Archive for the ‘ysgyryd fawr’ Tag

(Very) Early Morning on Bryn Arw   15 comments

All the talk over the weekend of my previous two walks had been about the good weather and the crowds out in the mountains across the UK. This included scenes of madness at places like Pen y Pass and the Storey Arms as sunshine and panic over the impending COVID-19 crisis really started to hit home.

It was becoming clear that any trips to the mountains would have to be carefully planned and discrete to avoid adding to the crowds and the potential spread of this unknown foe. I hatched a plan that I would get my walking fix by only heading out either very late in the day or early in the morning. I figured if I got up the same time I head to work in the office (around 6am) I could fit in a walk and be back home at my desk before 9am, avoiding any people as far as possible.

The Monday after our two previous walks I put this to the test with one of my favourite short walks, Bryn Arw.

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Even in the peak of the day and on many visits I’m still yet to meet anyone on this diminutive hill and its fine little ridge.

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At 6:45am when I set off that was more than true. Despite feeling somewhat bleary eyed it was grand to be out at first light and the chill air and sharp frost soon had my eyes open!

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The usual range of views was there but its rare for me to see them in this light. I’m not much of a morning person. Sunrise behind Ysgyryd Fawr.

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The fabulous grassy path along the ridge. It’s one of my all time favourite stretches in South Wales. Mainly as I always have it to myself. Its one of those places I’m surprised isn’t better known as an easy couple of hours walk.

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Across frosty fields to the Sugar Loaf.

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The Social Distancing measures yet to reach these ladies…

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A really enjoyable outing and one I was looking forward to repeating in the coming weeks while working at home.

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I was back at my desk before 9am, bright-eyed and ready for the day.

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What that day brought was increasing talk of Lockdown, a phrase none of us had ever used before but is now in the global psyche. By lunchtime it was clear that staying at home would be the instruction for all of us.

My thoughts turned from outdoor activities to my son, TJS. He was still in his student house in Lancaster, on his own and was planning on coming home by train later in the week. I was really worried about his train travel or whether the lockdown would stop him travelling at all. I just wanted him home, safe with us. By lunchtime I’d convinced him that he needed to come home now and that I’d collect him. I left at lunchtime and had him back home in time for a late tea. By the time we got home the new Lockdown was in force.

He’s become used to the lively atmosphere of a University city and finds our peaceful home in rural Herefordshire a little dull. However in the current circumstances, even though he is obviously missing his friends, I think he’s relieved to living somewhere that’s much safer than a city with more opportunities for outside exercise (and a regular supply of beer from the old man!)

For the foreseeable, hill walking was off the agenda and our local fields are not very good for walking. An alternative means of exercise would be needed.

Another “Go-To” – Hatterall Hill   4 comments

Into December and winter was here. Another cold and blustery day but with the promise of sunshine dragged me out for another walk.

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Another go to favourite of Hatterall Hill, the large corrie and circuit at the end of the eastern ridge of the Black Mountains.

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After parking up at the Cwmyoy village hall the first stretch is lovely open pasture through to the village itself. At least it was. Its now planted with crops and after endless rain it was a soggy, muddy mess. Views were still great though.

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Up through the village and past my favourite wonky church.

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And the steep climb onto the small peak above the village created by an ancient landslip.

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The views across the end of the Vale of Ewyas to Ysgyryd Fawr were superb.

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There was more cloud about than I’d hoped but it did create some nice light effects.

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By the the time I was heading back along the other side to the Trig Pillar the sky over me cleared to a stunning blue and the views were magnificent.

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The horizon clouds were creating wonderful images and light effects.

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Even the bracken looks grand in this light.

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The walk down the end of the ridge was a sheer delight in these conditions

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Rather than walk on my usual route that repeats the now soggy crop field, I walked to the far end of the ridge and down the narrow lanes to reach the car. The lanes were swamped with mud and were not much drier than the fields but it was nice to try a slightly different route for a change.

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Only one day into December but it was already more memorable than November for walking (Barcelona aside!)

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The Reliable Go To…..   6 comments

When faced with an opportunity for a short walk on a showery day, the Sugar Loaf always fits the bill.

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This is such a long way back in time that I only have the vaguest recollection of the day so I have to rely on the photographs

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Clearly heavy showers were in abundance judging by said photos.

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I don’t recall getting wet though.

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Clearly August though judging by the lush green of the bracken.

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And the purple of the blooming heather.

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I think it was a warm and sultry day (TJS rarely wears shorts so it can’t have been cold)

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And TBF is down to T-shirt as further evidence of warm weather.

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A fine summit I’ve climbed many times and will no doubt continue to treat it as one of my “go-to” walks.

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Expansive views over to the Forest of Dean.

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Anf a fine viewpoint for Ysgyryd Fawr

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Probably a great walk I enjoyed!

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Posted November 18, 2019 by surfnslide in Black Mountains, Walking

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Amongst the Bracken   17 comments

To steal some words from the current political debate. Its time to stop talking about Europe and focus on an ambitious domestic agenda. Apologies for the spurious HTML code that WordPress have kindly inserted. Took me several attempts just to convince it to post what I’d actually written. Hopefully it’s a one off glitch.

I’m further behind with the blog than I think I ever have been. 3 months and several days out, weekends and week long trips.

Lets kick off with a short walk around Blorenge, the large mass the overlooks Abergavenney.

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A grey and humid day so this walk has the advantage of high start and very little climbing as well as nice combination of interesting stuff and expansive views.//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

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The Black Hole or Pwll Ddu to give its welsh name.//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

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And here things went a little awry. I’ve done this walk over grassy fields and paths in early spring. In Autumn, Bracken is king and it had taken over. It was passable but no place for shorts with nettles hiding at calf height. It was only about 200 yards of this tangle but it did put something of a damper on the day.//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

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Things improve for the walk around Gilwern Hill with its disused quarries and strange artificial ridges.//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

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Perched above the Usk Valley its a fine stroll – and no bracken.//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

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Past the old workings and water features that powered the mines and quarries.//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

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We stopped for lunch and TBF decided she’s had enough with a bad shoulder.//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

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Me and TJS carried on with the walk around the edges of Blorenge and back over the summit. More superb views over Abergavenny and Ysgyryd Fawr.//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

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Storms were nearby that seemed to creep ever closer but never quite reached us.//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

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Finishing off by meeting up with TBF at the car by the Pen Fford Goch Pond.//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

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Top walk – just avoid the bits above the quarry in summer!

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Windy   11 comments

Between the last walk up Ysgyryd Fawr and this one we did a short walk on the Begwyns just north of Hay on Wye. The weather was so grey and dreary that I didn’t take a single picture so this is the next on the list.

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The circuit of Hatterrall Hill from Cwmyoy is default walk when we have an afternoon to spare. Long enough for a decent stretch but short enough to fill a half day.

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We’ve walked it many times but always in the same direction – clockwise – so tried it the other way round for a change including parking outside the wonky church at Cwmyoy rather than the village hall to shave off some time (the forecast was very uncertain)

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The forecast showers didn’t seem to materialise and it was in fact a very sunny and pin sharp day. The low winter sun creating some stunning vistas.

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What the photos don’t show is how extraordinarily windy it was. The forecast was for windy weather but not like this.

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I could barely stand up and was blown across the slopes a number of times even braced by my poles. TBF was actually blown off here feet a couple of times.

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Despite the cracking views we’d both had enough battling against the wind and abandoned the idea of the usual high level circuit.

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We pitched down into the corrie losing the wind and picked up what turned out to be a very fine traversing path we’ve never walked before.

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The photo below looking almost calm and spring-like – it wasn’t!

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We had a brief stop for lunch between these two walls. It was calm when sat down but peering over the wall was like looking into a wind tunnel.

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We climbed to the top of the small summit created by an ancient landslip where the wind was incredible. I’ve no idea how I managed to take this photo but the blurred background is indicative of just how hard it was to stand even remotely still.

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TBF has ben forced to remove a tight fitting hat to save from losing it!

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I’m a fan of the bare look of winter trees framing mountain views so here some good ones from the descent back to the car.

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Short, sweet and very, very windy!

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A New Perspective on Ysgyryd Fawr   10 comments

Back to the mundane normality of a cold grey British January. Ysgyryd Fawr is always a favourite when we need a short walk out in the hills. The obvious route has been somewhat marred by car park improvement that seems to have dictated a rather steep charge to park for a walk. Paying to park in the hills is a real bug-bear of mine. We should be encouraging people into the outdoors not putting them off. The end result was looking for a new route so we parked up – for free – in the lyrically named Llanvihangel Crucorney and approached from the north for the first time, passing Llanvihangel Court on the way.

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It was a grey day that looked like rain was imminent but we stayed dry and the route, clearly little known was deserted and pleasant.

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We skirted along the eastern slopes and back up onto the main ridge, turning to head for the summit. It was ferociously windy but refreshing and so far still dry.

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The most noticeable thing was how bare the summit ridge was. There is normally a path bounded by grass but it seemed almost stripped bare to mud across the entire width. I’m not sure if this was due to weather conditions or an increase in foot traffic bit it didn’t feel right at all. I’ll have to to return in the spring and see if the grass is making a recovery.

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We didn’t linger on the top due to the wind and took a similar if slightly variant route down.

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As we descended the skies cleared a little and there was a touch more in the way of blue sky.

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Some of the late afternoon light effects were quite dramatic and it finished off a quite a decent walk and will now be my default route up the mountain.

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Almost 7 miles in the end and a very enjoyable and much quieter route to the top.

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Old Places – Sugar Loaf   11 comments

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It’s good having the prodigal son arrive back home from University and see him ambling about the house again. He was keen to head out for a walk on his old local hills. The forecast was ok but things looked deeply gloomy when we parked up but perked up no end as we climbed one of our go to favourites for a short day, the Sugar Loaf.

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We’d mistaken a bank of mist hanging on the lower slopes for the overall cloud base. we soon climbed through it to reveal atmospheric ethereal wisps of cloud at the halfway point as it were.

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It was cold and not much in the way of sunshine but good to be out after a dreadful wet day before.

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We had in mind a much longer walk than usual taking in a couple of the long ridges that fan out to the south having never walked them. 

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Views over to Ysgyryd Fawr, another go to favourite but lower down the list since they started making you pay to park at the bottom. 😦

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There is a very short rocky ridge on the top which I always enjoy and makes  for a great photo foreground.

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The summit was surprisingly quiet but we didn’t linger as the skies started to threaten rain.

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This led us to abandon our plan, instead finding a new and very pleasant route that traversed through fields and woods from one ridge to another. We rather liked the gnarly trees.

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A simple walk of around 5.5 miles but nice to find a subtley different variation on a grand mini mountain.

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It was also great to be out walking with TJS again, familiar territory, familiar company.

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