Archive for the ‘Black Mountains’ Category
A very unusual experience to be posting about a walk only a couple of hours after getting home. Normally it’s weeks or even months delay.
Been a quiet couple of weeks since my last post. A weekend of truly dreary weather last week and a drab an grey one this week. Yesterday I indulged my new “passion” for cycling with a 35km ride around the Forest of Dean but today the weather seemed a little brighter (I could actually see the Black Mountains from the bedroom). Forecast said east and not too high so the classic circuit of Hatterall Hill from Cwmyoy fitted the bill.
I’ve been up here many times as its short and satisfying for a half day or after work.
I’ve enhanced the walk of late with a sneaky way up the back of the small un-named top created by a landslip – I think anyway. The cloudy views were enhanced by some beams of sunlight and scant patches of blue sky
It was a very mild day but there was a keen wind so finding a lunch stop was a challenge as was not getting ourselves shot. For the second time recently we had to share the hills with several people driving around the summits in 4WDs and armed with shotguns. I have to say I find it intimidating. I have no idea what today’s sport was but in the few hours we were out I never heard a single shot so they can’t have been very successful
We did find a spot out of the cold wind with a fine view over the Marches countryside
Nice to get out but I’m starting to reach that point in the year when I want the weather to make up its mind. Either winter needs to re-assert itself or it needs to bugger off for the year and warm up so I can start walking in T-shirts and shorts again. I hate this cold gloom, not sunny but not cold enough for clear skies, frost and snow
On a cold clear winters day the best time to be out is early morning. Having convinced TJS into an early start we settled on a route around Cwn Banw in the Black Mountains, one of my favorites. We were walking at just after 8am and it was a glorious albeit chilly morning at -5C
The silhouettes of the trees are always something that fascinates me and this morning at the early hour was a great time to capture them
The low morning sun also lights up the bracken and heather to very dramatic effect. It seems to glow with a warm deep brown contrasting to the frosty cold air
The plan was to breakfast on Table Mountain (this allows the early start and is also a rather fine thing to do). Even though the air was cold even in winter the sun has a little warmth. What we hadn’t banked on was the surprisingly strong wind that turned the chilly air into an a more arctic feel
Luckily Table Mountain has a terrace below its sloping flat top and we found a great spot in the sun but sheltered by the wind and overlooking the Usk Valley and the Brecon Beacons
Is there a finer way to spend a winters morning than a freshly cooked bacon sandwich and cup of tea overlooking the mountains under a deep blue sky? Answers on a postcard please
The pimple of the Sugar Loaf prominent in these parts as always
We ambled back over the grassland of Table Mountain and then onwards towards the higher summits
It really was most extraordinarily cold in the very strong wind. I would love one of those portable Kestrel weather stations but I estimated that with an air temperature a few degrees below freezing and the strong wind, the windchill must have been around -15C. We certainly didn’t stop!
We summited Pen Cerrig Calch from where the views were equally magnificent
Our goal of Pen Allt Mawr visible in the distance
A long and bracing walk along the edges above Cwm Banw brought us to the summit where we found a little shelter to admire the views once more
The views over Mynydd Troed and Mynydd Llangorse were especially fine from here
A pretty decent sunburst shot with some vapor trails to add interest
From here its always tempting to make a long round and include the main summits of the Black Mountains themselves. My knees aren’t really up for that at the moment and forecast was for increasing cloud through the day. No sense spoiling a great day so we plodded down the very fine and very frozen ridge of Tal Trwynau, pausing at the end for a final stop and snack in the sunshine
These two photos show what its like to go hiking with a 21st Century teenager. Head always looking down at their phone, lest they miss a vital social media message.
Over the fields and back to the car to finish a superb day out
Back to a gloomy January day in the UK. Our first weekend home after the holidays really made us feel at home. Grey skies and seemingly endless drizzle. Well not totally endless as it did stop for a couple of hours allowing a quick dart up the Cats Back ridge in the Black Mountains with TBF
The weather changed pretty quickly from gloomy to a rather impressive interlude of watery sunshine and above the cloud effects
Any walk of this local ridge is a fine one, being one of the very few narrow (ish) ridges in south Wales. We were lucky to catch such an atmospheric interlude
As we reached the summit of Black Hill the lower cloud was starting to dissipate and the blue skies were being replaced by gloom again. We had thought of extending the walk but it looked rain was heading back so we did as well
It may have been a short walk but it was a nice one all the same to liven up a typical January weekend
As the name suggests this was a short walk a couple of weeks ago with TJS. After a catered breakfast in Waitrose in Abergavenny (what sort of knob I have turned into) we headed up the Sugar Loaf. Been up here many times so just a few photos
Weather let us down a bit. Forecast was for clear skies but while we scoffed bacon and egg sarnies a belt of low cloud descended and lingered over the hills all day while patches of sunlight were visible everywhere but where we were
Still it made for some atmospheric cloudy shots and we did get a brief burst of sunshine on the summit
Could have been worse and it was good just to get out. I did at least achieve the objective of working how far I can walk before my knee becomes unbearably painful. About 3-4 miles and a few hundred feet of ascent/descent if you’re interested. Just as well there are some good TV series around at the moment to binge watch. Also means I have less to write about. Just one more post to catch up on before I’m up to date and head off for some winter sun (preceded by some Yorkshire rain)
Talking a walk after work is a perfect way to unwind and my drive home from Bristol where I work has plenty of options. Over the past couple of years I don’t seem to have managed it as much as I should. A couple of weeks back I got an opportunity and grabbed it.
