Archive for the ‘Black Mountains’ Tag

An Olde Favourite   10 comments

A very unusual experience to be posting about a walk only a couple of hours after getting home. Normally it’s weeks or even months delay.

Been a quiet couple of weeks since my last post. A weekend of truly dreary weather last week and a drab an grey one this week. Yesterday I indulged my new “passion” for cycling with a 35km ride around the Forest of Dean but today the weather seemed a little brighter (I could actually see the Black Mountains from the bedroom). Forecast said east and not too high so the classic circuit of Hatterall Hill from Cwmyoy fitted the bill.

I’ve been up here many times as its short and satisfying for a half day or after work.

IMG_2441

I’ve enhanced the walk of late with a sneaky way up the back of the small un-named top created by a landslip – I think anyway. The cloudy views were enhanced by some beams of sunlight and scant patches of blue sky

IMG_2443

IMG_2444

IMG_2446

IMG_2447

It was a very mild day but there was a keen wind so finding a lunch stop was a challenge as was not getting ourselves shot. For the second time recently we had to share the hills with several people driving around the summits in 4WDs and armed with shotguns. I have to say I find it intimidating. I have no idea what today’s sport was but in the few hours we were out I never heard a single shot so they can’t have been very successful

IMG_2449

We did find a spot out of the cold wind with a fine view over the Marches countryside

IMG_2450

Nice to get out but I’m starting to reach that point in the year when I want the weather to make up its mind. Either winter needs to re-assert itself or it needs to bugger off for the year and warm up so I can start walking in T-shirts and shorts again. I hate this cold gloom, not sunny but not cold enough for clear skies, frost and snow

IMG_2451

Posted February 19, 2017 by surfnslide in Black Mountains, Wales

Tagged with , ,

A Breakfast Walk   12 comments

On a cold clear winters day the best time to be out is early morning. Having convinced TJS into an early start we settled on a route around Cwn Banw in the Black Mountains, one of my favorites. We were walking at just after 8am and it was a glorious albeit chilly morning at -5C

IMG_2321

IMG_2323

The silhouettes of the trees are always something that fascinates me and this morning at the early hour was a great time to capture them

IMG_2326

The low morning sun also lights up the bracken and heather to very dramatic effect. It seems to glow with a warm deep brown contrasting to the frosty cold air

IMG_2328

IMG_2331

IMG_2332

The plan was to breakfast on Table Mountain (this allows the early start and is also a rather fine thing to do). Even though the air was cold even in winter the sun has a little warmth. What we hadn’t banked on was the surprisingly strong wind that turned the chilly air into an a more arctic feel

IMG_2337

IMG_2338

Luckily Table Mountain has a terrace below its sloping flat top and we found a great spot in the sun but sheltered by the wind and overlooking the Usk Valley and the Brecon Beacons

IMG_2339

Is there a finer way to spend a winters morning than a freshly cooked bacon sandwich and cup of tea overlooking the mountains under a deep blue sky? Answers on a postcard please

IMG_2345

The pimple of the Sugar Loaf prominent in these parts as always

IMG_2352

We ambled back over the grassland of Table Mountain and then onwards towards the higher summits

IMG_2353

IMG_2355

IMG_2357

It really was most extraordinarily cold in the very strong wind. I would love one of those portable Kestrel weather stations but I estimated that with an air temperature a few degrees below freezing and the strong wind, the windchill must have been around -15C. We certainly didn’t stop!

IMG_2359

We summited Pen Cerrig Calch from where the views were equally magnificent

IMG_2361

Our goal of Pen Allt Mawr visible in the distance

IMG_2364

A long and bracing walk along the edges above Cwm Banw brought us to the summit where we found a little shelter to admire the views once more

IMG_2370

IMG_2375

The views over Mynydd Troed and Mynydd Llangorse were especially fine from here

IMG_2376

A pretty decent sunburst shot with some vapor trails to add interest

IMG_2378

From here its always tempting to make a long round and include the main summits of the Black Mountains themselves. My knees aren’t really up for that at the moment and forecast was for increasing cloud through the day. No sense spoiling a great day so we plodded down the very fine and very frozen ridge of Tal Trwynau, pausing at the end for a final stop and snack in the sunshine

IMG_2382

These two photos show what its like to go hiking with a 21st Century teenager. Head always looking down at their phone, lest they miss a vital social media message.

