Madcap Backpack in the Black Mountains   10 comments


I’ve been making promises to myself to get out and do more back packing and wild camping. I read lots of blogs and trip reports about cracking trips, mostly short to take advantage of quality weekend time but I never seem to get around to it. That’s all going to change. Armed with a new tent and after a rushed packing/eating session we’d eaten tea and were out walking in the Black Mountains by 6pm


It was great to be out after work. Less than two hours after shutting the lid on my work laptop at home I was on my way up the Cats Back ridge


As we raced up the sun went down



The light was spectacular and of course at this time on a Friday we had this most wonderful ridge to ourselves



We hurried on past the trig pillar on Black Hill towards our intended overnight stop



I’d had my eye on a spot a mile so beyond for several years. A small sheltered area of grass just off the path. Its always been dry but after the recent snowfall and heavy rain it was very soggy. We managed to get the tent up and settled inside just as it got dark.

Also had a new tent to play with. Since the demise of my Quasar I don’t have a two-person tent (other than my Lightwave which is really for 3 people and is pretty heavy). Bring on the Nigor Parula 2. I’m pretty impressed as it’s amazingly light for a two-person tent (around 1.8kg) and fits my needs for two porches and an ability to sit up in comfort. I’m still getting used to its pitching subtleties (especially the porches to stop them sagging) but so far so good. It did pass my first major test in that the very light and thin groundsheet was pitched on some seriously wet ground without any water ingress. I should however point out that seriously impressive tents are seriously expensive!

Not the driest or flattest pitch but we slept well through a cold night.

We woke the next morning to a frosty and damp tent and glorious sunshine


I left TJS to snooze while I wandered about to soak up the scene. I can almost see our village from the top but it felt a world away up here.



I smiled as abundantly as the sun shone, and settled down for a hearty and not very healthy breakfast of bacon butties and jaffa cakes. TJS joined me eventually and we savoured the morning and a long leisurely feast


Packed and ready for the off we considered our route. It was only a one night outing as I’d planned some cycling in the Peak District the following day. Originally we were just going out to Hay Bluff before returning to the car via a round of the Olchon Valley. As the weather was so grand we decided to extend the walk by taking in Lord Herefords Knob and heading back to the car via Capel y FFin


The high level path along to Hay Bluff was superb


The views from the summit over the Wye Valley to the Brecon Beacons and Black Mountain even better




We both seemed untroubled by the heavier packs than we’d use for a day walk and made swift and easy progress to the summit of LHK.


The views were still superb but there was a very keen and very cold wind so we didn’t linger. Rather than walk along the Darren Lwyd ridge, right into the wind we opted for the Nant Bwch valley for some shelter


Its a lovely valley with a series of small waterfalls and grassy patches for a lunch stop. Make a decent camp as well although its only a few minutes from the end of the road



The Vale of Ewyas is one of the finest valleys in the UK in my opinion. A walk along it or above it as always a pleasure especially on a warm sunny day. Spring really did feel in the air down here



The downside of the walk extension was having to climb up, over and down one of the Black Mountains main ridges. Sheltered from the wind it was a steep and sweaty climb. I was beginning to think I should have brought shorts


That changed swiftly as we reached the ridge. We were exposed to the wind and thoughts of shorts turned to thoughts of hats and gloves. It was bitterly cold and we had to move quickly to descend the other side to try and reach shelter from the next ridge


Ample compensation was provided in the views across the pastoral Herefordshire countryside and the ridge we’d walked the night before




One last steep descent and one last final climb back up to the car completed a very fine short overnight adventure.


TJS hasn’t been out much recently and he really seemed to enjoy the trip and the long walk in the sunshine. He’s badly out of shape though and was stiff for the next day or so and struggling to keep up with the old man on the ascents. He does take over on the downhill bits but I have my bad knees excuse for that

First part of adventurous weekend for me. More two-wheeled outdoor action planned for the Sunday

10 responses to “Madcap Backpack in the Black Mountains

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  1. An excellent one-nighter and the evening light brings up the landscape beautifully.
    The space-to-weight ratio of the Parula is amazing, it doesn’t come cheap but you get what you pay for. We’ve learnt how to tame the pole assembly (which has a mind of its own) when disassembling it – a few small elastic bands are useful – otherwise you end up with something resembling a bag of spanners.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The evening walk was really special. Its only a 30 minute drive from home so its great to be working away at 4:30pm and in the mountains by 6pm
      I know what you mean with the poles! They do seem “alive”. I’ve been folding them from the ends towards the middle although you always end up with the cross connectors at the same end.
      It was a toss up with the Terra Nova Southern Cross but the Nigor was significantly lighter which swung it. I’ve not read many reviews so it was quite a double take when I saw you had one! I’m really impressed so far but it will likely get a sterner test when we head back to Arran for a 4-nighter over Easter


  2. No wonder TJS was trailing in your wake – it looks like you gave him all the gear to carry. I bet he had the cucumber. And all of the onions! Still, he is a Sherpa after all – I think this is a very fine idea. I need to start training my kids up to act as porters.
    Looks like a magnificent trip – am seriously inspired to follow suit. Now, when does the rugby season finish?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Clearly as I’m not in any of the photos I was only carrying a camera. Its only when you do a one-nighter you realise how heavy evening meals are. I recall “I’m not carrying a third of THAT!”
      It is hard to get these trips planned while supporting the rest of the family. This was a trial of an idea to head out on Friday night and be back home for tea on Saturday so you still have some family time left. Nothing better than a wild camp to be honest to clear the mind of daily drudgery

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Nice photos. Camping is always fun in such great weather.


    Blue Sky Scotland
    • Thanks Bob – I’ve been waiting for a decent spell of weather to try the “straight after work” wild camp and this one worked out perfectly (apart from the soggy pitch!)


  4. Great stuff and the same good weather we had in the Peaks that weekend! Going out later on a Friday evening and then staying out Saturday night as well is also a good plan…… 😀


  5. hello, I’m seriously considering buying a parula but besides what information is on this page of the blog have been unable to find any sort of review. Was wondering if you could tell me how you feel about the tent after having it for two years? How durable has it been, how waterproof, has it been suitable for multi day trips? Asking this as from your pictures it looks like the water isn’t beading on the fly? Does it soak in and become an issue when pitching again? Thanks


    • Hi Ben. I love the Parula and other than cost – easy to recommend as a two person tent – the amount of space compared to weight is amazing. The fly does bead water and I’ve never had any rain ingress. It does tend to look wet after heavy condensation (this night was very damp!) but its never any wetter than any other tent I’ve owned. The horizontal poles that create the headroom do bend in a little in wind but I’ve pitched it in some seriously stormy weather in Scotland and did us proud even though it only claims to be a 3 season tent. Not as a stable as a true geodesic tent but then its nowhere near as heavy. The doors take a bit of practice to get tensioned correctly and the shape means the zips are quite a reach away when in the inner but that’s my only minor criticism. Good buy in my opinion.


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