Archive for the ‘hatterrall Hill’ Tag

A short stroll from Llanthony Priory   8 comments

Still playing catch up with the blog. Been busy planning a major family trip for next summer so I’ve been neglecting my blogging duties. This one is from mid April after the cold weather from Easter had gone for good. Me and TJS stole an afternoon for a quick jaunt into the Black Mountains from Llanthony Priory

5 Miles, 1,250 feet of ascent

5 Miles, 1,250 feet of ascent

It’s a splendid spot situated in the fine Vale of Ewyas. In my humble opinion it’s one of the finest valleys in Britain and deserves to be better known. I’d neglected to pack my camera so the photos are taken with my iPhone. I know that people claim that phones take as good a picture as most compact camera’s but I’m not convinced. I rarely take photos with the phone but one thing I would say is that they are very handy fall-back for muppets like me who forget their camera when out walking!

Vale of Ewyas, Llanthony Priory

Loxidge Tump

Vale of Ewyas, Llanthony Priory

The climb to the ridge is through open fields, woodland and then up over Loxidge Tump and onto the open fellside. It’s been such a while since I did this walk and due to the limited photos I only have  a vague recollection of the finer points of the day. I do recall hearing birdsong near the ridge and thinking it was the first I’d heard this year and how perhaps winter was now officially over!

Vale of Ewyas, Llanthony Priory

Vale of Ewyas, Llanthony Priory

Vale of Ewyas, Llanthony Priory

Vale of Ewyas, Llanthony Priory

The stroll along Offa’s Dyke and down the ridge was as always pleasant and easy going. I’ve walked part of this section on many occasions from the opposite side to take in the Black Darren landslip (the most recent walk is here).

Vale of Ewyas, Llanthony Priory

Vale of Ewyas, Llanthony Priory

It was hard to imagine that only a few weeks previously the whole area was blanketed in snow. Despite it being a sunny day there was a chill wind blowing and we had to drop down to the NE slopes to find some shelter for the usual routine of packed lunch and fresh cuppa.

Black Mountains

Black Mountains

Black Mountains

We continued along the ridge towards Hatterall Hill and then turned sharp right back onto the Brecons Way. The path is another of those high level and gently traversing paths above the valley that I love so much. You can cover the ground with ease while still taking in the expansive views. The summit ridge is so broad that the views are a little restricted but on these paths the views are much more open and interesting.

Black Mountains

Vale of Ewyas, Llanthony Priory

Vale of Ewyas, Llanthony Priory

We chatted about the possible plans for our big holiday next year (more to follow when I’ve sorted it) and almost before we knew it we were heading over the fields back to the priory. A short day, but a good one – from what I remember anyway.

Black Mountains

Vale of Ewyas, Llanthony Priory

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Crug Mawr and Twyn y Gaer Hill Fort   25 comments

I like to think of myself as a budding local expert on the Black Mountains having been exploring them since I moved to the area in 2002 and especially in the last couple of years. I’m always on the look out for new routes to get some new perspectives and experience a different flavour. After a comment exchange with James over at Backpackingbongos I came across his route on Crug Mawr and the Twyn y Gaer Hill Fort. The latter with its long low ridge towards the main Black Mountains summits has caught my eye several times without ever tempting me enough to scale it. Crug Mawr I never really noticed before so the route was confirmed. As always these days the budding mountaineer and walker that is my son, the Junior Sherpa accompanied me.

9 Miles, 2,300 Feet of Ascent

9 Miles, 2,300 Feet of Ascent

It was fairly cloudy when we set off from home and the start of the walk in Grwyne Fawr Valley was in dark woodland. As we set off through the forest there was a promising glimpse of blue above the canopy.

Grwyne Fawr Valley

Sun through the canopy

I’m not a great fan of forestry plantation roads but this one was fine with shafts of bright sunlight to lead the way.

