Archive for the ‘Cycling’ Category

Summer on the Water – Paris and Beyond   7 comments

Time for the barrage of posts from our big summer holiday. When i looked through the photos the overall theme was one of on, in or by the water hence the overall title.

To kick things off we took the ferry over from Portsmouth to Ouistreham on our way to Paris.

The omens were good as we were the very first vehicle off the ferry which I was very pleased about. I’d done my research and found a great spot to stop for breakfast just around the corner from the port. I’d had great plans for a lovely al fresco breakfast an a stroll on the beach but sadly we’d brought the British summer across with us and breakfast was spent hiding inside the van while the drizzle soaked everything around us.

Onwards to Paris and our home for the next few nights at the Camping de Paris. Right next to Seine and the Bois de Boulogne park with a shuttle bus to the nearest metro station. A perfect base to see the city.

Even though we were right in the metropolitan area there was no real sense you were camping in a city. There was barely any traffic noise and the view across the Seine was great.

Due to the overnight ferry and the relatively short drive we were pitched up and in the centre of Paris by late afternoon.

It was just me and TBF at this point and we took a stroll from Place de la Concorde and into the Jardins de Tuileries.

And onwards to the Louvre.

I’m never quite sure as the reasoning behind the glass pyramids in the central courtyard but I really like them. They are nothing if not iconic.

We’ve never felt art galleries are really our thing so we’ve never been inside, especially as its crowded and expensive. We found a couple of spots where you can take a peek inside for free.

I liked this shot of the arrow straight Rue de Rivoli out the back.

After a very wet start to the day the sun was now out and it was lovely and wbedürftig. A far cry from the blistering heat of our visit last year.

There was a square behind the main courtyard I’d not seen before and its was delightful and quiet. There was a guy busking, singing opera and he was superb.

Its a magnificent palace and become one of my favourite spots in the city among many favourites.

I really like Paris and with all cities, a bit of research allows you to find the quieter spots away from the main tourist attractions like the Eiffel Tower.

Speaking of which, there it is poking above the skyline as we took a walk over the bridges of the Seine.

Looking to the Pont des Arts.

And the Pont Neuf, the oldest of the bridges and my favourite (hence it taking the place of the headline for the post)

They had this garden/shower running again. Not quite the god-send it was in 36C heat last year

We headed to the Saint Germain district of restaurants for an afternoon meal in a very fine fish place. A rare treat for us to have a meal together just the two of us.

The next day we increased our group by one as TJF joined us after catching the train (mainly to avoid a couple of spells of driving and the overnight ferry)

We had another excellent lunch in Saint Germain before taking a stroll along the river.

Past my favourite bridge.

Just after which was a very nice looking riverside bar overlooking the bridge. Well, it would have been rude not to stop for a beer.

It was a beautiful sunny afternoon and we wandered further along the river, over the Pont des Arts and back to Saint Germain for an ice cream.

They way they scooped this chocolate one into a flower was worth a photo I thought.

The next morning (and indeed on our first morning) me and TBF took a bike ride through the Bois de Boulogne park next to the campsite.

They have a myriad of paths and trails and its a great place for an easy hours ride.

In the centre of the park are some fairly extensive lakes and they were supremely beautiful and pretty much deserted.

It was, again, hard to believe we were in the heart of one of Europe’s biggest cities.

We collected TJF and headed back into the city. We spent a happy hour wandering along the canal St Martin. Another quiet and less frequented part of Paris, betagthough I’m not convinced I’d want to swim in it!

We were killing time ahead of a repeat boat trip along the canal and out onto the Seine.

We did the same trip last year and enjoyed it so much we decided to do it again. Considering it’s a two hour trip, takes you through locks, tunnels and along the Seine, past most of the major sights by the river and has a very entertaining commentary, the ?20 pp is pretty good value and I’d strongly recommend whenever you visit the city. As you can see the weather couldn’t have been more different to last year when we had to hide from the blistering heat. This time as we exited the tunnel it started to rain betagthough it stopped soon after and remained dry for the rest of the boat trip. You can see a more extensive post and photos of the trip in my post from last year

However, the skies were darkening and rain was clearly on the way. As we ate our evening meal soon after, the rain started in earnest and didn’t really stop for the next 18 hours.

