Bushwhacking and Swimming, Craig y Cilau and Mynydd Llangatwg   4 comments

TJS and TBF were away in London at Minecraft convention – sad – and TJF was at a cheerleading event so I had a few hours to myself for a solo walk. Always on the look out for somewhere new or a different angle on previous walk I headed to Craig y Cilau to take in the edges and then explore the moorland behind it.

craig y cilau, mynydd llangatwg, pwll gwy rhoc, agen allwedd

6 Miles

6 Miles

I parked up at the eastern end and wandered through the old workings and spoil heaps now grassed over to form a mini-mountain range of their own and a really fascinating area to stroll through.

craig y cilau, mynydd llangatwg, pwll gwy rhoc, agen allwedd

craig y cilau, mynydd llangatwg, pwll gwy rhoc, agen allwedd

craig y cilau, mynydd llangatwg, pwll gwy rhoc, agen allwedd

craig y cilau, mynydd llangatwg, pwll gwy rhoc, agen allwedd

craig y cilau, mynydd llangatwg, pwll gwy rhoc, agen allwedd

After a cloudy and stormy morning it had cleared into a gloriously sunny afternoon and the views across to the Black Mountains were superb.

craig y cilau, mynydd llangatwg, pwll gwy rhoc, agen allwedd

craig y cilau, mynydd llangatwg, pwll gwy rhoc, agen allwedd

The level mine track under the quarried and natural limestone edges is a pure pleasure and it’s another of those stunning areas that’s off the beaten track, little known and mostly deserted. I’ve visited here a couple of times but always in winter when the edges are in shadow. Last time was in December last year when we took in the top of the edges which were in sun. Today the sun was high enough to reach over the edges and bathe the path in sunshine.

craig y cilau, mynydd llangatwg, pwll gwy rhoc, agen allwedd

craig y cilau, mynydd llangatwg, pwll gwy rhoc, agen allwedd

craig y cilau, mynydd llangatwg, pwll gwy rhoc, agen allwedd

craig y cilau, mynydd llangatwg, pwll gwy rhoc, agen allwedd

Rather than drop down on the path to reach the far end I carried on along the mine track to take a look at Agen Allwedd, one of the longest/deepest caves in Britain. Disappointing as it turned out. The entrance is tiny and locked to protect the delicate life and cave features within. There was a faint track leading on so I followed it hoping it would traverse all the way to the far end. I was encouraged by the sight of someone coming the other way so it must lead somewhere.

craig y cilau, mynydd llangatwg, pwll gwy rhoc, agen allwedd

craig y cilau, mynydd llangatwg, pwll gwy rhoc, agen allwedd

It was a cracking path, quite distinct and a little precarious above the scree and steep slopes with sensational views. Then it entered some slightly denser woods and promptly vanished. I pushed on hoping it was a minor blip. It wasn’t. There followed half an hour of scrambling through nettles, brambles, boulders, and under/around/over countless fallen trees. I expected to come across Bear Grylls, machete in hand, feasting on a dead and rotting squirrel at any moment. I was relieved, hot, stung, scratched and grumpy by the time I finally emerged.

craig y cilau, mynydd llangatwg, pwll gwy rhoc, agen allwedd

craig y cilau, mynydd llangatwg, pwll gwy rhoc, agen allwedd

As I headed up onto the moors the world changed and could not have been different. Dense, sweaty, claustrophobic woods were replaced with expansive grassy moorland pocked with sink-holes.

craig y cilau, mynydd llangatwg, pwll gwy rhoc, agen allwedd

craig y cilau, mynydd llangatwg, pwll gwy rhoc, agen allwedd

My target was the lake of Pwll Gwy Rhoc but between me and it was a huge area of waving and perfectly flat grass, likely to be hiding squelchiness just below its verdant looking surface. In fact the going was relatively easy with just a few watery sections to cross before reaching the lake. I dread to think what it must be like in winter after a wet spell.

craig y cilau, mynydd llangatwg, pwll gwy rhoc, agen allwedd

craig y cilau, mynydd llangatwg, pwll gwy rhoc, agen allwedd

I’d targeted the lake for a particular reason. Although it’s a lovely spot in its own right I’d seen a blog write up over on Underground and Overground Adventures about a wild swim here in winter and fancied a bit of a refreshing dip on a hot day. Most of the shore is surrounded by bog but on the eastern side I found an easy spot to get in.

craig y cilau, mynydd llangatwg, pwll gwy rhoc, agen allwedd

craig y cilau, mynydd llangatwg, pwll gwy rhoc, agen allwedd

The water is extremely dark giving an initial impression that the water is deep. Once in however, the reason for the darkness becomes clear. The lake is just a peaty hollow with shallow water about 6-8 feet deep. The bottom is just oozing mud and the water the colour of strong tea! Still the water was clear and clean and just cold enough to be refreshing. I swam for about 5 minutes and it was great. I doubt many people ever see this lake so having my own private swimming pool was rather nice.

craig y cilau, mynydd llangatwg, pwll gwy rhoc, agen allwedd

craig y cilau, mynydd llangatwg, pwll gwy rhoc, agen allwedd

I celebrated with a brew before heading back across the moors to the edges. The short hike across enlivened by another watery dip, this time up to my knees in green stuff when I got too casual with my progress across the moors.

The views across from the edges were just as fine as I made my way back down.

craig y cilau, mynydd llangatwg, pwll gwy rhoc, agen allwedd

craig y cilau, mynydd llangatwg, pwll gwy rhoc, agen allwedd

craig y cilau, mynydd llangatwg, pwll gwy rhoc, agen allwedd

craig y cilau, mynydd llangatwg, pwll gwy rhoc, agen allwedd

craig y cilau, mynydd llangatwg, pwll gwy rhoc, agen allwedd

craig y cilau, mynydd llangatwg, pwll gwy rhoc, agen allwedd

I’d only been out 3 hours but it’s amazing what you can pack in to a short trip if you try hard enough and mix up good decisions with bad ones!

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4 responses to “Bushwhacking and Swimming, Craig y Cilau and Mynydd Llangatwg

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  1. A varied outing! I haven’t managed any al fresco bathing yet this summer. Not that we’ve had much weather for it.

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    beatingthebounds
    • It’s nice up there, mix of caves, crags and wild moorland. I’m getting into this swimming idea, had another dip at the weekend even though it really wasn’t the weather for it!

      Like

  2. Used to ‘wild swim’ a lot as a kid, but not so sure now! Looked a lovely day though.

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    • I’ve really enjoyed the last couple of swims – it adds a nice bit of variety on a summers day and freshens you up. Its a real contrast on the walk, forested limestone crags suddenly turn into wild moorland

      Like

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