Archive for the ‘Wales’ Category

My classic local walk   12 comments

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I have a handful of walks that I would say are classics of South Wales and this is one of them. The Black Mountain has all the grandeur of the Beacons yet sees almost none of its busy summits. On this day we saw probably no more than 10 people for the whole walk on a wild, windy and spectacular day. I’m claiming this walk as my own as I’ve never seen this walk in a guide-book or anyone even mention the path under the edges. I found it, therefore its my walk! 🙂

I devised this walk by accident (albeit in the other direction) not long after I moved down here. I was on a supposedly short walk to one of the lakes looking for a wild camp and I just carried on across the tops, discovering the paths below the cliffs on my way back

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As with the previous walk it was a laze in bed late start and as before a gloomy start developed into a cracker of day.

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I think my iPhone camera had moved itself into some kind of vivid mode for these first couple of shots as we headed up to Llyn y Fan Fawr

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As we climbed the dark clouds started to dissipate and the views to the east opened out to the sky

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The clouds were still shrouding the summits but I was confident it would clear. Thinking it might take an hour or so I decided to follow the lower route under the edges first to give it some time. Not a day for dallying. It was bitterly cold and there had been some light snow cover the past couple of days

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It’s a beautiful lake and one of my favourites

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There were dark clouds and storms all around but we seemed to miss them all

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The walk under the cliffs is always a delight but on a winter’s day under brooding clouds its pretty dark for decent photos

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We found a sheltered spot behind a wall by Llyn y Fan Fach for some lunch before pushing on.

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It’s quite a long walk for a short winter day with a late start but the going is so easy and the views so superb that you cover the ground swiftly

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Once up on the edges the wind was ferocious but the sky and the air stunningly clear. Pin sharp clarity

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I was in my element, an even better day than the last outing. Much colder and windier but that’s no bad thing

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The sun was perfect for catching the edges

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Looking east

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And West

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The sun was already low and we still had a way to go but at least the wind was behind us, another good reason to walk this way around

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On top of Bannau sir Gaer we decided not to risk coming down the last boggy slopes to the car in the dark and cut the corner off direct to Fan Brycheiniog. It misses a couple of airy summits but saves a couple of miles

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Time to head down and another of those afternoons where its hard to drag yourself away. The views were immense and once you drop down you know that’s the end of the sunshine for the day

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We lingered as long as we dared and could stand the cold before leaving this lonely wonderland behind

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The skies then took over as the centre of attention.

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Pale blues and sheets and streaks of pink as the sun receded and night drew in

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After the last outing and its dark end this one was perfectly planned and we finished in the last of the afternoon light

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Black Mountain

8 miles and 2,400 feet of ascent and pure wind-blown, sun-soaked joy

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Back to Winter   12 comments

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Well, that’s enough of city breaks for 2017. Time to get back to main feature of the blog namely out and about in the mountains. The weekend after our Barcelona trip and a decent Sunday forecast had us out in the Black Mountains. I’m always looking for a different take or a new route having explored the area extensively since I’ve lived in Herefordshire. I’d done both of today’s summits many times before but never on the same walk.

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A late start, possibly because I saw that the forecast was improving, more likely I just stayed in bed too long

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It was a cold and windy day with showers scudding over some of the tops. As ever though, sunshine and showers delivers crystal clear clarity to the air and the views

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The Sugar Loaf is a fine mountain I’ve been up many times but this is only the second time I’ve been up from the east side

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The views from the way up and the top were superb

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Not a day for dallying on the summit in an icy wind that I’m sure would have dropped as snow if we’d been caught in a shower

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We pushed on down with several mountain bikers on their way up. Too steep for me and a bike I have to say. We had a few drops of rain but nothing much and the skies cleared magnificently afterwards

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The last few leaves were still clinging to the trees as Autumn faded away

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The steep roads onto the open hillside of Crug Mawr warmed us up sufficiently to take in a short stop for a cuppa and a bite to eat. A grand view along the Grwyne Fechan valley to enjoy

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We didn’t linger long as it was pretty cold and we still had long way to walk and the sun was going down

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As we approached the summit of Crug Mawr the sun was turning the mountains a deep golden brown

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It’s the best time to be on the mountains, late in the day as the sun sets. No-one around but clear skies and gorgeous contrasts picked out by the low angled sun

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We briefly enjoyed the summit panoramas before heading off into the approaching darkness

