Wales: Here and there and home again

Posted by Clive James on 02/04/2008
Chee Dale. Photo: Derbyshire Wildlife Trust.

Many organisations in Wales have established formal links with similar organisations in the landlocked southern African country of Lesoto; chapels, schools, youth groups and medical centres. With an area of 30,000 square km, it’s about the same size as Wales, but with only 2,300,000 inhabitants somewhat less populated.

Lesoto is the only country in the world whose area is entirely above 1,000 metres. The highest point is Thabana-Ntlenyana (3,482m) on the Drakensberg ridge, which forms the eastern border with the Republic of South Africa. Other peaks above 3,000m include Mont-aux-Sources (3,285m), Cleft Peak (3,261m), Makheka (3,461m), Seqoqo (3,393m) and Makoaneng (3,416m) in the Drakensberg Mountains and Thaba-Moes (3,021m) in the Central Ridge. Some of the mountainous details from Google Earth appear challenging. Are there any mountaineering links between Wales and Lesoto? Is anyone planning an expedition in the near future, which could either forge or cement links?

As Secretary of Clwb Mynydda Cymru, I receive much unsolicited mail. And while our own Plas y Brenin doesn’t include me on their mailing list (maybe they don’t need to promote their activities to Welsh speakers?), Glenmore Lodge in Scotland do. Glenmore Lodge is 60 years old this year, but in reading their prospectus you do not gain much of a feel of any distinct Scottishness, even of the new Pairc Naiseanta a’Mhonaidh Ruaidh [Cairngorm National Park] and the Gaidhlig origin of virtually all local place and physical feature names.

It is, after all, within the historic Gaidhlig “Gaelteachd” [Gaelic speaking area] - with a Gaelic Medium Primary School in nearby Newtonmore and Gaidhlig being taught in Kingussie High School. And as far as I can ascertain the only Gaidhlig speaker training for a career in outdoor adventure is receiving support through Locheilside Outward Bound in Lochaber.

One of the signs that winter is coming to an end is the Llanberis Mountain Film Festival – LLAMFF. In recent years this has been the best weekend of the winter for snow and ice activity – another incentive to attend. The 2008 festival is from 29th February - 2nd March. And as the middle day is St David’s Day, and with 70% of the population of the host community being Welsh speaking, there’s a challenge for the organisers to make the next festival the most relevant ever to the land, language and culture of Wales.
 



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