A celebration of an ancient tradition – beating the bounds in Newport, Pembrokeshire

Beating the Bounds  

First we met amidst the cheerful noise and roar of living,

Squared off in Market Street

The horses shying, nudging nervously,

Eager to avoid lorries, cars, the inconvenient pedestrians.

Saddled up and stirrup cupped, they sally forth, and,

Like some star crossed lovers,

Their paths and the walker’s ways are not to cross again, this day.

It’s a long road to the end of Long Street,

“And miles to go before we sleep”.

The walkers convene, eager to beat, maybe even break the bounds

For we are living history today and the wildly beating western heart of Wales

Resounds, and steers these wilful feet.

Estuary and sea behind us

Swiftly we stride the road of kings

Where Richard once slipped towards Bosworth on paths of glory

And, daring to cross the 21st century once more,

We make our way behind, beyond Hendre farm

The leet singing softly across the centuries,

Testament to engineers of another age.

Stepping stones and hawthorn copses, and

For some a speedy detour around

the long deserted, but still upheld,

stone encircled cattle pound – a mournful story of shillings lost

some here before us were to count the cost.

Its uphill now, and the wind is there to whip us lightly

A few drops of rain to remind us of where we are.

But we are following the flag, in its wind kissed flight.

Resolute, you might say, marching

Towards Bedd Morris, and the standing stone,

Where – for a slither of time and a mouthful of sandwich –

Ennobled by mayor and mayoress, resplendent in red,

We rest, and are thankful:

Apart from one young beaten boy, perhaps,

For his is the freshest mind on show, and, let’s

Make no bones about it, if the young are to remember the ancient boundaries,

They must be beaten soundly for their troubles.

“The youth of today”, echoes down the years,

As the stick swishes in the stiffening breeze,

But this is pantomime only, photographs and cheers – no tears.

Refreshed, and joined by dogs and other new companions

Fresh for the journey, but walking age old paths,

The mountain top soaked in colour,

Purple heathered and gorse honeyed

And the red and white of the flag, breaking the blue grey cloud.

Sheep safely graze, though they, and skulking foxes, rabbits and a small mountain lizard

Might be forgiven for being a trifle amazed at this unforeseen traffic

A Carningli crocodile, a human hazard.

We pass the stone circles that once were home to those long lost,

Skirt the side of “Angel Mountain”, no celestial voices to be heard

But the song of the lark arouses, a buzzard cries and wheels above

Riding the thermals, untroubled by time

Undaunted by history.

The skies open up before us, the sea and cliffs ahead,

Below, Chapels, Manor, Nevern church

Well mannered fields, undisciplined outcrops and wayward woodland,

Many passed those ways, wrote the tapestry of time,

Though for most our life stories remain unread.

For today, the Pilgrim’s Way, is above the valleys

And we’ve time in hand, as downwards, dogs dancing, we are led.

Back to Newport, job done, a stalwart crew,

We salute our standard bearer and make plans to meet

And that evening are rewarded with revelry,

And, later a form of reverence

As the Llwnygwair Arms falls silently to keep watch

Over the time bound tradition, the Court Leet.

Certificated, we walkers, riders too,

Take our place in the boundless tale.

Above us, Carningli sleeps,

Dented by our passing, brushed by our boots, hammered by hoof beat,

The drum and the dragon, magical and mystic, the mountain top steeped in sound.

We, time straitened fragments of history, move forward now, on into our own futures

But today – we made our mark

And companionship, community, purpose and vigour, these are the features.

Abundant memories, to lighten the winter dark.

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2 Comments on “A celebration of an ancient tradition – beating the bounds in Newport, Pembrokeshire”

  1. stew1e says:

    A vivid pen-picture. Very impressive. The best single piece you’ve done, in my humble opinion!

  2. Reblogged this on themarcistagenda and commented:

    Seemed appropriate to republish this as I am leading the Beating the Bounds walk today – August 18th 2017…the 53rd such walk (in modern times, so to speak)


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