Archive for the ‘Local Walks’ Category

A Review of 2017   18 comments

I’ve read quite a few blog post in the past few days reviewing other peoples 2017 exploits. I enjoyed them so much I thought I’d do the same. Good excuse to look back through my photos and remember what we got up to. At my age I need help remembering stuff!.

Acutely conscious of the modern trend for these awful “round robin” letters you get at Xmas (we get one of these smugograms every year) I tried to select photos that bring back a particular memory for me so its more a personal, family introspection on outdoorsy stuff, than a blow by blow account of the year. As its based on my photo collection if I didn’t photograph it, it ain’t here!

January

We started the year off in Tenerife and New Years Day was spent on this rather splendid beach (the earlier part of the day was in the mountains but I cocked up the photos from that part of the day!)

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Returning to the British winter, a walk along the Cats Back in the Black Mountains with TBF, memorable for a cloud inversion after a very wet morning. A reminder that despite our travels we are lucky to have some stunning scenery on our doorstep

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A solo day out in the Brecon Beacons, the first snowy walk near to home and pretty much the only one with significant snow during the early part of the year (made up for it at the end)

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A glorious day out in the Black Mountains with TJS and a cooked breakfast on a cold Table Mountain. I like this photo though as it has Mynydd Troed in centre shot, my very first mountain climbed when I was about 10

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And my usual skiing trip (only a weekend this year) to finish off the month. Snow was a bit rubbish but we had a laugh nonetheless

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February

Another solo day on Fan Fawr in the Brecon Beacons. I remember this day for a very mild Friday afternoon (16C) and snow in the mountains 18 hours later

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A short walk with TBF on Hatterall Hill

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March

The first weekend of the month is always spent in Scotland with friends of long standing. A new location at Bridge of Orchy and a two out of three days were magnificent winter days. The walk along this ridge high above Rannoch Moor on the first day was superb

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Me and TJS also managed a cheeky backpack into the Black Mountains. Straight from work on the Friday for a one nighter in my new tent. Need to do more of these this year

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2017 is the year I rediscovered cycling – mainly to help my knee and also to be less of a lazy layabout during the week. The Hardman – a VERY keen and VERY fit cyclist caught wind and insisted we meet up in the Peak for a trip along a couple of the old railway trails. A cracking sunny day and I survived cycling with the Hardman!

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And we finally managed a meet up in the Berwyns with Uncle Fester after a few aborted attempts

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April

More cycling and solo trip through the Brecon Beacons on the “Gap” route. Cycling to over 600m was a first for me and I started to feel that I almost, might, actually enjoy cycling.

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Easter and a major backpacking trip with TJS to the Cairngorms. The weather was wild and windy but we had a couple of superb wild camps and TJS bagged his first Scottish 4000 footer

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I even coaxed TJF out for a bike ride along the Brecon and Usk canal

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May Day weekend was mostly in April. Mixed weather but we had a fine gaggle of friends on a hike around Greendale, taking in Buckbarrow and Seatallan

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May

No finer way to celebrate a birthday than a lunchtime hike. This one was on one of my local hills, Bryn Arw with TBF

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Followed by a weekend away in Cornwall. It almost felt tropical on the white sands just north of Padstow on one of our walks

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Whitsun weekend was spent with our good friends in Silverdale. The Sunday was a real winner with a long but easy stroll and a fantastic pub lunch. Weather was mixed the rest of the time but great company, many laughs and a chance to relax

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June

A different walk from the usual mountains. One of the small hills that overlook Gloucester and across to the Cotswolds. Not something I’d do every day but a nice change

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One of the highlights of the year was the long-planned backpacking trip with the kids into the Howgills. Despite poor weather we gave it a go and it was a huge success. The kids really enjoyed the adventure and I’m hoping they have caught the wild camping bug

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July

After the backpack trip I was out of action for a few weeks recuperating and resting after a minor knee op. Didn’t affect my water based fun though, a nice albeit far too long trip down the river Wye

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By the end of July I was back in the hills again (the knee op has been a great success I’m pleased to say). A fine evening stroll with TBF and TJS on Ysgyryd Fawr (we even took a cheeky cold beer to drink on the top)

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Another “local walk for local people” – this time Garway Hill where we reached the top, saw this nasty storm approaching and raced it back to the car. We won.

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Late July brings the annual camping trip to Towyn Farm on the Llyn Peninsula. We packed in lots of walks and beach fun in a very mixed few days of weather. My abiding memory though was this game of Kubb which was huge fun with both adults and kids alike taking it far too seriously and larking about in equal measure. A happy afternoon

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August

The big family trip of the year, a rail trip around some of Europe’s finest cities. An real change from our usual outdoor camping trips and it was real success. We all took took to the city life rather well you might say. One of my best ever holidays. A few photos that made me smile

One of the many fountains in Paris (we called this one the fountain of throttled fish)

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A monster thunderstorm in Turin

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My favourite seafront walk in Venice

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The Colloseum in Rome – of course

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Schloss Belvedere in Vienna (courtesy of an unplanned extra couple of hours from a very late train)

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The thermal baths in Budapest – “like taking a bath in a wedding cake”

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A stroll along the Spree river in Berlin on a sunny Sunday afternoon

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And the railway bridge over the Rhine in Cologne

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September

Back to earth with a bump. A few days after the heat and sun of Europe we were walking in the Black Mountains in driving rain and cold winds!

