Archive for the ‘Local Walks’ Category

Why I Hate November   6 comments

I have mental block about November. To me it’s easily the worst month of the year. Short days, driving in to work in the dark, driving home from work in the dark, no bank holidays and the weather is always grey and gloomy. I’m sure that last one isn’t true but that’s what my memory tells me. This year it has been true with endless days of dreary weather. These two sets of photos from back to back weekends show the best of what was on offer. In truth these photos make it look better than it was and huge mental effort was required to get out of doors at all. I don’t mind the cold and (to a degree anyway) I can handle the rain. But just endless low, grey cloud and mist really does me in. There, I’ve had a moan.

First set of photos are from the Begwyns. It was incredibly wet underfoot and even though the sun came out for a couple of minutes at the start it never returned.

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The only upsides were these interesting cloud effects as darkness crept in.

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And the fact that my waterproof socks do actually work. My trainers and the outside of the socks were soaked but my feet were dry.

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Second weekend I headed out to Arthurs Stone and Merbach Hill near where I live. These used to be popular walks when we first moved in but parking can be a challenge and we kind of moved on to other walks.

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Its obviously nothing to do with King Arthur, but it is an intriguing burial chamber.

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I tried to make something of circuit from the walk but the route across the fields was depressingly soggy and after 10 mins of squelching around gave up, retraced my steps and walked down he road to Merbach Hill instead.

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It was pretty wet up here as well (you could actually hear the water running beneath the grass) but less muddy.

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The views were wall to wall grey but I did feel better for having forced myself to go out – on both days.

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I’ll leave the post with this image of the only 5 minute spell of watery sunshine across both weekends (its from the Begwyns day).

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Posted December 12, 2019 by surfnslide in Local Walks, Walking

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Grabbing a Garway   7 comments

Its been a pretty dismal autumn so far. Sunny days have been a rarity and grey days of mist and drizzle common place. You have to grab the few hours of dry and bright weather while you can.

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Garway Hill is one of those regular escapes – a short drive, a high parking spot and easy walk to a great viewpoint.

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Garway Hill is one of those regular escapes – a short drive, a high parking spot and easy walk to great viewpoint.

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The bracken was in full retreat and delivering those glorious golden browns (one of the few positives of this dreadful growth)

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A windy day, a mild one I seem to recall and some great views of the Herefordshire Marches and the Black Mountains.

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We met a guy on the top who reckoned he could see 7 counties from here. I reckon it was 9 or 10 depending how you classify the Welsh Valleys ones now.

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The last couple of strolls up here we’ve found a way to extend the usual very short walk to extract some extra value from the trip out.

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Only a brief walk, slotted in amongst the grey – treasured moments of brightness

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Posted December 6, 2019 by surfnslide in Local Walks, Walking

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An Even Shorter Walk on Garway Hill   7 comments

It’s a time of high winds and storms and walks grabbed in the small windows of opportunity in between.

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Garway Hill is a good one for a short hour outing as you can drive pretty much to the top.

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It was windy but the promised rain didn’t materialise and we enjoyed a brief hour outing.

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Its a pretty decent viewpoint for the Black Mountains, Ysgyryd Fawr and the Sugar Loaf.

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And its a Marilyn as well 🙂

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We extended the usual short walk with a return along the lanes and fields and out of the wind it was surprisingly pleasant and springlike

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More adventurous walking in the next post

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Posted March 19, 2019 by surfnslide in Local Walks, Walking

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New Places – Seager Hill   14 comments

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Time to head back out on my quest for new and less walked hills courtesy of my new found interest in the list of Marilyns.

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This time my poring over maps found Seager Hill in what looked like a fairly nondescript corner of Herefordshire. There were paths marked but no rights of way so I was keen to avoid any “get off my land” encounters. In the end I saw no-one at all.

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It had been dank and dreary weekend and even the slight lifting in the gloom engendered low hopes for anything other than an excuse for a bit of fresh air and exercise. A short steep climb from the road had me on top of the ridge which was open with surprisingly good views across the Herefordshire countryside towards the Malverns.

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The area is clearly very much dedicated to the shooting fraternity judging by the viewing seat above and the hundreds of pheasants I startled on my walk.

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As I walked past the Trig pillar and on past the highest point, ticking my list as I went, the skies began to clear a little and there were some broad shots of sunlight. I hadn’t expected to see any sun so was lifted by this positive turn in weather.

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I dropped down into the forest to try and make something of a circuit but it was boggy and wet with deeply rutted tracks that were hard to walk on.

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On my way back up the sunshine was catching this autumnal bush perfectly making it look like fire.

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When I was back on the ridge there was a large patch of blue and a pretty decent setting sun.

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A view back along the ridge.

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I was amazed at my luck again. From a walk designed merely to take a stroll for some fresh air in new surroundings I had a pretty superb finish to the day.

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The walk along the ridge was a pleasure, having it all to myself made it even better.

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Every gap in the trees gave a new view of the setting sun and pink clouds.

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The walk back down through the forest was muddy and a bit of a pain but worth it to make a decent circular walk to fill a couple of hours.

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Just short of 4 miles over an hour or so that rescued a dreary weekend of domestic chores and playing with my new smart home kit. Life is full of delights, planned and otherwise.

