Archive for the ‘Walking’ Category

New Places – Aconbury Hill   Leave a comment


I’m always on the look out for new places for a walk especially in weather where a day in the mountains is less appealing. I use the OS Mapping software on my various devices and noticed that they can mark a range of hill lists on the map. Mostly the usual Scottish ones, Munros and  Corbetts, but they also mark Marylins, the Relative hills of Britain. As they have strict criteria of 150 feet of ascent regardless of other factors they are both numerous and in many places pretty obscure. Looking at my maps I have several local ones I’ve never done, mostly smaller wooded hills. This seems a perfect excuse to for some new walks and avoid the wild winter weather. As most of these local ones are forested I was hoping my first couple of forays would deliver some autumnal colour.


First on the list was Aconbury Hill, just outside Hereford and a mere 15 minute drive away. The hill was littered with paths and we parked up and set off into the very damp woods after a few heavy squalls of rain hoping not to get too wet.


The colours in the trees was wonderful and its a really pleasant walk up to the top of the hill, an old iron age hill fort






There are a myriad of paths around the earthworks on the top and we wandered a bit aimlessly as my OS maps seemed to struggle with the GPS signal.





Finding a view from the top was a bit of challenge due to all the trees but we did find a spot with a view over Hereford.


We forged a route down to head back to the car as we had only intended to be out for an hour or so. Showers looked like they were in the ascendency when we left home and we didn’t want to push our luck. When we emerged into the fields the weather looked ok so we decided to extend the walk.


I’m always reticent to go walking across the fields in Herefordshire. Paths are generally not well walked and you often end up semi-lost with poor signage and overgrown or blocked routes. However the succession of paths we followed were no problem if a little muddy and slick.



We dropped down to Aconbury Court and the back up through Wallbrook Wood to Merrivale Farm. This storm cloud was impressive and luckily didn’t dump a heavy shower on us.



Glorious sunlight in the green lane past the farm.


The community of Little Birch and Kings Thorn is spread over a wide area. A collection green lanes, field paths and cottages that was a delight to pick our way through.


There was plenty of late afternoon sunlight to dress the autumn leaves with bright colours.



I liked these three perfectly spaced trees along the field boundary


Smoke rising from cosy cottages




From a morning of heavy showers and low expectations sprang a really stunning and enjoyable walk full of interest and charm.


The first foray into the world of Marylins had been a resounding success.


I’ve lived in the area for 15 years now – almost exactly 15 years in fact. In all that time I’ve never given Aconbury Hill a second thought. We walked five miles in the end and were out most of the afternoon. One of the delights of the UK is that hidden gems and rewarding walks seem to be endless.


Wet Down by the Wye   14 comments


Another day and another dismal wet and dreary one. In truth it was an awful day, low cloud, mist and a mix of heavy rain and drizzle. We went out anyway and even convinced TJF for a rare outing involving walking, bribed by the idea of having Mac the dog with us


The worst of the rain had passed by when we set off from a wet and muddy car park at the now closed for the year Doward Farm Campsite. At least this walk has plenty of interest (as well as having a dog to liven things up). A series of caves, this one King Arthur’s Cave (that bloke really did get about)


Some splendid mixed woodland


And from Seven Sisters Rocks, stunning views along the Wye Gorge with lots of Autumnal colours, although it looks better in sunlight


The soggy travellers



Down to Biblins Campsite and the bouncy bridge over the river


In summer I’d expect to see many people kayaking the river here, no-one braving the wet today.



Mac is a hard character to photo as he is in a constant state of motion. This was my best effort



Along the river to Symonds Yet and its rapids, where there were some kayakers practising their skills. Me and THO have played about here in the past but these days I prefer surf to rivers. I never really got the hang of river rapids (these are pretty gentle).



