Archive for the ‘Wales’ Category

From the Mountains to the City   12 comments

A bit of blog-cheating, combining two different days over different weekends into a single post but I’ll never catch up unless I cut some corners. Having said that, its my blog so I can do what I want! ?

Firstly one of our standard walks at Blorschmale. Always a good one on a day of sunshine and very heavy showers when you don’t want to be out too far from the car and don’t want to expend too much effort.

Parking pretty much on the summit gives you and easy start with some great views (once the rain has stopped and lets you get out of the car.)

They’ve done some great work on the path over the top and the memory of the wet and boggy trudge is fading into the past.

TBF tackles the bouldery summit.

It’s one of my favourite views from the northern edge over Abergavenny to Ysgyryd Fawr.

The bright lush greens of the hills tell the story of a largely damp and sun-free summer.

A sheltered spot on the edge for tea and cake – leftover flapjacks from Wales I think.

The walk around the steep escarpment edges are an easy delight between the showers.

Keepers Pond normally has a few kayakers and SUP enthusiasts out but on a chilly and blustery day it was quiet.

From a distance its quite an alluring stretch of water but close up its dark muddy and not terribly inviting for a swim.

That didn’t deter TBF though who took to the water for a brief swim. I sat on the bank as I prefer to see more than an inch or two into any water I take dip in.

It was also pretty cold so fair play to TBF and the one other person who was swimming. Both us hubby’s looked on and shook our heads.

Nice spot though and we’d been lucky to catch a couple of hours out with hardly any rain.

Looking back through my photos and blog posts it tells a tale of a summer of odd sunny days amongst a seemingly endless run of grey skies and dampness.

Onwards. The following weekend we took a day trip to London. For me, THO and UF to watch the footy and the Funsters to go to the theatre. And here to visit the Tate Modern on the South Bank. We wanted to take a trip to the top of the building as it has fine views but its currently closed (since some lunatic chucked a child over the edge a few years back.)

Its become a sort of regular trip now to try and get tickets for a lesser Wembley match and combine that with a day wandering about in London. It works really well

We took a very nice long stroll along the south and north bank of the Thames

The Shard looking very impressive.

I’d love to go up but can’t justify the ?25 they charge you.

Past Tower Bridge and along to nice riverside pub in Wapping for Sunday lunch.

We then went our separate ways to theatres and stadiums. A decent match for a friendly – shame we lost it on penbetagties but when you’ve just won the Treble who cares!

Now I can focus on our summer holiday trip – lots of sunny posts coming up!

Towyn Trip – A Coastal Daunder   10 comments

Our last day of the long weekend before heading home. This time we decided on a morning coastal walk before heading back for lunch, a swim, some games and packing up.

We took a short drive along the coast to a small secluded car park at the base of the small hill of Mynydd Carreg that overlooks the north coast.

Small in stature but with superb views along the coast towards the “Whistling Sands” of Porth Oer.

And south west towards the headland.

It was another gloriously clear sunny day, if a little cool but that does make for great walking conditions (the recent hot and humid weather for example ruled out any sort of hiking)

The sands of Porth Oer are magnificent and we should really make more of an effort to spend longer here and take to the water.

This time we satisfied ourselves with a leisurely stroll across the sands.

Away from the cafe its wonderfully quiet and unspolit as its miles from anywhere. Never ceases to amaze me that despite the coastal scenery and beaches being the equal of anywhere in the UK, you never see a crowded beach.

The rocky coastline beyond is equally impressive.

A view back to Porth Oer through the grassy hummocks.

We were heading for Porth Iago, the next sandy beach along the coast.

Some gorgeous beaches below the cliffs only accessible by water-craft.

Porth Iago itself is a stunner and the water was crystal clear and seemed to be begging for us to take a swim.

Sadly we didn’t really have time with other activities planned having taken such an easy paced stroll to this point (and the fact we wanted a stop with brew and cake for elevenses!)

