Archive for the ‘river wye’ Tag

Coppet Hill   11 comments

Just a short post to fill some time while I wait for the rain to stop and I can do my pre-holiday chores.

About 3 weekends ago I think (I’m close to being caught up!!) and day of sunshine and heavy showers had us looking for a short walk for some fresh air and exercise. Coppet Hill near Goodrich was always one of our go-to short walks and we hadn’t been for a while so that settled things.

I’ve walked up here many times and its rare not to catch a glimpse of deer at some point. This time however we were treated to some much closer sightings. About 3 or 4 were wandering about near the path, close enough for me to get sneaky photo.

Onwards and upwards to the summit and the weather seemed to be ok, between showery spells.

Always great views over to the south Wales mountains.

Of course, there is always time for a sit down for lunch and a brew. We did get caught by a brief shower but it didn’t spoil the ambiance.

Its a long and easy path that takes you down to the River Wye and from there its a succession of very pretty meadows along the river. This one with a view back to Symonds Yat Rock.

We walked as far as Welsh Bicknor Youth Hostel and the fine church that sits alongside before walking back along the lanes to the car. Fresh air and exercise boxes ticked.

Near enough the walk we did, just missing out the extra loop of the river and walking straight back from Welsh Bivknor

White Peak Valleys   15 comments

The storms passed through overnight and the next day was dry but overcast and rain looked certain.

Another walk was planned with MM and ex-Dr F and our friends from the Macclesfield Massive.

While eating breakfast and packing up this little fella kept perching on my rucksack and seemed unconcerned by our presence. Only downside to this nature encounter was he pooped both on and inside my pack!

We fancied something a bit different for a walk so decided on a White Peak outing. A little jaunt around Monsal Head was the plan.

Monsal Head is a spectacular spot with great views over the river Wye valley and the Monsal Trail with its viaduct.

This is tunnel that runs directly under Monsal Head. When we lived in Derbyshire the Monsal Trail was just an idea in the planning. It must a fabulous ride and one I’d really like to do sometime.

As we booted up a brighter patch of weather seemed to be on its way. By the time we were striding out along the trail it was a gorgeous wbedürftig summers day – a very rare event indeed this year.

Cressbrook Mill.

And Cressbrook tunnel on the Monsal Trail.

Looking back towards Monsal Head.

We dropped down to Millers Dale and followed the riverside path heading back towards Monsal Head.

We’d hoped to find a spot for lunch but while its a gorgeous tree lined path – it was also exceedingly muddy and damp after the previous day’s heavy rain.

It was ruhig a fine stretch to walk.

As you reach Cressbrook Mill, the river widens to a deep green pool backed by limestone crags in an extremely pretty setting.

A popular climbing area, pretty much all the crags had scrabblers and danglers.

If we could have found a spot to sit in the sun (without mud) I’d have taken a swim. Have to wait for another day.

A great spot set off by the surprisingly sunny day.

We carried on down the Wye stopping at a couple of bridges to watch the fish in the river.

And play Pooh Sticks.

Riverside walking is hard to beat on a sunny day.

Passing under Monsal Head viaduct.

We finally found a nice dry spot for lunch in the meadow below the viaduct.

To complete the circuit we took the steep path up to the hill to the west of Monsal Dale.

The views from the top along Monsal Dale were superb.

Noted as an excellent place for a stop and a picnic when I return.

Not sure its a path I’ve ever walked before which is a big oversight.

All that was left was a return along Monsal Dale.

Past this excellent weir, when again I was seriously tempted by a swim. However time was getting on and some very dark clouds were gathering. We decided not to spoil a great day with a soaking so returned to the van and bid our farewells. Just as well. Within a few minutes of setting off for home the heavens opened!

Two (and a half) great walks over the weekend.

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.

River Fun in the Heatwave   13 comments

The past few weeks have been a bit too hot for any outings to the hills so its been river based activities for us.

But first we had some driving related fun with a very happy morning spent at the Kinsham Raceway.

