The Late Late Show – Hatterall Hill, Black Mountains   10 comments

My mate Geordie Munro came down for a visit over New Year and we had grand plans for some walks that the weather appeared determined to spoil. We were planning to meet for a walk in the Shropshire Hills near Church Stretton on his way down from Derbyshire but an initially promising forecast turned dispiritingly dismal so we abandoned that plan in the hope the weather might improve by the time he arrived at our place. Luckily it did (well it stopped raining anyway) so me, GM and D dashed out for a short walk in the Black Mountains. Keen to show him somewhere new I plumped for one of my favourites, Hatterall Hill, the southern end of the eastern-most of the Black Mountains ridges that runs from Hay Bluff in the north. The ridge splits into two arms making for a rather splendid and in my experience very quiet circuit.

Hatterall Hill

6.1 Miles, 1,340 feet of ascent

My last visit in late spring a couple of years back couldn’t have been more different. Warm sunshine then was replaced now with a chill strong wind and dark scudding clouds. The first major obstacle on the walk was the world’s greasiest stile that the worlds clumsiest man promptly fell off leaving him with a fine yellowish-purple bruise that is only just fading 2 weeks on. As we wandered towards the river it became abundantly clear just how wet everything was after the recent biblical rains.

Hatterrall Hill

Sliding across the fields

Every square inch of every field was completely sodden and muddy, even the green and grassy bits had a thin film of water running. Within a few strides my trousers were splattered up to the knees in mud, a recurrent theme throughout the next few days. The river here is normally a pleasant babbling brook but today was a raging torrent of noisy brown water. Quite easy to see how careless behaviour results in fatalities, you could easily paddle across this in summer but a casual foot out of place today and you’d be swept away with little chance of surviving.

Afon Honddu

Raging Torrent

The rest of walk turned into a rather nice, brooding but fast paced march. I quickly realised that setting off at 2pm for a 6 mile walk in December was slightly ambitious so we had to push on to make sure we didn’t end up walking in the dark. Not sure D was expecting this when we set off but I rationalised with him that it was “all part of the mountain experience”. GM was suitably impressed by Cwmyoy’s wonky church (I must take a look inside one of these days) and the fact that, for unknown reasons, the signposts were in kilometres rather than miles.

Cwmyoy, Hatterrall Hill

“Bloody European Union”

Cwmyoy, Church

Cwmyoy Church

By the time we’d reached the top of the steep climb the light was already fading creating some nice light and dark effects but increasing my concern about where exactly we’d be when it got dark.

Ysgyryd Fawr, Hatterrall Hill

Ysgyryd Fawr from Hatterrall Hill

Sugar Loaf, Hatterrall Hill

Sugar Loaf from Hatterrall Hill

We reached the summit of Hatterrall Hill where Offa’s Dyke joins and pressed on down the stream/path.

Offas Dyke, Hatterrall Hill

Me and D on Hatterrall Hill

Hatterrall Hill, Offa's Dyke

D on Offa’s Dyke

On to the farm with the poetic barn (see previous post on this walk) and started heading down the other side of the horseshoe where the last of the light left us and I officially declared it “dark”. The last half a mile down an astonishingly muddy track to the lane was interesting and kind of fun. By the light of my head torch I saw D giving me a look that said “you never told me this was likely to happen”. All part of the experience was all I could offer him but he seemed to enjoy it nonetheless. We traversed the fields, river and slippery stile back to the car without incident pausing to snap some “hikers by head-torch” shots and were back at the car by 5:15.

Hatterall Hill

“Hey, it’s dark!”

Hatterrall Hil

Rabbits in the (head-torch) lights

Sometimes you just have to go for it, it would have been easy to stay in on such a damp day when the time is pressing but it’s always a positive to extract some pleasure from what could have been a dead day.

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Posted January 16, 2013 by surfnslide in Black Mountains, Wales, Walking

Tagged with , ,

10 responses to “The Late Late Show – Hatterall Hill, Black Mountains

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  1. Love that wonky church! Can you get in – is it unlocked?

    Looked a nice enough day you snatched there though, inbetween all the wet stuff!

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    • Never tried to get in the church but I will next time – they also light it up at night which looked rather fine. I got another couple of pretty good days in over New Year, posts to follow. I know, I know, your on tenterhooks, just be patient 🙂

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  2. Blimey – you’re toughening that lad up! Looks like you made the best of a bad lot. The video footage of the stream/torrent is impressive.
    Yon wobbly church looks great – I imagine it oscillating gently, like a jelly, or a church in a Rhubarb and Custard cartoon. Which takes me back even further than hearing Secret Affair again does.

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    beatingthebounds
    • We did alright over New Year, D was suffering on the 3rd day out but he absolutely loves proper mountain walks now.

      Da-na-na-nar, Da-na-na-nar, Da na na na na nar!! Now that was a quality a very surreal cartoon series, must dig it out on Youtube. The Church is my favourite

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  3. Oooo! Very jealous of all the Christmas walking activity bring on this weekend! Finally OUT THERE again yay! Great pics, tune and production as usual! That lad is going to be very experienced get him on Duke of Edinburgh!

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    • He’s taking after his dad which is great and he just loves the mountains. He likes his maths and numbers so of course he’s into all the distances, ascent, peak bagging, heights, list etc. Glad you enjoyed the little show. Have a great time this weekend wherever you’re going, don’t forget the snow gear!!

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  4. Have a look inside the church – stand in the middle and look from side to side, it is very odd. Thats a nice route which I did a couple of times when i was visiting the Black Mountains a lot. Need to get back there again this year.

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    backpackingbongos
    • Have you ever posted about the walk or is it pre-blog? It’s one of my favourites and I’ve done loads of times now, when I’m after a shortish route for a half day it’s always high on the list and always deserted. I MUST go inside the church next time and take a look. Let me know if you’re heading down this way any time, be great to meet up (only if you bring Reuben though!)

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  5. One of my very early blog posts skims past your route Andy http://backpackingbongos.wordpress.com/2009/02/04/a-weekend-in-the-black-mountains/ loved my visits to the cottage a mile from the road and with no electricity!

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    backpackingbongos

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