MEMBERS of the public are now able to walk where once a hermit - and it is said, at least two ghosts - trod.

Four acres of shrub between Troed-yr-Rhiw Farm, Wattsville and the site of two old reservoirs, has been reclaimed by Mr Tony Edwards,72, whose family has farmed the land for centuries.

The valley which runs from Mynydd Islwyn through Mr Edwards' land down to Wattsville has long been the subject of local legend.

He explained:"What is established fact though, is that these woods and secret pathways were the retreat of a hermit in the early Middle Ages who was almost certainly connected with the ancient mountain-top church of Saint Tudors.

"The ruins of his hermitage can be seen to this day (but) what is less documented are the ghosts that several people have seen in the forest glades."

"One is said to be that of a woman in Victorian dress and the other, also a woman, haunting the ancient cart track which once ran up to a house. Some people who have seen her say that she seems desperate to get back to the spot where once her home stood."

The small reservoirs which stood at the South-East end of the valley were filled in forty years ago and the land allowed to return to a wild state.

With help from the Groundwork Trust, People Plus and labour provided by the probation service Mr Edwards has cleared undergrowth, laid paths and put in picnic tables.

He added: "The young people who have helped in reclamation have learned valuable countryside skills for the benefit of those from the Wattsville and Crosskeys area and beyond.

"As a kid I swam and played in the reservoirs so it seemed only fair that a new generation of folk should be take their leisure there."