As I was saying in my last post, the weather since November has been universally appalling. Well apart from one weekend anyway. At some indeterminate point in those dark days the weather chilled, deposited a little snow on to the mountains and the sky cleared just long enough to enjoy it.
I did this walk with TJS earlier in the year and, keen to introduce TBF to the charms of Fforest Fawr we headed there again.
The route is described in detail in the other post so I’ll let the photos do the talking – mostly.
The mountains were shrouded in cloud for the first couple of hours and we wandered about in the gloom on Fan Gyhirych with some tantalising glimpses of the Black Mountain
As we descended the blue skies and sunshine the the forecast promised arrived and we were treated to some superb views. This was more than ample compensation for the incredibly soggy nature underfoot, 2-3 weeks of ceaseless rain, wet, thawing snow and summer boots (yes, I know, poor decision) makes for very wet feet.
Lunch in a slightly less boggy spot was followed by a climb to top of Fan Nedd where a spell of heavy rain that the forecast hadn’t promised hastened our descent and cut short the day
Short and sweet but a splendid day nonetheless. The appalling weather that followed made me rather glad I’d made the effort. In this most awful of winters, any day not characterised by ceaseless rain is a good one
November started off with a gorgeous day down in Wales. It was the final two fingers up from the great British weather as its been utterly horrid pretty much ever since.
The following weekend we headed up to High Close Hostel in the Lake District for a gathering of some 60 people, all friends and family of my good mate Mad Malcs. Despite the fact it was a year late it was a celebration of his 50th Birthday. Despite being out of the country on business and holidays for several weeks beforehand, he made a superb job of arranging the whole deal including meals and breakfasts, ably supported by his other half (who I’ll now refer to as The Good Doctor) and many other people
There were friends going back to my University days who I hadn’t seen for over 25 years and it was nice to catch up albeit very briefly with most. As you can imagine, trying to look after my own brood and with people mingling everywhere, it was hard to grab more than a few minutes chat but it was nice to see everyone and in most cases their families. Quite scary really to see friends who I knew as walking and drinking buddies now with kids approaching GCSEs in some cases. I was a little sceptical about how the whole thing would work but it was great fun. I ended up wishing we could repeat the event and disappointed that it was all over so quickly. The weekend was helped in no small part by the fact that High Close is wonderful hostel, a huge rambling manor house with a stunning covered verandah (that I remember well from a long stay here doing my Degree Thesis) and expansive grounds set amongst the fells
Such a shame that the weather was so appalling. Saturday was wet and windy with only a few brief dry intervals. Sunday was much worse with heavy rain and stronger winds that heralded the start of the water deluge that continued through November and beyond causing the heartbreaking damage that we’ve all seen on the news. I managed a few photos from a wander up Loughrigg on Saturday in the rain, enlivened by a visit to a huge mine cavern on the north slopes that I had no idea was there. If nothing else it was relatively dry! The kids all went shopping Grasmere, worrying for those of us funding them.
Sunday we took an enforced walk down through the grounds to Skelwith Force just to get out but whilst the falls were impressive the weather was truly awful and the camera stayed safely tucked up in the hostel.
A weekend for friendships and chat rather than the outdoors but well worth it for that. Huge thanks to MM, TGD and all their co-opted helpers for a really great time
Sitting here listening to the rain and wind continue to batter my part of the world its hard to believe that the first day of November was as good if not better than most of the days of the summer.
The forecast gave no indication of what a stunning day it would be so we lazed in bed at the caravan longer than we should. We’d been up Plynlimon the previous day so a family day was needed, i.e. a short walk. Allt Wen, the lofty hill that overlooks Aberystwyth from the south was the choice.
It was a truly stunning day, crystal clear, cloudless blue sky, calm and warm. Quite amazingly warm in fact to the extent it made the news. Warmest November day since records began and a small place called Trawscoed just down the road recorded just over 22C. I’d have killed for a day that warm on either of our two summer trips.
We wandered down to the end of the breakwater and then across the long curve of shingle bay to the south. It warms you up for the staggeringly steep climb up Allt Wen.
