Sunday 12 January 2014


View south from Dinefwr Castle at 9 a.m. yesterday

A welcome break yesterday in the miserable weather - sunshine and quite warm, rare indeed in January - allows for a long walk up and around the Towy Valley, though it is necessary to stick to high ground as the valley floor is treacherously boggy having spent much of the last few weeks under water.

I reach the top of Dinefwr Castle when the sun comes up but hasn't yet chased away the mist in the flat valley bottom, giving a primeval impression to the south (see picture above) with scarcely a visible sign of human influence on the landscape. You could imagine a dinosaur roaming into view.

Looking west (see picture below) you can see signs of human cultivation but there is nothing which would have surprised Rev John Dyer (1699 - 1757) whose poem Grongar Hill arguably kicked off the Romantic Movement - certainly Wordsworth gave the Welshman much credit.

In his poem Dyer describes his view looking straight back at me (except 300 years earlier) from Grongar Hill - the bluff to the right in my photo - including how

Old castles on the cliffs arise
Proudly towering in the skies!

Castles presumably is plural because he also glances west to see the ruins of Dryslwyn.

Cue a third viewer to complete a sort of triangulation, the engraver who captured Grongar from Dryslwyn Castle about 50 years after Dyer. I have an original print (worth about £5 - these are fun to collect and very cheap) hanging in my sitting room. You can see Dinefwr in the distance dead centre, while Grongar is largely hidden behind the ruin in the left foreground...

Incidentally I published a picture in summer 2011 of me clambering over precisely that bit of ruin (the outer gatehouse) here.

Dyer might have liked this combined literary and pictorial exposition as he was a painter as well as a poet. However, churlish though it may be to say so, he actually wasn't much good at either. Judge for yourself here and here.

One of his paintings is of his brother's wife, a member of the ancient Croft family, one of whose ancestors married Owain Glynd┼Ár's daughter Janet...but let's stop there, it's nearly time for lunch.