We came through on our family kayak last year and I realised just how low the water was then. There were rocks protruding from the water all the way down, none of which are visible here even though the water level in not especially high


You get to cross the river by a small punt-like ferry to add another element of interest to this walk. I once came this way in summer with Mark and his family and the ferry wasn’t running as the river was extremely high and looked like a scene from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. No such problems today



From Symonds Yat its just a short walk back through more rather lovely (and very soggy) mixed forest back to the car





We bid a fond farewell to THO and Mac. Not the best weekend of weather but a couple of decent outings and a new friend made

Winter is Over   13 comments


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.


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


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.


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


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


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.


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


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


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


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.


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


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


Crug Mawr


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.




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

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Winter Was Here   12 comments


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.


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


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.


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


Looking along the ridge to Waun Fach.


And down the valley towards Crickhowell.


See, I told you we needed winter gear!


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)


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).


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


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


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).


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.


And as we climbed up onto the ridge.



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


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.


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.


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




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


A good 12 mile stretch of wild winter walking

Mynydd Troed


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

A Day of Two Halves   12 comments


The weather on the Sunday following our south Lakes wander was appalling. Cloud right down and heavy slanting rain. We’d arranged to meet friends for a walk in Yorkshire but rang them to postpone by a couple of hours in the hope things might improve later. The Forecast wasn’t promising seeming to indicate a spell of cloud and rain between two longer spells of rain! As we drove over if anything the weather got worse and the car was rather quiet as we looked forward to a soaking. As we met up in Clapham it eased off a bit and we decided to head out anyway in a light drizzle.

The waterfalls in Clapham looked nice after all the rain.


We took a route to avoid the walk up Clapham Beck as they charge you for it! We headed to Trow Gill as it’s a top spot even on wet and miserable day.


We re-lived a memory from university days on a walk with very deep snow. In those days the top of the gorge had a stile to cross and me and my mischievous friends had realised an opportunity for fun and games. The narrow stile was a perfect ambush opportunity so we raced ahead, made a pile of snowballs and pelted everyone that came through. Of course once past that point meant that the next person through had one more person to be pelted by. Someone had to be last and one of our party took that role. I can still hear the sound of dozens of snowballs pelting him and the surrounding rocks to this day! Childish but fun.


Back to the present day. We emerged onto the open moors above Trow Gill and turned to make our way over towards Crummack Dale, the main target of our walk. Whilst it was still damp and grey it had stopped raining.


There was even sunshine back towards Clapham.


We found a spot out of the wind for a bite to eat and a brew looking over the rather nice and splendidly named Clapham Bottoms.


If we look a bit wet it’s because we were. As we finished up it started raining again sadly and we thought that was it for the day.


Looking back to Trow Gill.


However it soon stopped and from there things began to improve.


Cloud started to lift and Pen-y-Ghent appeared from the clouds.


From Sulber Gate, the view over Thieves Moss and its wet limestone catching the sun (yes it was starting to put in an appearance) was superb.


As we crossed Beggars Stile, the magnificent expanse of Crummack Dale came into view. I’ve wanted to come back here for a long time as I’ve only ever walked it in the dusk and darkness many years ago.



The heavens clearly understood my longing and the sun suddenly came out in full force lighting up the crags magnificently.



The day and mood were transformed and there was a real spring in the step as we walked down through the dale on wonderful grassy paths.


There is something special about the grassy paths through limestone areas that I just love. Whether it’s just the ease of walking or bright vivid green colour I’m not sure.


The views were sensational – an incredible contrast to the damp and wet gloom of the previous 24 hours.




Mark recommended we cut across to the Pennine Bridleway by way of the Norber Erratics under Robin Procters Scar.


A good call. A fine path through interesting limestone edges littered with glacial erratics (boulders of a different rock type picked up elsewhere and dropped by receding glaciers).


Superb views out across the valley towards the Forest of Bowland and Pendle Hill.


Maybe TJS needs glasses?



The crags of Robin Proctors Scar. Much as I love my local mountains in South Wales, they do lack large crags and rock bands so my camera was trained on these for the rest of the walk.


One more treat in store as we wandered along the Pennine Bridleway back to Clapham. The sun came out between the clouds in full force.



