31st March - "Lon Las Cymru ~ Green Lane of Wales 2"
Lon Las Cymru ~ The Green Lane of Wales National Cycle Route is shaped like an inverted 'Y' with the node near Glasbury-on-Wye. Today I explored the south eastern leg, following Route 42 from near Usk, over the Black Mountains, to Glasbury and on along Route 8 to Boughrood.
On a stunning, cloudless day, I managed to forget my camera, so below are a few "borrowed" images. Route 42 was initially a series of steep slopes leading up towards The Skirrid, the sharp ridged Holy Mountain that marks the beginning of the Beacons Way. A rapid descent, skirting Abergavenny brought me to the beautiful church at Llantilio Pertholey which has a beautiful "living churchyard", which this morning was abounding with birdlife. I then followed Route 42 up the Vale of Ewyas which looked gorgeous in the early morning light. The Queens Head, Cwmyoy, looked a good place for a drink while Llanthony Priory was as serene and tranquil as ever. If you would like to find out more about a tour of churches and holy places in the area then click here.
Next stop was Capel y Ffin where there are two lovely white-washed chapels. St Mary's Church is worth a visit alone. Bizarrely the front pew is filled by teddy bears! The east window is inscribed with the words from the psalm "I lift my eyes to the quiet hills; from whence cometh my help". How true! Following physical and spiritual rest, it was half an hour's hard work up over The Gospel Pass where a stunning view emerged. From the snow-clad Brecon Beacons and Black Mountain in the west, round to Plynlimon, the Radnor Forest and the hills of South Shropshire, the panorama was breath-taking. After that, downhill all the way into the Wye valley and rest!
28th March Ambling around Aberedw Rocks
Aberedw Rocks, an area of common land perched on the flanks of the Wye Valley, between Erwood and Builth Wells, is one of our favourite places to run, orienteer, mountain bike and amble around. Today was the latter with the 2 week dry spell come to a crashing end over Easter, the air was clear and signs of spring emerging.
26th March Cardiff Half Marathon
Following in the footsteps of Mo Farah and a few thousand others, we both completed the World Half Marathon Championship in under 2 hours with victory again going to the female half of the partnership..by just 5 minutes! Horrendous weather - wind, rain and hail!
22nd March Night hike in the Beacons
Tuesday's moonlit night saw a group of us walk up Corn Du and Pen y Fan, the highest point in the Brecon Beacons. Very little wind and cloud cover made it very mild - ideal for a little campfire with burgers and hot dogs on the banks of the infant River Taff. The Brecon beacons has been declared an official "Dark Skies Reserve". Click here for more information. If you'd like a guided night hike in the reserve, or the Elan valley Dark Skies Park, then contact us!
16th March - "Lon Las Cymru ~ The Green Lane of Wales 1"
Builth Wells - Marteg
Lon Las Cymru, formed by National Cycle Routes 8 and 42, runs the length of Wales, from Holyhead on the Isle of Anglesey, down to the capital city, Cardiff, or Chepstow at the mouth of the Wye. Both connect with NCR 4, The Celtic Trail that runs from London to St Davids. (Britain's largest and smallest cities).
Today I headed up the Wye Valley from Builth on roads so quiet I barely saw a car in the first two hours' road cycling. There is a short off-road section, called the Old Coach Road, so I used my trusty hybrid. Beyond Llanwrthwl and its wonderful church (click here for February news) I was on familiar territory following traffic free lanes amid a host of singing birds - the linnets being stunningly beautiful.
As the back road from Rhayader to Llangurig is closed to traffic beyond 1.2m width, I had the road to myself. My initial destination was Nannerth Farm where I enjoyed stunning views of the upper Wye valley and the sight of wood-burning hot tubs being delivered to theself catering cottages. If you like staying in beautiful remote places surrounded by wildlife including otters and on a working farm, then it's worth a look.
I then headed "off-piste" down to the Wye Valley Walk footbridge to cycle up the lonely and lovely Marteg valley, home of Gilfach nature reserve. A bit of climbing brought me back to the lovely little market town of Rhayader and a warming cawl at the Lamb & Flag. The A470 back to Builth followed which was, at least, a quick way back.
15th March Pottering around Presteigne
Presteigne is a lovely market town situated right on the border of Wales and England. We offer a tour of the Welsh border towns, including Hay-on-Wye, Kington and Knighton. Click here for more information.
14th March Running the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal.
The canal towpath makes for great running, once it's dried out a little from our very wet winter. We ran from Brecon to near Talybont and back, around 11 painful miles (for me)! The sight of the still water, the approaching Spring demonstrated by the emerging buds, the bleating lambs and the mewing of buzzards all accompanied us on this run.
12th March - "The Sound of Silence" (Mountain Biking on The Begwns)
A hazy day that turned grey by the time I got up on The Begwns which is an excellent area for a short, fun mountain bike. It was absolutely silent, on a Saturday afternoon, just a few miles from Hay-on-Wye and the Brecon Beacons National Park. I saw no-one but red kite, buzzard, fieldfare and wild ponies. Also sadly two new-born lambs, one dead and one abandoned. Not a camera day but here's some taken earlier. For more information on the Begwns, click here.
10th March Wye Valley Walk 4 (Rhayader - Llangurig)
For the next stage of the Wye Valley Walk, I cycled down Lon Las Cymru (NCR 8) from Llangurig, down the Wye valley to Rhayader. As there has been a landslip, I effectively had about 5 miles to myself as traffic-free tarmac cycling. It was even flattish! Going up the valley for a change I followed the WVW through the Glifach nature reserve down to the Wye and then headed up north including a painfully steep section before reaching the little village of Llangurig.
9th March Cwtch Cambrian in the Elan Valley
The Cambrian Mountains tourism network seeks to link businesses that operate around the Heart of Wales. A "cwtch" is literally a cuddle and around twenty businesses, providing accommodation and activities, met at the wonderful Elan Valley Visitor Centre. After the wettest Welsh winter on record, it was no surprise that the dams are still over-topping. My pictures show the lowest, Caban Coch, creating a spectacular waterfall.
2nd March Snow showers leave the Black Mountains covered n a light dusting of snow with more forecast this week.