Archive for July 2018

After Work Swimming   12 comments

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With the hot weather, taking a walk after work hasn’t been all that attractive an option. What has worked well is a wild swim after work. I drive home along the Wye Valley and we live a couple of miles from its banks. My Wild Swimming guide mentions several places on the river so I gave them a try.

Firstly at Kerne Bridge near Goodrich Castle

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It’s so refreshing after a long day in a sterile office to swim in cool water. On a weekday evening you have the place pretty much to yourself. After a dip I went for a short stroll along the river bank

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The light was stunning and sky crystal clear

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Next outing was to Bredwardine Bridge a few miles away after a day working at home

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Its a stunning spot and a very well known one. Even on a weekday evening there were a few families around enjoying the water

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The red brick bridge gives a superb backdrop

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Next to Sellack Common near Ross on Wye with its quaint suspension footbridge

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Before a swim I took a very short walk across the fields to look at the church

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And a rather fine one it is

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It was fiercely hot so it was time for a swim. The water was warm enough to hop straight in but cool enough to be refreshing. Like Kerne Bridge I had the place to myself

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We also have a much smaller local river called the Lugg which if anything is even better for swimming and much prettier even though its walking distance from town. We had a lovely swim one Sunday evening and I took some splendid photos. Sadly I thought it would be a top notch idea to take my phone swimming with me and I killed it and the photos with it. Considering it was an iPhone, a very expensive mistake. Ah well, no point being an idiot if you don’t provide ample evidence

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Another Solo Wild Camp   18 comments

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Back a couple of weeks before the weather turned too hot to venture into the outdoors with a heavy pack, I took another Friday night out in the mountains. I wished for a bit of breeze to keep temperatures and insects at bay and certainly got my wish.

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A glorious evening of clear skies and warm sunshine. I chatted to a lady van-camping in the car park with her very friendly Jack Russell pup chewing my laces. No sign of the promised breeze as I set off.

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It was a hot climb through the fly infested bracken as I headed for a summit pitch on Pen y Gadair Fawr. Still no breeze and I felt that the midges were eying me up for a buffet supper

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As I crested the top, the breeze finally kicked in. Less a breeze than a very significant and very chilly wind that I was struggling to stand up in

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It would have made a superb summit camp, lots of flat thick grass but it was just too cold to enjoy the surroundings. I’d also hoped to pick up some water, figuring that at least one of the numerous springs that rise on the summit would be running. No such luck. I decided press on in the hope of finding a sheltered spot

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Trouble its a pretty exposed spot up here and the wind was roaring and grass is in short supply. The compensation was that it was cool and walking along a high level ridge in the late evening is a simple joy

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The bog cotton was giving everything an almost frost-like feeling. The photos can’t do justice to how beguiling it was

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They have massively improved the paths up here so I made swift progress over Waun Fach without ever finding a respite from the wind. I tried a few grassy groughs, but none were suitable

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Eventually I had to plunge a hundred metres or so down the Y Grib Ridge and found a sort of level pitch on a terrace of deep lush grass. What it lacked in comfort it more than made up for with a  superb sunset vista

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There was just enough wind to keep the insects at bay without it being too cold and I sat outside, read and drank many brews of tea before turning in well past 11pm

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Tough to tear yourself away from views like this

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I expected a blazing sun to cook the tent and have me outside early. I awoke at 8am with no sign of the sun. I was in the cloud again. Looking up was clear blue though and the sky was surely to clear and on queue as the water boiled for my last cuppa before I ran out of water, it did

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It was an amazing morning. The east wind had cleared any haze from the air and the sky between the wispy clouds was a deep azure blue. Pen y Fan and Beacons poked above the cloud and I thought of TBF on her 25 mile sponsored walk around the range. She was on Pen y Fan summit round about the time I too this photo

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I decided to walk all around the escarpment to Lord Hereford’s Knob and on a day like this it was amazing. It really puts a spring in the step to have views like this to accompany you and I covered the ground swiftly

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There were several D of E groups out most of whom seemed cheerfully incompetent, walking in various directions none which seemed to be the right one!

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I topped out on the Knob and where the panorama across the Wye valley is breathtaking

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Despite the glorious day I had this very popular and easily accessible summit to myself but it was still very windy and bit chilly. Added to the fact I’d not had breakfast and had no water pushed me onwards to resupply and take on calories

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I had to walk much further down the Nant Bwch stream before the water was flowing sufficiently well to be drinkable. I found a fine spot and set about making my bacon sandwiches and several cups of tea to re-hydrate

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I had thought about dropping down to Capel y Ffin and walking back over the ridge to the car. The fact that out of the wind it was still really hot had me thinking of a better plan. I retraced my steps back toward the edge and the curved off towards the summit of Twyn Talycefn.

