Towyn Farm Annual Gathering – The Crazy, Lazy, Hazy Days of Summer   4 comments

July and the end of the school summer term always means a trip to Towyn Farm campsite and its glorious beach.

 

This year me an TJS were the advance party, setting up camp on the Friday night. The Funsters were up in Blackpool for a cheerleading event that TJS was taking part in. They joined us very late on the Saturday night and they didn’t miss much. It was possibly the dullest, dampest, dreariest day of the whole summer. We took a coastal walk and climbed a 100m hill that was in the cloud. I made several attempts to create some photographic record of the day but this is best one I could manage

beach games, carn fadryn, lleyn peninsula, Morfa Nefyn, Porth Towyn, tidepooling, towyn, towyn farm, Welsh Coastal Path

I had to head home to work for a couple of days on the Sunday evening but at least the weather improved markedly with an early fog clearing into a glorious afternoon on the beach and evening BBQ by the tent.

beach games, carn fadryn, lleyn peninsula, Morfa Nefyn, Porth Towyn, tidepooling, towyn, towyn farm, Welsh Coastal Path

beach games, carn fadryn, lleyn peninsula, Morfa Nefyn, Porth Towyn, tidepooling, towyn, towyn farm, Welsh Coastal Path

beach games, carn fadryn, lleyn peninsula, Morfa Nefyn, Porth Towyn, tidepooling, towyn, towyn farm, Welsh Coastal Path

beach games, carn fadryn, lleyn peninsula, Morfa Nefyn, Porth Towyn, tidepooling, towyn, towyn farm, Welsh Coastal Path

The sunset (a real theme for this trip and blog post) was magnificent

beach games, carn fadryn, lleyn peninsula, Morfa Nefyn, Porth Towyn, tidepooling, towyn, towyn farm, Welsh Coastal Path

beach games, carn fadryn, lleyn peninsula, Morfa Nefyn, Porth Towyn, tidepooling, towyn, towyn farm, Welsh Coastal Path

By the time I returned on the Tuesday evening we were in the grip of a summer heatwave!

beach games, carn fadryn, lleyn peninsula, Morfa Nefyn, Porth Towyn, tidepooling, towyn, towyn farm, Welsh Coastal Path

beach games, carn fadryn, lleyn peninsula, Morfa Nefyn, Porth Towyn, tidepooling, towyn, towyn farm, Welsh Coastal Path

Everyone else in our little troupe arrived through the week and the the heat and wall to wall sunshine was such that we didn’t go any further afield. Just long lazy days messing about on the beach, playing sports and swimming in the sea. It was hot enough to need the sea swims to keep cool, not often you can say that in the UK. The photos tell the story better than words

beach games, carn fadryn, lleyn peninsula, Morfa Nefyn, Porth Towyn, tidepooling, towyn, towyn farm, Welsh Coastal Path

beach games, carn fadryn, lleyn peninsula, Morfa Nefyn, Porth Towyn, tidepooling, towyn, towyn farm, Welsh Coastal Path

beach games, carn fadryn, lleyn peninsula, Morfa Nefyn, Porth Towyn, tidepooling, towyn, towyn farm, Welsh Coastal Path

beach games, carn fadryn, lleyn peninsula, Morfa Nefyn, Porth Towyn, tidepooling, towyn, towyn farm, Welsh Coastal Path

beach games, carn fadryn, lleyn peninsula, Morfa Nefyn, Porth Towyn, tidepooling, towyn, towyn farm, Welsh Coastal Path

beach games, carn fadryn, lleyn peninsula, Morfa Nefyn, Porth Towyn, tidepooling, towyn, towyn farm, Welsh Coastal Path

The kids got TJS to stand in the pile of rubber rings and he then got pushed over by Z – it was hilarious so we asked them to do it again and to TJS credit he did.

beach games, carn fadryn, lleyn peninsula, Morfa Nefyn, Porth Towyn, tidepooling, towyn, towyn farm, Welsh Coastal Path

beach games, carn fadryn, lleyn peninsula, Morfa Nefyn, Porth Towyn, tidepooling, towyn, towyn farm, Welsh Coastal Path

beach games, carn fadryn, lleyn peninsula, Morfa Nefyn, Porth Towyn, tidepooling, towyn, towyn farm, Welsh Coastal Path

beach games, carn fadryn, lleyn peninsula, Morfa Nefyn, Porth Towyn, tidepooling, towyn, towyn farm, Welsh Coastal Path

beach games, carn fadryn, lleyn peninsula, Morfa Nefyn, Porth Towyn, tidepooling, towyn, towyn farm, Welsh Coastal Path

beach games, carn fadryn, lleyn peninsula, Morfa Nefyn, Porth Towyn, tidepooling, towyn, towyn farm, Welsh Coastal Path

We did take a stroll up Carn Fadryn for DB Juniors Birthday. He calls it Birthday Hill as his Birthday is always while we are here and we pretty much always climb it (as anyone knows this is one of my favourite hills). He wanted to climb it on this Birthday this year and it go no arguments from me.

beach games, carn fadryn, lleyn peninsula, Morfa Nefyn, Porth Towyn, tidepooling, towyn, towyn farm, Welsh Coastal Path

beach games, carn fadryn, lleyn peninsula, Morfa Nefyn, Porth Towyn, tidepooling, towyn, towyn farm, Welsh Coastal Path

beach games, carn fadryn, lleyn peninsula, Morfa Nefyn, Porth Towyn, tidepooling, towyn, towyn farm, Welsh Coastal Path

It was a little grey and dreary while we up there but the kids still had a great time playing on the summit rocks and eating birthday cake with an alarming swiftness such that the kindly old fella who made all the adults a cup of tea never got a piece – bah!

beach games, carn fadryn, lleyn peninsula, Morfa Nefyn, Porth Towyn, tidepooling, towyn, towyn farm, Welsh Coastal Path

beach games, carn fadryn, lleyn peninsula, Morfa Nefyn, Porth Towyn, tidepooling, towyn, towyn farm, Welsh Coastal Path

I took out my newest tech purchase – a 500mm telephoto lens – and tried to snap a photo of our collection of tents in the campsite some 5 miles away

beach games, carn fadryn, lleyn peninsula, Morfa Nefyn, Porth Towyn, tidepooling, towyn, towyn farm, Welsh Coastal Path

As we finished the day it rained – shock, horror – for about 2 minutes. The air cleared and we were treated to a fabulous light show by the setting sun.

beach games, carn fadryn, lleyn peninsula, Morfa Nefyn, Porth Towyn, tidepooling, towyn, towyn farm, Welsh Coastal Path

beach games, carn fadryn, lleyn peninsula, Morfa Nefyn, Porth Towyn, tidepooling, towyn, towyn farm, Welsh Coastal Path

A few of us took a very late evening stroll on the cliffs to enjoy the performance and watch the late revellers in the sea. Up on the cliffs it was tranquility itself and it was gone 10:30 when we returned to the campsite

beach games, carn fadryn, lleyn peninsula, Morfa Nefyn, Porth Towyn, tidepooling, towyn, towyn farm, Welsh Coastal Path

beach games, carn fadryn, lleyn peninsula, Morfa Nefyn, Porth Towyn, tidepooling, towyn, towyn farm, Welsh Coastal Path

beach games, carn fadryn, lleyn peninsula, Morfa Nefyn, Porth Towyn, tidepooling, towyn, towyn farm, Welsh Coastal Path

beach games, carn fadryn, lleyn peninsula, Morfa Nefyn, Porth Towyn, tidepooling, towyn, towyn farm, Welsh Coastal Path

