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18th July - Round the Beacons
The Brecon Beacons offer some great mountain biking and today Rob tackled one of the classic rides - The Gap Road. Starting at Talybont-on-Usk,he cycled up the Brinore Tramway and over the mountain to Dolygaer, in the Taf Fechan valley. Then, heading up past the Neuadd reservoirs, into the heart of the Beacons, he reached the 2,000 foot (600m) pass of Bwlch yr Fan or The Gap! From here it was downhill all the way to the Usk valley at Llanfrynach and a gentle saunter along the canal to Talybont.
12th July - Stroking the Cat's Back!
The Cat's Back, Crib y Gath in Welsh, is the name of the Black Mountain's very own "arete", or knife-edged ridge. Standing on Black Hill, itself the subject of Bruce Chatwin's novel, the ridge gives a beautifully airy walk overlooking the hidden valleys of western Herefordshire. We took Detlef, from Muenster for a walk over from Hay Common along the Offa's Dyke Path and returned over Hay Bluff,looking down on the quaint market and book town of Hay-on-Wye.
6th July - National Botanic Gardens
As part of the Heart of Wales Line Days Out programme, we visited the National Botanic Gardens near Llandeilo, Carmarthenshire.
4/5th July - Historical Tour of Monmouthshire
Valerie & Steve from upstate New York wanted to explore the land of their forefathers in Wales. Called "hiraeth" in Welsh, this longing brought them to Rob and a meeting at Cardiff Central railway station. We explored one of the crucibles of the Industrial Revolution, the iron town of Merthyr Tydfil. Valerie's predecessors came from here,along with rural Monmouthshire. Following a splendid lunch at Nant Ddu Lodge, we headed over the "Heads of the Valleys" to the UNESCO world heritage site: Blaenavon.
Next up was the Roman legionary base, Caerleon, complete with its amphitheatre. Continuing the theme we visited the Roman city of Venta Silurium, Caerwent and the hamlet of Llanvaches in search of Valerie's forebears.
Our first day was rounded off at Tintern Abbey,an atmospheric ruin on the banks of the River Wye. We spent the night at the fantastic Lindors Country House, a beautiful, serenely set hotel, set above the Wye Valley.
Our second day began with a drive through the ancient Royal Forest of Dean, culminating with a short walk up to Yat Rock, one of the most spectacular viewpoints in the country. Walking down through the cool of the trees, we reached the riverside settlement of Symond's Yat for a morning coffee. Next up was the palaeolithic site of King Arthur's Cave, hidden in the oak woods that cloak the Wye Valley. En route we drove on roads so narrow that the wing mirrors on both sides were brushing the hedgerows!
The historic town of Monmouth provided us with a late lunch at the Punch Bowl Inn while temperatures nudged 30 celsius! The Naval Temple on The Kymin and Harold's Stones at Trellech proved fascinating as we ended our exploration of this corner of Wales.