Archive for July 2020

Back to the Malverns   12 comments

Another day of showers and another day where a half day stroll was in order. Wales was still closed for business so we headed east to the Malverns. These can be really busy on a weekend but a bit of local knowledge tells you the southern end is quiet and just as lovely as the more popular parts further north. We parked up in Hollybush and strode out across the fields under bright sunshine.

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We came across this charming little thatched gatehouse on our way onto the Three Choirs Way (whatever that is – another of the ever growing list of themed walks).

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Like a little Hobbit House from this side.

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The views across the Vale of Evesham to the Cotswolds and Bredon Hill were superb.

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On to our first hill and the most southerly of the Malverns, Chase End Hill.

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What the Malverns lack in height in they more than make up for in up and down and steepness. Even on this short 7 mile stroll we clocked up over 2000 feet of ascent.

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On to the second hill of the day, the wonderfully named Ragged Stone Hill. A really steep little blighter with tremendous views.

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It was chilly and windy up here. I had more clothing layers on that when I’d last walked this part in February last year!

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Our next summit, Midsummer Hill with the main Malverns ridge in the distance.

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Clouds and showers over the Severn Valley and Estuary.

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The obelisk on an unnamed summit just off the ridge. A memorial to some posh Victorian family members I’d never heard of.

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No photos from Midsummer Hill as it was insanely windy on top.

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We managed a brief sit down in grass out of the wind for the mandatory cuppa and snack.

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We’d thought about maybe heading a little further down the ridge or across the common to the car. Dark clouds were gathering and we were spattered by a rain shower so we decided we’d done enough walking and headed directly back to the car. In the end the shower never really amounted to anything major despite the very dark skies. On the way back we took a look at Gullet Quarry and its lake, a well known wild swimming spot. They’ve now closed it off with loads of warning signs, barbed wire and anti-vandal paint. To be honest the water looked a bit murky and not all that inviting for a swim.

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You don’t need to walk the main ridge with its crowds, tea-shops and busy road crossings to enjoy the best of this range of hills.

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Back to the Mountains   17 comments

Wales and its mountains have been out of bounds during lockdown, frustrating when you can see them from your garden as your local hills. We’ve enjoyed exploring Shropshire and the Marches but we were eager for some mountain time. There is a short piece of the Black Mountains, Black Hill, that’s neither in Wales or the National Park and we stayed away as we felt that was in the right spirit. Having seen pictures of people walking the ridge eventually on a showery day we decided to give it a go.

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It was quite busy in the small parking area but we found a spot down the hill to park up. Our luck with the weather ran out and we were caught by a heavy shower as we set off.

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Short-lived though and soon we were in sunny intervals and some cracking views.

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Its a fine ridge, the only truly “narrow” ridge in South Wales (these things are relative, its just a walk with the odd rocky step.

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It was windy and it felt great to be back in my local mountains again.

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Despite the busy car park we only saw a few people out and about, it didn’t really feel any busier than when we’ve walked up here before. Everyone was polite, pleasant and respectful of social distancing.

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Storms passing through Monmouthshire.

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TBF enjoying the walk.

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Looking back along the Cats Back ridge

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The small pond on Black Hill summit

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We were caught in a heavy and squally shower and as the ridge from here heads into Wales we took the path back down the Olchon Valley.

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The sun came out again and the valley looked resplendently verdant, albeit due to the surging tide of bracken.

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Only a short walk for few hours on a Sunday but refreshing and revitalising.

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Wales is now open again so hoping to head back for a longer mountain walk over the coming weekend.

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More Garway Hill   12 comments

Whilst my local mountains in Wales have been closed off, Garway Hill became my release valve for a high level walk and views to keep me sane.

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This one was taken after dropping TJF in town for a socially distanced meet up in the park with one of her friends. We thought we could grab a walk in between drop off and pick up.

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Another day with heavy showers forecast but we were lucky again and avoided a soaking even though there were clearly damps spells about. We even managed a cheeky summit beer – a very nice Brewdog Lock-Down Lager!

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More bracken starting to rear its head.

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Some of the paths I use on this walk will shortly disappear until winter when it dies back.

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We had time to take the longer route, down the ridge, back along the lane and cutting back across the fields to the open common land.

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An enjoyable if short walk.

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Next day I was on my own while the rest of family visited my Mum-in-Law. I took a long ride out to see if could cycle all the way to the top of a local hill (a missing Marilyn) called Burton Hill.

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I managed it with some stiles to haul the bike over and few interesting moments on a muddy path riding on slick tyres. The photo below gives flavour of what trying to find summits in these out of the way places can be like! Steep hard work on the way up but a fabulous long downhill ride back down!

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