Mynydd Du and Afon Twrch

My brother in law, Andy and I were due for our boys week and we started with a two day back pack on Mynydd Du and Afon Twrch and then climbing onto Cribarth and back to base.

Day 1

Day 2

The idea for the walk came from “Backpacking in Wales” published by Cicerone. This book is now out of print and there are no plans to update it, which is a shame.

We parked in Dan yr Ogof where we left the car for £3.00 per day which you have to say is a bargain. After a little faff we started up hill and along Fan Hir with great views opening up.

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Views starting to appear

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Fan Hir

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On Fan Hir

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Corn Ddu and Pen y Fan in the distance

We stopped for lunch in the cairn on Fan Brycheiniog looking down onto Llyn y Fan Fawr.

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Llyn y Fan Fawr

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Lunch stop

From here we continued around the escarpment to Bannau Sir Gar to look down onto Llyn y fan Fach and then on a compass bearing headed south west to the limestone ridge of Carreg Las. here there were some amazing formations.

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Usk reservoir in the distance

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First view of Llyn y Fan Fach

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Extreme hurdling?

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Looking back to our route

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Llyn y fan Fach

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Looking back to our route

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Limestone formations

At Blaenllynfell we climbed steadily onto Foel Fraith and then south east to Carn Fadog before heading to our overnight camp alongside the Afon Twrch.

We had seen only one walker all day and were somewhat surprised to find as we reached the valley side of the Afon Twrch two tents where we expected to camp. We could also see the occupants skinny dipping in the river, clearly escaped nutters!

We had no choice but to descend and hope there was another spot for us. The descent was a nightmare through head high bracken and very uneven ground with no sign of any path.

As we reached the “camp site” one of the lads suggested there may be some spots further down stream BUT across the river. It was getting late now and with little energy left to explore for a narrow crossing we found a shallow area and just waded in. There is a theory that your gaiters are always an inch short of the depth of water being crossed and so it proved!

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Five star accommodation

It was now 2000 hours and all we wanted was to erect our tents, eat and crash out.

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Andy filtering water

The next day we broke camp and put on our wet boots and headed out of the valley. As we left we saw the other campers, towels in hand heading down stream for another swim. We lost sight of them but their screams indicated the water was a little fresh!

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Leave no trace

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The climb out

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Rowan berries

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Shouldn’t they be in Scotland?

Our route was south and then east on good paths until we found a non existent path through a bog fest and woodland area. With trust in GPS and compass bearings we found our way to the marked picnic site at the junction of the Afon Giedd and Afon Cyw where we had a welcome lunch.

From here we were again on good paths which led through open land and up onto Cribarth and back to base.

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The green path to Cribarth

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Andy pooped

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A huge sink hole

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Signs of a good walk.

 

Brechfa

Our walk today was centred on Brechfa.

Route

There was no steady walk in but first  through a ford and then a steep climb alongside Banc y Darren. Did we stay up high, of course not we descended down to the Afon Cothi.

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Looking down the steep lane

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Road?

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Did we stay down, of course not we climbed again before a final long and windy descent again to the Afon Cothi.

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Bracket fungi of some kind

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Brechfa in the distance

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We did have a bit of an adventure towards the end when the path we chose (i.e. The so called Navigator) led to a slash and burn episode, but we made it onto the correct path.

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Trust me…..

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This is the way…

The views all day were lovely and topped by seeing a kingfisher land on a piling as we re-crossed the ford near to base.

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He does walk on water!

 

Dolaucothi

Today’s walk was chosen by Paul and taken from Cicerone Guide to walks in Carmarthenshire. The other members of our little band were missing today.

Route

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We parked in the Goldmine car park (National Trust) and headed up hill to Caio, a small village which at least still has a pub.

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This is not a post code!

From the village we walked into the woodlands and continued uphill until we reached the top with fine views of the countryside opening out. It was a little hazy and not the best for photos.

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The route now took us down hill to the Cothi Valley and walk downstream back to the Gold Mines. What did the Romans ever do for us?

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Oh and it stayed dry.

Gower Coast and Inland

With Mr and Mrs Navigator eking out their devalued euros it was left to to me to decide on a walk.

I found a walk described in a recent publication which seemed to fit the bill and would take in part of the south western coast of the Gower as well as some inland walking.

The forecast after some sunny days was for grey skies but dry. However there were grey skies but also  rain throughout the day! No doubt Chris, Paul and Daisy  would have been happier sitting around a nice warm fire with their feet up.

Route

There are few photographs as the views were mainly non existent.

We parked at Pilton Green and tokk a windy route to the coast path – there were a number of white way marking signs which we assume were there to avoid walkers tramping over crops. Unfortunately some were missing! We did manage to arrive on the coast but the mist and clag was low down and there was not much to see. Chris did point out a number of sea cliffs he had climbed in his youth.

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The guide suggested keeping the coast and on to the Lookout Station which would have had views to Worms Head but by then with the continuous rain we were only interested in shelter to have our lunch. A decision was made to cut out the corner and head directly for Rhossili village where a convenient bus shelter was our chosen restaurant.

Following lunch we walked on to Middleton and then across country. We came across some limestone where a number of small cave entrances were seen – a past hobby of Paul.

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On our way we walked past a rustic furniture makker who had some wares on view. One of these was a comfortable looking seat which we were encouraged to try. Apparently the design was by a King of Malawi who had these made so that he could have carnal knowledge of his ladies in a position that was comfortable for him! INn the absence of any ladies we had to take the owners word for this.

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Back at the car it was still raining but as someone once said “a bad day in the hills is better than a good day in the office”.

Bike Pack in the Brecon Beacons

I was looking for a route to  bike pack and I had recently come across a cycling route from Llandeilo to Abergavenny using minor roads and the Momouthshire and Brecon Canal.

Here are the details

I did not plan to cycle the whole length but decided to start in Sennybridge which would give me some 30 plus miles with an additional mileage off the route to the campsite at Pysgodlyn Farm.

Being retired I have the luxury of choosing a weather window, which recently was proving difficult as summer has forgotten to put in an appearance. However here was a chance and I took it although as I drove into Sennybridge I was met with a hail storm which thankfully soon passed and rain was not seen for the  rest of the trip.

 

All packed

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Corn Ddu and Pen Y Fan

The first 9 miles are quite lumpy which was not too bad with fresh legs but on the return were hard work.

I had a coffee break in Brecon before joining the  canal tow path which took me to Pencelli where I again joined the road.

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Coffee at Brecon

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Canal side homes

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River Usk from aquaduct

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An owner from the 60’s?

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Lime kilns

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A redwood

 

En route I had a puncture caused by a drawing pin, hopefully not left to cause annoyance but just a stray incident.  Some 2 miles after Llangynidr the tow path was joined until I arrived at Gilwern where I rejoined the road to head for the A40 and my camp site for the night.

I can recommend Pysgodlyn Farm. It is a flat site with good facilities although for some there is no local pub unless you decide to ride or walk into Abergavenny. From my tent there were good views of the Blorenge.

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The Blorenge

My tent was soon erected and I was looking forward to a coffee but to my horror my lighter was empty and it was impossible to light the meths burner with a fire stick. Thankfully the farm owner lent me some matches and a friendly camper gave me a Bic lighter to keep and all was well with the world.

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Home for the night

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Kitchen

The following morning breakfast was eaten and I was soon on my way down to Abergavenny looking to join the tow path which I had decided I would follow all the way back to Brecon. The canal was quite busy with numerous narrow boats and a  few  boats hired by the hour.

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Llangatwg escarpment

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Future sausages

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Hills above Crickhowell

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Locks at Llangynidr

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We won’t be seeing these again!

 

I stopped at Talybont on Usk for lunch but there was a mild panic as my wallet was not in its usual place. Whilst emptying the panniers a kind lady in a small camper van offered to buy me coffee – this shows there are more good people than bad in this world. However my wallet was hiding at the bottom of the bag and I was able to pay my own way.

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Lunch at Talybont

At Brecon after some 25 miles of flat pedalling I faced the hilly lanes back to Sennybridge, my very own Mont Ventoux! I made it and soon loaded up the car. An enjoyable two days and perhaps the rest of the route can be undertaken a little later.

Stackpole Quay

The “Navigator” had decreed that today we would head for the coast with a little inland to start with and so we parked up in the National Trust car park at Stackpole Quay.

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Route

The day started out a bit damp but brightened up as the day progressed. From the quay we headed towards Barafundle Bay and then inland to cross the estate and onto Bosherton Lily Ponds.

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Looking down to Stacpole Quay

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Stackpole Head

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Looking toward Barafundle Beach

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One of the ponds/lakes

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Eight Arch Bridge

We stopped for lunch on a piece of high ground overlooking the ponds and the lilies which were still in bloom.

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Two of many orchids

From here the path led down to the beach at Broadhaven South with views of Bishop Rock in the bay.

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Broadhaven  South

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Church Rock

The walk now was along the coast path with views of Stackpole Head and then down and across Barafundle Bay and back to the car.

 

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Looking down into a huge collapsed cave

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We saw choughs, a kestrel and a gannet. The latter was diving for food just off Church Rock.

 

Gorseinon to Pontarddulais

The “Navigator” decided on a linear walk today utilising our bus passes (all fully qualified!).

We parked the car in Pontarddulais adjacent to the bus stop and caught a bus to Gorseinon on a very circuitous route taking in most of the roads in the Gorseinon area.

Route

We had been warned that although the paths were shown on the OS map there was a high probability they were not on the ground. However luck was on the “Navigator’s” side and the paths were there, most waymarked.

From the bus station in Gorseinon we headed south and then west towards Lougher joining a traffic free cycle track which led us to the Loughor bridge which of course divides Ospreys from Scarlets but not before a very muddy path.

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Today was Friday but arrived at 1300!

Pontarddulais

Lost again?

 

Unexpectedly we came across a lovely riverside path and park area with picnic benches and a view point. This had been financed by the plastic bag charge of Marks and Spencer.

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Loughor estuary

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A different kind of footpath sign

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Cormorant

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Not just any Greener Living Space …..

 

We now walked north and were pleasantly surprised to find paths and signs where it had been expected they would not exist. The route took us under the M4 to a bend in the river where an enclosed graveyard could be seen. The church had been taken down and rebuilt in the folk museum in St Fagans near Cardiff.

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Old stile

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Afon Loughor

From here we walked through a park and back into Pontarddulais.

 

Mynydd Myddfai

It was just Paul and I today and we chose a walk from the Cicerone publication, “Walking in Carmarthenshire”, which was to lead us onto Mynydd Myddfai.

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Route

We parked at the Myddfai Village Community Hall and Visitor centre. We were too early for a coffee but we should be back well before 1700 when it closes.

The first part of the walk follows the Physicians Trail – a leaflet can be obtained from the centre, although a reprint was awaited – leading to the Physicians Well. From here the walk climbed steadily to the trig point on the summit of Mynydd Myddfai.

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Climbing out of Myddfai

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Pretty

There were some good views of the surrounding countryside including  the Carmarthen Fans, Pen y Fan and Corn Ddu in the Brecon Beacons. The former had some cloud cover but those in the Beacons were clear.

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This way to the Physicians Well

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Carmarthen Fans

We had lunch at the trig point and could see the forecast rain rapidly approaching and so fully kitted out we continued our walk.

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Over tousers? Yes

We thought we could take a short cut down the hill but it led us astray for a short while but we were soon back on track without the necessity of calling out mountain rescue.

The way back to Myddfai was by way of a quiet lane where we celebrated our day with coffee and bara brith.

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Odd sculpture, perils of war?

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Reward

Carding Mill, Long Mynd, Ashes Hollow

Rain. It started during the early hours of Sunday and was still pouring down at 0730 when I dismantled my tent. I sat in the car and read a book until 0930 when I thought it was time Andy should leave his sleeping bag. His excuse was he thought I was still in the land of nod and didn’t want to disturb me!

By the time we left the site the weather had eased and our plan was to again park in Carding Mill Valley and head up to the Long Mynd and descend above Ashes Hollow and back to the car.

Route

We walked up the Valley passing the national Trust cafe which may have our custom later and turned left at Lightspout Hollow, passing a small waterfall. from here we climbed onto the moorland made our way to Pole Bank on the Long Mynd.

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One of a number of times we took off the rainwear

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The path is wide and made up of compressed gravel, an improvement since Andy’s last walk here. We saw a party of mountain bikers and possibly one of a few groups of D of E youngsters.

From the trig at Pole bank we walked along the Long Mynd to just past Pole Cottage  and took a path south east which followed the lip of Ashes Hollow as far as Barristers Plain.

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Places to see from Pole Bank – apparently!

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Pole bank trig point

It was now raining heavily once again but with tummies rumbling we stopped for lunch before continuing down the path to Little Hollow. The views on this walk were obscured a lot of the time but when there was a break the views down into the valleys reminded me of the Lake District.

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Once in Little Stretton we walked on the Ludlow Road and then up into the woods shown as Cunnery Road passing the small reservoir and down a nice path back to the car park but not before celebrating our weekend with coffee and cake in the National Trust car park.

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A just reward

There is plenty more to explore in this area and I’m sure we’ll be back before too long.

 

 

 

 

Caer Caradog

My brother-in-law, Andy and I were able to escape for the weekend and our destination was to be the Shropshire Hills. I had never been there before or even driven in the area. The “Navigator” had confirmed we should enjoy the walking and I had also been in touch with Andy Howell of the blog “Must be this Way” for ideas.

We had considered a backpacking weekend but the weather, especially for Sunday was not looking good and so we decided to book a base camp and have two separate walks. Our first choice for a camp site was a small one in Little Stretton but was fully booked. The second choice which turned out to be a winner was Brook House Farm a few miles east of Church Stretton on the B4371.

Saturday’s walk was pinched from Walking Britain route 3048 and would take in The Lawley and Caer Caradog.

Route

We parked in Carding Mill Valley and then walked through the town of Church Stretton crossing the A49 to find a path which skirted Caer Caradog which led up onto The Wilderness.

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We kept on the ridge and then onto Enchmarsh where we took a by way up to and along Hoars Edge which led to a minor road and the north side of The Lawley. We stopped for lunch here before climbing steadily to the top of the hill which gave extensive views of the Shropshire countryside.

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Looking toward the summit of The Lawley

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Views north and west

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Looking west

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Caer Caradog the next hill

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Summit sculpture on the The Lawley

 

Our next objective was Caer Caradog which meant a descent of the The Lawley and then a climb up to the summit of Caer Caradog. Again good views of the countryside. Following a coffee break we made our last descent and walked back to the car in Carding Mill.

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The start of Caer Caradog

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Outcrops on Caer Caradog

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Three Fingers Rock (?)

We found the camp site which was nice and flat and with just a few tents and camping vans in situ.

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Glamping

With our tents soon pitched we ate a hearty meal before retiring to the local pub for a few glasses of very tasty beer.

During the night the forecast rain poured down. We had already decided that we would walk on Sunday no matter what the weather.

Sunday’s walk follows.