Archive for the ‘brecon beacons’ Tag

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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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

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

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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!

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

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Our goal of Pen Allt Mawr visible in the distance

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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

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

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

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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

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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.

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

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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.

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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

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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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The illuminated clouds over the Black Mountains were especially fetching

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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

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Paddling over Mynydd Llangatwg   6 comments

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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

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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

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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

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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

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

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

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

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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

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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

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Back to Winter in Brecon Beacons   4 comments

I’m done now with being smug about our holiday in the sun over Xmas. What was needed was some proper winter weather, snow, clear blue skies and all that. Not done too bad since the wet and windy first half of the winter.

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This is a walk me and TJS have done many times. Whenever there is snow we always to head to the high Brecon Beacons to take full advantage. The amount of snow caught me out on the drive with the roads completely covered to the outskirts of Merthyr and a very slippery drive up to the car park

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The round of the main high summits of Pen y Fan, Corn du and Cribyn from the south is a fantastic outing if you can look past the crowds on Pen y Fan. It was a glorious morning, cold, clear and crisp.

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As soon as we started the climb the snow became quite surprisingly deep. Very hard work on the steep slopes up to the ridge

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Even harder work along the ridge trying to find the spots where the snow was hard or less deep. Some of the drifts in the peat hags were a few feet deep.

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The forecast had been good for the day but a heavy bank of cloud was moving in fast and we had a few nice sunlight effects before it disappeared for the day

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As we approached the summit of Corn Du the crowds became almost unreal. Most of South Wales seemed to be walking up Pan y Fan from the Storey Arms. Never understood the popularity of this route even allowing for the fact that its on a main road. There are several fine ridges onto the summit and yet this is a dreary boggy trudge.

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There was the usual mix of seasoned walkers and seriously ill-equipped people in wellies, trainers and fashion boots. It takes a real effort of will to tell myself that everyone should be encouraged to explore the mountains and crowds like this are a price probably worth paying if people are out in the mountains rather than festering inside watching TV (something I never do obviously). Just not all at the same time! 🙂

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Once we were on Pen y Fan it became clear there was some kind of challenge walk in progress. Again there were a mix of serious looking walkers and fell runners and lots of people who looked like they wished they had stayed home and festered in front of the TV

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The north face of Pen y Fan also seemed to be in condition for winter climbs and there were several parties in the steep gullies and on alpine style ridges between

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Many people seemed to be out on the slopes to go sledging. Lots of people were dragging sledges around and some people had snowboards, skis and even a converted skateboard (he spent a lot of time on his ar5e in the snow). I later learned that all these people had caused chaos on the main road by parking on the verges. The police ticketed hundreds of people and it was a big local talking point for a few weeks (until more interesting stories about a cat stuck in a tree and the price of silage pride of place)

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Even though the weather had turned very grey we took in Fan y Big as well. This avoids a long trudge back down the track and extended the snowy walking experience

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Quite a contrast with the warm sun and clear skies of Tenerife but to be honest, you can’t beat a decent walk in the snow with a couple of thousand people 🙂

Sunshine after the rain (and before plenty more)   4 comments

As I was saying in my last post, the weather since November has been universally appalling. Well apart from one weekend anyway. At some indeterminate point in those dark days the weather chilled, deposited a little snow on to the mountains and the sky cleared just long enough to enjoy it.

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I did this walk with TJS earlier in the year and, keen to introduce TBF to the charms of Fforest Fawr we headed there again.

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The route is described in detail in the other post so I’ll let the photos do the talking – mostly.

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The mountains were shrouded in cloud for the first couple of hours and we wandered about in the gloom on Fan Gyhirych with some tantalising glimpses of the Black Mountain

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As we descended the blue skies and sunshine the the forecast promised arrived and we were treated to some superb views. This was more than ample compensation for the incredibly soggy nature underfoot, 2-3 weeks of ceaseless rain, wet, thawing snow and summer boots (yes, I know, poor decision) makes for very wet feet.

