Archive for the ‘Black Mountains’ Tag

Sometimes its Just About Getting Out   10 comments

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

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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.

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

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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

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

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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

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Sometimes its just about getting out……

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

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Another Solo Wild Camp   18 comments

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Back a couple of weeks before the weather turned too hot to venture into the outdoors with a heavy pack, I took another Friday night out in the mountains. I wished for a bit of breeze to keep temperatures and insects at bay and certainly got my wish.

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A glorious evening of clear skies and warm sunshine. I chatted to a lady van-camping in the car park with her very friendly Jack Russell pup chewing my laces. No sign of the promised breeze as I set off.

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It was a hot climb through the fly infested bracken as I headed for a summit pitch on Pen y Gadair Fawr. Still no breeze and I felt that the midges were eying me up for a buffet supper

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As I crested the top, the breeze finally kicked in. Less a breeze than a very significant and very chilly wind that I was struggling to stand up in

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It would have made a superb summit camp, lots of flat thick grass but it was just too cold to enjoy the surroundings. I’d also hoped to pick up some water, figuring that at least one of the numerous springs that rise on the summit would be running. No such luck. I decided press on in the hope of finding a sheltered spot

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Trouble its a pretty exposed spot up here and the wind was roaring and grass is in short supply. The compensation was that it was cool and walking along a high level ridge in the late evening is a simple joy

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The bog cotton was giving everything an almost frost-like feeling. The photos can’t do justice to how beguiling it was

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They have massively improved the paths up here so I made swift progress over Waun Fach without ever finding a respite from the wind. I tried a few grassy groughs, but none were suitable

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Eventually I had to plunge a hundred metres or so down the Y Grib Ridge and found a sort of level pitch on a terrace of deep lush grass. What it lacked in comfort it more than made up for with a  superb sunset vista

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There was just enough wind to keep the insects at bay without it being too cold and I sat outside, read and drank many brews of tea before turning in well past 11pm

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Tough to tear yourself away from views like this

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I expected a blazing sun to cook the tent and have me outside early. I awoke at 8am with no sign of the sun. I was in the cloud again. Looking up was clear blue though and the sky was surely to clear and on queue as the water boiled for my last cuppa before I ran out of water, it did

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It was an amazing morning. The east wind had cleared any haze from the air and the sky between the wispy clouds was a deep azure blue. Pen y Fan and Beacons poked above the cloud and I thought of TBF on her 25 mile sponsored walk around the range. She was on Pen y Fan summit round about the time I too this photo

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I decided to walk all around the escarpment to Lord Hereford’s Knob and on a day like this it was amazing. It really puts a spring in the step to have views like this to accompany you and I covered the ground swiftly

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There were several D of E groups out most of whom seemed cheerfully incompetent, walking in various directions none which seemed to be the right one!

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I topped out on the Knob and where the panorama across the Wye valley is breathtaking

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Despite the glorious day I had this very popular and easily accessible summit to myself but it was still very windy and bit chilly. Added to the fact I’d not had breakfast and had no water pushed me onwards to resupply and take on calories

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I had to walk much further down the Nant Bwch stream before the water was flowing sufficiently well to be drinkable. I found a fine spot and set about making my bacon sandwiches and several cups of tea to re-hydrate

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I had thought about dropping down to Capel y Ffin and walking back over the ridge to the car. The fact that out of the wind it was still really hot had me thinking of a better plan. I retraced my steps back toward the edge and the curved off towards the summit of Twyn Talycefn.

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The strong breeze was keeping the skies clear and the temperatures perfect for walking. Much better to be up high in weather like this

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Looking back to the ridge I’d walked the previous evening

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I dropped down to the Grwyne Fawr Reservoir with an idea of a sneaky swim.

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I don’t normally like swimming in reservoirs as they do have their dangers but I found a stunning little spot on the banks and took a short dip without straying too far into the water.

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Another cup of tea seemed in order as I felt like I had the whole place to myself.

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Then it was a simple matter of the long walk back down past the dam to the car

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A nice easy angled path to finish the day with grand views back to the dam and the deep greens of the valley under the still totally clear sky

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Another superb one-nighter although I would have enjoyed a bit of company as I’ve done most of this years trips solo. 15-16 miles over the two days with the aimless wandering I did looking for a pitch and just enjoying being out.

