mountain.  At length I came to a steep mountain gorge, down which the road ran nearly due north, the Conway to the left running with great noise parallel with the road, amongst broken rocks, which chafed it into foam.  I was now amidst stupendous hills, whose paps, peaks, and pinnacles seemed to rise to the very heaven. 
An immense mountain on the right side of the road particularly struck my attention, and on inquiring of a man breaking stones by the roadside I learned that it was called Dinas Mawr, or the large citadel, perhaps from a fort having been built upon it to defend the pass in the old British times.  Coming to the bottom of the pass I crossed over by an ancient bridge, and, passing through a small town,(Betws y Coed) found myself in a beautiful valley with majestic hills on either side.  This was the Dyffryn Conway, the celebrated Vale of Conway, to which in the summer time fashionable gentry from all parts of Britain resort for shade and relaxation.  When about midway down the valley I turned to the west, up one of the grandest passes in the world,having two immense door-posts of rock at the entrance, the northern one probably rising to the altitude of nine hundred feet. 
 On the southern side of this pass near the entrance were neat dwellings for the  accommodation of visitors with cool apartments on the ground floor, with large windows, looking towards the precipitous side of the mighty northern hill; within them I observed tables, and books, and young men, probably English collegians, seated at study.

After I had proceeded some way up the pass, down which a small river ran, a woman who was standing on the right-hand side of the way, seemingly on the look-out, begged me in broken English to step aside and look at the fall. “You mean a waterfall, I suppose?” said I. “Yes, sir.” “And how do you call it?” said I. “The Fall of the Swallow, sir.” “And in Welsh?” said I.“Rhaiadr y Wennol, sir.” “And what is the name of the river?” said I.“We call the river the Lygwy, sir.”

I told the woman I would go, whereupon she conducted me through a gate on the right hand side and down a path overhung with trees to a ro projecting into the river.  The Fall of the Swallow is not a majestic single fall, but a succession of small ones.  First there are a number of little foaming torrents, bursting through rocks about twenty yards above the promontory on which I stood.  Then come two beautiful rolls of white water, dashing into a pool a little way above the promontory; then there is a swirl of water round its corner into a pool below on its right, black as death, and seemingly of great depth; then a rush through a very narrow outlet into another pool, from which the water clamours away down the glen.  Such is the Rhaiadr y Wennol, or Swallow Fall; called so from the rapidity with which the waters rush and skip along.

On asking the woman on whose property the fall was, she informed me that it was on the property of the Gwedir family.  The name of Gwedir brought to my mind the “History of the Gwedir Family,” a rare and curious book which I had read in my boyhood, and which was written by the representative of that family, a certain Sir John Wynne, about the beginning of the seventeenth century.  It gives an account of the fortunes of the family, from it earliest rise; but more particularly after it had emigrated, in order to avoid bad neighbours, from a fair and fertile district into rugged Snowdonia, where it found anything but the repose it came in quest of.  The book which is written in bold graphic English, flings considerable light on the state of society in Wales, in the time of the Tudors, a truly deplorable state, as the book is full of accounts of feuds, petty but desperate skirmishes, and revengeful murders.  To many of the domestic sagas, or histories of ancient Icelandic families, from the character of the events which it describes and also from the manner in which it describes them, the “History of the Gwedir Family,” by Sir John Wynne, bears a striking resemblance.

After giving the woman sixpence I left the fall, and proceeded on my way.
I presently crossed a bridge under which ran the river of the fall, and was soon in a wide valley on each side of which were lofty hills dotted with wood, and at the top of which stood a mighty mountain, bare and precipitous, with two paps like those of Pindus opposite Janina, but somewhat sharper.  It was a region of fairy beauty and of wild grandeur. Meeting an old bleared-eyed farmer I inquired the name of the mountain and learned that it was called Moel Siabod or Shabod.  Shortly after leaving him, I turned from the road to inspect a monticle which appeared to me to have something of the appearance of a burial heap.  It stood in a green meadow by the river which ran down the valley on the left. Whether it was a grave hill or a natural monticle, I will not say; but standing in the fair meadow, the rivulet murmuring beside it, and the old mountain looking down upon it, I thought it looked a very meet resting-place for an old Celtic king.

Capel Curig-Instagram image


Turning round the northern side of the mighty Siabod I soon reached the village of Capel Curig, standing in a valley between two hills, the easternmost of which is the aforesaid Moel Siabod.  Having walked now twenty miles in a broiling day I thought it high time to take some refreshment, and inquired the way to the inn.  The inn, or rather the hotel,(Plas y Brenin) for it was a very magnificent edifice, stood at the entrance of a pass leading to Snowdon, on the southern side of the valley, in a totally different direction from the road leading to Bangor, to which place I was bound. 