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Lunch in a slightly less boggy spot was followed by a climb to top of Fan Nedd where a spell of heavy rain that the forecast hadn’t promised hastened our descent and cut short the day

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Short and sweet but a splendid day nonetheless. The appalling weather that followed made me rather glad I’d made the effort. In this most awful of winters, any day not characterised by ceaseless rain is a good one

Just a Mynydd……   2 comments

Well here’s a first, writing up a blog post the same day I did the walk. Never see the like of these days again once my summer hols kick in next week.

mynydd llangorse, mynydd troed, cwmdu, llangorse lake, black mountains, brecon beacons, cockit hill

Another supermarket breakfast and another day in the hills to follow. This one a very similar trip to one we did with GM a couple of winters back. This time a more detailed exploration of Mynydd Llangorse and its far western ridge.

11.5 Miles

11.5 Miles

We parked up in Cwmdu and headed across the fields taking in the sights, sounds, smells, scratches and stings of the bracken

mynydd llangorse, mynydd troed, cwmdu, llangorse lake, black mountains, brecon beacons, cockit hill

mynydd llangorse, mynydd troed, cwmdu, llangorse lake, black mountains, brecon beacons, cockit hill

mynydd llangorse, mynydd troed, cwmdu, llangorse lake, black mountains, brecon beacons, cockit hill

Small in height but large in area, Mynydd Llangorse is a wild upland heathland. Off the beaten track we had the whole mountain to ourselves save a few ponies and couple of cyclists

mynydd llangorse, mynydd troed, cwmdu, llangorse lake, black mountains, brecon beacons, cockit hill

mynydd llangorse, mynydd troed, cwmdu, llangorse lake, black mountains, brecon beacons, cockit hill

mynydd llangorse, mynydd troed, cwmdu, llangorse lake, black mountains, brecon beacons, cockit hill

It’s a place to clock up long walks and we ticked off the miles as we strode on to its broad summit. The views across Llangorse Lake to the Beacons were very fine indeed.

mynydd llangorse, mynydd troed, cwmdu, llangorse lake, black mountains, brecon beacons, cockit hill

mynydd llangorse, mynydd troed, cwmdu, llangorse lake, black mountains, brecon beacons, cockit hill

mynydd llangorse, mynydd troed, cwmdu, llangorse lake, black mountains, brecon beacons, cockit hill

After a brief rest on Cockit Hill we were off up Mynydd Troed, slightly higher but packing a mighty wallop of a steep slope to the top. The Bracken that clothes the lower slopes in these parts gives everything a stunning verdant hue. Much more pleasing on the eye from a distance than when you are bashing through it at close quarters

mynydd llangorse, mynydd troed, cwmdu, llangorse lake, black mountains, brecon beacons, cockit hill

mynydd llangorse, mynydd troed, cwmdu, llangorse lake, black mountains, brecon beacons, cockit hill

mynydd llangorse, mynydd troed, cwmdu, llangorse lake, black mountains, brecon beacons, cockit hill

We headed off down the fine summit ridge before a session of the aforementioned bracken bashing on the lower slopes mixed in with a healthy smattering of nettles and head high thistles. Why I insist on wearing shorts round these parts in summer I’ll never know

mynydd llangorse, mynydd troed, cwmdu, llangorse lake, black mountains, brecon beacons, cockit hill

mynydd llangorse, mynydd troed, cwmdu, llangorse lake, black mountains, brecon beacons, cockit hill

We concluding the day with a long plod down the knee-jarringly hard minor lane that skirts the eastern slopes of Mynydd Llangorse but the sun was warm and the views stunning

mynydd llangorse, mynydd troed, cwmdu, llangorse lake, black mountains, brecon beacons, cockit hill

An uneventful day of easy walking on two of the quietest mountains in this wonderful range I call home

A different perspective on The Beacons   4 comments

Me and TJS had the day to ourselves. Being a lazy sort I couldn’t be bothered to make us breakfast so I treated us to the best of the Waitrose cafe in Abergavenny. I need to big up Waitrose here for introducing me to worlds best toast – sourdough bread – awesome.

