2015 in review

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Elan Valley

Together with my brother-in-law, Andy we spent 4 days in the Elan Valley area taking in two cycle rides and two hill walks.

Our base was the Elan Oaks campsite  which is an excellent site. despite our stay being in August the camping field was not at all busy. there are quite a few electric hook points in a separate area.

Both our cycle rides were taken from “Lost Lanes of Wales” by Jack Thurston. The two walks were suggestions from “The Navigator” regularly mentioned in this blog.

Day 1.

When I left home and heading for Llandovery the heavens opened and I was having second thoughts about our trip as the forecast did not mention rain! Anyway when I reached the Sugarloaf the weather improved.

I met Andy at Beulah where we started our ride.

Route

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rain clearing

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In Abergwesyn the village hall has toilets which are not locked. There is a note warning people that the area is bereft of any kind of electric signal and if walking the hills you will have to rely on the old fashioned whistle.

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Not often is there a convenient convenience.

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We cycled close to the Afon Irfon as it meandered into Llanwrtyd Wells.

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From here the route makes its way to Llangammarch Wells. Jack’s directions take you over a ford before the town but  unfortunately the footbridge was closed. We continued on to Llangammarch Wells and rejoined the route.

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Impossible ford

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Footbridge closed

We found a convenient bench for lunch just in time as a large flock of sheep were being driven down the road. This flock was met later and the farmer explained they had been driven from the the local hills for their annual inspection.

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It was then downhill back to Beulah and then a drive up to our campsite in the Elan Valley.

Day 2

Route

Boots and rucksack today. Our high spot would be Gamriw. We walked from the campsite along quiet lanes until we met a footbridge where the collar work started. There was a path at the beginning but this petered out to various sheep tracks leading ever upwards.

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Huge mushrooms

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First pathless hill.

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Looking down from the first hill

 

It was dry at first but  near the high area there were bogs and wet areas and little in the way of a path. However we reached Gamriw only to find the bogs continued and the downhill was not as easy as we had hoped.

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Where is everybody?

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Lunch

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Gamriw trig

 

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Looking back up

The O S map did show paths and also forestry which had disappeared in part which did not help. Thankfully trusting to the compass we found our way to Caban Coch reservoir after passing the small dam which had been destroyed whilst practising for the bouncing bomb.

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At last a path. Caban Coch reservoir

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Although well deserved we decided against a celebratory cake in the visitor centre and headed back to our tents.

Day 3

A longer cycle ride today. Again from “Lost Lanes of Wales” and described as “The Green Desert”.

Route

We started from the camp site and headed towards Llanwrthwl along a quiet lane steep in parts. The route then turned north towards Rhayader. We missed the Glyn bridge but crossed the river higher up and joined the traffic free route into Cwmddeudwr.

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We now faced a long and continuous climb to Penrhiw-wen with a few stops to “admire the views”. There was one longer stop to visit the waterfalls above Glanllyn. At one stage Andy was kind enough to shout back as I thought the top was in sight “false summit”!!

 

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Waterfall on Nant Gwynllyn

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Waterfall on Nant Gwynllyn looking back to Gwynllyn

At last the legs and lungs could take a rest as we had a fast steep ride down to Pont Elan where a perfectly situated bench awaited our lunch stop.

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Craig Goch from Penrhiw-wen

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Craig Goch reservoir our route to the right.

From here we followed the lanes alongside the reservoirs and a final stretch along the traffic free route to the visitor centre where we did celebrate with coffee and cake.

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Later back at the camp site I realised I had mislaid the cycle computer which I had removed before going into the cafe. However the next day I called back to find it had been found by a member of staff.

Day 4

This was our last day with the tents taken down and the cars packed. We drove to Rhayader and parked in the mart (free apart from Friday). We were heading to the hills to the left of our steep cycle ride of yesterday.

Route

From the mart we walked into Cwmddeudwr and took the minor road which almost circles Coed y Cefn and then onto the farm “Treheslog”. Here there is a path although not shown as a public right of way which leads steeply onto the high ground.

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Track up from Treheslog

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Nearing the top with Gwynllyn in the background

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The top

 

Once again a dearth of paths underfoot until we reached Banc Trehheslog and down to the waterfall and the road we slowly peddled up on Wednesday.

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The higher waterfall with the steep road in the background

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Mr Outdoors

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Panorama before the above photo

On crossing the road we headed back to Rhayder via the wide track stopping to look at Esgair Dderw.

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There’s a large stone here somewhere according to the map.

 

 

We had lunch back at the car and we set off to our respective homes, Andy to Chester and Carmarthen for me.

there is plenty to see and do in this area  and no doubt we’ll be back to explore, hopefully with the same good weather.

 

 

Plumstone Mountain

Just two of us today, the “Navigator” and myself. We were heading west towards Roch for a circular walk to take in the area around Plumstone Mountain.

Route

As we approached Solva I casually asked ” I thought we were heading to Roch”. We turned around and drove back to where we should have been!

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Our route after Hayscastle Tump was along a bridle way leading on to Plumstone. This route started well but rapidly became overgrown with nettles, brambles and flooded areas. This was not helpful when wearing shorts and trail shoes!

As we left this bridle way I found a scrap of paper which included a route plan for somewhere in the Wye Valley!?

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Ramsey Island in the distance

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Roch Castle

We walked past the renovated Roch Castle which is now a 5 star hotel.

 

 

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!

April 2017 Boys Week

As my wife was attending our niece’s wedding in Majorca, Andy thought he would visit and keep me company with a possible chance of some outdoor activity.

Whilst he was travelling down from Chester I took out two dogs from Many Tears Animal rescue for a walk on Llansteffan Beach.

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Sark

The plan for the rest of the week was alternate days cycling and walking.

Monday.

I chose a ride, “Cliffs and Castles”, from Jack Thurstons book “Lost Lanes of Wales”. We started and finished in Pembroke.

 

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Route

The routes in the above book are graded, easy, moderate and challenging. This ride was described as moderate and this will be my benchmark as there were two small stretches of bike pushing and clearly at my age challenging will go unridden!

Part of the ride was along the coast at Castlemartin where the coast is frequently closed for tank amd live firing practice. Use this link.

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Elegug Stacks

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Holiday home for guillemots

Tuesday

A boots on day and we headed for Carmarthen Fans. Thankfully we had been there before as we saw very little!

Route

The lanes leading down to Llyn Y Fan Fach is full of potholes and  and attempt at sleeping policemen. However since my last visit there is a new parking area.

We realised that there would be little or no views as  we left the car park but the weather forecast did indicate the mist would lift. Unfortunately this happened as we returned to the car!

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New parking area

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Afon Sawdde

The walk to the lake was in clear weather but it soon clamped in and our coffee break we assumed was next to the lake. Ever optimistic we struck up for the top and had a scenic lacking lunch at the cairn. In view of the weather we did not go on to the next top but descended by the path in the bwlch which led under the hill.

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The mist was now clearing at the lower levels as we headed for the leat and across the top of the small waterfall to rejoin our outgoing path.

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Wednesday

Back on the bikes. Today we parked by the Lougher Bridge the dividing line between those who support the Scarlets or the Ospreys!

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In the heart of Osprey land!

Our destination was the beach front at Aberavon. The route is mainly traffic free and like the Cheshire area where Andy lives it is flat.

Route

The first part of the ride down to Swansea Bay I have ridden several times but the section to Aberavon was new. We were following NCN 4 most of the way and apart from the area near the marina it is well signposted.

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Swansea Marina

The Bay area and the promenade at Aberavon was busy with walkers, runners and cyclists on this fine but chilly day.

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The new sign for the Brexit tangle!

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The old pumping station at the disused Swansea south and north dock.

The legs were starting to ache a little after this 40 mile cycle and we had another walking day on Thursday! Our luck was in though as a close friend had invited us to tea and the pasta meal followed by bread and butter pudding was a great restorative.