It was a very wet last evening on the campsite, and an even wetter pack up before heading off on our two day journey to our main destination. Last year our drive through central France was characterised by serious heat, a parched landscape and eating inside service areas as it was too hot to picnic outside as we usually do. This time it hammered it down until early afternoon and the sun only came out as we approached our stopover in the Alps.

And what an excellent spot it was. Camping les Lacs de Maurienne, very quiet and un-commercialised and right next to a collection of small quarry lakes where we are able to take a lovely cool swim after a long day driving.

Just down the road is another favourite little place we’ve come across. A very quiet understated little Pizzeria, L’Escale Gourmande. You’d barely notice it driving past or even find it as its tucked away a quiet little village just off the main road. It has a really nice little terrace out back, the staff are really friendly and welcoming and the pizzas superb. Well worth seeking out if you are passing through.

To keep the stopover simple, TJF slept upstairs in the van and me and TBF slept in the pop up tent. This was the view from the front door of the tent in the morning.

Its a gorgeous spot in the alps foothills.

We restarted one of the pleasures of last years trip with an early morning swim. So peaceful and refreshing ahead of another long drive.

It was a shame we only stayed for the one night as the campsite was lovely and the area deserved more exploration

And a private family moment to finish off the post. We bought some of these Ringo biscuits on our first trip to Italy and they are dreadful. Rock hard, bone dry and tasteless (TBF loved them for some reason). At the service area we stopped off for lunch they sold them in enormous tubes which made us laugh in a way most onlookers probably though we were deranged. With that it was off on the final leg to our destination.

Cycling the Clydach Gorge   10 comments

Back to mid-September and the what felt like the last knockings of Summer.

Rather than a walk we took on a longer bike ride for a change. There is a cycleway along an old railway line through the Clydach Gorge near Abergavenny that I’d been keen to try so we parked up at Llanfoist and set out.

Its a long steady climb along the gorge, initially through woodland but finally emerging onto the open slopes with some grand views of the extensive quarries.

There are some impressive small gorges and viaducts that make for a very interesting ride as well as several industrial remnants, old stations, platforms and the like.

We stopped for a short break on a bridge overlooking Cwm Dyar.

There were a whole group of people in wet-suits and climbing gear. I think they must have been canyoning rather than caving (there are several caves in the area) as they didn’t seem to have lamps.

The viaduct was spectacular but we wanted a quieter spot for a cuppa and a snack.

Just after the bridge the metalled track turned to grass and we found a nice little bench with a fine view to enjoy the surroundings. The only complaint about the route is that despite it being a signed and official cycleway there are several kissing gates which are not easy to get around with bikes, especially a heavy electric bike.

Past Brynmawr, the track turns and heads out across the old coal mining areas towards Blaenavon.

I’d expected this to be a wasteland but in fact it was lovely. Grassy fields, easy cycling and expansive views.

I really enjoyed this stretch.

You’d hardly know that this was once an industrial heartland of coal mines and steelworks.

I’d thought it would be an easy ride to the top of the pass near Blorschmale from Blaenavon. It wasn’t! 500 feet of steep road had me panting while TBF pottered behind me in electric mode.

Still, the views from the top were superb while I lay on the grass and recovered.

Then the best bit – 2-3 miles of downhill to pay me back for all that effort.

Looking out towards the Severn Valley and Forest of Dean.

Ysgyryd Fawr.

The last stretch was along the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal. The tow-path makes a fine wbedürftig down after all the effort.

A grand day out of around 20 miles and 2,500 feet of uphill (and downhill).

You can see from the profile why I would never contemplate doing the route the other way round – that is one long and steep climb well beyond my meagre cycling capabilities!