New Places – Wapley Hill and Shobdon Hill   10 comments

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Another day and another Marylin bagging session. Solo this time while the Funsters went to play on a climbing wall. Weather looked rather poor as I drive across and parked up in a deluge. Boots on and the rain had stopped. As I set off the sky was a deep blue and the autumn colours magnificent.

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My first target was Wapley Hill, another Iron Age Hill Fort. The forest was dark in places but in others the clearings gave some spectacular views across the patchwork of fields and the changing colours of the forest. The yellows seem especially vivid this year (or I’ve just never noticed them before).

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The colours were staggering, absolutely stunning.

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The summit of the hill had extensive earthworks and pillow mounds where they apparently reared rabbits (I didn’t think rabbits needed any help to breed).

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I think this is taken from the highest point although the top is very wide and its hard to tell where the exact summit was.

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I wandered along the ramparts but it was overgrown and my feet were getting wet so I reverted to the paths.

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The top is very flat and pretty soggy but it was a nice place to wander and I had it to myself.

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Through the trees I could glimpse more bright coloured trees and views across the Lugg valley.

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A rainbow to remind me the threat of rain was ever present.

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More stunning colours.

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The paths here are numerous and wandering around in my own little private world I neglected to check the map and went down the wrong path! A bit of bashing though the bracken and brambles in the forest and I was back on track.

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The path along the edge was wonderful and peaceful with gorgeous glimpses of pastoral countryside that typifies the Marches.

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On reaching the bottom of the hill the skies were still blue and sunshine abundant so I decided to bag another Marylin across the valley.

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I had a short sharp shower and then long but equally sharp climb back up another hill and along another path that gave superb views.

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A careful eye on the stormy conditions all around.

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And finally reaching the top of Shobdon Hill for my second summit of the day. Just a track through the trees and not terribly inspiring except for the views to the north through a clearance of trees.

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Not bad for hill I didn’t even know was there!

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And a picture of yours truly to mark the event.

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This is the highest point on the hill. Clearly not many people make the pilgrimage to this summit.

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I managed to go wrong again on the way down and had to to do small amount of off piste round these fields to get back on track. I fell over in the nettles for my trouble.

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Emerging from the trees the views were once again magnificent.

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Looking across to Wapley Hill.

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And back up to Shobdon Hill where I’d come from.

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All that was left was a longish walk back up the road to the car. 9 miles in the end and a pretty damn fine walk.

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From a weekend that promised some pretty rank bad weather I extracted two of the finest walks of the year. Shows what pleasures the UK has to offer if you make the effort to seek them out.

Posted November 23, 2018 by surfnslide in Local Walks, Walking

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New Places – Aconbury Hill   14 comments

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I’m always on the look out for new places for a walk especially in weather where a day in the mountains is less appealing. I use the OS Mapping software on my various devices and noticed that they can mark a range of hill lists on the map. Mostly the usual Scottish ones, Munros and  Corbetts, but they also mark Marylins, the Relative hills of Britain. As they have strict criteria of 150 feet of ascent regardless of other factors they are both numerous and in many places pretty obscure. Looking at my maps I have several local ones I’ve never done, mostly smaller wooded hills. This seems a perfect excuse to for some new walks and avoid the wild winter weather. As most of these local ones are forested I was hoping my first couple of forays would deliver some autumnal colour.

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First on the list was Aconbury Hill, just outside Hereford and a mere 15 minute drive away. The hill was littered with paths and we parked up and set off into the very damp woods after a few heavy squalls of rain hoping not to get too wet.

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The colours in the trees was wonderful and its a really pleasant walk up to the top of the hill, an old iron age hill fort

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There are a myriad of paths around the earthworks on the top and we wandered a bit aimlessly as my OS maps seemed to struggle with the GPS signal.

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Finding a view from the top was a bit of challenge due to all the trees but we did find a spot with a view over Hereford.

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We forged a route down to head back to the car as we had only intended to be out for an hour or so. Showers looked like they were in the ascendency when we left home and we didn’t want to push our luck. When we emerged into the fields the weather looked ok so we decided to extend the walk.

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I’m always reticent to go walking across the fields in Herefordshire. Paths are generally not well walked and you often end up semi-lost with poor signage and overgrown or blocked routes. However the succession of paths we followed were no problem if a little muddy and slick.

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We dropped down to Aconbury Court and the back up through Wallbrook Wood to Merrivale Farm. This storm cloud was impressive and luckily didn’t dump a heavy shower on us.

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Glorious sunlight in the green lane past the farm.

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The community of Little Birch and Kings Thorn is spread over a wide area. A collection green lanes, field paths and cottages that was a delight to pick our way through.

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There was plenty of late afternoon sunlight to dress the autumn leaves with bright colours.

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I liked these three perfectly spaced trees along the field boundary

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Smoke rising from cosy cottages

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From a morning of heavy showers and low expectations sprang a really stunning and enjoyable walk full of interest and charm.

 

The first foray into the world of Marylins had been a resounding success.

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I’ve lived in the area for 15 years now – almost exactly 15 years in fact. In all that time I’ve never given Aconbury Hill a second thought. We walked five miles in the end and were out most of the afternoon. One of the delights of the UK is that hidden gems and rewarding walks seem to be endless.

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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