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

Advertisements

And Then There Were Three   21 comments

IMG_4023

A couple of weekends back and a big change for the family. TJS having worked hard for his A-Level results was now about to start on his own way in the world. With full car and empty wallet we dropped him off and helped him settle in to his new life at Lancaster University. Four years of hard work and new experiences await him as he starts his Masters Physics course. He’s taken everything completely in his stride and seemed totally at ease with settling into life away from home. In fact they had set up all kinds of events for his welcome day and was eager for us to go! In truth the fact that he seemed so ready to go made the prospect much easier for me and TBF as parents.

IMG_4057

Its a new life for us to get used to as well. Luckily we have our good friends Mark and his family who live nearby and offered to put us up for the weekend. That also helped to soften the blow of the changed circumstances. We managed to fit in a series of fine walks over the weekend around our commitments with Danny and their weekend plans.

IMG_4019

After dropping Danny off in Lancaster we had time for an afternoon walk. As you know from my many previous visits to their home, there is a huge range of wonderful interesting walks that go straight from the door. First one, we followed Mark as he took us a tour that included Arnside Knott.

IMG_4018

After cutting through Eaves Wood we passed by Middlebarrow Quarry. (I’m sure Mark will correct me if I have any of the locations or maps incorrect – there are so many paths around there, not all marked on the map, that its impossible to be 100% sure where I am. Not that it matters, its all wonderful). Its huge but you’d never know it was there unless you went looking for it

IMG_4020

Across a huge open pasture with views to Arnside Knott and Arnside Tower. The railway line was close by and there a few people clearly waiting for a train to pass through. More on that later.

IMG_4021

As we emerged onto the upper slopes of Arnside Knott the colours told us Autumn was on its way and the views, as they always are from up here, were superb

IMG_4022

Here is the stream train crossing the Arnside viaduct over the Kent that the spotters must have been waiting for

IMG_4025

One of the finest of the UK’s small hills in my view. Me and Mark played the game of which one we thought was best between Carn Fadryn and Arnside Knott. I think it was an honourable draw. 🙂

IMG_4026

IMG_4028

In the late afternoon sunshine the changing colours of the trees was spellbinding.

IMG_4029

Throw in the sunlight behind the clouds and it was all rather splendid.

IMG_4033

IMG_4036

TBF looking cold

IMG_4037

Fungus-mongous!

IMG_4038

A view down over Silverdale village

IMG_4040

And the setting sun.

IMG_4042

IMG_4044

A respectable 6 miles for a late afternoon walk

Arnside Knott

Next morning one of the DBs was being confirmed at a local church so me and TBF went for a short stroll down to Jenny Brown’s Point and Jack Scout

IMG_4046

It was a pretty dull morning and very cold and windy. However even though I was without my local guides I managed not get lost!

IMG_4048

IMG_4049

A view across Morecambe Bay towards Lancaster

IMG_4050

A view towards Grange over Sands from  Jack Scout

IMG_4052

Another 5 miles to the total

Jack Scout

After a fine buffet lunch we were out again. Back across The Lots (one of my favourite spots around here). The weather had changed to bright sunny intervals and heavy showers

IMG_4058

IMG_4062

I don’t mind those sorts of days. Its wothn putting up with the odd soaking when you get clear spells and dark brooding skies like these

IMG_4063

IMG_4064

IMG_4065

IMG_4066

We wandered back through the edge of the village and along The Row (dodging another shower) and then up into Eaves Wood. The light in the trees was sublime

 

IMG_4069

IMG_4070

Emerging on to the top near the Pepper Pot the storms were still tracking across the horizon, missing us fortunately.

IMG_4072

IMG_4073

A storm completely covering Heysham and its power station – it was clearly visible a minute or two earlier

IMG_4074

And the Pepper Pot itself.

IMG_4075

Another 4 miles in the bank and almost 15 miles over the weekend. Not bad for a few strolls

Eaves Wood

IMG_4024

So a contrasting weekend of emotions. A mix of pride and sadness that TJS has now left home to follow his own path and seems to coping so well, and a great weekend spent with good friends. Huge thanks to Mark, TBH and the family for helping us through the weekend, putting us up and feeding us amazingly well as they always do! 🙂

A Dash Between the Rains   12 comments

IMG_3989

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.

IMG_3988

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.

IMG_3990

Classic views across the Wye Valley right from the outset.

IMG_3991

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

IMG_3992

IMG_3994

Panorama from the summit

IMG_3995

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!

IMG_3997

IMG_3999

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

IMG_4001

IMG_4003

IMG_4004

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

IMG_4005

And storms were approaching

IMG_4008

IMG_4009

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

IMG_4010

View south down to the Vale of Ewyas

IMG_4011

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

IMG_4007

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

P1060184

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.

P1060186

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

P1060188

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

P1060190

Its a cracking spot though

P1060191

TBF readies herself for a day in the mountains

P1060193

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

P1060194

P1060195

A view down over Llyn y Fan Fawr

P1060197

TJS on the high level traverse under the cliffs

P1060202

The old water leat that supplies Llyn y Fan Fach

P1060204

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

P1060206

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

P1060206a

P1060206c

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

P1060206d

P1060206f

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

P1060206i

P1060208

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

P1060210

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

P1060211

P1060212

P1060217

The views across to Fforest Fawr were excellent

P1060218

Fan Gyhirych looking dark and moody

P1060219

P1060222

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

P1060223

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

P1060224

P1060225

P1060189

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

P1060181

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.