Black Mountain Backpack

May be the last such trip for a while. The last couple of weeks have been just too hot and sultry for walking so I’ve been getting my exercise in the water with some wild swimming, more of which in future posts. Then its holiday time for me and the family as we head to Wales and France for some sociable fun with friends

 

Breakfast in the Black Mountains   14 comments

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A short post from a week or so back onto one of my nearest and dearest strolls in my local Black Mountains

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It was warm and humid and I figured another early start and breakfast on the hill might beat the heat of the day

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Wrong! Even at 9am it was sweltering hot on the steep climb up onto the ridge

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It’s a fine ridge however and worth the sweaty effort

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I walked briskly along the ridge hoping for a breath of wind to keep cool and have breakfast alone (without the company of insects)

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I passed the summit pillar in totally calm conditions but when I reached the grassy spot where I’d camped with TJS last year the was a gentle breeze and I set up my kitchen

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Bacon and Egg butty on the mountain

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I took in the circuit around the Olchon Valley but declined the out and back to Hay Bluff this time. Wild ponies kept me company from time to time

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A steep descent into the valley, brought a lighter tone to the gloomy skies

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And the short steep climb back to the car

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8 mile round trip and back in time for a short rest before joining the Funsters at Bredwardine for a cooling dip in the Wye

Cats Back

After Work on Bryn Arw   10 comments

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Its been a couple of years since I managed to take a walk on my way home from work. A spell of excellent weather in May prompted me to do what I should do all the time which is to keep my walking gear in the back of the car so I can take a hike whenever the weather is suitable. I have a range of short walks I can do on the way home and this is one of the best. A small hill, a short walk with fine views and always deserted at such an unusual time of day. I saw not a soul up here on such a glorious evening

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It was pretty much the perfect weather, time of year and time of day to be out in the hills

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The sky and the air clarity was exceptional. The sun at just the right angle in the sky to bring out the colours. The trees and fields that verdant shade of green that comes with late spring and the peak of growth

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Whilst I have a love of many place across Europe and beyond I often hear the comment that Britain is one of the most beautiful. Looking through these images its hard to argue with that

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Bryn Arw is also a fine viewpoint for many of my favourite walks a good number of which are my targets for post work stretches. Blorenge in the background below. Ysgyryd Mawr and the Sugar Loaf in the panorama above

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Garway Hill middle distance

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There is always time for a brew on a walk and even though I no doubt had an impatient TJS back home waiting for me to cook his tea, he could wait another 15 minutes!

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Selfie time

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Hatterrall Hill, another favourite

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I like using cairns as foreground in photos

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The Sugar Loaf, another classic after work target

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I think I’ve taken a photo of this tree every time I’ve done this walk

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And I think this shot as well. At this time of day and year the lushness and vivid green of these trees always makes me smile and get the camera out – or phone in this case

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After a long day stuck in a bland office this was a walk to really lift the spirits.

Bryn Arw

 

Posted May 26, 2018 by surfnslide in Black Mountains, Wales, Walking

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Breakfast in the Sun   15 comments

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I’m a bit behind on the blog again so let me take you back to the recent spell of hot weather. No, not that one, the one before that, must have been mid-April, maybe. Anyway a few days of hot sunny weather had us planning a some wild camping but forecasts of heavy storms put me off. The best of weather seemed to be Saturday morning and we didn’t want to waste it driving and packing. Me and Sherpa Junior were up and out early with plans to have breakfast on Table Mountain. The day began with a relentless and steep climb to Table Mountain

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There were clouds gathering and I feared that the promised storms were on their way earlier than predicted

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Not before we reached Table Mountain though where the skies were clear again and after a wander about we settled down for a feast

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I’ve often thought about camping up here but its not nearly as flat as it looks from a distance. In fact its extremely lumpy and you’d do well to find a spot flat enough for one person to sleep in comfort

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Its a fine place though and this early in the morning we had it to ourselves.

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The views across the Usk valley to the Brecon Beacons are superb

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We feasted on freshly cooked bacon and egg butties and homemade bread. TJS was sceptical that I could both transport safely and then fry an egg on a  camping stove but I am a man of many skills and managed both without even breaking the yolk. Masterful

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Suitably stuffed we headed off to burn off the calories we’d just consumed.

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Looking back to the very distinctive Table Mountain

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It’s a long high stroll across the two summits of Pen Cerrig Calch and Pen All Mawr, the former with the distinction of a Limestone cap above the more resistant rocks. White limestone boulders seem oddly out of place amongst peat and heather

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We arrived on the latter and bid good morning to a couple of backpackers. They looked a little unhappy, possibly due to the enormous packs they were carrying and the fact they looked dressed for winter (waterproofs, woolly hats etc). It was hot and sultry and most definitely shorts and t-shirt weather.