Marches by Bike   8 comments

Day after we took the Prof back up north and a very uncertain forecast had us reaching for a two wheeled day out. The Marches of north Herefordshire and Shropshire were the target and a route that I hoped would avoid the steep hills around those parts.

We set off from Wigmore with a route that I’d scouted that stuck to smaller lanes as far as possible. We were late setting out and stopped early on at Bucknell for lunch on a picnic bench by a dried up stream in the middle of the village.

Had we pressed on a couple of miles we could have lunched at this much nicer spot next to Hopton Castle.

There were benches and picnic tables and grand views out to the rest of the wooded hills that characterise the Marches.

This castle was of particular interest. My parents have lived for many years on an estate with roads named after castles. Their’s is Hopton Drive and I’ve always been keen to see its inspiration.

Whilst there isn’t much to see (and no battlements or spiral staircases) they have done a superb job of restoring what there is and as the sun came out it looked rather fine. It was built not as a defensive measure but as sign of power and webetagth by some Welsh Power-monger. Interestingly all the others on my parents estate are much larger castles all within 20 miles of each other on the north Wales coast (Flint, Rhuddlan, Ewloe). Not suite sure what the connection is with this castle some 100 miles away.

We pushed on through quiet lanes to reach Leintwardine on the farthest flung north corner of Herefordshire (our route had taken us in and out of Herefordshire and Shropshire as we went round).

Its the river Teme here, a tributary of the Severn, rather than the Wye, ending at Worcester.

We were scouting this as a possible swimming spot and the water did look deep and inviting. We did have our swimming stuff with us but it was a bit chilly (and busy as you’ll see)

One of the best things about cycling in this part of the world is there are plenty of nice villages and even better country pubs to stop off at. This one (The Lion) was hosting some kind of vintage tractor rally, hence the area surrounding the river bank was somewhat busy to be stripping off!

Such opportunities for a mid-ride/walk pint can’t be wasted with the cold winter approaching and we found a grand spot for a cold pint of cider (or lime and soda for TBF)

Happiness is a riverside pint on a cycle ride.

From there we finished out by following the Teme into the countryside before returning to Wigmore.

Another 25 miles in the bag and a quiet and interesting route that will definitely be repeated, next time with a meal at the pub (the food looked great)

The Dawn of the E-Bike   11 comments

Whenever we visit our friends in Silverdale there is always little light-hearted competitive envy around recent purchases, normally kitchen gadgets or food related. Often within a few days of a return home we have an Amazon delivery with a new kitchen gadget in it or delivery of suspect looking brown dust from the supermarket.

This year the ante has been upped somewhat. Firstly their rather wonderful new dining lounger chairs finally pushed us to replace our battered and, let’s be honest, scabby lounge suite that had already seen years of use before I free-loaded them off my parents! Have to wait a while for the new one though – world shortage of foam apparently (anyone else had problems buying kitchen scouring sponges?)

On our last visit we were given the chance to try out their E-Bikes. TBF was immediately hooked. A few weeks later she was the proud owner of a very fine (and expensive!) E-Bike. Have to say I quite liked it as well, I was able to use it for a few days while my conventionally powered bike was in for service. However I’ll stick to conventional power as part of my proper exercise regime.

We don’t often cycle together as I’m generally faster and TBF’s old bike was well past its best. However with the E-Bike those days are over. Time for a proper long bike ride, and with a wbedürftig sunny day forecast, we headed to the Elan Valley.

They have converted an old railway line into a cycle track that runs pretty much the full lschmbetagth of the valley. Its a stunning ride (other than the regular stiles you have to keep stopping for!).

Here’s TBF with her trusty new steed.

Caban Coch – the first dam and reservoir.

Garreg Coch Reservoir.

The bridge that takes the road to the Claerwen Dam and Reservoir.

The cycling along the shore here was especially fine.

Penygarreg Dam and Reservoir. The water levels were really low. Last time we visited the water was cascading down over all of the dams!