Always on the look out for a new route we took a Brecon Beacons walk from Llanfrynach in the NE to bag one of a couple of ridges we’d yet to set foot on. Llanfrynach is a pretty place with the largest graveyard in the area and the only community run public toilets in Wales!

11 Miles

11 Miles

We were heading across to Cribyn and the Nant Sere valley to start with, more on that later

llanfrynach, nant menasgin, nant sere, cribyn, fan y big, brecon beacons, wild swimming

The first section takes you through woods by the side of the Nant Menasgin and its lovely, a mix of woodland, stream and grassy flower filled meadows. Interestingly they have diverted a tiny section of stream that runs parallel to the main stream before disappearing under a large farmhouse. The map shows a water feature behind the house so no idea whether it’s a private diversion or a water supply for the village. Interesting village is Llanfrynach

llanfrynach, nant menasgin, nant sere, cribyn, fan y big, brecon beacons, wild swimming

llanfrynach, nant menasgin, nant sere, cribyn, fan y big, brecon beacons, wild swimming

The route took us through grassy fields and quiet lanes before a somewhat tedious green lane, overgrown and oppressive with bracken, brambles and nettles delivered us to the lower slopes of Cribyn. Most people then head up the ridge as I’ve done many times but today I had a different agenda. After my swim the previous weekend I’ve become taken with the idea of wild swims on walks. As such I’ve the UK version of the well-known Wild Swimming series of books. Great read and some great new places to explore and get wet. Today I was off to explore the Nant Sere

llanfrynach, nant menasgin, nant sere, cribyn, fan y big, brecon beacons, wild swimming

Right on cue as we reached the water, the sun went in and the wind blew cold. Not to be deterred I went for a short and sharp swim in the pool below. Cold and refreshing but at least the water was clear rather than brown.

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Further up the waterfalls and swimming pools were even better, none especially large or deep but enough for nice dip on a warm day. Well worth coming back for a picnic some time if summer ever arrives

llanfrynach, nant menasgin, nant sere, cribyn, fan y big, brecon beacons, wild swimming

llanfrynach, nant menasgin, nant sere, cribyn, fan y big, brecon beacons, wild swimming

llanfrynach, nant menasgin, nant sere, cribyn, fan y big, brecon beacons, wild swimming

TJS wasn’t keen on all this wild stream bashing without a path even though I was in my element. Reluctantly we bashed up a few hundred feet of steep grass back to the path.

As we climbed I noticed some pony trekkers enjoying the surroundings. It too me back to a gloriously sunny day back in the 70’s (yes I’m that old) when we took a trip from school to go Pony Trekking in the Brecons and I’m pretty sure we went up this valley. I still remember it now as a great day out. Strange to think that over 30 years on these hills would become my local stomping ground

The weather had really taken a turn though. The summits vanished into the clouds and drizzle filled the air. The NE ridge of Cribyn is brutally steep so we decided we’d give it a miss this time.

llanfrynach, nant menasgin, nant sere, cribyn, fan y big, brecon beacons, wild swimming

llanfrynach, nant menasgin, nant sere, cribyn, fan y big, brecon beacons, wild swimming

llanfrynach, nant menasgin, nant sere, cribyn, fan y big, brecon beacons, wild swimming

We took the faint path that contours under Cribyn and then climbed up to Fan y Big. We’d planned on taking the fine path that skirts the edges that overlook Cwm Oergwm but the weather was cold windy and damp so just headed off down the NE ridge of Fan y Big as the weather was looking most unpromising. Right on cue as we descended the weather stuck two fingers up at us and the sun came out again, bloody typical.

llanfrynach, nant menasgin, nant sere, cribyn, fan y big, brecon beacons, wild swimming

llanfrynach, nant menasgin, nant sere, cribyn, fan y big, brecon beacons, wild swimming

Still, I’ve never descended this ridge before and it was fine and peaceful walk, delivering us back to our route in across fields and down by the river back to the village. Just as well we cut it short, it was already a long enough day at 11 miles for an old bloke with dodgy knees!

 

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