As if to finish the week off in style the last day dawned clear and sunny with a brisk wind.

beach games, carn fadryn, lleyn peninsula, Morfa Nefyn, Porth Towyn, tidepooling, towyn, towyn farm, Welsh Coastal Path

This fetched up some decent waves for some body-boarding to compliment the calm clear waters of earlier in the week. We had an epic game of frisbee with multiple discs flying unpredictably in the wind in all directions causing much laughter. It was a fitting and fun way to end the festivities and as always it was with a sad and heavy heart that we packed up and headed home.

beach games, carn fadryn, lleyn peninsula, Morfa Nefyn, Porth Towyn, tidepooling, towyn, towyn farm, Welsh Coastal Path

Well having spent the best part of a whole year hopelessly behind with my blog I’ve nearly caught up. The good news – I’m only one trip behind. The bad news – it was a 4 week trip with a whole host of amazing adventures that’s likely to take me several weeks to write up leaving me – well several weeks behind again. The pressures of writing a blog – do they never end

The Leibster Award   16 comments

Oh wow! An award! My first! I should have prepared a speech. I’d just like to thank my family, my agent, my rucksack, my socks………

Actually thanks to Chrissie for nominating me – even though it was a couple of months ago I’ve been wanting to answer the questions as something a little more than the usual collection of photos and “I walked along that path and up that hill” sort of writing.

So here we go…

1. Favourite outdoor place ?

I left this one till last as it’s the hardest one to answer. I’ve been lucky to have been to some fantastic outdoor places from Scotland, to Arizona, to a recent trip to Australia. More recent memories come to the fore so it’s tough not to exclude the early days. Electing one place as a favourite almost seems unfair. Factoring in that time effect I would have to say that nothing beats an alpine sunset or sunrise from a bivvy site high in the mountains before a big day on the high summits. An alpine bivvy is an amazing experience. It’s cold, uncomfortable and depending on the weather and what you planned, exciting and a little scary. You rarely sleep well but lying there looking at the stars is worth the lost sleep. You can’t see the constellations, there are just too many stars. It’s absolutely still and silent and very hard to describe. I urge you to head out there and try it. You don’t need to be “on a route”, just walk as high as the paths will take you, choose a spot with a view across a glacier to snow capped peaks, roll out a sleeping mat and just watch the whole scene from dusk till dawn. Watching the mountains transform not once but twice will transform you.

Of all the bivvy sites I’ve been to one stands out. Below Diavolezza in the Bernina Alps in Eastern Switzerland. Perfect flat site with a view across a range of dramatic soaring snow and ice ridges, one of which we climbed the day after in one of my best days of alpine climbing on Piz Palu. Perfection (note that this also has a very embarrassing moment for me which I’ll recount another time – it’s not for the faint-hearted!)

2. Favourite piece of technology to use whilst outdoors ?

I’m not a big user of technology on the hill. I don’t own a GPS and my phone rarely makes an appearance. I prefer paper maps so I can spread them out and check routes and what I’m looking at. If you’re talking “gear” then without doubt its my Jetboil Sol Titanium Stove. It goes everywhere with me so I can have a fresh cuppa whenever I’m out walking (much to the distraction of my friends in winter as I brew up while they are shivering and drinking from a lukewarm flask). It’s revolutionised my day walks in particular. If its is true technology then that would be my camera and all its accompanying bits. Canon EOS 60D with either a Sigma 18-250 or 150-500 lens, remote shutter and Manfrotto carbon fibre tripod. I love my photos and always have a camera with me. Since I went DSLR I’m really loving learning then craft and being more creative (and getting fitter – its heavy!) For wetter conditions my Panasonic Lumix FT3 all-weather compact does a grand job. For action it would be my Go Pro HD Hero Head Cam for when I’m kayaking and skiing. For me, watching and reviewing the key moments from a great day is part of the fun and I find reliving those memories priceless. I can’t imagine have no images to look back on

3. Favourite outdoor food ?

On a day walk it would have to be a homemade sandwich with a least 4 types of filling in it – my sandwiches are a work of art I’m pleased to say, although more Andy Warhol than Renoir after I’ve sat on them which is often. Backpacking? Well I’ve been through some tough times over the years. A beanfeast phase – nasty. A packet cheese sauce and noodles attempt – very underwhelming. Savoury rice and peanuts – malnutrition. These days I prefer to bear the weight of food I can enjoy and avoid the disappointment of facing a bag of dried nastiness after a tough day. With that in mind it has to be Anchovy Carbonara with fresh onion and pepper. Anchovies give you bags more bang for your buck when it comes to the taste/weight ratio. It looks a bit grey but trust me it’s tasty

4. Outdoors ambition ?

To be hiking the hills or enjoying the outdoors to my very last day. Doesn’t matter where or what activity. I just hope I enjoy it as much at 81 as I did at 18

5. Favourite place to stay.. wild camp, YHA or hotel/B&B ?

Unquestionably a wild camp. Watching the sunset or taking a meal in the outdoors with what feels like the whole world to yourself is the best feeling bar none. Total immersion in the outdoor world that gives a true appreciation of its many a varied wonders. From the light cast on a mountain, to the motion of the grass at your feet or the blanket of stars on clear night. Even down to a wild night with rain lashing the tent while you doze snug and dry inside.

6. Piece of music, book or film that you associate with getting out ?

Nothing that I associate with getting out but the book (and film) that sprang to mind is “Touching the Void” by Joe Simpson. A truly inspiring tale of determination, endurance and sheer, raw courage in the face of extreme adversity

7. Best comedy moment in the outdoors ?

As you can imagine 30+ years has delivered the usual mix of falling in rivers, bogs and of drunken antics in campsites that should be left there. I’m sure all of my friends will now remind of much funnier moments that I’ve forgotten but here’s one that still brings me a smile. We were ski-touring in the Cairngorms, me, Mad Malcs and Uncle Fester. at lunch me and MM decided it would be fun to sneak a couple of rocks into UF’s rucksack. We were so successful that we continued placing more and larger, some unfeasibly large rocks in there. He proceeded to carry this rucksack all day on a pretty tough route without saying a word while me and MM exchanged smiles. Childish but funny. The next morning as he collected his sack from the car, he looked puzzled and with a sigh exclaimed with complete innocence of the facts “this rucksack feels heavy, it’s almost like someone has put rocks in it”. As the last of those words left his mouth he looked at us as if to say “Oh for f***s sake”. The look on his face was priceless. I’m afraid to say I had a previous conviction. I once spent a long and very tedious mini-bus journey, where me and the Eternal Weather Optimist put all manner of rubbish (sweet wrappers mainly) from the floor of bus into UFs coat pocket while he was still wearing it. He only noticed when I put a potato in there. You can get an idea of my childish sense of humour from these stories

8. Who has inspired you to get out and enjoy the outdoors ?

Have to say myself really. I went on a school trip to Edale, we walked over Kinder, Everyone hated it, I loved it, I was hooked, I’ve been going ever since (this was 36 years ago)

9. Favourite beverage after a hard day spent outside ?

If its hot, a cold bottle of Becks. If its cold, a hot sweet cup of tea them a cold bottle of Becks

10. Being outdoors.. how does it make you feel ?

Alive, de-stressed, inspired, humble, excited, invigorated, challenged, frustrated, hopeful, peaceful

11. Where will your next adventure take you ?

The Welsh Mountains this weekend. Maybe Plynlimon with the family, possibly something bigger with TJS and GM. Whatever I will be on a summit somewhere over the weekend

 

So there you have it. In the spirit of the Leibster Award I believe I’m supposed to nominate others who have yet to take up this challenge (apologies if you have and I haven’t noticed!) and who would make a much better work of it than me so please take note:

Backpackingbongos

Beating the Bounds

Writes of Way

Marks Walking Blog

Are you blog enough to take on the challenge

Posted September 16, 2014 by surfnslide in Other

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Wild Camping in the Welsh Wilderness   6 comments

Amongst a growing list of regular calendar trips is our July Backpacking trip. Last year in the Moelwyns was a classic but this year we wanted somewhere different. The weather was mixed so we decided on somewhere closer to home. I have a real fondness for the hills to the south of the Elan Valley so the plan was made. TJF was dumped with the grandparents to go birthday shopping. It was just me and Funster/Sherpa trio

After a late and leisurely bit of packing we headed past the reservoirs, parked up and were on our way

3.7 Miles

3.7 Miles

The weather was mixed, sunshine with some dark clouds that seemed to be saying rain was coming. Despite some dark clouds from time to time we stayed dry all weekend.