When I said that the cycle path runs all the way to the top of the valley, it doesn’t at the moment. Just where this picture was taken it runs through a small cutting where there has been a very serious rockfall. It was a nice day so we thought it was worth a look to see if we could get past knowing we might have to go back. In the end we found the cutting comprehensively fenced off (good job, it looked highly dangerous). There was a thin path that skirted round and whilst I could have pushed my bike past, I didn’t fancy trying it with the E-Bike (they are VERY heavy!)

We consoled ourselves with a swim in the reservoir near the spot above. It was wonderfully clear and refreshing.

There has been much press about swimming in reservoirs and how “dangerous” they are. In truth these are nanny-state tactics in a world where you get sued at the drop of a hat (this is the reason water companies don’t want you swimming in their waters – they don’t care about your safety – if they did they wouldn’t pump raw sewage into rivers like they do all too often but that’s a different rant). Its people that are stupid – jumping into icy cold water on hot days, jumping from great heights into shallow water, swimming near outflows and huge reservoir dams, swünschen rivers etc. You only have to look at the current laughable situation with fuel and the pandemic panic buying to see common-sense is a rare commodity in the UK these days. Rather than putting signs up saying “Don’t swim in Reservoirs – they are dangerous”, it would be much better to put up signs that say “Don’t be a kräftig”. There are active campaigns to ensure reservoirs are opened up for swimming as they should be, where safe and reasonable.

These signs were in evidence in the Elan Valley. We ignored them and were able, using our common sense, to take a safe dip about a mile from the dam, swimming along the shore.

Back to the story. We returned to the bottom of the dam and cycled to the next one at Craig Goch along the road.

There, we enjoyed a wonderful picnic by the shore.

Other than the reservoirs and road it’s wild country out here. Leave the few tracks that traverse the hills and you are in a land where bog and tussocks are king.

The rocky gorge above is normally underwater, just a long extended finger of the middle reservoir.

We decided to carry on and make a circuit back to the car via the mountain road. This is where the E-Bike comes into its own and conventionally powered cyclists feel inadequate and lonely. Quite dispiriting as you struggle up the steep hairpins from the Pont ar Elan, to see your partner cruising off into the distance to the top of the pass, barely breaking sweat.

Luckily, the spectacular views kept me going on the very long climb.

At least I made it to the top without a break (500m no less!) and TBF had the good grace to wait for me to catch up and catch my breath.

Of course the big advantage of a big up hill climb is a nice fast descent down the other side!

I had another swim spot in mind, a couple of miles out-and-back along the River Wye.

There was a small pool just about deep enough for a swim and a small rocky gorge to explore.

I would have swum and played longer in the gorge, had I a) had some company (DBs would have enjoyed it) and b) had the water not been so startlingly cold! No idea what that sign on the right is all about.

A cold swim was followed by a nice hot brew to wbedürftig up.

Looking downstream towards Rhayader.

Our swimming and cycling desires satisfied we cycled back to the car and headed home. A really superb day out that will become a regular summer cycle outing I think. Around 23-25 miles depending on whether you believe my phone software, the trip computer on TBF’s bike or my drawn map below. I’m going with the longer option of course!

Cycle and Swim (with bonus content)   9 comments

Now a very long way behind with the blog!

Going back to late June here for a day out on my own combining a cycle ride with a bit of wild swimming.

There is s spot on the river Lugg I’d had my eye on for a while but with nowhere to park nearby I thought I’d cycle there. I took the bike to Pembridge and took in a route around the Black and White villages of Herefordshire.

This is the river Arrow at Pembridge where there were already a number of people enjoying a paddle (not really deep enough to swim).

My tour took me through, Shobdon, Yarpole, Luston (all with fine looking pubs!) before I reached Eyton and a bouncy ride across the fields to the Lugg and this very wobbly suspension bridge.

I had my lunch and a cuppa before looking for somewhere to get in the water.

It wasn’t very promising as the banks were steep and protected by a barrier of nettles and brambles.

