Archive for the ‘Black Mountains’ Tag

“They’re Friends from Work”   12 comments

The fact that I like to hike in the hills seems a source of constant humour for my work colleagues with me the butt of the jokes. I was surprised to find that secretly some of them actually hankered for a hike in the hills so I said I’d lead them out on one my favourite south Wales hikes in the Brecon Beacons.

A little gang of four assembled at the cafe in Talybont on Usk for a fry up before heading for the mountains. (The title of the blog is in reference to one of my favourite lines from the Marvel movies – very topical at this time)

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A round of the Neuadd Reservoirs taking in the highest summits of the Beacons range. We were all rather caught out by just how cold it was.

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Here is the first of our little band posing for a photo. She decided to tone down the colours for this hike!

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Its a short and very steep climb up on to the edges that had is puffing hard. Luckily the sweat was soon removed by the ferocious and icy wind that was blasting at us across the valley.

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The photos don’t really do justice to just how cold and windy it was, enough to blow one our team clean off her feet a few times.

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Whilst the sun disappeared for the rest of the day, the cloud base was high and it stayed dry, which is a much as you can ask for on day planned a long way in advance.

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I had inform my new comrades that a key objective of any hike is make regular and lengthy stops to brew up and eat lots of food. They seemed quite keen on the idea despite the chilly wind, especially when I produced home-made cake that TBF had lovingly prepared.

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We reached the top of Pen y Fan – together with a few dozen other people and posed for a team photo for me on south Wales highest peak.

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Despite blisters and foot problems (this is quite a tough walk by south Wales standards) they agreed to continue the summit bagging and we took in Cribyn as well.

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And another couple of happy looking group shots.

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Including one with yours truly in it, demonstrating an odd pose and leg angle that says very clearly why I try and avoid being photographed in the first place.

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After another brew and scoff stop I convinced them that we could bag one more summit. The fact that my work colleagues share a distinctly smutty sense of humour and that the summit was called Fan y Big had nothing to do with it.

One last summit photo on the rock outcrop on the summit. They look happy that I’ve dragged them out on a bitterly cold day to wander about in the hills when they could have been home watching TV and doing domestic chores.

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And then it was time to head down across grassy slopes and bog and return to the real world.

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I normally walk either on my own or with the family down here so walks can be a little repetitive. I really enjoyed this day immensely for a variety of reasons. It was great to share my passion for both hiking (or should I say mountaineering) and for the Brecon Beacons with new companions. It was equally good to see them really enjoying the day as much as I was (well they said they did anyway) and I have to admit I enjoyed showing off a bit. They have all been out in the mountains before but never as regular thing and seemed to relish the challenge and chance to enjoy the outdoors. This is what keeps me sane through the drudgery of modern life and I really hope they went home with the same feeling of spirits lifted. We certainly laughed a lot on this hike as we always do at work. We are close knit bunch and my working life would likely be intolerable if they weren’t around to make me smile and keep me grounded.

I really hope we can do this more often and hopefully persuade some of my other work friends to join us. Who can’t love a hike!

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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.

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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.

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

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

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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.

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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.

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

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

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Windy   11 comments

Between the last walk up Ysgyryd Fawr and this one we did a short walk on the Begwyns just north of Hay on Wye. The weather was so grey and dreary that I didn’t take a single picture so this is the next on the list.

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The circuit of Hatterrall Hill from Cwmyoy is default walk when we have an afternoon to spare. Long enough for a decent stretch but short enough to fill a half day.

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We’ve walked it many times but always in the same direction – clockwise – so tried it the other way round for a change including parking outside the wonky church at Cwmyoy rather than the village hall to shave off some time (the forecast was very uncertain)

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The forecast showers didn’t seem to materialise and it was in fact a very sunny and pin sharp day. The low winter sun creating some stunning vistas.

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What the photos don’t show is how extraordinarily windy it was. The forecast was for windy weather but not like this.

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I could barely stand up and was blown across the slopes a number of times even braced by my poles. TBF was actually blown off here feet a couple of times.

