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From the River to the Woods   9 comments

An overcast day and a late start had us looking for a walk close to home. Ever keen to try something new, we headed to Mordiford just east of the city to connect a series of riverside and woodland paths into a circuit. I’ve looked at this area on the map for a while so I was interested to see how it worked. Sometimes, lesser frequented paths can be disappointing, poorly marked, overgrown or just not there. Pleased to report that this one was excellent with no issues at all.

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We set off along the levee above the Lugg before heading down to the banks of the river. As ever, looking for possible summer river swimming spots.

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Looking back to West Wood where we’d be later on.

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The Lugg is a pretty little river and in many spots provides a fine swim.

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This is where TBF normally swims after work. Bit chilly this time of year for river swims.

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A nice little stone bridge over the Lugg into Hampton Meadow.

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Hampton Meadow is rather nice. We did note that its home to nesting birds including the increasingly rare Curlew. They therefore ask you nicely to avoid crossing it in spring and early summer so this walk is for Autumn and winter.

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After 3 miles my GPS was telling me we’d done a grand total of 8 feet of ascent so it was time for more of a workout. We passed a superb looking house in Cockshoot and headed up into the wooded hills above Mordiford.

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Despite my reservations this part of the walk was delightful. A mix of woodland and open fields with expansive views over the Shire to the Black Mountains.

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And the collection of wooded hills in the east of the county.

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After dropping into Mordiford we headed out on the Wye Valley Walk through Orchards and more open fields. The trees now in full autumn glory with the sun occasionally lighting them up to great effect.

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The return to Mordiford was through the woodland of Fownhope Park and the previously mentioned West Wood.

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All the paths and tracks marked on the map were exactly where they should be which was a relief.

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It was getting late as the walk had become longer than I’d planned, the route being much more enjoyable than I expected.

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The late afternoon sunlight in the trees was enchanting.

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We put in extra short loop back through the orchards to avoid a few hundred yards of busy main road.

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Really good new route and one I’ll be returning to, especially in the autumn when the trees are in fine form.

Eastern Peak District Gathering   13 comments

Time for another get together with our hiking friends of long standing. Something we try to do regularly now, having been through COVID and all feeling a little more isolated. Peak District is about as central as it gets for our widely distributed little gang and this time we went for the Eastern edges around Hathersage. Too far for a day out for us so we did an overnight in Chesterfield as a precursor.

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We met up at the Longshaw Estate car park planning a walk around the many edges and tors, and finishing off with a walk through the estate. Weather forecast was a little uncertain with rain heading in after 3pm so we went for the high ground first. We weren’t prepared for just how windy it was and the walk along Burbage Edge was brisk (helped by an unexpected sprinkling of rain).

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J-Dog was hassling pretty much from the off for a stop for a cuppa but the wind was fierce and stops with shelter were in short supply.

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Higger Tor is circular rather than an edge we managed to find a sheltered spot hunkered into its many rocks.

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Despite the forecast for grey skies, we struck lucky and we were treated to the odd patch of blue sky and watery sunshine.

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I’ve walked up here many times (although not for at least 20 years) but I don’t think I’ve ever actually walked over either Higger Tor or Carl Wark which is something of an oversight, both being excellent and interesting outcrops.

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Packing up after early afternoon tea.

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Looking back to Upper Burbage Bridge and Burbage Rocks. Expansive blue sky but it didn’t stay long.

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Sunshine on the first rocks of Stanage Edge.

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Scrambling on Higger Tor.

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Crepuscular rays over easter Derbyshire.

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Higger Tor from Carl Wark.

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The rocks of Carl Wark

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We headed over to take in more rocks (here looking back to Higger Tor and Carl Wark.

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And Burbage Rocks. Hard to imagine that just over the skyline is the industrial sprawl of Sheffield.

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Onwards to Over Owler Tor.

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Withe fine views out over the Hope and Edale valleys.

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Over Owler Tor from the other side.

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On to the next set of rocks at Millstone Edge. Pretty high by Dark Peak Standards.

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After a risky crossing of the main road on a blind bend we made another stop for a brew before the rain set in, which it promptly did. Not really photograph weather from this point down into the impressive Padley Gorge and back up to the Longshaw Estate. Have to make do with this fungal masterpiece.

