Archive for June 2019

Bleaklow Revisted   22 comments

One of semi-regular get togethers with friends from across the country for a day walk. We managed to convince the Yorkshire contingent down from Harrogate to join us for a Peak District wander. We settled on one of our classic walks from yesteryear, Dowstone Clough onto Bleaklow returning via Doctors Gate.

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Breakfast in a great cafe in Glossop set us up for the day and we met up in Old Glossop and headed for the moors.

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We discovered the delights of Yellowslacks Brook and Dowstone Clough in my University years. In those pre-car days reaching Glossop involved one of the worlds longest (or so it seemed) bus rides. It used to take the best part of two hours to reach Glossop from central Manchester. The trains never seemed to run to Glossop on a Sunday (no idea why) and Saturday was normally spent curing a hangover. Heady days.

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We discovered Dowstone Clough by accident back then. Seeing an interesting looking valley in the distance we decided to take a look. We went back many times over a few years but I’ve not been up here for maybe 20 years.

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Its a superb valley with a couple of quite decent waterfalls and several small cascades. You can pretty much take the whole riverbed direct.

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Sadly we were in the worst weather of a showery day when we were on this section, heavy rain and a chill wind had me reaching for hat and gloves.

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Its still a superb stretch of walking and I urge you to seek out its charms when up this way.

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As we approached the top of the stream where it emerges onto the vast plateau of Bleaklow the rain stopped and the sun came out.

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What struck me was how much Bleaklow has changed. I’m not entirely sure how but they seem to have regenerated the grassland up here. What used to be vast expanses of dark, black peat were now swathed in grass and the whole area had a green rather than a black look. I always thought the peat expanses were natural and in a way I quite liked it. Seeing it now restored its completely stunning.

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We stopped for a brief rest and lunch at Hern Stones as more dark and threatening clouds gathered. We thought we were in for a real soaking but it seemed to pass us by and we barely needed waterproofs.

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In the intervening years they have also paved the path across the plateau making it a superb high level stroll rather than a trudge through bog and peat.

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Doctors Gate is a real Peak District Gem. It suddenly opens up beneath your feet as you descend from the Pennine Way.

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A glorious green valley, twisting its way back to Old Glossop. Every step is just a joy. I came up here many times when I lived in Glossop for a short period in the 90’s.

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We talked about many things. About Politics, Sport, Brexit and the complete lack of real world common sense that our kids seem to be proficient at.

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The sun beat down on us for most of the way down and the wintery feel of the rain in Dowstone Clough turned back to summer again.

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Looks can be deceiving though. The next two photos were taken at the same time looking in opposite directions.

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By the time we reached the cars it was chucking it down with a vengeance and we sheltered in the Yorkshire Van for a cuppa before the long drive home. Superb day that rekindled some very happy memories from long ago.

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The Long Way Around   12 comments

Last time we had a weekend day seemingly without rain. I was on my own for the day so set out early (by my standards) for a long walk in the Black Mountains. I parked up at Pont Cadwgan and headed up the forest tracks deciding to add in Crug Mawr as an extra option due to the bright morning and the fact its a fine hill.

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Not quite as clear and sunny as the forecast had indicated but dry and that’s what matters especially with the appalling 2-3 weeks of rain that followed.

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Crug Mawr doesn’t seem to attract many walkers and I rarely see more than a couple of people up here or on the long ridge that comes down from the high points of the Black Mountains.

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I has my first sit down for the day, actually quite pleased for the breeze as it had been a bit hot and airless on the walk up.

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Onwards towards those high points I mentioned. This ridge is normally a pretty wet and muddy affair but it was bone dry. Likely it’s returned to business as usual in the meantime.

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A spell of brighter sunnier weather drew me onwards until I reached Pen y Gadair Fawr.

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Time for another stop as its a few miles along from Crug Mawr.

