Archive for the ‘Lord Hereford’s Knob’ 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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Another Solo Wild Camp   18 comments

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Back a couple of weeks before the weather turned too hot to venture into the outdoors with a heavy pack, I took another Friday night out in the mountains. I wished for a bit of breeze to keep temperatures and insects at bay and certainly got my wish.

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A glorious evening of clear skies and warm sunshine. I chatted to a lady van-camping in the car park with her very friendly Jack Russell pup chewing my laces. No sign of the promised breeze as I set off.

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It was a hot climb through the fly infested bracken as I headed for a summit pitch on Pen y Gadair Fawr. Still no breeze and I felt that the midges were eying me up for a buffet supper

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As I crested the top, the breeze finally kicked in. Less a breeze than a very significant and very chilly wind that I was struggling to stand up in

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It would have made a superb summit camp, lots of flat thick grass but it was just too cold to enjoy the surroundings. I’d also hoped to pick up some water, figuring that at least one of the numerous springs that rise on the summit would be running. No such luck. I decided press on in the hope of finding a sheltered spot

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Trouble its a pretty exposed spot up here and the wind was roaring and grass is in short supply. The compensation was that it was cool and walking along a high level ridge in the late evening is a simple joy

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The bog cotton was giving everything an almost frost-like feeling. The photos can’t do justice to how beguiling it was

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They have massively improved the paths up here so I made swift progress over Waun Fach without ever finding a respite from the wind. I tried a few grassy groughs, but none were suitable

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Eventually I had to plunge a hundred metres or so down the Y Grib Ridge and found a sort of level pitch on a terrace of deep lush grass. What it lacked in comfort it more than made up for with a  superb sunset vista

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There was just enough wind to keep the insects at bay without it being too cold and I sat outside, read and drank many brews of tea before turning in well past 11pm

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Tough to tear yourself away from views like this

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I expected a blazing sun to cook the tent and have me outside early. I awoke at 8am with no sign of the sun. I was in the cloud again. Looking up was clear blue though and the sky was surely to clear and on queue as the water boiled for my last cuppa before I ran out of water, it did

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It was an amazing morning. The east wind had cleared any haze from the air and the sky between the wispy clouds was a deep azure blue. Pen y Fan and Beacons poked above the cloud and I thought of TBF on her 25 mile sponsored walk around the range. She was on Pen y Fan summit round about the time I too this photo

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I decided to walk all around the escarpment to Lord Hereford’s Knob and on a day like this it was amazing. It really puts a spring in the step to have views like this to accompany you and I covered the ground swiftly

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There were several D of E groups out most of whom seemed cheerfully incompetent, walking in various directions none which seemed to be the right one!

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I topped out on the Knob and where the panorama across the Wye valley is breathtaking

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Despite the glorious day I had this very popular and easily accessible summit to myself but it was still very windy and bit chilly. Added to the fact I’d not had breakfast and had no water pushed me onwards to resupply and take on calories

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I had to walk much further down the Nant Bwch stream before the water was flowing sufficiently well to be drinkable. I found a fine spot and set about making my bacon sandwiches and several cups of tea to re-hydrate

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I had thought about dropping down to Capel y Ffin and walking back over the ridge to the car. The fact that out of the wind it was still really hot had me thinking of a better plan. I retraced my steps back toward the edge and the curved off towards the summit of Twyn Talycefn.

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The strong breeze was keeping the skies clear and the temperatures perfect for walking. Much better to be up high in weather like this

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Looking back to the ridge I’d walked the previous evening

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I dropped down to the Grwyne Fawr Reservoir with an idea of a sneaky swim.

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I don’t normally like swimming in reservoirs as they do have their dangers but I found a stunning little spot on the banks and took a short dip without straying too far into the water.

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Another cup of tea seemed in order as I felt like I had the whole place to myself.

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Then it was a simple matter of the long walk back down past the dam to the car

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A nice easy angled path to finish the day with grand views back to the dam and the deep greens of the valley under the still totally clear sky

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Another superb one-nighter although I would have enjoyed a bit of company as I’ve done most of this years trips solo. 15-16 miles over the two days with the aimless wandering I did looking for a pitch and just enjoying being out.

