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25th October - Mountain Biking in the Elan Valley

With high pressure over Britain, where better to practise some off-road biking but the beautiful Elan Valley? If you fancy spinning those wheels in such lovely surroundings - get in touch!

19th October - Ironbridge UNESCO World Heritage Site

Geoff Turner from Ontario, Canada joined Rob on a visit to Ironbridge in Shropshire. The cradle of the industrial revolution, Ironbridge saw some of the first successful smelting of cast iron by Abraham Darby and the world's first all iron bridge by his grandson. Today's World Heritage Site contains ten museums that explain all that happened here. Amid torrential rainfall, we visited the Jackfield Tile Museum, Coalport China Museum, the Iron Bridge and tollhouse, and finally Coalbrookdale's Museum of Iron. No pictures were taken due to the persistent downpour!

Penygarreg Dam overtopping as the water cascades down the Victorian dam

18th October - a Mid Wales Tour

Having reached Talgarth on our Brecon Beacons tour, today we explored the far remoter and less well known territory of Mid Wales and the upper Wye valley. Our first stop was the iconic market town of Hay-on-Wye. This former backwater has now achieved global signifinace as a book town and host to the Hay Literary Festival. It was back in 1969 when Richard Booth opened his first second-hand bookshop in Hay. As the town grew, so did Mr Booth's ego, culminating in his self-coronation as King Of Hay in 1977! Hay is now a eclectic mix of creativity and quirkiness and repays a visit many times over.

From Hay we headed to Brechfa Pond, a nature reserve that posseses fine 360 degree views of the Brecknockshire and Radnorshire hills, the Black Mountains and the narrow upper Wye. Erwood craft centre and a walk along the sylvan banks of the river followed.

Next up was the so-called "Welsh Lake District" aka the Elan Valley. We started at Craig Goch, the top dam and quickly got walking beside the beautiful lakes, culminating in the over-topping and cascading Penygarreg dam. With a cuppa at the visitor centre, Jim & Teresa headed off for Machynlleth while Rob returned down the valley to home. A great couple of days with a fine pair of British Columbians!

Exploring the Brecon Beacons National Park ~ 17th October

Jim & Teresa from British Columbia are on a UK tour and gave three days of their vacation to exploring Wales. They travelled up from Cardiff to meet Rob at Cyfarthfa Castle in Merthyr Tydfil to start their exploration of the Brecon Beacons. We journeyed up into the hills by way of the Taf Fechan valley and included a steep climb onto Graig y Fan Ddu for a spectacular view of South Wales. Talybont-on-Usk, the Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal and Llangynidr locks all looked beautifully attractive in autumnal colours. Rob's (in)famous Welsh packed lunches proved popular once again (this time featuring home made sponge, bara brith and Shrewsbury biscuits.) 

Teresa is something of a wine expert so we included a visit to the Sugar Loaf winery on the slopes above Abergavenny. The whites and rose tasting gained approval from the expert palate. Finally we crossed the Black Mountains to reach Talgarth where our canadian guests spent the night at Swn yr Afon B&B.

 

16th October - Elan Valley walk

Joined by old friends Ian and Gareth, Rob walked eleven miles over the hills surrounding Caban Coch reservoir in the remote and unspoilt Elan Valley. Choosing the day of the passage of ex-hurricane Ophelia, we witnessed nature in the raw - a dark sky and looming orange sun in the mid morning followed by bright skies but gale force winds in the afternoon.

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