The appropriately named Foliate Head Press has just published a guide to the Llanthony Valley, which runs between Hay-on-Wye and Abergavenny, in the Black Mountains. The Enchanted Valley is a guide to the myths and legends of this beautiful area and notes all the ancient and mystical spots along the route. It also features four green men, in Abergavenny’s Priory Church.
‘Be prepared to lose an hour as you explore the Priory Church because it is home to many beautiful monuments and tombs, one of which boasts four green men. They are tricky to spot on this highly decorated 16th century monument, but once the first is identified, the others become obvious to the eye. The choir stalls date from the 14th century and host several charming carvings of dragons and other mythical creatures.’
There are a surprising number of fascinating places in this valley, which is only twenty miles long, and as the book description says: ‘Driving along the only road through the Llanthony Valley is a joy; the landscape never disappoints. But to experience the Valley properly, one must leave the car and explore, seek out those old places where a certain sense of timelessness tugs at the heart. Taking you on a journey from Hay on Wye to Abergavenny, this book will introduce you to all these places and also the folklore and myths associated with them. It should come as no surprise that this landscape is home to fairies, that the oldest buildings harbour ghosts, or that holy wells have stories of miracles attached to them. Many tales which are firmly rooted in history also sound like folklore — but who are we to deny that they happened the way the storytellers say?’
The author Melanie Warren, has collected British folk tales and ghost stories for almost four decades. She lives in Lancashire but visits the Llanthony Valley each summer, along with family and assorted friends. In a decade of such visits, she has collected a wealth of fascinating information about the area and delights in introducing first-time visitors to the places in this book.
The Enchanted Valley, by M. E. Warren, is available now from Foliate Head Press,
for £9.99 plus postage.