Archive for May 2015
We drive up the splendid valley containing said reservoir on many occasions to access what I consider to be the better side of the Brecon Beacons. I’ve had in my head an idea to circumnavigate it by a long walk taking in some of the Brecons eastern summits, returning over the expansive moorland to the south and finishing on the fine little hill of Tor y Foel. We attempted this walk in the winter but were turned back by day that promised sunshine and showers but delivered 3 hours of ceaseless rain.
Today was sunny and blue with a keen wind although a late-ish start had us walking at a brisk pace anyway to keep us warm. We made swift progress up the steep slopes of Twyn Du and onto Carn Pica
It was windy on top and decided on the longer walk around the fine and usually deserted edges of Craig y Fan, Gwalciau ‘r Cwm and Cwar y Gigfran (evocative names up here), rather than the direct route over Waun Rydd. The latter of those edges I’ve never walked before so it was good to tread some new ground. As expected they were deserted and the sense of space up here above the deep and broad valley of Caerfannel is immense
We paused briefly to look down on the famous wreckage of a WWII bomber but as we were above it decided to press on.
We turned south and headed along the edges of Craig Fan Las and Craif y Fan Du, one of my favourite stretches of upland in the UK. Busier here as its close to the main car park for the waterfalls but nothing like the main ridge of the Brecons. Pleasant company rather than crowded.
As the wind was still keen we dropped down to the river and found a stonking spot in the warm sun by Nant Bwrefwr for a long lunch and rest as we hadn’t really stopped since we left the car
Then it was onwards onto more new terrain. The slopes up onto the southern side of the valley don’t look all that inspiring from a distance. Lots of cleared coniferous plantations that are always an ugly scar and wide scarred paths.
Indeed the climb up was hard work and uninspiring, the paths badly scarred by trail bikes. These things are becoming a real threat to upland environments in south Wales and seem to be more numerous. Luckily today we only saw their aftermath rather than hear the irritating buzz and smell of fuel. It saddens me every time I see the damage they do. Some paths, like here are little more than 30 foot wide mudslides and will take years to recover if ever, assuming the National Park authority ever decide to do something about the problem
All that negativity ended as we reached the summit of Pant y Creigiau. I hadn’t known what to expect up here, possibley endless bog and tussocks. In fact it was a fantastic high level stroll across sheep nibbled grass with superb views across to the edges and valleys we’d walked on and above in the morning and to the limestone crags and quarries of Mynydd Llangynidr
All the while the reservoir glistened blue below us beckoning us on as we still had a long way to go. Over Bryiau Gleision the it suddenly narrows to a ridge where the views are exceedingly fetching. We found a perch high above the Dyffryn Crawnon valley for a rest in the sun and out of the wind. We’d had another long stretch and I was starting to feel the strain. I could have sat there for hours.
Time was pressing though and I had drag my sorry frame another few miles. We had the option to shorten the route and head straight down to the dam and miss out Tor y Foel this time. TJS looked crestfallen at this suggestion so he convinced me trudge on. Despite the harshness of the gravelled road that leads to the base of the hill it was a good decision. We made light work of the short climb to the top and it’s always good to finish a day on a summit, especially on a day as good as this. Another one for my small hills book 🙂
From there it was pretty much straight down to the car, brutally steep at the top to start with.
This part of the walk wasn’t on the maps I brought with me so I was guessing my way down. I spied what I thought might be a shortcut down the side of the forest and despite some tenuous brambled sections and some deep mud that covered my boots almost to the top we were down in matter of minutes. Across the dam and back to the car
So glad that what I thought would be a fine walk was even better than expected. I’ve never seen anyone walking on the second section which is surprising as it’s exceptionally fine and highly recommended.