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And one rather damp and grey looking shot of the normally lovely mixed, open woodland and heath of the Longshaw Estate.

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Even though we met early (for us) at 9:30 the day was over all too soon. Except we had one final treat in store. Hathersage, despite its small size supports not one but two well rated curry houses. What better than to finish off a fine day with an Indian Meal and this one, was especially good with some new flavours we hadn’t seen before. Everyone was asking when the next walk and curry outing would be.

Riverside to Moorland and Back   13 comments

A forecast of sunshine and showers, less wet in the east had me scouring the maps for somewhere different to walk. With all the recent heavy rains I figured a bit of riverside to see what the Wye was like was in order. I came across Erwood between Hay and Builth Wells which has free parking, a tick in the box for River Wye views and what looked like easy access to the quiet Llandeilo Hill (where I’ve walked a few times before) but from a different direction. Plan formed.

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The riverside path wasn’t very riverside to start with only the sound of the rushing water through the trees. It did have some nice views over the fields to the higher ground by way of compensation.

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The path did drop down the river and in fact passed right by the water. The Wye, normally quite benign was a raging torrent. Not exactly a day for a wild swim.

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In fact the path at this point was only a matter of inches above the water. Had the river been any higheer we wouldn’t have got through (and probably wouldn’t have done 24 hours earlier).

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Satisfied with our river views we headed upwards into the low hills above. Showers seemed to be in short supply, sunshine and blue sky were in abundance.

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The grassy paths between the retreating bracken were wonderful if a little damp.

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The pretty tarn of Henlllyn Mawr.

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Bracken is a real pain in the rear through the summer, but it does provide a nice splash of golden colour as it dies back in the autumn.

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This area is marked with numerous small outcrops like this one that creates further contrast and interest within the rest of the slopes.

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Another small un-named tarn.

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We stopped for first lunch here. A gorgeous little quiet spot with wide ranging views across to the Black Mountains.

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The hills above Builth Wells.

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And the distant Brecon Beacons.

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Our route for the next hour was towards the highest point of Llandeilo Hill in the distance.

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Looking back on our idyllic little lunch spot.

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Looking down to the village of Aberedw.

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We had more wild ponies than people for company on this walk. We only saw two people the whole day once we left the riverside path.

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We cut back towards the river via another little tarn also named Henllyn. These green paths are a feature of these hills. Sadly many (including this one until this point) have been badly trashed by trail bikes. This path was just three or four eroded ditches of mud and water that are difficult to walk along. Something needs to be done about this plague of indiscriminate destruction although I’m not sure what.

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Luckily it was only a mile so of trashed paths and most of the walk was on pristine grass and delight to walk across.

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Black Mountains living up to their name.

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Storm clouds gathering behind TBF although it didn’t actually rain all day, at least not on us.

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The Begwyns.

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We had our only minor inconvenience of the day heading for this this hill – Twyn y Garth – as it looked like it might be nice. Sadly the right of way had fallen into disrepair and there were no stiles and barbed wire where the path went so we had to abandon the idea.

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Turned out to be a good thing. We followed quiet lanes and came across this little church in the middle of nowhere at at Llandeilo Graban.

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And this rather gorgeous little spot for second lunch overlooking the Wye Valley (once a group of noisy trail bikers had passed through).

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Looking back to our hills from earlier in the day

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A fine little circuit that I’ll be doing again. So much for me grumbling about a grey autumn in my last post!

Grey Autumn   14 comments

Short post from a short walk on a grey day. Grey seems to be the over-riding colour for this autumn. Probably a little unfair as my previous post was sunny and my next one will be. Probably my impression is coloured by my efforts to take outdoor exercise every day so I see a lot of grey as it were!

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Bryn Arw is a favourite for this sort of outing when you need a short walk or the day just doesn’t justify a full outing.

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Small, perfectly formed and with great views of the surrounding mountains.

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It still surprises me that on dozens of walks up here I rarely see anyone else. I suspect everyone heads for the more popular hills of Ysgyryd Fawr and Sugar Loaf. The latter in the background here.

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Distant brightness beyond the Forest of Dean, likely Avon or Somerset.

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The aforementioned Ysgyryd Fawr.