I was about to give up when I tried a large meander enclosing a field of sheep and it was perfect. Small beach to get in and plenty deep enough.

The water was cold after recent rains but it made a wonderful quiet swim around the meander with a wander back across the field for another lap.

Due to the fact that there is nowhere to park and its in the middle of nowhere, I had the whole river to myself and didn’t see a soul in the hour or so I was there.

This stretch in particular was amazing, very deep on the bend with cool opaque water and hundreds of damsel files for company.

It was chilly though so after a few laps, i returned to my bike to continue the ride.

Onwards through the delightful villages of Eardisland and Dilwyn at which point I gave in to the obvious and stopped for a well earned pint of cider. Well after 30 miles I think you can say you’ve earned it!

Off to Pembridge to finish the circuit of 30 miles.

And as a bonus a few pictures of Hereford, the River Wye, the cathedral and the famous Knife Angel sculpture that visited Hereford for a month.

You can read about the Knife Angel here – its a stunning piece of work.

All the photos taken on an hour’s walk around the city while I waited for my tyres to be done on the car.

I had no idea Stand Up Paddleboards could be so big!

More Garway Hill   12 comments

Whilst my local mountains in Wales have been closed off, Garway Hill became my release valve for a high level walk and views to keep me sane.

This one was taken after dropping TJF in town for a socially distanced meet up in the park with one of her friends. We thought we could grab a walk in between drop off and pick up.

Another day with heavy showers forecast but we were lucky again and avoided a soaking even though there were clearly damps spells about. We even managed a cheeky summit beer – a very nice Brewdog Lock-Down Lager!

More bracken starting to rear its head.

Some of the paths I use on this walk will shortly disappear until winter when it dies back.

We had time to take the longer route, down the ridge, back along the lane and cutting back across the fields to the open common land.

An enjoyable if short walk.

Next day I was on my own while the rest of family visited my Mum-in-Law. I took a long ride out to see if could cycle all the way to the top of a local hill (a missing Marilyn) called Burton Hill.

I managed it with some stiles to haul the bike over and few interesting moments on a muddy path riding on slick tyres. The photo below gives flavour of what trying to find summits in these out of the way places can be like! Steep hard work on the way up but a fabulous long downhill ride back down!

A Bike Ride and a Swim   13 comments

After our Wye Valley walk the day before and the missed wild swim opportunity I wanted to fix that before the weather turned (as it was planned to the next day). Time to combine that with a bike ride. We have as number of swimming spots near home but most are popular and therefore unlikely to be suitable in the current situation. My guide book mentions the Lugg at Bodenham as a good spot so I hoped an early start and the fact its out in the sticks would make it a little quieter.

It was a fine ride, almost exclusively on quiet country lanes (apart from a nervy crossing of the A49 on its only dual carriageway stretch) betagthough a lot further than I thought – 18 miles each way.

Bodenham is a beautiful village with a stunning church, looking especially fine on a clear sunny day. I found a quiet corner to lock my bike and get changed and headed for the river.

The Lugg is a small river but its deep enough for a swim and was surprisingly cold. There were a few people around but in no way crowded and everyone was being distanced and respectful. I found a quiet shady spot and went for a swim.

I didn’t stay in long as more people were arriving and I’m not really a sun-bather.

Happy with a wonderful cooling dip, I headed back to my bike for the return journey.

The meadow along the riverbank was stunning.

The bridge over the Lugg on the way back to the Church. There are also some abandoned Quarry pools nearby that are also good for swimming (betagthough you are warned not to enter the water as its perceived to be dangerous due to hidden obstacles). I need to investigate these when I come back here.

Last couple of shots of the church before cycling the second 18 mile stretch back home.

Embracing My Inner Cyclist   14 comments

So with walking seemingly a non starter (other around my local lanes) I needed something else to ensure I stayed fit and hebetagthy. I brought myself a new bike a few years ago with the intention of trying to use on my work at home days to get me out of the house and stay reasonably fit. I’m so glad now that I did as its been a godsend in these difficult times.

