Archive for the ‘Wales’ Category

Winter is Over   13 comments

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Normal November service resumed – after a brief cold snap, mild, damp and grey weather has returned. Last weekend we had THO over for the weekend and managed a couple of walks. On the Saturday after a breakfast at Waitrose (I’m so middle class!) we took a walk up Crug Mawr at the south end of the Black Mountains.

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And, we had a new friend with us. This is Mac, THO’s dog and what a lovely little fellow he is. Extremely friendly and sociable it was a pleasure to have him on the walk with us. I’d forgotten how good it is to be accompanied by a dog on a walk. Set us thinking and talking about how and why dogs have forged such a close bond with humans from their wilder origins

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It more than made up for what was really a pretty dismal day. As you can see from the photos it was wet, dark and miserable in terms of weather, but company turned it into a fine outing.

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We didn’t linger long on the summit of Crug Mawr as it was really windy and, well, damp.

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At least most of the smaller tops were out of the cloud to give us something of a view.

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We stopped for lunch at the little church in Patrishow. Despite having walked past many times. I’ve never been inside so we put that right.

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It’s very old and whilst simple is lovely inside.

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The carved wood on the balcony was intricate and would not have looked out-of-place in the Sagrada in Barcelona.

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The odd skeleton picture at the back is apparently there to remind us of our mortality!

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We had lunch in the Lych gate in front of the Church, Mac scurrying around and begging for whatever food he could scrounge with his puppy dog eyes.

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We had plans for a longer walk but we felt satisfied with a walk along the ridge on the other side of the valley and down to the car

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It’s a fine ridge that see’s few visitors but not at its best today

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Crug Mawr

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We headed back to fester at home and enjoy and afternoon and evening watching TV and Mac make himself thoroughly at home in our house.

 

 

 

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Posted November 8, 2018 by surfnslide in Black Mountains, Wales, Walking

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Winter Was Here   12 comments

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Back a couple of weeks to a time of cold weather, frosts and snow. Time to pack away the summer rucksack, bring out the winter version and fill it with winter mitts, bothy bag and down jacket. Slight overkill for the Black Mountains but you can’t be too careful.

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Started off beautiful clear and frosty with a strong wind and a deep chill in the air.

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The walk along the ridge beyond Castell Dinas is excellent and referred to as the Dragons Back locally. Whilst that’s overstating things a bit, it is a very nice way to reach the main Black Mountains summit of Waun Fach.

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The views back to Mynydd Troed, our target for the second half of the day were superb.

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Looking along the ridge to Waun Fach.

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And down the valley towards Crickhowell.

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See, I told you we needed winter gear!

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Just after we left the summit of Waun Fach we were hit by a serious snow shower. Proper winter conditions in the air if not on the ground (the snow was wet and thin)

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There was a Mountain Marathon in progress with lots of people wandering about in shorts and Lycra in what was a blizzard and temperatures well below freezing with wind-chill. Definitely not the weather to be spending a night in a bivvy bag (or dressed in lycra for that matter).

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The snow melted pretty much immediately, the skies cleared and we found a nice spot behind a wall for lunch.

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I’ve walked this route many times as a shortish half-day but this time wanted to make a longer circuit.

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We picked a route off the hills and along the lanes down to the village of Waun Fach (not the mountain) and up towards Mynydd Troed (my first ever mountain ascent when I was ten for those that don’t know that story).

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There was a major fire on the mountain in the dry summer and you can see traces of it in the left of the shot below.

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And as we climbed up onto the ridge.

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But the scale of the damage wasn’t apparent until we were near the top.

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What used to be a dense covering of knee-deep moss and heather had been stripped bare by the fire. All that remained was the grass on the path which I assumed was fresh re-growth.

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In places there wasn’t even that and it looked desolate and bare. The plants up here are pretty resilient so I hope that in time it will recover.

