A walk up the mountain

A male Stonechat singing from its Gorse perch
Stonechat (Male)


On Saturday afternoon I found myself walking along memory lane. I decided to go out and walk "up the mountain". Its something we always used to say as kids growing up in Griffithstown but the mountain is actually several big hills known as Mynydd Twyn-Glas and Mynydd Maen that dominate the local landscape above Griffthstown and Sebastopol. The whole area consists of fields, common land and the mountain air area known as Penyrheol. Anyone local will know if you walk along many of the footpaths and lanes you will eventually get to the old Lamb Inn where many a Pontypoolian has enjoyed a tipple over the years ( it now appears to be under renovation and maybe turning into a house.)

I started my journey in Prescoch Lane in Cwmynscoy and walked up the steeply raising lane to the Lamb Inn. The route has some fantastic views across the Cwmynscoy quarries towards the "Harry Potter esque" West Mon Comprehensive School and the "College of Knowledge" at the top of the Upper Race.

Field of Bluebells


There is an amazing field with carpets of Bluebells which is truly beautiful. As a kid, this area of the hill was my playground and I spent many an hour exploring and enjoying the countryside and my walk brought back a lot of memories. I was struck by how beautiful parts of Pontypool are.

The common land at Penyrheol is a substantial amount of Gorse growing on it. This type of habitat is an absolute magnet for birds. It did not take long before I heard the distinctive calls and songs of Stonechats.
The males have very distinctive orangey chests with Black coloured heads. The females are browner and are a lot less colourful. 

Stonechat singing



Close up for a chat


Stonechats are usually easy to spot as they have a fondness for perching on the top of bushes, foxgloves and anything else that sticks up in the air to call and sing from. I had a great time watching them and these little birds get quite territorial and if you are quiet and stay still and low for a while, they can become very accomodating to photograph.

Whilst watching a pair of Stonechats they were suddenly joined by a couple of Lesser Redpolls. It was really good to see them. They are not a species I see that regularly was not expecting them to turn up here.

Lesser Redpoll


Frequently flying over in small flocks were Linnets. They seemed to be quite widespread and I saw them almost all over the common and reading further up towards the Mast.

Dotted around the gorse bushes are small Hawthorn trees that look lovely at this time of year as they are in full bloom. From many of them, I could hear Willow Warblers blasting their tunes out. On some occasions, I was lucky to get some nice shots of them singing away. I was surprised to seem them also using the Gorse to forage.

Willow Warbler



Linnet (Male)


High above the common, Skylarks rocketed up and filled the air with their songs. It really feels summery listening to them singing on the wing. It is a shame that the blissful sounds of nature were spoilt by the sounds of offroad motorcycles and even a 4 x 4 buggy. The landscape is steadily being ruined by offroad vehicles which are leaving huge scars on the mountainside.

I walked to the mast at the top of Mynydd Twyn Glas and the view was breathtaking. Using the big lens I could see as far as Goldcliff Lagoons. The view is forever changing. Looking across Cwmbran the new Hospital "The Grange" really stands out and has become quite the landmark now.

The view from the Mast at Mynydd Twyn-glas


It was then time to head home and I walked back meandering through the fields stopping to enjoy the scenery.

Lockdown has taught me one thing - don't forget your local wildlife patches.

The walks bird species list-
  • Stonechats
  • Linnet
  • Lesser Redpoll
  • Robin
  • Wren
  • Skylark
  • Meadow Pipit
  • Willow Warbler
  • Chiff Chaff
  • Woodpigeon
  • Buzzard
  • Starling
  • Swallow
  • Jackdaw
  • Carrion Crow
  • Blackcap
  • Blackbird
  • Herring Gull
  • House Sparrows

Comments

  1. Interesting that you have (apart from the cuckoo) a better selection of birds than we have out in the wilds of Carmartheshire. My guess is there are a lot less sheep on your mountain.

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    Replies
    1. Yes it is strange. We do have a lot of sheep and there are even Cattle now but for as long as I can remember the common area has always had lots of Gorse. I was looking for Whinchats as sometimes they can be found there.

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  2. That area below the mast was Johnny Williams farm andvthe entrance to his farm was on Cwrdy Road Griff. I used to bird nest around that area as a young teen. Also there was a small pond with an old stone wall around it and was known as " Johnnies Pond". We used to get newts and frogs galore in there.
    A lovely write up bringing back masses of childhood memories for me. Thank you Blair.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Paul. Hopefully you can visit it soon m8

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