Archive for November 2015

Plynlimon for TBH   2 comments

Mid-wales highest point and one I’ve been up several times the past few years. Its a wonderfully underrated and little visited spot commanding great views and is packed with hidden charms.  On the basis of an ordinary forecast and with nothing else in mind we climbed it again albeit with a different finish, as TBF has never been up before – at least not that she can remember. This is a continuing theme for us. My youngest is not big on walking so often TBF has to stay behind and look after her. She is now old enough and responsible enough to be left home-alone while the the rest of us take to the hills. In much the same way I’ve enjoyed sharing my favourite routes with TJS I’m now doing the same with TBF

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As per my previous posts we parked high up near Maesnant and picked up the unmarked path that follows the stream of the same name swiftly to the summit.

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It was a grey day with flat light but it was bright and warm enough to enjoy a leisurely lunch on the summit.

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The walk around the ridge and over to Pen Pumlumon Fach Arwystli past the source of the Wye and on towards the source of the Severn was easy and delightful. I’m always surprised that the source of these two great rivers is so close together yet they follow such completely different routes to the sea. Having lived near both rivers most my life I have a certain affection for them. Mind you as I’m sure I’ve mentioned before sources of rivers are almost exclusively disappointing affairs seeing as they are in effect just bog that trickles into streams and so on. It’s the thought of them that’s intriguing

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As we continued our walk the skies brightened considerably and impressive patches of blue sky appeared. The fact that this was not in the forecast added to the surprise and good spirits. We struck off west near the source of the Severn towards a cairn overlooking the Hengwm valley

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By this time the the sun was starting to drop to the horizon and the light was fantastic. The view down the Hengwm valley was superb and we took a rest to take in the views

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Our route home followed the Hengwm a after a steep rocky descent and a crossing of the waterfalls above the ruined farmhouse. The setting sun lit up the valley and the hillsides magnificently and such is it’s little known nature we had the place and what felt like the whole of mid-Wales to ourselves

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Hengwm is one of the most stunning valleys in Wales if not the UK. At least from a scenic perspective. From a walking perspective it’s an absolute nightmare. The map shows what looks like a substantial track. This is a cruel deception. There is nothing that even remotely resembles a path. What you do have is lots and lots of bog and lots of lots of man-sized tussocks, often in the same place. On previous visits I’ve stayed near the river and got wet. This time we went higher into the zone where the tussock was king. We fell, stumbled and got wet. Wetter in fact than the easier ground by the river where you can at least see the water at your feet. It was  20 minutes of tedium but at least the sunset put on a show to keep us entertained. Its a fabulous place to visit just don’t expect to keep your feet dry 🙂

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A grand day out finished up with a slap up tea from the local chippy

 

A wander in the Rheidol Valley   8 comments

Back in October we followed our usual plan, staying at my parents caravan in mid-Wales, TBF and the kids for the week and me for the weekends. After a a day’s surf kayaking at Rest Bay we had the Sunday for a day out. TJF is not big on long walks so I scoured the local maps and found a decent route at the far end of the Rheidol valley.

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Parking at the road end we first came across a rather splendid set of waterfalls with cascades and deep scoured pools. Perfect spot for a summer picnic and a swim and I was even disappointed that in the mild October weather I hadn’t brought my swimming stuff.

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The Rheidol has been heavily industrialised as a water and power source both recently and longer term. Overlooking the falls are ruins of mine workings for a range of metals and some rather unusual coloured waste heaps. In more recent times the river has been dammed in both the lower reaches and high in the mountains at Nant-y-Moch

Our stroll took us up steeply through the forest, with the river, unseen, tumbling noisily below us. The path eventually opened out onto a rather splendid  high traverse above the river with distant (and free!) glimpses of the waterfalls at Devils Bridge.

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Autumn colours were in abundance and we found grand open meadow for a spot of lunch and a cuppa

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We were following the route of another of those long distance paths that seem to spring up everywhere these days. This one is the Borth to Devils Bridge to (the wonderfully named) Pontrhydfendigaid trail. No idea why someone thought up linking these 3 places together or whether there is a good reason for it but who cares when it takes you through grand scenery like this

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This corner of Wales is well off the beaten track and we saw no other walkers during the day.

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The route took us on lanes through the equally wonderfully named hamlet of Ystumtuen. Very friendly it was too, several people working in, and driving through the village wishing us good day and hoping we were enjoying our walk.

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Just before a very steep descent back to the car (I was surprised how far we had climbed) we were treated to a fine view out over the Rheidol valley to the coast

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A last stretch back along the road ended a rather nice easy paced family day.

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Well worth further exploration is this part of or “second home” neighbourhood. It still amazes me that I spent several weeks every year in the area when my grandparents had a caravan in the same place yet still I’m discovering new places I never knew were there

All Quiet on the Western (Blog) Front   4 comments

I’d like to say I’ve been too busy out-of-doors doing stuff since the summer to write-up blog posts. Not the case I’m afraid as in Football parlance I’ve picked up a knock. To accompany my bad knees I now have Plantar Fasciitis in my right foot. It’s very common affecting around 1 in 15 people and the causes are pretty poorly known. It’s an inflammation of the fibrous tissue in the bottom of the heel and very painful it is as well. For most of the summer I could barely walk at times and took to having a pair of crutches with me in case I needed help.

I decided rest was the best idea so I’ve not been out much in either September and October hence the lack of blog posts. Things are on the mend now though. A combination of calf muscle strengthening exercises, rolling a frozen water bottle under my foot, a support under the arch of my foot and an odd splint that I wear in bed seems to have improved things. It’s now just an uncomfortable bruised feeling rather than an excruciating pain when I put any weight on it. Hopefully that progress will continue (apparently in most cases it will eventually just go of its own accord) as the only other option are steroid injections into the foot which are most unpleasant I hear

Anyway, enough of my ailments and on to some photos from one of the regular gatherings. This time Silverdale at the home of Mark and his family. A fine weekend as always although I didn’t take many photos despite being out for a good part of the weekend. The weather was dry but a little drab and grey which probably explains my lack of photographic ambition. Saturday was the classic Silverdale to Arnside coastal walk returning via Arnside Knott. We took in the Apple festival (the edible ones, not a gadget in sight). Unless you count an apple juicing machine. It was run by an Austrian guy who we all agreed with expected puerility was Arnie, prompting the usual raft of “I’ll be back” and other such classic one-liners. Anyway it was fun and different and the kids had a ball

Sunday we took a walk to Jenny Brown’s Point, another popular local classic. Whatever the buildings were once used for (no-one seems to be 100% sure) they are slowly being re-claimed by the sea. We had some watery sunshine and some butterflies so finally I got the camera out and took a few snaps

silverdale, arnside, arnside knott, jenny browns point

silverdale, arnside, arnside knott, jenny browns point

silverdale, arnside, arnside knott, jenny browns point

silverdale, arnside, arnside knott, jenny browns point

silverdale, arnside, arnside knott, jenny browns point

A great weekend and big thanks to Mark and his TBH for putting us up, feeding us and making us abundantly welcome

silverdale, arnside, arnside knott, jenny browns point

silverdale, arnside, arnside knott, jenny browns point

Incidentally one thing I have realised what a great aide memoire my blog is. I often use it to confirm what I’ve been doing in recent and longer term history. For September and October while I was resting up I must have been out a few times other than this weekend but without the blog or a clutch of photos I have no idea how I filled the other half a dozen weekends. Possibly I slipped into an alternate dimension and saved a bunch of blue skinned aliens from an oppressive evil overlord. Or maybe I just watched a lot of TV

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