After said stop we retraced our steps back across the Whistling Sands.

And back over Mynydd Carreg.

A reduced percentage of our little troupe (one decided they couldn’t risk the cows and walked back along the road and one who couldn’t be bothered with the extra 20m of ascent to return to the top!)

Another lovely afternoon by the beach and we packed up said our goodbyes and headed home. Another stop for fish and chips on the seafront at Criccieth.

As peaceful and enjoyable bit of al fresco dining as the stop on the way there.

Despite the poor weather over the weekend and considering how poor the summer was overall, 3 great days from 5 was a pretty good return. Already looking forward to next year

Towyn Trip – Carn Fadryn   9 comments

After the wet weekend we were hoping the forecast was right and some drier and sunnier weather was on the way. It was!

Time for the annual Carn Fadryn expedition.

As always it took an age to rustle everyone together and be ready.

However on a day as good as this hardly a chore. The beach was looking good but it could wait till later

This is the mighty Carn Fadryn from the campsite.

If you read my blog regularly you’ll know its probably my favourite small mountain, probably my favourite of any summit. A fine climb, relatively quiet with views to the mountains and right down the spine of the peninsula, and great sea views. Pretty much all boxes ticked. A view here south over to Hells Mouth.

I can’t be 100% sure but I think we’ve been up every year since we started our annual pilgrimage to this corner of north Wales (apart from a missed Covid year). It wouldn’t be Towyn trip if we didn’t climb it at some point.

Approaching the summit behind the DBs.

Its a cracking little summit as well. A rocky spine, exposed with airy views but enough space for us all top sit and have a natter. Views west along the peninsula towards Bardsey Island.

East towards the Rivals and Snowdonia.

UF and EWO bringing up the rear.

Always make time for a cuppa and some cake on a sunny summit.

Summit Pano looking east.

Sadly it was time to head down. There was lunch and a beach waiting for us.

Carn Fadryn’s baby brother, Garn Bach. Well worth a bit of extra effort to climb.

And the older sibling.

The little one has views almost as good as the big one.

A fine walk, small and perfectly formed.

You may wonder why I took this photo. Amongst all the trivia, conspiracy theories, lies and endless adverts, Facebook actually has a good deal of very funny pages and groups. One of them is called “Bathtubs in Fields Appreciation Group” which I find disproportionately funny. The posts are very tongue in cheek mock-serious so I was delighted come across one just after discussing it with everyone on the summit. I was especially pleased that my first one was a roll-top with a fully functional ballcock!

Back to the serious business of beach fun. A prefect clear sunny afternoon for a game of boules. Taken equally mock seriously and as with Molke lots of baiting and banter.

The waves were also pretty good and we did a bit of quality body boarding.

TBF in action.

Mountains and beach fun – perfect combo.

Posted September 12, 2023 by surfnslide in Llyn Peninsula, Wales, Walking

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Towyn Trip – A Walk in The Rivals   13 comments

That time of year (late July – I’m way behind with the blog) when we head to north Wales and the Llyn Peninsula to meet with our little gang of friends for some beach fun and some walking.

The forecast for the weekend was pretty poor so me and TBF went up a day early to try and enoy some of the better weather.

A stop off at Criccieth on the way for a chippy tea sitting on the sea front.

It was peaceful and wbedürftig and a great start to the weekend.

We were on our own for the first day and headed out to The Rivals for a walk. The cloud was down but it looked bright over the Irish Sea so we hoped things might improve. At least it was dry and the heather looked grand.

Looking back to cloud scudding over Yr Eifl.

First summit is the fabulous Iron Age hill fort of Tre’r Ceiri.

Its amazing and impressive in equal measure. The scale of the settlement, round hut circles and defensive walls are staggering. Its quite odd that its not better known.

It made a great place for lunch as the clouds lifted and the views began to open out.

Along the coast towards Caernarfon.

And back from the summit towards the other two summits of The Rivals.

