There were three supernatural creatures round where we lived in Wales. Well, at least three that I know of. One was a bit of a celebrity; the Pwca’r Trwyn, who has suffered sadly at the hands of the folklorists- “A PRANKSOME goblin once took up his abode at the Trwyn Farm, in the parish of Mynyddislwyn… he used to make music o’ nights with Job John Harri’s fiddle, and very merry rollicking music it was…”
You see what I mean?
In the way of pwcas, he brought good fortune to the Trwyn until he was crossed, and then caused all sorts of trouble. You don’t mess with a pwca. Folklorists, take note.
Another one was the White Lady, who would be seen wandering around our part of Mynydd Maen …er, o’ nights. The path that ascends to the open mountain from Newbridge (towards the top on this map here, curving round from roughly northerly to easterly) was known locally as White Lady’s Pass. We used to walk up this way to pick whinberries, when we lived down in the town.
The White Lady was usually described as wearing a white Astrakhan coat. I’m not sure how you could tell it was from Astrakhan. But my father saw her, late one night as he returned from drinking at the Double D (the Double D was the name that Cil-lonydd went by; they ran pony treks, and a bar, which became quite a hang out for country and western enthusiasts- for the Queen’s Jubilee they held a rodeo, and two hundred cowboys came down from Coventry for the occasion. They had gunfights in the bar, and argued about who’d shot who first. I saw them drive past in their coaches, stetsons bobbing as the coach bounced on the uneven lane on the way home to Coventry).
Father didn’t say much about the encounter, but he seemed slightly spooked by it. And he was most definite about the Astrakhan coat. (edit) Rufus tells me that father stopped to offer her a lift. She didn’t reply. He noticed that she was barefooted. He thought she was an ‘ignorant hippy’, and suspected that she might have been on the mushrooms.
The third one was the ghost I saw at Hafod Fach. At that time, I was sharing a room with one of my brothers. Simon used to talk in his sleep. Rufus, in the next bedroom along, often sleepwalked. So nights were rarely dull on Marland Mountain.
On this night, though, things were peaceful and still. The full moon was shining in through the window, and illuminating the slag heap and the beech woods across the valley, then Mynydd Islwyn, then ridge after ridge receding into the far west. Every now and then, this was a beautiful place to be.
I was aware of someone coming into the room. I saw them silhouetted against the window. They stood there, and then went out, and I heard them descend the stone stairs and go through the door into the living room below. “Rufus sleepwalking again,” I thought, and followed on down to see that he didn’t get into mischief.
But there was no sign of him.
I went upstairs again, and looked. Rufus was in his own bed, deep asleep.
I thumped myself to remind me that I wasn’t dreaming, and said to myself “Don’t ever let yourself tell you that you only imagined you saw a ghost. This was real.”
I tried to encourage the ghost to reappear, but it didn’t. Ghosts have got lives of their own, I guess.
The Trwyn is deserted and ruined, swallowed up by a conifer plantation. And now Hafod Fach has gone, dynamited into the void of the quarry that dug its way up the valley.