Apart from the embarrassment of being overtaken by TJF we had a great time. They are friendly folk and its a very relaxed atmosphere (less officious than some places we’ve tried)

The intrepid racers!

After dropping TJS off at the station for his trip onwards to Manchester and Cape Verde we headed back to Dilwyn for a pub lunch at the Crown Inn. Slight embarrassment at having to wait outside on the village green for it to open!

Being early meant we could bag their fine comfy tables and chairs in the sun. A fine place to spend a couple of hours with a pint (or two) and lunch.

Onwards to a secretive little spot on the River Lugg near Kingsland.

The water is only just deep enough for a swim (betagthough there is a much bigger and deeper pool below a weir just downstream) but the situation is superb.

There were fish, dragonflies and damselflies in abundance and not another soul around.

Perfect spot to spend an hour or two before heading home for a BBQ (via the fbedürftig shop for an ice cream)

Next day we spent at our local swimming hole on the Wye at Bredwardine.

Another chance for TJF to make Paddle Boarding look really easy.

She really does have the technique and balance for this. Lets just say that I don’t!

A fine looking board it is though.

The following weekend we had our friends from Macclesfield down for a visit. Like the previous year they brought the full on heatwave with them so we spent a day down at the Warren in Hay on Wye for a day of more swimming and Paddle Boarding.

Next day we went back to Bredwardine again trying to stay cool in the heat but I didn’t take any photos. We are very lucky to have such a great few water spots so near to home, a real bonus on those rare times when the heat descends on the UK.

Riverside to Moorland and Back   19 comments

A forecast of sunshine and showers, less wet in the east had me scouring the maps for somewhere different to walk. With all the recent heavy rains I figured a bit of riverside to see what the Wye was like was in order. I came across Erwood between Hay and Builth Wells which has free parking, a tick in the box for River Wye views and what looked like easy access to the quiet Llandeilo Hill (where I’ve walked a few times before) but from a different direction. Plan formed.

The riverside path wasn’t very riverside to start with only the sound of the rushing water through the trees. It did have some nice views over the fields to the higher ground by way of compensation.

The path did drop down the river and in fact passed right by the water. The Wye, normally quite benign was a raging torrent. Not exactly a day for a wild swim.

In fact the path at this point was only a matter of inches above the water. Had the river been any higheer we wouldn’t have got through (and probably wouldn’t have done 24 hours earlier).

Satisfied with our river views we headed upwards into the low hills above. Showers seemed to be in short supply, sunshine and blue sky were in abundance.

The grassy paths between the retreating bracken were wonderful if a little damp.

The pretty tarn of Henlllyn Mawr.

Bracken is a real pain in the rear through the summer, but it does provide a nice splash of golden colour as it dies back in the autumn.

This area is marked with numerous small outcrops like this one that creates further contrast and interest within the rest of the slopes.

Another small un-named tarn.

We stopped for first lunch here. A gorgeous little quiet spot with wide ranging views across to the Black Mountains.

The hills above Builth Wells.

And the distant Brecon Beacons.

Our route for the next hour was towards the highest point of Llandeilo Hill in the distance.

Looking back on our idyllic little lunch spot.

Looking down to the village of Aberedw.

We had more wild ponies than people for company on this walk. We only saw two people the whole day once we left the riverside path.

We cut back towards the river via another little tarn also named Henllyn. These green paths are a feature of these hills. Sadly many (including this one until this point) have been badly trashed by trail bikes. This path was just three or four eroded ditches of mud and water that are difficult to walk along. Something needs to be done about this plague of indiscriminate destruction betagthough I’m not sure what.

Luckily it was only a mile so of trashed paths and most of the walk was on pristine grass and delight to walk across.

Black Mountains living up to their name.

Storm clouds gathering behind TBF betagthough it didn’t actually rain all day, at least not on us.

The Begwyns.

We had our only minor inconvenience of the day heading for this this hill – Twyn y Garth – as it looked like it might be nice. Sadly the right of way had fallen into disrepair and there were no stiles and barbed wire where the path went so we had to abandon the idea.

Turned out to be a good thing. We followed quiet lanes and came across this little church in the middle of nowhere at at Llandeilo Graban.