A long walk at 14 miles (TJS longest and probably mine for a few years) but well worth the sunburn and aching knees at the end
Back up to date again. We had grand plans for the half term weekend. We were off to Pembrokeshire in the camper to see the Puffins on Skomer Island and some quality beach time at Marloes. However due to a bout of immense stupidity by me involving a kitchen knife and an avocado, I managed to sever a nerve in my finger, requiring some minor surgery to try to repair it. Considering that the cut was only 1 cm long (albeit deep enough to see the inner workings of my hand) I’m sure you’ll agree the dressing is rather impressive if a little disproportionate. Kind of ruled out a rough camping weekend
No idea what the rest of half term week will hold but we’ll be royally looked after by Mark and his family so hopefully some adventures to report on when I get back.
When we first visited this fine and quiet corner of the Lake District in 2011 we had 4 of the sunniest, bluest days in memory. I thought then that we’d probably pay for that good fortune and so, in a way we have. We’ve had a few good days in the past few years but mostly the weather has been disappointing. This year was no exception
We’d decided to head up a day early to make the best of things and the Friday was a pretty nice day. A long drive followed by pitching the camper at Church Stile Campsite (now with added shop full of local produce) left us time for an afternoon stroll up Buckbarrow.
A fine rocky hill and one small enough for a worthy place in my guide book. Short on distance and height but big on views over the South West fells and coastline.
The bright skies with dark broody clouds made a very fine backdrop.
Even TJF seemed to enjoy the walk
The day finished off with a grand meal in The Strands pub and beers in the campsite with the gang as they arrived
The forecast for Saturday and Sunday was dire and it was raining by the time we set off on Saturday morning. Enthusiasm was low as we trooped across the fields but it was at least good to catch up with friends and be out and about. The rain seemed to be increasing as forecast so we abandoned the plan to climb Middle Fell instead plumping for an amble to Greendale Tarn to fill the day.
In fact the weather didn’t deteriorate as badly as we thought and after a lunch by the stream decided to climb Middle Fell anyway
Whilst not exactly balmy summer weather it wasn’t as bad or as wet as we’d feared and in the end we made quite a good day of it. By the time we’d reached the campsite the rain had set in and the wind was blasting the campsite. It pretty much wiped out evening frivolities and the planned BBQ as everyone went to bed to listen to the rain. It was a wild night with roaring winds that rocked the camper from side to side and was still raining in the morning. It did stop but it was grim and dreary. Luckily we now have a wet weather plan – Seascale, its beach and the fabulous Mawsons Ice Cream Parlour. We dined like kings and ate like gluttons, the ice cream here is to die for. After a stroll on the beach we went back to the site and, as you’d expect began eating again. Despite still being grey, it was at least dry and therefore a BBQ was feasible. Who says you need warm sunshine to eat outdoors. Most people actually but that’s not the point. It was a fine evening with everyone in much improved spirits after a pretty dismal 36 hours.
Monday was much better. Sunshine warmed the camper as we breakfasted and encouraged the kids out on another walk.
Buckbarrow is such a good hill that its worth doing twice in the same weekend!
It’s perfect for the kids as after a steep start it’s an easy walk and we enjoyed a long leisurely lunch (part 1) by the stream.
The top is littered with crags giving everyone a chance to practice their scrambling skills. Little DB Junior had to be encouraged not to try the E-Grade rock climbs solo!
Another lunch on the top and we all wandered down in slightly different routes.
I paused at Greendale Gill, camera in hand hoping someone would provide some entertainment and fall in. Despite a procession of unwilling stooges no-one did. Some people have no sense of theatre
Despite almost 2 days of rain in the middle it was a pretty damn fine weekend, good company made up for a lack of warm sunshine and let’s face that’s the most important thing
I had a lazy day planned. I’d been out for a few beers on Friday night and needed a weekend off to recover. That’s old age for you. Sunday was grey and dreary and I settled down in front of the TV for some serious couch potato action. Then the sun came out and then blue sky filled the view. Betrayed by the weather I was forced into a walk
I ticked the following boxes on the form. “Short walk”, “Park as high as possible”, “Isolated Summit”, “Fine Views”. Mynydd Troed was the answer
A day of contrasts. In the sun and out of the wind it was like summer. In the wind and shade it was still winter
A brutally steep ascent brings you directly to this fine summit. Views of the Black Mountains, Brecon Beacons and the Wye Valley abound
We sat for a while on the top, pretending it was summer while we shivered. We talked long distance footpaths I recall. TJS and TBF are fans. I’m not
TJS was feeling a little under the weather so rather than head along the ridge we circled back down to the car
A short walk but a fine one under a surprisingly abundant and unforecast blue sky.