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Next stop Waun Fach, highest of the Black Mountains. They have worked wonders in restoring the grassland up here. The path is now much less boggy and there are huge swathes of grass where once was just black bog. The Trig Pillar on the top used to be lost in sea of peat but now stands proud next to a path through the greenery. Sadly the plague of trail bikes are still leaving their trail of damage elsewhere. The National Park really need to more to do educate and restrict them although I’m not sure how.

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Onwards to the northern escarpment for a bite to eat before turning and taking the long route back down the other side of the Gwryne valley

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This is looking along the ridge to Chwarel y Fan

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It turned quite cloudy and cool for a while so my last stop on the top was a brief one.

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I really like the ridge from here to Bal Mawr. Not narrow but airy enough to expose some grand views.

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A close up shot of Llanthony and its priory.

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Not sure what these trees are – flora and fauna are not my strong point – but they were all in flower all over the lower slopes and looked wonderful both from a distance and close up.

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Just a matter of picking my way down to and through the forest and back to the car feeling weary and foot sore. Hardly surprising as my mapping software said 20 miles! As far as I’ve walked in a day for a very long time. I was quite pleased with myself.

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Wild Camping in the White Hills of the Black Mountains   15 comments

It hasn’t been much of summer so far has it? Seemingly endless days of rain and sunshine a distant memory. Fleeting appearances between showers. Time to call on the isolated good memories from weeks gone by, this one from the Bank Holiday weekend at the end of May. Another weekend that started of grey and wet but a promise of clearing skies on the Sunday prompted us to head our for a quick overnight wild camp. Parking up at the Dan yr Ogof show caves we headed into the limestone hills to the south of the main Black Mountain range.

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It was still raining when we left home but once we set out on foot the skies had cleared to a breezy and sunny late afternoon. Its a quiet part of south Wales at the best of times but this late in the day we had path to ourselves.

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It’s a fine green path across the white stone slopes, easy going is always a bonus when carrying an overnight pack.

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Fine, expansive views across this wild and austere corner of the mountains.

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TBF striding out and enjoying the scenery if not the heavy pack.

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There a numerous sink holes in the area and several are filled with water. One gave us a somewhat harrowing experience of rescue. I paused to wait for TBF to catch up and noticed a sheep near one of these pools. Something about it looked forlorn so I went to have a look and found that it was stuck in the pool, unable to get out. The banks were boggy and the poor thing was shivering and completely out of energy. Between us, me and TBF managed to drag it out of the pool until it sat on the banks. There was little more we could do but leave it alone and hope that it had sufficient reserves of core body heat and energy to recover and survive. Sheep are pretty hardy so we hoped that it would survive. I hope that we at least gave it a fighting chance as it would surely have died in the pool had we not seen it.

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We were headed back to a spot wed camped in a few years back. The Afon Gledd flows into a limestone valley and then disappears. Our spot was just upstream in a fine grassy shelf by the stream.

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We set about making camp in a spell of rather glorious blue sky and sunshine.

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Tea was drunk and evening meal cooked and consumed. No finer way to spend an evening back in the real world – TV and Netflix would be nice though! 🙂

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We had some wonderful late evening sunset views after a short walk to a nearby outcrop to help with digesting the meal.

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It was pretty chilly but we managed to sit outside until darkness crept in before retiring for the night.

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Showers were more frequent in the morning so it was breakfast cooked inside.

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As the morning developed so did the sunshine as we packed up for a walk back to the car via the maze of small limestone outcrops that litter the area to the south.

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There are no paths marked and I had thought it might be hard going. In fact there were numerous sheep tracks and flat rock outcrops and apart from one short stretch of tussocks the going was easy.

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In fact the walking was superb, the bright grey rock contrasting with the green grass and the moody clouds and blue sky.

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It would make fine wild camping country if there was some running water. There are a few small tarns but you’d likely need to filter the water carefully as there are no outflows.