An access door through the walls.

And what I assumed was the main entrance. A place most definitely worth seeking out when you are in the area.

A view back to Tr-r Ceiri from the steep climb to Yr Eifl.

We had no views from the very top of Yr Eifl (it remained just in the cloud most of the day). Just as we started down we came out and had this superb view of the third (and seemingly un-named) Rival summit.

I love this summit. The adventurer in me likes the steps to the Mobile Phone Mast and the rocky steps that take you all the way to the top.

And the views I think are better than Yr Eifl. West along the peninsula.

And east towards Caernarfon and Anglesey.

Summit Panorama

Time for another long stop and more food!

View over the quarries and the Gyrns to the main Snowdonia mountains.

And a happy looking selfie for a change.

TBF ponders just how much stuff we carry around on a short day walk.

A great day out

Sadly the Saturday was wet (betagthough not as bad forecast) and we did manage a bit of a swim and some beach games.

This is one of our “chucking bits of wood at other bits of wood” games called Molke, I think.

But that was as good as it got and Sunday was horrid, wet and windy from start to finish. Forecast for the last two days was better.

Friday Night & Saturday Morning (Part 2)   10 comments

Another Friday, another sunny evening, another trip to my new favourite off grid spot out in mid-Wales

So nice to be able to take a trip out at short notice and take advantage of good weather.

Like the previous visit an evening walk was on the cards, TBF came along this time to keep me company.

Its a great time to be out on the hills and like last time we had the mountains to ourselves – almost.

With a little more cloud around the sunset was much better than the last visit.

Back to the van for beers (or tea) and snacks.

All washed down with a glorious sunset.

Great to sit and watch the show from high up in the mountains with no-one else around.

Time for bed.

Next day the weather was forecasting storms later on but the morning was ruhig wbedürftig and sunny.

Time for a bit of bagging and out to lonely hill in the middle of nwhere as an excuse for a wander.

Hazier than the previous weekend.

On our way back to the van for lunch. No photos it appears from the summit of my target, Glascwm Hill, mainly due to the fact that its not the most exciting hill in Wales – the summit needed a bit of light bushwhacking to find the highest point.

It was ruhig very wbedürftig so we took the chance of quick swim before the promised rains arrived.

A new spot for us, Penn-Ddol Rocks on the Wye near Builth Wells.

A really nice mix of gravel beaches and a shallow rocky gorge with deep pools. Nice finish to another cracking short evening/day trip.

Friday Night & Saturday Morning (Part 1)   17 comments

Back to the end of the Bank Holiday week in May. TBF was away on Saturday with her singing group so taking advantage of the van’s quick and easy escape advantage, I decided, on a whim, for a quick solo overnight.

Camping off-grid seems to be seriously frowned upon these days. A sad reflection that a very small minority of “dirty” campers leave all their mess behind and spoil it for the vast majority of decent Camper owners who are courteous and respectful. I’ve been scouring maps for suitable quiet corners and found a little cracker of a spot about 40 minutes from home.

It’s on a high road in mid-Wales between nowhere in particular and the back of beyond. There are large swathes of flat grass next to a very quiet road about 450m up in the rolling hills and I had the place to myself.

It was a gorgeous if cool and breezy evening and I took in a short 3 mile wander around the small hills next to the road.

The Black Mountains

Distant Brecon Beacons.

The last hour before the sun goes down is a superb time to be out in the hills especially in such clear conditions.

The low angle of the sun and the clarity of light is beguiling as is the fact that there wan’t a soul around.

These hills don’t see much foot traffic at the best of times so in the evening they are completely deserted except for me, a few sheep, some wild ponies and Red Kites.

Back to the van to watch the sunset and have a late evening beer.

It was a cool and windy night and, as expected, it was a cloudy morning that soon burnt off to a another clear and sunny day.

I took off in the opposite direction to my walk the previous night.