Hangover cured, all was back in sync with the world
A weekend for some quality father and daughter time before she disappears, never to be seen again. She’s heading off to a new country. I think they call it “Teenager”
TJS was away with his friends and TBF was away on a “girls” weekend in Snowdonia. I asked TJF if she’d like to go away in the camper or stay at home and play with her friends and I was pleasantly surprised when she chose the former. Back down to the Gower again then, to the same place we visited a month or so back. This time rather than the chill and grey skies at the back-end of winter we were in Spring.
The blue skies of the photos are helping to lift my very dark mood after yesterday’s election travesty. I won’t go all political as that’s not what my blog is about but let me just quote this from a Facebook post by The Daily Mash – “Voters surrender to their inner bastard”
Back to the happy world of the Gower. A glorious day albeit rather windy. We took a walk over the fields and rocky limestone valleys down to Mewslade Bay hoping that this time the tide would be out. It was.
The beach and the surrounding cliffs are magnificent. In many of those top ten beaches lists you see on the Interweb, the beach at Rhossilli always gets in, likely due to its perfect and long curve of sand (and the fact that you can park nearby). Mewslade Bay never gets a mention and I’ve yet to come across anyone who’s even heard of it. Take a look at these pictures and tell me this isn’t one of the most magnificent combinations of sweeping golden sand and dramatic cliffs you’ve seen.
As the cliffs are limestone the sea and rainwater has eroded them into an amazingly complex series of gullies, caves and towering castles of rock.
This narrow spine of rock is particularly dramatic. I need to approach it from the cliff tops some day and see if I am brave enough to teeter out to its point – probably not.
We spent a delightful hour just wandering across the sand, soaking up the views. There is nothing better than the combination of colours from sea to sand to cliff to grass to gorse. The wind kept us moving – not a day to spread a rug and laze on the sand although some brave souls did.
We finished the walk by strolling along the green pastures above the cliffs and through the fields back to the camper for lunch
We also took a late afternoon stroll on the beach at Port Eynon. About as near to a commercial resort as it gets on the Gower it had a whole lot more people there although no-one braving a swim in the sea.
The awning gave us perfect shelter from the wind while facing the evening sun and we had the first BBQ of the year – a fine finish to a really lovely day
The wind dropped the next day and TJF wanted to go to Worms Head to poke around in the rock pools. The natural causeway teems with life so we set off to walk there along the cliffs. TJF is not much for walking but she seemed to enjoy it. This stretch of coast is relatively flat so the going was easy.
It gave us the chance to see Mewslade Bay and the equally fine and adjacent Fall Bay from above.
The tide was just right so dropped down and scrambled across the causeway to Worms Head.
The rock pools were a little disappointing, probably too early in the year with water still wintery cold. We did find a few crabs and one very pathetic looking feather star but we enjoyed having a look. The wind seemed chillier today, not conducive to wet hands from poking about in rock pools. I have heard rumours that you can find Lobsters in the rock pools here but we’ve never seen any
We had lunch on the grass overlooking the bay and then headed back
I convinced TJF to extend the walk a little and make a circular and she seemed happy enough. The walk along the cliffs back to Rhossili is plagued with throngs of tourists but if you stick close to the edge you can avoid them. This of course also provides much better views including an aerial view of the many shipwrecks on the beach
We cut inland and found a rather splendid and peaceful route across the fields and valleys that took us pretty much back to the campsite.
It had been nice spending some time with TBF and we was in good spirits and chatty. Makes a nice change as we do seem to live in different worlds these days. Worth the effort to create and value these special times while I can