Archive for the ‘bal bach’ Tag

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.

P1010532

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.

P1010533

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.

P1010535
P1010536

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.

P1010537

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.

P1010538

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

P1010539
P1010540

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

P1010543

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.

P1010544
P1010546

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

P1010547
P1010548
P1010549

This is looking along the ridge to Chwarel y Fan

P1010550

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

P1010554

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

P1010555
P1010556

A close up shot of Llanthony and its priory.

P1010557
P1010558

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.

P1010560

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.

P1010559

Short Walk from Llanthony   2 comments

Clue is in the title. A short post about a short walk on a very grey and windy day before rain and storms swept in a couple of weekends past. The warm sunshine of the Malverns the weekend before was long gone.

IMG_4889

I’d planned a short walk from Cwmyoy but there was some kind of Countryside “Event” on so the Barbour Jacket brigade were out in full force and occupying all the parking spaces. Always eager for a new route I parked up in Llanthony and plotted a new route on the fly.

IMG_4890

Across the Honddu river and up onto the ridge to the west via Cwm Bwchel. Views of Llanthony priory as I climbed.

IMG_4891
IMG_4893
IMG_4894

It was a wild and windy day and it looked like it could rain at any minute although it never did.

IMG_4895

Not a day for stopping as at times I could barely stand up in the wind. Taste of what seems like the endless winds and storms to come. Bal Bach and Garn Wen quickly came and went.

IMG_4896
IMG_4897
IMG_4898

I walked as far as I could stand the wind and then plunged back down into the Vale of Ewyas and out of the wind.

IMG_4900
IMG_4901

I was a much more pleasant stroll along the valley through Llanthony Wood and back into Llanthony itself.

IMG_4904
IMG_4905

A brief but very quiet wander (I saw not another soul other than near the priory)

IMG_4906

Black Mountains Wander   4 comments

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

IMG_0371

IMG_0374

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

IMG_0377

IMG_0378

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

IMG_0379

Well worth it though. A spot by the reservoir was a fine place for lunch. Sheltered and almost warm in spring-like conditions

IMG_0381

IMG_0383

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

IMG_0387

IMG_0391

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

IMG_0392

IMG_0393

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

IMG_0396

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

IMG_0399

IMG_0400

IMG_0401

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.

IMG_0404

Still it was a very grand day out and new views and ridges ticked, always a bonus

%d bloggers like this: