Archive for the ‘Brecon Beacons’ Category

Brecon Beacons Farewell   6 comments

The last weekend at home before TJS went back to University and chance for a last walk together for a while. He’d been keen to try the Snowdon Horseshoe but when I told him the time we’d have to get up, his keen-ness diminished. Given the choice he opted for a Brecon Beacons classic.

IMG_6148

The route up from the car park above the Talybont Reservoir, along the edges above the Caerfanell valley, round to Fan y Big and Cribyn and back down the Roman Road.

IMG_6149

A route we’ve done many times and the long walk perched along the edges above deep valleys is perfect for a blustery late summer day

IMG_6151
IMG_6154

We got caught up amongst a large group other walkers who set off while we were halfway through their party who then proceeded to walk along without stepping aside and letting us past. Is it just me that thinks that’s a breach of hiker etiquette.

IMG_6155

Still, can’t let it spoil a great day.

IMG_6156
IMG_6157

Turning westwards the views change to vistas across most of mid-Wales as far as Pumlumon and Cadair Idris.

IMG_6158

And of course the summit of South Wales, Pen y Fan.

IMG_6160
IMG_6161
IMG_6162

We stopped for lunch in sheltered spot on the slopes of Fan y Big before the steep climb and perfect edge along to the summit of Cribyn, one of the Beacons finest peaks.

IMG_6163
IMG_6164
IMG_6165
IMG_6166

Returning to the col, its the long walk along the old road past the Neuadd Reservoirs although the larger one has been dry for many years now, such that it’s pretty much back to how it must have looked before its creation.

IMG_6168

As we passed the lower lake, the path was closed and lots of building and engineering work in evidence. Perhaps there is something wrong with the dams and they are repairing them. Remains to be seen whether that’s true and whether it’s better to see the valley in its natural state or with the dams and reservoirs restored. Having spent many of younger years exploring the Elan valley, I have a fondness for these dams and the landscape they create. There is something elegant about these Victorian constructions.

IMG_6170
IMG_6171

Back along the Taff trail and along the road to finish the day. Next weekend the prodigal son returned to University and his own life as we faced the dwindling summer and a long winter that seems exceptionally long after two back to back weekends of dreary grey skies and rain.

IMG_6169

“They’re Friends from Work”   12 comments

The fact that I like to hike in the hills seems a source of constant humour for my work colleagues with me the butt of the jokes. I was surprised to find that secretly some of them actually hankered for a hike in the hills so I said I’d lead them out on one my favourite south Wales hikes in the Brecon Beacons.

A little gang of four assembled at the cafe in Talybont on Usk for a fry up before heading for the mountains. (The title of the blog is in reference to one of my favourite lines from the Marvel movies – very topical at this time)

P1000048

A round of the Neuadd Reservoirs taking in the highest summits of the Beacons range. We were all rather caught out by just how cold it was.

P1000048a

Here is the first of our little band posing for a photo. She decided to tone down the colours for this hike!

P1000049
P1000050

Its a short and very steep climb up on to the edges that had is puffing hard. Luckily the sweat was soon removed by the ferocious and icy wind that was blasting at us across the valley.

P1000051

The photos don’t really do justice to just how cold and windy it was, enough to blow one our team clean off her feet a few times.

P1000052

Whilst the sun disappeared for the rest of the day, the cloud base was high and it stayed dry, which is a much as you can ask for on day planned a long way in advance.

P1000053

I had inform my new comrades that a key objective of any hike is make regular and lengthy stops to brew up and eat lots of food. They seemed quite keen on the idea despite the chilly wind, especially when I produced home-made cake that TBF had lovingly prepared.

P1000054
P1000055
P1000056

We reached the top of Pen y Fan – together with a few dozen other people and posed for a team photo for me on south Wales highest peak.

P1000057
P1000058

Despite blisters and foot problems (this is quite a tough walk by south Wales standards) they agreed to continue the summit bagging and we took in Cribyn as well.

P1000059
P1000060

And another couple of happy looking group shots.

