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Winter Break in Lisbon – Belem and Evening Sunset Walk   5 comments

Back on to the rather disorganised chaos that is a Lisbon Tram and onwards to the Belem district that holds plenty more of Lisbon’s famous sights. We hopped off at the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos.

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It’s a massive and truly stunning building, blindingly white in the winter sunshine. I’m told its equally stunning inside but we’d save that for another day and earlier time as it was thronged with people.

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The gardens outside were equally grand and the views were superb.

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I had a day in Lisbon on my schools cruise in my youth. I remember liking Lisbon and this is one of the sights I remember from that day, Padrão dos Descobrimentos, a monument to Henry the Navigator, whoever he was.

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An impressive structure with great views across the water front to the bridge.

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We were here for lunch but all the restaurants looked full until we found one that looked expensive but I was tempted in because I was hungry and because the stunningly attractive waitress beckoned me in and found us a table. It was expensive but the food was really good (and we had another custard tart for pudding!)

The Belem Tower is one of the most famous sights in Lisbon and on a clear and sunny winters day it does gleam in the sunshine.

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Its very ornate and its position right by the waterfront is a fine one.

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We declined the offer of a long queue and headed back to the flat.

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We stopped off at Placa do Comercio which looked very fine under in the afternoon sunshine. We would have lingered a while but they were testing out the sound system for New Years Eve with bass so loud and low my kidneys were vibrating.

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We could still hear it a couple of levels down in the Metro station. Last shot of the castle to bring the day full circle.

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Well almost. Me and TBF decided there was enough daylight for another stroll so we headed out to the Miradors from the day before to watch the sun go down.

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The white buildings and red roofs were especially fetching in the low sun.

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The views from the Miradors were superb.

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We wandered back to the flat past the Igreja de São Vicente de Fora.

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And the Pantheon.

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Both just catching the last of pink glow of the setting sun.

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Our walk back took us through more wonderful narrow streets packed with tiny restaurants. Lisbon seemed to have more of these than any other place I’ve been. I wanted to eat in every one.

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Many of the houses has this tiled effect on the outside.

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And one final shot of our flat and the lovely little square it sat in.

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A fabulous day in the sun and we all agreed Lisbon is a fine city and pleased we decided to explore as part of our New Year trip.

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Onwards and southwards to the Canaries!

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Winter Break in Lisbon – Castelo de Sao Jorge   12 comments

After a somewhat cloudy first day, we awoke on our second day to this view across the square from the apartment. Not too shabby a day.

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First stop was the Castelo de Sao Jorge, one of Lisbon’s best known sites. Stopping off at the Mirador above on the walk up.

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The entrance to the castle has a large terrace with shady trees from which there are spectacular views across the city, the Tagus river and the famous suspension bridge the Pont 25 de Abril.

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A zoom shot of the Elevador de Santa Justa that we walked past the day before.

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And the Se de Lisboa cathedral

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We took a moment to sit in the warm sun and for me and TJS to enjoy a second breakfast. Pastel de Nata is the local pastry, a custard tart made with flaky pastry and they are gorgeous. This one was warm from the oven and was the best we had. To say me and TJS were obsessed with them was an understatement. At a guess I reckon we ate pushing 30 between us over a couple of days plus an airport stopover on the way home. No finer spot to enjoy this one.

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The Santuário Nacional de Cristo Rei.

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And more views across the red roof tops of the city.

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The castle is really well preserved and looks not unlike the castles I used to draw as a kid, all pristine square towers and battlements.

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What it lacked in spiral staircases and passageways it made up for with walks around the walls which were extensive.

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Across the rooftops of the Alfama district.

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I think there was a Camera Obscura in this tower (there was a queue to get in)

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Family shot enjoying the sunshine.

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After a very happy morning enjoying the views and the clear blue skies we headed down into the city. A view from one of the city squares back up to the castle.

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A fine way to spend a morning. Castles and custard tarts, a great combination.

