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Sunday, 13 May 2012


After weeks of rain finally a sunny weekend! It was with much disapointment I woke up on Saturday feeling pretty crappy. Unusually doing the allotment had given me loads of pulled muscles - I never pull muscles doing allotment stuff so wasn't expecting it. It felt like I'd run a marathon. Wondering if it's all linked to the muscle weakness and numbness I've been having lately. Hopefully I will know more when the test results come back. For now it's carry on regardless...

I was too lazy to make lunch so it was off to Subway to purchase a footlong - Steve was discusted by my chosen combination of Tuna, Olives, onion, lettuce and chilli sauce. He took it all back later when he tried some and enjoyed it. I know Subway is rubbish but it's my guilty pleasure. There's nothing like pulling out a huge sandwhich on a mountain summit and making everyone else jealous :) that's not it really it's more the joy of having something other than cheese and pickle to restore the depleated energy levels!

It took us about an hour to drive to our start point in Trefil. I was a bit worried about the parking situation as there were a few houses/farm vehicles about. Steve had a chat with the farmers stood about and they said the car would be okay there. Afterwards we realised they probably thought we were asking if it would be broken into, so we'd probably insulted their neighbourhood - good thing we weren't lynched!

We were starting our walking having a nose in Trefil Quarry -part of it is still a working quarry but the upper half is disused. It is aparently Wale's largest scheduled monument. I also thought it was where they had filmed Clash of the Titans/Doctor Who and various other things, but further investigation afterwards suggests they were filmed in the Cefn Y Ystrad quarries (Cwar yr Ystrad) it gets confusing as they refer to the filming locations as Trefil Quarries, but looking at photos it is definately the other ones!

We spent a while in the quarries taking photos, looking at the precarious rock stacks (probably wouldn't want to spend a long time at the bottom of any of them..) and listening to the nesting birds flying about.

It was a very peaceful place. I think though judging by some of the signs and marks on the ground they have a serious problem with offroaders there. I could see why they liked the terrain, but it would be a shame to have the peace spoiled in such a nice location.

We then headed up to the burial cairn on Garn Fawr following various sheep tracks and admiring the views of the main Brecon Beacons massif - Pen Y Fan et al. The sun was shining, the skies blue and the sky larks were in insessant song. As we reached the cairn we saw three other people and said hello. It sort of shattered the remote illusion. We headed straight off to find a geocache and to give them some peace. It's been a while since I've searched for a cache in boulders so I struggled a bit esp as I was feeling bad with the aches. Steve quickly found it and we signed the log and took a swap for Emma (leaving something behind)

Sugar loaf in the Distance

We then headed off to find Llyn Y Garn-Fawr - a lake we wanted to see if we could swim in. We passed the people again and explained to them what we'd been up to. They hadn't heard of geocaching before so we told them a bit about it. We passed them again not long after trying to find the lake - I think they probably thought we were lost and being a bit rubbish - ah well! Arriving at the lake the sun promtly went in and the wind picked up. The lake was pretty shallow in most places accept the far end. We scoffed our Subways as it was past lunch time (we'd not set off walking till about 12!) I opted to wait whilst Steve swam in case he got stuck in the mud. Steve enjoyed a short swim, but commented on the mud banks surrounding the perimiter and how the temp of the water really varried from shore to middle.

It was my turn and I managed to do some comedy falls trying to get up and down the banks. It was very refreshing and I'd like to visit again on a warmer (less windy!) day.

Our next stop was Chartist Cave. Read about it here:
Chartist Cave

We had a hunt for a geocache just  by it - I got frustrated again and sat down in huff, and spotted it as soon as I sat down. We then went to the cave and I uhmed and ahed as to whether I wanted to explore. Normally I'm like a rabbit straight down into any cave I see, but everything in my body was crying out in pain ( painkillers having worn off). I figured it would be a long time till I got back there again so decided to make myself have an explore. In the entrance there was unusually and edible plant called Wood Sorrel and the cave was very prehistoric and ferny looking. We explored a few of the chambers - there is a bit more to explore but we decided it would be best left to another day- I didn't like the look of some of the rocks and knew we hadn't told anyone where we were going (bad caver!)

After leaving the cave we headed over (very) rough tussocky/boggy ground to Nant Milgatw Waterfall. There is a path somewhere but we opted to follow the sheep tracks and the GPS to our destination. We probably would have been better off on the path - we did however see some amazing shake holes - one of which I sent Steve down to see if there was a cave there, we were somewhat hoping we'd discover something amazing but it was just a pile of rocks... 

I stopped to rest every 500 metres or so as I was seriously lacking in energy. It was a relief to reach the falls as it meant we were only 1 km from the car. There was also a geocache there too - what a great location for one. We left the golf ball Steve had mysteriously found earlier in the trip (and a few other bits) and took a war craft model for Emma (who wasn't impressed with it when we got home!)

Steve had a shower under the falls whilst I enjoyed some shortbread and some scrambling/ambling about taking photos. Then we headed onto a tram road, and a disused rail line to take us back to the car. 