We were sweating buckets by the time we got to the top, dressed as we were for more autumnal weather. There was no breeze and it was almost too warm. How often are you left searching for a spot IN the wind in November to cool down. We spread out in a grassy spot, rolling up sleeves and trouser legs and exposing flesh to cool down. The views were magnificent (not the exposed flesh!)
We strolled to the far southern end before the paths drops steeply back to the beach and returned to our start point. The views across Cardigan Bay and Aberystwyth to the distant Snowdonia were amazing.
TBF and the kids making a fine foreground for my attempts at more arty shots.
We moved the car to the sea front in Aber (that’s what we call it, too lazy for the full name) and took a long stroll along the promenade. Its always one of our favourite family outings but it was even better on such a glorious day. The surfers were out on one of the rare breaks in this part of Wales making me think I should have taken the kayak out.
The low sun lit up the buildings on the sea front to dramatic effect making for a quite splendid walk. The castle in particular seemed to glow.
When we reached the car we watched the kayakers surfing this time as the sun went down.
Glorious end to a glorious day. Shame the weather has been completely pants ever since!
Mid-wales highest point and one I’ve been up several times the past few years. Its a wonderfully underrated and little visited spot commanding great views and is packed with hidden charms. On the basis of an ordinary forecast and with nothing else in mind we climbed it again albeit with a different finish, as TBF has never been up before – at least not that she can remember. This is a continuing theme for us. My youngest is not big on walking so often TBF has to stay behind and look after her. She is now old enough and responsible enough to be left home-alone while the the rest of us take to the hills. In much the same way I’ve enjoyed sharing my favourite routes with TJS I’m now doing the same with TBF
As per my previous posts we parked high up near Maesnant and picked up the unmarked path that follows the stream of the same name swiftly to the summit.
It was a grey day with flat light but it was bright and warm enough to enjoy a leisurely lunch on the summit.
The walk around the ridge and over to Pen Pumlumon Fach Arwystli past the source of the Wye and on towards the source of the Severn was easy and delightful. I’m always surprised that the source of these two great rivers is so close together yet they follow such completely different routes to the sea. Having lived near both rivers most my life I have a certain affection for them. Mind you as I’m sure I’ve mentioned before sources of rivers are almost exclusively disappointing affairs seeing as they are in effect just bog that trickles into streams and so on. It’s the thought of them that’s intriguing
As we continued our walk the skies brightened considerably and impressive patches of blue sky appeared. The fact that this was not in the forecast added to the surprise and good spirits. We struck off west near the source of the Severn towards a cairn overlooking the Hengwm valley
By this time the the sun was starting to drop to the horizon and the light was fantastic. The view down the Hengwm valley was superb and we took a rest to take in the views
Our route home followed the Hengwm a after a steep rocky descent and a crossing of the waterfalls above the ruined farmhouse. The setting sun lit up the valley and the hillsides magnificently and such is it’s little known nature we had the place and what felt like the whole of mid-Wales to ourselves
Hengwm is one of the most stunning valleys in Wales if not the UK. At least from a scenic perspective. From a walking perspective it’s an absolute nightmare. The map shows what looks like a substantial track. This is a cruel deception. There is nothing that even remotely resembles a path. What you do have is lots and lots of bog and lots of lots of man-sized tussocks, often in the same place. On previous visits I’ve stayed near the river and got wet. This time we went higher into the zone where the tussock was king. We fell, stumbled and got wet. Wetter in fact than the easier ground by the river where you can at least see the water at your feet. It was 20 minutes of tedium but at least the sunset put on a show to keep us entertained. Its a fabulous place to visit just don’t expect to keep your feet dry :)
A grand day out finished up with a slap up tea from the local chippy
Back in October we followed our usual plan, staying at my parents caravan in mid-Wales, TBF and the kids for the week and me for the weekends. After a a day’s surf kayaking at Rest Bay we had the Sunday for a day out. TJF is not big on long walks so I scoured the local maps and found a decent route at the far end of the Rheidol valley.
Parking at the road end we first came across a rather splendid set of waterfalls with cascades and deep scoured pools. Perfect spot for a summer picnic and a swim and I was even disappointed that in the mild October weather I hadn’t brought my swimming stuff.
