Archive for the ‘craig y cilau’ Tag

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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Bushwhacking and Swimming, Craig y Cilau and Mynydd Llangatwg   4 comments

TJS and TBF were away in London at Minecraft convention – sad – and TJF was at a cheerleading event so I had a few hours to myself for a solo walk. Always on the look out for somewhere new or a different angle on previous walk I headed to Craig y Cilau to take in the edges and then explore the moorland behind it.

craig y cilau, mynydd llangatwg, pwll gwy rhoc, agen allwedd

6 Miles

6 Miles

I parked up at the eastern end and wandered through the old workings and spoil heaps now grassed over to form a mini-mountain range of their own and a really fascinating area to stroll through.

craig y cilau, mynydd llangatwg, pwll gwy rhoc, agen allwedd

craig y cilau, mynydd llangatwg, pwll gwy rhoc, agen allwedd

craig y cilau, mynydd llangatwg, pwll gwy rhoc, agen allwedd

craig y cilau, mynydd llangatwg, pwll gwy rhoc, agen allwedd

craig y cilau, mynydd llangatwg, pwll gwy rhoc, agen allwedd

After a cloudy and stormy morning it had cleared into a gloriously sunny afternoon and the views across to the Black Mountains were superb.

craig y cilau, mynydd llangatwg, pwll gwy rhoc, agen allwedd

craig y cilau, mynydd llangatwg, pwll gwy rhoc, agen allwedd

The level mine track under the quarried and natural limestone edges is a pure pleasure and it’s another of those stunning areas that’s off the beaten track, little known and mostly deserted. I’ve visited here a couple of times but always in winter when the edges are in shadow. Last time was in December last year when we took in the top of the edges which were in sun. Today the sun was high enough to reach over the edges and bathe the path in sunshine.

craig y cilau, mynydd llangatwg, pwll gwy rhoc, agen allwedd

craig y cilau, mynydd llangatwg, pwll gwy rhoc, agen allwedd

craig y cilau, mynydd llangatwg, pwll gwy rhoc, agen allwedd

craig y cilau, mynydd llangatwg, pwll gwy rhoc, agen allwedd

Rather than drop down on the path to reach the far end I carried on along the mine track to take a look at Agen Allwedd, one of the longest/deepest caves in Britain. Disappointing as it turned out. The entrance is tiny and locked to protect the delicate life and cave features within. There was a faint track leading on so I followed it hoping it would traverse all the way to the far end. I was encouraged by the sight of someone coming the other way so it must lead somewhere.

craig y cilau, mynydd llangatwg, pwll gwy rhoc, agen allwedd

craig y cilau, mynydd llangatwg, pwll gwy rhoc, agen allwedd

It was a cracking path, quite distinct and a little precarious above the scree and steep slopes with sensational views. Then it entered some slightly denser woods and promptly vanished. I pushed on hoping it was a minor blip. It wasn’t. There followed half an hour of scrambling through nettles, brambles, boulders, and under/around/over countless fallen trees. I expected to come across Bear Grylls, machete in hand, feasting on a dead and rotting squirrel at any moment. I was relieved, hot, stung, scratched and grumpy by the time I finally emerged.

craig y cilau, mynydd llangatwg, pwll gwy rhoc, agen allwedd

craig y cilau, mynydd llangatwg, pwll gwy rhoc, agen allwedd

As I headed up onto the moors the world changed and could not have been different. Dense, sweaty, claustrophobic woods were replaced with expansive grassy moorland pocked with sink-holes.

craig y cilau, mynydd llangatwg, pwll gwy rhoc, agen allwedd

craig y cilau, mynydd llangatwg, pwll gwy rhoc, agen allwedd

My target was the lake of Pwll Gwy Rhoc but between me and it was a huge area of waving and perfectly flat grass, likely to be hiding squelchiness just below its verdant looking surface. In fact the going was relatively easy with just a few watery sections to cross before reaching the lake. I dread to think what it must be like in winter after a wet spell.

craig y cilau, mynydd llangatwg, pwll gwy rhoc, agen allwedd

craig y cilau, mynydd llangatwg, pwll gwy rhoc, agen allwedd

I’d targeted the lake for a particular reason. Although it’s a lovely spot in its own right I’d seen a blog write up over on Underground and Overground Adventures about a wild swim here in winter and fancied a bit of a refreshing dip on a hot day. Most of the shore is surrounded by bog but on the eastern side I found an easy spot to get in.