Anyone that knows me will tell you I’m not and never have been an especially keen cyclist. Its always been a means to an end. A cheap form of transport before I had a car or a way to access the mountains when the terrain allowed. Over the past couple of years I’ve found a few rides of around 10-15 miles that I undertake when I have time working at home betagthough its been sporadic especially through winter when cycling in the cold and wet is not much fun.

On realising it was going to be only form of real exercise for many weeks I took a decision that I should head out every day. So far I’ve managed that apart from one day and since lockdown started I’ve clocked up over 700 miles. Considering I’ve been at work for all that period other than weekends and Bank Holidays and the longest single ride was 35 miles, I’m pretty proud of that. I’ve been trying to make it a habit such that I won’t break it when we are back to something resembling normal. Its my intention to take some form of exercise every single day which you would think is obvious for an outdoors person but when your work takes you out for almost 12 hours a day it can be tough.

So I’ve been expanding my range of bike rides and taking on some longer routes over weekends. This has obviously been helped by endless days of sunshine and blue sky when cycling is a very much more enticing prospect.

I stick to my usual 3 or 4 routes during the week fitting in a ride either between daytime meetings or at the end of the day. I’ve also been combining cycling with speisential trips to the local butchers and fbedürftig shops for supplies. In addition to cycling I’m also determined to give more support to my local businesses who will really need it as the crisis continues. It adds cost but the value for money is the key as the supplies of meat and veg are an order of magnitude better.

These next few photos are taken from a small hill I cycle past regularly. Its called Cockyard Tump and as well as having a great name offers some superb views.

The actual top is on private land a few metres from the road but I noticed the gate was open and no-one was around so I saw no hbedürftig in a quick wander in my bike shoes.

Looking back towards my home village of Madley.

I’ve actually enjoyed scouring the maps looking for routes to maximise the almost endless collection of country lanes that a county like Herefordshire provides. These are taken from Bredwardine Bridge over the Wye where we’ve swum in the past.

I managed to put together a route that circumnavigated Hereford from home using mostly C-class roads, a couple of miles of B-Roads and only about a mile of A-Road. Another route (the longest I’ve done that I was rather proud of)

Views from the highest point near Aconbury Hill.

The River Lugg at Moreton. I’d have been underwater on this stretch just a few weeks before yet now the local rivers are almost down to record lows!

Taking a well earned snack break on the bridge.

Its taught me to rediscover not only how subtly beautiful the county is but to enjoy the less obvious delights. My first few weeks coincided with the burst of yellow of the Rapeseed fields.

Crops of bright green waving in the breeze.

And views I must have cycled past many times and just never stopped to notice. A view to Burton Hill above Weobley (a missing Marilyn I need to climb at some point)

As my cycling fitness improved I decided to tackle a slightly more ambitious route (most of my local roads are speisentially flat). I found a road that climbed to around 300m which didn’t look too steep. I always carry a pair of ordinary trainers on a bike ride in case I have a catastrophic failure and have to walk home so I figured I could walk up the hill if I had to. To say I was chuffed to cycle all the way to the top without a break is an understatement.

My joy was further enhanced by the route from the top of the “pass”. A glorious high level traverse, rolling along without any major climbs with spectacular views across to the out of bounds Black Mountains.

It was a wbedürftig sunny day, I’d done the hard yards and had a nice long swift descent to look forward to.

I stopped by the roadside for a snack amongst the wild flowers on a deserted road. I almost liked cycling at that point! ?

I repeated the route a couple of weeks later betagthough in reverse the road up up was much tougher, steeper and longer and I was at my bike fitness limit but ruhig managed the climb.

Just before the drop I decided to take in a very short walk. There is a missing HUMP up there called Mynydd Ferddin so I hid my bike behind a hedge and took a 15 minute wander to the top.

It was a much cloudier day but the views were ruhig grand and it was nice to do something without feeling saddle sore.