 There I dined in a grand saloon amidst a great deal of fashionable company, who, probably conceiving from my heated and dusty appearance that I was some poor fellow travelling on foot from motives of economy, surveyed me with looks of the most supercilious disdain, which, however, neither deprived me of my appetite nor operated uncomfortably on my feelings.

My dinner finished, I paid my bill, and having sauntered a little about the hotel garden, which is situated on the border of a small lake and from which, through the vista of the pass, Snowdon may be seen towering in majesty at the distance of about six miles, I started for Bangor, which is fourteen miles from Capel Curig. The road to Bangor from Capel Curig is almost due west.  An hour’s walking brought me to a bleak moor, extending for a long way amidst wild sterile hills.

The first of a chain on the left, was a huge lumpy hill with a precipice towards the road probably three hundred feet high.  When I had come nearly parallel with the commencement of this precipice, I saw on the left-hand side of the road two children looking over a low wall behind which at a little distance stood a wretched hovel.(Helyg) 

The 'wretched hovel' Helyg: Photo Pete Sterling/Climbers Club


I had passed the first and second of the hills which stood on the left, and a huge long mountain on the right which confronted both, when a young man came down from a gully on my left hand, and proceeded in the same direction as myself.  He was dressed in a blue coat and corduroy trowsers, and appeared to be of a condition a little above that of a labourer.  He shook his head and scowled when I spoke to him in English, but smiled on my speaking Welsh, and said: “Ah, you speak Cumraeg: I thought no Sais could speak Cumraeg.”  I asked him if he was going far. “About four miles,” he replied. “On the Bangor road?” “Yes,” said he; “down the Bangor road.”

I learned that he was a carpenter, and that he had been up the gully to see an acquaintance—perhaps a sweetheart.  We passed a lake on our right which he told me was called Llyn Ogwen, and that it abounded with fish. He was very amusing, and expressed great delight at having found an Englishman who could speak Welsh; “it will be a thing to talk of,” said he, “for the rest of my life.”  He entered two or three cottages by the side of the road, and each time he came out I heard him say: “I am with a Sais who can speak Cumraeg.”  At length we came to a gloomy-looking valley trending due north; down this valley the road ran, having an enormous wall of rocks on its right and a precipitous hollow on the left, beyond which was a wall equally high as the other one.  When we had proceeded some way down the road my guide said.  “You shall now hear a wonderful echo,” and shouting “taw, taw,” the rocks replied in a manner something like the baying of hounds.  “Hark to the dogs!” exclaimed my companion.  “This pass is called Nant yr ieuanc gwn,(Nant Francon) the pass of the young dogs, because when one shouts it answers with a noise resembling the crying of hounds.”

The sun was setting when we came to a small village at the bottom of thepass.  I asked my companion its name.  “Ty yn y maes,” he replied, adding as he stopped before a small cottage that he was going no farther, as he dwelt there.

After drinking some tolerably good ale in the public house I again started.  As I left the village a clock struck eight.  The evening was delightfully cool; but it soon became nearly dark.  I passed under high rocks, by houses and by groves, in which nightingales were singing, to listen to whose entrancing melody I more than once stopped.  On coming to a town, lighted up and thronged with people, I asked one of a group of young fellows its name.

“Bethesda,” he replied. “A scriptural name,” said I. “Is it?” said he; “well, if its name is scriptural the manners of its people are by no means so.”

A little way beyond the town a man came out of a cottage and walked beside me.  He had a basket in his hand.  I quickened my pace; but he was a tremendous walker, and kept up with me.  On we went side by side for more than a mile without speaking a word.  At length, putting out my legs in genuine Barclay fashion, I got before him about ten yards, then turning round laughed and spoke to him in English.  He too laughed and spoke, but in Welsh.  We now went on like brothers, conversing, but always walking at great speed.  I learned from him that he was a market-gardener living at Bangor, and that Bangor was three miles off.One by one, the stars were shining out, we began to talk about them.



Pointing to Charles’s Wain I said, “A good star for travellers.” Whereupon pointing to the North star, he said: “I forwyr da iawn—a good star for mariners.”

We passed a large house on our left.“Who lives there?” said I.“Mr Smith,” he replied.  “It is called Plas Newydd; milltir genom etto—we have yet another mile.” In ten minutes we were at Bangor.  I asked him where the Albion Hotel was. “I will show it you,” said he, and so he did As we came under it I heard the voice of my wife, for she, standing on balcony and distinguishing me by the lamplight, called out.  I shook hands with the kind six-mile-an-hour market-gardener, and going into the inn found my wife and daughter, who rejoiced to see me.  We presently had tea.


George Borrow. Wild Wales