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The weather had closed in a bit and there wasn’t much in the way of sunshine. We did get some nice sunlight streaming through the clouds over Llangorse Lake and the Brecon Beacons

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We didn’t linger on the top as it was ferociously windy and bitingly cold. We took our leave plunged down the steep NE ridge down to the car

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A good 12 mile stretch of wild winter walking

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I like winter walking and I enjoyed this very early blast of cold and snow. Pity the weekend just gone was back to typical November, all gloom and mild wet drizzle

Down By the Seaside   12 comments

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A weekend of storms, high winds and heavy rain put pay to a plan for a weekend with The Hairy Oatcake down in the Gower for some kayak surfing. Instead Sunday looked better so we planned a day out. High quality weather forecasts let us down as always and Sunday dawned just as wet and miserable as the previous couple days but we went anyway. After a lunch in Porthcawl the rain stopped and there was tentative sunshine. The waves looked especially promising and into the water we went

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It turned into a wonderful afternoon. Offshore winds created near perfect waves and eventually we were treated to abundant blue skies and warm sunshine.

Kayaking selfie

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THO in action on the waves

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Taking a break under blue skies

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Hard to believe the torrential rain we’d driven down in a few hours earlier. Fickleness of the British weather never ceases to amaze me.

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After a cracking afternoon riding some of the best waves in many a year, time to return to the THO camper van for a brew

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And some fine late evening shots across the Bristol Channel to North Devon and along to the Gower

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Oh I do love to be beside the seaside (and on the sea)

Posted October 24, 2018 by surfnslide in Gower, Kayaking, Surf Kayaking, Wales

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Winter is Coming   17 comments

Just before the autumn deluge began, washing away all memories of the glorious first half of the summer me and TBF headed out for a walk in the Brecon Beacons. A walk tinged with sadness as the first one where we’d normally expect TJS to be with us.

We set off from Llanfrynach and I was glad I’d put the shorts away and felt the need for the gloves for the first stretch (hence the title of the post). In the end as the weather was so pleasant it turned into quite a long walk of around 13 miles.

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The first section is along by the babbling stream and small leat that I assume provides the village with its water supply. It’s a very nice section that I always enjoy.

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As you reach the open fields above, views open out to the main summits of the Beacons

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The sheep and trees made a nice foreground

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We decided to include Cribyn on the itinerary which involved some road walking and long trudge along an overgrown green lane to reach its open slopes

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From there is a long steady climb to the base of the very steep north ridge

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A view down from the summit of Cribyn while I waited for TBF to catch up

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Cribyn is a superb mountain with a sharp summit and expansive views all round

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The long edge heading east from the top is equally good and we’d hoped to find a sheltered spot for lunch. The wind had other ideas and seemed to find us out wherever we hunkered down

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We ploughed on to the almost as good summit of Fan y Big, still no shelter until we eventually found a small grassy terrace where we could take a break having walked pretty much non stop for 3 hours

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The edges from here are just a joy to walk, almost level walking with views to the distant hills of mid-Wales and Shropshire

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We descended what seemed to become an endless ridge back towards our start point. Having not been on that many long walks for a while we feeling weary by this point

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Before the steep drop down to the village this dead tree caught my eye

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We were tired an fulfilled after a long stretch, longest walk I’ve done for quite a while

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TJS would have enjoyed this walk I’m sure but he has his own range of mountains in the Lake District to explore now

Posted October 16, 2018 by surfnslide in Brecon Beacons, Wales, Walking

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A Dash Between the Rains   12 comments

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I’m catching up slowly and this walk was only 2.5 weeks ago. A horrid Saturday and a wet Sunday morning with a poor forecast seemed to condemn us to a weekend of domestic servitude. Sunday lunchtime arrived, clouds cleared and the sun weakly shone so we swiftly headed out for a walk.

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Hay Bluff and Lord Herefords Knob is always a good choice for a short notice walk as, like the Sugar Loaf you can park halfway up.

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Classic views across the Wye Valley right from the outset.

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And the usual leg burning, lung busting steep climb to the top of Hay Bluff

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Panorama from the summit

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What I wasn’t prepared for was the strong winds and significant drop in temperatures from the previous few days. A north wind meant that wearing shorts was not the best decision!