IMG_2385

Over the fields and back to the car to finish a superb day out

IMG_2388

A Cold Day in Hell   10 comments

Well not exactly but I liked the title for the post. The rest of the family were otherwise engaged or just too lazy to make the effort so I went out alone to find some snow to walk on. The Brecon Beacons were calling and a ridge and approach I’d never done before. I set off from Llanfrynach (twice, having left my walking poles propped against a wall in the village) and headed up towards Gist Wen.

IMG_0001

The day started brightly but heaver showers rolled in as I climbed. Once clear of the trees I reached the first few patches of snow and the wind picked up

IMG_0002

IMG_0006

There was a mix of stormy views and brighter skies but far too cold and windy to stop.

IMG_0007

By the time I reached the edge the snow was deep and crisp and even. Although there was a brutally cold wind I love walking in wild conditions so I was a happy chap

IMG_0008

There were a few fleeting views to keep my very brisk pace going. A proper wild wintry day to contrast the warm sunshine of our Xmas walks

IMG_0009

IMG_0010

I stopped just below the summit of Fan y Big for a snack but it was way too cold to brew up. It was also a longer walk than I thought and time was pressing. I had to make a swift exit if I wasn’t to finish in the dark

IMG_0013

Whilst the day had been mostly cloudy, I struck lucky as that day drew to a close. The skies cleared enough to create some wonderful light effects and skies

IMG_0014

IMG_0016

IMG_0017

The illuminated clouds over the Black Mountains were especially fetching

IMG_0019

IMG_0020

IMG_0021

IMG_0023

After dropping off the end of the Cefn Cyff ridge, I followed the paths across the fields and along the valley of  Nant Menasgin. Its a lovely quiet stretch along the river and meadows and back into Llanfrynach. I was weary and fulfilled as I reached the car in the fading light

IMG_0024

Short walk along the Cats Back   12 comments

Back to a gloomy January day in the UK. Our first weekend home after the holidays really made us feel at home. Grey skies and seemingly endless drizzle. Well not totally endless as it did stop for a couple of hours allowing a quick dart up the Cats Back ridge in the Black Mountains with TBF

IMG_2299

The weather changed pretty quickly from gloomy to a rather impressive interlude of watery sunshine and above the cloud effects

IMG_2301

IMG_2302

Any walk of this local ridge is a fine one, being one of the very few narrow (ish) ridges in south Wales. We were lucky to catch such an atmospheric interlude

IMG_2305

IMG_2313

IMG_2314

As we reached the summit of Black Hill the lower cloud was starting to dissipate and the blue skies were being replaced by gloom again. We had thought of extending the walk but it looked rain was heading back so we did as well

IMG_2319

IMG_2308

It may have been a short walk but it was a nice one all the same to liven up a typical January weekend

Posted January 25, 2017 by surfnslide in Black Mountains, Wales, Walking

Tagged with , ,

Short Post for a Short Walk   12 comments

IMG_1875

As the name suggests this was a short walk a couple of weeks ago with TJS. After a catered breakfast in Waitrose in Abergavenny (what sort of knob I have turned into) we headed up the Sugar Loaf. Been up here many times so just a few photos

IMG_1876

Weather let us down a bit. Forecast was for clear skies but while we scoffed bacon and egg sarnies a belt of low cloud descended and lingered over the hills all day while patches of sunlight were visible everywhere but where we were

IMG_1880

Still it made for some atmospheric cloudy shots and we did get a brief burst of sunshine on the summit

