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Back to Elan Valley…

Words cannot give me a reality
I learned this harshly
They only indicate
They only point
I want to reach beyond words
And I now know only nature can teach that to me…

I have no clue how some people live their lives or spend their time. Maybe it is my autism but I really can’t understand their mindset, their attitude. But conversely, I feel I understand nature and animals. Even I fail to recognise familiar faces, but I always recognise a tree, a dog, cat, or horse.

Driving from Leamington to Elan Valley is calming. From a pretty Georgian English town to the wild mountains of Mid Wales. I have always enjoyed the strangely relaxing and comforting feel of entering the remote landscape. Worcestershire gives way to Shropshire and from there pretty gives way to remote and wild. Clee Hill is big for Shropshire but just another hill for Wales. Arable uplands give way to greater heights, steeper slopes and more sheep as I cross the border. Oddly it reminds me of passing from France or Germany to the Pyrenees, from arable to mountain, from cosmopolitan to distinct culture with its own language. It is a beautiful journey that is a pleasure to drive.

But now, after some uncertainty around Covid rules, I find myself thankfully back in nature. For me, Elan Valley is not a valley, not a reservoir, not even a historical landscape. When I walk on her bones she is a dreamland with a medicine woman soul.

Her body and her soul caresses and comforts me. She is good for my welfare and I’m grateful for her compassion. She draws me in and I want to share this feeling and experience with others too. But part of me shouts no, she doesn’t need too many people, cruel people who won’t take care of her.  However, I needn’t worry, she is a special place and has special guardians whose whole purpose is to look after her. I relax again.

Each time I walk her varied contours she tells me a different story, sometimes about my fears, others about love, sometimes about healing and others about simply letting go. She teaches me to slow down, be aware, smell, hear and let my senses come alive.

Being in her embrace I have learned I need very little, and the important things I already have. She teaches me understanding and not condemnation, she allows me to connect with myself. With this learning, I’m healing and becoming more creative. I feel so strongly I am looking to live around here and share her love and her wisdom with other people…

I have cycled Offa’s Dyke and the Trans Cambrian Way. I have driven to Wales more times than I can remember to mountain bike in the Black Mountains, Black Mountain, Gower, Snowdonia, the borders and countless other wild places. People cycle for many reasons but for me it is about immersion in the countryside, whatever form it takes. So driving to Elan Valley revives these memories as I say thank you God to myself, there is nowhere else I want to be right now. 

I get to Rhayader and remember cycling Monks Trod in the winter, freezing cold and struggling against the wind and rain as all tracks were turned into rivers. It is an incredible landscape. A perverse pain that somehow adds to my character and life. I remember meeting a lone German rider on the trail. He had picked this place as one of the best mountain biking places in the world. 

My new cottage is several miles from my usual one. Because I haven’t a car  I wasn’t able to discover this part of Elan Vally. I start walking to discover this new valley.  Because of Covid and all the rules, I haven’t got any guest but I hope I will have later. I haven’t got my guest but Andy from time to time will share his experience about Elan Valley.

I walk up to Meltem’s cottage with its log fire and art on every spare shelf, hook and wall. It had rained all the way adding to the drama of the journey and my first sight of the dams with water spilling over the slipway. It is a world from Lord of the Rings with Harry Potter stirred in. Meltem tells me about her shamanic drumming, new mandala dot art and Jungian philosophy course. It all seems to fit this landscape.

The sun is streaming through the window, highlighting dust dancing in the air. The crow knocks the window most mornings, angry at the invisible glass barrier. For me, he is saying you have to wake up. Dogs barking as usual and the winds symphonic morning song. You can’t wake up unhappy in here, really you can’t. It’s impossible. 
But we learned another lockdown is coming… It was a nightmare for me… They may say  “you should go back” I couldn’t sleep… but Eluned said that I can stay two more weeks in the Hen Dy cottage… I'm able to stay two weeks in my dream house and these time I will stay alone…I believe it could be the best lockdown for me… In Elan Valley in the cottage and alone… Thank you, goddess, this is the best present I have this year… 

All the words in italics have been written by Andy Parker


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