During my life to date, I have lived in several countries (England, Libya, Sierra Leone, Holland, Switzerland, the USA, Wales and Canada) and seen many beautiful sights. As a pilot I have seen many of those sights from angles of which most people have no concept. I have seen the cliffs at Bardia, the dense jungle around Bo, the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau from my office window in Bern and, here in Canada, I have flown over the north shore of Lake Superior and seen the pink rocks in Georgian Bay at the northern end of Lake Huron. I have also seen the stark wonder of the north shore of the St Lawrence river around Natashquan.
These were beautiful views. But while in Wales last week I visited what was my home from home when I lived there: the Black Mountains Gliding Club. Sitting under the gliding field’s tree and staring at the Black Mountains is overwhelming. Driving out of the club through the narrow lanes and taking the road to Abergavenny between the Mynydd Troed to the right and the bald and stark western ridge of the Black Mountains to the left as the sun becomes lower in the sky is, however, the most beautiful natural sight in the world. Even then, the Black Mountains have not yielded everything: take the road from Abergavenny to Hay on Wye along the Llanthony Valley through Capel-y-ffin and be prepared to gasp as you top the ridge near Lord Hereford’s Knob.
In the past I walked almost everywhere amongst those hills and soared in gliders above them for hours on end. But nothing had prepared me for their beauty after an absence of some 11 years.