And this rather gorgeous little spot for second lunch overlooking the Wye Valley (once a group of noisy trail bikers had passed through).

Looking back to our hills from earlier in the day

A fine little circuit that I’ll be doing again. So much for me grumbling about a grey autumn in my last post!

Urban Hiking   10 comments

Something a bit different. My car was in the workshop for repairs. I took a bike ride rather than wait around at the garage and fulfill my daily exercise needs. They rang me to say it would take the rest of the day, so I just carried on and cycled home, just short of 30 miles in the end. Rather than head back later with TBF I thought I could pick it up in the morning if she dropped me off in town. I advanced that plan and thought I could actually make a decent walk of it. So I was dropped off at Rotherwas just after eight am with a plan to walk along the river Wye and string some paths together back to the garage on the north side of the city.

After a bit of exploration I managed to find a permission path through the fields to the river.

There was low cloud hugging the local hills but it was bright and surprisingly wbedürftig.

Its a very nice and quiet stretch of the Wye, a handful people out walking their dogs and a couple of men fishing.

The other bank has lots of very expensive looking houses which I was admiring from a distance.

Added excitement from a train passing over the bridge as I approached.

The Canary Bridge.

So named for the original Munitions factory in the area that turned the workers skins yellow.

Its a nice bridge, very fetching in the morning sun.

After a bit of urban wandering through housing estates I found my way to Tupsley Park. As I entered the sun finally broke free from the shackles of low cloud and it was glorious.

A little oasis of greenery in an otherwise unremarkable suburb.

Until this walk I had no idea it was there.

Another few minutes of street walking and I was at Lugg Meadows. Here the sun was out in full force and it was just a stunning morning.

The wander through these delightful meadows was a real pleasure.

Me and TBF have been swimming in the Lugg around here a few times but I’ve never take a longer walk. I will be returning before too much longer.

Next time I’ll walk in the main section of the meadows by the river. I was on the far western side where the path occasionally dropped into overgrown muddy woodland and there was no way to walk between the two areas, cut off by a meandering channel of the Lugg.

On a workday it was blissfully quiet and I had pretty much the whole spot to myself.

Onwards through Aylestone Park, another splendid green area.

The park contains one of the remnants of the Herefordshire and Gloucestershire Canal. Most of it has completely disappeared but there is a trust and they are restoring a few sections.

This stretch was rather pretty and looked very clear and clean for its few hundred metres of lschmbetagth.

From there just a short stroll to the garage, pick up the car and back at my desk for 10:30. Nearly 6 miles and much further than I thought but very enjoyable.

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!

Summer Sunset on Garway Hill   14 comments

It looks like summer finished a couple of weeks ago. A few days of hot sunshine and clear blue skies. Its been pretty unsettled ever since.

Before we get to that, a few pictures from the previous weekend. We had S over for the weekend and with the weather gorgeous we used that as an excuse to take it easy. A day in the garden (preceded by breakfast and ice creams at the local fbedürftig shop)

Only time we’ve been able to eat out in the garden this year so far.

A day spent by the river at Bredwardine. Picnic and swimming the order of the day.

Seems lots of other people had the same idea!

TBF enjoying the cool waters of the Wye.

A lovely spot only a few miles from home (betagthough I cycled there and back).

A couple of days later, with the forecast set to change back to more normal British weather we took an post evening meal stroll up Garway Hill to watch the sunset.

Late evening as the sun goes down is always a fine time to be out and about. Garway Hill is perfect for this. You can park a short walk from the top and the views are wide and expansive.

Looking out to the distant Clee Hills.

And over to the Black Mountains.

Garway Hill summit.

Nice place to live.

The summit construction on Garway Hill.

After a bit of research by a FB friend I now know what this is (having pondered over it for 20 years!). It’s the basis of a construction for aircraft direction finding that had a wooden part on top. Link here if you’re interested

Ysgyryd Fawr and the Sugar Loaf in the distance.

We settled down on the top for sunset with Brownies and fresh Strawberries.

