Archive for the ‘Black Mountains’ Category

Another "Go-To" – Hatterall Hill   4 comments

Into December and winter was here. Another cold and blustery day but with the promise of sunshine dragged me out for another walk.

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Another go to favourite of Hatterall Hill, the large corrie and circuit at the end of the eastern ridge of the Black Mountains.

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After parking up at the Cwmyoy village hall the first stretch is lovely open pasture through to the village itself. At least it was. Its now planted with crops and after endless rain it was a soggy, muddy mess. Views were still great though.

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Up through the village and past my favourite wonky church.

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And the steep climb onto the small peak above the village created by an ancient landslip.

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The views across the end of the Vale of Ewyas to Ysgyryd Fawr were superb.

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There was more cloud about than I’d hoped but it did create some nice light effects.

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By the the time I was heading back along the other side to the Trig Pillar the sky over me cleared to a stunning blue and the views were magnificent.

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The horizon clouds were creating wonderful images and light effects.

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Even the bracken looks grand in this light.

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The walk down the end of the ridge was a sheer delight in these conditions

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Rather than walk on my usual route that repeats the now soggy crop field, I walked to the far end of the ridge and down the narrow lanes to reach the car. The lanes were swamped with mud and were not much drier than the fields but it was nice to try a slightly different route for a change.

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Only one day into December but it was already more memorable than November for walking (Barcelona aside!)

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Hay Bluff and Lord Hereford's Knob (No Sniggering at the Back)   6 comments

Despite the poor weather through November we are lucky to have some decent short walks within a 30 min drive. Hay Bluff and LHK are a classic combo. With a very high start that avoids the endlessly muddy fields at low level, its ideal for a grey day with a chance of an afternoon clearance.

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Its a steep climb to the top but the views across the upper Wye Valley and mid-Wales mountains is ample compensation.

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It was pretty dark and threatening all round but we were suddenly bathed in a blue patch and all was sunny.

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One of the advantages of Autumn and Winter days of sunshine and showers is that sunshine parts can be as glorious as any time of year.

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The golden light lifts the spirits and we decided to head up LHK as well. We had planned to just walk back to the car given the dark skies.

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Views from the summit where a woman was singing at the top of her voice as I approached and seemed acutely embarrassed that I’d heard her (she was pretty good actually)

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Its an out and back and the cold wind pushed us off the summit pretty quickly.

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There are few paths that wander about the slopes but its a quiet road up to the Gospel Pass so we just walked the road.

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The contrast between the sunshine and the brooding clouds was awesome.

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A short walk and good to get out at least for a couple of hours.

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The Reliable Go To…..   6 comments

When faced with an opportunity for a short walk on a showery day, the Sugar Loaf always fits the bill.

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This is such a long way back in time that I only have the vaguest recollection of the day so I have to rely on the photographs

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Clearly heavy showers were in abundance judging by said photos.

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I don’t recall getting wet though.

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Clearly August though judging by the lush green of the bracken.

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And the purple of the blooming heather.

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I think it was a warm and sultry day (TJS rarely wears shorts so it can’t have been cold)

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And TBF is down to T-shirt as further evidence of warm weather.

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A fine summit I’ve climbed many times and will no doubt continue to treat it as one of my “go-to” walks.

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Expansive views over to the Forest of Dean.

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Anf a fine viewpoint for Ysgyryd Fawr

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Probably a great walk I enjoyed!

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Posted November 18, 2019 by surfnslide in Black Mountains, Walking

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Amongst the Bracken   17 comments

To steal some words from the current political debate. Its time to stop talking about Europe and focus on an ambitious domestic agenda. Apologies for the spurious HTML code that WordPress have kindly inserted. Took me several attempts just to convince it to post what I’d actually written. Hopefully it’s a one off glitch.

I’m further behind with the blog than I think I ever have been. 3 months and several days out, weekends and week long trips.

Lets kick off with a short walk around Blorenge, the large mass the overlooks Abergavenney.

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A grey and humid day so this walk has the advantage of high start and very little climbing as well as nice combination of interesting stuff and expansive views.//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

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The Black Hole or Pwll Ddu to give its welsh name.//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

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And here things went a little awry. I’ve done this walk over grassy fields and paths in early spring. In Autumn, Bracken is king and it had taken over. It was passable but no place for shorts with nettles hiding at calf height. It was only about 200 yards of this tangle but it did put something of a damper on the day.//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

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Things improve for the walk around Gilwern Hill with its disused quarries and strange artificial ridges.//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

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Perched above the Usk Valley its a fine stroll – and no bracken.//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

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Past the old workings and water features that powered the mines and quarries.//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

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We stopped for lunch and TBF decided she’s had enough with a bad shoulder.//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

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Me and TJS carried on with the walk around the edges of Blorenge and back over the summit. More superb views over Abergavenny and Ysgyryd Fawr.//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

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Storms were nearby that seemed to creep ever closer but never quite reached us.//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

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Finishing off by meeting up with TBF at the car by the Pen Fford Goch Pond.//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

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Top walk – just avoid the bits above the quarry in summer!