Grwyne Fawr Valley

Pastures in the forest

We headed onwards through the trees to emerge at the buildings of Ffordd Las Fawr. James had mentioned that he stayed here with friends when he did the walk before and how fantastic a spot it was. It’s no longer occupied and boarded up but the charm of the place is still apparent. There was a sign at the bottom of the hill noting a planning application so hopefully someone will restore it to greater glory. For now I took some photos for James, dreamt of turning this into my home and moved on.

Ffordd Las Fawr

Ffordd Las Fawr

Ffordd Las Fawr

Ffordd Las Fawr

Ffordd Las Fawr

Ffordd Las Fawr

From here the route climbs steeply through the woods and boy are the trees dense here. It was quite extraordinarily dark. I was expecting fire-breathing dragons and ogres to lurch from the depths and take us for a snack. No such excitement but it was strangely eerie and unsettling nonetheless. I tried a few photos but it was just too dark. After passing through a couple of clearings we emerged on the ridge into bright blue skies and blazing sunshine, it felt almost springlike.

Crug Mawr, Black Mountains

Black Mountains from the ridge to Crug Mawr

Crug Mawr, Black Mountains, Hatterrall Hill, Vale of Ewyas

Across the Vale of Ewyas to Hatterrall Hill

All around was the desolation of cleared forest. I guess it will take generations, if ever, for the landscape to recover its former state. I’m really not a fan of the blankets of coniferous plantations that cloak large portions of our uplands but they seem to be clearing now slowly but surely. We turned and headed for Crug Mawr at the southern end of the long ridge that stretches from Waun Fach, the highest of the Black Mountains. As we approached the top the wind kicked in and it suddenly turned from spring back to winter. It was bitingly cold.

Crug Mawr, Black Mountains

TJS on Crug Mawr summit

The views more than compensated. All a round was blue sky and dark brown heather and bracken clad mountains. The summit is only 550m but it feels higher such is the feast of views spread out beneath.

Crug Mawr, Waun Fach, Black Mountains

Waun Fach from Crug Mawr

Sugar Loaf, Crug Mawr, Black Mountains

Sugar Loaf from Crug Mawr

I could have lingered longer but the cold forced us to move off and down the faint path along the slopes towards Partrishow . After a rather brief and cold lunch spot (it was one of those days when the wind searches you out wherever you sit) we headed down to the valley bottom again past the beautiful stone church of Partrishow.

Partrishow Church

Partrishow Church

Sugar Loaf, Black Mountains

Sugar Loaf

Time to head back up again and we followed a succession of green lanes and paths, twisting and turning this way and that until we finally emerged onto the open slopes of the Twyn y Gaer Hill Fort.

The top was surprisingly crowded with several families playing army and rolling about on the slopes of the old grass ramparts. It had clouded over a bit but the wind had dropped and we found a quiet sheltered spot behind a gorse bush for a snack. The long ridge stretched out before us towards Bal Mawr and the sun returned as we rested. The views were as excellent as I hoped.

Twyn y Gaer Hill Fort, Black Mountains

Black Mountains from Twyn y Gaer Hill Fort,

Twyn y Gaer Hill Fort, Hatterrall Hill

Hatterrall Hill from Twyn y Gaer Hill Fort

I was pleased to add another mental chapter to my book “Small Hills with Disproportionately Great Views” I checked the map and realised it was quite a stroll back to the car so we pressed on down the easy angled slopes and along the ridge. The first part was enclosed by forest and walls but soon opened out to a narrowing grassy ridge with superb views out to the NE over the Vale of Ewyas.

Twyn y Gaer Hill Fort

Twyn y Gaer Hill Fort

As the path climbs the ridge towards Bal Mawr, our route took us off on a quite splendid path traversing back above the Grwyne Fawr Valley. The skies had cleared again and we were treated to more spring-like sunshine and golden hillsides.

Black Mountains, Grwyne Fawr Valley

Black Mountains and the Grwyne Fawr Valley

Black Mountains, Grwyne Fawr Valley

TJS on the final leg

It really was a terrific walk this one and one I’d be glad to repeat in stages as a post work walk. All that remained was to follow the path down to the forests and back to the car. Quite a long day in the end at just over 9 miles, both me and TJS were a little weary by the end, both ready for our Sunday Roast when we got home.

