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The time has arrived

Well as the title suggests, the brave (or stupid) few are ready and raring to go, We recently secured a special guest to join us for part of the walk, Compassions Wales and South West Rep, to give us a moral boost just as we head up one of the steepest inclines of the whole journey.

As bed time draws in I can’t help but worry that I’ve forgotten something, is all my kit packed,  do people know when we’re meeting, will my knees last the whole way. Aaaaaargh!

In all seriousness though, We would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has sponsored us, on line or through filling out a sponsorship form, I would also like to encourage you to sponsor us if you haven’t allready done so, your money will go a long way to helping children in desperate situations.

However I wanted to share with you my biggest concern when thinking have I done enough for this walk, I ask whether I’ve done enough for compassion. It doesn’t matter how big a target we aim for, there will always be a world in need, thankfully compassions slogan is ‘Saveing  the world one child at a time’ I would urge you all to take a look at Compassion’s website and to consider sponsoring a child. For £21 a month you can not only make a huge difference to one child’s life, you can help support a family, and start to change the world. Please. Click Below.

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Beating the Bounds – The Walk

Celebrateing centuries of old tradition for the first time in seven years.

The History:

Beating the Bounds began in 1346 with the presentation of a royal charter creating freemen of Llantrisant. Every seven years thousands of people walk the seven mile boundary of the borough to mark the anniversary. The walk was created to ensure that anyone who wasn’t a freeman wasn’t trading within the boundary.

Over the centuries the rural boundary has been replaced by developments including the Royal Mint, the Royal Glamorgan Hospital, factories, shops and houses. One resident in Cross Inn will welcome hundreds into their garden so the sons or grandsons of freemen can be bounced on the boundary stone – the Maen Llwyd – which sits on their property.

This custom of bouncing a freemans boy on the boundary stones traditionally reminds the boys of where the boundary exists. The walk is led by the bearer of the mace who undertakes the walk carrying the Llantrisant mace. It dates back to 1633 and is older than the mace at the Houses of Parliament.

My Experience:

Having received a flyer about the walk that takes place in the area I’ve just moved into, I thought it would be a good opportunity to delve into the history of the old town and join in with centuries of tradition.

A small hand full of us met up in the Old Town area of Llantrisant for the start of the walk, (3pm avoiding the first two hours of market stalls, and the freemen service) on the BBC news in pictures site you can see us on the left hand side as the procession starts, (Andy holding a large bottle of water and the rest of us tucked behind, I’m assured you can see my legs!) We slowly merged into the crowd as we head of down the hill brass band playing, people cheering, dogs barking, and the inevitable vuvuzela making a flipping racket over the lot.

I wouldn’t say I’m a particularly fast walker, but it was extremely frustrating being stuck in a crowd that seemed to move at the pace of a snail, and very often stopped as the congestion built up when roads got narrower, after what seemed like an hour we had just passed the first km mark, we then stopped completely for the ceremonial bouncing of the boy on a stone in someones back garden.

I was intrigued by the thought of over a thousand people  walking through someones garden to see a boy being bounced on a bolder, despite home information packs no longer being required, having just purchased a home I could picture filling out the form. “Any further Information a purchaser of this property should be aware of? – Every seven years over a thousand people will crowd through your back garden climb over your fence, and stand on your shed to watch a form of legalised child abuse!” I was shocked to see that despite the narrow lane being barley big enough for a row of four to pass down, people were pushing passed to see the ceremony at the front with people stood on shoulders and climbing trees. I didn’t get to see what it was all about but trusted the home owner hadn’t put the washing out that day!

After twenty minutes of hanging around we eventually got going again, however it wasn’t long before the next obstacle. As we walked of the main road at just about the second km, the thousand strong crowed had to cross a small river, not quite shallow enough to walk through, and neither was it narrow enough to jump. The only means to cross was a bridge made up of railway sleepers, wide enough for only one person to cross at a time that lead straight to a fence to be climbed over. As the crowd pushed from behind, it wasn’t long before another route was created by throwing in some stepping stones and pulling down another part of the fence. At this point the keen walkers where clearly separated from those who had come for the celebration. The difference being, those in walking shoes against those in flip flops.

More or less fields from here on until we got back to Talbot Green, but the positive thing from this river was that from here on, the massive crowd would be streamlined and it gave an opportunity to walk at a good pace and overtake some of the slower walkers. From time to time we would have to cross a road and police assistance was fab around the whole walk, stopping traffic to allow the walker to cross, and to point us in the right direction when needed.

At about three km mark we had to get onto Llantrisant common, this involved climbing over a small bank through a fence, and jumping a small bog. The crowed started to queue up ready to jump at one of two suitable places. Inevitably a dog went into the bog, and decided to shake all over those waiting patiently. This crossing was a little difficult for a few, the young the old, and obviously the prats in their flip flops. A big thank you to the gentlemen who stood for sometime over the bog swinging the less agile across!

The walk was simple from here on over the common to a farm that laid on free refreshments. From water to cider, which wasn’t what you might consider to be the best form of refreshment, but it seemed to be the peoples favourite for the whole journey. Pint per mile is the phrase that springs to mind, with odd aromas of hops and sweet cider wafting past from time to time.

