Over the past two centuries
the South Wales Valleys have gone from idyllic rural landscape to
the engine room of the British Empire to post industrial decline.
Building on the success of their book Walking Cardiff, Peter Finch
and John Briggs explore how the Valleys have changed, and how they
are evolving for the twenty-first centuries in their new book Walking
As centres of coal mining
and iron and steel-making, the Valleys saw over a hundred thousand
people crammed between their steep sides. Their industry produced
not only fuel and products exported around the world, but also archetypal
working class communities, with their chapels, union militancy, self-funded
workers institutes, and seemingly unbreakable identities. Fuelled
by massive immigration, they were also a social experiment in assimilation
and radical politics.
Now the pits and foundries
have become heritage sites, the chapels are retail centres or housing,
and Finch and Briggs explore how the Valleys have changed, and what
they have become. Their forward-looking book is also one of record,
as the towns and villages evolve into the twenty-first centuries.
This is their take on Abercynon, Aberdare, Aberfan, Bargoed, Caerphilly,
Gelli, Gelligaer, Merthyr Tydfil, Pontypridd, Porth, Rhymney, Taffs
Well, Tonypandy, Treherbert and Ystrad Mynach.
The informative texts can
be used as both a route finder and a literary entertainment in themselves.
John Briggs's lively photographs provide further detail and each walk
is illustrated with a map. Armchair walkers will find the book as
interesting and as useful as those actually pull on their boots. And
natives and visitors alike will find a new discovery around every
photo John Briggs
The Valleys : an immersive rambling guide to south Wales, from Aber
to Ystrad -
Following on from 2019s
Walking Cardiff comes writer Peter Finch and photographer John Briggs
followup/breakout book Walking The Valleys, in which we are once again
entertained and educated as we traverse routes and roads, byways and
bridle paths, from Aber to Ystrad. But which Aber and Ystrad? (Youll
have to read the book to find out).
Once again, Finch is the I and Briggs the eye; both are the feet,
as they walk, wind, and wend their way, snapping and yapping (we imagine)
merrily. The writing is intelligent, lively, and lyrical, offering
up fact with literary flair; the accompanying images are iconic and
inspiring, but with a slightly skewed, individual and unique angle,
as to be expected of this expert photographer, and one who has worked
with Finch on previous tomes.
Altogether this equates
to a superb gift, even if you dont wish to venture out in person.
Walking The Valleys is an immersive guide that will take you there
anyway, and you can lose many hours within its wide-scape pages, enjoying
facts and fascinating insights. How the south Wales valleys have changed
since their coal mining past is extremely interesting, and the fact
that these places are a short train trip or even cycle away makes
them very tempting to take a visit to. An excellent addition to Finchs
series of psychogeographic guides, and highly recommended.
Mab Jones in Buzz
We Took - View
the interactive maps at Plotaroute
Gelli 4.33 miles
Well 3.24 miles
online at £14.99
all good bookshops & from Amazon
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