Elan Valley, Rhiwnant, Nant yr Carw. Carreg Yr Ast, Backpacking, Wild Camping, Nant yr Ast, Nany Yr Ych, Drygarn Fawr, Drum Yr Eira, Cerrig Llwyd Yr Rhestr, Drum Dagwylltion, Nant Yr lau, Afon Arban, Claerwen Dam, Afon Claerwen

The Rhiwnant Valley has become a firm favourite of mine and even with the heavy packs it was a delightful amble into it’s deserted inner reaches.

Elan Valley, Rhiwnant, Nant yr Carw. Carreg Yr Ast, Backpacking, Wild Camping, Nant yr Ast, Nany Yr Ych, Drygarn Fawr, Drum Yr Eira, Cerrig Llwyd Yr Rhestr, Drum Dagwylltion, Nant Yr lau, Afon Arban, Claerwen Dam, Afon Claerwen

Elan Valley, Rhiwnant, Nant yr Carw. Carreg Yr Ast, Backpacking, Wild Camping, Nant yr Ast, Nany Yr Ych, Drygarn Fawr, Drum Yr Eira, Cerrig Llwyd Yr Rhestr, Drum Dagwylltion, Nant Yr lau, Afon Arban, Claerwen Dam, Afon Claerwen

Elan Valley, Rhiwnant, Nant yr Carw. Carreg Yr Ast, Backpacking, Wild Camping, Nant yr Ast, Nany Yr Ych, Drygarn Fawr, Drum Yr Eira, Cerrig Llwyd Yr Rhestr, Drum Dagwylltion, Nant Yr lau, Afon Arban, Claerwen Dam, Afon Claerwen

The pool at the bottom of the falls of Nany y Carew is an obvious and stunning spot for a lengthy lunch break although the pool was a little murkier than the previous visits. It was too blustery and cool for a swim anyway

Elan Valley, Rhiwnant, Nant yr Carw. Carreg Yr Ast, Backpacking, Wild Camping, Nant yr Ast, Nany Yr Ych, Drygarn Fawr, Drum Yr Eira, Cerrig Llwyd Yr Rhestr, Drum Dagwylltion, Nant Yr lau, Afon Arban, Claerwen Dam, Afon Claerwen

Elan Valley, Rhiwnant, Nant yr Carw. Carreg Yr Ast, Backpacking, Wild Camping, Nant yr Ast, Nany Yr Ych, Drygarn Fawr, Drum Yr Eira, Cerrig Llwyd Yr Rhestr, Drum Dagwylltion, Nant Yr lau, Afon Arban, Claerwen Dam, Afon Claerwen

We pressed on and I had in mind to camp by the upper reaches of the stream. When I’d walked this way with TJS in the winter I recalled several spots to camp. In the height of the summer however, bracken is king and everything that was once grass was now ferns. Time for plan B and I reckoned we could probably find a flattish spot up on Carreg Yr Ast or Dygarn Fawr although we’d have to walk to get water.

Elan Valley, Rhiwnant, Nant yr Carw. Carreg Yr Ast, Backpacking, Wild Camping, Nant yr Ast, Nany Yr Ych, Drygarn Fawr, Drum Yr Eira, Cerrig Llwyd Yr Rhestr, Drum Dagwylltion, Nant Yr lau, Afon Arban, Claerwen Dam, Afon Claerwen

The summit of Carreg Yr Ast is a very fine one and seemed to fit my personal requirement for lofty and extensive views from a summer wild camp. After a bit of wandering I found the perfect spot just to the east of the summit, dry spongy grass with ample rocks for sitting. TBF went off to get water while me and TJS – well me mainly – put the tent up.

Elan Valley, Rhiwnant, Nant yr Carw. Carreg Yr Ast, Backpacking, Wild Camping, Nant yr Ast, Nany Yr Ych, Drygarn Fawr, Drum Yr Eira, Cerrig Llwyd Yr Rhestr, Drum Dagwylltion, Nant Yr lau, Afon Arban, Claerwen Dam, Afon Claerwen

Elan Valley, Rhiwnant, Nant yr Carw. Carreg Yr Ast, Backpacking, Wild Camping, Nant yr Ast, Nany Yr Ych, Drygarn Fawr, Drum Yr Eira, Cerrig Llwyd Yr Rhestr, Drum Dagwylltion, Nant Yr lau, Afon Arban, Claerwen Dam, Afon Claerwen

It was a great site, one of the best I’ve found. The weather had been steadily improving and the views were sensational. A few midges were about but in nothing too troublesome. We brewed up and soaked it all in, pleased that the lack of sites down by the river had forced our hand into a far better spot.

Elan Valley, Rhiwnant, Nant yr Carw. Carreg Yr Ast, Backpacking, Wild Camping, Nant yr Ast, Nany Yr Ych, Drygarn Fawr, Drum Yr Eira, Cerrig Llwyd Yr Rhestr, Drum Dagwylltion, Nant Yr lau, Afon Arban, Claerwen Dam, Afon Claerwen

Elan Valley, Rhiwnant, Nant yr Carw. Carreg Yr Ast, Backpacking, Wild Camping, Nant yr Ast, Nany Yr Ych, Drygarn Fawr, Drum Yr Eira, Cerrig Llwyd Yr Rhestr, Drum Dagwylltion, Nant Yr lau, Afon Arban, Claerwen Dam, Afon Claerwen

Either before or after dinner (I really don’t remember which) we went off for a stroll to Drygarn Fawr and it’s beehive stone cairns. You can see the tent in the centre of the photos below

Elan Valley, Rhiwnant, Nant yr Carw. Carreg Yr Ast, Backpacking, Wild Camping, Nant yr Ast, Nany Yr Ych, Drygarn Fawr, Drum Yr Eira, Cerrig Llwyd Yr Rhestr, Drum Dagwylltion, Nant Yr lau, Afon Arban, Claerwen Dam, Afon Claerwen

The clouds on the horizon still looked threatening but I was sure they would pass us by as they did.

