Talgarth to Pont-faen
This evening I had dinner in Brecon with my sister Eleanor (who I walked with today) and friend Iain (who’d driven from Wokingham). Brecon is going to be on the news a lot in the next few days as there’s a Parliamentary byelection here on Thursday. The talk in town tonight was whether the new Prime Minister would visit tomorrow to campaign for his party’s candidate.
So there’ll be a big media presence here this week, but all gone after that.
That seems very transient to me, and it got me thinking: what in life endures?
After today’s walk, I think three things are hills, hospitals and hope.
All day today, Eleanor and I have been walking past southern Britain’s highest peak, Brecon Beacon Pen Y Fan (886m). We can even see it from the garden of tonight’s B&B.
There’s a comforting permanence about these hills. They’ve been here quite a while and will be here for some time yet.
Something man-made that’s been here a while is Bronllys Hospital, which we visited today, right on 52° North.
100 years ago next year, King George V and Queen Mary officially opened the site as a tuberculosis sanatorium. It was located here because of the sunny climate, the clean dry air and the wonderful surrounding environment (that we witnessed ourselves in the glorious sunshine today).
Now, as the site enters its second century, an incredibly exciting development is underway.
A Community Land Trust (CLT) has been formed to create a Well Being Park (WBP) at Bronllys with a community hospital at its heart. Eleanor and I had a truly inspirational chat with the WBP CLT’s President Lydia Powell and Chair Jacqui Wilding (shown here with their Administrator Jane and their new Project Development Officer Natalie).
The aspiration is for the WBP CLT to become a ground-breaking place for the local community with solutions to their local issues around housing, employment, transport, health and leisure, and all as low carbon as you can get.
The initiative has strong support from the local community (over 400 members and growing), Powys Health Board and Powys County Council, and will be developed in line with “garden city” principles. (Spookily, I passed the world’s very first garden city, Letchworth, earlier on in 52.)
Eventually, it is hoped the Bronllys WBP CLT will begin to address a wide range of local issues around, for example, rural isolation, insufficient housing (for both first time buyers and downsizers), food transport (i.e. local food production), lack of employment opportunities for young people, mental health issues (including support of ex-army), and many more.
It was so exciting listening to Lydia, Jacqui and Natalie. Their hope and positivity, in the face of various different challenges to get the project really flying, were truly awe-inspiring.
It seemed to me that Wales is leading the way here. What really came across was the energy and passion to make the WBP CLT a reality. It may take some time to realise all the aspirations, especially given all the hurdles to be overcome, but there was such a sense of drive to make it happen. Enduring hope.
This chat (at the start of the day as Bronllys is quite close to Talgarth where we stayed last night – see map) really set us up for our day of walking.
So, hills, hospitals and hope. These things endure, and long after the (rather more noisy) short term political shenanigans are over and done with.