Archive for April 2014

Fan Fawr with TJS   6 comments

Still in February in blog-time. Short post of a walk I did with TJS over the Fforest Fawr hills to the west of Brecon Beacons

The forecast looked promising for the morning with rain spreading in for the afternoon. An early start was called for and things, whilst cold, looked promising when we set off. Lots of blue sky and sunshine but with dark clouds which I assumed would clear as per the forecast

Fan Fawr, Fforest Fawr, Craig Cerrig Geisiad, Fan Frynych

Fan Fawr, Fforest Fawr, Craig Cerrig Geisiad, Fan Frynych

Wrong! What the forecast had failed to predict were short and very heavy rain and hail-storms and the first one hit us within 15 minutes as we traversed under Craig Cerrig Gleisiad. TJS has never been out in hail before and I don’t think he was all that enamoured! What they lack in duration they more than make up for in pain and wetness!

Fan Fawr, Fforest Fawr, Craig Cerrig Geisiad, Fan Frynych

Fan Fawr, Fforest Fawr, Craig Cerrig Geisiad, Fan Frynych

We moved at a brisk pace in the cold wind, following the edge of the cliffs up on to the top (bypassing the trig point at Fan Frynych – Trig points in the middle of bogs are an acquired taste). There was someone camping and it looks a good spot with plenty of soft grass and moss and a fine view over the Beacons.

Fan Fawr, Fforest Fawr, Craig Cerrig Geisiad, Fan Frynych

Fan Fawr, Fforest Fawr, Craig Cerrig Geisiad, Fan Frynych

The next section is a trudge across an expanse of grass and bog of to the base of Fan Fawr. Not a place to be caught in a hail-storm. Needless to say we got caught in a hailstorm and a pretty lengthy and nasty one at that. We were soaked in readiness for the steep climb up to the summit.

Fan Fawr, Fforest Fawr, Craig Cerrig Geisiad, Fan Frynych

No path so a tough climb up steep grass. TJS needs experience of off-piste terrain to build his fitness so this was good challenge he coped well with although I think he prefers a good path!

Fan Fawr, Fforest Fawr, Craig Cerrig Geisiad, Fan Frynych

The summit was cold, windy and dark with the threat of more sky-fall. We headed down the obscenely steep slopes of grass to find a spot for lunch.

Fan Fawr, Fforest Fawr, Craig Cerrig Geisiad, Fan Frynych

TJS seemed a little slower than usual and heading down the Taff Trail section he seemed distinctly unhappy. When I pressed him, he told me his boots were too small and had been giving him grief for several weeks! Quite why he hadn’t told me before is anyone’s guess but they were almost 2.5 sizes too small. Doesn’t always occur to me that he’s still growing and his feet are now as big as mine

The walk back was enlivened by the sight of a car that appeared to have slid down the long bank below the road with rescue operations underway. You can just see the red car in the bottom left hand corner of the photo below

Fan Fawr, Fforest Fawr, Craig Cerrig Geisiad, Fan Frynych

So the long trudge back down the trail was a slightly dispiriting one for him and all in all a bit of a disappointing day considering the weather had been less than expected and we’d made an early start to enjoy it.

Fan Fawr, Fforest Fawr, Craig Cerrig Geisiad, Fan Frynych

Still as always its good to get out in the fresh air is it does disprove the theory that we only ever go out in the sunshine 🙂

You can see a slightly sunnier version of this walk from a couple of years back here

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Crug Mawr One Year On   4 comments

A repeat of a walk I did with TJS at the same time last year. This time he was off on a school trip to France and TJF was in a actting workshop. Me a TBF had a few hours to complete a walk before we picked her up. It was something of a brisk walk to make sure we got back in time to pick her up but it’s a fine walk. This year we stopped in the churchyard for lunch. There is a full write up at the link here so I’ve just included a few choice photos and slideshow for this version