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The views were hazy now but it was still warm and we sat on the summit and had a brief rest and power-nap

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The clouds rolled in and we were treated to a brief light shower that seemed to herald the storms. A few minutes later it was clear again and blue skies were back in the ascendency. We ambled down the long ridge of Tal Trwynau, one of my favourites.

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Rather than trudge back down the road to the car we climbed halfway back up the hillside to the fine traversing path across the flanks of the hills we’d been up earlier. A little navigational incompetence from me added some unexpected fences and walls to cross but otherwise a fine finish as the clouds started to look threatening again (although the storms never amounted to much and we’d have been fine camping out)

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A good 10 miles under the belt and pushing towards 3,000 feet of ascent.

Table Mountain

 

Spring Interlude   12 comments

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The Beasts from the East seem to have had domain over the British weather this year with another one apparently on the horizon for Easter. How pleasant it was then for a walk that didn’t involve putting on goggles and burying my head in a waterproof. The rest of the family were otherwise engaged so a solo walk in one of my favourite parts of the Black Mountains.

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Parking was full in Capel y Ffin so I headed up the very narrow lane in the Nant Bwch valley. Where you reach open fell there is plenty of off-road parking. As I’d be walking back that way anyway it made no difference to the route. It was a glorious day and warm enough to ditch warm hats for a baseball cap to keep the sun off

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I dropped into the village having decided to do the route the other way around from how I’ve tackled it before.

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The best part of the route is a splendid path that traverses between the fields and the open fell. I’ve always walked this stretch at the end of the day when it’s in shadow. This time it was in warm sunshine and its an absolute pleasure

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Despite the number of cars in the village and on the valley road, I saw no-one. Not sure why I’ve never seen anyone on this path as it’s an obvious route and a joy to walk

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Lost in my own thoughts and in the views of fell and field I ate up the miles as the path slowly climbs onto the shoulder of Bal Mawr

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It was half past lunchtime when I reached the ridge so I hunkered down in a heather and horse manure filled hollow for lunch. The views across Ysgyryd Mawr and the Sugar Loaf, all the way to the Severn Estuary and the Mendips were extensive

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So began the long back along the ridge paralleling my route in the valley below

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Its a fine ridge and the miles continued to roll by

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It was clear and sunny but the clouds were starting to fill in and it was chilly in the breeze

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Always hard not look self-conscious and concerned whenever I take a selfie

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The stretch that leads along towards the north edge of the Black Mountains escarpment is a bit of trudge and a boggy one at that.

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Time for a brief rest while sun was out

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Once above the higher reaches of the Nant Bwch valley I cut off from the path across country and back down to the path home. It looked a little rough but I managed to thread together a mix of sheep and pony tracks that made a rather easy route

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Quite surprised to see this walk ended up over 13 miles. My knees, feet and hips were feeling it by the end. A fine warm day before another spell of winter

Mini Beast on the Sugar Loaf   20 comments

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I was reminded by Facebook that on this day a few years back we were sat outside in the front garden soaking up warm sunshine and drinking a chilled beer. Yesterday was slightly different. Another cold snap was back – the Mini-Beast from the East apparently. Mr and TBF headed out for a brief walk on the Sugar Loaf.

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There was a light dusting of snow and it was bitterly cold.

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There were dark clouds and snow showers all around but we picked a lucky break in the weather. We had several sunny intervals and the snow only found us when we were back at the car

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Some of the views with dark clouds, bright sunshine and snow cover

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We sort spiralled around the summit to make a more interesting route. The long traversing path across the Northern slopes was plastered in ice and snow. All the heavy rain and wet ground from Thursday night was frozen solid. I should have taken my spikes

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The contrast between the sheltered South flank and the summit was staggering. Out of the wind you could have sat and had a break quite comfortably. A couple of yards away up on the summit I could barely stand up. It was as windy and cold as when were in Scotland a couple of weeks back

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The sun came out on the top and the views for a short while were superb. Ysgyryd Fawr taking pride of place

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It was a day for a full winter wrap up

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The paths were treacherous. Much easier to walk through the heather

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The storm clouds were gathering so it was time to quicken the pace and try to get back to the car before the snow storm hit

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We just about made it!

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Excellent couple of hours out in the wild winter that seems to go on forever. I had plans to head out again today. Another heavy fall of 6-8 inches of snow put paid to that. Gives me the chance to stay up to date with the blog .:)

 

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