Bryn Arw is one of my favourites and I’ve walked and blogged this route many times. Its perfect for an after work jaunt. Relatively short but with a small mountain feel and superb views.
It does have a short road section but at this time of year the hedgerows are alive with wild flowers so its hardly a chore. Best of all and for reasons I can’t explain its deserted. I can’t recall seeing more than a couple of other people in the many times I’ve been up here and on an evening as grand as this one I still found it surprising that I saw no-one else.
Ysgyryd Fawr always catches the eye
It was bright and sunny but cooler than it looked but I managed to find a sheltered spot for the obligatory mountain top cuppa
The Sugar Loaf also looks good from the summit ridge
And as this seems to be the age of the selfie……
Looking back at these photos I’m amazed again at the marvel of modern technology. All these photos were taken with my smartphone. Amazing clarity and image quality from such a small multi-purpose device
Makes the long days at work feel a little less of a drag when you can take in a walk as good as this on the way home
Back to mid-April and an opportunity for a short walk with TBF along The Cats Back
Another chance to play with the Panorama function on the camera. Still rather difficult to get right but its coming along
There was some bright sunshine but also dark stormy clouds
We got caught by one rather nasty hail storm as it bounced its way on us and through, but it stayed dry after that
The return along the Olchon Valley is a fine one. Alas the local hill plague that are trail bikes have found it. The path was one long line of rutted wheel tracks where once there was a grassy path. Every step I took just mad me angrier and sadder. These monstrosities are slowly destroying most of the paths in the Black Mountains. The damage in some places is heartbreaking and likely irrepairable. Its rare to walk in these fine austere hills without hearing their annoying waspish buzz and smell of petrol at some point. Something should be done about this but I can’t see what
Makes me very depressed now as I think about that walk down the path
I like to think I’m a local expert on the Black Mountains. I’ve walked them many times over the past 14 years I’ve lived in their back yard and discovered most of their ridges valleys and paths. Occasionally I find a small section I’ve never walked before and have a hankering to tread on some new ground. So it was on this day in mid-March.
Having left TJF to fend for herself, me and the remaining Funster and Sherpa headed out for the day. Didn’t get off to a great start. TJS who is a teenager and therefore by definition, lazy and vague forgot his boots. He assumed I’d put them in for him despite the fact he’d seen me carry the boot bag out to the car and hadn’t thought to check till we were at the car park. He had to do what turned out to be a very long walk over some rather rough and at times very soggy terrain in his school shoes.
Anyway we headed up swiftly on to Bal Bach and Bal Mawr, the initial stretches of which fitted the “new ground” criteria for the day. It was a splendid day albeit a little hazy
We walked at brisk pace (to gain some distance between us and a large but friendly family group) along the most splendid ridge of Chwarel y Fan. Its one of my favourite walks in the Black Mountains
My idea had been a ambitious round of the whole Grwyne Fawr valley up to Lord Hereford’s Knob (still funny) and back. However it was clearly a very long way and we didn’t want to leave TJF on her own too long into case she slipped into an iPad or Netflix induced coma. I thought we might be able to take a shortcut across the Grwyne Fawr dam and indeed it was so. It involved crossing a seriously soggy stretch of ground to get to it
Well worth it though. A spot by the reservoir was a fine place for lunch. Sheltered and almost warm in spring-like conditions
Across the dam and off-piste across more lakes cunningly disguised as open moorland and mountains and back up to the ridge on the far side
There were still some patches of snow left over and it gave a very fetching contrast to the brown of the bogs/mountains and the blue sky
Indeed the snow patches near the summit of Pen y Gadair Fawr were nearly waist deep. I discovered this to my cost as I plunged in. I was wearing shorts for some stupid reason and it was mighty cold on my bare pasty legs
I’ve always avoided the ridge south from here over Pen Twyn Mawr. There was a huge blanket of dense coniferous forest right up to ridge that I thought would spoil the views and make for a rather boggy uninspiring walk. Now that they have cleared the forest the views are rather fine and there is a pretty good path most of the way
It was a long way though to our route back to the car. A very long way. My ageing knees and sore feet (I have Plantar Fasciitis in my right foot) were in some pain by the time I stumbled back down the path to the car.
Still it was a very grand day out and new views and ridges ticked, always a bonus