craig y cilau, mynydd llangatwg, pwll gwy rhoc, agen allwedd

craig y cilau, mynydd llangatwg, pwll gwy rhoc, agen allwedd

The water is extremely dark giving an initial impression that the water is deep. Once in however, the reason for the darkness becomes clear. The lake is just a peaty hollow with shallow water about 6-8 feet deep. The bottom is just oozing mud and the water the colour of strong tea! Still the water was clear and clean and just cold enough to be refreshing. I swam for about 5 minutes and it was great. I doubt many people ever see this lake so having my own private swimming pool was rather nice.

craig y cilau, mynydd llangatwg, pwll gwy rhoc, agen allwedd

craig y cilau, mynydd llangatwg, pwll gwy rhoc, agen allwedd

I celebrated with a brew before heading back across the moors to the edges. The short hike across enlivened by another watery dip, this time up to my knees in green stuff when I got too casual with my progress across the moors.

The views across from the edges were just as fine as I made my way back down.

craig y cilau, mynydd llangatwg, pwll gwy rhoc, agen allwedd

craig y cilau, mynydd llangatwg, pwll gwy rhoc, agen allwedd

craig y cilau, mynydd llangatwg, pwll gwy rhoc, agen allwedd

craig y cilau, mynydd llangatwg, pwll gwy rhoc, agen allwedd

craig y cilau, mynydd llangatwg, pwll gwy rhoc, agen allwedd

craig y cilau, mynydd llangatwg, pwll gwy rhoc, agen allwedd

I’d only been out 3 hours but it’s amazing what you can pack in to a short trip if you try hard enough and mix up good decisions with bad ones!

Happy Blogiversary – Craig y Cilau   6 comments

The postman hasn’t been yet so I’m assuming that all the cards and pressies are on their way. Thanks again everyone, you’re too kind 🙂

4 years since I started writing so I thought I’d check my stats for some headlines. Yeah, like I never check my stats right!

264 Posts

42,827 Page Views

2,253 Comments

Best Day, April 24th 2014, 173 Page Views

Best Month, January 2014, 1,603 Page Views

Most Popular Post – https://surfnslide.wordpress.com/2011/05/22/waterfalls/ with 985 views (actually I lied it was my review of a Berghaus Jacket but reviews don’t count)

Followers 167

Not too shabby really. Never thought my blog would become my obsession but it pretty much dominates my spare time. I often find myself reading old posts and looking at the photos. I find it rather comforting to have a detailed diary of my outdoor life and family trips although it always starts the thought process as what on earth I’d do if WordPress ever ceases or worse they suffer a catastrophic failure. I’ve never looked at whether you can back up a blog. Perhaps I should.

Anyway, enough introspection and back to the real world. My memories of Xmas from last year was of rain, lots of rain with short walks snatched between periods of foul weather. This year we had a winter. After a couple of days of festering indoors it was time to go outside. TJS loves his hiking but TJF doesn’t. We needed a short walk but an interesting one and this is one of the best I know.

Black Mountains, craig y cilau, crickhowell, llangattock, pen cerrig calch, sugar loaf, welsh valleys, waun ddu

Black Mountains, craig y cilau, crickhowell, llangattock, pen cerrig calch, sugar loaf, welsh valleys, waun ddu

The normal route takes you down over the fields and into Llangattock before climbing back up. It looked like the sun was never going to climb over the edge so we set off to reverse the route. Even then it looked like we might never see the sunshine even though there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. On a whim I headed up to the edge to find the sun, hoping there would be a path. Inspired idea.

Black Mountains, craig y cilau, crickhowell, llangattock, pen cerrig calch, sugar loaf, welsh valleys, waun ddu

Black Mountains, craig y cilau, crickhowell, llangattock, pen cerrig calch, sugar loaf, welsh valleys, waun ddu

Black Mountains, craig y cilau, crickhowell, llangattock, pen cerrig calch, sugar loaf, welsh valleys, waun ddu

Black Mountains, craig y cilau, crickhowell, llangattock, pen cerrig calch, sugar loaf, welsh valleys, waun ddu

It’s not easy to find a way through the cliffs of Craig Y Cilau. The are pretty continuous and unclimbable with almost no break and we had to walk a good half a mile before we found a way up onto the edge

Black Mountains, craig y cilau, crickhowell, llangattock, pen cerrig calch, sugar loaf, welsh valleys, waun ddu

Black Mountains, craig y cilau, crickhowell, llangattock, pen cerrig calch, sugar loaf, welsh valleys, waun ddu

Once we did it was magnificent. Gloroius sunshine with the low sun lighting up the browns of the bracken into gold to contrast with green fields of the Usk valley, the brooding Black Mountains and the blue sky

Black Mountains, craig y cilau, crickhowell, llangattock, pen cerrig calch, sugar loaf, welsh valleys, waun ddu

Black Mountains, craig y cilau, crickhowell, llangattock, pen cerrig calch, sugar loaf, welsh valleys, waun ddu

We found a reasonably sheltered spot in the sunshine for lunch. I love eating my lunch in the sunshine in winter

Black Mountains, craig y cilau, crickhowell, llangattock, pen cerrig calch, sugar loaf, welsh valleys, waun ddu

There was indeed a path all the way along the edge, a bit squelchy in places but a magnificent route. Perched high above the cliffs the views are magnificent and the winter colours amazing. There were sink holes everywhere to remind you this is limestone country and home to some of the longest cave systems in Britain

Black Mountains, craig y cilau, crickhowell, llangattock, pen cerrig calch, sugar loaf, welsh valleys, waun ddu

Black Mountains, craig y cilau, crickhowell, llangattock, pen cerrig calch, sugar loaf, welsh valleys, waun ddu

Black Mountains, craig y cilau, crickhowell, llangattock, pen cerrig calch, sugar loaf, welsh valleys, waun ddu

Black Mountains, craig y cilau, crickhowell, llangattock, pen cerrig calch, sugar loaf, welsh valleys, waun ddu

Black Mountains, craig y cilau, crickhowell, llangattock, pen cerrig calch, sugar loaf, welsh valleys, waun ddu

Sadly we had to drop down to return and immediately lost the sun for the day. The walk starts through a weirdly contorted landscape of old quarry workings. A mini mountain range of twisting micro-ridges and valleys. Fascinating but bitingly cold. It doesn’t get any sun at this time of year.

Black Mountains, craig y cilau, crickhowell, llangattock, pen cerrig calch, sugar loaf, welsh valleys, waun ddu

Black Mountains, craig y cilau, crickhowell, llangattock, pen cerrig calch, sugar loaf, welsh valleys, waun ddu

From there it follows and old level quarry road under the cliffs. A dark and chilly walk on a cold December afternoon but it must be a sunny pleasure in summer. There are cave entrances everywhere, well worth an explore but it was far too cold for such fun at this time of year

Black Mountains, craig y cilau, crickhowell, llangattock, pen cerrig calch, sugar loaf, welsh valleys, waun ddu

Black Mountains, craig y cilau, crickhowell, llangattock, pen cerrig calch, sugar loaf, welsh valleys, waun ddu

The light show on the Black Mountains turned them a dusky golden colour as the sun dipped below the horizon.

Black Mountains, craig y cilau, crickhowell, llangattock, pen cerrig calch, sugar loaf, welsh valleys, waun ddu

Black Mountains, craig y cilau, crickhowell, llangattock, pen cerrig calch, sugar loaf, welsh valleys, waun ddu

As we passed through the really quite lovely meadow of Waun Ddu there was a mist starting to form above the stream. It was enchanting but hard to capture a decent image.

Black Mountains, craig y cilau, crickhowell, llangattock, pen cerrig calch, sugar loaf, welsh valleys, waun ddu

A fabulous walk before winter arrived in earnest

Craig y Cilau – Slippery when white   18 comments

A bit behind with my blogging again so here’s a little walk report from a couple of weeks back

I’ve not been out for a proper walk for a while now. Since I went off skiing without the family for a week I thought for the next few weekends at least they needed some quality time with me. That and the fact that I’m trying to keep their interest in walking going means I’m taking on some shorter walks at the moment whilst still trying to get out on the hills to some degree.

This walk is one I’ve had my eye on since we moved down this way in 2002 but never got around to. It’s an area of limestone edge tucked away between the Black Mountains and the industrial Welsh valleys to the south. With interest in all things speleological I’m a bit of a fan of Limestone scenery and this walk didn’t disappoint.

Craig y Cilau, 4.7 miles, 1,200 feet of ascent

There had been an armageddon style forecast of heavy snow for the previous night so we had made some provisional plans to go sledging. However all that materialised was a couple of inches of very wet slush so we thought a walk would be a better plan. We parked up just above the village of Llangattock, near Crickhowell and set off on a walk taken from my Jarrold pathfinder guide They are pretty good books for exploring the areas away from the obvious mountains if you ignore their propensity for pointless detours to villages and pubs – I’m all for a pint on walk from time to time but not at the expense of detouring from and missing out a fine walking route.

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Slipperiness begins...

Where was I? Yes off for a walk. As soon as we set off we realised that said few inches of wet slush was treacherously slippery, a feature that would come to dominate most of the day. The walk starts by dropping (read slithering) steeply down into the Cilau valley. As we turned across a steep slope to pick up the path heading above the river I slipped onto my a*se into a very pleasant combination of watery snow and brown mud that left an interesting coloured mark on my trousers. As they say in Viz “luckily I saw the funny side”, well I didn’t really but you get the idea.

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Frozen Field

The stroll across the fields towards Llangattock was very pleasant with thin sunshine lighting up the Sugar Loaf ahead and glimpses of the limestone world we’d be reaching later.

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The Sugar Loaf

We talked about our holiday plans for the rest of this year which will be pretty much the same as last year (if it ain’t broke don’t try to fix it) and also about the possibility of a “special” holiday somewhere far away in a couple of years.

The path eventually drops down to the Brecon and Monmouthshire Canal where the Pathfinder guide takes in an extra mile to walk through the village of Llangattock. We decided to cut the corner and got our canal kicks from a very short 10 yard stretch between bridges. They are repairing this section so it had been drained of water giving the kids a chance to really how the canal was constructed and just how much mud collects in them.

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Family by the Canal Bridge

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Frozen Canal

Leaving the canal the walk heads up along an old tramway that used to carry stone down from the quarries, towards Craig y Cilau and reaches the “crux pitch” of the walk. There is an incline that was used to lower the wagons loaded with stone down to the trams to carry them to the wharf on the canal at Llangattock. It’s arrow straight and very steep and I thought the kids were going to plod up at an inconceivably slow pace. Always ready to prove me wrong they both raced up it leaving both me and Jane trailing in their wake.

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Kids leaving me and Jane trailing

At the top before the second incline section up to the edge the route emerges from the trees and there was a very nicely sited bench with views across the Usk Valley to the Black Mountains. Can’t waste opportunities like that so we sat down for a second lunch and as is the habit now, brewed up a fresh cup of tea for me and Jane. Sitting with a cuppa looking at snow dusted mountains watching the kids play in the snow with no-one else about, life was pretty good just then.

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Tea time

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Happy families

Refreshed we carried on up the second incline to the bottom of the cliffs. From here the route follows another old quarry tramway that takes and almost level traverse under the cliffs. It’s a truly stunning stroll along what at times is quite a precarious path but never that difficult although today it was made interesting in the snow.

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Tramway path

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Usk Valley and Black Mountains

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Tramway path

The area is riddled with cliffs and caves and the edges had some wonderful ice falls on them. The kids were particularly interested in these while my interest was piqued by the numerous caves that clearly needed exploring.

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Ice falls on the cliffs

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Ice falls on the cliffs

The sun was out by this stage bathing the edges with low sunlight and creating some lovely effects.

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Jane and L on the slippery stuff

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Arty tree shot

The path then heads back down onto the lower slopes and this path was absolutely lethal, with everyone slithering and sliding and taking ages to get down. Just before the final climb to the car the path traverses a really unusual and very boggy meadow that gave long lingering views back across the escarpment.

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Surprise Meadow

The whole area reminded me of the limestone escarpment near Llangollen we’d visited earlier in the year

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Pen Cerrig Calch

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The Sugar Loaf

Another new route and another cracker. It would be a wonderful walk on a summer’s day with lots of opportunities to linger in the sunshine. I’ll be back. Enjoy the musical slide-show and big thanks to David over at Luachmhor for recommending the music of Ludovico Einaudi – cracking background to some wonderful scenery.

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