Archive for the ‘Black Mountains’ Tag

Winter on Crug Mawr   12 comments

It may not look wintry in the photos, but trust me, it was bitterly cold, ferociously windy and I was blasted by a couple of very nasty snow and hail showers.

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After yet more rain the Grwyne Fawr river was higher than I’ve ever seen it at the Pont Cadwgan car park where I start my walk to take in Crug Mawr. It’s another of my favourite walks when I need a shorter outing, here grabbing another short window in the foul weather. Sunny intervals and very heavy showers was the flavour of the day. As I strode out through the forest I noticed how tall the trees are in here, having looked up to admire some rare blue sky.

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Its a steep and dark climb through dense woods to summit ridge and I timed my arrival perfectly coinciding with a spell of clear skies and sunshine albeit very windy.

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A tumult of clouds whisked past in the sunny skies and there were clearly very heavy showers and squalls pushing through.

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It’s the big advantage of days like this when the breaks deliver a clarity to the air unmatched in other conditions.

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Taking photos from the top was a challenging task. The wind was blowing me off my feet and several images had to be deleted as they looked somewhat off kilter and blurred – natures inebriation.

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Not a day for lingering and I legged it off the summit lest one of those showers catch me in the most exposed spot of the walk.

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One of said showers tracking over Ysgyryd Fawr as I descended.

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This walk is perfect for a day like this. The beautiful old church at Patrishow sits at the halfway mark. It offers plenty of spots to shelter out of the wind which I did to have a cuppa and some lunch.

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A muddy descent to the road and back up to the ridge on the other side of the valley before I was blasted with a vicious hail and snow shower for 10 minutes. You can just see the melting remnants in the next couple of photos.

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This stretch of path that traverse across the flanks of the ridge used to be one of my favourites. I say used to be, sadly the trail bike plague has discovered it and churned large stretches into a muddy mess. I had walk up on the bank by the wall to avoid most parts. I’m not sure what the answer is here, it must be near impossible to enforce a ban. What I can say with certainty is that they they are tearing the Black Mountains apart with their selfish activity.

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The sun was out again and all was glorious once more.

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Well for a while anyway as more heavy showers raced across the sky.

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I tried a slightly different route to avoid a soggy section near the car park. All it meant was I found a different one. I’m learning quickly just to take each route as it comes, trying to avoid the soggy mess this winter has left behind is near impossible. Trail shoes and socks dry out eventually. Not a bad day, another one to file under “glad I made the effort”

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Another Quick Dash to the Hills   15 comments

Another day, another poor forecast but another window in the weather. In fact quite a decent window as it happened. I could have gone out for a much longer walk if I’d realised, but no matter I was pleased just to see some glimpses of sunshine albeit backed by a ferocious wind.

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Another high start needed to keep the walk manageable and unmuddied so Blorenge it was, parking at just short of 500m.

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Moody clouds and lake reflections set things off to a good start and a popular walk was very quiet after the very poor weather of late.

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Views over to the Black Mountains and Brecon Beacons showed quite a bright day, very much better than anything the forecast had promised.

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The fine views over the Forest and Dean and Abergavenny.

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The summit walk was very soggy indeed but I enjoyed being out in the wild weather so it was no real hardship on such a brief outing.

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The trig pillar has been given a lick of red paint for some reason. Makes it a more photogenic foreground I think.

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It was just such a relief to get out. I was going stir crazy at home!

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Back to a Wet Reality   4 comments

All good things come to an end and so does cold winter weather. After four days of back to back sunshine, wet, windy and miserable weather was to the fore and opportunities to step outside were minimal.

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Watching rain streak the windows and flood the roads has been the theme ever since mid January. The lower fields are swamped with water and mud. The higher fells often out of bounds due to the high winds.

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One of the short interludes gave me and TBF a chance for a walk and Bryn Arw is perfect. Most of the low level walking is on roads and farm tracks and its not high enough to be wind blasted.

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Picking our moment between heavy showers we dashed beside, up, along and down the mountain in an hour or so.

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A walk that always delivers and as yet I’ve never seen anyone on the summit ridge even though I’ve been up here many times.

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We even saw the sun for the briefest of moments on the way down. Small pleasures.

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Posted February 25, 2020 by surfnslide in Black Mountains, Wales, Walking

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Enjoy It While You Can   6 comments

Another late afternoon dash after a job interview and a very nice lunch with a good mate from my previous role. As ever with a late start, a high summit with a high starting point was needed and the Sugar Loaf always fits that bill very nicely.

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I followed my classic route around to the ridge of Mynydd Pen y Fal.

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Late afternoon sun working its light magic on the Bracken.

