Ysgyryd Fawr

Easter Sunday, 5th April 2015- Abergavenny- Llanfihangel Crucorney

Me, Paddy Garcia and the DJ

An early start (for us), determined to get in a ‘proper’ walk, mid-Wales the target. We thus embarked for the Brecons in the DJ’s trusty van. After a stop in Abergavenny to purchase a map (during which we concluded that shops may not open on Easter Sunday but people still want to shop), we parked in Bryn-y-Gwenn, and headed uphill towards the Skirrid ridge. There’s something really good/ alarming about being able to see your route so far above you.

It was an extremely hard slog to the top of the ridge on the route we took, and we arrived breathless and aching to find many happy families and animals who’d ambled up the main path. Might have been easier.

IMG_2386The ridge walk was a relatively easy stroll by comparison, with a spectacular day of sunshine and fluffy clouds providing amazing, amazing 360 degree views. To the east the rolling Marches, to the west the high ground of the Brecons and Black Mountains, with Sugarloaf to the fore. We enjoyed a coffee break at the trig point on the site of St Michael’s Chapel*, before heading down the very steep north side.

IMG_2400Then we were back into familar rambling territory, on a downhill loop through fields and lanes to Llanfihangel Crucorney. Appealing landscape of steep scrubby fields with ancient woodlands and deep srpings and ravines. So many lambs testing their wobbly legs and enjoying a first taste of sunshine. Cute just doesn’t begin to describe it.

 

We admired the astonishing 16th-century Llanfihangel Court before heading into the village for a pint in the garden at the Skirrid Mountain Inn, reputedly Wales’ oldest pub.

IMG_2391Then the return journey along the valley to the west of Skirrid. Footpaths not terribly well marked in places, we took a few wrong turns (fortunately charming man let us through his garden). Stopped for a late lunch of sandwiches and quiche and admired the view of the Brecons up above. Then slogged on along country lanes and over fields, legs very tired by now. Interesting how, despite the crowds of Easter holidaymakers on the Skirrid, once back in rural rambling land, ne’er a soul did we see, except men with tools (one measuring with hodometer, one prodding molehills with rod). The beaten path it wasn’t.

Overall, probably only 8 miles but felt like a tough and satisfying walk owing to the steep gradients. Very much enjoyed the high levels of wildlife, particularly birds (wall-to-wall birdsong, must learn to identify). Glorious weather made the day, and we sailed back in the van feeling toasted by the sunshine and trembly in the legs.

* The Devil’s Window informs us that Skirrid has long been known as a Holy Mountain, with many myths attached, including the appropriately Easter-ly one that the large landslip on the west side happened on the day of the Crucifixion.

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Whole trees in motion

Sunday 29th March 2015- Bath Skyline

Me, Paddy Garcia, Kate Force One and the DJ

IMG_2371It was windy. That’s probably all that needs saying about this 6 mile walk, as it was defined from start to finish by strong winds. Umbrella use would have been difficult, twigs were broken, branches had fallen and construction signs were flattened: consultation with the Beaufort Scale informed us that this meant we were experiencing gale force conditions.

In some ways, it wasn’t an ideal day for this walk above Bath, being misty and grey, and heavy wet in places. But it was utterly invigorating and thrilling being high up and amongst trees in such windy conditions. And possibly not that wise. The DJ nearly got taken out by a falling branch, and PG had to make a long range emergency dash at one point to recover his hat. Lunch involved a dousing with coffee blown out of the cup. At times the wind was too noisy to hear each other speak, and although it feels strange to write it, the trees really were roaring. Enormous awe-inspiring sound.

IMG_2369Aside from the weather conditions, there was much interesting woodland, with livid green mosses and lichens, it felt as if hobbits or elves might appear at any moment. What actually appeared was a motley crew of role-playing players. Suits of armour, steam-punks, the odd goth and some cavaliers. Locked in not-entirely-epic battle on the edge of a golf course. We wondered if real orcs in combat need health and safety attendants.

The views over Bath were not as frequent the name of the walk might imply, but good when they came. Overall it felt like an easy 6 miles, well-signed by the National Trust.

Thoroughly ruffled, we headed down from the windy heights into Bath for a drink at the Boater, before a train home for a quick follow up in the Barleymow.

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