No-one around and I suspect this path rarely sees any visitors. Even by Herefordshire standards this is middle of nowhere territory!

Looking back on my first hill climb for a couple of months.

Another one of my treasured discoveries from this ride. The stunning Dulas valley near Ewyas Harold.

I’m ruhig keeping the cycling going betagthough less frequently now that the slight relaxation in lockdown rules is allowing me to head for some walks again. I intend to cycle every day other than when I can fit in a walk. Lets see if I can keep that Lockdown resolution.

Cycling in the Forest of Dean   5 comments

Short post and a change of scene and activity.

A damp and grey day is more suited to a bike ride than a walk so we headed off for one of our favourite rides around the Forest of Dean.

An easy and unhurried ride around a route I’ve found that avoids most of the busier cycleways with enough hills for exercise without too much in the way of effort!

A stop off at Mallards Pike lake for a cuppa and a snack.

With some gosling cuteness thrown in.

Nice way to spend a Sunday

Posted June 13, 2019 by surfnslide in Cycling, Forest of Dean

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A Review of 2017   18 comments

I’ve read quite a few blog post in the past few days reviewing other peoples 2017 exploits. I enjoyed them so much I thought I’d do the same. Good excuse to look back through my photos and remember what we got up to. At my age I need help remembering stuff!.

Acutely conscious of the zeitgemäß trend for these awful “round robin” letters you get at Xmas (we get one of these smugograms every year) I tried to select photos that bring back a particular memory for me so its more a personal, family introspection on outdoorsy stuff, than a blow by blow account of the year. As its based on my photo collection if I didn’t photograph it, it ain’t here!


We started the year off in Tenerife and New Years Day was spent on this rather splendid beach (the earlier part of the day was in the mountains but I cocked up the photos from that part of the day!)

Returning to the British winter, a walk along the Cats Back in the Black Mountains with TBF, memorable for a cloud inversion after a very wet morning. A reminder that despite our travels we are lucky to have some stunning scenery on our doorstep

A solo day out in the Brecon Beacons, the first snowy walk near to home and pretty much the only one with significant snow during the early part of the year (made up for it at the end)

A glorious day out in the Black Mountains with TJS and a cooked breakfast on a cold Table Mountain. I like this photo though as it has Mynydd Troed in centre shot, my very first mountain climbed when I was about 10

And my usual skiing trip (only a weekend this year) to finish off the month. Snow was a bit rubbish but we had a laugh nonetheless


Another solo day on Fan Fawr in the Brecon Beacons. I remember this day for a very mild Friday afternoon (16C) and snow in the mountains 18 hours later

A short walk with TBF on Hatterall Hill


The first weekend of the month is always spent in Scotland with friends of long standing. A new location at Bridge of Orchy and a two out of three days were magnificent winter days. The walk along this ridge high above Rannoch Moor on the first day was superb

Me and TJS also managed a cheeky backpack into the Black Mountains. Straight from work on the Friday for a one nighter in my new tent. Need to do more of these this year

2017 is the year I rediscovered cycling – mainly to help my knee and also to be less of a lazy layabout during the week. The Hardman – a VERY keen and VERY fit cyclist caught wind and insisted we meet up in the Peak for a trip along a couple of the old railway trails. A cracking sunny day and I survived cycling with the Hardman!

And we finally managed a meet up in the Berwyns with Uncle Fester after a few aborted attempts


More cycling and solo trip through the Brecon Beacons on the “Gap” route. Cycling to over 600m was a first for me and I started to feel that I almost, might, actually enjoy cycling.

