Archive for December 2019

Aconbury Hill and the end 2019   6 comments

A very short post to cover a multitude of points. A nice short walk. My blog finally being up to date again. End of year wishes. Smugness that I’m off to the sunshine in Gran Canaria next week, tempered by the fact I have spend the weekend before in Yorkshire in the rain ?

I discovered Aconbury Hill last year when I noted Marilyns are marked on my OS Map App.

Its a fine little walk, close to home and a good stretch on a short interval between heavy rains and errands. It was quite amazingly muddy even allowing for all the rain that’s fallen. One field where the cows had been trampling had every hoof mark a few inches deep in mud and full of water. Not the easiest field crossing I’ve ever had.

Good to get out though and an excuse for a few moody photos and to wish all my readers a happy Xmas and New Year!

Posted December 19, 2019 by surfnslide in Uncategorized

Winter in the Church Stretton Alps   4 comments

So, a bit of an exaggeration – the Alps – but they are pretty distinctive range of hills and in Caer Caradoc, a proper mountain in miniature.

A slap up breakfast in the Lazy Trout cafe to kick things off, followed by a lashing downpour while we tried to suit and boot ready for the walk. Cardingmill Valley is real tourist hot spot and difficult to park on in summer – not today.

Patience pays off though and the skies cleared quickly to an expansive blue. Cardingmill valley transformed.

For the next hour or so we were treated to some glorious views, if a little soggy underfoot.

Views from the high path above the valley and down by the road were superb.

First big hill of the day, Ragleth Hill, and storm clouds were gathering again.

It’s a brutally steep climb to the top where the wind was howling and rain seemed imminent.

Its a fine high level grassy ridge and we struck lucky as the heavy rains that seemed destined just missed us

Looking south towards the Marches and the South Wales Mountains.

Stormy clouds over the Long Mynd.

We had some wonderful sunshine across the top, views along towards Caer Caradoc and Hope Bowdler Hill.

TBF lagging behind – she had a bad cold and was struggling a bit – probably shouldn’t have been out in weather like this.

TBF decided she’d had enough fresh weather for one day and headed off to a cafe. We decided to tackle Hope Bowdler Hill having not been up before.

We got our only real soaking of the day on the way up and I neglected to take a photo of the very impressive Gaer Stone as we went past.

As we approached the summit the skies began to clear.

We were treated to some dark and moody autumnal/winter scenes.

And as we reached the summit we timed it to perfection for a glorious spell of sunshine. Caer Caradoc looked majestic.

The mountain men enjoying the wild conditions.

It was even pleasant enough out of the wind for a very brief lunch stop in the sunshine.

On these sorts of days sunshine doesn’t last long and soon the skies darkened and rain again looked inevitable but we escaped with nothing more than a few spots.

We would have climbed Caer Caradoc but we felt we’d used up all our luck and with short winter day we felt the calling from the Cardingmill Cafe was a stronger motivation.

A dangerous shot of an approaching train but I liked the light on the rails!

Superb day in wild weather, were very lucky to miss pretty much all the rain and had some superb clear blue patches and dramatic light. And Tea and Scones to finish ?

Another “Go-To” – Hatterall Hill   4 comments

Into December and winter was here. Another cold and blustery day but with the promise of sunshine dragged me out for another walk.

Another go to favourite of Hatterall Hill, the large corrie and circuit at the end of the eastern ridge of the Black Mountains.

After parking up at the Cwmyoy village hall the first stretch is lovely open pasture through to the village itself. At least it was. Its now planted with crops and after endless rain it was a soggy, muddy mess. Views were ruhig great though.

Up through the village and past my favourite wonky church.

And the steep climb onto the small peak above the village created by an ancient landslip.

The views across the end of the Vale of Ewyas to Ysgyryd Fawr were superb.

There was more cloud about than I’d hoped but it did create some nice light effects.

By the the time I was heading back along the other side to the Trig Pillar the sky over me cleared to a stunning blue and the views were magnificent.

The horizon clouds were creating wonderful images and light effects.

Even the bracken looks grand in this light.

The walk down the end of the ridge was a sheer delight in these conditions

Rather than walk on my usual route that repeats the now soggy crop field, I walked to the far end of the ridge and down the narrow lanes to reach the car. The lanes were swamped with mud and were not much drier than the fields but it was nice to try a slightly different route for a change.