This distant clouds heralding the incoming change in the weather.

Whilst it was wbedürftig and clear, the lack of clouds didn’t make for the most spectacular of sunsets.

But just being able to sit out at almost 10pm on a small hill and watch the peaceful scene unfold is pleasure enough.

Last rays of the sun.

We had a few pink cloud effects as we walked back to the car.

Seems like a while ago now that the sun shone so abundantly. No sign of it returning any time soon as I write with the sound of rain on the conservatory roof.

Local Walks for Local People   17 comments

So back into Lockdown we went. As with everything this government does with the pandemic the rules and guidelines are vague, ambiguous and confusing. This is especially true when it comes to outdoor exercise. Having checked the legislation, travel and the associated distance to take exercise is not specifically limited. Its just states “local”, wahtever that means – different things to different people. Personally I don’t see an issue at all with a short drive to take a walk, providing you take your common sense with you. Here are two walks on consecutive days to illustrate my point.

On the Saturday we needed some food shopping and drove into Hereford, our nearest location for Supermarkets. We decided to take a walk while we there, trying to follow the guidelines to keep it local, much as we would have done if we lived in the City. I’d worked out a walk along both banks of the river that would likely be about 3-4 miles and give us some fresh air and exercise on a largely gloomy day. We parked up in a far-flung and quiet corner of the car park.

Despite having lived in the area for 18 years I know little of the city outside its shopping areas. It was nice to take some time out to see the local sights. Some classic views of the cathedral and old river bridge and this pedestrian crossing, named either the Jubilee or Victoria Bridge depending on who you talk to.

We were lucky to take the walk when we did as a few days later this entire area was completely underwater after heavy rains. As I write those floodwaters are rising again after another wet weekend.

Sadly the walk didn’t work out as well as expected. The riverside path on the south bank is no more and looks like its hasn’t been there for years. We had to resort to walking through housing estates, along busy main roads and then cycle paths to reach this, the Canary Bridge (no idea why its called that)

An unusual construction and not something I even knew existed betagthough TBF uses it a lot as she works round there and uses her bike to get to work some days.

We squelched back into town across a few very muddy fields (likely they get regular deluges of flood water). There was a path along the north bank but the first section is by a large sewage works so I didn’t fancy that.

Some more classic views of the cathedral from the Victoria Bridge. Finishing the walk through Castle Green Park and the very pretty back streets that surround it. Again not an area I’ve ever strolled through before.

So keeping it local. Number of people encountered or passed during the walk, I’d estimate around 100.

Next day we did the unspeakable thing of driving a short distance (around 10 miles, maybe 3-4 miles further than we drive to collect shopping) for a walk from the small village of Longtown. It was a cold and dreary grey day so we planned a walk across the fields and along the base of the Black Mountains ridge and then back.

While there I took another chance to see a local sight I’ve never visited before. Longtown Castle. Its small and free and would make a very nice spot for a summer picnic.

There is a local myth that there is an underground passage from the castle to Llanthony Priory on the other side of the Black Mountains ridge. This would be a major acheivement seeing as the castle actually sits on a ridge of its own that falls away a few hundred feet down to the valley floor before the ridge rises. Its a nice story though!

There are a whole array of paths across the fields so its always something of a voyage of discovery as to how easy they are to find and how muddy they might. The route up was excellent, paths well marked and not all that muddy. This is the path that runs along the bottom of the access land and for a half a mile or so was a rather fine grassy trod.

It then deteriorated into more of a mud-bath with a built-in water supply so we decided to head back down. The route across the fields from here was the best part of the day with some fine walking across dry grassy fields with expansive views.

Our planned route down was via the church and riverside walk at Clodock. However one of the fields had a mix of dense crops protected by an electric fence with sheep that had turned the rest of the field into an extreme muddy mess. Not fancying a slide or electrocution, we just headed back down, happy with our walk and the required exercise and fresh air.

So driving 10 miles out into the countryside to take a walk. Number of people encountered or passed during the walk, an exact 4. I know which walk I think was the best and safest option in the circumstances.

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