P1000061

Including one with yours truly in it, demonstrating an odd pose and leg angle that says very clearly why I try and avoid being photographed in the first place.

P1000062

After another brew and scoff stop I convinced them that we could bag one more summit. The fact that my work colleagues share a distinctly smutty sense of humour and that the summit was called Fan y Big had nothing to do with it.

One last summit photo on the rock outcrop on the summit. They look happy that I’ve dragged them out on a bitterly cold day to wander about in the hills when they could have been home watching TV and doing domestic chores.

P1000063

And then it was time to head down across grassy slopes and bog and return to the real world.

P1000064

I normally walk either on my own or with the family down here so walks can be a little repetitive. I really enjoyed this day immensely for a variety of reasons. It was great to share my passion for both hiking (or should I say mountaineering) and for the Brecon Beacons with new companions. It was equally good to see them really enjoying the day as much as I was (well they said they did anyway) and I have to admit I enjoyed showing off a bit. They have all been out in the mountains before but never as regular thing and seemed to relish the challenge and chance to enjoy the outdoors. This is what keeps me sane through the drudgery of modern life and I really hope they went home with the same feeling of spirits lifted. We certainly laughed a lot on this hike as we always do at work. We are close knit bunch and my working life would likely be intolerable if they weren’t around to make me smile and keep me grounded.

I really hope we can do this more often and hopefully persuade some of my other work friends to join us. Who can’t love a hike!

P1000065

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.

Llanfrynach

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.

P1060226

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

P1060230

P1060231

The sheep and trees made a nice foreground

P1060234

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

P1060238

P1060239

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

P1060241

P1060243

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

P1060244

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

P1060245

P1060246

P1060248

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

P1060249

P1060250

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

P1060251

P1060255

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

P1060256

P1060257

P1060260

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

P1060261

P1060262

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

P1060264

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

P1060235

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

Tagged with , , , , ,

Sometimes its Just About Getting Out   10 comments

P1060043

A short post and a few photos from a walk up Ysgyryd Fawr several weeks back after we’d returned from France.

P1060044

It had everything I dislike about walking in August. The air was still, it was overcast, humid, and the bracken was smothering the hillsides. The flies were a nuisance.

P1060045

We sweated our way to the top, feasting on flies as we went

P1060046

We were glad of a breeze on the summit ridge to cool us down a bit and a blow the flies back to where they came from

P1060049

We watched a guy flying a small model plane on the summit to keep us entertained

P1060050

And some brighter interludes before we headed down. Not the absolute most enjoyable walk I’ve taken this year but better than sitting at home

P1060047

Sometimes its just about getting out……

Posted September 18, 2018 by surfnslide in Brecon Beacons, Wales, Walking

Tagged with , ,

Wild Swimming in the Nedd Fechan Valley   20 comments

IMG_3783

Before I get round to telling you about summer hols let me take you back to the earlier part of the summer. You remember, endless days of hot sunshine, blue skies, warnings of hosepipe bans, England doing well at the World Cup. The hot summer gave us a chance to really explore my Wild Swimming guide as a means of outdoor exercise (too hot to hike).

IMG_3777

My last post detailed some of the local spots in the Wye Valley but the premier location in South Wales are the valleys of the Mellte and Nedd Fechan. Each has a series of gorges, cascades, waterfalls and deep pools tailor-made for swimming. In the hot weather the cold (in fact VERY cold) water was a welcome relief from the hot sun and the tree-lined gorge meant perfect conditions for river based fun

IMG_3807

We took two trips. The first one was an all too brief visit before a picnic and heading home for an England game

IMG_3779

IMG_3781

We parked up at small and hard to reach car park at Post Melin Each and wandered downstream to the first waterfall Scwd Ddwli. Its a beautiful cascade falling into a deep pool but not ideal for swimming. It’s stony to get in and there are no jumps but it wins on location

IMG_3785

IMG_3787

All but TJS took a swim and even in the hot weather it seems pretty quiet. I’d assumed that everyone in South Wales would have discovered this spot but it’s very hard to get to and that seemed to keep swimmers away. Most people we saw were walkers

IMG_3791

IMG_3793

IMG_3797

IMG_3799

It was nice to swim in cold clear water and then sit in hot sunshine to warm up – rare in the UK

IMG_3801

Me and TJS took a wander downstream to the next set of pools at the Horseshoe Falls.