Nant Milgatw Waterfall

Such an interesting area, and so peaceful. Would be a great area to take children walking in as so many things to keep them occupied. There was also tons of billbery plants so you could have a right royal feast come summer!

Friday, 11 May 2012

Jan 2012 - 11/5/12

Decided to start a blog again. Figured it would be good to have a log of our adventures. I'm also stuck at home due to hurting my back, so I'm feeling pretty bored. It's annoying, I can just about do stuff, but then pay the price by being in agony afterwards. Today it was operation sort my allotment out. I felt like I achieved a fair amount, took out all the weeds, cut down all the grass round the edges, planted my lettuce (which is probably going to make a tasty dinner for the slugs and snails which have come out in force after all the rains), planted Kale, planted seeds of spring onion and carrots, earthed up the potatoes and started to rake and clear the last sections. Feels good as it now means I can kick back for a few weeks without having it on the back of my mind.

Yearly round up - thought it might be nice to post a few photos of what I've been up to it 2012

In January I took the bus to Clevedon with Emma to walk with our two friends Mike and Dan. It was a lovely crisp warm sunny day. Very warm for January. Emma enjoyed making mud splats under the pier, and it was good to get underneath to take some photos. We then ventured up Dial Hill - a small hill, but with good views.- it even had a trig point much to Emma's delight! We then went to look for Swiss Valley Cave. Dan and I were the only ones keen enough to have a look see, it wasn't very nice, full of rubbish and spiders. I wussed out when it was quite narrow.

The following week it was off to Ogof Clogwyn - a cave in the Clydach Gorge. Essentially one long stream passage. I was a bit concerned if we would be able to reach the entrance okay as there were allot of reports on the web of people struggling to get to it. Luckily we chose the right approach and didn't take long to find our way down to it. The Gorge itself was very impressive - I'd like to come back and have a bit more of an explore. Emma complained allot at the start because her feet were cold. When we'd left Bristol it was about zero, but up on the higher ground in South Wales it was much colder, more like -5 so we all got very cold getting changed into our kit. It had to be wellys on the feet due to the depth of water, but if I was taking kiddies on this trip again I would go for a summer trip, or at least a warmer air temp outside! The cave felt quite balmy in comparison to outdoors..

Also in Jan I went walking in South Wales. I'm working my way through the Nuttalls, going up all the mountains over 2000 ft in England and Wales. Mynydd Llysiau was one I'd missed out on quite a few walks due to it's position and the conditions on the walks I'd done previously up there. We decided to combine it with some smaller hills round there - Pen Tir, Mynydd Llangorse and Mynydd Troed. It was a chilly day, the wind was esp cold on Mynydd Llysiau and we didn't stop long to enjoy the top. Pen Tir had some lovely pools and lakes which I'd like to return to on a longer day. The walk was pretty long, with as much ascent as  going up Snowdon!

In Feb I'd arranged for Emma to stay with family whilst myself, my friend and brother went up to stay in Capel Curig in North Wales for some winter walking. We were hoping for snow to practice winter skills, but instead we got no snow and storm force winds. 

We arrived late afternoon and decided to head up Moel Siabod, we'd all been up it a few times before, and had headtorches in case it got dark, As we were up we were lulled into thinking the wind wasn't too bad. As soon as we reached the last scramble to the top we felt the power of the wind. It was so windy on the very top we virtually had to crawl to the summit shelter. It was that bad none of us felt inclided to touch the trig point which was near the drop through fear of getting blown into it! The shelter gave an amazing amount of shelter and we had snacks and shared my brothers bog mirtle tea, I wasn't too sure, but it was good to have something warm. We left the shelter as it started to shower snow/graupel down on us - the speed it was hitting our faces really hurt, I felt smug in my balaclava and goggles. Think we probably descended in an hour or so then it was off to the pub for some stodge for tea.

This picture does not convey how windy it was!

The next day it was off to Aber Falls to do Bera Bach and Bera Mawr. Their summits are quite similar to the   Glyders in much smaller scale. I have a real hankering to do them in the snow, but it was not to be on this trip. We parked in the Aber Falls carpark. The falls looked really impressive, much bigger than when I'd seen them the previous April.

Our way up onto the plataeu of the top was a very steep relentless slog to begin with, I really struggled with it and was on the verge of giving up as I was struggling to breathe (had forgotten to bring my inhaler with me) We took it steady though and eventually got out onto the flat moorland. Taking in the two Berra's in a bit of a blur to be honest, it was again very windy, and foggy, the rocks had quite a menancing feel to them. We weren't too sure which was the actual summit so we went up and over quite a few things. Eventually we found a shelter to have our lunch in and it was a real relief to get out of the wind. As we descended the skies cleared a little so we do extra hills to take in some of the views of the menai straights etc. Last two were called Gyrn and Moel Wnion (we kept calling it Moel Onion..)

