Herefordshire Week 096: Tuesday 26 October – Monday 01 November 2021

Home alone. Mouse-proofing the apple racks. Sunday lunch. A long walk. Torrential rain and glorious sunshine. T-shirt weather, in November.

Sunset over Hatterall Ridge, Canns Hill
Sunset over Hatterall Ridge, Canns Hill

Into Abergavenny on Tuesday morning to drop Phil off at the train station, do a top up shop and to get my flu jab. Back to 40A for the working week, with VWW and Family Zooms as usual, then back to Abergavenny in the sheeting rain to collect Phil late on Thursday evening. It’s quiet without him.


The walk back from coffee at K’s in Kerrys Gate on Friday morning provided the perfect opportunity for a spot of blackberrying along the lanes.

We were due to have the power off all morning while the electrician replaced the fuse box, installed the lights and the magic switch in the snug, LED lights in the loft plus a timer switch for the fly zapper and a few other things, but an emergency job meant he only had time to do the snug stuff. Still, having a light switch by the door in from the kitchen, without any wiring required, really is magic. Technically, it’s a wireless / kinetic light switch and receiver.

Headed back down towards Kerrys Gate in the afternoon and on round to Riverdale and back along the river. Lovely.

Back home, chopped up some of the small apples from the orchard and got them simmering with the blackberries (and then left them too long so that they burnt the bottom of the pan….) and had just enough time to start to look at car insurance before FaceTiming with S&S.

We decided Friday night pizza should be accompanied by a film but The Dead Don’t Die proved too much horror and not enough (not any) comedy for me so we switched to try out Paris Police 1900.


A very satisfying day Saturday – starting with mouse-proofing the apple racks, which have been relocated to the garage. A good morning’s work courtesy of the 6mm wire mesh, a staple gun and wire snips.

Mouse-proofing the Apple Racks ...
Mouse-proofing the Apple Racks …

Blackberrying in Thistly Field after lunch to get a replacement supply for tomorrow’s crumble, then restacked the apples into the relocated racks and then pottered in the greenhouse finally potting out the sage cuttings I’ve had growing roots in an old water-filled yoghurt pot, and applying the black, rubber nut & bolt covers dad had left over from Jean’s new greenhouse at the bungalow.

More tiny apple chopping segued into my cooking dinner (noteworthy as it’s not all that common an event) – Chetna Makan’s Black-Eyed Beans and Mushrooms – which we ate watching the first couple of episodes of Happy Valley, often recommended, and now on iPlayer.


It poured with rain overnight and all Sunday morning, with brief patches of blue sky and dry starting around midday. Very handily timed as Dad and Jean came for lunch, and they managed to get into the house with out getting drenched. A lovely lunch – leg of pork plus roast veg, all cooked by Phil. Jean brought a camellia and hydrangea from Dinedor, and some beautiful dahlias.

Washing up done, I spent a lazy late afternoon with the telly – I had completely forgotten that the clocks had gone back overnight and had got up at old time 7.15am / new time 6.15am. So that’s my excuse.

Hallowe’en Doctor Who then another episode of Hip-Hop Evolution. We’ve abandoned Paris Police 1900 and weren’t in the mood for Horrid James Norton / Happy Valley.


Out with the GVWC on Monday to recce next Saturday’s Challenge Walk: Eaton Bishop, Madley, Brampton, Cockyard, Wormbridge, Cobhall, Clehonger (17 miles).

GVWC Challenge Walk Recce: Eaton Bishop, Madley, Brampton, Cockyard, Wormbridge, Cobhall, Clehonger (17 miles)
GVWC Challenge Walk Recce: Eaton Bishop, Madley, Brampton, Cockyard, Wormbridge, Cobhall, Clehonger (17 miles)

A gorgeous day. I can hardly believe it’s 1st November. I spent most of the day in my t-shirt and got a rosy face. The only flies in the ointment were my Strava phone running out of battery – so only a partial map – and my feet / socks / boots getting absolutely sopping wet courtesy of a waterlogged farm track.

Strava Map - GVWC Challenge Walk Recce: Eaton Bishop, Madley, Brampton, Cockyard, Wormbridge, Cobhall, Clehonger (17 miles)
Strava Map

Back home for tea and Tunnocks in the conservatory, then out over Canns Hill to capture sunset over Hatterall Ridge.

