Although it might not be obvious at first glance, this is the new Aberystwyth Labyrinth. The site is a former bowling green, next to the current green just to the left that's very well-used by North Road Bowling Club. The second green was surplus to the club’s needs.
A few years ago the Town Council put the idea of constructing a labyrinth here to residents living around the site at a meeting held in the bowling club hall (top left). The residents said they just wanted it left as a grassy area for people to play on so the Council said fair enough and backed off.
However, over time, the area became a muddy quagmire and an eyesore that residents complained about. People playing on it would naturally lose their ball at times over onto the real bowling green and were known to walk across the pristine green in their studded boots to retrieve it.
After a few years of this, the Town Council decided to go back to their original idea of constructing a labyrinth as an amenity area and an attraction, both for local people and for tourists. Because the site can be looked down on from North Road above, it's a very suitable site for some kind of visual attraction.
So the Council ordered 670 wooden poles from local sawmills and 1200 metres of hemp rope. One councillor in particular (who's too modest to want his name mentioned, but it wasn't me) then put in most of the work of constructing the whole thing himself.
The finished article is a rope labyrinth 900m long. That is, 900m to the centre and another 900 back again. If you walk the whole thing it will take about 20 minutes to the middle and back. In the middle is a Mountain Ash tree, donated by Aberystwyth's twin town of Kronberg in Germany, with a seat around it.
The theme of rope was chosen because the area was used to make rope a couple of hundred years ago. A 200 yard passage going right through this area was used to twist the rope. The gap between the houses in Faenor Street where this took place can still be seen.
A quick word about definitions; with a maze, you have different choices of path and can't see the end. With a labyrinth there's one path and you can see where you're aiming for. So what we’ve got here is a labyrinth.
Grass is being allowed to grow in the gaps between the pathways so it’s becoming a more natural area again and, since the work started, 16 species of wild flowers have been found to have seeded. The labyrinth is accessible to the disabled who have an access to start halfway along if they want. There are no concrete foundations so the site can eventually return to how it was.
Now I know this project has incurred the wrath of those who regard anything artistic, quirky or cultural as 'frivolous' or a 'waste of money'. But I think this sort of thing is what makes the world interesting so I hope you'll pop along to walk it.
The Aberystwyth Labyrinth in North Road is due to have its official opening at 11am on Saturday 20th July.