Elan Valley, Rhiwnant, Nant yr Carw. Carreg Yr Ast, Backpacking, Wild Camping, Nant yr Ast, Nany Yr Ych, Drygarn Fawr, Drum Yr Eira, Cerrig Llwyd Yr Rhestr, Drum Dagwylltion, Nant Yr lau, Afon Arban, Claerwen Dam, Afon Claerwen

Elan Valley, Rhiwnant, Nant yr Carw. Carreg Yr Ast, Backpacking, Wild Camping, Nant yr Ast, Nany Yr Ych, Drygarn Fawr, Drum Yr Eira, Cerrig Llwyd Yr Rhestr, Drum Dagwylltion, Nant Yr lau, Afon Arban, Claerwen Dam, Afon Claerwen

After returning to the tent and having a brew and cake (and possibly our evening meal – who knows) we chilled in the summer mountain air

Elan Valley, Rhiwnant, Nant yr Carw. Carreg Yr Ast, Backpacking, Wild Camping, Nant yr Ast, Nany Yr Ych, Drygarn Fawr, Drum Yr Eira, Cerrig Llwyd Yr Rhestr, Drum Dagwylltion, Nant Yr lau, Afon Arban, Claerwen Dam, Afon Claerwen

Elan Valley, Rhiwnant, Nant yr Carw. Carreg Yr Ast, Backpacking, Wild Camping, Nant yr Ast, Nany Yr Ych, Drygarn Fawr, Drum Yr Eira, Cerrig Llwyd Yr Rhestr, Drum Dagwylltion, Nant Yr lau, Afon Arban, Claerwen Dam, Afon Claerwen

I took off down the hill to get some more water figuring the Nant Yr Ych was closer than the Nant Yr Ast. It was, but it had been very cleverly protected with massed ranks of waist high tussocks. I found the stream when I fell into it after a battle with a particularly large and menacing tussock

Elan Valley, Rhiwnant, Nant yr Carw. Carreg Yr Ast, Backpacking, Wild Camping, Nant yr Ast, Nany Yr Ych, Drygarn Fawr, Drum Yr Eira, Cerrig Llwyd Yr Rhestr, Drum Dagwylltion, Nant Yr lau, Afon Arban, Claerwen Dam, Afon Claerwen

We settled down to watch the sunset which was magnificent. A grandstand finale to the day and a fitting send off for a long nights sleep.

Elan Valley, Rhiwnant, Nant yr Carw. Carreg Yr Ast, Backpacking, Wild Camping, Nant yr Ast, Nany Yr Ych, Drygarn Fawr, Drum Yr Eira, Cerrig Llwyd Yr Rhestr, Drum Dagwylltion, Nant Yr lau, Afon Arban, Claerwen Dam, Afon Claerwen

Elan Valley, Rhiwnant, Nant yr Carw. Carreg Yr Ast, Backpacking, Wild Camping, Nant yr Ast, Nany Yr Ych, Drygarn Fawr, Drum Yr Eira, Cerrig Llwyd Yr Rhestr, Drum Dagwylltion, Nant Yr lau, Afon Arban, Claerwen Dam, Afon Claerwen

Elan Valley, Rhiwnant, Nant yr Carw. Carreg Yr Ast, Backpacking, Wild Camping, Nant yr Ast, Nany Yr Ych, Drygarn Fawr, Drum Yr Eira, Cerrig Llwyd Yr Rhestr, Drum Dagwylltion, Nant Yr lau, Afon Arban, Claerwen Dam, Afon Claerwen

Elan Valley, Rhiwnant, Nant yr Carw. Carreg Yr Ast, Backpacking, Wild Camping, Nant yr Ast, Nany Yr Ych, Drygarn Fawr, Drum Yr Eira, Cerrig Llwyd Yr Rhestr, Drum Dagwylltion, Nant Yr lau, Afon Arban, Claerwen Dam, Afon Claerwen

Elan Valley, Rhiwnant, Nant yr Carw. Carreg Yr Ast, Backpacking, Wild Camping, Nant yr Ast, Nany Yr Ych, Drygarn Fawr, Drum Yr Eira, Cerrig Llwyd Yr Rhestr, Drum Dagwylltion, Nant Yr lau, Afon Arban, Claerwen Dam, Afon Claerwen

We woke the next morning to a stunner of day. Pretty much cloudless but with enough wind to keep things cools and the midges at bay.

Elan Valley, Rhiwnant, Nant yr Carw. Carreg Yr Ast, Backpacking, Wild Camping, Nant yr Ast, Nany Yr Ych, Drygarn Fawr, Drum Yr Eira, Cerrig Llwyd Yr Rhestr, Drum Dagwylltion, Nant Yr lau, Afon Arban, Claerwen Dam, Afon Claerwen

Elan Valley, Rhiwnant, Nant yr Carw. Carreg Yr Ast, Backpacking, Wild Camping, Nant yr Ast, Nany Yr Ych, Drygarn Fawr, Drum Yr Eira, Cerrig Llwyd Yr Rhestr, Drum Dagwylltion, Nant Yr lau, Afon Arban, Claerwen Dam, Afon Claerwen

Bacon sandwiches were made and consumed with relish (well ketchup actually – see what I did there) and we broke camp – very slowly for it was a fine day – ready for some real wilderness walking.

Elan Valley, Rhiwnant, Nant yr Carw. Carreg Yr Ast, Backpacking, Wild Camping, Nant yr Ast, Nany Yr Ych, Drygarn Fawr, Drum Yr Eira, Cerrig Llwyd Yr Rhestr, Drum Dagwylltion, Nant Yr lau, Afon Arban, Claerwen Dam, Afon Claerwen

Elan Valley, Rhiwnant, Nant yr Carw. Carreg Yr Ast, Backpacking, Wild Camping, Nant yr Ast, Nany Yr Ych, Drygarn Fawr, Drum Yr Eira, Cerrig Llwyd Yr Rhestr, Drum Dagwylltion, Nant Yr lau, Afon Arban, Claerwen Dam, Afon Claerwen

I’d had idea we could walk all around the watershed, dropping into the Afon Arban and on to the Claerwen Dam to make a really good circuit. I had no idea how rough the terrain would be but I hoped that the faint path that follows the boundary marker stones would persist all the way leaving us with a short walk across to the river valley. An excellent plan that very nearly paid off.

9.7 Miles

9.7 Miles

We retraced our steps to Drygarn Fawr in sunshine and a keen wind. It was clear from the summit that the faint path was there and we followed it through the grass, tussocks and dried peat hags with ease.

Elan Valley, Rhiwnant, Nant yr Carw. Carreg Yr Ast, Backpacking, Wild Camping, Nant yr Ast, Nany Yr Ych, Drygarn Fawr, Drum Yr Eira, Cerrig Llwyd Yr Rhestr, Drum Dagwylltion, Nant Yr lau, Afon Arban, Claerwen Dam, Afon Claerwen

Elan Valley, Rhiwnant, Nant yr Carw. Carreg Yr Ast, Backpacking, Wild Camping, Nant yr Ast, Nany Yr Ych, Drygarn Fawr, Drum Yr Eira, Cerrig Llwyd Yr Rhestr, Drum Dagwylltion, Nant Yr lau, Afon Arban, Claerwen Dam, Afon Claerwen

Elan Valley, Rhiwnant, Nant yr Carw. Carreg Yr Ast, Backpacking, Wild Camping, Nant yr Ast, Nany Yr Ych, Drygarn Fawr, Drum Yr Eira, Cerrig Llwyd Yr Rhestr, Drum Dagwylltion, Nant Yr lau, Afon Arban, Claerwen Dam, Afon Claerwen

We praised our good fortune for the dry summer. As we turned north along Drum Yr Eira the going became a little more tricky with constant weaving about to keep to the best line. When in doubt and just when an easy route seemed out, the marker stones would appear along with another faint path and we linked these together to make a splendid, long traverse across this stunning wilderness to Cerrig Llwyd Yr Rhestr were took a break for some sustenance.

