Check back here regularly to find out what's going on at Exploring Mid Wales.
29th August - Glyndwr's Way
Where else in the UK could you go walking along a National Trail and not see another walker?
The answer is Mid Wales and the Glyndwr's Way. The route snakes across Mid Wales from Knighton, on the Offa's Dyke Path to Machynlleth, on the west coast. The route then returns east to Welshpool near the border. Offa's Dyke allows the walk to be done as a circular.
We walked from the Ithon valley village of Llanbadarn Fynydd in a circular walk that allowed us to appreciate the remote wildness of the Radnorshire hills. And the sun beat down. On a bank holiday. In Wales!
28th August - Brecon Beacons Tour
Naveed, Ahmed and Abdul joined Rob on a tour of the Brecon Beacons, their first visit to Wales. Beginning at the Craig y Nos Country Park, at the top end of the Swansea Valley, we explored the fforest fawr Geopark before calling into the Brecon Beacons National Park Visitor Centre on Mynydd Illtud. A food fair and a tent exhibition gave us plenty to enjoy with our coffee.
A walk up the local hillfort gave great views of the Usk valley and Brecon.
The county town of Brecon formed our next venue where we enjoyed a fish and chip lunch. The Theatr Brycheiniog cafe at the terminus of the Mon & Brec Canal proved a great place to enjoy the atmosphere.
Finally we crossed the range and explored the Waterfall Country. Among many others, we left the village of Pontneddfechan and walked through beautiful temperate rain forest to reach the falls of Sgwd Gwladys.
24th August - Beacons Way - Part 6. The Brecon Beacons
Following a gentle paddle down the Severn on one of the hottest days of the year, we decided to tackle the next and hardest section of this year's challenge: to walk the 98 mile Beacon's Way.
Leaving our car at Storey Arms, high in the Beacons, we cycled over 20 miles around the flanks of the mountains to reach the Blaen y Glyn waterfalls near Talybont where we had last got to on our journey. Switching from two wheels to two legs we headed up the steep path onto Craig y Fan Ddu and the eastern plateau. The Beacons Way strides across the moorland and down to the "Gap" where the Roman Road bisects the hills. Then came a long ascent of the highest point in southern Britain, Pen y Fan, at 2,906' (886m). A rapid descent to the car made the walk seem a lot easier than the preparatory cycle ride! The wilds of the Fforest Fawr now await us!
For previous Beacons Way days please check June and July entries.
21st August - Snowdon ~ Wales' highest mountain
Although in North Wales, Snowdon is well worth a day of anyone's time and when previous clients, Belen and Daniel, asked me to guide them up a good route, I was only too pleased to head north. My clients stayed at the Ffynnon Hotel, Dolgellau, which they enjoyed immensely. Dolgellau itself is a beautiful sone-built town nestling beneath the cliffs of Cader Idris and at the head of the stunning Mawddach estuary.
There are eight recognised and named paths up Snowdon and we used the Watkin Path, opened by the G.O.M. of politics himself, William Gladstone. The advantages of this southern approach was to keep sheltered from the strong westerlies and to use the well graded former quarry path up to the Bwlch yr Saethau, or Pass of Arrows, where once Briton and Saxon are reputed to have fought. Some maintain that the red dragon, displayed on the Welsh flag, remains slumbering here awaiting the call of the nation.
After a lunch looking over to the Snowdon Horseshoe peaks of Crib Goch and Y Lliwedd, both dramatic glacial aretes, we traversed the loose southern face to reach a packed summit area. By this time the mist had become driving rain and the gorgeous south ridge of Bwlch Main had rather lost its allure. Returning down to Bryn Gwynant, we reflected on the fate of the Tibetan families whom we had passed on the ascent and who had truly lent an Himalyan air to the climb. Let's hope the gentle Welsh drizzle had not caused them problems!
Should you fancy a day's guided hill walking in Snowdonia, then please get in touch.
14th August The Dragon's Back on the Black Mountains
Looking for an easier second day, we climbed onto the imposing Black Mountains plateau via Y Grib, or The Dragon's Back. A lovely switch-back ridge with great views down the Usk and Wye valleys, we soon climbed up to the poignant Mark William Hutchinson memorial. An ascent of the highest point, Waunfach, brought us magnificent views streching from the hills of Exmoor up to the Arans in Snowdonia and the Shropshire hills. We returned to the warmth and humidity of the valley as we hurried back for the train back to London!
13th August The eastern Beacons
Shenshen & Kalika, my first return clients, are training for a climb up Kilimanjaro later in the month. So they were up for a long, hard walk and that is what they got! 24km, 700m of ascent - 8 hours of toil on a warm Welsh summer's day. Starting at Pencelli, the tranquil Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal gave a gentle start along to Talybont-on-Usk. The Brinore Tramway brought us up into the forest and the Taff Trail down to Talybont Reservoir dam. Ahead lay the remote and less well known eastern Brecon Beacons with the ancient cairn of Carn Pica prominent. Gradual, careful pacing brought us up onto the plateau of Waun Rydd, 2,500 feet above sea level. The views from the sun-drenched top were magnificent. Down the Taff Vale to Cardiff and the Severn Sea beyond; Swansea Bay and The Mumbles with the north Devon coast basking in the haze; the hills of Meirionydd, Plynlimon and south Shropshire including the prominent Caer Caradog filled the northern arc while the Cotswolds were visible to the east.
Not content with that, my two intrepid guests opted for a further 12km to extend the walk round to the shapely Fan y Big followed by a gradual descent to the fields around Llanfrynach and Pencelli. 7.30pm finish but the day started in central London! We provided accommodation at Swnygwy - The Sound of the Wye while Foyles of Glasbury produced another fine dinner.
12th August - a quick round of the Brecon Beacons
Alison and her twins wanted a quick trip up the main Beacons and opted for my help in climbing up from the more challenging Brecon side of the range. We opted for the Cwm Llwch horseshoe, ascending via the attractive glacial tarn of Llyn Cwm Llwch and the Tommy Jones obelisk. Given the abundant energy of the children, we quickly reached the top of Corn Du, slightly veiled in hill fog before marching onto Pen y Fan. With care, we descended the steep northern ridge to return to the sunny fields below.
1st August Beacons Way Part 5 Llangynidr - Blaen y Glyn waterfalls
Just a few hours on a wettish day, we continued our journey through the Beacons carrying on where we left off two days previously. Llangynidr is a really pretty canal-side village, so we crossed the Mon & Brec canal and headed up the ridge of Tor y Foel. This fine mountain, which wouldn't be out of place in the Lake district, gives excellent 360 degree views of the Brecon Beacons and Black Mountains. The Beacons Way cuts around to the Brinore Tramway and then descends through the atmospheric Talybont Forest to the spectacular Blaen y Glyn waterfalls.