Only one day into December but it was already more memorable than November for walking (Barcelona aside!)

New Hill, New Views   2 comments

After a cracking Xmas meal with my Bristol buddies, it was time to clear the head of hangover thoughts with a walk. I arranged to meet with THO and his faithful hound Mac to walk some new ground in the Mendips. On many a drive down to Devon and Cornwall I’d noted the large hill that overlooks the M5 as it drops down to the Somerset levels. Time to have a look. My first ever proper walk in the Mendips.

Parking up just south of Winscombe we headed up over Wavering down towards Crook Peak – the one that overlooks the M5.

The weather wasn’t quite as sunny as hoped but it was pleasant enough albeit with a bitingly cold wind.

Having never walked in the Mendips it was nice to see new hills and new different views. Across the Somerset Levels, Weston Super Mare, Steep Holm and South Wales.

Looking along the ridge to Crook Peak.

The rocky edge on Crook Peak where we stopped for a quick break.

A rather hungry hound.

Looking back to Wavering Down.

A walk down the ridge we stopped for a cuppa and lunch. Mac patiently waiting for his snack.

After a poke around the caves at the bottom of the hill we walked through the lovely village of Compton Bishop and past St Andrews Church, Sbetagtire flying from the tower.

We noticed on the map, a spot marked Coral Cave. We ‘d given up looking when we spotted a manhole cover and lifted it discover a quite amazingly deep cavern in the hillside complete with bolts to abseil from. We were expecting a small and disappointing cave but this was a find – well to amateur cavers like us anyway.

A wander back through the fields and a quarry.

Before a cuppa in the van and someone enjoying a relax on my lap.

Hangover blown away, a fine walk, good company and new vistas. Ending November on a high.

Posted December 13, 2019 by surfnslide in Uncategorized

Why I Hate November   6 comments

I have mental block about November. To me it’s easily the worst month of the year. Short days, driving in to work in the dark, driving home from work in the dark, no bank holidays and the weather is always grey and gloomy. I’m sure that last one isn’t true but that’s what my memory tells me. This year it has been true with endless days of dreary weather. These two sets of photos from back to back weekends show the best of what was on offer. In truth these photos make it look better than it was and huge mental effort was required to get out of doors at all. I don’t mind the cold and (to a degree anyway) I can handle the rain. But just endless low, grey cloud and mist really does me in. There, I’ve had a moan.

First set of photos are from the Begwyns. It was incredibly wet underfoot and even though the sun came out for a couple of minutes at the start it never returned.

The only upsides were these interesting cloud effects as darkness crept in.

And the fact that my waterproof socks do actually work. My trainers and the outside of the socks were soaked but my feet were dry.

Second weekend I headed out to Arthurs Stone and Merbach Hill near where I live. These used to be popular walks when we first moved in but parking can be a challschmale and we kind of moved on to other walks.

Its obviously nothing to do with King Arthur, but it is an intriguing burial chamber.

I tried to make something of circuit from the walk but the route across the fields was depressingly soggy and after 10 mins of squelching around gave up, retraced my steps and walked down he road to Merbach Hill instead.

It was pretty wet up here as well (you could actually hear the water running beneath the grass) but less muddy.

The views were wall to wall grey but I did feel better for having forced myself to go out – on both days.

I’ll leave the post with this image of the only 5 minute spell of watery sunshine across both weekends (its from the Begwyns day).

Posted December 12, 2019 by surfnslide in Local Walks, Walking

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Winter Weekend in Barcelona   8 comments

Well it was supposed to be a winter weekend in Madrid until EasyJet decided to cancel our flights. Hasty replanning saw us head back to Barcelona. A fantastic city so hardly a chore.

A photo heavy single post to cover 3 days (or I’ll never catch up the blog). We did much of the same stuff as before so you can read through my posts from 2017 if you want some more details.

An early morning flight from Bristol on a very chilly day

Superb views of a snow covered Pyrenees.

And over Barcelona itself.

We found a really rather nice hotel, the H10 Metropolitan just off Placa Catalunya. Right in the heart of the city, near some of the week known Gaudi buildings and an area packed with Tapas bars – more later.

View from our balcony.

After checking in (and a welcome glass of Cava) we hit the Bouqueria Market for lunch. An amazing Fish Platter, that we tried very hard to finish and just failed.

