Archive for the ‘whimble’ Tag

Peace and Quiet in the Radnor Hills   8 comments

Had to check the dates on my photo files to recall when I did this walk such was the time that passed (17th April if you’re interested). A good forecast and time for a change of scene. Last few good days in the locality I’ve spent in the crowded Brecons or the slightly less crowded Black Mountains. This time I wanted solitude so it was the Radnor Hills, little known clutch of hills tucked between nowhere in particular and the back of beyond. The sort of hills you are surprised to actually find there, like you were expecting an expanse of flat arable farmland or a suburban sprawl. Anyway they are very fine indeed as you can see.

The start of the walk is a little brutal, a mile up a very steep road before the open hillside. Under blue skies and the air filled with the sound of birdsong it was  barely a chore

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What was a chore was trying to use the panorama function on my camera. It didn’t seem to like the contrasting colours in this wonderful scene and after around twenty attempts and a fair number of expletives I gave up. The normal photos came out rather well though

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Onwards and upwards into these grassy hills. Whimble is the crowning glory seen here peeking through the trees.

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Its not actually on access land or a right of way and last time I came up here there were no stiles or gates. looks like the landowner has relented a little and stile was now in place. Arriving breathless on the summit (for it is a very steep climb) I took in the fabulous sunny views across pastoral farmland to the distant hills of Cambria, the Brecon Beacons and Black Mountains

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I even managed to get the panoramas working although still struggling to get the light balance right as you can see

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There isn’t an obvious accessible onward route from Whimble so I just retraced my steps and headed up the gorgeous grassy path up the valley towards the highest point of Black Mixen

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On the top I met the only people I saw that day. A very nice couple with their bouncy dogs and we had a pleasant chat about their proposed route and mine and the ever increasing plague of ticks in the hills, Lymes Disease, that sort of thing

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The blue skies were replaced with more grey as I pressed on around to Great Rhos and then downwards, stopping for lunch  a few hundred yards from the very centre of the back of beyond.

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I’d had a plan for a very long walk taking in the beautifully named Water-Breaks-Its-Neck waterfall and the hills to the south of the main road. However as is my style I couldn’t be ar5ed and just walked down the edge of Harley Dingle

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As on my previous walk I felt sad that this beautiful valley, full of treasures, small streams and picnic sites is completely despoiled by its use as weapons firing range for a private contractor – its obviously a complete no-go area unless you like to shoot things in a lavish manner

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All that was left was a very pleasant stroll back through the fields to New Radnor where I’d parked the car

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A day of quiet austere hills, fabulous views, strange and evocative names and landscapes that are out of bounds.

Radnor Forest – What’s in a name?   18 comments

Regular readers will know that I’m on a bit of a quest to discover some new walking areas and the quieter side of mountain life. Aiding me in this quest are the “Hillwalking in Wales” guides by Peter Hernon and the second volume made reference to the Radnor Forest. I’ve driven past this area on the A44 numerous times on my way to the coast and the northern hills without ever giving them a second glance. It was time to check them out.

The previous day had been my grumpy walk in the Brecon Beacons so I wasn’t desperately keen to go out. However I’d promised Jane a day out in the hills and the weather did look ok. We’d chosen a horseshoe around Harley Dingle taking in the two main summits. As you’ll see some of the places have lovely evocative names hence the title of the post. (by the way even I’m not able to steer a perfectly straight line across the summit of Black Mixen – I’d forgotten to turn my GPS tracker on my phone back on after lunch)


Radnor Forest Route Map - 8 miles, 2000 feet of ascent

We parked up in the sleepy village of New Radnor and started up Mutton Dingle. The first part of the walk to the forest is up a punishingly steep road although as the views were expansive and there is no traffic it was no real problem. It would be a nice walk in spring when the hedgerows would be splashed with the colour of new growth.

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Mutton Dingle

Right at the top of the road there is a small parking area that would be really handy for a short out and back walk to avoid the road. As the route turns north along the side of the forest it turns into green path with views to the west over Harley Dingle and beyond. I don’t know why but I love these green grassy paths, probably that bright natural vivid green colour.

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Hardy tree

We even got buzzed by a low flying helicopter which appeared to be from the electricity board, checking on their power lines I suppose. And there was me wondering why my electric bills were so high….

