Following my own footsteps   8 comments

One thing I’ve been trying hard to do over the last few months is to make sure I get out for a day in the hills at least once a week. This was going well in the early summer and  I was also able to get out after work as well so I was really covering the miles. Since I came back from France I’ve let things slide a bit so I’m now trying to get moving again. A few walking posts behind so here is the next one of my days out, another trip into my local hills, The Black Mountains.

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Castell Dinas from Y Grib

I’s chosen to repeat one of my favourite routes, a circuit taking in the highest point in the range, Waun Fach via one of the best ridges, Y Grib. The forecast was excellent so having got up at 7am I was a trifle vexed that when I parked up it was completely cloudless about 2 miles to the north but the Black Mountains was blanketed by cold grey cloud.

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Wye Valley in Sun (outraged)

Despite my best efforts at mind over matter and the best efforts of the sun, it stayed that way until the last hour of the walk when the cloud finally pushed far enough south for the sun to come out.

As you may know if you’ve read my Black Mountains posts most of the ridges are broad and flat. This ridge is one of the few narrower ones and is a quality way to reach the summit of Waun Fach. I’ve actually skied up and down this ridge on New Years Day a couple of years ago.

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Y Grib ridge

As usual for an early Saturday morning the area seemed deserted and I didn’t see anyone until on my down from the summit. The views across the Wye Valley bathed in sunshine and with a blanket of low-lying mist were enchanting and it kind of made up for the feeling it was sunny everywhere but where I was (I even had shorts on!).

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Y Grib, Mynydd Troed and Wye Valley

Still it’s a fine walk up the ridge and I made swift progress, waiting for a pause when I thought the sun might come out so I could stop for lunch. It didn’t so I kept going.

Once up on the main ridge to the summit the going gets a little boggier and the summit of Waun Fach is particularly oozy mess.

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Waun Fach summit

Having been to the top numerous times I declined the usual coating of black goo on my boots and pressed on down towards Pen Trumau. It remained frustratingly cloudy but it was peaceful and I enjoyed the easy stroll. I gave up waiting for the sun to come out just above the col as I was starving and had a long leisurely brunch with a large caterpillar for company.

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Mynydd Troed

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My lunchtime companion

I had half an idea to try to cross the valley and take in Mynydd Troed but I wasn’t sure if there was a route through the farmland to the open country. I thought I’d save that for another day. Mynydd Troed was my first proper hill when I was 10. We were on a school camping trip (my first time in a tent come to think of it) at Talgarth and we climbed it on a truly awful day but I guess that’s when the bug must have first bit me as I loved every minute. Our teacher even convinced us it was volcano and the small depression where trig point sat was the crater. Adults can be cruel.

I watched a huge group of walkers approach me on the path to the col and then strike off abruptly to climb Pen Trumau directly. The slopes round here are heavily vegetated and they made extremely slow progress. Perhaps I needed a shower.

As I headed down into the valley and started back towards the car the sun eventually came out and the day was transformed.

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Y Grib, Mynydd Troed and Castell Dinas

Just above where I parked the car is Castell Dinas so I decided it was worth a climb now. It’s a punishing steep grassy climb to the top but the views made it well worthwhile.

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Mynydd Troed from Castell Dinas

The Y Grib ridge I climbed earlier was obviously now bathed in sunshine so I parked myself on the top and did what I do best on walks, I sat down, soaked up the views and ate.

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Y Grib ridge

I don’t fare all that well in the more competitive elements of outdoor activities, but when it comes to sitting around and eating copious amounts of food, I’m up there with the best of them.

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Farmland merges to hillside

A great route this one (8 miles and 2,300 feet of ascent) and I return to it often. Combination of narrow (by Black Mountains standard) ridge and the wild moorland is hard to beat. As always seems to be the case, barely a soul around. Enjoy the full slide show and tune

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8 responses to “Following my own footsteps

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  1. At least your teacher din’t tell you that the trig pillar was stuffed with salami – who would do a thing like that?
    I think that the caterpillar might be a fox moth caterpillar – we saw one on Rolling End on the Swindside weekend. Here’s a link, see what you think:
    http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=425
    Looks like a cracking route, can’t understand why the Black Mountains are not more well known and more popular. Still – no complaints from you I’m sure.

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    beatingthebounds
    • That’s the fellow – I forget I have D’s Collins guide now – I should have checked before I posted

      If you head about 10 miles west you find all the people on Pen-y-Fan. I think it’s just down to the fact that most fairweather walkers are drawn to the well known places. The Black Mountains don’t possess any “famous” places or routes. I’ve been up there in all conditions and rarely see more than dozen people from start to finish. I’ve been up Pen-y-Fan on some pretty nasty winter days and seen at least 50 people on the summit alone. I went up once on a summer day and I reckon there were over 200 people on the top. It’s the highest point in South Wales ergo it must be the best. Pretty much every other route I’ve done in South Wales has been either deserted or nearly so.

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  2. That Y grib route looks like a corker, not spotted the ridge on the map before. Only been up Pen Y Fan the once, maybe never again as it was totally packed!

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    backpackingbongos
    • Highly recommended James, worth the bonus trip to the castle on the hill as well. Cutting across the valley to pick up Mynydd Troed as well would make a fine circuit. Just make sure it’s still dormant 🙂

      Shame Pen-y-Fan is so popular and overcrowded, it’s a fine summit. The long traverse from Corn Du all the way across to Carn Pica is a classic, especially the narrow path across the north face of Cribyn – one of my favorites that bit

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  3. You siad “…did what I do best on walks, I sat down, soaked up the views and ate.”

    That’s the whole point so walking, isn’t it? 😉 It works for me!

    That looks like an interesting route and nice to get away from the crowded hills.

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  4. Nothing better than chill-out time on a walk. I’m often found wandering aimlessly about, looking for the perfect spot to park myself. These things need to be taken very seriously 🙂

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  5. I drove past this range on the A479 a few weeks ago. We were staying overnight near Abergavenny and taking a roundabout route up to near Ludlow. I remember commenting to J that I liked the look of the ridgeline as we drove by. Now there’s a wee coincidence.

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    Where the Fatdog Walks

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