Once the walk had gone through Llantrisant tradeing est and the hospital, there seemed to be some confusion over the route as the golf club had refused walkers the right to cross their land, and old paths had become overgrown. Map my run shows the route that we took. That doesn’t deviate much from the prescribed directions, but local knowledge was an advantage at this point. I can only recommend that the next time this walk is arranged the organisers put out markers to follow.

Overall It was a walk that evoked mixed feelings of enjoyment with frustration. I think this was due to the fact that the crowed that was so frustrating at the beginning of the walk with it’s slow pace and buzzing vuvuzelas, was probably the one thing needed at the end of the walk in order to disperse the annoyance of not knowing what direction you were supposed to be going in.

The whole point of this walk a way of recalling the history of the ancient town, but the more and more we went along the route, the more and more it become a want to ‘just’ finish. The carnival atmosphere would have suppressed feelings of having ‘just’ finished. I only hope that when we walk the Taff Trail in September, we all remember why we are doing the walk, and don’t get that feeling of just wanting to finish.

Links for The Beating the Bounds

www.llantrisant.net

www.news.bbc.co.uk  Pictures

www.news.bbc.co.uk Article

Beating of the Bounds

Here is a map of the historic walk around Llantrisant boundaries we did on the weekend, more info and pics to follow.

www.mapmyrun.com

Short Walk

Here is a short walk in our local area (Not on the Taff Trail), that has good steep inclines and being circular makes transport nice and easy without walking back on yourself. It also takes you along part of the Taff Ely ridge way.

http://www.mapmyrun.com

Once you get into Llantrisant Forestry there is a maze of routes available, but this I think is the most straight forward.

They have been logging in the forestry during the last year, so a lot of the ground has been churned up, but in the drier weather, this isn’t much of a problem.

There are three good starting points to this walk. Llantrisant Forestry has a car park, but leave your car there at your own risk. Talbot Green has a housing estate on the edge of the walk, but I think the best would be the High Corner Pub in Llanharan, not so much for the starting point, but to end at a pub has to be a good thing!

Here you can see the road leading up the left hand side of the High Corner that forms part of the walk.

Following this road up to the highest point of the walk you can deviate slightly, rather than taking the sharp right and heading to the forestry, you will see a gate just ahead to the left, on the other side of this gate up on the left you will come to what’s known locally as ‘Cares Rock’. A great place to take a breather, and look out over the valley. Cares Rock is a cluster of rocks with the words ‘Dduw Carriad Yw’ – God is Love, along with many dates and initials of those who have recarved or repainted the words.

I found one website with this little story about the rocks. “In the 1920’s a Collier from Thomastown (near Tonyrefail) carried his daughter to this spot daily to sit with him while he carved. She was suffering from Tuberculosis and as he carved she breathed in the fresh air. This carried on until he had finished his carving and his daughter was healed.”

Tread On

I realise that I’ve not spoken much about the walks that I’ve done in preparation for this big adventure, and there are two reasons for this:

Firstly, so much has gone on with Compassion from evenings with J John, to floods in Ecuador that I’ve felt it necessary to talk about them. Even now there is more news from Compassion as Beth and I are officially advocates! This may come as a surprise to some, because we (or at least Beth) have always done Compassion  stuff in the church, but we’ve never actually done anything officially, until now!

Secondly, and I think the most obvious. The most preparation that I’ve done for this Taff Trail adventure is a few miles on a treadmill! I realise that this is not going to achieve anything in getting me ready to walk the whole Taff Trail, but I just haven’t seemed to have found time anywhere to sort my self out, and talking to others joining me on the walk…neither have they. I must and will sort something out where all those walking the Taff Trail can go on a mini adventure to realise how much preparation is required!

Floods In Ecuador!

Bethan received this email from compassion today:

Rather than trying to explain, I have copied the content for you to read yourself.

As the title suggests it is not good news, and only heightens the need to raise funds for this charity. Compassion is still dealing with the after effects of the earthquake in Haiti, in addition to so many other disasters around the world. There have now been floods in Ecuador.

Please read the email following.

The Government of Ecuador has declared a State of Emergency in the towns of Tena and Archidona after heavy rains caused the Pano, Tena and Misahualli rivers to overflow on 5 April.

Eight Compassion assisted projects have been affected by the flooding.  Three have lost all the crops in the community and need food provisions.  Five projects have children whose homes or belongings were damaged. Additionally, two of these projects were damaged and lost equipment.

Ecuador’s Compassion staff are working on an intervention plan.

Please continue to pray for those children and families who are affected by the flooding. Pray also for the staff and church of the two child development centres that were damaged. Pray for wisdom for the Compassion Ecuador staff as they address the situation.

Compassion Ecuador will keep us updated as more information is available.

Compassion UK will contact you directly if your sponsored child has been affected.

(Images found online)

Somewhere to Rest Our Sorry Feet

Excellent news confirmed today, Christchurch in Merthyr Tydfil have agreed to us sleeping at their church hall. This is not too far from the Taff Trail, so we won’t have to walk additional miles to rest our feet at the end of the first day’s walk from Brecon to Merthyr.

Ebenezer Taff Trail, would like to thank Christchurch for their generosity in keeping the fee to a minimum, and for their support. We look forward to meeting with you.