Crug Mawr, black Mountains, patrishow,  Twyn y Gaer Hill Fort, Vale of Ewyas,

Crug Mawr, black Mountains, patrishow,  Twyn y Gaer Hill Fort, Vale of Ewyas,

Crug Mawr, black Mountains, patrishow,  Twyn y Gaer Hill Fort, Vale of Ewyas,

Crug Mawr, black Mountains, patrishow,  Twyn y Gaer Hill Fort, Vale of Ewyas,

Crug Mawr, black Mountains, patrishow,  Twyn y Gaer Hill Fort, Vale of Ewyas,

Crug Mawr, black Mountains, patrishow,  Twyn y Gaer Hill Fort, Vale of Ewyas,

Crug Mawr, black Mountains, patrishow,  Twyn y Gaer Hill Fort, Vale of Ewyas,

Crug Mawr, black Mountains, patrishow,  Twyn y Gaer Hill Fort, Vale of Ewyas,

Crug Mawr, black Mountains, patrishow,  Twyn y Gaer Hill Fort, Vale of Ewyas,

Crug Mawr, black Mountains, patrishow,  Twyn y Gaer Hill Fort, Vale of Ewyas,

Crug Mawr, black Mountains, patrishow,  Twyn y Gaer Hill Fort, Vale of Ewyas,

Small hills with disproportionately big views – Bryn Arw   4 comments

I like the title of this post as a possible title for a book I will never write. I’ve developed quite a fondness for small hills and this one on my doorstep is real favourite. Located just on the fringes of the Black Mountains, themselves relatively quiet, this hill I guess sees few visitors. I’ve been up many times and rarely seen anyone on its summit or lower slopes.

I’ve posted walks up here a couple of times before (read a post here with more words), so here a few pictures from a winter day when we all grabbed a short walk between the rains that swamped the UK back in January

bryn arw, ysgyryd fawr, sugar loaf, betwsI dropped the family off where the paths starts and took the car to the other end. The road back is nice and quiet and I enjoyed the walk, it was streaming with rain water!

bryn arw, ysgyryd fawr, sugar loaf, betws

bryn arw, ysgyryd fawr, sugar loaf, betws

bryn arw, ysgyryd fawr, sugar loaf, betwsAs we climbed up the steep slopes the clouds looked mean, moody and magnificent with the dark blue winter sky between

bryn arw, ysgyryd fawr, sugar loaf, betws

bryn arw, ysgyryd fawr, sugar loaf, betwsA breezy lunch stop overlooking Ysgyryd Fawr

bryn arw, ysgyryd fawr, sugar loaf, betws

bryn arw, ysgyryd fawr, sugar loaf, betwsThe ridge is broad and easy angled and perfect for a family stroll. Even TJF seemed to be enjoying the day. As with all small hills it gives an unrivalled views of the higher peaks

bryn arw, ysgyryd fawr, sugar loaf, betws

bryn arw, ysgyryd fawr, sugar loaf, betws

bryn arw, ysgyryd fawr, sugar loaf, betws

bryn arw, ysgyryd fawr, sugar loaf, betws

bryn arw, ysgyryd fawr, sugar loaf, betwsI’ve been watching this poor, gnarled old tree slowly wither and die over the past 11 years I’ve been walking up here. It’s well and truly dead now.

bryn arw, ysgyryd fawr, sugar loaf, betws

bryn arw, ysgyryd fawr, sugar loaf, betwsWonderful winter day and as always we saw no-one, a hill well worth seeking out.

2014 Started with a bang in The Beacons   14 comments

My mate GM has recently moved south to Worcester and I’d been keen to show off some more of the local mountains. He came down for a weekend just after New Year and the Saturday coincided with decent forecast so together with trusty sidekick, TJS we headed for a day on the high peaks of the Brecon Beacons. Me and TJS had done a similar route about a year ago in snow so a repeat was in order. You can read about that trip here.

There were clouds hugging the summits when we set off in a cold wind but plenty of blue sky filled gaps and our hopes were high. The morning views were grand.