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Off to find some lunch and some more Lisbon sights.

Winter Break in Lisbon – Miradors and Trams   8 comments

After the delights of Yorkshire it was time for more travels. We were headed for our usual dose of winter sun in the Canary Isles but due the vagaries of flight times and costs we choose to fly via Lisbon. May as well spend a couple of days there and have a look around then!

We were staying in the old district of Alfama, a maze of narrow streets and red roofed moorish houses. After a brief look round and fine meal the evening we arrived we set out the next morning for a proper explore.

Lots of small squares with orange trees in the neighbourhood.

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Lisbon has lots of old style trams and this is one of the tours versions at the first square we came to.

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As you’ll see from the many photos, Lisbon is a very hilly city. It has numerous squares and platforms for extensive views across the city called Miradors. We chose to take a look at a few on our first morning to get a feel for the city as it were. These first few photos are taken from the Largo das Portas do Sol and the Miradouro de Santa Luzia.

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Our little flat is just to the left and below the left hand church tower in the photo below.

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One of the regular trams.

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Onwards and upwards to the second view point at Miradouro de Graca. Fine views across the city.

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And onto the final and highest one at Miradouro da Nossa Senhora do Monte.

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Down through some typical narrow Lisbon streets to the plaza at Martin Moniz with its splendid fountains.

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Back to the apartment for some lunch. This is our little block.

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Onwards for more walking down to Lisbon’s most famous square at Placa do Comercio.

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Its a huge open space down by the river which they were clearly preparing for New Year festivities.

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Another Metro trip across town to pick up one of the Funicular railways that plough up the narrow hilly streets. This one is the Ascensor da Gloria.

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In truth this one and its incline had been badly affected by graffiti but it was still fun.

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It took us up to our final viewpoint of the day at Miradouro da Sao Pedro da Alcantara, looking back across the city from the opposite side to where we’d looked out in the morning.

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Lisbon’s trams are somewhat curious in that they are very small, crowded, infrequent and not very clear as to where they go (we did find a map after a couple of days). We hopped on this one hoping it would take us down to the waterfront but it terminated after just one stop!

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A walk down through the city to one of the more odd features the rather grandiose Elevador de Santa Justa.

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There was huge queue to ascend the lift for a fee which is odd as you can walk to the viewing platform at the top for free (we tried to find the top but failed and never got chance to go back). Very impressive to look at from the bottom though.

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We walked through Praca Rossio with its fountains (turned off by the time we got there) and then picked up a tram to take us back to Alfama.

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A quick look inside the Se de Lisboa cathedral.

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A huge building, as much castle as church.

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This is the Igreja de Sao Miguel opposite our flat, viewed from the lounge window before we headed out for a meal and some music.

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And a nighttime view of the flat.

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It was actually raining when we set out which was something of a surprise but it stopped by the time we’d donned jackets. We walked back up to the mirador we visited in the morning for a night view across the city.

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And the cathedral.

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We had another fine meal out this time accompanied by some traditional Portuguese and Lisbon music called Fado. Its a very intense, emotional sort of folk music and whilst its not my sort of thing was very enjoyable and is an essential part of any visit to the city. A very short clip from my phone below.

Fado is normally just a singer and a guitar and this young lady was very talented and had one hell of a voice. It was a contrast to watch her really fill the restaurant with her voice and yet be so quietly spoken when she introduced the songs. It was a great accompaniment to a fine meal and well worth finding a Fado restaurant when you visit regardless of your musical taste.

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A whistle stop tour of the city in a day covering many sights and views and one of the city’s cultural experiences. A great start to a great trip.

A Quick Stride Over Farleton Fell   18 comments

The Monday of our visit was Xmas Eve and most of us were either travelling home to see family or in our case for a brief visit home before our next trip. Right on cue the British weather transformed overnight from dark, damp and gloomy to cold clear and frosty!

