LLANDDAROG CIRCULAR (SOUTH)

 

We have been having some crazy weather in the last week, but all has not been lost.
Bank Holiday Sunday the sun shone and we had a family day on the beach at Llansteffan.  It then poured down on Bank Holiday Monday. We had another family day in Brecon on Tuesday with the ladies shopping and the chaps canoeing, including my grandson’s first trip in a canoe. Wednesday biblical rain!
So here we are on Thursday with a dry day and one for the bike.
I decided to pedal from my home and take in some of the lanes lying south and west.
You will see from the route (click) that there was a lot of need of the granny gear but it’s all good practice!
 
I had two interesting bird experiences; the first with a blue tit flying alongside me for a few seconds and then a buzzard which flew directly in front of me for a short time.
On the return leg I came across a short section of flooded road but with feet up, managed to get through unscathed.
The trip was about 12 miles
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USK RESERVOIR

 

The forecast for today, Thursday, was looking reasonable with any rain later in the day. I decided on a trip around the Usk reservoir and perhaps an extension in the near vicinity.
Here is the route (click) and a picture below
The journey by car, when I turned off the main road from Llangadog to Ammanford, leads into some beautiful country with mountains and moors soon coming into sight.
This area introduced me to hill walking when two friends (one of whom I refer to now as “The Navigator” in my other blog http://randomdailywalks.blogspot.co.uk/ (click) decided to show me what it is all about. It was a wet, turning to snow day and my dear wife suggesting they surely wouldn’t go in this weather? So innocent.  A long story told short is that I finished wet, cold and in awe of Cyril, my other friend who had about 30 years on me who just strolled up the snout of one of the Carmarthen Fans as if it was flat.  He apparently said to the “Navigator” that’s the last we will see of him.  WRONG.
I still get cold and wet but enjoy every hill and valley and now I also have the bike.
Back to the present. From the car park I took the road which leads down to the dam of the reservoir and where a number of people were fishing, some from the bank and some from boats.
  I stopped for a while but no fish were seen. I carried on and the tarmac turned into a track which was  reasonably firm with some puddles – the bike’s first mud.
I stopped on a few occasions to look at the views which took in the Carmarthen Fans and further away Corn Ddu and Pen – y – Fan of the central Beacons.
Before long I was back near the car and decided to extend the ride on the lanes which led away and then back to the reservoir and eventually my car.  Downhills are great but inevitably there is the equivalent up to contend with and although theses ups meant a stop for a breather , no dismounting was had.
I came across two farms who reared lambs, but not just any lambs.
One assumes that in by-gone days there were plenty of locals to warrant building a chapel in the middle of farming country.
A good few hours cycling in splendid countryside and the sighting of a number of red kites on the way home.
Tomorrow’s main task will be to clean my bike.

PORT TALBOT AREA

Living down West I have had many journeys up and down the M4 and have often thought about the hills which overlook Port Talbot: clearly, I must have mentioned this to the “Navigator”,  as this week’s walk was to have an “adventure’ in this very area.  Now, the word “adventure” usually means a machete would be a useful tool and just because paths are shown on the OS maps does not mean they are in fact visible.
Here is the Route (click) as far as I can recall as there was a certain amount faffing about.
We parked up just outside Jersey Park. We had a pleasant walk through the park down to the main road to make use of our bus passes for a ride to Port Talbot bus station.
As one would expect the “Navigator” had a few problems getting from the station to the start of the walk proper:  to be fair my limited skills fall down badly in built up areas.
We were just about to take to a riverside path when we met a chap walking two springers.  This was fatal as Mr and Mrs Navigator also own one and notes were compared.  Luckily the chap told us that the riverside path we were about to take had some construction work taking place and suggested an alternative which he kindly guided us to.
It was now past elevenses time and we found a view point overlooking a weir on the river, where I picked up a little friend.
Although not shown on our OS maps there is now a cycle path which takes you all the way to Afon Argoed Country Park which is  something I have filed away for future reference.
For the next hour there was a fair amount of faffing when published paths failed to make an appearance just south of Cwmafon.  Were we down hearted?  YES!
On regrouping we took the path towards Nant y Glais.  At a farm gate there was note warning locals that anyone found shooting etc without permission would be sued and that they were not entering a country park!  There were way mark signs so we continued . At the farm we met with the owners who explained they had had major problems with some individuals culminating in one of their horses being shot.
Just after the farm we stopped for lunch.
Our next objective was the lower slopes of Twyn Dinas  where we had  excellent views overlooking the coast. It was surprising that up here there were signs for the Wales Coastal Path.  The heather along the path was blooming.
We then headed down to Blaen Baglan and turned north east on the minor road and then into the woods at a farm shown as Bwlch. 
The forestry tracks led us back to the car.  Another triumph (of sorts) for the Navigator. 

TUMBLE TO LLANELLI AND BACK

 

Whilst Andy was having his car fixed we went for a cycle ride from Tumble to North Dock, Llanelli and back.
 Route(click)
No photos as again as I  forgot my camera.  However I was given a gift of a new phone later that day and it has an inbuilt camera so providing I remember the phone there should be pictures in future!
This was the first time I had cycled the whole of the Tumble cycle way and with the extension to North Dock AND back! We met a fair number of other cyclists, walkers and joggers.
We had a quick look around the Discovery centre which includes a bike shop with some fancy machines and some dodgy lycra apparel. Lunch was had overlooking Sandy Water Park where the caldera cone came in useful again.
The new bike performed well but it has wider handlebars than the borrowed bike I had been using and will not go straight through the special  gates to restrict motor bikes and I had to wiggle it through.
We reached my car just in time to miss the rain.

 

NEWGALE AREA

 

I have always liked the saying “Man plans and God laughs”  He certainly had a good guffaw today!
Andy, my brother -in-law was on holiday in Newgale Pembs and it seemed a good idea to meet in Haverfordwest as his wife would be passing though to visit a friend in Narberth and we would cycle the Brunel Trail to Neyland and back.
I had no idea it was the start of the Pembrokeshire show which is held on the outskirts of Haverfordwest.  The heavy traffic started some ten miles outside of the town for both me and Andy.
I had a text that Andy had taken his bike off the car and was cycling to our meeting point.  Then I get a call from Frances that the car had broken down just after she had left the town!  Luckily I was not far away and soon spotted her on the verge (off the road and a nervous breakdown).  I assumed the car had over heated but she said the gears had felt odd and she was barely able to move forward.
In a manly way I opened the bonnet and looked in, yes the engine was in place.  Andy then turned up and the breakdown company phoned.  In the meantime I made us coffee on the caldera cone. The breakdown guy arrived and soon found that a gear selector had come loose, a common fault apparently as they wear.  With a cable tie he made a temporary fix and we all went back to Newgale. Lunch was had and Andy and I set off to have a shorter bike ride as I was keen to try out my new bike.
Our route can be seen here Route (click).  Apart from the steep climb out of Newgale the route was reasonably flat and quiet..
We had hoped to use a green lane near Lochmeyler but it had also been used by cows with loose bowels so we turned back to tarmac and continued.  It was very hot to start but the temperature did reduce and it became more comfortable.  Near the south side of Brawdy airport we wheeled the bikes across a footpath to rejoin the main road and a steep down hill ride to Newgale.
  The beaches were busy with surfers and people enjoying the sunshine.  I am writing this on the day after and it is pouring down and blowing a hooley.

 

SENNYBRIDGE AREA AND GLAMPING

Today’s walk was really an aside to helping Janice (Mrs Navigator) erect her huge tent for her stay in Brecon to visit the jazz festival.

However The Navigator thought it would be useful to aid my rehab. if we made best use of the day and have a walk with some up and of course down.

Here is the  Route (click).

We parked in the public car park in Sennybridge, crossed the A40 and over Pont Llwyncyntefin. Quite some time ago I used to kayak from near here and paddle over the three weirs.

There is a riverside footpath here heading upstream which leads to a minor road.  Near Beili Bedw we took the green lane – wet in places..  This lane took us back to the A40 where we had to walk for a short time before crossing over and heading for Pontysgallog. We now had about 1.5 of road walking, but it was reasonably free of traffic..

At Nantyrharn we took the bridleway which takes a north easterly route up onto Forest Fach and then to the trig point 381.

We did stop for lunch just after Nantyrharn.  There were some good views of the Brecon Beacons from the central ones, where no doubt on this fine day there were probably loads of walkers and then over to the westerly beacons.

We left the trig point and headed down via the track shown to the left of the disused quarry.  On the way views of Sennybridge appeared.

When we reached the minor road we turned right and at Trephillip Bridge took the footpath upstream on the Afon Senni back to to the car. There was an amusing sign in the river.

It had been a good walk if not a little on the hot side (musn’t grumble!)

The next task awaited us just outside Brecon town where Janice’s home from home was erected without much trouble.  This is camping but not as I know it! Palatial and a a Z bed which makes a neoair look like a board.

The Navigator and I headed back west leaving Janice to hopefully have a “cool” weekend

LLANSAINT TO CARMARTHEN

Continuing my rehabilitation following my knee operation today’s walk was to be longer and include some rougher ground. The plan was to catch a bus to Llansaint and walk back to Carmarthen using the Wales Coastal Path.

Route (click)

We parked our cars in Morrisons and caught the 0923 bus to Llanelli which went via Llansaint – a free ride courtesy of our bus passes.

This route would all be new to me as I had never been to Llansaint before and had not walked on this side of the Tywi estuary either.

The village of Llansaint put me in my mind of a small Cornish fisherman’s village with narrow streets and cwtched in around the church. The history board shows the village was famous for its cockle women despite it being on a hill and a fair way to the sea.

A potted history can be found on the link below.

Llansaint (Click)

We were on the look out for the Wales Coast Path logo, which on the whole were visible on the route but with a number of annoying omissions.

Our first stretch took us along a path leading to Pengay Farm which had an impressive bell in the courtyard gateway – mention of this in the wiki notes above.

Looking out to sea we had views of the Gower and Worm’s Head and carried on along footpaths which lead into a hidden valley and then on to Ferryside  and its beach.

Ferryside (Click)

In days gone by one could catch a ferry to Llansteffan on the other side of the estuary where there are fine remains of a castle.

In Ferryside there is a wooden carving celebrating those who fished using a seine net.

Our walk continued along a quiet lane and footpath to join another lane near Cwmburry.  This lane was followed  to the ruined farm of Pentrecwm and into the woods where the map shows “Hydraulic Ram”. This was either some experiment to do with sheep or more likely water, but we did not see it.

On we went through Towy Castle now a care home and no evidence of a castle.  There were some expensive cars in the car park and if belonging to the owners I cannot see my sons placing me here!

At the end of the footpaths we came across the most attractive style I have seen, probably because it leads into a garden, but it is the path.

We came across a place name and an adjacent warning sign which made me chuckle.

More footpaths, some quite muddy, led us to a green lane  and eventually to a minor road which led us to Croesyceilog and then back to our cars on the outskirts of Carmarthen.

Not a bad test for the knee as the distance was about 10 miles and the ground was quite rough in places with some ups and downs.  We are off to Brecon area on Thursday for further testing!