Archive for May 2014

A real taste of Summer   8 comments

March really delivered a few stunning days. After a grand day on Hatterrall Hill we were treated to another magnificent day in the Begwyns. I’ve only recently discovered the subtle charms of this little known patch of wild open land but I must say it’s immediately captured my heart. A fine a warm day was promised back in mid-March and with the family in tow we decided the Begwyns was the place for a lazy stroll

 

 

Apologies for the blemishes on the photos – must have been a speck of dust or dirt on the lens I haven’t been bothered to touch up the images. Don’t think it detracts from the splendour too much 🙂

Black Mountains, brecon beacons, gladestry hill, Glascwm hill, Hay-on-Wye, Llanbedr hill, mynydd troed, the begwyns, the roundabout

Black Mountains, brecon beacons, gladestry hill, Glascwm hill, Hay-on-Wye, Llanbedr hill, mynydd troed, the begwyns, the roundabout

It was a breezy day and cool in the wind but the sky was an amazing deep blue colour and dry turf springy just bounced us along

Black Mountains, brecon beacons, gladestry hill, Glascwm hill, Hay-on-Wye, Llanbedr hill, mynydd troed, the begwyns, the roundabout

Black Mountains, brecon beacons, gladestry hill, Glascwm hill, Hay-on-Wye, Llanbedr hill, mynydd troed, the begwyns, the roundabout

The views were amazing. To lengthen the walk we took several little detours to see if we could find any frogs or frog-spawn – we saw loads of the latter

Black Mountains, brecon beacons, gladestry hill, Glascwm hill, Hay-on-Wye, Llanbedr hill, mynydd troed, the begwyns, the roundabout

Black Mountains, brecon beacons, gladestry hill, Glascwm hill, Hay-on-Wye, Llanbedr hill, mynydd troed, the begwyns, the roundabout

Black Mountains, brecon beacons, gladestry hill, Glascwm hill, Hay-on-Wye, Llanbedr hill, mynydd troed, the begwyns, the roundabout

We wandered across a succession of paths around the summit before hunger for a picnic lunch drove us to the summit

Black Mountains, brecon beacons, gladestry hill, Glascwm hill, Hay-on-Wye, Llanbedr hill, mynydd troed, the begwyns, the roundabout

The small wood on the summit surrounded by a wall (The Roundabout) was a perfect picnic spot and sheltered from the wind it was sunbathing weather. We sat, ate and chilled for well over an hour, enjoying the first really warm day of 2014

Black Mountains, brecon beacons, gladestry hill, Glascwm hill, Hay-on-Wye, Llanbedr hill, mynydd troed, the begwyns, the roundabout

The kids again enjoyed playing selfies with my camera

Black Mountains, brecon beacons, gladestry hill, Glascwm hill, Hay-on-Wye, Llanbedr hill, mynydd troed, the begwyns, the roundabout

A powered glider passed over and gave us a little air acrobatics show

Black Mountains, brecon beacons, gladestry hill, Glascwm hill, Hay-on-Wye, Llanbedr hill, mynydd troed, the begwyns, the roundabout

Black Mountains, brecon beacons, gladestry hill, Glascwm hill, Hay-on-Wye, Llanbedr hill, mynydd troed, the begwyns, the roundabout

This cloud over the Black Mountains reminded me of the Alien spacecraft in “Independence Day”

Black Mountains, brecon beacons, gladestry hill, Glascwm hill, Hay-on-Wye, Llanbedr hill, mynydd troed, the begwyns, the roundabout

The walk back to car the way we came was just as good with the wind behind us. If there is a fault with the Begwyns, its that they are over too soon. Only a short 3-4 mile walk covers an out and back from the eastern end

Black Mountains, brecon beacons, gladestry hill, Glascwm hill, Hay-on-Wye, Llanbedr hill, mynydd troed, the begwyns, the roundabout

Black Mountains, brecon beacons, gladestry hill, Glascwm hill, Hay-on-Wye, Llanbedr hill, mynydd troed, the begwyns, the roundabout