The Late Late Show – Hatterall Hill, Black Mountains   10 comments

My mate Geordie Munro came down for a visit over New Year and we had grand plans for some walks that the weather appeared determined to spoil. We were planning to meet for a walk in the Shropshire Hills near Church Stretton on his way down from Derbyshire but an initially promising forecast turned dispiritingly dismal so we abandoned that plan in the hope the weather might improve by the time he arrived at our place. Luckily it did (well it stopped raining anyway) so me, GM and D dashed out for a short walk in the Black Mountains. Keen to show him somewhere new I plumped for one of my favourites, Hatterall Hill, the southern end of the eastern-most of the Black Mountains ridges that runs from Hay Bluff in the north. The ridge splits into two arms making for a rather splendid and in my experience very quiet circuit.

Hatterall Hill

6.1 Miles, 1,340 feet of ascent

My last visit in late spring a couple of years back couldn’t have been more different. Warm sunshine then was replaced now with a chill strong wind and dark scudding clouds. The first major obstacle on the walk was the world’s greasiest stile that the worlds clumsiest man promptly fell off leaving him with a fine yellowish-purple bruise that is only just fading 2 weeks on. As we wandered towards the river it became abundantly clear just how wet everything was after the recent biblical rains.

Hatterrall Hill

Sliding across the fields

Every square inch of every field was completely sodden and muddy, even the green and grassy bits had a thin film of water running. Within a few strides my trousers were splattered up to the knees in mud, a recurrent theme throughout the next few days. The river here is normally a pleasant babbling brook but today was a raging torrent of noisy brown water. Quite easy to see how careless behaviour results in fatalities, you could easily paddle across this in summer but a casual foot out of place today and you’d be swept away with little chance of surviving.

Afon Honddu

Raging Torrent

The rest of walk turned into a rather nice, brooding but fast paced march. I quickly realised that setting off at 2pm for a 6 mile walk in December was slightly ambitious so we had to push on to make sure we didn’t end up walking in the dark. Not sure D was expecting this when we set off but I rationalised with him that it was “all part of the mountain experience”. GM was suitably impressed by Cwmyoy’s wonky church (I must take a look inside one of these days) and the fact that, for unknown reasons, the signposts were in kilometres rather than miles.

Cwmyoy, Hatterrall Hill

“Bloody European Union”

Cwmyoy, Church

Cwmyoy Church

By the time we’d reached the top of the steep climb the light was already fading creating some nice light and dark effects but increasing my concern about where exactly we’d be when it got dark.

Ysgyryd Fawr, Hatterrall Hill

Ysgyryd Fawr from Hatterrall Hill

Sugar Loaf, Hatterrall Hill

Sugar Loaf from Hatterrall Hill

We reached the summit of Hatterrall Hill where Offa’s Dyke joins and pressed on down the stream/path.

Offas Dyke, Hatterrall Hill

Me and D on Hatterrall Hill

Hatterrall Hill, Offa's Dyke

D on Offa’s Dyke

On to the farm with the poetic barn (see previous post on this walk) and started heading down the other side of the horseshoe where the last of the light left us and I officially declared it “dark”. The last half a mile down an astonishingly muddy track to the lane was interesting and kind of fun. By the light of my head torch I saw D giving me a look that said “you never told me this was likely to happen”. All part of the experience was all I could offer him but he seemed to enjoy it nonetheless. We traversed the fields, river and slippery stile back to the car without incident pausing to snap some “hikers by head-torch” shots and were back at the car by 5:15.

Hatterall Hill

“Hey, it’s dark!”

Hatterrall Hil

Rabbits in the (head-torch) lights

Sometimes you just have to go for it, it would have been easy to stay in on such a damp day when the time is pressing but it’s always a positive to extract some pleasure from what could have been a dead day.

Posted January 16, 2013 by surfnslide in Black Mountains, Wales, Walking

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