Archive for the ‘nant gau’ Tag

“Twas a dark and stormy October”   10 comments

October half-term week at my parents caravan in mid-Wales is an annual fixture for us. We’ve had some superb weather the past few years with some sunny walks on the beach and in the nearby mountains. Not this year. The weather was cold, wet, grey and miserable most of the time although I was only there for the two weekends at either end.

Still we got out and about so here are a few photos and some words about our little adventures:

Aberystwyth, Clarach Bay

Aberystwyth, Clarach Bay

Lots of dark skies and seas to challenge this budding photographer.

Aberystwyth, Clarach Bay

Aberystwyth, Clarach Bay

And some wildlife, including a seal who we followed up the beach for 30 minutes as he swam and played in the waves a few metres from the beach. Not bad for photos of grey deal in a grey sea under a grey sky

Aberystwyth, Clarach Bay

Aberystwyth, Clarach Bay

Aberystwyth, Clarach Bay

Aberystwyth, Clarach Bay

Storms arrived to batter the coast along with a little sunshine to brighten the mood

Aberystwyth, Clarach Bay

Aberystwyth, Clarach Bay

Aberystwyth, Clarach Bay

The following day was dark and bleak with a beach covered in foam and a wind you could barely stand up.

Aberystwyth, Clarach Bay

Aberystwyth, Clarach Bay

Aberystwyth, Clarach Bay

The dark skies matched my mood as I had to head home and go back to work for a week while TBF and the kids stayed the rest of the week.

When I returned the weather was, well, much worse, a day of torrential rain while I sat in the caravan and worked. The day after was ever so so slightly better. Torrential rain with the occasional sunny interval. Encouraged we headed out to the Hafod Estate to look at the waterfalls guessing they would be impressive after such a wet spell and indeed they were.

Hafod Estate

Hafod Estate

Hafod Estate

Hafod Estate

Hafod Estate

Hafod Estate

Hafod Estate

You can look at a more detailed post from our visit a couple of years back

That evening there was a high tide and combined with strong winds the sea overwhelmed the coast. The car park at the beach was strewn with driftwood where the tide had flowed in over the foreshore. We took another walk along the promenade at Aberystwyth and were stunned to see how much beach was now on the road and the damage to the pavement and railings

Aberystwyth, Clarach Bay

Aberystwyth, Clarach Bay

Aberystwyth, Clarach Bay

I’ve been coming down her for most of my life and I don’t recall seeing this happen before. Never ceases to amaze me the power of the sea and the damage that can be done to seemingly solid structures in the spate of a few hours.

As you may know over Xmas and New Year these storms and high tides returned with even more furious force and have pretty much destroyed the same stretch of sea-front. I can only hope that the the local authority can provide the necessary funds to restore this wonderful seafront that has such a special place in my memory. As we strolled along the prom and through the castle grounds we had no idea of the destruction that was to follow. It will be interesting to see the recovery when we return again in March

Aberystwyth, Clarach Bay

Aberystwyth, Clarach Bay

Aberystwyth, Clarach Bay

Aberystwyth, Clarach Bay

A walk back over the Constitution Hill and back to Clarach for a final stroll on the beach before leaving all behind for the winter

Aberystwyth, Clarach Bay

Aberystwyth, Clarach Bay

Aberystwyth, Clarach Bay

Hafod Estate – A hidden gem   8 comments

When I was a kid me and my parents explored most of the well-known sites in the immediate vicinity of Aberystwyth, especially the numerous Forestry Commission picnic areas and short walks around the local lakes and rivers. One area that we missed was the Hafod Estate a couple of miles from the tourist spot of Devils Bridge. My parents discovered it a couple of weeks before our October trip and said it was pretty good so on our last day before heading home we headed off with a picnic lunch to check it out.

You can find out more about the estate here, but this is brief summary taken from the site:

Hafod Uchtryd, 12 miles south-east of Aberystwyth, is recognised as one of the finest examples in Europe of a Picturesque landscape.

Its most celebrated owner, Thomas Johnes (1748-1816), built a new house in this remote location and laid out its grounds in a manner suited to displaying its natural beauties in sympathy with the ‘Picturesque principles’ fashionable at the time, with circuit walks allowing the visitor to enjoy a succession of views and experiences. Johnes also used the land for farming, forestry, and gardening, in each case trying out new ideas and experimental methods. Hafod became an essential destination for the early tourist in Wales.

I’ve shown a map below of what I guessed was the route we took as the paths aren’t marked all that clearly on the map

There are several trails through the estate but we decided to combine a few parts of all of them into a walk that evolved through the day. The car park is up at the top so we headed down towards the first small river with its gorge, waterfalls and bridge, a good little taster for what was to come.

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Gorge in the Ystwyth tributary

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The first bridge

D is really into walking but L less so so she needs some encouragement and the diversions on this walk were perfect.

We continued on a well made path across to one of the highlights, a wobbly chain bridge across the Ystwyth gorge.

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Chain Bridge

The kids went back and forth over the bridge, amused by its swinging around. I took photos of the small gorge, my mind already whirring with a plan to come down with GM and have a play in the water. It would be ideal for some floating down rapids type fun although it would need to be in high water

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Ystwyth Gorge and Chain Bridge

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Ystwyth Gorge

As we headed downstream following the river the sun came out after a pretty grey start to the day and the light in the trees was stunning.

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Autumn sunshine

We reached a lovely bridge over the Nant Gau and were intrigued by a sign to “Cavern Cascade”.

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Nant Gau

We set off on the path that traversed an open pasture before heading along the much smaller mini-gorge of the Nant Gau and into the dark forest. We walked for a fair way before we reached a very pretty waterfall on a side stream where the path seemed to end.

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Waterfall, Nant Gau tributary

It was distinctly un-cavern-like so I took one last look to see what was around the corner. Just as well. The river turns and sharp bend and disappears behind a small crag through which was what looked like an old mine passage. In fact it had been cut specifically to create an underground viewing platform for close up look at the waterfall.

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The “Cavern”

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The “Cascade”

Needless to say the kids thought this was extremely exciting even though the tunnel was a bit wet. Photos don’t really do it justice unfortunately but it was a nice surprise to find it and well worth the effort (some of the video in the slide show gives a better impression).

Suitably satisfied we headed off along the “Gentleman’s Walk” and found a nice bench in dappled sunlight in the forest for our picnic lunch. Considering it was the end of October it was remarkably warm and we spent a very pleasant hour eating and messing about.

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Picnic in the forest

Everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves so we continued along this path high up through the trees above the Ystwyth, passing through more groves of trees, another tunnel through the rock and another pretty waterfall, the “mossy seat”.

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Tunnel on the Gentlemans Walk

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Mossy Seat Waterfall

The path then drops steadily down to the Ystwyth, now much more open and broader. The views back towards the higher ground and downstream in the fading autumn light were stunning.

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View NW towards the Cambrian Mountains

When we reached the bridge we had a whole host of routes back to the car.

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Ystwyth from the Alpine Bridge

As the light was already starting to fade (the clocks went back the night before) we took a direct route across some broad open pastures which would make a great place for a summer picnic.

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Sunny meadows on the route home

Just as we reached the car the sun vanished behind some grey clouds and it started to drizzle.

Considering I’d never heard of this place until a couple of weeks ago it’s an absolute gem. A great place for a family day out and not bad for a decent half a day walk to take in all the best bits. Well worth checking out if you’re down that way and especially on those days when a visit to the high fells isn’t really attractive.

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