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But there was still enough warm weather left for a round of the hills near the Talybont Reservoir in the Brecon Beacons

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October

A walk with friends in the Roaches on the dreariest day of the year (when everywhere else was sunny – I’m not bitter)

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More evidence of my new found cycling passion (probably too strong a word). A ride around the tracks of the New Forest while TJS took a look around Southampton University

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And why settle for one trip to see major cities when you can do it twice. As a special treat for TJS 18th Birthday we spent a week in Barcelona. Probably my favourite city but despite all its famous sights, this little known hill and its view overlooking the city was my favourite spot

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November

After sunshine comes the reality of winter. A couple of cold but beautiful days. One in the Black Mountains on the Sugar Loaf and Crug Mawr

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And one of my favourite walks in the Black Mountain

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A delayed birthday treat weekend for TBF saw us in Padstow for a couple of nice meals and walks along the Cornish coast and Dartmoor

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December

And last into the proper depths of winter. The first snows saw me and TJS head into the highest peaks of the Black Mountains

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The day after saw the biggest dump of snow I’ve seen in my own backyard for many a year. Walks around my village in deep snow under crisp blue skies were wonderful

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The start of the Xmas holidays is marked with an annual get together of my University friends and their families. Always great fun but this year we could climb the hills in snow (rather than wet rain) and play at snowballs

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Finally coming full circle with a return to the Canary Islands to spend Xmas in Lanzarote and Xmas Day sunning ourselves on the beach

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Well I enjoyed looking through my photos, choosing a few and reliving a great year. Hope you enjoyed it too. All the best for 2018 🙂

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Home Sweet Home   16 comments

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I’ve lived down here in Herefordshire for 15 years now and I’ve been blogging since 2011. Occurs to me I’ve never shared any photos of the village I call home so a combination of circumstances allows me to correct that.

When I’m at home either working or lazing I’ve been trying to do a bike ride each day to keep fit and help with knee problems. Last week the cold weather arrived and cycling is not much fun in freezing weather. I changed approach and went for a walk around the village and took a few photos.

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Madley’s most striking feature is its church. On a clear day its a very attractive photo subject and one I can see from my desk where I’m typing this

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The surrounding area is a little bland, mainly muddy arable fields with distant views to the local hills and a glimpse of the Black Mountains.

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Not somewhere you’d drive miles to see but seeing as I can explore without getting in the car it’s not too bad especially on a clear sunny winters day

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The other point of interest is we have a major satellite installation on the outskirts. You can just make out the top of the dishes in the photo below

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You can just make out the first fall off snow on the low hills below and this prompted the day out me and TJS had the following day and subject of my last post

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On the Sunday morning we woke up to this!

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It never snowed especially heavily but it did snow continuously for around 24 hours. We had close to a foot of lying snow once it stopped

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These photos are from almost the same walk as the first one, so you can see the change!

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Many paths were impassable not due to the depth of snow on the ground but the weight of the stuff on the trees and bushes

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It was a weird, white and silent world to walk through. The local wildlife seemed unperturbed

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This is my road and it remained white and slippery well into the week

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The day after, the skies cleared dramatically and it was a glorious day. Well other than the hour I spent digging the cars out!

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It would have been a great day for a mountain walk but the roads were still bad and I was supposed to be at work. I had to be content with a lunchtime walk around the village, again following the same route

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It was magnificent. Snow dusted trees and fields of pristine snow

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I took loads of photos. It’s the first time I’ve seen snow like this (other than mountains) for a long while

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There were lots of people out enjoying the snow. Many businesses were closed as were the schools

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The church looked different with its caps of snow on the roof

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The trees were beginning to shed their snow in the warming sun, a couple of times on my head!

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I’ve repeated the walk a couple of times since and now it’s becoming familiar. You start to notice the finer things and enjoy seeing them again as you return

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The sheep in the field are like old friends (insert your own smutty jokes as required)

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A final view of the church from the meadow behind the house

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And a sunset from the front garden

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Hope you enjoyed the tour and the snow 🙂

Posted December 15, 2017 by surfnslide in Local Walks, Walking

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Brief Encounter with Garway Hill   12 comments

A local walk to fill a gap in an otherwise pretty soggy few days. TBF’s sister was staying with us and TJS was staying overnight at a friends near Garway Hill after a party. What better than to combine a taxi ride to pick him up with a local walk between the showers.

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There were stormy clouds on the horizon and they were heading straight for us.

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Lets just say we finished the walk rather more briskly than we wanted to!

