Shepherding in Cwm Rhaeadr

The Shepherd’s viewpoint

Shepherding has played a role in Cwm Rhaeadr for centuries. Today in the 21 St century we drive our sheep up on the same route as our forefathers -Rhiw Cagle in Welsh. This track is as steep and bleak as ever and as we grow older we tend to become wiser and thus our ascend of the mountain is much slower giving us the opportunity to appreciate the spectacular views from this viewpoint. The Cambrian Mountains to the left, the Eppynt Ranges in the middle and the Black Mountains to the right and immediately below is Cwm Rhaeadr leading to the beginning of the Tywi Valley

Cwm Rhaeadr has always been associated with Mynydd Mallaen with many a shepherd living in this valley and also the washing and dipping of sheep occurring at various points on this stream.

One of these shepherds was William Jones (grandfather to Miss Annie Jones, The Lamb, Cil-y-cwm and great grandfather to Mr Hedley Thomas , Penstacan) William Jones was a large and very strong man and while living in Clynglas, by Soar y Mynydd was challenged to show his strength and endurance. He did this by carrying a pig from Tregaron to Clynglas on his back.

He eventually moved to Cae’r Ceffyl where he became a shepherd on Mynydd Mallaen. There is also a story of how he would climb up the mountain through all weathers as part of his employment. He would often have an apprentice shepherd and the story goes that one of these apprentices was unable to withstand the harshness of the Autumn and Winter on Mallaen and he eventually died of pneumonia.

Today’s farrning methods do not require a fulltime shepherd but the severity of the Welsh weather still ensures that Cwm Rhaeadr provides shelter from the gales and driving wind. Problems arising from this include sheep eating too many acorns – usually death follows Also the volume of water coming off the mountain at certain periods can lead to erosion and damage to fences thus allowing the sheep into the forested area.

Therefore Cwm Rhaeadr is a sanctuary . Long may it be so for man and animal.