The Gwaun River ran parallel to my path, flowing under the Pontfaen access bridge and cutting across the plains like a tectonic plate. Another relic of the Ice Age, the river is home to gray wagtails and divers, and, according to author David Barnes in The Companion Guide to Wales, one of the otter’s last refuges. I didn’t spot an otter, but a local gentleman greeted me warmly and, after a short chat, suggested I go to the Dyffryn Arms – known locally as Bessie’s Pub – to see where many spend the New Year “for fireworks and drink!”.
Bessie’s, which has been in the same family since 1840, is currently run by Bessie Davies, a non-agenarian who has been serving beer since her 20s. The small bar, which is, in fact, the front room of her house, contains brown and black chessboards, a few church pews, wooden tables, a fire that warmed the coals, and international banknotes from visitors stuck to the walls. It’s not just the design of the pub that is a relic of the past. Without a formal bar, Bessie and her family serve beer through a roof in the wall, pouring directly from a keg into a container. Apart from a few snacks, there is no food here – except at Hen Galan.
“Families come to the pub [in the evening] to have a few drinks, some food and that’s it [have a] singsong,” said Nerys Davies, Bessie’s granddaughter. piece… There will be [always] be someone out there with a guitar and a keyboard,” McAllister told me.
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