IMG_3803

These were much better for swimming. Deep and clear with much easier ways in and loads of ledges for jumps. I took a couple of jumps and a quick swim before heading back.

IMG_3805

We had a rather fine picnic in the grassy meadows by the car park before heading home and vowed to return for revisit to the Horseshoe Falls

IMG_3815

IMG_3817

That return visit was a week later as the endless hot weather continued. We were back at the Horseshoe Falls which not only has great swimming and jumping but a series of flat clean rocks for sunbathing

IMG_3827

IMG_3828

IMG_3829

IMG_3833

We spent the whole day here, in and out of the water and another luxury picnic

IMG_3836

I was particularly happy scrambling about on the rocks and in the trees looking for ever higher jump spots

IMG_3837

IMG_3840

IMG_3841

Pretty much perfectly designed for wild swimming

IMG_3843

IMG_3844

Up stream was an equally fine waterfall but no pool for swimming

IMG_3847

IMG_3848

Me and TBF left the other Funster in the sun while we took a stroll downstream

IMG_3848a

IMG_3849

We reached the slender and almost dry Lady Falls (Sgwd Gwladus). This is closer to the main road and was very busy (including the usual clutch of people who don’t seem to able to go anywhere without a loud thumping music!)

IMG_3851

We returned to the tranquility of our own spot

IMG_3852

IMG_3854

More swims and another look at the upstream waterfall and little video of what its like to stand under it!

 

IMG_3856

I suspect we have a long wait until we get weather set perfect for this sort of day but even a walk along these valleys and their dozens of waterfalls and cascades is a worthwhile trip. I’m hoping we can revisit again once more this year if we get a final spell of good weather

 

Around the Caerfanell Valley   12 comments

P1050110

One of my favourites. High edges, streams, waterfalls , a blue sky and breakfast outdoors. A perfect combination.

P1050080

The weather forecast was for a reasonable day with some sunshine. We hadn’t expected a clear blue sky morning. It was glorious

P1050082

Although the large waterfall at the start of the walk was in shadow

P1050084

The Caerfanell valley is a beauty and on a clear morning in spring the combination of blue sky, green trees and a bubbling stream is enchanting

P1050086

Even after a dry spell the path is a muddy one but with views like this, hardly a chore

P1050087

Small waterfalls cascade line the route and as I always do here I went a bit crazy with the camera. Not a bad excuse though

P1050088

P1050089

We were out early – for us anyway – so the whole place was deserted

P1050093

The reason for such keen-ness? Another outdoor breakfast. Life is pretty good under a warm sun, eating a bacon and egg sandwich with a fresh cuppa

P1050095

P1050096

Alas such a good day deserved a high level walk so there was some hard work to be done

P1050097

The walk directly up the slopes at the back of the photo below is one of the steepest I know but it does deliver you to a high and little frequented edge that is a real joy

P1050099

P1050103

TJS was again my muse for the day

P1050106

P1050107

These edges are a feature everywhere in the South Wales mountains but these are almost always deserted and have extensive and expansive views. On a clear day like this its hard to imagine a better walk

P1050109

P1050113

As you reach Carn Pica (sadly with its impressive cairn now collapsed) the view open out to the high peaks of the Brecon Beacons. Corn Du and Pen y Fan always stand proud

P1050116

With the weather being so stunning we extended the walk by carrying on towards Fan y Big. After almost 3 hours walk/breakfasting from the car it was only here that we started to see people

P1050119

These edges are equally fine with equally expansive and extensive views to the north. In fact due to the peculiar geography you can make an almost a 360 circuit of the high ground along edges

P1050120

P1050127

P1050128

We cut back across the plateau to the southern edges again following the Beacons Way. I’ve never walked that part before and expected a bash through heather and bog but in fact it was well-marked and actually quite delightful with some new vistas

P1050131

All that walking deserved another stop for second lunch and another brew, this time perched high up on the edges

P1050134

From there it was pretty much straight down past another succession of pretty waterfalls.