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The grassy path along the summit ridge is always a pleasure to walk even on a grey, cool and windy day like this one.

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The highest summits of the Black Mountains.

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And on our way back, a Dovecote with some real Doves resting on the roof! I don’t think I’ve ever actually seen that before

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Posted October 31, 2021 by surfnslide in Black Mountain, Wales, Walking

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A Distant Memory of Sunshine   20 comments

It’s been a pretty dismal autumn so far. I’ve been waiting for some cold, clear frosty weather or some days of sunshine, showers and booming clouds but its been uniformly grey and dreary ever since I went to Scotland.

Apart from one day a couple of weeks ago. We were up late as the forecast only promised some possible sunny intervals later in the day when in fact it was a stunning clear blue day, warm enough to feel like summer.

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We headed out to the Radnor Hills as TBF hasn’t been there for a while. I’d also found some new paths from my last visit which I was keen to share. We parked up in New Radnor by what I thought was an elaborate war memorial but was in fact just a monument to some local nob and landowner from days of yore.

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Across the fields and into Mutton Dingle.

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Stunning views on a gorgeous morning.

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The new paths I found took us up through forests dappled with sunlight until you emerge near Whinyard Rocks and this fabulous views over Herefordshire towards the Kington Hills and the Marches.

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A steep climb to the pointy little hill of Whimble.

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Whinyard Rocks and Bache Hill.

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Views out to the Black Mountains and the Beacons.

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Time for first lunch on the summit.

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Views down towards Harley Dingle.

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Onwards to Black Mixen and its attendant Transmitter.

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This lone pine always catches my eye for a photo.

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The route round to Great Rhos used to involve a laborious trudge around a boggy forest. That forest has now been cleared and opened up an excellent path that takes a more direct route to the top.

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Great Rhos is the highest point but as you can see, highest doesn’t always equal excitement and the best views!

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It’s a lonely and soggy plateau of heather and grass with paths that seems to meander about without truly heading in any particular direction. In part this is due to the fact that Harley Dingle below is a privately owned shooting range that I think caters to MOD exercises. They have recently expanded the area you’re not supposed to venture into that now encompasses the obvious path to and from the summit of Great Rhos. Quite how that was allowed, and to encroach even further into Access Land I don’t know. Like the responsible and dutiful citizen I am, I ignored the keep out signs and just followed the path as I’ve always done (after some heather bashing to get to it).

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A distant and zoom image of the distinct summit of Whimble where we had first lunch.

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That in turn inspired us to stop for second lunch.

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Looking out over south Herefordshire to the Forest of Dean and the Cotswolds.

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Harley Dingle and Whimble. You can see the buildings of the firing range.

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As you can see it’s something of a tragedy that Harley Dingle is completely inaccessible to walkers. It must be one of the most stunning valley’s in mid-Wales. In Dartmoor, they close off certain areas of the moors on certain days and you plan accordingly. Harley Dingle is permanently closed to any access at all times. Its very sad.

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Luckily, the path back to New Radnor from the bottom of the valley is stunning with little risk of being shot or blown up. The late afternoon light was especially fine.

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The path that traverses the hillside back to the village is the real highlight of the walk, especially at the closing of a sunny autumn day.

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New Radnor Church just before we reached the car.

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The map below is pretty close to the route we took, just ignore the little detour to Bache Hill (no longer required now I’ve bagged i! 🤣) and the pointless little dalliance with missing out the summit of Great Rhos!

Urban Hiking   10 comments

Something a bit different. My car was in the workshop for repairs. I took a bike ride rather than wait around at the garage and fulfill my daily exercise needs. They rang me to say it would take the rest of the day, so I just carried on and cycled home, just short of 30 miles in the end. Rather than head back later with TBF I thought I could pick it up in the morning if she dropped me off in town. I advanced that plan and thought I could actually make a decent walk of it. So I was dropped off at Rotherwas just after eight am with a plan to walk along the river Wye and string some paths together back to the garage on the north side of the city.

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After a bit of exploration I managed to find a permission path through the fields to the river.

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There was low cloud hugging the local hills but it was bright and surprisingly warm.

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Its a very nice and quiet stretch of the Wye, a handful people out walking their dogs and a couple of men fishing.