Black Mountain Backpack

May be the last such trip for a while. The last couple of weeks have been just too hot and sultry for walking so I’ve been getting my exercise in the water with some wild swimming, more of which in future posts. Then its holiday time for me and the family as we head to Wales and France for some sociable fun with friends

 

Madcap Backpack in the Black Mountains   8 comments

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I’ve been making promises to myself to get out and do more back packing and wild camping. I read lots of blogs and trip reports about cracking trips, mostly short to take advantage of quality weekend time but I never seem to get around to it. That’s all going to change. Armed with a new tent and after a rushed packing/eating session we’d eaten tea and were out walking in the Black Mountains by 6pm

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It was great to be out after work. Less than two hours after shutting the lid on my work laptop at home I was on my way up the Cats Back ridge

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As we raced up the sun went down

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The light was spectacular and of course at this time on a Friday we had this most wonderful ridge to ourselves

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We hurried on past the trig pillar on Black Hill towards our intended overnight stop

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I’d had my eye on a spot a mile so beyond for several years. A small sheltered area of grass just off the path. Its always been dry but after the recent snowfall and heavy rain it was very soggy. We managed to get the tent up and settled inside just as it got dark.

Also had a new tent to play with. Since the demise of my Quasar I don’t have a two-person tent (other than my Lightwave which is really for 3 people and is pretty heavy). Bring on the Nigor Parula 2. I’m pretty impressed as it’s amazingly light for a two-person tent (around 1.8kg) and fits my needs for two porches and an ability to sit up in comfort. I’m still getting used to its pitching subtleties (especially the porches to stop them sagging) but so far so good. It did pass my first major test in that the very light and thin groundsheet was pitched on some seriously wet ground without any water ingress. I should however point out that seriously impressive tents are seriously expensive!

Not the driest or flattest pitch but we slept well through a cold night.

We woke the next morning to a frosty and damp tent and glorious sunshine

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I left TJS to snooze while I wandered about to soak up the scene. I can almost see our village from the top but it felt a world away up here.

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I smiled as abundantly as the sun shone, and settled down for a hearty and not very healthy breakfast of bacon butties and jaffa cakes. TJS joined me eventually and we savoured the morning and a long leisurely feast

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Packed and ready for the off we considered our route. It was only a one night outing as I’d planned some cycling in the Peak District the following day. Originally we were just going out to Hay Bluff before returning to the car via a round of the Olchon Valley. As the weather was so grand we decided to extend the walk by taking in Lord Herefords Knob and heading back to the car via Capel y FFin

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The high level path along to Hay Bluff was superb

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The views from the summit over the Wye Valley to the Brecon Beacons and Black Mountain even better

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We both seemed untroubled by the heavier packs than we’d use for a day walk and made swift and easy progress to the summit of LHK.

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The views were still superb but there was a very keen and very cold wind so we didn’t linger. Rather than walk along the Darren Lwyd ridge, right into the wind we opted for the Nant Bwch valley for some shelter

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Its a lovely valley with a series of small waterfalls and grassy patches for a lunch stop. Make a decent camp as well although its only a few minutes from the end of the road

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The Vale of Ewyas is one of the finest valleys in the UK in my opinion. A walk along it or above it as always a pleasure especially on a warm sunny day. Spring really did feel in the air down here

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The downside of the walk extension was having to climb up, over and down one of the Black Mountains main ridges. Sheltered from the wind it was a steep and sweaty climb. I was beginning to think I should have brought shorts

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That changed swiftly as we reached the ridge. We were exposed to the wind and thoughts of shorts turned to thoughts of hats and gloves. It was bitterly cold and we had to move quickly to descend the other side to try and reach shelter from the next ridge

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Ample compensation was provided in the views across the pastoral Herefordshire countryside and the ridge we’d walked the night before

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One last steep descent and one last final climb back up to the car completed a very fine short overnight adventure.

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TJS hasn’t been out much recently and he really seemed to enjoy the trip and the long walk in the sunshine. He’s badly out of shape though and was stiff for the next day or so and struggling to keep up with the old man on the ascents. He does take over on the downhill bits but I have my bad knees excuse for that

First part of adventurous weekend for me. More two-wheeled outdoor action planned for the Sunday

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Stream/Path above Pen y Maes

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Lord Herefords Knob (Twmpa)

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

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Vale of Ewyas

Hay Bluff

East from Hay Bluff

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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.

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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.

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Sunset on Hay Bluff

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Sunset

Hay Bluff

Sunset

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

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