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The price to pay for these views was a long walk back along the lanes to the car. TJS was not best pleased by this turn of events and castigated me for my poor planning in having to walk in the dark. I tried to inform him that hiking is not an exact science, that we were well off the hills before it got dark and our reward were some stunning views. He wasn’t placated by this and stomped off to the car. If he’s going to carry on hiking with his old man he better get used to this as I often linger on hills in winter to make the most of  day and end up coming down in darkness

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A long walk in the end of almost 12 miles but a good one for the future. Most of the road walking could be avoided on valley paths but not a great idea trying to find stiles and gates in the dark. Winter was back, sunny cities a thing of the past. I love my city trips but my heart will always belong to the mountains

 

Posted December 5, 2017 by surfnslide in Black Mountains, Wales, Walking

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A Proper Day’s Walk   16 comments

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Seems like a long time ago that I wrote a post about a proper walk in the hills. A some distant point back in September me, TJS and TBF took a long walk around the Eastern edges of the Brecon Beacons. A route I did a couple of years back with TJS. You can read about that post here which has a reminder at the end of the post at just what a clumsy bugger I am and that I should never be allowed to use sharp objects.

The forecast was bland but dry and we set off under bright but grey skies

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It’s a pretty steep climb in a couple of places that had us puffing hard. We walked a lot of miles on our city tour but it doesn’t keep you in shape for a proper mountain walk

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At the top of Carn Pica we were in the cloud, a most unsatisfactory turn of events. As we crossed the plateau of Waun Rydd (on a spanking new path) the skies began to clear again. The walk along the edges up here are some of the finest in the UK, elevated with expansive and spacious views

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We stopped for lunch and a cuppa and the weather steadily improved

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When we set off again there was plentiful blue sky and it was turning into a very splendid autumn afternoon

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The route is a round of the valley containing the Talybont Reservoir. The southern leg is across a wild and track-less moor that seems to see no people. I’d noticed how wet and muddy everything was on this walk. It’s normally dry at this time of year so either we’ve had a wet year all round or it must have rained ceaselessly while we were away on our travels. This section of the walk was especially soggy

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More than compensated for by the marvellous views

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Its and wonderful high level stroll/squelch across these hills although I’d forgotten just how far it was

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It was late afternoon already and the car was at the far end of the reservoir in the photo below

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We’d left the other Funster behind at home and were anxious not be home too late. More stops to admire the views were in order but we had to press on and enjoy them on the fly

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The peak at the end of the ridge (on the right in the photo below) is Tor y Foel. Me and TJS climbed it last time we were up here but we were too late in the day this time. You can drive halfway up and it’s another one for my much touted but never to be written book about small hills

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Instead we cut down through very dark and wet forests, very Mordor-like in their spookiness

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When we emerged at the dam by the end of the reservoir it was a glorious evening, all blue sky and reflective water

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A grand day out and a challenging long one for unfit hikers at over 12 miles.

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One of those routes that seems obvious on the map and on the ground but seems to see no walkers or mentions in any of my guide books

Back to Normality   16 comments

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After taking my readers on a long trip around Europe’s finest cities, its time to get back to normality for a few posts (warning, more city related posts are forecast for the end of the week)

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This walk is one of my local favourites, a nice high start and an interesting landscape feature.

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It was the weekend after we returned from holiday and it was cold, wet and very windy. The hot days of Rome and Venice suddenly seemed a very long time ago!

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Rainbows were a constant companion on this short couple of hours wander

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Cobwebs were certainly blown away

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A fine way to re-aclimatise to the UK, its mountains and its weather

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Back to normality in every way

Posted October 31, 2017 by surfnslide in Black Mountains, Wales, Walking

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On the Beach and in the Hills in Wales   13 comments

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Blog silence is over and I’m back from my summer travels. Much to tell you about our grand tour of Europe but before that (be patient) one post to catch up on. I don’t need a calendar or alarm to remind me the school summer holidays have started. Other than a house with two sullen looking teenagers moping about to tell me term-time is over, I find myself at Towyn Farm Campsite and beach as if to celebrate. Friends and their offspring gather and fun is had by all.

When we arrived it was glorious, a cloudless blue sky and plenty of warm sunshine to heat me up while I was putting the camper up. Excellent. When I awoke the next morning it was lashing it down. Ho hum!

By late morning it had stopped and whilst the hills were still shrouded in cloud we decided to go for a walk anyway. It was DB Jr’s Birthday so he gets to choose and he chose Carn Fadryn, better known to him as Birthday Hill. Inspired. As we drove up and walked higher so the cloud lifted. The bracken was wet and the trailblazer – me – got quite a soaking. No matter when you’re climbing a small hill with disproportionately great views!

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Bilberries were plentiful on the way up, stringing the party out somewhat

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By the time we summited, blue sky was plentiful and views stunning.

