Landscape and Settlement in the Area
This article by Jim Perrin was written for the " Country Diary " section of the Guardian on 21st October 2006

A Begwyns Bivouac

After a long day's traverse of the wonderful, wide-horizoned hill country of Radnorshire held within the arc of the river Wye as it spills down from Builth and slips east towards the soft shires of England, I drop down in late afternoon to Painscastle and climb beyond it to The Roundabout, which is the high point of the Begwns. The Brecon Beacons are shining westerly as I wander down to the mawn pool hidden below. The name is a version of the Welsh for peat, and there are plenty of such expanses of water in the folds of these hills. Invariably they're shallow with bulrushes around their margins. This one I remember the farmer creating with a low earth and stone dyke over 40 years ago. The water spread through the hollow into a stand of Scots pine, drowning them, and their dead forms give a stark, melancholic aspect to the scene.
It is offset by the industry of a tractor on the slope above, shaving the dry bracken and stacking it as big terracotta bundles. The work done, it groans and jounces away. I cut and lift a square of turf, make a fire with twigs and small branches from the old pines, and sit on the greensward with my back to a trunk, watching the water. A moorhen bobs into view, its call like a chisel glancing off rock. Sibilant gold crests flit between rushes and pines. A buzzard circles low, suddenly floundering down in a scatter of wings. It rips at whatever small prey it has pounced upon. Dusk fills the hollow with milky shadow, brightening the flames. I unroll my sleeping bag. A pair of mallard fly in. A breeze ripples the water, reflections of the pines sway, and darkness wraps itself around my fire.

Jim Perrin - from the Country Diary section of the Guardian 21st October 2006


Jim is a regular contributor to the Country Diary section of the Guardian alongside his other works of lecturing and publishing books and articles on a mountaineering theme at a practical and philosophical level. The picture shows Jim exploring the remains of Painscastle on Feb 28th 2009.