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The other bank has lots of very expensive looking houses which I was admiring from a distance.

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Added excitement from a train passing over the bridge as I approached.

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The Canary Bridge.

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So named for the original Munitions factory in the area that turned the workers skins yellow.

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Its a nice bridge, very fetching in the morning sun.

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After a bit of urban wandering through housing estates I found my way to Tupsley Park. As I entered the sun finally broke free from the shackles of low cloud and it was glorious.

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A little oasis of greenery in an otherwise unremarkable suburb.

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Until this walk I had no idea it was there.

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Another few minutes of street walking and I was at Lugg Meadows. Here the sun was out in full force and it was just a stunning morning.

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The wander through these delightful meadows was a real pleasure.

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Me and TBF have been swimming in the Lugg around here a few times but I’ve never take a longer walk. I will be returning before too much longer.

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Next time I’ll walk in the main section of the meadows by the river. I was on the far western side where the path occasionally dropped into overgrown muddy woodland and there was no way to walk between the two areas, cut off by a meandering channel of the Lugg.

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On a workday it was blissfully quiet and I had pretty much the whole spot to myself.

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Onwards through Aylestone Park, another splendid green area.

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The park contains one of the remnants of the Herefordshire and Gloucestershire Canal. Most of it has completely disappeared but there is a trust and they are restoring a few sections.

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This stretch was rather pretty and looked very clear and clean for its few hundred metres of length.

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From there just a short stroll to the garage, pick up the car and back at my desk for 10:30. Nearly 6 miles and much further than I thought but very enjoyable.

Return to Local Walks   10 comments

After adventures north of the border, its back to more local fare and walk that spans a border.

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Firstly a couple of nice photos from a Saturday afternoon walk around the local fields. A truly dreadful day but I went out in the rain for my daily exercise and was treated with a very late show of sunshine.

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Sunshine and showers was the order of the following day. We grabbed a short walk over at Hergest Ridge near Kington.

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Photogenic ponies sheltering from the wind at the Parana Pine Trees near the top.

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The summit pond.

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Local resident.

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Trig Pillar.

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And the view from the real summit looking out to lonely Gwaunceste Hill.

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The showers were out there, waiting.

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On to Hanter Hill. A favourite spot of ours for a stop and a cuppa but not today. Not sure why but hardly anyone seems to walk onto this little appendage to Hergest Ridge even though its a much better summit and view point. Perhaps people don’t want to cross the border as its in Wales.

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Distant Radnor Hills – post of a walk in there coming soon.

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We were battered by a short sharp shower but that’s the advantage of this sort of day. Once its blown through its sublimely clear afterwards and worth a bit of wet. The light clarity was just superb.

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The rain shower heads away into the Shire.

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Herrock and Bradnor Hills – more of our favourites but rather cloaked in bracken so we’l wait till winter to head back.

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Posted October 21, 2021 by surfnslide in herefordshire, Walking

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Wet West Highlands – Conic Hill   16 comments

Our last day and it was the greyest, wettest and most miserable of all. Spirits were sagging and we had little choice but to pack up and head for home. The forecast all the way back was poor so I even changed out of my walking clothes, giving up any hope of awalk to brighten the journey.

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After a tedious drive along the A82 in a never ending queue of motorhomes that now seem to clog the Highlands we saw a glimmer of brightness as we approached Loch Lomond. That brightness grew and by the time we reached the bottom end there was blue sky – albeit clearly with heavy showers in the mix. On a whim I turned off and headed for Balmaha on the opposite shore of the Loch. I had in mind Conic Hill, a well known small hill the overlooks the wide expanse of the southern end of the Loch and its islands. It’s only just over a thousand feet, a short afternoon walk and with fabled great views. We parked up and set off under an abundant blue sky and bright sunshine – at last something to smile about from a weather perspective.

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Whilst small, Conic Hill is a steep little bugger. As you exit the forest the views start to open out, firstly of the Campsie Fells.

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Then as you crest the ridge, this magnificent view out over Loch Lomond. After 4 days of gloomy grey skies and rain this was a treat for the eyes and the soul.

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Looking up towards the top of this mini-mountain.