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We made it back to the car before the rain but on the drive home the heavens opened and biblical rain fell. There were small-scale local floods. Just as well we didn’t dither on the summit

Posted August 1, 2017 by surfnslide in Local Walks, Walking

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Something a bit different   13 comments

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From our home the obvious direction for walks is westwards towards the Black Mountains, Brecon Beacons and the rest of Wales. A couple of weekends back TJF had a dance event in Gloucester that lasted most of the day so me and TBF decided to try a walk in the fringes of the Cotswolds. Only a mile or so from where the dancing was happening was Robinswood Hill Country Park. It’s very prominent feature when driving up and down the M5, with its extensive dry ski slope. It’s always looked like a good viewpoint, so we parked at the base and started our trek from there

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And indeed the views from the top at 198m were excellent. It’s quite a lofty, elevated and isolated hill that the views seem disproportionately expansive

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I love views down over cityscapes and this one was excellent. The cathedral standing proud over the city

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A short walk along the summit ridge and we came to a fine view-point over the spread of the Severn estuary and down to both of the bridges, just visible in the haze

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We had the novel experience of walking over a motorway as part of a walk. I was about to say it was the first time I’d walked over a Motorway but then I remembered I used to walk over the M5 on my way to West Brom games when I was a kid and also to the Cinema in Quinton in Birmingham so not such a good fact really

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We were following the Wysis Way that thinks the Wye to the Thames. I’d been worried that paths would be overgrown and poorly signposted but apart from a couple of spots all was good

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We passed this odd-looking gate/tower affair in the middle of nowhere that just seemed to lead into a field. Clearly of some religious significance based on the inscription

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We were heading for Painswick Beacon, an obvious high point on the edge of the Cotswolds

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I think the Cotswolds are massively over-rated as scenic area. Most of the central area is huge arable farms with lots of villages named Tweeness-under-the-Water and such like, always thronged with tourists and a £5 car park. However along the edges that overlook the Severn Valley the views are impressive and elevated

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TBF found a bench to sit on (you can see here in the middle of the photo below) while I went to the top

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As I crested the summit I was surprised to find a Golf Course with a Tee right on the summit. I never expected that. It looked a very fine course

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I wandered back down to TBF and we had lunch and cup of tea before we t=retraced our steps back to the car and collected TJF

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The map below shows the route but the OS mapping software threw a fit halfway round so I can confirm we didn’t walk in a dead straight line from Painswick Beacon to Robinswod hill, but you get the idea. About 10 or 11 miles in total I reckon

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Always nice to try something different

Sneaky Birthday Stroll   10 comments

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Last year on my Birthday we managed a brief walk on Ysgyryd Fawr in a Thunderstorm. This year the weather was much kinder (although no champagne) and I managed to skive a few hours away from my work e-mail for a quick skip up Bryn Arw. It started cloudy but quickly developed into a glorious warm summers day

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No finer way to spend your lunch hour on your birthday

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The colours of the trees and the wild flowers, especially the bluebells under a clear blue sky were mesmerising

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Over all too soon before back to work drudgery, but great memories nonetheless.

Happy Birthday to me! (from 2 weeks ago) 🙂

Posted May 26, 2017 by surfnslide in Black Mountains, Local Walks, Wales, Walking

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Solo traverse of Hergest Ridge North Face and Hanter Hill South Ridge   4 comments

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Well I had to do something to make these hills sound exciting.

Seriously a very fine stroll indeed when faced with a solo walk. TBF was in London watching the Piano Man himself, TJF was at a friends and TJS too lazy to come out, struggling as the was with his first week of early starts at college.

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It was early September (I think!) and the first flush of Autumn colours were out. The forecast was pretty ordinary but it turned out to be a rather splendid day of powerful sunny intervals and dark brooding clouds

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My target was Hanter Hill, a small subsidiary top to the north of the main Hergest Ridge massif. Thinking I was being clever, I thought I could traverse around to the col. Anyone who knows my local hills also knows that they are cloaked in the deepest bracken at this time of year. It was tedious wet and slippery and I cursed my way across the slopes for a good half hour on the faintest of paths

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Thankfully I survived the jungle and arrived at the col under blue skies and swiftly climbed to the top of Hanter Hill

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The views were impressive over the various ranges of heather cloaked hills and green valleys of this little known corner of mid-Wales

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I even got an aerial view of the huge Gore quarry that seems to be completely devouring Old Radnor Hill

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After a brief rest I headed down and back up over the main summit of Hergest Ridge, joining the many families enjoying some autumnal sunshine

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Only a couple of hours but a nice walk if you stay on paths on don’t head off-piste into the wastelands of bracken!

A romantic stroll on Garway Hill   18 comments

Black Mountains, Forest of Dean, garway hill, sugar loaf

Garway is a local hill for local people. Looking at these photos again I don’t remember why we hadn’t gone out for the day. Possibly this was just an interlude between two spells of poor weather on the day – in true fickle style it was raining within an hour of us getting home after this walk. Maybe it was because TJS was feeling poorly.

Black Mountains, Forest of Dean, garway hill, sugar loaf

Black Mountains, Forest of Dean, garway hill, sugar loaf

Black Mountains, Forest of Dean, garway hill, sugar loaf

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Posted February 22, 2015 by surfnslide in Local Walks, Walking

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