Archive for the ‘cats back’ Tag

Short and Sweet – Black Darren Jaunt   9 comments

A little postette and a few photos from a short walk I did with TBF and D a couple of weeks back.

Cats Back, Black Hill

Cats Back & Black Hill

L was off at the Pantomime (Oh yes she was!) so we took a quick dash to the nearest high level walk I know. I’ve posted about this walk before so you can read about it here.

Black Darren

The death of Autumn

Safe to say it’s a short, sharp and sweet stroll – or in this case very cold and windy stroll – up on to the eastern-most ridge of the Black Mountains, along Offa’s Dyke for a mile or so and then back down through an old landslip area to the car.

Black Darren

Snow shower

Sugar Loaf, Black Mountains

Sugar Loaf & Black Mountains

I’ve done this walk many times. It’s ideal for a short time span, an after work walk or a short weather window. You get a great reward of views for very little effort and the scenery amongst the wreckage of the landslip is fascinating. We were forced to wait out a snow shower in the car before we set off and although it was darker and gloomier than the forecast there were enough shafts of sunlight playing on the fields and hills to make splendid views.

Black Darren

Black Darren & views across Herefordshire

Cats Back, Black Hill

Shafts of Sunlight

It’s great that D is a real mountain man now and seems to appreciate the mountains even in the less than perfect conditions. I’m taking great pleasure from his ever-increasing confidence and appreciation of the mountain environment and sharing my passion for the outdoors with him. TBF enjoys it too of course>

Black Darren

End of the day

Enjoy the Photos and the Slide show

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Cats Back once again   15 comments

Just a brief little postette of a walk that any regular readers of mine will know well now. The ridge of the Cats Back up to Black Hill doubles as the best and narrowest ridge in the Black Mountains and also the closest point of access to the hills to my home. I’ve been up here numerous times since I relocated to Herefordshire in 2002 and you can read about a summer trip last year and new year visit earlier this year for the full details.

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This trip was a quick jaunt on a day of heavy showers with just me Jane and D while L was away on a Brownie trip to Warwick Castle. Jane is a supply teacher and has been taking a topic on the mountain environment at a local school for the last couple of terms. Part of this was a day trip to said mountain environment and I suggested the Cats Back and Black Hill as you start high and it’s a very easy walk to reach a significant point.

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This walk doubled as nice afternoon in the fresh air and as a reconnaissance mission for Jane’s trip. She took a whole class up here a couple of days later and they absolutely loved it despite some wet weather. I guess many kids don’t ever get to experience the mountains (some were apparently rather poorly equipped :)) so it must have been a real sense of proper adventure for them, something us outdoor aficionados can often take a little for granted. While we were out there was another gaggle of kids making the walk so Jane got to see first hand what dragging a bunch of kids up a hill was going to be like

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Anyway, safe to say we had a fine little stroll and we avoided getting wet and the sun even peeped out a couple of times. Just a couple of photos and a slideshow courtesy of Flickr to prove it

The Cats Back – no idea where it went   24 comments

The last part of our New Year walking trilogy. GM and S decided to stay an extra day so that meant another potential day in the hills. As before we were up late as the forecast wasn’t great but in fact the day looked promising with blue sky about and dark storm clouds over the Black Mountains. Me and GM decided to leave the kids and ladies behind and made a swift exit to try to make the most of the day. I’d been keen to show GM some of the best of what the Black Mountains has to offer so I chose one of my favourites, a round of the Olchon Valley to Hay Bluff and back over Black Hill and the Cats Back ridge. I’ve blogged this route before in the summer and you can read that version of events here

9 miles, 2,500 feet of ascent

When we arrived at the car park it was heaving with a whole mass of cars slithering around in the mud trying to grab a parking space. Luckily most people just head straight up the ridge and as we were heading the other way we would soon leave the crowds behind. It was much colder and still windy and as we prepared to set off we were hit by a heavy fall of sleet – nice!

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Sleet to start

Didn’t last long mind and we soon had the lovely Olchon valley to ourself, picking up another of those long grassy paths up onto the main ridge.

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Olchon Valley and up to the main ridge

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Raking path to the ridge

As we hit the ridge I realised that a T-shirt wasn’t suitable attire what with a biting cold wind and ice particles in the air. The views were impressive with a bright blue sky out east and dark stormy clouds to the west…….

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The clouds gather

Yes, the west where the weather predominantly comes from and we were suddenly enveloped in a biting cold snow shower. In a perverse kind of way I like weather like this. We were high enough up for the snow to be dry and it’s kind of exhilarating to be out in the storm. I tried to capture the mood in some photos but I’m not sure it does the whole vibe justice.

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Snowing!

The main ridge makes for really easy walking and we made swift progress along to Hay Bluff without a pause with some stunning winter light to pull us along.

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Golden winter glow

The summit of Hay Bluff was bitingly cold. We thought perhaps we could sit on the B&Q picnic table and chairs someone appears to have carted up there but settled for a rapid lunch in a drafty hollow. The views were tremendous but it just wasn’t a day for stopping and we started back along to Black Hill tracing a narrow path along the edge of the cliffs overlooking Cusop Dingle.

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Above Cusop Dingle

As we reached Black Hill I pointed out the Satellite Earth Station a mile from my house that were lit up by the winter sun.

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Home - well close enough

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Pen y Gadair Fawr

The highlight of the walk is the Cats Back Ridge, narrow by Black Mountain standards with small rocky outcrops and a wonderful airy view over Herefordshire. Alas we timed our walk along it to coincide with a much longer, heavier and altogether wetter snow shower so we just romped back along it to the now empty car park.

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Snow on the Cats Back

It was a cracker of winter jaunt, and I was pleased to give GM a flavour of the area on this and the other days. For me it was the end of happy period of increased outdoor action as I regularly skived off my dying job at Nokia to go walking. The next day saw the start of my new job and a proper 5 day a  week commitment. At least I still work in Bristol so come Spring I’ll be able to get out in the week after work again on my home

Big thanks to GM and S for making it another great new year, enjoy the slide show

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