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The Long Way Around   12 comments

Last time we had a weekend day seemingly without rain. I was on my own for the day so set out early (by my standards) for a long walk in the Black Mountains. I parked up at Pont Cadwgan and headed up the forest tracks deciding to add in Crug Mawr as an extra option due to the bright morning and the fact its a fine hill.

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Not quite as clear and sunny as the forecast had indicated but dry and that’s what matters especially with the appalling 2-3 weeks of rain that followed.

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Crug Mawr doesn’t seem to attract many walkers and I rarely see more than a couple of people up here or on the long ridge that comes down from the high points of the Black Mountains.

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I has my first sit down for the day, actually quite pleased for the breeze as it had been a bit hot and airless on the walk up.

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Onwards towards those high points I mentioned. This ridge is normally a pretty wet and muddy affair but it was bone dry. Likely it’s returned to business as usual in the meantime.

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A spell of brighter sunnier weather drew me onwards until I reached Pen y Gadair Fawr.

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Time for another stop as its a few miles along from Crug Mawr.

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Next stop Waun Fach, highest of the Black Mountains. They have worked wonders in restoring the grassland up here. The path is now much less boggy and there are huge swathes of grass where once was just black bog. The Trig Pillar on the top used to be lost in sea of peat but now stands proud next to a path through the greenery. Sadly the plague of trail bikes are still leaving their trail of damage elsewhere. The National Park really need to more to do educate and restrict them although I’m not sure how.

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Onwards to the northern escarpment for a bite to eat before turning and taking the long route back down the other side of the Gwryne valley

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This is looking along the ridge to Chwarel y Fan

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It turned quite cloudy and cool for a while so my last stop on the top was a brief one.

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I really like the ridge from here to Bal Mawr. Not narrow but airy enough to expose some grand views.

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A close up shot of Llanthony and its priory.

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Not sure what these trees are – flora and fauna are not my strong point – but they were all in flower all over the lower slopes and looked wonderful both from a distance and close up.

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Just a matter of picking my way down to and through the forest and back to the car feeling weary and foot sore. Hardly surprising as my mapping software said 20 miles! As far as I’ve walked in a day for a very long time. I was quite pleased with myself.

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Evening Walk – Bryn Arw   16 comments

I was hoping to get out and do more after-work walks this year. A promising start back in early May but since then the weather has been pretty poor and the few days when there has been sunshine hasn’t fallen right.

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Still this one was a good one and my default walk of a circuit of the small and perfectly formed Bryn Arw.

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Its close to my journey home, easy to park and normally deserted, especially late on a weekday evening.

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A beautiful clear and warm evening, superb views over Ysgyryd Fawr and the surrounding pastoral landscape.

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And across to the Black Mountains and Brecon Beacons.

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A stop on the top for a cuppa and snack is an essential part of the experience.

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Timing things perfectly for that clarity of light you get as the sun sinks lower.

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I love this view on a day like this, beguiling contrast of colour.

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And a field of bluebells to wish me on my way back to the car and home, the trials of a day at the office banished to the back of my mind.

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Llangors Circuit   16 comments

Always on the look out for a new route in my local hills, the TGO magazine obliged with a circuit of Mynydd Llangorse and Allt yr Esgair around Llangors Lake. I’ve done both hills many times but never as combined circuit. In fact I’ve never been to Llangors Lake itself a very popular spot for fishing, boating and walking.

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From the Lake its a walk along a quiet local lane to reach the pass between Mynydd Llangorse and Mynydd Troed.

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As you climb the views begin open out over the lake (largest in South Wales) towards the Brecon Beacons.

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Mynydd Troed dominates the view in the other direction.

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The climb to the vast summit of Mynydd Llangorse is via the steep ridge of Cockit Hill.

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Beautiful contrast between the green fields and the bracken and heather slopes on Mynydd Troed.

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You can see here the effects of the fire that burnt across the slopes of Mynydd Troed last year. It looks like the damage was severe and may take a few years to recover fully.

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The bucolic Cwm Sorgwm with the Black Mountains behind.

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It was pleasantly warm on the summit so we stopped on the grassy path for lunch. We had these lovely wild ponies and their foals for company.

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After dropping down ready for our second peak of the day we noticed that despite the warm weather there were still storms about. This quite nasty looking one passed us by – in fact they all did and we never needed to suit up for rain.

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It’s a very long and steady climb to the summit of Ally yr Esgair but as a narrow – relatively – ridge the views around are excellent. Looking back to Mynydd Llangorse and Mynydd Troed.

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Over to the Brecon Beacons.

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And Llangors Lake

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By the time we reached the shores of the lake the sun was out in abundance and it was a glorious afternoon.

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You can’t walk next to the shore of the lake as it’s marshy but the green pastures gave a superb finish to our days walk with some wonderful late afternoon sunshine.

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Looking back to Allt yr Esgair.

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Mynydd Troed.

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Brecon Beacons.

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The views across the lake from the boating piers were equally fine and finished off a really fine walk, a respectable 11 miles.

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