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The Luss Hills where I’ve walked a few times to escape the bad weather in the Highlands.

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There were still showers racing through but when the clears spells between are so great you don’t really mind.

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A close up shot of Mid Hill which we climbed from Luss a couple of years ago.

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We contoured on the West Highland Way to make a small circuit and extend the enjoyment as long as possible (it really is a very short steep hill). We got hit by a very short sharp shower but it was the only time we got wet in the 3 hours we were out.

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Views out to the lonely moorland behind and towards – I think – Ben Ledi.

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And along the crest of the ridge.

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Summit selfie.

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A view along the ridge, over the Loch and islands and right on the distant skyline, the mountains of Arran.

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Another summit view (apologies, after 4 days of rain I got very excited at the blue skies and expansive views)

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A happy couple on the summit.

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Looking back along the ridge and its multiple little summits.

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Next best thing to a blue sky day is a day of sunshine a booming clouds and showers. The light effects were just superb.

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Its the first time I’ve had views this good over this part of the Loch.

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A panorama shot from the summit – click to enlarge.

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Looking north to the Arrochar Alps and Ben Lomond.

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Stormy clouds over the Campsies.

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The Professor looks a lot happier than he did on the way up – he was struggling after 4 consecutive days walking.

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We were incredibly lucky to hits such a stunning spell of weather and it lifted the whole mood of the weekend. As you can see there were still showers racing around so we thought it was time head down.

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Its a very well known and busy little hill even on a Monday and we also saw several backpackers on the West Highland Way. Rather than follow the masses we headed down the grassy path along the bumpy ridge of Drium Nam Buraich. It was a delightful way down with views across the Loch most of the way.

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All too soon we reached the road walk back to the car. Out of nowhere we’d been gifted a superb little afternoon. Only a short walk but a weekend transformed and something to look back on with great memories. Just another 6 hours in the car to get home but worth every minute.

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We didn’t do half of what we’d planned but we had a great time and its a lesson to remember why Scotland is so stunning and lush. It rains a lot. Already we are planning a return visit next year and at least cool windy weather meant no midges!

Wet West Highlands – Buachaille Etive Beag   10 comments

Sunday, and we had what we thought was a slightly better forecast. Showers but with some clearer spells and maybe a chance of sunshine. This was before another spell of heavy rain and winds was due in the afternoon. We were up early and planned on Buachaille Etive Beag as a shorter day with a high start.

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Things started with promise with some shafts of sunlight and the Aonach Eagach clear of cloud and looking magnificent.

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The path to the col between the two summits of BEB is excellent and while steep in places makes for steady upward progress.

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Considering how poor the weather had been the views were pretty decent and we were feeling more encouraged and positive.

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Looking back along Glencoe to the Aonach Eagach.

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The highest point of BEB just skimming the clouds.

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Onwards and upwards.

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At the col the wind was ferocious so we took time out to find some shelter for first early lunch. We figured this was not going to be a day for lingering on the top.

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At this point the views were still of mostly cloud free summits.

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The hand thing again……

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From there, the day went rapidly downhill. What we thought was a passing shower turned to heavy persistent drizzle, driven by a relentless wind. Despite the odd shaft of distant sunlight it was becoming pretty desperate.

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We stopped for the briefest moment on the first Munro of Stob Coire Raineach before heading straight back down.

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It was a deeply unpleasant descent, steep, slippery and in driving rain and gusts that I reckon were pushing 50mph. Several times I had to brace against my poles to stay upright. We paused at the col, considered for the briefest moment whether to carry on to the second and highest summit and headed straight back to the cars.

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We were all soaked and chilled and the wind meant it was not a day to be out on high mountain ridges.

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Again the weather had let us down and we were all a little disappointed to cut the day even shorter than planned. Mark and TTC started their long journey home and it was only 1pm. We headed back to the cottage for hot drinks and afternoon board game (Ticket to Ride, one of the best of the current crop). Looking back I take comfort from the fact that after a difficult couple of years, its spending time with good friends, even on a wet and windy day, is what really matters.

Wet West Highlands – Out and About in Glencoe   17 comments

For the weekend, we were joined by some extra walking mates in the form of Mark and The Tower Captain (to use his name from Mark’s blog). Sadly the Saturday and Sunday were probably the worst of the 5 days we were in Scotland. Not to worry as they are both happy as long as they are out walking and appreciate that Scotland can be a damp place.