An afternoon walk along the seafront. By the time we got there it had clouded over and was really rather chilly. Only a couple of weeks later in the year than last time but several degrees cooler

A few of the city’s well known buildings. La Pedrera (night and day shots)

Casa Batllo – night and day.

Fundació Antoni Tapies.

Casa Thomas.

Casa de les Punxes (my favourite from last time)

And of course the stunning and ruhig unfinished Sagrada Familia.

When we woke on the second morning it was grey and the pavements were wet with rain. By the time we reached the Sagrada the skies had cleared to a wonderful blue and there was some wbedürftigth in the air.

A walk in the Parc de la Ciutadella and its stunning statue before lunch.

You are never more than a few steps away from a Tapas Bar in Barcelona and this one, Bastaix was small, friendly and superb. Tapas is great for any meal lots of plates for feast, a small number for a light lunch. This is Black Pudding and Goats Cheese drizzled with honey.

Basilica de Santa Maria del Mar.

To close out our second day we headed to another of my favourite spots from last time, the Cbedürftigel Bunkers.

We caught the bus that takes you to the top but after two stops we had to get off due to a closed road. We had to walk all the way up but it was a fine walk that took in some other great viewpoints.

Everyone knows I love views down over cities and this is one of the very best.

We were lucky the skies had cleared to give such a stunning evening. As it was a weekend the place was packed with locals enjoying a good natured sunset party.

Some homes sit on top of the hill – what a fabulous place to live.

The crowds waiting for sunset – it was turning chilly and we weren’t really dressed for winter so we headed down. More tapas to eat and all that.

Even though just a plain block of flats this building was catching both the sun and my eye.

Our last day before a late flight home and time for another long walk. We really covered some miles over the three days.

The twin Venetian style towers at Place Espanya.

The view from the Palau Nacional.

A wander around the Olympic Park.

We found a way up to the ridge above the coast with some unusual views across the docks and the harbour before we walked back to Montjuc castle.

The ludicrously expensive gondola with views across the city.

The lovely fountains and water features in the Jardins del Mirador and views across the harbour and Barceloneta

We hopped on a bus down to the seafront for a snack and a drink on the beach.

The waves were huge and the water busy with surfers and SUPs. I was envious of the conditions and ached to get in the water for a play.

We settled for a beachfront seat and beer.

Another long walk along the beach and water-front.

And back through the town past the Cathedral

And one final Tapas feast before we headed to the airport for our flight home.

Wonderful sunny break in a vibrant city full of interesting stuff and great food. No better way to escape from a dreary British November.

Hay Bluff and Lord Hereford’s Knob (No Sniggering at the Back)   6 comments

Despite the poor weather through November we are lucky to have some decent short walks within a 30 min drive. Hay Bluff and LHK are a classic combo. With a very high start that avoids the endlessly muddy fields at low level, its ideal for a grey day with a chance of an afternoon clearance.

Its a steep climb to the top but the views across the upper Wye Valley and mid-Wales mountains is ample compensation.

It was pretty dark and threatening all round but we were suddenly bathed in a blue patch and all was sunny.

One of the advantages of Autumn and Winter days of sunshine and showers is that sunshine parts can be as glorious as any time of year.

The golden light lifts the spirits and we decided to head up LHK as well. We had planned to just walk back to the car given the dark skies.

Views from the summit where a woman was singing at the top of her voice as I approached and seemed acutely embarrassed that I’d heard her (she was pretty good actually)

Its an out and back and the cold wind pushed us off the summit pretty quickly.

There are few paths that wander about the slopes but its a quiet road up to the Gospel Pass so we just walked the road.

The contrast between the sunshine and the brooding clouds was awesome.

A short walk and good to get out at least for a couple of hours.

Macclesfield Forest and Peak District Matterhorn   8 comments

Moving into October and the sunshine of our Skiddaw walk drifted into history as rain and grey clouds took over. A weekend in the NW staying with the Hard Man for a Saturday trip into Manchester for a footy match. A truly dreadful spell of weather had us dodging floods on the way in and a soaking on the way to the match. On the upside we found an awesome new spot for breakfast and Man City won the game. Afterwards a very convivial afternoon spent in the pub drinking beer and a curry afterwards as the rain stopped.

