Carmarthen to St Clears and back

This was a signing ride organised by Sustrans to check signs  on NCN 4 were still in place and relevant.

Route

In the main all was well. Some discussion about signage in Carmarthen town which may cause a little confusion with non locals. This to be taken up with the Council.

I had not ridden this section of NCN 4 before and I enjoyed, even the hills!

Usk Reservoir

A gentle walk today around Usk Reservoir.

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Throughout the walk there were good views of the Carmarthen Fans (The Black Mountain) and of course of the reservoir itself.

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Route

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Plenty of sightings of kites, buzzards and a lone cormorant a long way from salty water. We saw a number of anglers who from the posted notices have to abide by a long list of rules, presumably these do not apply to the cormorant. The area also welcomes cyclists and we did see a few mountain bikers.

 

 

Kennet and Avon Canal

This year I thought I would combine a bike pack with a visit to a cousin whom I haven’t seen for a long time.

I drove to Melksham where I left my car at a friend’s house and then cycled south to join the Kennet and Avon Canal and National Cycle Network 4 which I would follow to Aldermaston.

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3 – reverse of Day 2

Day 4 – reverse of Day 1

The trip would be over 4 days there and back, camping for two nights and staying at my cousin’s for one night.

I intended to go sometime in June or early July. Eventually my diary and weather conditions gave me a window from 4/7/2017 to 7/7/2017. If I was being picky the weather was really too hot for the ride but at least better than a wet windy one. The total distance was about 110 miles.

My camping spot for the first and third day were spent at the Bruce Arms situated on the B3087 between Easton Royal and Littleworth. I can recommend this site but worth telephoning to ensure it is not fully booked, a probability during holiday periods. Clearly the pub is a bonus but food is not served during the week.

I found the Cycle Travel web site a useful resource and together with the OS Landranger maps 173, 174 and 175 route finding was not difficult. It is also well signposted as NCN 4.

The route is both on the canal tow path and quiet lanes through pretty villages with more thatched cottages than I had seen in such a short time. There were some hills but all manageable and short lived.

Pictures of my trip follow.

 

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Caen Locks near Devizes. (click for information)

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Vale of Pewsey

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A skillful job.

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My beast of burden.

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Crofton (click for information)

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Bruce Arms campsite

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Compare and contrast!

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Beware low hanging branches!

Bronwydd

As the “Navigator” had a hospital appointment in Carmarthen to check he was still alive, today’s walk would be fairly local.

Route

We parked in the Bronwydd village hall car park and headed downstream alongside the Afon Gwili and passing the station of the Gwili Railway.

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From here we crossed the main road and walked uphill into the countryside and turning north towards Newchurch along a very overgrown bridleway.

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Dr Livingstone I presume?

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Follow me, this is definitely the way. 

Our route turned east towards Cwmdwyfran and again alongside the Afon Gwili back to the car.

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Afon Gwili a fine grade 2 canoeing river at the right levels.

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Can you spot the “Navigator”?

 

SOLVA

This was the “scorchio” week and the decision was made to head for the coast where there  was bound to be sea breezes but it was not to be.

Route

We parked the car in Middle Mill a hamlet just up the road from Solva. From here we walked a lane to Whitchurch and then onto the old St Davids Airfield now a  SSSI.

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Our coffee break was had in a postage size piece of shadow and then via lanes and footpaths down to the coast through Trelerw.

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On reaching the coast path turned east heading for Solva.

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With lunchtime approaching we were desperate for some shade or at least a breeze. There was none of the former and despite being on a high cliff overlooking the earthworks of an old fort there was little of the latter.

Following our food break we continued into Solva and back along the lanes to our car in Middle Mill.

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Brynamman Cycle Ride

I have had this ride in my mind for some time, taking in the mountain road to Llangadog but returning prior to that village.

Route

I parked opposite the Black Mountain Centre and started the climb along the A4069 which entailed a couple of “photo opportunities” (rest stops) until I reached the Herbert Quarry.

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The long and winding and steep road ahead

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From there it was a welcome down hill ride to the sharp left turning which would take me back to Brynamman via narrow lanes and views over the countryside to include distant sightings of Carreg Cennen Castle.

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Carreg Cennen Castle in the distance

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View from the road summit

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Carreg Cennen a bit nearer

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My destination not on the signpost!

 

I was looking forward to a coffee back at the centre and perhaps a cake but doom and gloom the cafe closed for food at 1400! To be fair I was offered a coffee if needed but it seemed churlish to reopen just for me.

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Waterfall Country

With the recent rains it was a good choice to visit Waterfall Country near Neath. We parked up in Pontneddfechan sharing the car park with a mini bus full of wet suited youngsters presumably heading for some gorge walking. Judging by the screams we heard a little later the water must have been cold!

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Craig y Ddinas

Route

The first fall we visited was a there and back walk to the east of Craig y Ddinas but I forget the name of the falls and it is not named on the map – no doubt the “Navigator” will remind me. It looked likely that the falls could be ascended carefully but not today.

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I’ve forgotten its name.

Back at the car park we now followed the signed path leading upwards and on to Sgwd y Eira. On the path we passed two ruined farmsteads which must have had a hard time making a living in this wild area.

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Heading up hill en route to Sgwd y Eira

We heard the fall before seeing it and it was running well.

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This fall has a walkway behind the downpour but must be taken with great care. Before crossing we donned full waterproofs. Probably after a dry spell this may not be necessary but today it was essential.

We all made it through safely.

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Looking down on Sgwd y Eira

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From below

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Gore Tex testing

There was now a steep climb out of the valley and on to our next objective Sgwd y Pannwr a steep descent! Before the obvious improvements to paths in the area clearly with safety in mind you could walk close to the waters edge leading to the waterfall system and we were hoping that it would not be necessary to march up and down the steep valleys to view each fall. Thankfully the old path still exists albeit a narrow one with steep drops down to the river. Again care is needed  especially with young children in tow.

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Sgwd y Pannwr

Following lunch where we watched more gorge walkers/swimmers getting immersed in their sport, Sgwd Isaf Clun Gwyn was our next venue and then onto Sgwd Clun Gwyn the last of our day.

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Gorge walkers

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Sgwd Isaf Clun Gwyn

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Sgwd Clun Gwyn from opposite bank

A longer walk will take you west to the Afon Nedd Fechan where there is another series of waterfalls and will lead back to the car park at Pontneddfechan.

 

 

 

St Davids

Our usual Monday date was postponed because of stair rod type rain and so Friday was chosen. Unfortunately the “Navigator” takes politics seriously and had stayed up late to witness May’s humiliation and his own tiredness.

The theme for the day was to be flowers and St Davids the venue. When we arrived the first thing we noticed was a new roundabout and road had been built since our last visit.

Route

We set set off  in a westerly direction first along a footpath and then lanes leading to Porthselau on the coast where people were happily sunbathing.

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Following coffee we then turned north passing Whitesands Bay and onto St Davids Head for a lunch stop.

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Whitesands Bay with Carn Llidi

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The return journey was via the shoulder of Carn Llidi passing the Youth Hostel and along the narrow lanes barely wide enough to accommodate tractors and pedestrians at the same time!

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The flower theme follows.

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Echium

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Orchid

 

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Honeysuckle

 

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Foxglove

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Yellow daisy type flowers.

Pumpsaint

Today’s walk was based on Pumpsaint better known for its connection to the Dolaucothi gold mines.

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Route

We had bee promised that most of this walk would be new to us despite having walked in the area on a number of occasions. We would see.

Immediately after parking the car we set off in a direction that I had not been before and so the “Navigator’s” pronouncement was proving correct.

In Wales it is frequently the case that farms carry the same name but distinguished by the suffix lower (isel,) middle (ganol) or higher (uchaf). Someone’s knowledge of geography had however gone awry as Penarth Uchaf was at the bottom of the hill and Penarth Isel was at the top! perhaps it was done to confuse the Romans.

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This is not Penarth near Cardiff

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The old fashioned milk churn stand

Although the weather was dry the clouds were low and not the best for photos of the landscape and hence none in this blogg.

Near Froodvale Farm we headed east to cross the A482 and onto the village of Caio. From here the route was north west to overlook the old gold mines and then into the grounds of the Dolaucothi Estate.

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Carmarthenshires Yukon

We did try to follow a signed public footpath across a field but there was no exit and we retraced our steps to head north and uphill to the spot height of 283.

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Well well.

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Politics being discussed

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Paul trying to sneak into the “Navigator’s” rucksack

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Our high spot

This would have been a good viewpoint of the surrounding countryside but the misty weather thought otherwise.

Our route back to the car was through a woodland. The “Navigator” had been correct as the only part of this walk I had done before was that part within the estate.

LLangollen

My wife and I were dog sitting in Guilden Sutton near Chester and so I managed an away day with Andy. We decided to visit Llangollen.

Route

We parked near the school and walked along the canal and then onto a footpath just up from the Museum and passing above the Valle Crucis Abbey.

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We were heading towards Creigiau Eglwyseg, the limestone outcrop which is above the Dee Valley.

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At Plas yr Eglwygiau Eglwysegseg we we joined Offas Dyke and then climbed up the first valley onto the top of the limestone escarpment.

We walked east slowly descending and then climbed the hill to Castell  Dinas Bran and back to the car.

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