And as many people put their thoughts to a new regime of Health and Fitness in January, I took the opportunity of visiting another relic of Llanelli's history, the Old Castle Exercise and Fitness track. I have walked around the Old Castle fields many times and recall times from the past when I had taken the opportunity of running around the track and using the equipment that was built, open and free, for any passer by to use. Try as I might, I cannot find any records on Google of the building, financing, or the later dereliction of the track - but parts are still there to be seen.
Early sunshine rising over Old Castle ponds. Another Llanelli Blogger Robert Lloyd informs me that the Pond is over 40 feet deep in places, a place full of danger in the icy weather.
Indeed, I recall from my early days as a constable in Llanelli, assisting in the recovery of a body from the water. Details are blurred now, but the general consensus was that the deceased had fallen in, possibly drunk, while trying to climb around the metal railings that used to separate the grounds. It was a regular short cut from one end of town to the other. But the fencing required a little athletics to swing around over the water.
Yes, I was much younger then, still thinking that I would improve my general health by exercise, a concept I still endeavour to grow out of ... But the start of the Fitness Track - part of an all-Wales drive for better health as I recall -there is still a block of rock and it is clear where the plaque used to sit... Now it is but a lump of stone.
|once there was a sign here|
Looking out over the fields -a lonely post shows the start of the trail. I always used to run it anti-clockwise, I think that was the way it was laid out. And so today I follow the path - though the track itself is lost in the grass and the trees.
The balance bars as still in place. Covered in lichen and a little slippery underfoot in the damp of the morning but still serviceable.
This one has lost one of its struts, but it is almost at ground level. I recall them as being in a zig-zag, having to walk from one to the next - but there is little sign of this any more.
Here I think was a joint between two sets of balance bars - but only an empty pop bottle adorns the place now.
Turning the first corner and a quarter of the route completed - three lonely poles still stand proud against the treeline. Once they held bars to swing on and somersault over. The highest used to be for Chin ups. Now there are no connectors - just the three poles.
Nothing else appears down this stretch. the trees are higher than I remember and there is no sign of the track which may well be hidden between those trunks. Turning the next corner, the treeline now parallels the old railway track, now the cycle path...
and along this stretch are the parallel bars - still in place and still usable.
Two posts however also stand along the line - and I have no idea what they were for ... no marks to show what was connected to them.
And so we reach the Old Castle Ponds again and a circuit of the track has been completed.
So - with one last look from the cycle track back onto the exercise fields -
I return under Sandy bridge the way I came. Certainly no fitter than when I arrived this morning, but having captured one more little part of Llanelli before it disappears entirely.
Now I think I will go back to my researches and see if I can find any photographs from the past to fill in the gaps that are my memory...