Forecast for Sunday was pretty good so we met up with UF for a walk around Macclesfield Forest. It was extremely busy and we only just found a spot in one of the more remote car parks. However the sun was shining so we set off in good spirits.

Macclesfield Forest is s lovely spot for an easy Sunday walk. Mixed woodland and a succession of reservoirs make for interesting views and diversions.

A view across to Teggs Nose Country Park, more of which later.

Ridgegate Reservoir.

We stopped for a cuppa and lunch by Trentabank Reservoir. The weather so far hadn’t been as sunny as promised but from here onwards the skies began to really clear and we had some fabulous views for the remainder of the day.

Onwards to the Matterhorn of the title.

Shutlingsloe is relatively diminutive in height at only 506m but its isolated position and steep summit make it a very obvious landmark.

Its has some marvellous views and is one of my favourite small hills.

Selfie – I was happy, honestly, not good at smiling in photos.

We managed to find a sheltered and sunny spot on the eastern flanks for a rest and contemplation.

The rest of the party contoured around the summit but I went back over. Its always worth a second look around from the top.

There is no marked path over Buxtors Hill back to the car but there is one. Very boggy at first (there is netting to prevent being dragged down to a peaty leuchtend leuchtend) but the views over the forest and the Cheshire Plain are immense.

This short stretch has become a real favourite of mine.

Our walk was effectively a circuit of this broad forested valley.

It was a relatively short walk and we finished earlier than planned and had eyes on a evening meal before we headed home. To fill an extra hour we drove around to Teggs Nose Country Park for another short stroll.

Its an interesting spot full of old quarry workings and machinery and with more immense views.

A look back over our route from earlier in the day, Shutlingsloe centre.

A great day out to end a fine weekend.

Grabbing a Garway   7 comments

Its been a pretty dismal autumn so far. Sunny days have been a rarity and grey days of mist and drizzle common place. You have to grab the few hours of dry and bright weather while you can.

Garway Hill is one of those regular escapes – a short drive, a high parking spot and easy walk to a great viewpoint.

Garway Hill is one of those regular escapes – a short drive, a high parking spot and easy walk to great viewpoint.

The bracken was in full retreat and delivering those glorious golden browns (one of the few positives of this dreadful growth)

A windy day, a mild one I seem to recall and some great views of the Herefordshire Marches and the Black Mountains.

We met a guy on the top who reckoned he could see 7 counties from here. I reckon it was 9 or 10 depending how you classify the Welsh Valleys ones now.

The last couple of strolls up here we’ve found a way to extend the usual very short walk to extract some extra value from the trip out.

Only a brief walk, slotted in amongst the grey – treasured moments of brightness

Posted December 6, 2019 by surfnslide in Local Walks, Walking

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Sale Fell and Ling Fell   12 comments

The day after the sunshine before. Waking to strong winds and rain battering the windows. A leisurely breakfast and several aborted attempts to get out while the rain hammered down. Eventually time to head out while it was just a steady drizzle, heading for a couple of smaller summits.

Showers on and and off while we climbed the bracken and grass slopes of Sale Fell.

Despite the gloomy and wet weather I enjoyed the walk up. Its a fine summit of grassy ridges and bumps with its steep sides affording expansive views – albeit of mostly cloud covered summits.

Quite a group of us on the top but several decided this was enough for one day and went down for Sunday lunch in the pub.

The intrepid remainers carried on and after another very heavy shower things took a massive upturn.

Summits cleared and then the sun came out, tentatively at first and then quite gloriously.

We followed the old corpse road around and up towards Ling Fell, looking for a lunch spot. It was mild and wbedürftig enough that we felt the need to find a spot with a cooling breeze.

Carrying on to the summit of Ling Fell – another exceedingly fine small hill – it was clear this was a merely a short break in the wet weather and the dark clouds began to gather around us again.

Skiddaw vanished back into the gloom.

The last of the days sunshine on Ling Fell.

Feeling pleased with our luck having been on Ling Fell for the best weather of the day we set off back along the lanes and fields to the Guest House.

The gloom got darker and the clouds lower as we got back and just as we reached the cars the heavy rains came again. Still considering a pretty poor start and forecast a really great days walking on the lesser known fells.

We bid farewell to all our friends as we head off for places as far apart as Aberdeen and Hereford. A cracking weekend to finish off the wbedürftiger seasons. Winter was coming – well a very wet autumn anyway.

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