The Rheidol has been heavily industrialised as a water and power source both recently and longer term. Overlooking the falls are ruins of mine workings for a range of metals and some rather unusual coloured waste heaps. In more recent times the river has been dammed in both the lower reaches and high in the mountains at Nant-y-Moch
Our stroll took us up steeply through the forest, with the river, unseen, tumbling noisily below us. The path eventually opened out onto a rather splendid high traverse above the river with distant (and free!) glimpses of the waterfalls at Devils Bridge.
Autumn colours were in abundance and we found grand open meadow for a spot of lunch and a cuppa
We were following the route of another of those long distance paths that seem to spring up everywhere these days. This one is the Borth to Devils Bridge to (the wonderfully named) Pontrhydfendigaid trail. No idea why someone thought up linking these 3 places together or whether there is a good reason for it but who cares when it takes you through grand scenery like this
This corner of Wales is well off the beaten track and we saw no other walkers during the day.
The route took us on lanes through the equally wonderfully named hamlet of Ystumtuen. Very friendly it was too, several people working in, and driving through the village wishing us good day and hoping we were enjoying our walk.
Just before a very steep descent back to the car (I was surprised how far we had climbed) we were treated to a fine view out over the Rheidol valley to the coast
A last stretch back along the road ended a rather nice easy paced family day.
Well worth further exploration is this part of or “second home” neighbourhood. It still amazes me that I spent several weeks every year in the area when my grandparents had a caravan in the same place yet still I’m discovering new places I never knew were there
I’d like to say I’ve been too busy out-of-doors doing stuff since the summer to write-up blog posts. Not the case I’m afraid as in Football parlance I’ve picked up a knock. To accompany my bad knees I now have Plantar Fasciitis in my right foot. It’s very common affecting around 1 in 15 people and the causes are pretty poorly known. It’s an inflammation of the fibrous tissue in the bottom of the heel and very painful it is as well. For most of the summer I could barely walk at times and took to having a pair of crutches with me in case I needed help.
I decided rest was the best idea so I’ve not been out much in either September and October hence the lack of blog posts. Things are on the mend now though. A combination of calf muscle strengthening exercises, rolling a frozen water bottle under my foot, a support under the arch of my foot and an odd splint that I wear in bed seems to have improved things. It’s now just an uncomfortable bruised feeling rather than an excruciating pain when I put any weight on it. Hopefully that progress will continue (apparently in most cases it will eventually just go of its own accord) as the only other option are steroid injections into the foot which are most unpleasant I hear
Anyway, enough of my ailments and on to some photos from one of the regular gatherings. This time Silverdale at the home of Mark and his family. A fine weekend as always although I didn’t take many photos despite being out for a good part of the weekend. The weather was dry but a little drab and grey which probably explains my lack of photographic ambition. Saturday was the classic Silverdale to Arnside coastal walk returning via Arnside Knott. We took in the Apple festival (the edible ones, not a gadget in sight). Unless you count an apple juicing machine. It was run by an Austrian guy who we all agreed with expected puerility was Arnie, prompting the usual raft of “I’ll be back” and other such classic one-liners. Anyway it was fun and different and the kids had a ball
Sunday we took a walk to Jenny Brown’s Point, another popular local classic. Whatever the buildings were once used for (no-one seems to be 100% sure) they are slowly being re-claimed by the sea. We had some watery sunshine and some butterflies so finally I got the camera out and took a few snaps
A great weekend and big thanks to Mark and his TBH for putting us up, feeding us and making us abundantly welcome
Incidentally one thing I have realised what a great aide memoire my blog is. I often use it to confirm what I’ve been doing in recent and longer term history. For September and October while I was resting up I must have been out a few times other than this weekend but without the blog or a clutch of photos I have no idea how I filled the other half a dozen weekends. Possibly I slipped into an alternate dimension and saved a bunch of blue skinned aliens from an oppressive evil overlord. Or maybe I just watched a lot of TV