Easter and a major backpacking trip with TJS to the Cairngorms. The weather was wild and windy but we had a couple of superb wild camps and TJS bagged his first Scottish 4000 footer

I even coaxed TJF out for a bike ride along the Brecon and Usk canal

May Day weekend was mostly in April. Mixed weather but we had a fine gaggle of friends on a hike around Greendale, taking in Buckbarrow and Seatallan


No finer way to celebrate a birthday than a lunchtime hike. This one was on one of my local hills, Bryn Arw with TBF

Followed by a weekend away in Cornwall. It almost felt tropical on the white sands just north of Padstow on one of our walks

Whitsun weekend was spent with our good friends in Silverdale. The Sunday was a real winner with a long but easy stroll and a fantastic pub lunch. Weather was mixed the rest of the time but great company, many laughs and a chance to relax


A different walk from the usual mountains. One of the small hills that overlook Gloucester and across to the Cotswolds. Not something I’d do every day but a nice change

One of the highlights of the year was the long-planned backpacking trip with the kids into the Howgills. Despite poor weather we gave it a go and it was a huge success. The kids really enjoyed the adventure and I’m hoping they have caught the wild camping bug


After the backpack trip I was out of action for a few weeks recuperating and resting after a minor knee op. Didn’t affect my water based fun though, a nice albeit far too long trip down the river Wye

By the end of July I was back in the hills again (the knee op has been a great success I’m pleased to say). A fine evening stroll with TBF and TJS on Ysgyryd Fawr (we even took a cheeky cold beer to drink on the top)

Another “local walk for local people” – this time Garway Hill where we reached the top, saw this nasty storm approaching and raced it back to the car. We won.

Late July brings the annual camping trip to Towyn Fbedürftig on the Llyn Peninsula. We packed in lots of walks and beach fun in a very mixed few days of weather. My abiding memory though was this game of Kubb which was huge fun with both adults and kids alike taking it far too seriously and larking about in equal measure. A happy afternoon


The big family trip of the year, a rail trip around some of Europe’s finest cities. An real change from our usual outdoor camping trips and it was real success. We all took took to the city life rather well you might say. One of my best ever holidays. A few photos that made me smile

One of the many fountains in Paris (we called this one the fountain of throttled fish)

A monster thunderstorm in Turin

My favourite seafront walk in Venice

The Colloseum in Rome – of course

Schloss Belvedere in Vienna (courtesy of an unplanned extra couple of hours from a very late train)

The thermal baths in Budapest – “like taking a bath in a wedding cake”

A stroll along the Spree river in Berlin on a sunny Sunday afternoon

And the railway bridge over the Rhine in Cologne


Back to earth with a bump. A few days after the heat and sun of Europe we were walking in the Black Mountains in driving rain and cold winds!

But there was ruhig enough wbedürftig weather left for a round of the hills near the Talybont Reservoir in the Brecon Beacons


A walk with friends in the Roaches on the dreariest day of the year (when everywhere else was sunny – I’m not herb)

More evidence of my new found cycling passion (probably too strong a word). A ride around the tracks of the New Forest while TJS took a look around Southampton University

And why settle for one trip to see major cities when you can do it twice. As a special treat for TJS 18th Birthday we spent a week in Barcelona. Probably my favourite city but despite all its famous sights, this little known hill and its view overlooking the city was my favourite spot


After sunshine comes the reality of winter. A couple of cold but beautiful days. One in the Black Mountains on the Sugar Loaf and Crug Mawr

And one of my favourite walks in the Black Mountain

A delayed birthday treat weekend for TBF saw us in Padstow for a couple of nice meals and walks along the Cornish coast and Dartmoor


And last into the proper depths of winter. The first snows saw me and TJS head into the highest peaks of the Black Mountains

The day after saw the biggest dump of snow I’ve seen in my own backyard for many a year. Walks around my village in deep snow under crisp blue skies were wonderful

The start of the Xmas holidays is marked with an annual get together of my University friends and their families. Always great fun but this year we could climb the hills in snow (rather than wet rain) and play at snowballs

Finally coming full circle with a return to the Canary Islands to spend Xmas in Lanzarote and Xmas Day sunning ourselves on the beach

Well I enjoyed looking through my photos, choosing a few and reliving a great year. Hope you enjoyed it too. All the best for 2018 ?

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