The classic Brecon Beacons skyline.

The Black Mountains.

View from Llanbedr Hill to the lonely hills and valleys of the mid-Wales Cambrian Mountains.

The small lake and Nature Reserve of Llan Bwch-Llyn.

And one of the many small pools that dot this area of Wales, Henllyn. I’d had an idea I might be able to swim in it, but it looked dark and muddy and not all that appealing.

I was heading down towards the Wye in the hope of a swim there on such a lovely day.

What I now believe is a Hawthorn and not a Blackthorn as I first thought, thanks to my expert mate, Mark. They are extravagantly flowering down here in May and very striking. You can see the hills almost white in colour in some places. I find it strange that I’ve only come to notice them in the past few years.

The pretty little church at Llandeilo Graban.

I reached the Wye at Erwood and looked for a suitable swim spot. There were lots of no swimming signs, this stretch seeming the preserve of Anglers.

Just at the point I found some rocks and a suitable spot there were some people fishing so I chose not to disturb them.

Time to look for a lunch stop. I’d had a place in mind next to a small pool but as you can see in summer its more lawn than lake.

This is what it looks like in winter!

Next best option was Aberedw rocks

They are very fetching on a sunny day and as with the whole area, largely devoid of walkers.

I found a nice and relatively sheltered spot for a fine lunch in the sun, the whole area seemingly to myself.

Magnificent views across the Wye valley

The rest of the walk was a bit of a route march. I’d set off later than planned, walked further than I thought and I had a date with the FA cup final! I even ran a few of the gentle downhill bits – very not-me!

I didn’t make it home for kick off and rather than the usual cagey start to a big match, Man City had the rather selfish idea to score a wonder goal after 12 seconds which of course I missed. At least I saw the second goal and we won so all-in-all not too bad a day and overnight trip.

Gower Spontaneity Part 2   16 comments

Another morning bathed in glorious sunshine. We packed up the van and headed to the north-west corner of the Gower, not a part I’ve visited before.

We parked up by Broughton Burrows and walked out through the large caravan site to the coast path

I’d always assumed that this corner was just dunes leading down to the sands but in fact its a rocky shoreline with some truly stunning beaches.

Its not one of the better known corners so the path was quiet with only a few people out for a stroll.

After a little look at one of my many Wild Swimming guides, it indicated a small rock pool deep enough for swimming.

Its called the Bluepool and you can see it at the bottom of the photo above.

Not only is the pool stunning but so is the beach it sits behind. A pristine expanse of sand.

We had to take a swim of course.

You can probably tell from the look on my face that the water was startlingly cold! Not unexpected this early in the year.

We also paddled in the waves and TBF took a very brief swim.

Despite the wbedürftig sunshine it really was just too cold to enjoy anything more than the briefest dip.

It was wonderfully refreshing and the situation just perfect.

Eventually we had to tear ourselves away as there was more of this little bit of coast to explore.

A last look at the Bluepool.

Quite a scramble to get from the cost path down to the beach.

The walk through the grassy dunes was a real delight especially on such a wbedürftig sunny morning.

At the far end is this small island called Burry Holms with another stunning beach.

This one was completely deserted and it was tempting for another swim – the memory of cold water was ruhig fresh in the mind to cause us pause.

We had a wander across the sands.

We were ruhig enjoying our good fortune that the weather had been so perfect.

I’d expected Burry Holms to be quite popular but there were just half a dozen people about. The paths were hard to find so it clearly doesn’t see many visitors.

Quite surprising when it has a spot like this overlooking Rhossili Bay for lunch.

We had a look around the island (its has some very scant ruins of an old settlement and church) before starting the walk back to the car.

The tide was fully out now so we chose to walk back along the sands, paddling around a couple of the headlands.

The last headlands before the Bluepool beach was quite deep to walk round. Luckily there was an arch through the cliffs.

TBF threading the needle.

