Now long gone the Black Ranks were two rows of roadside miners cottages on the outskirts of Blaenavon. They were so named due to a coating of a black tar type paint that help waterproof the dwellings from inclement weather. Today all that remains is a rough hard surface providing convenient parking for white van man and litter louts.
From here I made way into the open upland landscape. A pair of stonechat called loudly as if defending a breeding territory. In the distance the 'peep peep' of the heritage steam railway conjured images of grubby middle aged men in National Coal Board overalls waxing lyrical about rack and pinions, pounds per square inch and release oil, drinking builders tea from a chipped enamel mug.
From the species poor sheep grazed pasture I climbed to the coal spoil plateau that is Cefn Garn yr rew. With the springtime breeding lapwing now elsewhere it was down to the small heath and grayling butterflies to fill the vacant void. At a pond a mallard alighted and emerald damselflies and black darter dragonflies were numerous.
Off the plateau I followed a fenceline keeping sheep from wandering onto the highway. The road margins here were rich in wildflowers otherwise referred to as weeds by those who have no appreciation of our natural heritage. A flowering bramble bush was complete with half a dozen or so bilberry bee (Bombus monticola).