Thursday, 1 June 2017

Old Henllys

A wide green path leads from Llandewi church westwards towards the back of Rhosilli Down, used by drovers centuries ago, it retains a feeling of a forgotten world. Only a few farmers and walkers use it now, and I can often walk all the way to the Down without seeing a soul.  I come here to experience a long-gone age before cars and modern life, which changed everything.  Old Henllys farm dates back to at least medieval times, and hasn’t changed in decades. Limestone walls, feet thick and painted white, are dotted here and there with tiny windows, and a lovely old red door, there’s also what looks like an authentic longhouse attached to the side. An old lady with her snapping terrier lived here until recently, but there are no signs of life now. I pray that this gem can survive the ravages of rich developers, who would no doubt quickly turn it into a holiday home and destroy it forever. There’s so much history attached to this old farm, and I always have the feeling it should be moved to the National Museum of Wales.

The orchard behind the farm still buzzes with life. Birds, butterflies and bees give a hint of what it must have been like before the age of pesticides.  It's early morning and I sit on a limestone rock and wait. I hear no mad-made sounds, only nature interrupts the silence and bird-song is peaking now. Each year I read these nature notes as if dipping into a familiar book.  There are telltale signs of overnight activity too. The pungent smell of foxes drifts in the breeze, and the droppings from badgers and rabbits litter the grass. I search for owl pellets inside the broken down barn and find none, but it’s the next farm along the way where barn owls nest.

A year on and I make another visit. Old Henllys is empty, a high wire fence surrounds the buildings; it’s for sale. Goodness knows what will happen to the old place now, but at least it's Grade II listed.

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