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There were banks of clouds building, a sign that the good weather of the past few days was coming to an end. Rain and winds were set to return.

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It was a brisk walk as I could see the sun sinking towards the clouds and horizon and wanted to be on top for sunset.

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The clouds created some wonderful light effects as I reached the summit. As it was a weekday afternoon I only saw a handful of people on what is normally a very busy mountain.

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The summit rocks provided their usual excellent foreground for great photos.

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As does the Trig Pillar, catching the pink late afternoon sunlight.

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The gathering clouds out to the west began to look more and more ominous. I was glad I’d made the effort to catch one more sunny walk before it came crashing/washing down.

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The walk down gave some nice sunset images as the sun passed through and peeped out of the cloud bank.

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And a final shot of a surreal looking colour to the bracken as I reached the car.

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Back to normal from there with the rest of the week a long sequence of grey days and heavy rain. I enjoyed the sunshine while I could.

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Cheeky Sunset Walk   4 comments

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After two straight, long days out in the hills, domestic chores intervened. Another gorgeous sunny day spent putting my daughters new bed together. There was just time for a sneaky walk. Not until I’d negotiated B&Q, school traffic and a visit to the waste site that was closed.

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I’d plumped for Garway Hill as you can drive pretty much to the top but even that road was blocked by a guy loading up his car! The fates were conspiring against me.

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I pretty much ran up to the top as I didn’t want to miss the sunset. The setting sun was working its magic on the bracken.

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I made the top just in time so see the sun set behind the Black Mountains. There were a few people up there with the same idea.

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It was mighty cold but well worth the mad dash along frozen lanes in the car and frozen paths on foot.

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I should have thought to bring my stove and brew up to watch the show but I’d probably have missed the sunset altogether if I had.

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I settled for a brief 45 min wander around before it got too dark to follow the paths.

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As always, the bare gnarly trees caught my eye.

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A day of domestic drudgery rescued by a mad dash to a local summit.

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Posted February 21, 2020 by surfnslide in Local Walks, Walking

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Back to the Real World   8 comments

Enough of those images of warm sunshine and smug words about sunset beers etc. On returning to the UK, I was a man of leisure. My contract had finished and I didn’t have a new one to go to. I had grand plans to walk the hills and make sure I did some form of outdoor exercise every day while I looked for a new role somewhere. The British winter weather put pay to that. The first week or so was wet and windy with several days of ceaseless rain. Trips out were limited to short bike rides between the rain and the odd walk. This first image is from one of those bike rides looking put over my local fields and hills.

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Main focus of the post is from a short, wild and windy trip into the Black Mountains above Llanthony.

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The Black Darren is a landslip that’s created a series of “false” ridges and valleys that make a fine walk. It’s about the shortest drive from home and only takes an hour or so, ideal for a short break between rain showers.

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I scrambled the main “ridge” quite exposed and delicate in the high winds but worth it for expansive views of the pastoral Herefordshire countryside.

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No place to hang around on top of the ridge, windy and cold.

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I found a sunny and almost sheltered spot for a very brief sit down to admire the views.

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As it’s the most easterly off the ridges of the Black Mountains you can see for miles when the air is clear like this.

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What was striking was just how wet and muddy underfoot it was after what seems like endless rain this winter. It will become a theme of my next few posts!

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Posted February 14, 2020 by surfnslide in Black Mountains, Wales, Walking

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Another “Go-To” – Hatterall Hill   4 comments

Into December and winter was here. Another cold and blustery day but with the promise of sunshine dragged me out for another walk.

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Another go to favourite of Hatterall Hill, the large corrie and circuit at the end of the eastern ridge of the Black Mountains.

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After parking up at the Cwmyoy village hall the first stretch is lovely open pasture through to the village itself. At least it was. Its now planted with crops and after endless rain it was a soggy, muddy mess. Views were still great though.

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Up through the village and past my favourite wonky church.

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And the steep climb onto the small peak above the village created by an ancient landslip.

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The views across the end of the Vale of Ewyas to Ysgyryd Fawr were superb.

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There was more cloud about than I’d hoped but it did create some nice light effects.

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By the the time I was heading back along the other side to the Trig Pillar the sky over me cleared to a stunning blue and the views were magnificent.

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The horizon clouds were creating wonderful images and light effects.

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Even the bracken looks grand in this light.

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The walk down the end of the ridge was a sheer delight in these conditions

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Rather than walk on my usual route that repeats the now soggy crop field, I walked to the far end of the ridge and down the narrow lanes to reach the car. The lanes were swamped with mud and were not much drier than the fields but it was nice to try a slightly different route for a change.

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Only one day into December but it was already more memorable than November for walking (Barcelona aside!)

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