WILD WEST WALESTHE GLORIES OF FANOG GORGE SCENES OF THE UPPER TOWY The Fanog Gorge is the wildest and grandest natural scenery in South Wales. How many of my readers have been there, nay, how many know where it is? Twenty years' residence in Wales has confirmed me in the view that among Welshmen, despite their inborn love of the picturesque, an appalling ignorance exists regarding some of the choicest portions of their native land. But perhaps with regard to the Fanog Gorge there may be some excuse owing to its inaccessibility. From the collegiate town of Llandovery there extends in a northerly and north-westerly direction a great wilderness of hill and valley and moor land until you descend upon the great bog of Tregaron, thirty miles away. This tract of country is traversed by the Upper Towy, and its many picturesque tributaries, and its in the heart of it that the great Carmarthenshire river takes its headlong rocky course through the Fanog Gorge. There are three methods of approaching this glorious piece of rock and river scenery, but all necessitate some hard walking. THE APPROACHES To the excursionist from Llandovery the cave of Twm Sion Catti is usually the end of all things. The drive of ten miles to Rhandir- Mwyn is followed by a two mile scramble to the fabled haunt of the famous outlaw. But from here you must walk yet another four miles of uneven ground before you approach the lower end of the Fanog Gorge. Another approach is by a five mile scramble eastward over the mountains from the paradise of the angler, The Grouse Inn at Abergwessin. If you would approach it from the Tregaron side you are faced with at least ten miles of heavy road work against the collar on that wonderful old way which was in ancient days a famous sheep-track, and which traverses this bleak region up and down gradients of one in four from Tregaron to Llanwrtyd Wells, crossing en route the high watershed between the Towy and Irfon Valleys. The great gorge extends for a mile and the Towy rushes through it from north to south. In many places it is very narrow partaking of the of the character of the Californian canyon, and sometimes as much as 300ft to 400ft in depth. The Towy roars and rushes through a succession of rocky narrows into broad pools, which can only be appreciated in many cases by a perilous decent over the steep rocks. WONDERFUL FISHING There is a wonderful fishing in this part of the Towy, and it its doubtless due to the fact that so many of the pools are inaccessible that the fish are left undisturbed. Some of the pools, the natives will tell you, are so deep as to be unfathomable, and certainly there is small wonder for this belief. Brown trout abound in the pools, and in the autumn you may get a sea trout of a couple of pounds in weight. Among the few natives who fish this part of the river the worm is the favourite lure, and I have heard of some big stakes of sea- trout being made by this method; but speaking personally of my experience here with wet fly, I must say that admirable sport may be had. INCOMPARABLE GRANDEUR In some places the rock-bed of the river narrows so much that you may jump across it, but woe betide the man whose foot slips! The scenery of the Fanog is incomparably grander than that of the Yorkshire Wharf at "the Strid" and Bolton Abbey, but un-happily the Welsh River has lacked the services of a Sir Walter Scott to weave around it the spell of romance. During several visits to the Fanog Gorge I have seen it in various moods. I have been there in a world-end deluge, but I have also been there when the gentle zephyrs from the moors cooed softly over the wild cliffs and the glorious summer sunshine illumined that deep gorge to the utmost wonderful effects of light and shadow. And yet! This most glorious piece of scenery remains, so far as I know, practically un-photographed! This statement needs some qualification, for I believe there is a gentleman who lives near Llandovery who has done some good work there with his camera, though I have never seen any of his prints. To the Cardiffian, however, the Fanog Gorge presents a virgin field, and I commend its exploration to the members of the Photographic section of the Cardiff Naturalist Society. But beyond and above its wonderful scenery it has other interests for those of us who love bird and plant life, in which it is particularly rich. Another virtue from the point of view of the jaded townsman is its quietness. I have spent whole days there without seeing another visitor; indeed, there have been one or two of the occupants of a couple of farms which are to be found within a two mile radius. M.A.W. in the South Wales Daily News.
[Article from Llais Llafur (1914) -- Contributed by David Jones]
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