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Pontypool Shell Grotto & The Folly Tower, 04 February 2023

23 of us Merthyr Valley Ramblers including welcome guests enjoyed an interesting 6.5 mile walk today from Pontypool Leisure Centre. Accompanied by Brenda and Jan from Pontypool Park Friends we were led up to the Shell Grotto which they had kindly agreed to open for us. It really was a quite magical place, you have to see it to admire it's intricacy and unique charm, from the bones in the floor to the shells all around. From the grotto we were led up to the Folly Tower, dismantled in 1940 on the order of the War Office so as not to be a landmark for the Luftwaffe. Work commenced on its rebuild in 1990 and it was officially opened by the then Prince of Wales on 22nd July 1994. Whilst at the folly we were met by a lady called Jenny and 2 friends (not planned), Jenny gave a wonderful poetry recital at the top and was clearly very passionate about the folly, her father being instrumental in the process of having it rebuilt, a great bonus on an already great walk. The panoramic views from the top of the folly were fantastic and the weather again was very kind to us. Our group then retraced steps before crossing fields and descending to the canal, after stopping for lunch on a canal bridge we followed the towpath back to our start point. Thank you to everyone who made this a very special walk, we took a small collection at the end and raised £25 which will be donated the ontypool Park Friends who are hugely appreciative of the gesture and will put it to good use in maintaining this wonderful space.