Sunset over Hatterall Ridge, Canns Hill
Sunset over Hatterall Ridge, Canns Hill

TV: Four Hours at The Capitol, Nature and Us: A History through Art, The Dead Don’t Die, Paris Police 1900, Happy Valley, Effie Gray, Doctor Who, Hip-Hop Evolution.

Podcasts: History Extra, The Essay.


Photos: Herefordshire week 96 on Flickr.

Phil: w/e 2021-10-31.

Herefordshire Week 091: Tuesday 21 – Monday 28 September 2021

New car! (But you’ll have to wait to find out what…)

More Chutney. Some Apple Cider Vinegar plus Damson / Wild Plum and Blackberry Gins.

Pembrokeshire with Hazel and Steffi.

Panorama: Hazel, Steffi, Rainbow
Panorama: Hazel, Steffi, Rainbow

Garden-wise we have a bumper crop of wild plums, and stacks of apples – mainly from trees that were quiet last year.

I need to remember to keep more time free at this time of year to make the most of the autumn harvest. Turning the apples etc into useful things takes an age, let along picking and washing them. There is no room left in the freezer now. On top of that, the veg patch is untended and the third bed awaiting my attention.

I’m going to try a few new things this year – Janette sent me the apple cider vinegar recipe she uses. I’ve thought about making it before as a lot of my apple chutney recipes use it, and I tend to just chuck in malt instead because it’s cheaper. I’m eying up a couple of chutney and gin options, working on the basis that our very tart wild plums are equivalent to damsons,  and I’m hoping to find time to squeeze in Blackberry Gin making too.

Anyway, Friday was set aside for all that.


Into Hereford on Tuesday morning for shopping and library, Wilko for pop top bottles and Poundland for cheap reading glasses. And General Dogsbody for more peanuts for those greedy garden birds. (We love them really.) Then coffee with dad and Jean at the bungalow, sat out on the patio, and taking receipt of a black chilli plant gifted from Annette and Michael.

After the afternoon at work, we drove to Brecon to look at a new second hand car, and settled a part-ex purchase with collection set for Monday 04 October. I can’t reveal what it is yet because Phil is taking bets soliciting guesses as to what it is.


Up early on Wednesday. Morning dew on the spider webs adorning the front gate.

Spider's Web
Spider’s Web

And enough time to collect windfalls and make apple cider vinegar following Janette’s recipe before work. VWW after.

Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple Cider Vinegar

The Welsh Water engineers didn’t materialise on Thursday to look for the leaks they think we have, and after Family Zoom I headed out to collect blackberries as the light faded and managed to get a jar of blackberry gin underway.  Phil is on sugar dissolving shaking duties once I’m in Pembs.


A busy day Friday.

The day’s preserving began with getting three mayo jars of Allotment Garden Damson Gin underway – handy tip to freeze the fruit so that it splits so you avoid the need to prick.

Apple Chutney, Damson Chutney & Damson Gin: Allotment Garden Damson Gin - step 1
Apple Chutney, Damson Chutney & Damson Gin: Allotment Garden Damson Gin – step 1

Next up, chutneys, apple and plum / damson:

Batch 1

  • Holly Jones’ Spiced Apple Chutney (with star anise and mustard seeds, from pickled cucumber vinegar)
  • Anglo-Indian Apple Chutney (microwave version)

Batch 2

  • Frugal Feeding Apple Chutney (with jalapeño vinegar)
  • Delia’s Spiced Damson Chutney (her favourite!)
Apple Chutney, Damson Chutney & Damson Gin: Controlled chaos in the kitchen
Apple Chutney, Damson Chutney & Damson Gin: Controlled chaos in the kitchen
Apple Chutney, Damson Chutney & Damson Gin: Delia's Spiced Damson Chutney - damsons (front), everything else (back)
Apple Chutney, Damson Chutney & Damson Gin: Delia’s Spiced Damson Chutney – damsons (front), everything else (back)

The second batch was left to cool temporarily mid-afternoon as we nipped into Hereford to test drive the Mazda again. Hot and sunny afternoon made for a lovely top down drive (even with the Friday traffic) and I remained tempted, but we reached stalemate on price. Stopped off at Asda on the way home to fill up the car and mower petrol cans – the fuel delivery crisis was starting to stick around in the headlines and lingered for a week or so. There were “Out of….” signs / covers around at Lock’s Garage and The Forge and various petrol stations in Pembs, but we were fine.