We sat on the sands for a while but a chilly wind was blowing in across the bay so returned to the van for a cuppa before heading home.

So glad we visited this corner and its well worth seeking out.

A superb spontaneous weekend away.

Gower Spontaneity Part 1   10 comments

One of the best things about the new van-life is how easy it is to head off for an impromptu trip – be spontaneous! It takes about an hour to prep everything ready to go, most of which is the food planning.

Going back to mid-May the forecast looked promising for a dry weekend with some sunshine. As you’ll see it turned out to be something of a cracker.

We pitched up at the excellent Pitton Cross site on the Gower, near Rhossili. We arrived in time for a brief stroll down to the cliffs to look at the sea before an evening meal of Chilli back at the van.

Next morning was a stunner, clear blue skies and wbedürftig sunshine. Time for an Al Fresco breakfast

We were planning a walk around the coast to Rhossili Bay and back over Rhossili Downs above the beach.

Its a stunning walk, this is the approach to the first beach at Mewslade Bay down a gorgeous, green limestone valley.

Mewslade Bay is an absolute corker. Whilst there is only a sandy beach exposed at low tide, the bay is backed by some truly spectacular rock outcrops and cliffs.

I expect this is the result of limestone rock exposed to the waves and wind.

We had a short stroll on the beach before pressing on along the coastal path.

A view back along the valley that leads to the beach.

And the beach we were walking on a few minutes before.

There are some seriously exposed rocky outcrops which have you peering down a couple of hundred feet straight to the sands, rocks and ocean.

One or two of the path sections are quite exposed betagthough nothing too tricky.

However one or two of the narrow rocky aretes that overlook the beach are seriously exposed. I tried to wander to the end of this one before I lost my nerve.

The grassy meadows above the beach make for wonderful easy strolling on such a fine morning.

Another exposed rocky spire.

Looking out west to the next bay

There were lots of rock climbers on the cliffs. The routes looked pretty serious.

Looking back east to Mewslade Bay.

And the next beach, Fall Bay appears.

A fine stretch of sand but less dramatic than the towering cliffs and spires of Mewslade Bay.

Neither beach ever seems to appear in “best beach” reviews which is a real surprise.

Leaving Fall Bay behind the dramatic outline of Worms Head comes into view.

Wild ponies and lots of foals were putting on a show for the crowds.

Rhossili Bay does feature on many “best beach” lists so that, and the walk along the cliffs to Worms Head, make this a very popular area.

Despite the crowds we found a quiet, peaceful grassy picnic spot above the cliffs for lunch.

Fantastic views over Rhossili Bay and Worms Head.

Time to move on. We wanted to walk back along the the ridge of Rhossili Downs so we had a choice to walk across the sands or along the grassy terrace just above the beach.

Whilst a walk on the beach is always nice it can drag a bit so we chose the grassy option, which ruhig had grand views across the sands.

Its a short steep climb up onto the ridge but the views are just superb.

The steepness and proximity to the sea give the hill a much greater felling of height than its modest 193m would suggest. Looking north across Lausgedehntennith beach to Burry Holms and beyond to Pembrokeshire.

And south to the first half of our walk.

We had another fine lunch stop among the rocks in the centre of the ridge.

Before reaching the summit of this grand mini-mountain.

Another “Small Hill with Disproportionately Great Views” to add to the book.

Just a short walk across the downs and the woodland to finish off a great walk

Back to the campsite for some R&R in the sunshine and a BBQ.

A brilliant day topped off by Man City clinching the Premier League title – deserving of a celebratory beer.

Sometimes the weather lets you down – sometimes it delivers far beyond expectations.

Summer is Here!   15 comments

And finally the first truly wbedürftig, clear blue, sunny day of the year!

It was overcast when we set off from home but the forecast said it would clear and be better the further west you went so we headed to the Elan Valley.

First stop a really nice picnic area for breakfast.

The van makes this sort of thing so much easier with all the cooking stuff already in there.

