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Byline: To Hear The Skylark's Song A Memoir by Huw Lewis

HE bought me Spotter's books to identify birds, animal paw prints and the different kinds of trees, and I would devour them, reading them over and over and ticking off those I had seen; the paw prints were always in short supply.

On one of these walks, as spring was giving way to summer, while I was clambering amongst the boulders at the foot of the Darren, quite suddenly and seemingly on a whim, my Dad said, 'Come on, Huwcyn, let's go all the way to the top.' And gestured up towards the mountain. I was thrilled. I had never been to the top of the mountain before.

When I was very young I had looked up to the row of trees that stood along the topmost ridge, silhouetted against the skyline. They could be seen clearly from the vantage point of our front doorstep in Cottrell Street. I had always thought them to be an impossibly long way off. I had convinced myself that since they were so distant and yet so prominent they must have great significance, and I had decided that they must mark the border with England.

So we set off uphill, skirting the cliff face of the Darren and following a meandering sheep track through heather and ground-hugging wimberry bushes.

The going was steep and our progress was slow since we had to navigate between dense patches of bracken too thick to walk through. As I kicked along, I disturbed large grasshoppers that bounced off my bare knees, their touch dry and papery. I caught one in the cupped palms of my hand, and when I opened my fingers to take a closer look it kicked itself away into the air.

We stopped on the edge of what must have once been a small quarry, carved into the hillside, its edges now smoothed over by the growth of heather.

> To Hear The Skylark's Song A Memoir by Huw Lewis is published by Parthian, Library of Wales, at PS8.99 CONTINUES TOMORROW

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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Dec 6, 2017
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