An article by Steve and Judy Mullard
Relating how they came upon Cwm Du Cottage and moved into the Glasbury Area


Judy and Steve outside Cwm Du Cottage
B Bowker - 10 04 2015

The improving garden at Cwm Du, the cottage is off camera on the left
B Bowker - 10 04 2015

Judy and I moved to Cwm Du in August 2011. We were no strangers to the area, having visited on and off for nearly 30 years. We had many holidays in the area and were first introduced to it by a family friend, Gwyn Gittins, whose own family had lived in Glasbury many years ago before moving to Brecon.
Judy and I had been teachers in Hampshire since the late 1970s and had planned the move many years ago. When all of our three children had left home, we finally retired from the jobs we loved and moved here immediately. Our decision to retire early was further encouraged by the unending onslaught of government initiatives which were in our view undermining and narrowing the rich and creative school curricula that we had invested so much in. Judy was a teacher in a school for 70 pupils aged 2-19 years with severe, profound and multiple learning difficulties and complex medical needs. Stephen was a Primary School teacher.
In the years before we moved, we lived in the centre of Denmead, a village 12 miles from Porstmouth and close to the birthplace of cricket in Hambledon. Villages on the south coast are often very different from those found in Powys. Relatively small until the 1960s, Denmead grew rapidly with new estates springing up around the old village centre. Its population when we left was approximately 6000 but in some ways it was a village. There was only one primary school and this brought the community together as did the very busy Community Centre, Scouts and various football teams which catered for all ages. The village had a handful of shops including a convenience store and several pubs. We lived facing the village Green and Stephen worked in the village school.
We knew the area very well and it was our hope that we might find a property in the Glasbury area that “ticked all the boxes” for us. We wanted a large area for gardening and after many years of being encountered in our garden by inquisitive pupils and their curious parents, a more isolated location did appeal. We were amazed to discover Cwm Du was available. We must have driven past many times on our way up to the Begwns over the years and to live such a short distance away (admittedly, up a rather steep lane!) was very appealing.
We made our first visit and knew even before the agent arrived to let us in that this would be the place for us – bar any insurmountable problems we would encounter inside the cottage. The position, the location, the garden, the dingle - they were all that we had been looking for. Being keen walkers and adverse to using the car unnecessarily, it was good to see that there were many footpaths criss-crossing in every direction around the cottage and the views were sublime. We moved during the school holidays in August and when our colleagues were beginning their new school year, we were already feeling well settled in.
We learnt from Steven at the Waun and Aubrey at Llywnpenderi that the cottage had been uninhabited by the 1960s and had been used as a store. Since then it had been rescued and extended and had three owners, two of whom had used it as a holiday home. Despite this and even perhaps because of it, we had a few necessary jobs to attend to. The roof needed attention as the asbestos tiles on the extension were leaking and the slates were in need of relaying. New floors, staircase, bathroom and kitchen soon followed and central heating was installed. The chimney proved to be in need of attention too as it leaked badly and had to be rebuilt, this time with the necessary lead sills.
We feel very much at home at Cwm Du. Neighbouring families have been very welcoming. Aubrey and Ruth loaned us a fridge freezer when ours was damaged when lightning struck an old hawthorn across the lane and we always appreciate the swedes kindly given to us by Glyn Arrowsmith. We have made good friends at the Harp as regular quizzers and enjoyed the fact that Graham and Robert behind the bar quickly learnt our usual choices and reach for the appropriate glasses as we walk in the door. Quiz night is always great fun and so much more than a potential chance to win the entry fee of £1 back as part of a winning team. The quizzers are a great bunch and they have made us feel very welcome.
We belonged to the local Wildlife Trust in Hampshire and now support the much smaller Radnorshire Wildlife Trust. Stephen is a Trustee and we both turn out each week for the Volunteer work parties who help maintain and develop their nature reserves. We are voluntary wardens for nearby Llanbwchllyn Lake and we have been involved in identifying and surveying the ancient trees in the area. As a result of the latter, The Ancient Tree Forum held a training day at Maessllwch Castle which attracted over 50 people from around the UK. Another interest is lepidopteria, focussing upon moths. Recording through the temporary capture of moths in our moth traps, we have currently recorded over 400 different species in our garden including three which were first records for Radnorshire. Our records are passed on to the County Moth Recorders, Pete and Ginny Clarke, who live in Glasbury.
Keen on all aspects of wildlife, we have spotted an otter in the Cilkenni Brook and been very pleased to see that Tawny Owls, Pied Flycatchers and Grey Wagtails among many other birds have used nestboxes we have put up and Dippers nest regularly in the Cwm Du dingle alongside our cottage. The increasingly rare Spotted Flycatcher has nested twice above a window in the cottage, returning from a 16,000 mile return trip on the same day each year.
The only downside we have discovered to living here are the voles and the squirrels which seem determined to eat all of our tulip bulbs seedlings and young plants in the garden and polytunnel. We are very happy at Cwm Du and hope to spend many more years here.#

Steve and Judy Mullard
04 03 2015