P1060168

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

P1060169

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

P1060170

Ever darkening skies

P1060171

P1060172

Gorse still in flower

P1060174

Approaching the summit

P1060177

P1060178

TJS on the summit

P1060179

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

P1060182

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

P1060183

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

North Devon – A Bit of Walking, a Bit of Surfing   14 comments

P1060142

We left TJF behind to chill at the camper while me, TBF and TJS went for a walk along the coast. We wanted to take a trip to Lundy but the only available sailing was this, our last day and it was only a short stop on the island. By way of compensation we saw the island ferry sailing by as we walked down to the coast path

P1060140

P1060141

Lee Bay (not the same one as we visited the day before) is the first spot we came to

P1060144

Next was the rollercoaster of steep ups and downs that characterises coastal walking

P1060145

P1060146

It was a slightly overcast day but warm and still with dramatic coastal views to distant horizons

P1060147

P1060148

Jagged cliffs and rocky bays were the order of the day

P1060149

P1060150

Turning south at the Bull Point lighthouse

P1060152

Perhaps a trip to Lundy should have been the order of the day. It was bathed in sunshine most of the day

P1060153

We were heading for Morte Point in the distance but as lunchtime was approaching and we’d left TJF to her own devices we called a halt at a bench overlooking Rockham Bay and beach before heading back

P1060154

A view across to a now almost deserted North Morte Farm campsite

P1060155

P1060156

P1060158

The sun came out as we walked across the heathland back to Mortehoe and the campsite.

P1060159

It’s a lovely place to stroll especially as the summer crowds had now largely gone

P1060160

After lunch at the camper we headed back to Woolacombe Beach for some more surfing

P9040455

The sun came out and it was exceptionally warm but the waves were nothing like as good as they had been a couple of days earlier

P9040456

I still had plenty of fun in the kayak. A few photos taken from the boat

P9040457

P9040458

And our little weekend was over. Rather than waste a day packing up and driving home we had a rushed pack down and tea and headed home late to miss the traffic

P9040460

P9040461

Another superb sunset to finish off a splendid long weekend away

North Devon – By River and Coast   10 comments

P1060114w

We’d been planning a trip to Exmoor as we’d never really been there but the day dawned, dank, grey and miserable and by the time we’d eaten breakfast there was heavy drizzle falling. Time for a change of plan

P1060105

We headed to Watersmeet, a series of small waterfalls in a deep wooded valley where the  East Lyn and Hoaroak Water rivers meet – hence the name

P1060106

I figured down in the depths of the valley and the woods we might get some shelter from the rain and that proved correct

P1060108

It was pretty dank and dark down there but we enjoyed a nice stroll along one bank and back along the other.

P1060110

There were some lovely cascades and pools that would have been good for a swim on a more encouraging day

P1060112

P1060113

The light was pretty poor though so the photographs didn’t come out too well

P1060114

We headed into Lynmouth for a spot of lunch (crab salad for me and TJF, cream teas for TBF and TJS). It actually stopped raining and we took a wander about

P1060114a

P1060114b

The longest water powered cliff railway in the UK (possibly the only one!)

P1060114c

And an interesting tower on the harbour wall that made a nice photo subject

P1060114d

P1060114e

We wanted to explore the coast a bit and headed for the Valley of Rocks. I used to love it here when I was a kid. The rocky pinnacles overlooking the coast always seemed so dramatic and exciting (in the days before I discovered mountain walking). We parked up in an utterly miserable spell of heavy drizzle but I spied a bright line on the horizon and we waited for the rain to stop which it duly did

P1060114h

We took an excellent walk around the various features. This is looking back to Rugged Jack

P1060114j

And this is the coastal view from the top of Castle Rock

P1060114k

It looked bright and sunny over south Wales which we hoped was heading our way but it never really arrived (although we’d seen the last of the rain)

P1060114m

P1060114o

P1060114p

P1060114r

Looking back to Castle Rock

P1060114t

There is a walkway that traverses along the seaward side of the rocky ridge and you can climb to the top and scramble along if so inclined

P1060114u

P1060114v

P1060114x

As we’d left TJF in the car we thought we’d better head back and make sure she still had a phone signal to avert any boredom!

P1060114za

The resident goats

P1060114ze

And the view of the Valley and the Rocks

P1060114zf

We still had a more time to fill so we drove on a mile our so for another walk to a “secret” beach from my Wild guides.

P1060114zg

This is Lee Bay where we started from and it proved to be a longer and more strenuous walk than we’d thought

P1060114zi

We were heading for this magnificent beach near Crock Point. You had to scramble through an overgrown tunnel through the hedge and descend a slope that had ropes fixed such was the steepness (the book had warned us of this)

P1060114zk

P1060114zl

It really was steep and near the bottom, even with ropes it felt very loose and exposed so even I decided it was too risky. The photo below shows the ropes but doesn’t really do justice to how steep it was

P1060114zm

The views were excellent though and I enjoyed a little bit of adventure to finish the day

P1060118

When we returned to the campsite there was a Fish and Chip van on site and very good it was too

P1060119

The sun finally came out and gave us a wonderful sunset

P1060121

I took a very fine walk around the site and the local fields to enjoy the show

P1060123

P1060136

Always good to end a day by the coast with a grand sunset

 

%d bloggers like this: