With temperatures rising, many are looking for ideas to enjoy walks and days away in Wales’s beautiful, tranquil countryside.
Country Diary Wales
With Country Diary Wales, John Gilbey has compiled an inspirational collection of 50 of his personal “sojourns” from his home near Aberystwyth. The text is conveniently divided into seasonal walks with details of local history, geographical location, flora, fauna and wildlife.
This layout encourages the reader to appreciate the beauty of such areas as Dolgellau, Comins Coch, and Aberaeron at different times of the year.
John has centred his walking experiences on the West Wales countryside of Ceredigion. With additional walks in the neighbouring areas of Powys, Gwynedd and Pembrokeshire.
He takes full advantage of the refurbished Ceredigion Coastal Path. Great for those travelling by bus, car or motor home to plan circular walks. However, it is an oversight that the author has not included grid or GPS reference details for each walk. In addition, it would benefit the reader to have information on key issues such as the degree of difficulty of access, public transport and parking. Which are essential for planning these walks.
Despite these omissions, the quality of John’s descriptive advice is evident. He conveys the beauty and tranquility of a quiet morning in April by the Afon Teifi at Cilgerran. His exhilarating and vivid original photographs enhance the walks even further. The pictures of the robin as the “sitting tenant” in the old garden shed and later relocated to a bird box exemplify how the author mystically conveys the awe and wonder of nature that we sometimes overlook in the hustle and bustle of life.
The experiences John recalls are delightful. Particularly the Llwybr Cynwch (precipice Walk), the views of the Mawddach Estuary standing on the cliff top above Aberarth. Or the moments of enjoying the coastal path into Aberaeron and observing the outstanding sunsets.
This publication is truly inspirational with its detailed descriptive information. John Gilbey is to be congratulated on the quality of his descriptions and outstanding photographs.
The last 12 months have seen an upsurge in Wrexham’s nationwide profile. A royal charter awarded the town City status in May 2022 and a visit from Charles the Third and the Queen Consort followed.
However, the spotlight shining on the owners and exploits of Wrexham Football Club has put these events in the shade.
Wrexham has become a major media focus of attention since Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenny purchased the football club. A thrilling journey to the promised land of the football league.
The “buzz” they have generated has turned Wrexham into “the place” to visit and be seen. Celebrities such as David Beckham, John Cleese, Will Ferrell and Alan Shearer have recently sat in the Racecourse stands to watch the team play.
The city has also seen an influx of visitors from around the globe, particularly from America. Many of them visit the Racecourse and the Turf pub and ask, “What else is there to see in Wrexham?”.
David Ebsworth has co-ordinated an exhilarating 20-point self-guided walk called Wrexham Revealed. The book brings the city’s history alive by revealing key aspects that affected Wrexham in the past and are still evident today.
The author highlights how Wrexham’s unique industrial, cultural, religious and social history developed from its origins as a market town.
The author guides the walker from the starting point at Wrexham Museum. Creating a social link of the original building to the enquiry into the devastating explosion at Gresford Colliery, which claimed the lives of 266 men and boys. Wrexham has endured its share of tragedies as an industrial area based on lead and coal mining, iron production, steel, leather, bricks and an army base.
The author notes the stained glass windows of St Giles and the beauty of St Mary’s Cathedral.
He tells how premises have been transformed to meet changing social needs, such as the former Mine Workers Institute on Grosvenor Road, now an Islamic Cultural Centre and Mosque, and Llwyn Isaf, the home of Wrexham library.
I was disappointed that the author and editors occasionally failed to give reasoned explanations for modern developments. For example, when drawing readers’ attention to the facilities at Waterworld, he doesn’t note the research-based reasoning for the closure of the diving pool area. The resultant upgrade of facilities catered more effectively to the changing fitness, mental health, medical and social needs of a diverse customer base.
The guidebook was produced in conjunction with Gwyl Geiriau Wrecsam – The Wrexham Carnival of Words.
I did note the foreword is in monoglot English and thereby fails to draw the attention of walkers and visitors to the resurgence of the Welsh language within Wrexham.
In contrast to literature in other Welsh towns and cities, It doesn’t include a key list of Welsh words and phrases. The text offers no comment or historical reflection of the struggle for a response by the local authority to the growth in demand for Welsh medium education.
The success of Welsh medium education in the area has resulted in nine Welsh medium primary schools, the Welsh medium secondary school at Ysgol Morgan Llwyd. Alongside Welsh medium courses at Coleg Cambria and Prifysgol Glyndwr University.
The active use of Welsh around the town should be highlighted as significant in Wrexham’s history and not ignored.
Walkers who make use of this handbook deserve clarification and reasoning in terms of the social significance of the “graffiti” painted on the walls of Saith Seren (Cofiwch Dryweryn) and the Fat Boar (Yma O Hyd). The people of Wales’ struggle for the status of their language must be clear for it to resonate with visitors.
The guidebook has many outstanding features. However, the editing team must address the failures mentioned above. These detract from an otherwise excellent historical and pictorial picture of “Wrexham Revealed”.
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