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The cloud was right down and it was grey and pretty damp and dreary, not a day for venturing to summits (although MM did head off to bag a remote munro somewhere). We decided on a wander into the heart of Glencoe to have a look at the Lost Valley. Despite the poor weather the car park was still packed with tourists gawping at the rather murky view of this most celebrated of Scottish glens. We left them to it and headed off to cross the deep gorge on our way into the valley.

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In truth it wasn’t a terrible day, it was damp but it never rained particularly heavily (on this walk anyway). Looking back to the busy car park.

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I’d forgotten just what a spectacular walk it is. It’s a vertiginous path above a deep and rocky ravine that requires care and concentration. We passed numerous people who looked somewhat ill equipped in clothing or desire.

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The waterfalls were impressive and it was almost warm and humid enough to consider a dip. Almost.

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Exiting the trees and the steep climb until suddenly you reach…..

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The Lost Valley. Its a hidden meadow-cum-stream, deep in the heart of the Bidean Nam Bian range and even on such a grey day its quite a reveal.

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We considered taking a closer look but it started to rain again so we agreed this distant view was good enough.

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There was a fun stream crossing to liven up proceedings.

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More waterfalls.

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It was the weather for them!

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This is Gearr Aonach, the middle of the Three Sisters of Glencoe. I’ve actually scrambled up that nose to the top. It looks pretty impregnable but I don’t remember it being especially difficult although it was about 20 years ago.

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As we walked back to the car the rain stopped and it brightened up a touch. On the right is the third (or first) of the sisters, Aonach Dubh.

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A clearer view down the glen.

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On the right is the remaining sister, Beinn Fhada.

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Looking between the sisters into the Bidean massif. A superb, complex and challenging mountain range.

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We headed back to the house to enjoy numerous brews of tea and some fresh baked scones. Satisfied, me, TTC and Mark headed out for another walk. We’d seen a trail to something called Signal Rock (it wasn’t there in our youth, well the rock must have been there, obviously but you get the idea)

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It was still raining on and off but we enjoyed a wander through the forest with views over the river Coe and into the Glen.

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The massive ravine below is the fearsome Clachaig Gully. Its a steep, loose and scary escape route from the west end of the Aonach Eagach. I’ve descended it a couple of times and its nasty. Its does have two major advantages though. It’s a fast descent and it finishes at the Clachaig Inn where your wobbly legs can slow down at the end of the descent and skim into the bar for a few celebratory pints. We did this once after a classic winter traverse and stayed a couple of hours after which we were very happy. One of the more miserable members of the rest our club group was most annoyed that we hadn’t let him know we were down as he drove the minibus up and down the road, supposedly looking for us. (these were the days before mobile phones). No-one was quite sure why, if he was so worried, did he not pop his head into the bar while driving around to see if we were in there – as everyone else knew that’s exactly where we’d be (we never missed an excuse for a pre/during/post walk beer or two in those days.

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We scrambled to the top of very slippery little rock and managed a decent view to Aonach Dubh from the other side. Just as well. The signs on the walking trail promised exceptional views along Glencoe from Signal Rock but it was completely enclosed in the forest and there were no views (and likely never have been) from the top.

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We made it back to the car before another heavy downpour. When we reached the house it had stopped again and it actually looked quite bright so we went on another brief wander across the shore of Loch Leven.

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A good decision as it turned out to be the best part of the day.

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We had some pretty fine views of the Pap of Glencoe (the pointy one).

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Beinn a Bheithir.

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And back to Glencoe.

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The Pap with an impressive stream of cloud.

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We were only out about 30 minutes as the light faded but it was a great 30 minutes. From a pretty miserable start we’d actually managed a pretty decent day.

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To finish things off we had a superb meal at The Laroch in Ballachulish. Don’t ask – the hands up thing is a private joke at TBF’s expense.

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Last laugh was on the weather – it was a 20 minute walk back to the house and it absolutely chucked it down the whole way, easily the heaviest rain of what was a pretty wet trip, and we were soaked through. Clothes were dampened but not spirits!

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