Elan Valley, Rhiwnant, Nant yr Carw. Carreg Yr Ast, Backpacking, Wild Camping, Nant yr Ast, Nany Yr Ych, Drygarn Fawr, Drum Yr Eira, Cerrig Llwyd Yr Rhestr, Drum Dagwylltion, Nant Yr lau, Afon Arban, Claerwen Dam, Afon Claerwen

Elan Valley, Rhiwnant, Nant yr Carw. Carreg Yr Ast, Backpacking, Wild Camping, Nant yr Ast, Nany Yr Ych, Drygarn Fawr, Drum Yr Eira, Cerrig Llwyd Yr Rhestr, Drum Dagwylltion, Nant Yr lau, Afon Arban, Claerwen Dam, Afon Claerwen

Elan Valley, Rhiwnant, Nant yr Carw. Carreg Yr Ast, Backpacking, Wild Camping, Nant yr Ast, Nany Yr Ych, Drygarn Fawr, Drum Yr Eira, Cerrig Llwyd Yr Rhestr, Drum Dagwylltion, Nant Yr lau, Afon Arban, Claerwen Dam, Afon Claerwen

I checked the map and all we had top do was to cross to Drum Dagwylltion and then descend a few hundred metres to the valley of the Nant Yr Lau where the river would deliver us an easy descent. The Wilderness fought back. The marker stones disappeared as did any traces of path and the grass and tussocks got deeper. We tried to traverse around the head of the valley but the tussocks were immense – or so we thought. We decided to head directly down to the stream figuring that would be the easiest route. It was torture. It was a few hundred meters but these were man sized tussocks – I’m not kidding. They were at least 5 feet high and several times I completely lost sight of my feet and pitched forward onto my face. As you can tell, photos were not a priority!

Elan Valley, Rhiwnant, Nant yr Carw. Carreg Yr Ast, Backpacking, Wild Camping, Nant yr Ast, Nany Yr Ych, Drygarn Fawr, Drum Yr Eira, Cerrig Llwyd Yr Rhestr, Drum Dagwylltion, Nant Yr lau, Afon Arban, Claerwen Dam, Afon Claerwen

We reached the stream with a sigh of relief, took a drink of clear cold water and pressed on, relieved that the worst was over. It was a cruel deception

Elan Valley, Rhiwnant, Nant yr Carw. Carreg Yr Ast, Backpacking, Wild Camping, Nant yr Ast, Nany Yr Ych, Drygarn Fawr, Drum Yr Eira, Cerrig Llwyd Yr Rhestr, Drum Dagwylltion, Nant Yr lau, Afon Arban, Claerwen Dam, Afon Claerwen

The valley was stunning with the stream twisting and turning amongst the rocks. Trouble was the bed was narrow and filled with passages of loose scree, bracken and worst of all, huge waterfalls of more boggy tussocks cascading down to the stream with no way around them. It was more torture and I could see that my feigned and forced enthusiasm for how grand the valley was to look at, if not walk through, was not rubbing off on the others. They were grim faced and had clearly had enough. In a stroke of inspiration I crossed the stream, bashed up through a bit of dense and steep bracken and found a path. It took us easily and swiftly down to the Afon Arban (past some rather good looking wild campsites for future reference)

Elan Valley, Rhiwnant, Nant yr Carw. Carreg Yr Ast, Backpacking, Wild Camping, Nant yr Ast, Nany Yr Ych, Drygarn Fawr, Drum Yr Eira, Cerrig Llwyd Yr Rhestr, Drum Dagwylltion, Nant Yr lau, Afon Arban, Claerwen Dam, Afon Claerwen

Elan Valley, Rhiwnant, Nant yr Carw. Carreg Yr Ast, Backpacking, Wild Camping, Nant yr Ast, Nany Yr Ych, Drygarn Fawr, Drum Yr Eira, Cerrig Llwyd Yr Rhestr, Drum Dagwylltion, Nant Yr lau, Afon Arban, Claerwen Dam, Afon Claerwen

We stopped by a stunning piece of river estate and took a long rest, bathed our tired feet in the cool water and scoffed most of the food we had left. We’d really earned that!

Elan Valley, Rhiwnant, Nant yr Carw. Carreg Yr Ast, Backpacking, Wild Camping, Nant yr Ast, Nany Yr Ych, Drygarn Fawr, Drum Yr Eira, Cerrig Llwyd Yr Rhestr, Drum Dagwylltion, Nant Yr lau, Afon Arban, Claerwen Dam, Afon Claerwen

Elan Valley, Rhiwnant, Nant yr Carw. Carreg Yr Ast, Backpacking, Wild Camping, Nant yr Ast, Nany Yr Ych, Drygarn Fawr, Drum Yr Eira, Cerrig Llwyd Yr Rhestr, Drum Dagwylltion, Nant Yr lau, Afon Arban, Claerwen Dam, Afon Claerwen

Elan Valley, Rhiwnant, Nant yr Carw. Carreg Yr Ast, Backpacking, Wild Camping, Nant yr Ast, Nany Yr Ych, Drygarn Fawr, Drum Yr Eira, Cerrig Llwyd Yr Rhestr, Drum Dagwylltion, Nant Yr lau, Afon Arban, Claerwen Dam, Afon Claerwen

From there it was glorious stroll down this rather stunning valley on a path! We passed several spots in the small gorge at the bottom that would be ideal for a summer picnic and swim.

Elan Valley, Rhiwnant, Nant yr Carw. Carreg Yr Ast, Backpacking, Wild Camping, Nant yr Ast, Nany Yr Ych, Drygarn Fawr, Drum Yr Eira, Cerrig Llwyd Yr Rhestr, Drum Dagwylltion, Nant Yr lau, Afon Arban, Claerwen Dam, Afon Claerwen

Elan Valley, Rhiwnant, Nant yr Carw. Carreg Yr Ast, Backpacking, Wild Camping, Nant yr Ast, Nany Yr Ych, Drygarn Fawr, Drum Yr Eira, Cerrig Llwyd Yr Rhestr, Drum Dagwylltion, Nant Yr lau, Afon Arban, Claerwen Dam, Afon Claerwen

Elan Valley, Rhiwnant, Nant yr Carw. Carreg Yr Ast, Backpacking, Wild Camping, Nant yr Ast, Nany Yr Ych, Drygarn Fawr, Drum Yr Eira, Cerrig Llwyd Yr Rhestr, Drum Dagwylltion, Nant Yr lau, Afon Arban, Claerwen Dam, Afon Claerwen

The Clarewen Dam looked stunning in the afternoon sun

Elan Valley, Rhiwnant, Nant yr Carw. Carreg Yr Ast, Backpacking, Wild Camping, Nant yr Ast, Nany Yr Ych, Drygarn Fawr, Drum Yr Eira, Cerrig Llwyd Yr Rhestr, Drum Dagwylltion, Nant Yr lau, Afon Arban, Claerwen Dam, Afon Claerwen

The walk along the old road above the Afon Claerwen was excellent although much longer than I thought. After a hard day on tough terrain we are all feeling the strain and we reached the car with something of a sigh of relief.