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The strong breeze was keeping the skies clear and the temperatures perfect for walking. Much better to be up high in weather like this

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Looking back to the ridge I’d walked the previous evening

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I dropped down to the Grwyne Fawr Reservoir with an idea of a sneaky swim.

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I don’t normally like swimming in reservoirs as they do have their dangers but I found a stunning little spot on the banks and took a short dip without straying too far into the water.

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Another cup of tea seemed in order as I felt like I had the whole place to myself.

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Then it was a simple matter of the long walk back down past the dam to the car

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A nice easy angled path to finish the day with grand views back to the dam and the deep greens of the valley under the still totally clear sky

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Another superb one-nighter although I would have enjoyed a bit of company as I’ve done most of this years trips solo. 15-16 miles over the two days with the aimless wandering I did looking for a pitch and just enjoying being out.

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May be the last such trip for a while. The last couple of weeks have been just too hot and sultry for walking so I’ve been getting my exercise in the water with some wild swimming, more of which in future posts. Then its holiday time for me and the family as we head to Wales and France for some sociable fun with friends

 

Perfect Midsummer Sunset   20 comments

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In the midst of a UK heatwave the best place to spend the night is on a cool mountain summit. Another stunning day and another chance for a wild camp. I headed to mid Wales for a camp on the summit of Pumlumon Fawr (or Plynlimon depending on which name you choose). Its not that high and you can drive to a high access point giving less than an hours walk to the top. A worthy consideration as I had to carry several litres of water to keep the brews flowing. It was the day after the longest day and the views were wonderful as I parked up and set off. I should warn you that I took a lot of photos so settle in for the feature presentation.

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Its a short climb but has some steep bits which I found hard work after a day at work and carrying all that water. Luckily there was a decent breeze blowing to keep the heat at bay

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My target summit in shot

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Sheep watching me on the horizon

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Looking north over towards Snowdonia

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A final steep slog brought me to the top. Stunning view to mountains and across Cardigan Bay

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Its a perfect summit for a wild camp, flat with plenty of spongy moss and grass. The vegetation is only a couple of inches thick though so anchoring the pegs takes a bit of work although in weather like this it hardly matters. My usual routine was initiated. Stove out and water boiling for a brew while I put the tent up.

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The setting was magnificent and I was in the perfect spot to watch the setting sun over the next couple of hours

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I sat, drank tea, took in the views, wandered about, ate jaffa cakes, drank more tea, ate more jaffa cakes, you get the idea

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The moon even put in an appearance.

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There was a grand view of the Llyn Peninsula where I’ve spent many happy weekends and holidays. I was chuffed that the sun went down just behind one of my favourite small hills, Carn Fadryn.

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I didn’t have the whole summit to myself. A couple of friendly chaps and their equally friendly dog shared the sunset with me and provided a nice foreground for a photo

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My bedtime view

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The mountains of Snowdonia

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Nant y Moch reservoir

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And a darker shot of the moon

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An isolated hill, overlooking the sea with a flat spot on the summit. One of the finest spots I can recall to watch a sunset. Simply magnificent

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I never sleep all that well when camping but in weather like this it hardly matters. I got up around 3am to answer the call of nature and watched a spectacular moon-set over the bay (no photos alas). I awoke to a hot morning and got up for a pre-breakfast stroll around my camp site

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Sadly the wind had dropped and the midges came out to have their breakfast, namely me, while I had mine

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I packed up in a cloud of midges but as I finished up the breeze picked up and blew them away. The breeze stayed with me so insect problems – other than a few clegs – kept them away

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I went for a stroll around the hills to the east, normally pretty soggy but after a dry spell the going was easy on springy dry turf

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I headed down via the Nant Felen stream which has some pretty waterfalls and pools. The one below was just deep enough for a quick skinny dip in icy cold water

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This part of Cwm Gwerin is rough pathless terrain with plenty of tussocks but its stunningly beautiful and untouched

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I wandered past the spot where we camped a couple of years back and found a breezy spot for an extended lunch

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Al that was left was the return along the broad Hengwm valley and along by the reservoir to the car. The valley was as tough and rough as always, albeit much drier than usual. It looks like there is a much better path on the north side of the valley which I need to try next time I visit as I surely will

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The route below is hand drawn so I’ve no accurate idea of how far I walked, maybe 10 miles in total with my summit wanderings. Still, it wasn’t a trip about clocking miles

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A memorable outing and I’m really enjoying these one-night outings straight after work on a Friday. A real pick me up and still time left in the weekend to spend with the rest of the family. Another one coming in the next post

 

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