Brecon Beacons, Pen y Fan, Corn Du, Cribyn, Fan y Big

Brecon Beacons, Pen y Fan, Corn Du, Cribyn, Fan y Big

Brecon Beacons, Pen y Fan, Corn Du, Cribyn, Fan y Big

We cut the corner off to hit the edge as direct as we could and although we avoided the bog the slope was lung-bustingly steep. Advantage was that we were quickly up high and to see the summits and sky clearing. It was turning into a cracker.

Brecon Beacons, Pen y Fan, Corn Du, Cribyn, Fan y Big

Brecon Beacons, Pen y Fan, Corn Du, Cribyn, Fan y Big

Brecon Beacons, Pen y Fan, Corn Du, Cribyn, Fan y Big

We made swift progress along the ridge towards Corn Du where we saw the gathering masses. both Corn Du and Pen y Fan were smothered with people but it was far too good a day to be worried about crowds and when you have a 360 blue sky panorama on a crystal sharp day, they seem to melt into the background.

Brecon Beacons, Pen y Fan, Corn Du, Cribyn, Fan y Big

Brecon Beacons, Pen y Fan, Corn Du, Cribyn, Fan y Big

Brecon Beacons, Pen y Fan, Corn Du, Cribyn, Fan y Big

Brecon Beacons, Pen y Fan, Corn Du, Cribyn, Fan y Big

Brecon Beacons, Pen y Fan, Corn Du, Cribyn, Fan y Big

Brecon Beacons, Pen y Fan, Corn Du, Cribyn, Fan y Big

We had a lovely sheltered lunch on the slopes of Pen y Fan, playing plane spotting with my phone app to pass the time

Brecon Beacons, Pen y Fan, Corn Du, Cribyn, Fan y Big

Brecon Beacons, Pen y Fan, Corn Du, Cribyn, Fan y Big

We avoided the crowds on the climb to Cribyn by hugging the northern edge. There is a fine grassy shelf about halfway up that just begs a wild camp (NB, bring water!). The views just got better and clearer as we crested Cribyn and strolled along the edge.

Brecon Beacons, Pen y Fan, Corn Du, Cribyn, Fan y Big

Brecon Beacons, Pen y Fan, Corn Du, Cribyn, Fan y Big

Our plan had been to head down from there, but the weather was so stupendous that we just carried on up to Fan y Big.

Brecon Beacons, Pen y Fan, Corn Du, Cribyn, Fan y Big

Brecon Beacons, Pen y Fan, Corn Du, Cribyn, Fan y Big

As we sat for a snack on the summit we discussed the possible chance that the Northern Lights were supposed to be visible that night. Almost on a whim we decided to stay up high for as long as we could.

Brecon Beacons, Pen y Fan, Corn Du, Cribyn, Fan y Big

Brecon Beacons, Pen y Fan, Corn Du, Cribyn, Fan y Big

We wandered around on the summit and watched the sun turn the whole landscape a mixture of glorious golden reds and browns as it set. The Moon was big in the sky and I managed to get some pretty decent shots including some aircraft shots, not too shabby seeing as I didn’t have a tripod and these were hand-taken.

Brecon Beacons, Pen y Fan, Corn Du, Cribyn, Fan y Big

Brecon Beacons, Pen y Fan, Corn Du, Cribyn, Fan y Big

Brecon Beacons, Pen y Fan, Corn Du, Cribyn, Fan y Big

Brecon Beacons, Pen y Fan, Corn Du, Cribyn, Fan y Big

Brecon Beacons, Pen y Fan, Corn Du, Cribyn, Fan y Big

It was absolutely magnificent. An hour rushed by and I reeled of loads of photos of hills and sunset alike. No sign of the Northern Lights but to be honest they would have had to have been pretty special to beat the light show we were looking at now.

