Indian Summer Weekend   6 comments

As you may know if you’ve ever read my About page I’m employed by the communications giant Nokia as a Project Manager. Well at the end of September they decided in their infinite wisdom that they no longer needed me and several colleagues in Bristol and that they could run my small part of the Nokia world from the good old US of A. Well thanks a bunch. Luckily I have several months of consultations and what have you before I become another statistic of the economic crisis so no need to get a cardboard box out of the attic and pop down the off-license for a bottle of Thunderbird wine just yet.

As you may remember the end of September yielded a mini-heatwave in most parts of the UK. The day after this rather disappointing news I considered various options open to me and thought. “£$%! Nokia – I’m off to the hills for the day!”, so I shut down my laptop and accompanied by my lovely wife Jane headed into the Black Mountains between the school runs. I decided to show her the delights of the little known south-west ridges although most of the Black Mountains are “little known” to be fair.

We were parked up by 10am and said a cheery good morning to a couple of gents who looked like they were heading to Waun Fach. Our route was a round of Cwm Banw taking in Table Mountain, Pen Cerrig-Calch and Pen Allt Mawr. It was a stunning day with hazy sunshine and exceedingly hot (my car thermometer was showing 27 degrees when we pulled up).

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Autumn sunshine

As we traversed across the bracken slopes towards Table Mountain I began to hope that there would be some sort of breeze to cool us down – luckily there was and it was a perfect walking day.

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Jane striding out

Table Mountain is prominent flat-topped eminence above Crickhowell, topped off by an old Iron-age hill-fort. It’s also known as Crug Hywel after a 10th century Welsh character responsible for a range of escapades including fighting off the Vikings on Anglesey and developing the “Laws of Wales”, aimed at freeing the common man from tyranny. There you go, history lesson over. Homework to be handed in on Friday

It’s also a top spot for a late breakfast in the warm sun. There wasn’t a soul about, one of the advantages of sticking two fingers up at your ungrateful employer on a Friday.

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Table Mountain

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looking from Table Mountain to Pen Cerrig-Calch

Refreshed, we headed for the long pull up to Pen Cerrig-Calch, the highest limestone peak in a National Park dominated by old red sandstone.

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Table Mountain

They thought long and hard before coming up with the name for this one; cerrig is stone and calch is lime. See, you’re learning here.

It’s a strange summit of dark heather and peat and white limestone rocks.

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Pen Cerrig-Calch summit

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Pen Allt Mawr

As we headed on we were joined by gliders from the nearby airstrip at Talgarth.

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Gliding over the Brecon Beacons

On to the high point of the day and lunch on Pen Allt Mawr again all to ourselves.

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Eating again

The views across to the Beacons and the rest of the Black Mountains were stupendous. Amazing to lie on a mountain top, in the warm sun in T-shirt and shorts on the last day of September. It felt that we had the whole national park to ourselves.

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Waun Fach - highest point of the Black Mountains

Alas time was moving on and we had kids to collect so we strolled down under the dark mass of Pen Allt Mawr, past the ubiquitous group of wild horses, on to Pen Twyn Glas and turning SE to head along the Tal Trwynau ridge above the stunning Grwyne Fechan valley.

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Local Residents

It’s a great extension to this walk to traverse Mynydd Lisiau and return down this valley but sadly we didn’t have time today (you can see a few photos on my Brecon Beacons and Black Mountains page)

The path works its way through some old quarries where we stopped for a final sunbathe.

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The end of the ridge, Sugar Loaf behind

Jane is never happier than sitting with her face to the sun for a snooze. As we headed back to the car we came across one of the biggest wild mushrooms I’ve ever seen. It was at least a foot across and my Collins guide says it’s a Parasol Mushroom which is good enough to eat. This one would have fed the whole family!

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"Call Roy Castle"

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Parasol Mushroom

All in all, 8 miles and 1,700 feet of ascent. I’ve included my usual slide show below – I do these for almost every trip I take, primarily for my own benefit as it’s much better looking at the photos on my TV with the family. Hopefully some of my readers may also enjoy a these and the expanded photo set. The music for this one seems a bit obvious and cheesy but when I listened to the words and remembered my frame of mind for the day after the disappointment of the day before and who was with me on the walk it all seemed to fit.

Over the following weekend my sister-in-law came to visit and we had a fine and final BBQ of the year in the garden on a day so hot we were forced to sit in the shade – in October!

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The Jones family garden

On the Sunday we headed to the Shropshire Hills near Church Stretton for a picnic in the Cardingmill Valley and some walking. The weather wasn’t quite as good as we’d hoped but we still had a nice lunch by the river.

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Cardingmill Valley

It was hugely crowded and we only just got a space, clearly everyone else in the West Midlands had the same idea. Fortunately once you head off into the complex knot of valleys that slice into the Long Mynd you can lose the crowds.

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Peace and quiet

Walking in this area is a real gem and with some effort you can find some quiet valley’s with streams and waterfalls. We took a simple route up onto the summit plateau and then back down over some of the small knolls on the way back to the car.

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Burway Hill

The views out past Ragleth, Caer Caradoc and Hope Bowdler Hills and The Lawley towards the Cheshire Plain were still good. You can combine these hills into a long a fairly challenging walk  based from Church Stretton which me and Jane did a few years back.

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The Lawley, Caer Caradoc and Hope Bowdler Hills

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Burway Hill

After a nice little walk of 4.5 miles, we headed back to the car for a brew. Water: check, stove: check, kettle: check, milk: check, mugs: check, tea bags: Ah……. b*llocks!

As it was a pleasant day, spent largely in the valley and it was a Sunday the music for this slide show chose itself.

PS – I’ve since been told that strictly speaking and Indian Summer is a warm spell after the first frost of the autumn – can’t let that spoil a good blog title though

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6 responses to “Indian Summer Weekend

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  1. A big boo to Nokia I say. The Black Mountains are lovely hills, even better on a hot and sunny Friday. I think that it may be a long time until we get weather like that again.

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    backpackingbongos
    • Thanks James – it’ll be their loss and something better always turns up 🙂

      Pretty sure I’ve walked every major ridge in the BM’s now so I’m scouring the maps looking for new and interesting routes and combinations. Also spreading my wings and exploring some new bits of Wales. Had a couple of stonking days in the Arenigs and Plynlimon recently (prompted by your adventures), posts to follow shortly – still catching up after my summer trips

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  2. Good luck Andy.

    I enjoyed the show. Can you ask Jane to wear the Romper suit next time?
    😎

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    • Thanks Alan – not too worried at the moment plenty of time and already some new opportunities emerging

      We are entering prime romper suit season so rest assured there will be further photos appearing soon (assuming I can stop laughing long enough to take a photo). If embarrassing your loved one’s online isn’t a good reason for writing a blog I don’t know what is

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  3. shame about the job Andy, hope something else turns up!
    was the mushroom good enough to eat?

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    • Thanks David, I’ve been through this sort of thing a few times – fact of life in the IT world – and it always leads to something better.

      I only found out after I got back that these are edible, bit nervous about scoffing wild mushrooms and the like. Now I know though I’ll give it go next time – easily identified and loads about

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