Black Mountains, brecon beacons, gladestry hill, Glascwm hill, Hay-on-Wye, Llanbedr hill, mynydd troed, the begwyns, the roundabout

Still the shortness of the day did allow plenty of time to sit outside in the sunshine at home, drinking cold becks beer and eating chilli. What more could a man (and his family) want! 🙂

Another local post for local people   4 comments

A few nice photos from a couple of walks on Coppet Hill by the river Wye and Garway Hill in South Herefordshire:

 

TJS does drama classes on Saturday mornings at Goodrich so with 2 hours to kill you can just about take in a 5 mile walk down by the river and along the fine high level ridge that is Coppet Hill. Photos from a couple of days, one on a warm hazy day and one with a glorious clear spell after a vicious shower. Previous visit can be found here

Coppet Hill, Goodrich, River Wye, Wye Valley

Coppet Hill, Goodrich, River Wye, Wye Valley

Coppet Hill, Goodrich, River Wye, Wye Valley

Coppet Hill, Goodrich, River Wye, Wye Valley

Coppet Hill, Goodrich, River Wye, Wye Valley

Coppet Hill, Goodrich, River Wye, Wye Valley

Coppet Hill, Goodrich, River Wye, Wye Valley

Coppet Hill, Goodrich, River Wye, Wye Valley

Coppet Hill, Goodrich, River Wye, Wye Valley

Coppet Hill, Goodrich, River Wye, Wye Valley

Coppet Hill, Goodrich, River Wye, Wye Valley

Garway Hill a fine spot for a short stroll as you can park on it’s upper slopes. This day was incredibly windy and after poor weekend of rain we stole out in a brief spell of sunshine for some fresh air. Previous walk from last year is here

Garway Hill

Garway Hill

Garway Hill

Garway Hill

Garway Hill

Garway Hill

Garway Hill

Garway Hill

Tantalising Glimpse of Summer   7 comments

One  week on from deep snow and spindrift in Scotland we were back home and treated to a glorious warm spring day. TBF was away at her sisters so I informed the kids we were going out for a walk. TJS was chuffed TJF less so.

I chose my classic Hatterrall Hill walk as it’s an easy high level stroll for such a fine day. I’ve posted about this several time , the last one over Xmas a couple of years back and a post work walk a year before that. Plenty of words on those posts so just a few words and memories from the day this time:

 

hatterrall hill, cwmyoy, black mountains, offas dyke

Past the wonky church at Cwmyoy

hatterrall hill, cwmyoy, black mountains, offas dyke

Spring lambs were frolicking or in this case asleep

hatterrall hill, cwmyoy, black mountains, offas dyke

The day was warm and glorious

hatterrall hill, cwmyoy, black mountains, offas dyke

TJS strode out ahead

hatterrall hill, cwmyoy, black mountains, offas dyke

While TJF pottered along at the rear taking photos

hatterrall hill, cwmyoy, black mountains, offas dyke

Once on the summit the walking was easy and the views superb

hatterrall hill, cwmyoy, black mountains, offas dyke

We enjoyed playing with self timed photos and remote shutter releases

hatterrall hill, cwmyoy, black mountains, offas dyke

hatterrall hill, cwmyoy, black mountains, offas dyke

Onto Offa’s Dyke and a visit to the Trig Pillar

hatterrall hill, cwmyoy, black mountains, offas dyke

Before starting the stroll back down

hatterrall hill, cwmyoy, black mountains, offas dyke

The green fields under  blue sky and sunshine were a good deal more pleasant than in the dark in the mud

hatterrall hill, cwmyoy, black mountains, offas dyke

hatterrall hill, cwmyoy, black mountains, offas dyke

hatterrall hill, cwmyoy, black mountains, offas dyke

A fabulous day out just the three of us and even TJS enjoyed it more than she’d like to admit 🙂

There is still hope….