Elan Valley, Rhiwnant, Nant yr Carw. Carreg Yr Ast, Backpacking, Wild Camping, Nant yr Ast, Nany Yr Ych, Drygarn Fawr, Drum Yr Eira, Cerrig Llwyd Yr Rhestr, Drum Dagwylltion, Nant Yr lau, Afon Arban, Claerwen Dam, Afon Claerwen

Elan Valley, Rhiwnant, Nant yr Carw. Carreg Yr Ast, Backpacking, Wild Camping, Nant yr Ast, Nany Yr Ych, Drygarn Fawr, Drum Yr Eira, Cerrig Llwyd Yr Rhestr, Drum Dagwylltion, Nant Yr lau, Afon Arban, Claerwen Dam, Afon Claerwen

It had been a superb outing. These hills lack drama, crags and pinnacled summits but they are lonely, austere, full of small hidden charms and delights, some truly wild and expansive scenery and really tough and challenging walking terrain. I love them and hope that the tale and the photos inspire you make the effort to go out and explore them. You won’t be disappointed and you will most likely have them largely to yourselves. I’ve been up here four times now and other than the car parks and the environs rarely seen a soul.

More Shropshire – Stiperstones   18 comments

You don’t get a day’s walk in Shropshire for ages and two come along at once.

 

Me and TBF were minus our kids, TJS was in Iceland and TJF was, well, I honestly can’t remember. Enthused by the excellent day we had around Church Stretton a few weeks before I decided to go back to the walk I’d proposed in the first place.

Being a long ridge surrounded by rural farmland, Stiperstones doesn’t lend itself to a circular walk very easily. After a lengthy period browsing the web and poring over maps I settled on a route from Bridges

Stiperstones

9.2 Miles

We parked up at the pub with a faithful promise to fulfill the free car park bargain in return for spending some money with them

The first couple of miles was over uncut fields and wet grass. I’m not a huge fan of walking through these sorts of areas. Paths are often poorly signed, overgrown and hard to find. Walking can become a chore. We had a few such moments as we passed by Kinnerton Farm and Birchope on our way to Linley Hill. The views across to the tors of the ridge were great but the walking was pleasant without being anything special.

stiperstones, shropshire, bridges, kinnerton, birchope, linley hill, nipstone rock, manstone rock, cranberry rock, devils chair, hollies, shepherds rock, rock house

Linley Hill itself was a rather thistle clad mess of old dead trees and sheep sh1t. It looks good on the map and the views were fine but it’s not really worth the walk to be honest.

stiperstones, shropshire, bridges, kinnerton, birchope, linley hill, nipstone rock, manstone rock, cranberry rock, devils chair, hollies, shepherds rock, rock house

Once we started to descend the steep slopes towards the main part of the walk things picked up. The grassy slopes on the way down were charming and as we climbed onto the ridge we entered the heathland and its broad grassy paths. The views across towards Heath Mynd and Corndon Hill were excellent.

stiperstones, shropshire, bridges, kinnerton, birchope, linley hill, nipstone rock, manstone rock, cranberry rock, devils chair, hollies, shepherds rock, rock house

stiperstones, shropshire, bridges, kinnerton, birchope, linley hill, nipstone rock, manstone rock, cranberry rock, devils chair, hollies, shepherds rock, rock house

stiperstones, shropshire, bridges, kinnerton, birchope, linley hill, nipstone rock, manstone rock, cranberry rock, devils chair, hollies, shepherds rock, rock house

We’d been walking for a while so lunch was called for. We scrambled through deep heather and rocks to the top of the Rock House hoping for a flat grassy spot. Alas the all we found was more deep heather and rocks. We found a decent perch on the rocks with an expansive view and settled in for a lengthy pause. My mind was tracing routes on Corndon Hill and looks a real cracker. Another one for my book.

stiperstones, shropshire, bridges, kinnerton, birchope, linley hill, nipstone rock, manstone rock, cranberry rock, devils chair, hollies, shepherds rock, rock house

stiperstones, shropshire, bridges, kinnerton, birchope, linley hill, nipstone rock, manstone rock, cranberry rock, devils chair, hollies, shepherds rock, rock house

stiperstones, shropshire, bridges, kinnerton, birchope, linley hill, nipstone rock, manstone rock, cranberry rock, devils chair, hollies, shepherds rock, rock house

Moving on we found the ridge to be as wild as the Rhinogs. I wanted to stick to the high ridge assuming there would be a path but it was just deep heather, very deep heather and yes, more rocks. A few hundred yards of that was enough and we were back on the lower path.

stiperstones, shropshire, bridges, kinnerton, birchope, linley hill, nipstone rock, manstone rock, cranberry rock, devils chair, hollies, shepherds rock, rock house

The walk along to Nipstone and then through the charming Nipstone Wood was grand. The wood was dappled with sunlight and the meadow beyond a profusion of wild flowers in the wafting grass.

stiperstones, shropshire, bridges, kinnerton, birchope, linley hill, nipstone rock, manstone rock, cranberry rock, devils chair, hollies, shepherds rock, rock house

stiperstones, shropshire, bridges, kinnerton, birchope, linley hill, nipstone rock, manstone rock, cranberry rock, devils chair, hollies, shepherds rock, rock house

Climbing up onto the main ridge we began the exploration of all the tors that litter and mark the ridge. It feels oddly out-of-place to see large outcrops of rock on a wild heather moorland and then look across arable fields to the chimneys of the power stations in the Severn Valley. Squint your eyes and it could be somewhere much higher and much more remote. I loved it.

stiperstones, shropshire, bridges, kinnerton, birchope, linley hill, nipstone rock, manstone rock, cranberry rock, devils chair, hollies, shepherds rock, rock house

stiperstones, shropshire, bridges, kinnerton, birchope, linley hill, nipstone rock, manstone rock, cranberry rock, devils chair, hollies, shepherds rock, rock house

What I didn’t love was the path, or at least my knees didn’t. It’s like a cobbled street without the mortar. Really difficult to keep a steady pace with constant twisting of ankles and knees. The views of the surrounding countryside and the tors more than made up for that. Past Cranberry and Manstone Rocks, each very impressive in their own right we reached the Devils Chair, supposedly the hardest summit in England.

stiperstones, shropshire, bridges, kinnerton, birchope, linley hill, nipstone rock, manstone rock, cranberry rock, devils chair, hollies, shepherds rock, rock house

stiperstones, shropshire, bridges, kinnerton, birchope, linley hill, nipstone rock, manstone rock, cranberry rock, devils chair, hollies, shepherds rock, rock house

I took it direct from the south and it’s a pretty impressive knife-edge of rock with some exposed positions and delicate moves. Probably a grade 2 Scramble and it was a delightful little route. Somewhat disappointingly you can pretty much walk up from the northern end to the highest point so in terms of a summit I think the “hardest” claim might be stretching it but thinking again I couldn’t come up with any English summits that are anything more than a walk to the top as it’s hardest route. I’m sure someone will tell me different. Still, it’s a marvellous little spot and we had it to ourselves.

stiperstones, shropshire, bridges, kinnerton, birchope, linley hill, nipstone rock, manstone rock, cranberry rock, devils chair, hollies, shepherds rock, rock house

stiperstones, shropshire, bridges, kinnerton, birchope, linley hill, nipstone rock, manstone rock, cranberry rock, devils chair, hollies, shepherds rock, rock house

stiperstones, shropshire, bridges, kinnerton, birchope, linley hill, nipstone rock, manstone rock, cranberry rock, devils chair, hollies, shepherds rock, rock house

stiperstones, shropshire, bridges, kinnerton, birchope, linley hill, nipstone rock, manstone rock, cranberry rock, devils chair, hollies, shepherds rock, rock house

We turned off before the Shepherds Rock and headed down over the pleasant fields and past the Hollies Farm to pick up the long road back to Bridges.

stiperstones, shropshire, bridges, kinnerton, birchope, linley hill, nipstone rock, manstone rock, cranberry rock, devils chair, hollies, shepherds rock, rock house

stiperstones, shropshire, bridges, kinnerton, birchope, linley hill, nipstone rock, manstone rock, cranberry rock, devils chair, hollies, shepherds rock, rock house

My knees don’t like road walking and after the cobbles on the ridge it was a tortuous walk. A shame as most of the lane was a lovely and deserted. More surgery on the horizon I fear

Back at the pub and it was gloriously sunny. We made good on our promise and enjoyed a beer and scampi meal outside the pub by the river.

stiperstones, shropshire, bridges, kinnerton, birchope, linley hill, nipstone rock, manstone rock, cranberry rock, devils chair, hollies, shepherds rock, rock house

Had I not had other commitments I’d have been there now. It was stunning. Nothing finer than a pint and some pub grub after a long walk

Six go mad in Shropshire   4 comments

It’s been a plan for a while now to have meet up for a day walk in Shropshire as its kind of in the middle of where of few of my old University chums live. After much debate we settled on what I consider to be the classic round of the Shropshire Hills that surround the town of Church Stretton. There are several other routes and at least 3-4 days worth of walks in the area so further visits are required but this one serves as a fine introduction.

