Today I headed out on a Welsh Cob named Seren with Charlie Pollak, a long-time trekker, who has been leading riders in this rural section of West Wales for over 35 years. Charlie rode Top Gun. I was in for some great stories and scenery during my ride with Charlie.
There are lots of other guests from the U.S. and Britain here on the Welsh Countryside Ride to ride as well. A few of them come yearly, which is nice to hear. Leslie, who runs Caeiago and is a really good cook, keeps everyone well fed with big breakfasts, nice packed lunches for the trails, afternoon tea and sweets and a scrumptious dinner.
Charlie led me down the road to a spot where we would begin our climb into the Cambrian Mountains. We trotted and bit. I was able to find out more about the area, as we passed quaint old stone farmhouses. Leslie, who grew up in the area, is Charlie’s daughter. This being a sparsely populated section of the country, Leslie’s entire school when she was growing up had about 20 people. I can’t even fathom a school so small. Things have changed a bit now, but the class sizes are still super small. Most people in the area make their living farming. Many have sheep, which dot the mountains and green pastures.
The dirt road that we followed to trek up to a high spot was on the edge of a hill with a steep drop off on the right side. As Charlie and I trekked uphill side by side, I pondered my position on the edge. I actually felt quite safe, until Charlie told me about a time when his horse spooked and he went over the edge! I would be find on Seren though, who was the perfect mount for the day- just spirited enough.
As we climbed up higher the views got better and better. On one side, I was looking at a rugged mountainside and the other, a patchwork quilt of beautiful countryside. We cantered around on a trail on top of the mountain, before having our lunch at the top amid panoramic views of an old Roman road below and peaceful rural countryside. Charlie told me that Romans to this area seeking gold. There are gold mines in the area still.
We climbed still higher to a cairn, before heading across the muddy moors, into a forest and to a mountain lake. The forests here are quite nice, as the floors are blanketed with moss and lichen. It is quite cool and pretty. All of this green growing everywhere is because of the abundant rainfall. We, thankfully, did not get rained on during our trek.