The low angle lit up the fields and crags to stunning effect.


I was captivated by the scene and stopped many times to take photos. No-one else seemed to have noticed as when I looked up they were all out of sight. Their loss!




The sign on the way down warned cyclist of steep slopes and tunnels so I was surprised to find these on the way down.


Back to Clapham after a surprisingly long walk of 10 miles.


One of those days when deciding to go out in the worst of weather delivers substantial rewards. Sometimes you just have to give it a go. Sometimes (like my walk on Dartmoor in January) it delivers a miserable soaking. Sometimes you are treated to glorious views like this. The weather in the UK is fickle and unpredictable but when you gaze on a view like the one above it makes you glad for all that uncertainty.


Back to Mark’s for another one of his slap up meals (a lamb roast that was everything you could want after a day in the hills). A top weekend (thanks to Mark and the gang for putting us up) and a chance to see TJS before he really settles into to his first term at Lancaster

A Damp Day in the South Lakes   19 comments


TJS had only been away at University for 3 weeks but as it was his Birthday we decided to go and see him. Mark and his family were kind enough to let us stay, mess up their house and eat all their food – again! The forecast for Saturday had looked pretty decent but alas it dawned grey, dreary and overcast with a light drizzle in the air. Not a day for a high level walk as I’d planned and it was left to just me, Mark TBF and TJS to form a hike party


We planned a route around the small hills and pastures near the south end of Windermere to take in the small but very prominent summit of Gummer’s How which despite hundreds of visits to the Lakes, I’d never been up. As it was in the cloud when we parked up near the base we decided to save it for the end of the walk hoping it would be out of the cloud


Despite the gloomy conditions it was a really good walk. What the area lacks in mountainous peaks it more than makes up for with interesting stuff.  The forest is packed with small tarns like this one, Middle Tarn


Whilst this may look like a barn it is in fact a Quaker meeting-house, Heights Cottage




From there its a short walk across to Raven’s Barrow and its prominent cairn overlooking the valley of the Winster river and down to Arnside, Arnside Knott and beyond to Morecambe Bay. The line of brightness shows the split in the weather beyond which all was blue skies further south and east. Despite our hopes it never reached us



On our way to a lunchtime stop we passed the church on the slopes of Cartmell Fell (Mark will step in and give out its real name when he reads and comments I hope. He knows the area very well and is a useful companion on these walks to take you on a tour of the interesting sites like this.)


Its been rendered on the outside and looks quite plain but on the inside its stunning. It’s very, very old and the stained glass contains fragments taken from other churches


I particularly liked the wooden roof beams


The area is packed with wonderful converted farm buildings and cottages and wanted to live in every one. This one in particular caught my eye although I suspect I’d need to perform a Hatton Garden style robbery to afford it


Of course its proximity to one of Lakelands finest pubs had nothing to do with my enthusiasm to live here. The Masons Arms is an old favourite serving a range of beers that includes Belgian fruit beer (raspberry today). Very tasty it was too.


The food was also very good and we enjoyed a light lunch of Black Pudding, Poached Egg and Potatoes. We sat outside under cover and our stay coincided with a spell of heavy drizzle that stopped as we packed up to leave.


From there a steep climb up Whinny Knott


And into the Birch Fell Forest (or should that be Fanghorn Forest, home of the Ents)


From there we had to bash through the undergrowth and very wet grass and Bracken to reach the top of Gummer’s How


We were just out of the cloud so its famed views were somewhat limited. Still, there were great views down over the southern end of the lake.


The line of brightness had crept a little closer but not close enough



Despite that, I enjoyed our visit to the summit and look forward to a return sometime in sunshine. It is only a 15 minute walk from the car after all


Gummer's How


A fine walk regardless and one where we never donned waterproofs which seems pretty miraculous considering the weather. Back home for a slap up takeaway curry to finish the day

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.


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.


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



The sheep and trees made a nice foreground


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



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



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


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




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



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



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




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



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


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


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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