P1050135

P1050136

We could have stayed out longer but the forecast mentioned heavy showers that in the end never materialised. Still it was a fine walk and we’d enjoyed the best part of the day having gone out early. I’m liking the outdoor breakfasts, well worth the effort to carry the larger stove and fuel around

P1050138

Caerfanell

No idea how long the walk was as I forgot to turn off the mapping apps so it added on the 40 mile drive home. I’m guessing around 9 miles of magnificent entertainment.

The Beast from the East meets the Brecon Beacons   16 comments

P1040582

Nicking a blog title from the cold weather media frenzy is cheap and lazy I know but its 9pm and I can’t be bothered with trying to come up with anything original.

Another classic route. The round of the Brecon Beacons Four Peaks (Corn Du, Pen y Fan, Cribyn, Fan y Big) from the south, a circuit of the Neuadd Valley and its reservoirs. It was cold when we set off but we had no idea how cold it was going to get

P1040568

The sky was a sensational deep blue and the few clouds hugging the eastern slopes were soon burnt off. The approach road was glacial

P1040570

The walk across the dam of the lower reservoir is always a pleasure

P1040572

P1040573

The path up to the western edges is steep and I found it surprisingly hard work after my bout of flu. When we hit the ridge we felt the full blast of the beast

P1040576

The wind was ferocious and staggeringly cold. Its rare on a dry day, even in winter, that I don full fleeces and jacket with the hood up but it was essential. Even then my face was burning with cold

P1040578

P1040580

Luckily the views were spectacular and at least the wind was kind of behind us

P1040585

P1040587

P1040591

P1040593

P1040594

We’d made an early start and I was anxious where we would stop for lunch. I figured we could get out of the wind behind Corn Du as I thought the lower cols would be windier, funnelling the wind

P1040598

I was wrong. Even directly behind the summit the wind was just blowing, over and around the summit. We hid behind a couple of rock outcrops, stuffed our faces quickly and moved on

P1040599

The walk between Corn Du and Pen y Fan was straight into the wind. The cold was almost unbearable, one of the coldest 10 minutes I can remember in the mountains. I was starting to think that carrying on with this for the next few hours wasn’t all that sensible but as we reached the summit of Pen y Fan the wind abated quite significantly. For the rest of the day the wind only blew in gusts and at times it was relatively pleasant, almost warm. There was of course the usual crowd of seriously under-equipped people on the summit. Some people just have no idea how much difference there is between a sunny sheltered car park and a 3,000 foot summit exposed to an easterly winter wind. Trainers, jeans, exposed ankles, people carrying babies, they were all there. I walked away shaking my head

P1040603

90% of people climb Pen y Fan from the Storey Arms. Head off the summit in the other direction and calm and quiet is restored. The view back to Pen y Fan and over to Cribyn’s pointed summit and dark shadowed northern face were majestic

P1040604 P1040605

P1040607

I took the path along the edge of the cliffs to the summit of Cribyn. This flat grassy spot halfway up has been earmarked for a wild camp some day – just on a less windy and cold day

P1040610

P1040611

A brief rest on the summit and the off along the edge towards the col ahead of Fan y Big

P1040613

Another of my favourite sections of the Beacons edges

P1040615

P1040617

The col rather than being wild and windy as I thought was calm and benign so we stopped for a cuppa and second lunch. I was feeling pretty tired but I was convinced that Fan y Big needed an ascent and the views from its summit are exceedingly fine so the convincing wasn’t that hard

P1040618

In addition, the walk back from its summit above the reservoirs is far more pleasant than the long drag down the bumpy path to the car park

P1040619

The view back to the Four Peaks

P1040621

P1040624

Back to the car to warm up (heated seats were very welcome) and back for a very one-sided cup final to finish off a damned fine day. The beast was tamed for now.

Brecons Four Peaks

I’m off to Scotland at the weekend to take it on again – if I can get there!

%d bloggers like this: