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July 2017

 

Before the A40 looped from Abergavenny to Ross on Wye, the route between the towns was on what we now know as the B4521, which rises, falls, twists & turns through lovely bits of nowhere in a way that delights bikers and Porsche-owners.  And before 1772, when it was turnpiked, the road was much more alarming than that...1



Near Abergavenny there’s a short bit you mustn’t miss – because it’s impossible to believe that it was once a coach road.  It dips unnervingly into hollows that a modern 4x4 would find hard to negotiate and in places it’s only seven feet wide.  The builders of this 2-mile stretch seem to have left all emergencies – traffic, brake failure, breakdown – out of their calculations.  The 1841 Census shows two wheelwrights on the two-mile stretch.  No surprise there...

 

 

It dives off the 4521 at SO 388183 and behaves like a tame little country road for a while (#1).  But near Plas Ivor (405186), where there’s a perfect hideaway for someone with flair (#2), it begins to get interesting.  Interesting turns to alarming after Wayne Green.  You even get a tropical flavour thrown in: bedrock below, steep gullies either side all the way to the old Travellers’ Rest Inn beside the ford called Rhyd-y-ago at SO 419183.

 

 

The rollercoaster continues up past Lettravane Farm till it emerges on to the 4521 at “Travellers Seat” (426184), a curiosity that isn’t a seat at all but a stone “notice-board” set into a wall showing distances to nearby towns.  (It omits Abergavenny, the nearest and most obvious!)  It seems to be a labour of love rather than an official milestone and apparently reads:

Travellers Seat erected 1780

to New Inn 2 miles, from thence

to Crickhowell 13 ¾ miles

Brecon miles 12, to Ross miles 10

from thence to Gloucester

miles 16, from Gloucester to

Brecknock 54 miles

 

("Apparently" because the writing is illegible except for “Brecon”2)

 

 

But it appears to be a copy of an earlier labour of love: the following is an extract from “A Gentleman’s Journey into Monmouthshire 1807”:

 

We joined the road at The Travellers Seat, of which no remnant is now left except a large stone, and near it a very small red brick house has since been built where all the distances to the neighbouring places are distinctly marked upon a large board.  The board deserves to be noticed for its singularity and antiquity.  The Travellers Seat was erected above a century ago.



...which of course, throws up more questions than answers!

 

 

Anyone who knows any more, please get in touch.

 

 

1  Not made by drovers, but they surely used it on the way to Ross or Gloucester.

2 The inscription is from The Old Roads of South Herefordshire by Heather Hurley.

July 2017 image 1
Harmless, so far
July 2017 image 2
Des. Res?
July 2017 image 3
Tropical...
July 2017 image 4
...rainforest?
July 2017 image 5
Travellers' Seat