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Whilst its a little frustrating to have such a stunning day when most of us couldn’t make use of it, you can’t really complain about a glorious morning like this or in fact a weekend that had delivered some great walks regardless of the weather.

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I managed to reel off a few photos and set my mind working to to a way to cram in a short walk on the way home.

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Inspiration struck in realising that Farleton Fell is but a short detour from our route home. Not only that it’s small and perfectly formed and you can drive pretty much to the top. Add to that the fact that its a superb area of limestone with great views and we had our walk. TJF kindly agreed to wait in the car for an hour while the three of us took in some cold December air.

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It was stunning. If anything the skies were even clearer. A stunning pin sharp clarity to the air and the sky the deepest blue.

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Walking in these conditions is a sheer delight and I took loads of photos with views in all directions.

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The light on the crags and trees was just amazing.

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The summit is crossed by numerous paths and we just wandered with a sort of aim for the highest point following the edge around.

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Looking back towards Yorkshire and Ingleborough

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Across to the high summits of the Lake District.

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And north to the Howgills.

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I really love this angled Limestone Pavement near the top with its almost perfect slope and deeply incised features.

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Th views from the top were immense.

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A panorama to take it all in.

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Across Morecambe Bay.

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And down towards Arnside and Silverdale – we wave at our friends from the neighbourhood.

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This dead tree made an unusual subject.

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TBF finding crossing the pavements something of a challenge.

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We followed a number of wide grassy promenades across the limestone and fields and back up to the car.

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We’d only been out an hour but it was a truly memorable walk. A three hour journey in the car suddenly didn’t seem so bad.

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Back on the road for home for a Xmas day without turkey, trimmings, presents and all that.

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We needed to focus on washing and re-packing for our next trip.

Pre-Xmas Warm Up in Yorkshire – Part 2   10 comments

The Sunday dawned similar if not a little worse than the day before. Dank and gloomy only this time with a persistent rain spattering the puddles in the road. Another leisurely morning of tea, fried breakfasts and cake helped to smooth over the weather bumps. TBH had lost her walking poles the day before and was sure where she’d left them so we headed out for a walk to see if they were still there. By the time we managed to get out of the door it had stopped raining and didn’t re-start for the whole walk. Result!

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We were heading back out to the same area we’d walked through the day (sorry, the night) before so I was looking forward to seeing what it actually looked like. We started out along the Dales Way heading to its junction with the Pennine Way. All of the Three Peaks were out of the cloud now.

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Ingleborough along Gayle Beck.

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And above Ribblehead and its viaduct.

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And Whernside.

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The junction of paths where we headed south on the Pennine Way is relatively high up and commends great views across the Ribble Valley and the Three Peaks.

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A panorama shot, Pen y Ghent to the left, Ingleborough in the centre and Whernside to the right.

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The path drops into the valley of Ling Gill Beck and it was wonderful.

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A gushing river, packhorse bridge and a deep ravine below.

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Rather than just being an excuse for some air it was turning into a really fine walk with better to come.

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On the slopes of the aptly named Cave Hill is Browngill Cave. Another rushing river dropping into a deep dark cave under the path.

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I’m always fascinated by caves as is Mark and we both enjoyed a few minutes perched around its edge peering in and taking photos. There were bolts in the rock so clearly its cave to be explored.

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Amongst all the fun, we began to realise that time was pressing on, the late start meant daylight was once again in short supply. This was actually the spot where TBH thought her poles would be but they were gone (she was pleased to hear later they were picked up by another member of our party the night before. The bad news was they had no idea they were hers and took them home – to Aberdeen!)

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This is the Gods Bridge below the cave and in fact is just below where the water from the cave resurfaces.

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The resurgence is just upstream in this photo. It was good to see this spot properly, it was pretty much dark when we passed through the day before. Further research reveals that Browngill Cave is a known through trip which we are keen to try some day. We often talk about a summer caving weekend as there are plenty of easy caves to explore in these parts.

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Time to push on and we just about made it back to the lodge in the last vestiges of daylight. The route we’d taken the night before was very much easier in the light (although these last couple of photos show you these things are relative!)

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Turned into quite a long walk (for an afternoon) of around 7 miles and very enjoyable it was too.

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Another walk to prove that sometimes you just need to head outside and see what the winter weather brings you.

Pre-Xmas Warm Up in Yorkshire – Part 1   20 comments

Our usual Xmas gathering of friends. Same area of West Yorkshire but a different location for the accommodation, the bunkhouse at Gearstones Lodge – very good it is too!

After an evening of catching up and a morning of over-consumption at breakfast, exercise was needed. The weather was the seemingly traditional grey and damp we always have but the company of good friends always helps to make the walk very much worthwhile. We’d planned a walk from Horton in Ribblesdale back to the bunkhouse via Pen y Ghent and a few other key sights.

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A grey day without any sunshine but we still had some views.

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A special photo of TBB as she didn’t want to be photographed or have he new blog name reminded – sorry TBB! 🙂

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Pen y Ghent loomed in and out of the cloud. We had a few tempting glimpses of brightness but it never materialised into anything that could be classed as sunshine.

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A brief stop to take on extra clothes and food. It was pretty miserable at this point but we find fun in the most unlikely places

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It was the briefest of stops on Pen y Ghent, it was pretty grim and for a while pretty wet.

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Once below the summit things improved both in terms of weather (it stopped raining at least) and in terms of sights. Being a limestone area, potholes are everywhere and we took a look at two of the finest examples. This one is the narrow defile of Hunt Pot.

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We scrambled down to the edge and found a sheltered and somewhat precarious spot for lunch.

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And thence to Hull Pot. This is a massively impressive hole in the ground, its size due, I assume, to a collapsed cavern roof. I’ve only ever seen it in dry weather so it was a stroke off luck to see it with water pouring in.

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It looks like a fine spot for a wild camp if a little popular.

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From there we had the minor challenge of a further 5-6 miles to walk back along the Ribble Way with around an hour of light left. Those maths don’t add up and we ended up walking over an hour in complete darkness. I actually enjoyed it and the benefit of OS Maps on my phone really came to the fore – I’m pretty sure we’d either have had to walk along way around on the the road or we’d have taken ages getting lost without it.

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A grand walk despite the gloomy weather and a decent 12 mile stretch. We’d earned a slap up meal and a few beers so that’s exactly what we did!/

And that will be it from me for 2018. Off tomorrow to Gran Canaria for our usual dose of winter sun (via a short city break in Lisbon). Happy Xmas and New Year to you all! 🙂

Old Places – Sugar Loaf   11 comments

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It’s good having the prodigal son arrive back home from University and see him ambling about the house again. He was keen to head out for a walk on his old local hills. The forecast was ok but things looked deeply gloomy when we parked up but perked up no end as we climbed one of our go to favourites for a short day, the Sugar Loaf.

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We’d mistaken a bank of mist hanging on the lower slopes for the overall cloud base. we soon climbed through it to reveal atmospheric ethereal wisps of cloud at the halfway point as it were.

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It was cold and not much in the way of sunshine but good to be out after a dreadful wet day before.

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We had in mind a much longer walk than usual taking in a couple of the long ridges that fan out to the south having never walked them. 

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Views over to Ysgyryd Fawr, another go to favourite but lower down the list since they started making you pay to park at the bottom. 😦

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There is a very short rocky ridge on the top which I always enjoy and makes  for a great photo foreground.

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The summit was surprisingly quiet but we didn’t linger as the skies started to threaten rain.

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This led us to abandon our plan, instead finding a new and very pleasant route that traversed through fields and woods from one ridge to another. We rather liked the gnarly trees.

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A simple walk of around 5.5 miles but nice to find a subtley different variation on a grand mini mountain.

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It was also great to be out walking with TJS again, familiar territory, familiar company.

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