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After a couple of days of damp misty weather the winds had cleared the air and visibility was amazing in the clear sunny spells. We could see as far as Cadair Idris in the southern reaches of Snowdonia

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We didn’t linger on the summit for very long. It was cold and windy.

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And storms were approaching

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This one was definitely coming our way and I feared we were in for a fair old battering

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View south down to the Vale of Ewyas

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In the end we only caught the tail of the storm and the soaking was very minor as we walked back to the car

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Hadn’t expected to even hit the hills on this weekend so we counted ourselves fortunate to grab such a decent slice of wild and clear weather between the showers

Keeping the musical contribution going. A great track from a band who, with the passing of Tom Petty earlier this year, now have less surviving members than departed ones. The End of the Line for this post

Night Out in the Black Mountains   16 comments

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I’ve been trying to get out more to wild camp this year and TJS was keen for a last trip before heading off to university. Forecast wasn’t too bad so we gave it a go on a Friday after work.

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It was past 7 when we set off from the car, windy and cold. We had less than an hour of light left. We returned to the same point by Llyn y Fan Fawr where we camped earlier in the summer. The wind made it difficult to put both tents up at the same time so it took a while to get set up. Pitch dark by the time we’d done so a lazy evening drinking tea and chatting.

Next morning was much better. Brighter with wisps of blue sky

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Breakfast in the tent (too windy and cold for an al fresco affair)

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Its a cracking spot though

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TBF readies herself for a day in the mountains

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We left the tents pitched and went for the classic circuit of the Black Mountain range. Same circuit as in the summer but in reverse. I figured as the wind was so strong we’d want it behind us on the higher section

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A view down over Llyn y Fan Fawr

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TJS on the high level traverse under the cliffs

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The old water leat that supplies Llyn y Fan Fach

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One of my favourite south Wales views over Llyn y Fan Fach and Bannau Sir Gaer

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As we walked along the edge we were engulfed in a heavy shower of rain. Luckily it didn’t last long and we had some nice wispy cloud effects

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View from the highest point over Llyn Fan Fawr. Our campsite is in the top left hand corner of the lake

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A view down the prominent gully that splits the crags above the lake

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Time for lunch at the tent. We had to hide behind the tent for shelter such was the force of the wind

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Forecast for the afternoon and next day was very poor so time to get the hell out of there. We packed up and headed down

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The views across to Fforest Fawr were excellent

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Fan Gyhirych looking dark and moody

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There was a lot more water flowing than earlier in the summer

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The sunshine on the small waterfalls was very fetching but the water looked cold. Those hot summer days of wild swimming seem a long time ago

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Chances to sneak away for a wild camp will be limited as winter closes in although it is my intention to get out and do some winter summit overnights if we get some cold frosty weather.

Having been reading and enjoying Ken Browns new music inspired blog I thought I might add some tunes to my post to broaden the scope a little. I used to create a music tracked slideshow but I’ve lost interest in that of late so I’ll just add a tune that I like to each post. I just happened to be listening to this while I finished this post and as its a sublime and chilled track, one of my favourites I’ve discovered in the past 12 months I thought I’d share it. I like the lyric “Didn’t I take you to, higher places you can’t reach without me”

Short Walk on the Sugar Loaf   14 comments

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A short day needs a short walk and this one is a local classic. Start high and a nice horseshoe around the southern flanks of the distinctive Sugar Loaf overlooking Abergavenny.

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Weather looked to have some promise when we set off but the clouds were quickly gathering with showers and drizzle cloaking the hills to the south

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Not sure what they use the rolls of bracken for (animal feed, fuel to burn?)

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Ever darkening skies

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Gorse still in flower

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Approaching the summit

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TJS on the summit

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We had some decent views and managed to find a sheltered spot on the top (it was exceptionally windy). The summit was remarkably windy for a cloudy and windy day. Many people seemed somewhat under-equipped, a poor decision as luck ran out and it started drizzling heavily as we left the summit and we got quite a soaking

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It stopped on the way down and we dried out a bit before we had to sit in the car for the drive home

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Decent stroll on a hill we know well, no need for navigational thoughts, just enjoy the panoramas and being outdoors in the hills and fresh air

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