Walks for the afflicted   6 comments

I’ve recently had to have some minor surgery on my right knee to repair nearly 30 years of wear and tear from mountain climbing and skiing. They messed about with my cartilages and did something called a lateral release whatever that is. End result is that I spent a week in the house recovering before I went stir crazy and had to get out. It was a lovely, warm early spring day, so me J and the kids went out for a stroll with me hoping I could cope with an easy walk as getting up and down stairs was still a problem.

Above the Wye Valley is a local hill where you can drive to about 1000 feet and walk easily across fields to the common land to the top.

J, D and L enjoying the spring weather

It’s called Merbach Hill and it commands an excellent view of the river Wye and across to the Black Mountains and Brecon Beacons as well as the central hills of Wales. It would be a lovely place for a summer picnic but despite the fact that we’ve been up here dozens of times we’ve never done that. We took a slow stroll up towards the summit and then sat to give the kids a snack on the top.

Looking out over the Wye valley towards mid-Wales

It was warm enough to relax without a fleece and almost warm enough to consider shorts. I love winter conditions and snow but once the chance for that has gone I’m all for the warm weather and clear skies that March, April and May sometimes brings.

We headed off down into the scrubby woodland and bracken on the north side, very slowly in my case. Spring was definitely in the air with birdsong filling the air and blossom starting to bud on the trees.

J & L in the wooded glades

We came across a very prominent and substantial animal burrow with several very large entrances all with fresh soil outside. I’d need ED to give me a proper answer but my guess based on the scale would be a badger’s sett as it looked way too big for rabbits and too big for foxes as I think they are more solitary.

Badgers Sett?

Our normal route, sneaking over a gap in the fence had been closed off so we had to return to the top by a path we’d not been on before giving us a pleasant view back across the Wye Valley.

Bracken and Woods on Merbach Hill

Apart from a minor knee twist causing me to collapse in an embarrassing heap, it was encouraging that my knee was recovering and I’m hoping to be fit enough to hit the Scottish mountains for some backpacking over Easter weekend. Watch this blog!

Flickr photos are here

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Posted March 27, 2011 by surfnslide in Local Walks, Walking

Tagged with , , , ,

6 responses to “Walks for the afflicted

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  1. Nice pictures. I envy you the many footpaths you have. And, if you will pardon a maybe naive question. What is rambling,as compared with walking and hiking?

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  2. That’s how you have time to mess about with maps! (You may have to explain that to me in May – then I can have a proper walking blog too.)
    From my too few visits I have a great affection for the Wye valley – this looks like a great walk.
    I’m going to pontificate now – if I could type at the same time I’d be stroking my beard medatively: rabbit warrens can have surprisingly large holes and big spoil heaps – but your photo does look especially big, also it’s likely that there would be lots of droppings and rabbits evident nearby.
    By contrast badgers are extremely fastidious and dig little scoops to dump in – they have latrines on their regular routes which they reuse – with quite distinctive black stools – is that more information than you needed? If you can find those near (but not too near) to the suspected sett I think that would be a clincher. I’ve read that badgers regularly change their bedding and that you will find dried grass and leaves nearby which have been dragged from the sett. Mind I’m no expert – I know of a few placs where there are setts but I’ve never seen a badger in the wild except roadkill.

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    beatingthebounds
  3. Hi John

    Thanks for the comment. In the UK the term “rambling” is a bit subjective and tends to be applied to more moderate walking and sometimes looked down on by the “hard-core” mountaineers. In reality there is no real difference and whether you walk, ramble, hike, mountaineer, climb etc it doesn’t really matter as long as you are out and enjoying the scenery, wildlife, exercise, challenge or whatever drives you to do it.

    We have our share of footpath access problems in the UK but I guess from the sounds of it we are lucky that we have so many wonderful walking possibilities. This walk is a 20 minute drive from my house and I have limitless other walks within an hour

    Cheers

    Andy

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  4. If you want to play around with maps you’ll need some map software. Mine is Anquet Maps but it’s an old copy and out of date. The other common one I know is Memory Map. They both cost a bit (around £100) but you get the whole UK on 1:50000. You can draw your own routes on it (or if you have the right device/phone you can import a GPS track) and then you need to print it as a PDF (I use a free tool called cutePDF) or try and grab a free screen capture tool (Malcs gave me a version called HyperSnap) to get an image and just copy it in. This is what I get up to when I should be out walking!

    I’m keen to get back up to Merbach Hill and check for badger poo now! I’m pretty sure there were no rabbit droppings near the hole but armed with some proper info I reckon we can check it out properly now. I’ve seen badgers trying to become roadkill before and I once saw one in the garden at Brothers Water campsite

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    • Ah. I was with you all the way – until a one followed by two zeroes floated into vision. I’ll cope without bloggy maps then.
      Good luck with the badger hunting.
      I know of an occupied sett not too far from here – maybe I’ll try an evening visit when the evenings get longer.

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      beatingthebounds
  5. Not sure if you’re aware but Bing Maps has OS 1:50,000 and 1:25,000 views on it. You can also plot your own routes on that as well so if you can get hold of a free screen capture tool you can do all this for nowt. I’m going to play around with this over the next couple of weeks so once I’ve sussed it I’ll put a post up with some details. I’ve also got a free bit of phone software that can create a GPS track while you’re on the move and I think you can import that into Bing as well. Watch this blog!

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