Herefordshire Week 166: Tuesday 28 February – Monday 06 March 2023

Borderlines Film Festival films and Crickhowell Walking Festival walks.

Strava Elevation Graph: High Hills, Leaning Towers & Bloody Revenge
Strava Elevation Graph: High Hills, Leaning Towers & Bloody Revenge

Rain arrived briefly on Tuesday as did the blues. Drove to KG to deliver plant pots and to EH to post last eBay sale. Home to emails and making soup. Canns Hill – Wellfield – Thistly Hill walk with Phil before lunch, and then work.

The Mary Loosemore Retirement-ometer cheered me up.

No VWW. Family Zoom.

Friday morning, Phil and I sorted flights to Italy for a September wedding, I checked the Brecon Beacons weather forecast for the upcoming walks with the Crickhowell Walking Festival.

Into Hereford early afternoon for more bird seed and the library, then onto the train to Malvern for the first of this year’s Borderlines Film Festival films: Corsage.

Malvern doesn’t get any easier to navigate – not even finding the customer entrance to Waitrose – but at least we found this good coffee shop: Abbey Road Coffee.

Coffee and Blueberry Bakewell
Coffee and Blueberry Bakewell

Saturday, Sunday and Monday were my first trio of walks in this year’s Crickhowell Walking Festival. AND more Borderlines Films!

On Saturday I drove to Pantygelli and into the Mynydd Du Forest to start the Grwyne Fawr Reservoir & Waterfalls Walk from Blaen y Cwm Car Park.

A steep woodland ascent from the car park and brought us out onto open moorland and more up to Blacksmith Anvil on the Chwarel y Fan – Rhos Dirion ridge, then a steep descent to Capel-y-ffin in the Vale of Ewyas.

A visit to the chapel, then an easy walk up the gently rising valley to the west of Darren Lwyd – road giving way to track giving way to trail and with plenty of waterfalls en route (well, in theory – it’s been a lot drier than normal so only two were flowing).

Grwyne Fawr Reservoir & Waterfalls Walk
Grwyne Fawr Reservoir & Waterfalls Walk

We emerged onto one of the bluffs between Twmpa and Rhiw y Fan with a view over the Wye Valley.

Heading west along the escarpment brought us to the trig point at Rhos Dirion and a little further on we turned south on the trail down into the Grwyne Fawr valley and the Reservoir, returning on along the old railway track from the reservoir to the car park.

Time: 6 ½ hours
Distance: 12 ½ miles
Ascent: 2180 ft

A fast drive home to pick up Phil, and on to Hereford for Godland at The Courtyard. Grim!

Sunday took me to Pengenffordd, and back to Dinas Castle and the Dragon’s Back, going up it this time which was hard work.

A North West Passage: The Dragons Back from Dinas Castle
A North West Passage: The Dragons Back from Dinas Castle

Once up on the tops (albeit into cloud) it was easier going on the escarpment trail above Cwm y Nant and Mynydd Bychan, past the trig point at Rhos Dirion and up Twmpa / Lord Hereford’s Knob where the cloud kindly lifted to provide Wye Valley views.

Lunch in the shelter of the Rhiw Wen descent and down on to easy paths at the foot of the escarpment, returning to Pengenffordd for a pint or pot of tea at the pub – a lovely warm welcome at the Dinas Castle Inn, Pengenffordd.

One to do again in better weather.

Time: 6 hours
Distance: 11 ½ miles
Ascent: 2140 ft

Thankfully I had time for a pot of tea and a hot cross bun, and a shower, before driving to Bromyard for this evening’s Borderlines film, Emily, which I really enjoyed.

Monday’s walk was the most strenuous of the three, taking in 14 miles of “High Hills, Leaning Towers & Bloody Revenge”.

A steep ascent up from Llanthony Priory onto Hatterrall Ridge, then turning south to walk along the Offa’s Dyke Path with Herefordshire and England on our left, Monmouthshire and Wales on our right. Surprisingly clear views given the cloud.

We left the Offa’s Dyke to drop back into the Vale of Ewyas along the spine of Hatterrall Hill.

High Hills, Leaning Towers & Bloody Revenge: Church of St Martin, Cwmyoy
High Hills, Leaning Towers & Bloody Revenge: Church of St Martin, Cwmyoy

Lunch at the wonky church in Cwmyoy, then across the valley floor and up through woods and a short stretch of road between stone walled fields to the Twyn y Gaer Iron Age Fort – scene of many a bracken battle in my childhood.

From the fort we headed north west along the ridge, climbing steadily toward the Revenge Stone and beyond to the Bee Hive Cairn at Gant Wen and on towards Bal Bach, turning right at the pile of stones / crossroads at the foot of Bal Bach and dropping back down to Llanthony alongside the Cwm Bwchel on a section of the Beacons Way.

Definitely strenuous at quick a brisk pace!

Time: 7 hours
Distance: 14 miles
Ascent: 2895 ft

No film this evening; pizza and telly instead!

I’ve not mentioned birds for a while. At the bird feeders, we seem to have lost the nuthatch(es), but gained long tailed tits and sparrows to add to the blue tits, great tits, robins, chaffinches, dunnocks, blackbirds, thrushes, red woodpeckers and magpies. There are pigeons and the occasional jay on the pond side of the house, plus lots of greenfinches. Over the woods and valleys, buzzard and red kite glide and soar.

Squirrel count: the max single sighting is now up to 4. Grrr.

Retirement Days Tracker: 29 days to go

TV: The Last of Us,  Julia, Mystery Road: Origin.

Podcasts: Lingthusiasm,  The History of England, The Memory Palace.

Photos: Herefordshire week 166 on Flickr.

Phil: w/e 2023-03-05.