Annual March Gathering of the Clans   25 comments

It was that time of year for ageing ex-students from the 80’s to heed the call of the wild and head to the Southern Highlands. It’s been a tradition for nearly 10 years to get together in early March and the weekend seems to go from strength to strength.

 

This year TBF joined the gang and the both of us collected GM to head up on the Thursday to make a longer weekend of it. Our home of the past few years, The Suie Lodge Hotel, welcomed us late and looked after us with their usual relaxed hospitality.

Like the previous couple of years we went skiing for a day at Glencoe Ski Area. Last couple of years there has barely been enough snow. This year there was loads of snow, tonnes of the stuff, meters deep. In fact too much. The tops lifts weren’t running as they were completely buried.

Glencoe, Glencoe skiing

Still, the skiing was ok and we had some glimpses of blue sky but all in all it was pretty wild, windy and cold and by 3pm we’d had enough for one day. TBH said she “quite” enjoyed it. Scottish skiing is something of an acquired taste 🙂

Glencoe, Glencoe skiing

Me a GM did a little impromptu off piste touring to bag a small bump near the piste and escape the crowds.

Glencoe, Glencoe skiing

The runs were not open all the way down to the bottom but they were the best of the day. While everyone else downloaded on the chairlift. We had an empty run with some nice views as we emerged from the cloud. A 10 minute walk through the bog at the bottom was a price worth paying

Glencoe, Glencoe skiing

We headed back (via a beer at the Bridge of Orchy Hotel to celebrate) to meet with everyone else for beers, food stories and catching up

The following day (according to MWIS anyway) promised to be a cracker. I have never seen a mountain forecast in Scotland with the phrase “severe risk of sunburn”. I think you can guess the punchline……

Tarmachans, Beinn Ghlas, Ben Lawers, Coire Odhar

Despite the promise of some blue sky as we left the car for a ski-touring day, it rarely appeared again

Tarmachans, Beinn Ghlas, Ben Lawers, Coire Odhar

We were hoping for a grand tour across the Ben Lawers range and had left a car at the far end. Once out of the nature reserve and onto the snow the conditions were great and we made swift progress up to Beinn Ghlas.

Tarmachans, Beinn Ghlas, Ben Lawers, Coire Odhar

Tarmachans, Beinn Ghlas, Ben Lawers, Coire Odhar

By the time we reached the summit the only severe risk was frostbite. Complete whiteout, high winds and spindrift. The ridge looked nasty and corniced. Spotting a cornice at walking pace is hard enough, spotting one at skiing pace was deemed far too risky so we cut our losses and went for a descent down Core Odhar. It proved to be a fine and long descent, my only regret not being close enough to GM to see him hit a wall of snow at full pace. Some people have no sense of theatre. We toyed with the idea of another ascent but the weather was pretty miserable so we headed back to the hotel. We ventured out for a stroll along the disused railway lines behind the hotel at the end of the day. GM recovered his sense of theatre by grabbing an electric fence and getting a nasty shock, much to my amusement (that’s what friends are for I believe)

Another evening swapping jokes and stories and catching up with old friends some of whom I only see on this weekend

Tarmachans, Beinn Ghlas, Ben Lawers, Coire Odhar

For our final day we headed south to tackle Ben Venue. I’d never walked much in the Trossachs and I was looking forward to the walk as Ben Venue has often caught my eye.

Ben Venue

7.6 Miles

The weather forecast wasn’t great but the sun was out when we parked up and the views along Loch Achray were grand.