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Despite the cracking views we’d both had enough battling against the wind and abandoned the idea of the usual high level circuit.

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We pitched down into the corrie losing the wind and picked up what turned out to be a very fine traversing path we’ve never walked before.

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The photo below looking almost calm and spring-like – it wasn’t!

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We had a brief stop for lunch between these two walls. It was calm when sat down but peering over the wall was like looking into a wind tunnel.

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We climbed to the top of the small summit created by an ancient landslip where the wind was incredible. I’ve no idea how I managed to take this photo but the blurred background is indicative of just how hard it was to stand even remotely still.

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TBF has ben forced to remove a tight fitting hat to save from losing it!

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I’m a fan of the bare look of winter trees framing mountain views so here some good ones from the descent back to the car.

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Short, sweet and very, very windy!

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A New Perspective on Ysgyryd Fawr   10 comments

Back to the mundane normality of a cold grey British January. Ysgyryd Fawr is always a favourite when we need a short walk out in the hills. The obvious route has been somewhat marred by car park improvement that seems to have dictated a rather steep charge to park for a walk. Paying to park in the hills is a real bug-bear of mine. We should be encouraging people into the outdoors not putting them off. The end result was looking for a new route so we parked up – for free – in the lyrically named Llanvihangel Crucorney and approached from the north for the first time, passing Llanvihangel Court on the way.

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It was a grey day that looked like rain was imminent but we stayed dry and the route, clearly little known was deserted and pleasant.

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We skirted along the eastern slopes and back up onto the main ridge, turning to head for the summit. It was ferociously windy but refreshing and so far still dry.

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The most noticeable thing was how bare the summit ridge was. There is normally a path bounded by grass but it seemed almost stripped bare to mud across the entire width. I’m not sure if this was due to weather conditions or an increase in foot traffic bit it didn’t feel right at all. I’ll have to to return in the spring and see if the grass is making a recovery.

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We didn’t linger on the top due to the wind and took a similar if slightly variant route down.

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As we descended the skies cleared a little and there was a touch more in the way of blue sky.

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Some of the late afternoon light effects were quite dramatic and it finished off a quite a decent walk and will now be my default route up the mountain.

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Almost 7 miles in the end and a very enjoyable and much quieter route to the top.

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Old Places – Sugar Loaf   11 comments

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It’s good having the prodigal son arrive back home from University and see him ambling about the house again. He was keen to head out for a walk on his old local hills. The forecast was ok but things looked deeply gloomy when we parked up but perked up no end as we climbed one of our go to favourites for a short day, the Sugar Loaf.

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We’d mistaken a bank of mist hanging on the lower slopes for the overall cloud base. we soon climbed through it to reveal atmospheric ethereal wisps of cloud at the halfway point as it were.

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It was cold and not much in the way of sunshine but good to be out after a dreadful wet day before.

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We had in mind a much longer walk than usual taking in a couple of the long ridges that fan out to the south having never walked them. 

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Views over to Ysgyryd Fawr, another go to favourite but lower down the list since they started making you pay to park at the bottom. 😦

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There is a very short rocky ridge on the top which I always enjoy and makes  for a great photo foreground.

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The summit was surprisingly quiet but we didn’t linger as the skies started to threaten rain.

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This led us to abandon our plan, instead finding a new and very pleasant route that traversed through fields and woods from one ridge to another. We rather liked the gnarly trees.

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A simple walk of around 5.5 miles but nice to find a subtley different variation on a grand mini mountain.

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It was also great to be out walking with TJS again, familiar territory, familiar company.

Winter is Over   15 comments

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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.

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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

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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.

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

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

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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.

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

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

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

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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.

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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

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

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Crug Mawr

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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

Tagged with , , ,

Winter Was Here   14 comments

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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.

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

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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.

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

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Looking along the ridge to Waun Fach.

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And down the valley towards Crickhowell.

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See, I told you we needed winter gear!

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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)

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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).

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

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

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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).

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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.

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And as we climbed up onto the ridge.

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

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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.

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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.

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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

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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

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A good 12 mile stretch of wild winter walking

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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

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