 

We met in the splendid if grossly overcrowded Cardingmill Valley (before the crowds had really gathered) and set off.

Shropshire, Church Stretton, Cardingmill Valley, Long Mynd, Ashes Hollow, Little Stretton, Ragleth Hill, Hazler Hill, Hope Bowdler Hill, Caer Caradoc Hill

The valley has several offshoots and options. We plumped for the one containing Lightspout Waterfall, and very fine it was too.

Shropshire, Church Stretton, Cardingmill Valley, Long Mynd, Ashes Hollow, Little Stretton, Ragleth Hill, Hazler Hill, Hope Bowdler Hill, Caer Caradoc Hill

Shropshire, Church Stretton, Cardingmill Valley, Long Mynd, Ashes Hollow, Little Stretton, Ragleth Hill, Hazler Hill, Hope Bowdler Hill, Caer Caradoc Hill

The top of the Long Mynd is a rather bland and featureless affair I find so after a brief walk along the Shropshire Way (and some inadvertant off-piste through the heather) we plunged down into Ashes Hollow, the finest of the valleys that rend the eastern side of the Long Mynd. Unlike Cardingmill, it’s quiet and unspoilt by tourism until you reach the small campsite at the entrance. Narrow with it’s little babbling stream (and middle aged babbling walkers!) and small waterfalls, it’s a priceless gem.

Shropshire, Church Stretton, Cardingmill Valley, Long Mynd, Ashes Hollow, Little Stretton, Ragleth Hill, Hazler Hill, Hope Bowdler Hill, Caer Caradoc Hill

Shropshire, Church Stretton, Cardingmill Valley, Long Mynd, Ashes Hollow, Little Stretton, Ragleth Hill, Hazler Hill, Hope Bowdler Hill, Caer Caradoc Hill

Bouyed by this fine stretch of walking we decided to celebrate in Little Stretton with a pint in the beer garden to fortify us for the steep climb up Ragleth Hill.

Shropshire, Church Stretton, Cardingmill Valley, Long Mynd, Ashes Hollow, Little Stretton, Ragleth Hill, Hazler Hill, Hope Bowdler Hill, Caer Caradoc Hill

It’s another fine hill with a brutally short and steep climb to the top. The grassy walk along it’s summit ridge was a delight.

Shropshire, Church Stretton, Cardingmill Valley, Long Mynd, Ashes Hollow, Little Stretton, Ragleth Hill, Hazler Hill, Hope Bowdler Hill, Caer Caradoc Hill

Shropshire, Church Stretton, Cardingmill Valley, Long Mynd, Ashes Hollow, Little Stretton, Ragleth Hill, Hazler Hill, Hope Bowdler Hill, Caer Caradoc Hill

Shropshire, Church Stretton, Cardingmill Valley, Long Mynd, Ashes Hollow, Little Stretton, Ragleth Hill, Hazler Hill, Hope Bowdler Hill, Caer Caradoc Hill

Shropshire, Church Stretton, Cardingmill Valley, Long Mynd, Ashes Hollow, Little Stretton, Ragleth Hill, Hazler Hill, Hope Bowdler Hill, Caer Caradoc Hill

Shropshire, Church Stretton, Cardingmill Valley, Long Mynd, Ashes Hollow, Little Stretton, Ragleth Hill, Hazler Hill, Hope Bowdler Hill, Caer Caradoc Hill

What the Shropshire Hills lack in altitude they more than make up for in numbers and the regular ups and downs. After Ragleth Hill its down and then along the slopes of Hope Bowdler Hill (saved for another day) to the area’s crowning peak (although not the highest – that belongs to Pole Bank on the Long Mynd), Caer Caradoc. This traversing path was especially fine with Caer Caradoc looming in front and looking very much higher than it’s modest 459 metres.

Shropshire, Church Stretton, Cardingmill Valley, Long Mynd, Ashes Hollow, Little Stretton, Ragleth Hill, Hazler Hill, Hope Bowdler Hill, Caer Caradoc Hill

Shropshire, Church Stretton, Cardingmill Valley, Long Mynd, Ashes Hollow, Little Stretton, Ragleth Hill, Hazler Hill, Hope Bowdler Hill, Caer Caradoc Hill

Shropshire, Church Stretton, Cardingmill Valley, Long Mynd, Ashes Hollow, Little Stretton, Ragleth Hill, Hazler Hill, Hope Bowdler Hill, Caer Caradoc Hill

Another steep climb and a wander around the summit earthworks and we crested the top. The views to the north across the Cheshire Plain and west towards Snowdonia were especially fine. It really is a mountain in everything but height. It looks like one and it certainly feels like one when you’re on the summit with it’s broad ridge and rocky outcrops. Another for my upcoming book “Small Hills with Disproportionately Great Views” (working title) :)

Shropshire, Church Stretton, Cardingmill Valley, Long Mynd, Ashes Hollow, Little Stretton, Ragleth Hill, Hazler Hill, Hope Bowdler Hill, Caer Caradoc Hill

Shropshire, Church Stretton, Cardingmill Valley, Long Mynd, Ashes Hollow, Little Stretton, Ragleth Hill, Hazler Hill, Hope Bowdler Hill, Caer Caradoc Hill

The view south was a little more worrying. We’d dodged the showers pretty well all day but now it looked the end of the world was heading our way. Dark clouds billowed and boomed towards us and we donned waterproofs expecting a real soaking to finish the day.

Shropshire, Church Stretton, Cardingmill Valley, Long Mynd, Ashes Hollow, Little Stretton, Ragleth Hill, Hazler Hill, Hope Bowdler Hill, Caer Caradoc Hill

Shropshire, Church Stretton, Cardingmill Valley, Long Mynd, Ashes Hollow, Little Stretton, Ragleth Hill, Hazler Hill, Hope Bowdler Hill, Caer Caradoc Hill

It never came. Almost without noticing it seemed to pass by. By the time we’d traversed the fields and reached the car it was pretty much wall to wall blue skies. A pretty long walk in the end at over 12 miles

Church Stretton

We bid our farewells and ended a great day on these small but perfectly formed hills

Back from Travels with my Family   10 comments

Been a bit quiet on here the past few weeks and I bet you were all wondering where I’d gone. You were worried, I can tell as you’re all very caring readers, I can see that from here.

Well, after a year and half of planning and anticipation we went to Queensland, Australia for a month and what an amazing time we had. I’m still sifting through photos and in fact I’m still several posts behind from my pre-holiday antics so it will be a few weeks before I start to write up all the fantastic stuff we got up to.

