Comin Coch, along with the larger, adjacent Comin-y-Garth, is in the old parish of Llafanfawr and one of a number of lowland heaths rising north of the Irfon towards Elenydd. It seems as good a place as any to come and watch the fading of the year, providing, as it does, a view of much of the ancient counties of Brecknock and Radnorshire. Along with the Cambrian Mountains, there are also fine views of the Beacons and Black Mountains to the south. To the west is the great bowl of the upper reaches of the Irfon, above which the sky is cut by an advancing front, it’s dark edge feathered and menacing.
Grazing on these commons has been haphazard and sporadic in recent decades and the former heath is now dominated by bracken. There are a few ponies and a small number of sheep. A wetter, low-lying area to the west of the site has been encroached by rush, birch and willow and it is from here that most of the dusk chorus emanates.
A small enclosure towards the northern edge of the site is bounded by a hedge. This is evidently still used, the grass within having been grazed this year and the hazel still managed. The single field is traversed by a stream which drains the nearby wet area. As I work my way Along the hedge, a hare stands and moves out from rough grass. I stop and he slows, his black-tipped ears moving amongst the occasional bracken.
In the south-east of the paddock stands a tight group of larch and scots pine. They are large, old specimens, some of which have fallen. In the past, groups of trees like this were used to indicate that overnight grazing was available for cattle being driven to London.
In an opposite corner stands a house, itself enclosed within a hedge long since grown out. This is Ty Newydd. A simple dwelling around three hundred years old, it had two rooms up and down. The stairway still stands and wallpaper still hangs in the upstairs rooms. One end of the house has fallen away and what remains of the roof is broken. It looks as though a Barn Owl makes occasional use of one of the beams and there is evidence of bats. It’s said that the occasional tramp still passes through. Near the house stand two large pendulous pear trees, their broken limbs lying about amongst the nettle and gorse.
A friend tells me that Ty Newydd was inhabited until about the 1940s by a man with a wooden leg and a blue cow. Until recently there were those living across the common who remember him. Where Comin Coch meets Comin-y-Garth there stands Ty Coch. Until the 1960s two sisters lived here together until they fell out. So the house was divided in two with each occupying an upstairs room and animals downstairs. One had a cow, the other a few sheep. The sister owning the sheep would wander the common clothed in its fleeces.
The northerly wind is keeping the rain to the south. Here, amongst the larch and pine, the dusk is momentarily halted as, through a gap in the clouds, a yellowed light provides a parting view across the hillside. Beyond, the silhouette of Elenydd rears up as the light fades and this once-peopled land, further drained by the season, is lost from view. Overhead a Tawny Owl echoes a call from the river below. I leave the shelter of the trees where I have stood for some time and descend to a hedge gate which I close behind me.
Simon Allen. Bwthyn Llwyfen, Llanfair ym Muallt, 2016.