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Our target was the unusual hill of Cribarth. Unusual in that its been very heavily quarried, carving some weird outcrops and shapes.

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It was really cold and chilly up here and the only time since we packed up that it rained, albeit just for a few minutes.

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We dropped down to the fields and found a sheltered spot for a picnic lunch and a brew.

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The sun came out to glorious effect while we sat and created some stunning views to the Forest Fawr range and along the Tawe valley.

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A short walk back down to the river and back to the car to complete a superb little outing in this remarkable and unusual corner of the Brecon Beacons.

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Cycling in the Forest of Dean   5 comments

Short post and a change of scene and activity.

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A damp and grey day is more suited to a bike ride than a walk so we headed off for one of our favourite rides around the Forest of Dean.

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An easy and unhurried ride around a route I’ve found that avoids most of the busier cycleways with enough hills for exercise without too much in the way of effort!

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A stop off at Mallards Pike lake for a cuppa and a snack.

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With some gosling cuteness thrown in.

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Nice way to spend a Sunday

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Posted June 13, 2019 by surfnslide in Cycling, Forest of Dean

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Evening Walk – Bryn Arw   16 comments

I was hoping to get out and do more after-work walks this year. A promising start back in early May but since then the weather has been pretty poor and the few days when there has been sunshine hasn’t fallen right.

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Still this one was a good one and my default walk of a circuit of the small and perfectly formed Bryn Arw.

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Its close to my journey home, easy to park and normally deserted, especially late on a weekday evening.

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A beautiful clear and warm evening, superb views over Ysgyryd Fawr and the surrounding pastoral landscape.

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And across to the Black Mountains and Brecon Beacons.

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A stop on the top for a cuppa and snack is an essential part of the experience.

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Timing things perfectly for that clarity of light you get as the sun sinks lower.

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I love this view on a day like this, beguiling contrast of colour.

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And a field of bluebells to wish me on my way back to the car and home, the trials of a day at the office banished to the back of my mind.

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Llangors Circuit   16 comments

Always on the look out for a new route in my local hills, the TGO magazine obliged with a circuit of Mynydd Llangorse and Allt yr Esgair around Llangors Lake. I’ve done both hills many times but never as combined circuit. In fact I’ve never been to Llangors Lake itself a very popular spot for fishing, boating and walking.

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From the Lake its a walk along a quiet local lane to reach the pass between Mynydd Llangorse and Mynydd Troed.

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As you climb the views begin open out over the lake (largest in South Wales) towards the Brecon Beacons.

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Mynydd Troed dominates the view in the other direction.

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The climb to the vast summit of Mynydd Llangorse is via the steep ridge of Cockit Hill.

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Beautiful contrast between the green fields and the bracken and heather slopes on Mynydd Troed.

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You can see here the effects of the fire that burnt across the slopes of Mynydd Troed last year. It looks like the damage was severe and may take a few years to recover fully.

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The bucolic Cwm Sorgwm with the Black Mountains behind.

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It was pleasantly warm on the summit so we stopped on the grassy path for lunch. We had these lovely wild ponies and their foals for company.

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After dropping down ready for our second peak of the day we noticed that despite the warm weather there were still storms about. This quite nasty looking one passed us by – in fact they all did and we never needed to suit up for rain.

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It’s a very long and steady climb to the summit of Ally yr Esgair but as a narrow – relatively – ridge the views around are excellent. Looking back to Mynydd Llangorse and Mynydd Troed.

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Over to the Brecon Beacons.

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And Llangors Lake

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By the time we reached the shores of the lake the sun was out in abundance and it was a glorious afternoon.

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You can’t walk next to the shore of the lake as it’s marshy but the green pastures gave a superb finish to our days walk with some wonderful late afternoon sunshine.

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Looking back to Allt yr Esgair.

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Mynydd Troed.

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Brecon Beacons.

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The views across the lake from the boating piers were equally fine and finished off a really fine walk, a respectable 11 miles.

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