In advance of that here’s a bit of taster of what’s to come and the places – and wildlife – we saw

Whale Watching at Hervey Bay

IMG_4421 IMG_4604

Fraser Island

IMG_4674IMG_4868

Lady Elliot Island

P1230125 IMG_5079 IMG_4961

Eungella National Park

IMG_5332 IMG_5448

The Whitsunday Islands

P1230258 IMG_5688

Magnetic Island

IMG_6133 IMG_5942 IMG_6291

Mission Beach & Dunk Island

IMG_6529 IMG_6384

Port Douglas & the Great Barrier Reef

IMG_7037 P1230374 P1230356 Leanna Koala

Daintree River

IMG_6855 IMG_6858 IMG_6892

Cape Tribulation and Far North Queensland.

IMG_7369 IMG_7316 IMG_7248 IMG_7218

But first, back to Shropshire, The Elan Valley and the Lleyn Peninsula………

 

The Second Half and into Extra Time in Silverdale and Beyond   7 comments

So on we traveled through the length of Wales and beyond to Silverdale and a visit to “Our Friends in the North”. They’ve been down to see us the past couple of years so this time it was our turn to mess up their house, eat all their food and generally make a nuisance of ourselves :)

As you can see from the slideshow below we had a fine old time

But you want to hear, I know you do. Ready, let’s begin

As is traditional on these house swaps the first day was grey wet and miserable. Fortunately the kids had a plan. Laser Quest. Oh deep joy, running about a warehouse in the dark with a bunch of noisy kids. At my age. Actually it was great fun and most of the kids were friendly and eager to join in the team games with grumpy strangers like me. The day was almost a 100% success but DB Junior managed to split his lip open and spent the next day in hospital having it repaired. He took it all in his stride and was very brave, bless him. He’s not one of the Dangerous Brothers for nothing

The next day we just took the rest of the kids out for a local walk through the woods and up Arnside Knott. A pretty gloomy day but we made the most of it and the kids enjoyed the usual tree climbing antics and poor DB Jr didn’t miss out anything too exciting while he was in hospital

silverdale, arnside knott, arnside tower

silverdale, arnside knott, arnside tower

silverdale, arnside knott, arnside tower

It was then time for ED to show us the sights. He’d been promising to take us to the SW coast of Cumbria near Barrow and it didn’t disappoint. We stopped off for lunch at Aldingham, deserted and peaceful we spent a very nice couple of hours chilling, digging holes, making temples out of pebbles and an absolutely pathetic attempt to light a fire using dried seaweed and a flint-stone (Fred or Wilma, who knows). Where is Bear Gryllls when you need him

aldingham, roa island, piel island, barrow in furness

aldingham, roa island, piel island, barrow in furness

aldingham, roa island, piel island, barrow in furness

On to one of my longed for visits. Piel Island and what a place. The childish delight of a small ferry boat ride to a perfect little grassy island with a ruined castle.

aldingham, roa island, piel island, barrow in furness

aldingham, roa island, piel island, barrow in furness

aldingham, roa island, piel island, barrow in furness

The high tide mark was just a long line of crab shells, I’ve never seen anything quite like it. Oyster Catchers paddled and pecked.

aldingham, roa island, piel island, barrow in furness

The views across the sands to Walney Island and over Barrow to the Black Combe where I’d walked a few weeks before were sublime even on a pretty grey day

The castle is substantial and extensive and clearly you were once able to climb to the top of the keep. Health and Safety seem to have put a stop to that – villains of the piece. Most of the grassy areas outside the castle seem to open for camping. It would be a fine place for a couple of days. Just a shame there’s no pub on such a small island. But, no, there is a pub as well. Be rude not to pay it a visit so a pint of shandy and a lemonade for the kids was very much in order.

aldingham, roa island, piel island, barrow in furness

aldingham, roa island, piel island, barrow in furness

aldingham, roa island, piel island, barrow in furness

We only had a couple of hours and the island deserves much more, a return visit needs to be made with a picnic to really explore the island over a full day. I just loved the unusual views of estuary, boats, sand-banks and unusual structures. It’s rare in these small British Isles to find somewhere unique and that was Piel Island

Back to mainland for a beach BBQ at Aldingham to finish the day. But no, one more final treat in store. ED has often told me of the tidepooling at Roa Island (where you catch the Piel Island ferry) and that due to the currents or nutrients or some such the pools under the Lifeboat station are teeming with life. We had to wait till nearly 8pm for the tide to go out but it was magnificent. I’ve never seen so much stuff, hundreds of crabs, anemones, fish, worms crowding every pool. Even the clouds parted and we had some late golden sunshine.

aldingham, roa island, piel island, barrow in furness

I’m in my element in such places and the kids had a ball. It was a shame it was so late and starting to get dark when we had to tear ourselves away and head home. I could have stayed for hours. What a top day

Saturday brought on a Yorkshire Dales walk. ED has been telling me about his renewed enthusiasm for the Limestone scenery and I was keen to revisit. It was a warm and sunny day in Silverdale but as we headed west it clouded up and by the time we arrived in Stainforth it was gloomy with drizzle in the air. We lunched in the rather bland picnic area by the car park and set off for a walk to take in Catrigg Force and the Ribble

Catrigg Force was great in a dark and gloomy sort of way, tucked in as it is in a wooded ravine. Very hard to do it justice with photos.

stainforth, stainforth force, catrigg force, river ribble, upper winskill, lower winskill

stainforth, stainforth force, catrigg force, river ribble, upper winskill, lower winskill

Onward and upward onto the fields and stone walled pastures. The sun made a fleeting appearance and the fields, full of wildflowers were enchanting

stainforth, stainforth force, catrigg force, river ribble, upper winskill, lower winskill

stainforth, stainforth force, catrigg force, river ribble, upper winskill, lower winskill

As we approached the bridge over the Ribble the sun burst forth from a rapidly clearing blue sky and everything was bathed in sunlight as a dramatic contrast to the earlier grey.

stainforth, stainforth force, catrigg force, river ribble, upper winskill, lower winskill

We stopped and lazed on the grass (others rolled about in it) and all was well with the world.

stainforth, stainforth force, catrigg force, river ribble, upper winskill, lower winskill

stainforth, stainforth force, catrigg force, river ribble, upper winskill, lower winskill

However we had plans for a BBQ in the sun so we pressed on past the excellent Stainforth Force (try saying that after a few beers) where a group of teenagers were swinging from the trees and plunging into the brown water. It had turned into  stunning afternoon to accompany a very fine walk indeed

stainforth, stainforth force, catrigg force, river ribble, upper winskill, lower winskill

stainforth, stainforth force, catrigg force, river ribble, upper winskill, lower winskill

stainforth, stainforth force, catrigg force, river ribble, upper winskill, lower winskill

stainforth, stainforth force, catrigg force, river ribble, upper winskill, lower winskill

 

4.5 Miles

4.5 Miles

Our last day and we headed to Sizergh Castle for some easy strolling around the gardens. It’s a beautiful spot and there were loads of diversions for the kids including a sort of adventure course in the woods. I satisfied myself with playing photos of the kids, flowers and wildlife in the large pond that sits in front of the castle.

sizergh castle

sizergh castle

sizergh castle

sizergh castle

And that was that. We returned for an outrageously oversized lunch in the garden (joined by a very striking dragonfly) and then set off for home.

silverdale

A huge thanks to ED, TBF and the family for making us so welcome and relaxed. It was a really great few days and here’s hoping we didn’t outstay our welcome and that we get an invite for next year – lots more to see and do! :)

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