A Special Hike: From an Industrial Past to Nature & Wildlife…

This is a journey that goes through past human industrial endeavours and follows the return of nature to the area.  The aim of this blog is for it to act as a simple guideline for an interesting walk that explains the area in two ways: Past history and nature…

Each part of this walk goes past a piece of landscape that played a significant role in the areas history. What might look like a natural pond or a stack of rocks, is often a relic that was used to contribute to an industrial machine in a rural open landscape. 

Start at Garn Lakes, Keeper’s Pond and the Blorenge Mountain – TAKE A MAP!

discover the transformation of Garn Lakes

discover the transformation of Garn Lakes

This is a route that starts in an area renovated and reclaimed for nature.  The journey starts from Garn lakes (Garn-yr-Erw), via keeper’s pond and onto the Blorenge Mountain.  It’s a walk that wonderfully defines the success of the Forgotten Landscapes project, which has contributed to success of the Blaenavon World Heritage Site.

The best place to start from is Whistle road car park next to Garn Lakes, which are lakes transformed over the past couple of decades.  In the 1990’s the lakes were part of a recreation scheme that transformed the area from a dirty coal polluted wasteland into clean lakes.

Wildlife around the World Heritage Site

Wildlife around the World Heritage Site

The lakes are surrounded by tip spoils, which are relics of Blaenavon’s industrial past.  The area is now a local nature reserve, which covers 40 hectares of lakes and grassland.  Now a days it’s easy to spot the wonderful variety of wildlife around.  In the area there are plenty of birds both native and some that have migrated from Africa such as; Tufted Ducks, Skylarks, Snipes, Redshanks and Little Grebes. It’s a spot that has started to become a birdwatchers paradise!

The lakes and spoils are a wonderful example of the work undertaken by volunteers who have successfully helped reinvigorate an all abandoned industrial area.

There are a number of walks that start from Garn Lakes, but for an example of when history and nature come together this is the perfect walk that defines it very well.

The Walk…

Leave the car park and go across the main road, then follow the track in the same direction for about 350 metres until you get to the Dyne- Steel Incline.

Around the Blorenge

Around the Blorenge

The Dyne-Steel Incline is an area that was once an old tram road and Iron Mountain Trail used for transporting materials during the industrial boom years.  It goes along a series of streams that may have emerged as a result of the recreational scheme to clean up wastewater.  Follow the trail along in a north-easterly direction, part of the walk goes past the site of ‘Winding House’.   Keep walking and the path then heads south of Pwll-Du Quarry.  The quarry is another fine relic of past human endeavors in the area, where material was extracted.  After the quarry the path goes above Balance Pond, the pond was used to store water for a “counter balance lift” that raised and lowered trams to the quarry.

Eventually the route will head in a southerly direction towards the B4246.  Cross the road and keepers pond (Pen-fford goch pond) is directly over the road.  The pond was built in the early 19th century to provide water for Garnddyrys Forge.

For some of the best views at the Bleanavon World Heritage Site head to the trig point on top of Blorenge Mounain.  From keepers pond head south along the B4246 until the “Foxhunter Car Park” appear, take a left and head towards the car park.  From the car park be sure to stop by the Foxhunter Memorial where the famous racehorse is buried.  Then embark north towards the trig point on top of Blorenge Mountain.  Once at the top, soak of the glorious views of the valleys towards the south and the Black Mountains to the North.  Keep your eyes open for red grouse and enjoy the nature and wildlife of the area.

Views of the Black Mountains from the Blorenge

Views of the Black Mountains from the Blorenge

This is a walk that offers a wonderful insight to the lands of south Wales, that were once alive with industrial activity which has now ceased.  In the past rumbles of machinery and mechanic would have been heard from afar, but now nature is back and the whistles of birds and the winds of the mountains have taken over once again.