I can safely say I was in a much better mood and Jane was thoroughly enjoying being out. Only downside is it was terrifically windy and would stay that way all day. As you reach the edge of the trees the little mini mountain of Whimble suddenly rears up ahead of you. There is no indication that it’s there until you round the corner of the path.

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Whimble

It just begs to be climbed so we pushed up it’s extremely steep west ridge onto the gale force wind on the top.

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Steep

The views were superb down to the Brecons and across to the Cwmdeuddwr Hills I’d been to a couple of weeks back.

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East towards Hergest Ridge

It’s a cracking little top and ideal for a summer stroll with the kids but today it was far too windy to hang about so we went down the east ridge and up again past Whinyard Rocks. We found a couple of airy little sheep tracks to contour around Bache Hill.

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Harley Dingle

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Harley Dingle

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Jane balancing in the wind

At one point we dropped into a tiny green valley with the most idyllic tiny campsite in it – well worth a return although no water source nearby.

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Secret green valley

We found an old quarry hollow just before the climb to Black Mixen where we had a draughty lunch. The whole place looked like it was about to collapse and was full of sheep sh*t so we didn’t overstay its welcome and headed onto Black Mixen. There is a somewhat unsightly communications mast on the top but it doesn’t detract too much from this vast heathery plateau.

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Black Mixen summit looking to Great Rhos

I was revelling in another totally new area with its new vistas and experiences and as I’d hoped we had it all to ourselves. The only slightly sad thought I had, was this would be prime territory for the evil wind-farm developers although perhaps the transmission mast might be a blessing in disguise – perhaps they can’t co-exist. Lets hope so

It was still pretty windy and cold so we pressed on around the head of Harley Dingle towards the highest peak of the area, Great Rhos. It looks a long way but it’s pretty much level and there is a decent path all the way around. In fact it’s a highly enjoyable high level stroll with views across to the rocks on Great Creigiau and the upper reaches of Harley Dingle.

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Harley Dingle

As we approached the summit the sun came out and the views became clearer and I could make out the Shropshire Hills to the north – Long Mynd, Caer Caradoc and Stiperstones – as well as a now sunlit Brecon Beacons.

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Jane approaching Great Rhos summit

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Brecon Beacons from Great Rhos

The paths across the summit plateau have been badly churned by trail motorbikes, it really is about time these bloody things are banned from upland areas – they cause immense amounts of damage. It gave the hardest walking of the day until we found a much cleaner and better sheep track to head down. I took a wander to the edge of Harley Dingle for a look and well worth the effort it was. It’s a superb pretty much hidden valley with steep sides and lovely golden autumn colours, a fantastic route for a walk.

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Whimble and Harley Dingle

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Whimble and Great Creigiau

Well it would be if someone hadn’t given it to the MOD so they can practice shooting at things. The whole valley right the way to the summit plateau is completely out-of-bounds. A travesty in my book, insult to injury from the fact the valley floor is littered with sheds and excavations making the whole place look like a building site. Rant over. Probably

I wandered along the edge taking in the views and Whimble now looked even better from this angle. We found a nice sheltered hollow on the way down for afternoon tea and we enjoyed the late afternoon sunshine.

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Afternoon tea

There is a nice long raking path that drops you into the end of Harley Dingle so at least you can see the start. In fact it’s a lovely place for a summer picnic by the river and If you are lucky the army won’t shoot you

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Harley Dingle

All that remained was a short walk around the hill to New Radnor but even then the sun came out for one last blast and we were treated to some glorious autumn sunshine lighting up the valley and New Radnor itself.

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Approaching New Radnor

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Autumn sunshine

So the Radnor Forest was another new area explored and what a top-notch one it was too. Another great day when I should have been working and all the better for the company of my wife to make sure I stayed out of the grumpy zone. Highly recommended with varied scenery from little mountains, to deep valleys and wild heather moorland. There are several longer options to take in other well named spots like Davy Morgan Dingle and a waterfall called “Water Breaks it Neck” as well as decent looking horseshoe from the north. On top of that, no-one has heard of them so they are deserted. Apart from a woman walking her dogs at the start we didn’t see anyone all day. Give them a go

I even managed to find a song called “Radnor Forest” to go with little slide show!

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