Main focus of the post to come but a few photos from a lunchtime stroll around the thronging crowds in RickSteinVille aka Padstow. It’s a really rather splendid little place and despite my dislike of tourist crowds I have something of a soft sport for the place. Possibly on account of the fact that it’s a foodies heaven with lots of great cafes, and the best pasties in Cornwall in my opinion from The Chough Bakery. The views from up on the hill just out-of-town are rather splendid as you can see
One of my recent book purchases from the “Wild” series by Daniel Start was one about the South West containing more than just Wild Swimming spots. Bodmin Moor looked to be packed with interesting stuff and I’d never seen it (other than passing through on the A30 on way to and from Cornwall). Time to change that. I’d been looking across longingly from the campsite at the distant tors from the campsite but the weather always looked considerably greyer and gloomier than the coast. However on our last day it looked better and we’d headed off for a day of exploration
First stop was Delford Bridge. It was a beautiful spot, with an old bridge across a lazy river surrounding by grassy expanses, just perfect for a laze in the sun and a picnic. Of course as soon as we stepped from the car it chucked it down. A picnic sheltering under the tailgate of the car had to suffice :)
I’d had grand plans for some Bodmin Moor wild swimming either here in the nearby quarry lakes on Carbilly Tor. The weather was just awful, heavy persistent drizzle and low cloud. In search of inspiration I took a punt that with a northerly wind the southern side of the moors might be drier.
Inspired. As soon as we crossed the A30 the rain stopped and the sun appeared. Smug hat ready. We stopped off for a stroll at Golitha Falls. A series of cascades on the River Fowey and very nice they were too. No major cascades but very pretty with a very large pool at the end for a swim in warmer weather and lots of old mine workings.
Onwards and moor-wards to the wonderfully named village of Minions. Loads of interesting stuff round here and we went out for an explore. The area is full of old mine workings and they create an evocative sense of a past age now long gone
First stop was the summit of Stowe’s Hill with its granite tors. Most famous is the Cheesewring, an impossibly piled collection of rocks perched above a disused quarry.
The views across the moors were impressive and were just begging for a long walk and an explore
As we continued our walk the skies became a mix of sunshine and dark stormy clouds that lit up the tors to great effect.
Onto our next objective, the disused Goldiggins Quarry with its spring fed lake. It looks stunning even under a greyish sky. Another potential spot for a swim but it was still very chilly and there were some people camped there who probably didn’t wish to their evening spoiled by the sight of me splashing about.
The other attraction on Bodmin Moor are the remains of ancient civilisations and stone circles. The local one here is The Hurlers. Have to say that I always find these things of limited interest but this one was impressively sited and the late afternoon light made it an evocative place.
So with our Bodmin Moor itch scratched for the day we headed home to a final sunset.
The British weather gave us a final little slap by delivering a fine warm and sunny day when we needed to go home. We thought it would be nice to spend a last day on the beach before the long journey. As the campsite was half empty and the main summer weeks over I asked if we could leave the camper up for an extra few hours so we could enjoy our last few hours. I was slightly taken aback when this was firmly refused as the owner gave no indication that there was anyone using the pitch that day. We often ask for this favour on campsites when they are not busy and have never been refused before. In fact once on a nearby site when staying in a static I asked the same thing and we were welcomed to stay an extra night and the owners refused to take any extra money for the extra night.
My main concern was having to tow the trailer down the narrow lanes to the beach. I asked if I could just leave the trailer tucked away somewhere on the site which I thought was a perfectly reasonable request. Again this request was flatly refused and we were left in no uncertain terms that we were to be off the site completely by the stated time. Have to say this left a very sour taste after a great week and developing a real affection for the site and it’s location. Some of the conversations around the site seem to indicate a large number of guests have been coming back for years leaving me feeling that the site is little cliquey. It rather ruined my view of the site and despite its fantastic location I doubt I will ever go back. A real shame.
So we towed the trailer down the lanes to the beach and spent a last happy afternoon at Treyarnon Bay. A hot pork sandwich from the beach cafe followed by a swim around the rocks to the rock pool and an ice cream to finish off the trip
A great week despite it being colder than October and no waves. A long wait till the next major holiday but that should be good one – more of that later in the year