It was a Sunday morning at 10.30am when I left the house, the forecast was cloudy but dry, my appointed task, was to meet Nick at the bridge over the river Usk near the Chart House Inn, a few miles from Llanfair Kilgeddin. I cycled up Jerusalem lane and then to Glascoed, where I turned up Rumble St. toward Goytre, I then carried on down the lane to Chainbridge and then up the main road to our meeting place. I had allowed one and a half hours to do this trip, but managed it in just over the hour, so I rode down a narrow lane to look at a church, as I cycled back twenty minutes later Nick was there, he was a bit surprised when he saw me coming from this direction, he did not tell me at the time, but he had been following my tracks all the way and that he fully expected to see me waiting there. We wanted to avoid the scores of motorcycles, that hog the main roads of this area on a Sunday, so we set off up a quiet lane to Coed Morgan and then to a small village called Llandewi Rhyderch, with no map we were lost for a while, but all was quiet, except for the occasional dog barking. We eventually found our way to Abergavenny, where we stocked up with food and drink. We then started the ascent into the heart of the Black Mountains, first Bettws and then Forest Coal Pit, where Nick remembered his school trips there many years ago. I have to admit I was not in good form and did do a bit of moaning about the seemingly never ending climb, Nick was having no such problems and I think I got on his nerves a bit. We arrived at Pont Escob in the late afternoon, we were at the crossroads for Llanthony, the Gospel Pass, the road back to the Skirrid Inn and our route toward Patrishow. I am not a keen on Llanthony, I think an old ruined abbey would be better off without a pub in it, I have not been to Patrishow and I was keen to see it. The road from here is steep and I was not coping well, but thankfully is very short and we quickly ascended the climb of a mile or so to level out and then drop down into a small valley. As soon as we cast our eyes on the church of Merthyr Issui all our efforts were worth while. It really is quite spectacular, this small mediaeval church clinging to the side of the Gader mountain range is a certainly a sight to please any weary traveler! Below the church is the secluded holy well of St. Issui ,as we approached, it was an eerie sight, there were many crosses made of twigs and branches hanging in the trees and the well had bits of cloth over it. This place had been a pilgrimage point before Christianity and it held a certain sacred atmosphere. Issui was an early Christian priest, who lived near the well and gave hospitality to pilgrims, he was unfortunately murdered by an ungrateful traveler. A house of worship has been on this site for over a thousand years, legend has it that a continental traveler was cured of leprosy here and left much gold to build the church. We looked around the quiet chapel, which has a good example of a rood screen, this building probably dates from the 13th century. This location must have been remote in those days, the access to it now is pretty dreadful, it must have been a lot worse in those days. After a drink and a blackberry and apple pie we started back, it was either the sanctity of the well or the fruit pie but I hit a sound pace on the road to Abergavenny, where we ate a kebab, which revitalized me even more ! I was even able to lead out the sprint home along the main road to Llanellen and then on the tranquil lane to Croes Llanfair. It was now dark, I remarked to Nick that this had been a classic ride, he seemed to think this was funny, after my earlier moaning. We arrived in Goytre to take on drink from the shop, after that we cycled along the lane that follows the canal to Mamilhad. We then hit the main road to New Inn, we arrived back in Croesyceiliog at 7.30pm....60 miles.
Click on the photos below to see full size !