The Trossachs, Achray Water, Gleann Riabhach, Ben Venue

The Trossachs, Achray Water, Gleann Riabhach, Ben Venue

It’s quite a long walk winding along by the Achray Water and through the desolate forest – desolate now its being cleared

The Trossachs, Achray Water, Gleann Riabhach, Ben Venue

The Trossachs, Achray Water, Gleann Riabhach, Ben Venue

At least you get to see the views now

The Trossachs, Achray Water, Gleann Riabhach, Ben Venue

These two remaining bare trunks caught my eye – looked like the place had been hit by a nuclear blast. Lets hope it recovers its former glory in years to come

The Trossachs, Achray Water, Gleann Riabhach, Ben Venue

Where the made path ran out and turned into the usual sloppy mess that passes for a path in the Southern Highlands we decided to head straight for the summit. As we climbed the snow both on the ground and in the air grew thicker and we were in full blizzard on the summit

The Trossachs, Achray Water, Gleann Riabhach, Ben Venue

Time for  brief summit photo and then off back down. The walk along the rocky ridge was interesting and I’m sure its a fine high level traverse in clear conditions but it was pretty grim this day.

The Trossachs, Achray Water, Gleann Riabhach, Ben Venue

The bad weather promised had really set in. As we descended, the snow in the air turned to heavy rain and the snow on the ground turned to wet slush and then sloppy bog. It turned into a bit of route march back down the way we’d come up and it was absolutely tipping it down by the time we reached the cars. Goodbyes were brief in the rain, everyone wet and tired and ready to start the long drive home. Another weekend over, another one to confine to the memory banks, another one to remind you do it all again next year

Winter Playground – Meribel-Mottaret Skiing   9 comments

My annual “Slide” trip to match my identity. The usual end of January boys trip for some skiing in the Alps. This year was back to our favourite area, the Three Valley’s in France with its huge ski area and modern efficient lift system. We stayed in the middle valley in Meribel Mottaret for the first time in a lovely apartment right on the slopes.

There was blue sky

courcheval, meribel, meribel mottaret, mottaret, Three Valleys, Val Thorens

There was time for eating (Steak Americaine on the slopes here)

courcheval, meribel, meribel mottaret, mottaret, Three Valleys, Val Thorens

There were snow-capped mountains

courcheval, meribel, meribel mottaret, mottaret, Three Valleys, Val Thorens

There was skiing

 

There was more blue sky

courcheval, meribel, meribel mottaret, mottaret, Three Valleys, Val Thorens

There was some cloud

courcheval, meribel, meribel mottaret, mottaret, Three Valleys, Val Thorens

There was more eating (afternoon waffles and beer became a mainstay)

courcheval, meribel, meribel mottaret, mottaret, Three Valleys, Val Thorens

And there was more skiing

 

There were awesome atmospheric days

courcheval, meribel, meribel mottaret, mottaret, Three Valleys, Val Thorens

There was a whole heap of sunshine

courcheval, meribel, meribel mottaret, mottaret, Three Valleys, Val Thorens

There was always time for beer

courcheval, meribel, meribel mottaret, mottaret, Three Valleys, Val Thorens

And amazing views from the apartment balcony

courcheval, meribel, meribel mottaret, mottaret, Three Valleys, Val Thorens

courcheval, meribel, meribel mottaret, mottaret, Three Valleys, Val Thorens

More sensational views

courcheval, meribel, meribel mottaret, mottaret, Three Valleys, Val Thorens

And lots of partying – by others – we’re all too old for such things. This the is La Folie Douce in Val Thorens, famed party spot throughout the Alps and always kicking in the afternoon

courcheval, meribel, meribel mottaret, mottaret, Three Valleys, Val Thorens

Time to reflect and take in the scene

courcheval, meribel, meribel mottaret, mottaret, Three Valleys, Val Thorens

That included Europe’s highest mountain

courcheval, meribel, meribel mottaret, mottaret, Three Valleys, Val Thorens

The views just kept coming

courcheval, meribel, meribel mottaret, mottaret, Three Valleys, Val Thorens

And the sunsets were breathtaking

courcheval, meribel, meribel mottaret, mottaret, Three Valleys, Val Thorens

And whilst overindulging were common-place

courcheval, meribel, meribel mottaret, mottaret, Three Valleys, Val Thorens

It was the skiing that lives long in the memory

 

We enjoyed one final day on the slopes before heading home after a an amazing week

courcheval, meribel, meribel mottaret, mottaret, Three Valleys, Val Thorens

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