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TJS decided that he could see Pembrokeshire even though he was looking north. After a suitable period of laughter I judged the distant land we were looking at as Anglesey when in fact it was Ireland. I’ve been up here many times but never seen that far. Amazing transformation in the weather from a few hours previous. TJS continues to claim that mistaking the North Irish sea for Pembrokeshire and then having me mistake Anglesey for Ireland was some kind of moral victory – the poor deluded boy.

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A trip up Carn Fadryn is essential on these gatherings and this time it got the trip off to a great start. I don’t remember it raining at the end of the day but I guess it must have done if this photo is anything to go by

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Whatever, the weather delivered a stunning sunset. The beach faces North West, ideal for sunsets at this time of year

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We adopted the same approach the next day. Lazy breakfast, late morning walk, late lunch. This time down to the end of the peninsula. It’s a glorious walk and the Silverdale gang had never done it. They were suitably impressed

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All was going well until we all got a soaking from a vicious heavy shower a few minutes before we reached the cars. Small price to pay for cracking walk. Not sure what we did the rest of the day. It may have rained. We may have gone to the beach. Without photos I have no chance of remembering these days.

Same for the following day. I think – he said hesitantly – that we had a spell of heavy and persistent rain all afternoon. We gathered in the camper to play games, tell stories and drink tea. Spirits were high even in bad weather

Later (based on these photos anyway) we must have had a grand sunset and played games on the beach in the fading light.

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Great fun if your idea of fun is trying to catch a dark red cricket ball or catch a frisbee hurtling towards you in the twilight (it is great fun by the way)

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Now the next day I do remember. We went for a walk. Again. This time an early start and we headed up to The Rivals. We walked up here a few years ago but there was some unfinished business and unclimbed hills. It was a gloomy chilly day but again spirits were high as we headed out to an un-named point 250m above the sea

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Its an amazing spot, a view into an almost secret coastline. The cliffs are so severe that no path traverses the shoreline. The Coast path actually traverses through The Rivals

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The views down to the sea are precipitous, enough to make my legs go wobbly. The view up and along the coast in both directions magnificent even under a grey sky

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Time to move on and bag one of the obvious three summits we hadn’t done, again un-named. We found a sketchy damp path most of the way but then these mountains are made of stern stuff. The path vanished to be replaced by waist deep heather covering boulders. It took an age to climb the last few hundred feet. There was bitching aplenty including me, from my ever twisting knees. Having just had a knee op, I was warned to stay off “uneven ground”. I think this might just fit the description

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Time for a brew on the summit. I had a stove, EWO had a flask of coffee with milk. Well he would have done if his partner, TYG had not put milk in the wrong flask. He was not best pleased. “You total waste of space” was the insult he chose. Not sure why I found it so funny. I still do. In my good mood I offered him my milk to prove the space I’d been occupying was being well used

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May as well bag the main summit while were there. A steep and swift climb had us admiring further summit views

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A grand morning out and by the time we’d reached the campsite, sunshine was again plentiful. A game of, well I can’t remember actually. It involves throwing blocks of wood at other blocks of wood. Sound boring? Well its not. Way more skillful than it sounds and enormous fun with a gang of people. EWO called it “Plop”. Not the correct name but much funnier.

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An afternoon on the beach for the usual fun, games of tennis, cricket, rounders, baseball etc

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I went in the sea and body-boarded one of the days. Can’t remember which day. Might have been this one. Possibly the day before

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Not to worry. We had some sunny weather and that’s what matters

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Our last evening was spent trying to BBQ a pigs worth of local sausages (Black Pudding ones in my case – awesome) in a strong wind. The weather had been breezy for almost the entire week, making my decision to pitch facing the prevailing wind direction seem rather foolish (although it was dry warm, sunny and calm when I did)

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The last day we packed up but left enough time for another afternoon on the beach, this time to play bowls in a pathetically over-competitive way 🙂

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Another superb week away. Set us up nicely for our main holiday a week later. A Tale of Eight Cities. Coming soon…..

 

Post Work Wander   10 comments

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I’m quite taken with the idea of heading our for a walk late Friday after tea. Me and TJS had a go last week but the weather let us down and we copped the only cloudy and damp spell of the weekend. Tonight was much better with a beautiful warm summers evening up on Ysgyryd Fawr. I’ve blogged this walk many times so just I’ll just let the photos do the talking this time

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Marvellous. We even had a cheeky beer on the top 🙂

Posted July 14, 2017 by surfnslide in Black Mountains, Wales, Walking

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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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