Brecon Beacons, Pen y Fan, Corn Du, Cribyn, Fan y Big

Brecon Beacons, Pen y Fan, Corn Du, Cribyn, Fan y Big

Brecon Beacons, Pen y Fan, Corn Du, Cribyn, Fan y Big

Brecon Beacons, Pen y Fan, Corn Du, Cribyn, Fan y Big

Eventually the cold and ensuing darkness forced us to head down – that and the fact there was a roast dinner waiting for us. The bright moonlight made walking in the dark an easy process although TJS wasn’t all that keen. I kept telling him it was good practice but he didn’t seem to get it 🙂

Brecon Beacons, Pen y Fan, Corn Du, Cribyn, Fan y Big

We were back at the car in total darkness, tired but massively fulfilled after a terrific day. We watched for the Northern Lights all the way home and from the garden through the evening but never saw them. To be honest they weren’t missed!

And finally into 2014 – New Year amble on the Aberedw Moors   7 comments

Well, it’s April in the real world but January 2nd on my blog, still playing catch up and at the moment I doubt I ever will without some concerted work. Mind you at least a damp dreary and uninspiring weekend at home has given me some writing space and a lack of activity to fall further behind.

January 2nd and another stormy looking day but with the promise of a little more sunshine. With the whole family plus TBFs mum in tow we needed an easy stroll. The hills above Aberedw fit that bill nicely. Check out my previous long walk up here and shorter family stroll from summer 2012.

To make a decent circular I dropped everyone off at the start and drove the car further up the road.

Aberedw1

5.6 Miles

It had rained heavily on the drive but by the time we set off it had stopped. It was going to be a stroke of luck to avoid a soaking at some point in the day. The watery start to the new year was emphasised by the fact that there was water welling up through the tarmac on the road like a spring! A rainbow appeared to cheer me on my way along the brisk 2km walk back down the road to catch up with the family.

Aberedw, Aberedw Rocks, Llandeilo Hill

I passed yet another large group of trail bikes destroying another section of path. It’s becoming a rare day around here when you don’t see or hear these infernal machines on a hill walk. The damage they cause is immense. An issue that is really starting to bother me enormously. 😦

I rejoined the rest of the clan and we wandered up onto the moors. The lower slopes were a soup of mud and water but the views, dark stormy clouds and sunshine were great lighting up the browns of the common to great effect.

Aberedw, Aberedw Rocks, Llandeilo Hill

Aberedw, Aberedw Rocks, Llandeilo Hill

Aberedw, Aberedw Rocks, Llandeilo Hill

Aberedw, Aberedw Rocks, Llandeilo Hill

Aberedw, Aberedw Rocks, Llandeilo Hill

The usual brew up was just about completed before everyone got too cold and we followed the edge of the low cliffs to the small lake at the heart of the moor.

Aberedw, Aberedw Rocks, Llandeilo Hill

Aberedw, Aberedw Rocks, Llandeilo Hill

Aberedw, Aberedw Rocks, Llandeilo Hill

As we wandered along the moors the weather improved and the low light was sublime.

Aberedw, Aberedw Rocks, Llandeilo Hill

Aberedw, Aberedw Rocks, Llandeilo Hill

Aberedw, Aberedw Rocks, Llandeilo Hill

TJF is not the fastest of hikers and I began to wonder if we could reach the car before it got dark. It was further along the path past Farlan Pool and on to Glannau Pool than I remember. The pace was a little slower than I’d have liked but she seemed to be enjoying the walk which is the main thing.

Aberedw, Aberedw Rocks, Llandeilo Hill

Aberedw, Aberedw Rocks, Llandeilo Hill

Aberedw, Aberedw Rocks, Llandeilo Hill

I’d planned to follow a long raking path that returned to the road along a  huge zig-zag. Unsurprisingly in such a little-walked area, the first section was vague in the extreme, and the second non-existent. We just headed straight down hoping that we wouldn’t become entangled in trees and undergrowth and luckily it worked and we were back at the car in the last vestiges of daylight. Luck had indeed given us a stroke as we remained dry

Aberedw, Aberedw Rocks, Llandeilo Hill

Other than an absolute soaking on Garway Hill when I went out on the last day of  the holiday just to escape the maddening bore of being stuck at home in ceaseless rain that was the end of my New Year walks. Considering how awful the weather was, I didn’t do too badly 🙂

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