Stepping out into a keen Blaenavon wind I soon questioned the wisdom of choosing to walk the Garn yr rew landscape as an alternative to a more sheltered lowland location. Waiting to cross the main Blaenavon to Brynmawr road a police mobile speed camera obscured my footpath access. Traffic slowed accordingly, bunching into mini conveys to ensure compliance with the 40 mph limit. As I scampered across I passed close to the parked speed correction unit. The seemingly unmanned vehicle complete with darkened windows clicked, whirled and hummed just like the grumblings of a loafing predator.
Away from the road into the expanse that is post-industrial Blaenavon, the wind dug deep, dislodging my hat and watering my eyes. A buzzard drifted over as two hardy sheep appeared, staring at me from the summit of a coal tip, in motionless disbelief. I peered at the lichen heath community that is such a feature of coal spoil in this area. Past Hill Pit chimney pondering my route. South it was to be, passing the part restored engine break wheel and a shiny length of discarded motorbike exhaust. A small valley with a stone outcrop caught my eye so changing direction I followed a muddy bike track. Dropping into the weathered depression there was a freshly dug hole complemented by the pungent odour of fox. A mature overhanging patch of scrubby flowering gorse focused my attention. A closer look revealed the distinctive colour of golden jelly fungi, frequent on gorse around the valleys.
By this time my face felt abraded by the icy blast as I trounced towards the disused reservoir near Ty Abraham Harry (a derelict building). As I did a couple of croaking raven scoffed as they flew overhead. The reservoir was full of water but without any hint of sheltering tufted duck and even a solitary pochard. That was it, I resolved to make it back to the refuge of my car. All downhill through a mosaic of wet and dry heath, molina and acid grassland- not a passerine in sight!