IMG_1881

IMG_1882

IMG_1883

IMG_1884

Could have been worse and it was good just to get out. I did at least achieve the objective of working how far I can walk before my knee becomes unbearably painful. About 3-4 miles and a few hundred feet of ascent/descent if you’re interested. Just as well there are some good TV series around at the moment to binge watch. Also means I have less to write about. Just one more post to catch up on before I’m up to date and head off for some winter sun (preceded by some Yorkshire rain)

Posted December 12, 2016 by surfnslide in Black Mountains, Wales, Walking

Tagged with , ,

Paddling over Mynydd Llangatwg   6 comments

IMG_1499

A repeat walk with TJS of a short hike I did last summer on a very similar day. The edges of of the Craig y Cilau escarpment are very fetching in summer when they catch the sun (the are in permanent shadow in winter). The autumn colours were again superb and the views across the Usk valley to the Sugar Loaf are always especially good from up here

IMG_1476

IMG_1478

Scrambling to the top of the eroded and now grassed over mine remnants is great fun, gives a certain miniature mountain arete sort of vibe

IMG_1479

IMG_1481

The old tramway beneath the limestone cliffs gives a wonderful level stroll. Despite its majestic appearance it seems to be completely off the radar and we rarely see more than a handful of people up here

IMG_1485

IMG_1487

IMG_1489

I’m especially fond of this grassy (and boggy) meadow with its views back to the escarpment. Its certainly better than trying to tackle the wooded slopes higher up from my last visit

IMG_1493

IMG_1495

IMG_1497

Time for the contrasting second half of the walk. Up above the edges and on to the expansive grassland behind the escarpment

IMG_1498

There is a summit of sorts where we paused for a snack before heading into the wilderness

IMG_1503

Being Limestone scenery there are a couple of seriously big sink holes up here

IMG_1505

We headed over to the lake of Pwll Gwy Rhoc. Last year the area was a little boggy but bearable. This year it was a lake everywhere. Trail shoes were a bad idea. By the time we reached the lake shore my footwear was at maximum saturation point

IMG_1506

I had my swimming stuff with me but TJS had a look that said he didn’t want to hang around in a cold breeze in the middle of an expansive bog waiting for his dad to take a dip. We just pressed on through more bog and sat on the edges for a late lunch so I could wring the brown water out of my socks before heading back to the car

IMG_1508

Post Walk Amble – Bryn Arw   6 comments

Talking a walk after work is a perfect way to unwind and my drive home from Bristol where I work has plenty of options. Over the past couple of years I don’t seem to have managed it as much as I should. A couple of weeks back I got an opportunity and grabbed it.

IMG_0449

IMG_0448

Bryn Arw is one of my favourites and I’ve walked and blogged this route many times. Its perfect for an after work jaunt. Relatively short but with a small mountain feel and superb views.

IMG_0452

IMG_0453

It does have a short road section but at this time of year the hedgerows are alive with wild flowers so its hardly a chore. Best of all and for reasons I can’t explain its deserted. I can’t recall seeing more than a couple of other people in the many times I’ve been up here and on an evening as grand as this one I still found it surprising that I saw no-one else.

Ysgyryd Fawr always catches the eye

IMG_0455

IMG_0456

It was bright and sunny but cooler than it looked but I managed to find a sheltered spot for the obligatory mountain top cuppa

IMG_0457

IMG_0458

The Sugar Loaf also looks good from the summit ridge

IMG_0459

And as this seems to be the age of the selfie……

IMG_0461

IMG_0464

Looking back at these photos I’m amazed again at the marvel of modern technology. All these photos were taken with my smartphone. Amazing clarity and image quality from such a small multi-purpose device

IMG_0466

IMG_0468

IMG_0473

IMG_0474

Makes the long days at work feel a little less of a drag when you can take in a walk as good as this on the way home

%d bloggers like this: