Archive for the ‘Gospel Pass’ Tag

A Dash Between the Rains   12 comments

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I’m catching up slowly and this walk was only 2.5 weeks ago. A horrid Saturday and a wet Sunday morning with a poor forecast seemed to condemn us to a weekend of domestic servitude. Sunday lunchtime arrived, clouds cleared and the sun weakly shone so we swiftly headed out for a walk.

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Hay Bluff and Lord Herefords Knob is always a good choice for a short notice walk as, like the Sugar Loaf you can park halfway up.

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Classic views across the Wye Valley right from the outset.

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And the usual leg burning, lung busting steep climb to the top of Hay Bluff

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Panorama from the summit

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What I wasn’t prepared for was the strong winds and significant drop in temperatures from the previous few days. A north wind meant that wearing shorts was not the best decision!

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After a couple of days of damp misty weather the winds had cleared the air and visibility was amazing in the clear sunny spells. We could see as far as Cadair Idris in the southern reaches of Snowdonia

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We didn’t linger on the summit for very long. It was cold and windy.

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And storms were approaching

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This one was definitely coming our way and I feared we were in for a fair old battering

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View south down to the Vale of Ewyas

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In the end we only caught the tail of the storm and the soaking was very minor as we walked back to the car

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Hadn’t expected to even hit the hills on this weekend so we counted ourselves fortunate to grab such a decent slice of wild and clear weather between the showers

Keeping the musical contribution going. A great track from a band who, with the passing of Tom Petty earlier this year, now have less surviving members than departed ones. The End of the Line for this post

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Something from Nothing   4 comments

Sometimes a day starts with a little promise other than another day spent festering in front of a variety of screens. At least those screens have vibrant colours which is more than can be said for this weekend in mid-February when grey was very much the colour. By Sunday afternoon, enough was enough so I dragged TJS from his pit and told him we were going out. It was already after lunch so a short route was required.

hay bluff, twmpa, lord herefords knob, gospel pass, black mountains

Hay Bluff has the distinct advantage in this regard, being relatively small in stature but with a road over a 1000 feet up it. The snow of the previous week was largely long gone although there was the faintest glimmer of brightness to encourage us from the car.

hay bluff, twmpa, lord herefords knob, gospel pass, black mountains

I quite like the direct climb up to the top from the car park on the northern side in a masochistic way. It’s brutally, unremittingly steep so there is challenge and enjoyment in getting to the top as briskly as possible without a pause. At my level that involves matching the unremitting steepness with my own unremitting steady pace. TJS struggles with this concept and whilst he’s leaner and generally fitter than me (he carries less fat than me for a start!) I always beat him up on these steep slopes. Tortoise always beats the hare.

hay bluff, twmpa, lord herefords knob, gospel pass, black mountains

hay bluff, twmpa, lord herefords knob, gospel pass, black mountains

After a brief pause we headed off towards the Gospel Pass and suddenly where there was once grey there was now some blue.

hay bluff, twmpa, lord herefords knob, gospel pass, black mountains

hay bluff, twmpa, lord herefords knob, gospel pass, black mountains

Turning in to quite a nice afternoon and reward for the decision to head out. Not exactly springlike but a warm feeling of smugness at least.

hay bluff, twmpa, lord herefords knob, gospel pass, black mountains

hay bluff, twmpa, lord herefords knob, gospel pass, black mountains

hay bluff, twmpa, lord herefords knob, gospel pass, black mountains

hay bluff, twmpa, lord herefords knob, gospel pass, black mountains

We pressed on and included the eponymous Lord Hereford’s Knob in our day. By the time we reached the top the grey was back again so we didn’t push our luck any further.

hay bluff, twmpa, lord herefords knob, gospel pass, black mountains

hay bluff, twmpa, lord herefords knob, gospel pass, black mountains

hay bluff, twmpa, lord herefords knob, gospel pass, black mountains

A brisk walk back to the car, avoiding the long road back from the Gospel Pass by stringing together a series of sheep tracks rather than tarmac

hay bluff, twmpa, lord herefords knob, gospel pass, black mountains

hay bluff, twmpa, lord herefords knob, gospel pass, black mountains

A day that promised nothing delivered something

New Years Day on Lord Herefords Knob   26 comments

The final part of the Black Mountains New Year trilogy with me D and GM. Another promising day’s forecast meant that New Year’s Day was a mountain walking day. Another session of poring over the map led us to Capel y Ffin for walk taking in Lord Hereford’s Knob, an honourable 3rd place in the list of comedy mountain names.

Twmpa, Lord Herefords Knob

7 Miles, 1,420 feet of ascent

It was clearly much colder than the past couple of days as we booted up and headed off.

Vale of Ewyas

Vale of Ewyas

Waun Fach

Across to Waun Fach

Its a steep start to the walk heading over the fields, past Pen y Maes farm and along the path/stream to the bottom of the steep eminence of Darren Lwyd.

Pen y Maes

Stream/Path above Pen y Maes

Darren Lwyd, Vale of Ewyas

G on Darren Lwyd

The bright patches of blue to the east were being replaced by dark brooding clouds to the west. Evidence of rain in the air was provided with a rainbow as we crested the ridge.

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GM and D on Darren Lwyd

It’s a long plod up to LHK but you can massively improve the aspect by ignoring the main path and heading to the right to pick up the path along the cliffs. It gives some great views down the length of the Vale of Ewyas and up towards the Gospel Pass and Hay Bluff.

Vale of Ewyas

Vale of Ewyas

The main path is pleasant enough but can be a bit of a drag and the edge route is much more satisfying.

Darren Lwyd, Gospel Pass, Hay Bluff

GM on Darren Lwyd looking to the Gospel Pass and Hay Bluff

D was behind for most of the way to the summit clearly suffering from 3 days walking and a late night to watch the New Years Eve fireworks on TV. Easy to forget he’s only 13 and still finding his feet as it were.

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D struggling along Darren Lwyd

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Sunlight shafts across the Black Mountains

It was blowing a gale on LHK. GM was planning to send the customary “I’m sitting on Lord Hereford’s Knob” text to his mates but it was just too cold so we headed down.

Lord Herefords Knob, Twmpa

Father & Son on Lord Herefords Knob

Our original plan was to continue around the northern edge to pick up the long path along to  Chwarel y Fan before heading back to the car. The dark clouds and D’s reduced enthusiasm pointed us towards a descent down into the Nant valley. This it turned out was an inspired choice. I’ve often wanted to explore but all too often have kept to the summits. We had a brief lunch tucked into the soggy heather and tussocks before exploring our way down.

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Lunch in the Nant Valley

The valley is a steep sided with numerous side branches and waterfalls to sustain the interest. The path stays well above the stream but me and GM descended to it’s depths for a closer look. It would be a fine sporting route just to stick to the stream-side in drier conditions. There are even a few secretive small spots to throw a tent up although like all such places in the Black Mountains the sheep have also discovered them with obvious results.

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Looking South along the Nant Valley

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Looking north along the Nant Valley

The valley opens out lower down to reveal several cracking summer picnic spots by small waterfalls although they are pretty damp at the moment.

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Waterfall in the Nant Valley

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D makes his weary way down

Someone had even gone to the trouble of building a towering thin cairn right in the middle of the stream that seems to survive the floodwaters that must have roared down the valley in the past few weeks.

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Mid-river cairn

Rather than walk all the way down the road we took the side path that traverses the western slopes of Darren Lwyd to Pen y Maes farm, another fine choice and a great finish to the walk.

Darren Lwyd

Traversing across the lower slopes of Darren Lwyd

Not out as long as we thought but still a fine day with a great mix of mountain and stream scenery to keep us entertained. GM headed home the next day. I offered D the chance for another walk – he declined 🙂

September stroll on Hay Bluff   10 comments

Now I’ve completed my French trip write ups I’ve got to catch up on my haul of posts since early September. Hard work this blogging malarkey; I need to get my blog-life balance sorted 🙂

Hay Bluff

Hay Bluff

In my current job I’m lucky to work right on the outskirts of Bristol near the Severn Bridges. Like the previous year I had grand plans for several evening walks on my way home from the office. However the dismal British summer put pay to that and I never had a chance. Way back in early September we had a spell of warm dry sunny weather (seems a very long time ago now). I was sat working at home as it happened and with a sudden snap judgement I shut my laptop down on a whim, threw some stuff together and jumped in the car for an evening walk. (This rather swift exit led me to forget my camera so the photos and video clips aren’t quite as good as usual as I had to use my phone).

3 miles, 700 feet of ascent

It gets dark a bit early this time of year so I headed up to the high grassy parking area above Hay-on-Wye for a quick jaunt up Hay Bluff. It was pretty much cloudless and the sky a dark clear blue. In a moment of madness I decided to see how quickly I could get up to the top, a short but extremely steep climb of 700 feet.

Hay Bluff

View north from Hay Bluff

Answer = 20 minutes causing me to arrive on the top with my whole body crying out in protest. I had the top to myself and the views were sensational.

Hay Bluff, Lord Herefords Knob, Twmpa

Lord Herefords Knob (Twmpa)

Across the long ridges of the Black Mountains to the distant Brecons and the mid-Wales hills.

Vale of Ewyas

Vale of Ewyas

Hay Bluff

East from Hay Bluff

Hay Bluff

West from Hay Bluff

I’d had an idea that I could also make it across to the wonderfully named Lord Hereford’s Knob (or Twmpa to give it its Welsh name) but a long stop perched on the edge to admire the views with a fresh brew seemed a much better way to spend the evening in quiet reflection.

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Evening Meal

As I sat there it occurred to me that with a little more grip and a bit of pre-planning I could have put some overnight gear together and spent the night up here. There are enough small patches of grass to throw up a tent and so long as you are away promptly in the morning, no-one is likely to give you any grief.

Still it was a glorious evening and I contented myself with watching the sun set over the mountains.

Hay Bluff, Lord Herefords Knob, Twmpa

Lord Herefords Knob (Twmpa)

I could pretty much see the sun moving down towards the horizon at pace so I thought it best to head down to the Gospel Pass where the road comes through from Llanthony and the Vale of Ewyas. Rather than walk along the road I managed to find a succession of paths that traversed the hillside between the road and the steep flanks of Hay Bluff. I got back to the car just in time to watch the sun set behind the Welsh hills.

Hay Bluff

Sunset on Hay Bluff

Hay Bluff

Sunset

Hay Bluff

Sunset

Much better way to end a Friday that writing my weekly reports 🙂

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