Thursday

Hooray Andy goes back tonight!

We were meeting up with Mr and Mrs “Navigator” today for a walk on Mynydd Myddfai.

Route

The weather was clear and sunny and this walk gave fine views first of the Carmarthen Fans then central Brecon Beacons and finally to hills further east.

 

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Carmarthen Fans and some old guy.

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Corn Ddu and Pen y Fan

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Frightened tree

Andy and I walked part of this route earlier in the year but the “Navigator” extended to the walk to the area where the Roman camps used to be.

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Year 2017 Period

With Christmas over – a lot of local walks with my grand dog daughter, Holly, on a visit from Chester – we were hosting Andy and my wife’s sister for the new Year. Bound to be some walks involved.

They arrived at lunch time Saturday and Andy and I had a short walk to the National Botanic Garden of Wales  where we had a coffee and returned home.

Sunday we took off to friends in Llansteffan and after lunch we had a short cold walk on the beach.

On Monday I had planned a 5 mile, flat walk with the promise of a cafe at the end for the four of us. We headed for Llanmadoc on the north coast of Gower. The weather was clear blue sky and not too cold and of course a lot of others had planned the same walk and the field car park was  nearly full. The thaw gave rise to a slippery down hill parking place. The way out could be “interesting”, but that was for later.

The first half of the walk is along the beach, passing the Whiteford lighthouse now long disused and the only metal one left in the UK.

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Whitford Lighthouse

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Have they seen the signs?

We turned inland between the salt marsh and the woods all hoping for a coffee and cake. IT WAS SHUT!!!. No mention of this on their website or notices on the gates. In fact the other tea room and local pub were also closed, must be a very local holiday!

We now faced the problem of exiting the car park as did others. With team work and skillful driving no tractors were required.

Route

Thankfully we had an invitation to visit my elder son where a welcome buffet was waiting.

On Tuesday Andy and I set for a walk just north west of Carmarthen based on the village of Bronwydd and into the hills and lanes of the area. The first section was along the Afon Gwili where Andy and I have had good days canoeing.

Route

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Afon Gwili

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Andy learning about Rebecca Riots

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I like this sign

 

We both dragged each other out again on Wednesday for a walk on Mynydd Myddai with another promise of a cafe at the end in the village of Myddfai.  Promise fulfilled this time. Coffee and bara brith and a pat of butter!

Route

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To The Physicians Well

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Bleak

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The trig on Mynydd Myddfai

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We are here somewhere

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More bleakness

 

On our return leg we watched two red kites circling each other and flying low over us,magnificent.

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Andy looking at the mistletoe – no chance!

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Less bleak

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Typical Carmarthenshire farm

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Colourful houses in Myddfai

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Ye olde chemist!

Am I glad that Andy lives in Chester or we would be playing every day.

Blywdden newydd dda i pawb.

 

 

 

Neath Valley

With the rain forecast to arrive in Pembrokeshire late morning “The Navigator” suggested we go east and our destination was to be the Neath Valley with some canal side walking and a climb up to the Pelenna Forest before dropping back down to the canal via the Gnoll Estate Country Park

Route

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Three bridges

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Tennant canal

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Climbing towards Penlenna Forest

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Ruins of Ystrad Owen

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Forest ride and high route of NCN47

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Ivy Tower

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Update

The weather in West Wales from Christmas through to the end of January has not been inviting to the Great Outdoors.

I did manage a few trips but no pictures. Whilst visiting our son in Chester I managed a 25 mile cycle ride with my brother-in-law, Andy to Parkgate on the Wirral. At least we managed a coffee and cake!

We also had a short cross country walk near Guilden Sutton.

Back home my neighbour, Paul and I walked the lanes near Llanddarog as any off road would  have been a mud bath!

I did manage one walk with “The Navigator” in the Havefordwest area but again on hard tracks, lanes and the cycle track.