What Are The Valleys?

rhonddaI haven’ quite finished my current series on Church-Planting Lessons yet, but I’ve decided to start another little series of posts about one of the most intriguing, captivating and forsaken areas of the UK – the South Wales Valleys. Obviously the Valleys are very close to my heart as I was born here, I live here and I’m planting a church here. But I’m curious to know how the South Wales Valleys are perceived from those outside, especially those from the larger Welsh towns and cities.

Many seem to associate the Valleys with poverty, crime and social disorder akin to the inner-city (with good reason). Some are more prone to focus on the countryside, the breath-taking views (and of course the sheep), and therefore consider the valleys to be more of a rural area. A third opinion regarding this region is that it is a unique blend of urbanised squalor and rural beauty – a bizzare paradox of deep despair and strong, community, marking it as a region perhaps unlike any other in the UK.

So what are the valleys?

I’m asking for a little bit of audience participation from you lot out there in blogville!

Basically how do you percieve the Valleys?

a) Urban

b) Rural

c) Unique

Feel free to comment and add your own thoughts…

4 thoughts on “What Are The Valleys?

  1. Hi Dai,

    good question. I guess my ans depends on what you mean by each of those options. They are rural in that they are in the countryside. I look out of my window in Ogmore Vale and see sheep and trees and countryside and forest etc.

    But they are not rural in the sense that I live on a farm surrounded only by fields and there’s no one or nothing for miles around. Rather, I live in a closely packed terraced street. I look out of my other window straight into the front room of the house opposite. In which case it is almost urban because we live so close together.

    But at the same time, it is not urban because I know the names of the people who live around me. And most people I see I say hello to, and people recognise me for simply walking my dog every day. That wouldn’t be the case if I lived in Central London.

    So I reckon ‘unique’ is my answer.

  2. I was interested to see your Blog on the Valleys.

    I’m an outsider being English,Middle Class and living in Cardiff. My views are mixed. Those people I know from the valleys are very friendly. They could not be more welcoming. However they tend to be my parents age eg 70+ and again middle class. Lawyers, Bankers, Accountants etc. Whilst my experience has been positive at the same time the thought of the valleys is frightening. For example there’s no way I would just go for a pint in a town centre on a Friday night for fear of getting my head kicked in! In my mind another world starts as soon as you go over Caerphilly mountain.

    Keep up the good work.


  3. Hi mate,
    The Rhondda Valley is looking beautiful in the snow today.
    I’m reminded of growing up just outside of the valleys. We would venture from time to time past Pontypridd into the run down, often overcast valleys. But most of the time would travel in the opposite direction to the bright lights of Cardiff.
    I certainly remember travelling up to play Porth in Rugby. I guess we were a team of relatively middle class kids, although we were playing for a ‘rough’ team ourselves, Porth were frightening. I remember emerging from a scrum to look up and see their prop pointing and laughing out our hooker who had a streaming bloody nose, the prop had just smacked him full force in the nose when the hookers arms were tied between the two props!
    Now I live just up the Road from Porth and teach drums at Porth Comp. The kids are great, and Porth on a Sunny day can be a unique place. New buildings and new roads are being built which link it to the rest of the world!
    I guess my point is, we fear the unknown if we are outside a place, and we often get a pre-concieved idea from small glimpses into the culture, but normally there is more to a place than first meets the eye.
    Did you know there are 34 villages in the Rhondda Valley!

  4. Well, I’m a Merthyr Girl! and well proud of it! although I live in Brazil right now!
    My answer is: definitely UNIQUE!
    When I think of the ‘Valleys’ in general I think of tons of close close CLOSE-KNIT families and communities, so much diversity – in people and in the land, hope rising and also that there is lots of change but the roots of the past go deep.

    I agree with Mark about fearing the unknown…I know that the Gurnos is renown for it’s criminal activity…but I was always so shocked when peeps from outside the Merthyr area talked about how frightened they were of the Gurnos because of course, I have friends who live there and I don’t fear it at all…

    I love the Valleys. and I ache to think of how much I miss them. I especially miss the train journey from Merthyr to Cardiff down the Taff Valley…loves it i do! beautiful

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