It was a truly stunning day even better than the weather forecast.

We parked up at the base of the Rhiwnant valley with a plan to head up into the wild and lonely hills to the south of the reservoirs.

The Rhiwnant Valley is a stunner.

More on that later. Firstly there was bagging to be done.

This is the mighty Gorllwyn the most southerly Nuttall I haven’t done so it needed a tick. Its pretty soggy up here so a dry sunny day is the best time to do these hills.

Looking across to Drygarn Fawr to give a feel for what an empty wilderness it is up here.

TBF jumped at my suggestion to NOT trudge all the way out to a lonely hill and to sit in the sun and wait for me.

It was quite a walk to get out to the top and back and in places a very, very wet one. The hills ruhig drying out after a wet winter and spring.

The summit achieved.

Summit selfie to celebrate.

After collecting TBF and having a well deserved lunch we headed off across the boggy moorland for Drygarn Fawr.

Its a fine summit with two massive beehive cairns. One of my favourite places.

We didn’t walk out to the highest point and the second of the cairns. We had another idea in mind.

Walking around here can be hard work and it takes a fair bit of concentration to thread together grassy sections and sheep trods, avoiding the tussocks. You really don’t want to end up in a tussock expanse around here.

Brecon Beacons and the Black Mountain on the horizon.

We found a pretty good route back down to the Rhiwnant Valley with only a few minor disagreements with the tussocks.

Our goal is ahead.

A fine waterfall as we reached the valley.

The path by the bubbling stream under a cloudless sky was a wonderful delight.

TBF making short work (well she is only 5 foot) of a stream crossing

This was our objective for second lunch.

A wonderful deep pool and waterfall. After a long walk in the sunshine what better way to finish off than…

A swim!

Its a deep pool and very cold, and as you can see from the colour of our legs in the water, very peaty!

A wonderful spot. and so far off the beaten track that its rare to see anyone here.

Another food break and a chance to relax in these superb surroundings.


Unlike previous visits, we walked along the north side of the river. This is much better as it follows closer to the river. There seemed to be several other swimming possibilities in small pools and ravines.

Riverside walking in a valley you have to yourself is a pretty fine way to spend a sunny Saturday.

Onto the home stretch.

And a last lingering look along the valley. What a fantastic day. And a Hill List tick into the bargain!

Easter with the Family – Fforest Fawr   8 comments

The Saturday looked like the best day of the weekend so we headed out early for an alfresco breakfast by the van and then a long walk.

As he doesn’t get to walk much in south Wales we gave the Prof the choice and he picked Fforest Fawr.

Its become a firm favourite, what it lacks in dramatic edges it more than makes up for with wild lonely valleys and summits that see very few visitors.

Me and TBF did a long and satisfying walk around these hills last summer and felt a repeat was well worth our time.

The Prof on the first summit of Fan Llia

Small quarries on the summit of Fan Dringarth – these would make a fine spot for a wild camp with views across to Pen y Fan and Corn Du

Heading across the very soggy valley en route to the road and the climb to Fan Nedd.

The views down the Senni Valley from up here are joyous.

The climb up to Fan Nedd is the only really steep climb of the day. We had lunch near the top before moving on.

Looking back to Fan Nedd

The highest point in the range is Fan Gyhirych (tricky one to pronounce).

There are some wide bulldozed tracks that most people seem to follow but those in the know follow the faint grassy path that follows the perfect curve of the east face.

I love this part of the walk.

The path continues all the ay along the east edge and a short hop across the end of the plateau like summit brings you over to a similar and equally fine path along the west edge.

Grand views across to the Black Mountain.

The rest of the day became a little overcast so I seem not to have taken any more photos other than this one of the Maen Madoc standing stone near the end. Its a fine walk back through Limestone country (we stopped off for a second lunch by a cave entrance) but you’ll have to check out my previous post of this route for some photos of that part. Still a fine if long day at around 14 miles.

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