Our third day saw more strong winds Forecast. We decided to head to the Moelwyns and play it by ear. In summary it was very very windy. We had to vary the route a few times to avoid more exposed climbs. The lowest peak of the day was actually the windyest, it felt if I didn't keepp hold of the rock I was going to be blown off my feet. I descended most of it on my bum! It was a lovely day though with good visability, dramatic skies and the interesting mining history which your surrounded by when up there. I pretty much fell in love with the wildness of the area and would like to return.

Spot the rainbow^^

Nobody for miles

The following day we met a bunch of people from the walking forum we post on to do a walk. I struggled a bit as I'm quite shy at first with people I don't know and at times I was a bit unerved by the strength of the wind and insecurity of going higher than the previous day.We took in Drum, Pen Y Castell, Foel Fras, Llwytmor & Llwytmor Bach. Foel Fras is 942 metres high, and the slog up the grassy slope to the top was very tiring, the summit was especially slippery esp combined with the wind! On our way back down we encountered a fire in the heather which was out of control, our path passed very close to it, and it was a bit scary looking back to see how near the flames had been to us. I was glad I had my balaclava to block out the worst of the smoke inhalation. As we arrived back at the cars the fire brigade had arrived.

Windy Pen Y Castell

Our last day we headed over to the Ogwen Vally to head up Carnedd Llewelyn, Carnedd Dafydd & Pen Yr Ole Wen. The path onto the top looked a bit scary on the map, it actually wasn't as bad as I imagined it would be, but the last scramble took all my courage to acheive. Once we got up to about 800 metres the rocks very all covered in a fine layer of ice/snow, it was very windy and bleak. We met another walker who was wild camping who we walked with for a while. It felt like the sort of conditions it would be very bad if an accident was to happen. Thankfully the walk was without incident. There was just fog and cloud up high so another place to return to on a fine day...

Not long after getting back I visited Sandford Levy - a mined passage near Churchill Ski Centre (just outside of Bristol) It's aparently haunted and the place did have a creepy feel. Not helped by the green shop dummy head we came upon at the end of the tunnel! It was very pretty in places, suprisingly so given it's location. It had an amazing echo so I did some singing too

Full set of shots

Also in Feb I went to the Brecon Beacons with Tim and Steve. I've not uploaded my photos from this trip so no shots. We had snow, but conditions on the second day were bad - snow, fog and winds = white out conditions. We turned back half way through our walk as we were making slow progress and daylight hours were still an issue.

Slightly sore from not getting any decent photos on that trip we headed back up there again whilst Emma was at school on the Friday. We got very lucky and had possibly the best ever conditions I've had in the mountains.

Headed back the following weekend as had a taste for more snow. A short drive to Abergavenny to go up a hill called Blorenge. I think it should be classed as a mountain really as it's impressive enough..

The glacial lake called the Punchbowl was passed on our way up - we swam here last summer

I returned to the Beacons again at the end of Feb - it was roastingly hot and I spent most the day just in my long sleeved base layer! This time it was a short round of Pen Cerrig Calch and Pen Allt Mawr - took a different route to ones I'd used before and it was a beautiful day

Heather bed

And again I returned to the Beacons, this time with Emma. She's been up Pen Y Fan etc before but I fancied approaching from the lake side of the tops

We walked over ten miles on this walk ^

Proud of my little mountaineer!

March saw another child free weekend, so it was up to Mid Wales to go up Cadair Idris and bag some Nuttals. We stayed in a very excentric self catering place, kind of like being back in the 1970s. Sadly we had fog going up Cadiar, but the following day we had amazing conditions in the Arans - I think I have fallen in love with another mountain area....

Full photo set

Later on in March our travels took us to Llangattock nr Crickhowell - I love this area too - lots of caves, and the cliff enscarpment is very impressive. There's a good lake on the top for swimming too. We were there to do another kiddie caving - this time Eglwys Faen

April took us to the Lake District - for my birthday. We stayed in Ambleside backpackers
We had snow on my birthday! We were very lucky with the weather, barely any rain and some amazing sunny days. My best walk was going up Rossett Pike and Allen crags just after the snow. We were planning on going higher - up Esk Pike and Bowfell but the winds were too strong so we ended up on Allen Crags which was equally as good and a great view point to the other mountains in the area.

I've not got time to list all the walks we did but another fave was the Fairfield Horseshoe, it still makes me proud thinking how well Emma did achieving the walk especially given the length of the previous days adventures.. She loved pelting us with snowballs...

At the end of the walk Steve and I swam in the snow melt water in Buckstones Jum (p)

May has seen me struggling with medical problems and awful wet weather. I have managed a few short excursions though.

First was to Symonds Yat - nr to Forest of Dean. Another great walking area full of interesting things. We found some geocaches, met some fellow geochachers, found a geocache in a cave and found some very pretty little caves too.. Shame the river was too fast flowing for a dip!

After the heavy rain I went to check out the River Frome at Snuff Mills with Steve. It was very fast flowing!

And that takes us up to date..