Back to base to finish simmering and bottling the chutneys. The overall tally for the day was 29 jars. That should last us a while:

Friday Chutney Lidded and Labelled: Total tally 29 jars
Friday Chutney Lidded and Labelled: Total tally 29 jars

Last job of the day was to clear the lounge and dining hall – all bar the sideboard and table – in anticipation of the new flooring being laid Monday week and for Phil to repaint the walls and skirting boards before then.

Downstairs cleared and ready for new wooden floors
Downstairs cleared and ready for new wooden floors

After all that, a well-earned evening of pizza and Grand Designs.


Out walking Saturday with the GVWC, on a 12 mile circular route around Kilpeck, Garway and Kentchurch. We arrived at the trig point on the top of Garway Hill in heavy cloud but occasional breaks gave glimpses of the views. A fast pace meant we were enjoying medical rehydration in the beer garden at The Kilpeck Inn by 3.30pm.

GVWC: Kilpeck - Garway - Kentchurch Circular
GVWC: Kilpeck – Garway – Kentchurch Circular
GVWC: Kilpeck - Garway - Kentchurch Circular: Route map
GVWC: Kilpeck – Garway – Kentchurch Circular: Route map

Deleted my Tuffmail account under Phil’s supervision then flickered photos and packed for Pembs. In the evening, collected Hazel from Hereford train station and fish and chips from The Old Stables in Ewyas Harold.


Leisurely start Sunday, breakfast in the conservatory and then off to Pembs for a week of walking (and drinking). Not quite Trekking in Nepal, but we should see seals and seal pups (you don’t get those in the mountains), and culminating in an Everest Get Together with D&G at the weekend.

A good drive – no sheep this time – and a late lunch at the van after a miscommunication on rendezvous location meant H and I surprised M and M at Mayhem, while Steffi waited for us at the van. Speedy trip back into H’west to do the food shopping and still time for a windy stroll on the beach before G&Ts and puff pastry tart for dinner.


Monday morning was cloudy but dry, so we drove to Stackpole Quay and, after waiting out a heavy shower, walked along the coast path to Barafundle Bay, Broadhaven South and Bosherton Lily Ponds, with a late lunch at Mrs Weston’s – still not serving cheese on toast.

Barafundle Bay: Rock Arches
Barafundle Bay: Rock Arches

A couple of showers early on – with a rainbow curving over the coast and into the sea – then a lovely breezy and sunny walk.


TV: Grand DesignsThe North Water, Sex Education (series 3).

Podcasts / audiobooks: History Extra, Boudica: Dreaming the Eagle.


Photos: Herefordshire week 91 on Flickr.

Phil:w/e 2021-09-26

Waterfall Country Walk

12+ mile circular hike from Pontneddfechan along a connected set of the Waterfall Country Walking Trails in the Brecon Beacons National Park.

Waterfall Country Walk: Information Board at Pontneddfechan
Waterfall Country Walk: Information Board at Pontneddfechan

We took the Elidir Trail from Pontneddfechan village to Pont Melin-Fach picnic site, walking alongside the lovely Afon Pyrddin to Sgwd Gwladus (Lady Falls) and then up the Nedd Fechan to Pont Melin-Fach via Sgwd-y-Bedol (Horseshoe Falls) and Sgwd Ddwli Isaf and Sgwd Ddwli Uchaf (Lower and Upper Gushing Falls). Purple on the tourist map and signposts.

Waterfall Country Walk: Sgwd-y-Bedol (Horseshoe Falls)
Waterfall Country Walk: Sgwd-y-Bedol (Horseshoe Falls)

From Pont Melin-Fach we followed one of the Waterfall Link Paths to the Brecon Beacons National Park Authority car park and picnic site at Cwm Porth. This isn’t as well walked as the main trails and the route was tricker to find and to follow. Grey on the tourist map and green on the signposts. Soggy feet after crossing the fields.

Waterfall Country Walk: Waterfall Link Trail, following the Nedd Fechan upstream
Waterfall Country Walk: Waterfall Link Trail, following the Nedd Fechan upstream

Another (much – much – more obvious) Waterfall Link Path led from Cwm Porth to join the The Four Falls Trail that run above and then along the Afon Mellte taking in Sgwd Clun-Gwyn (White Meadow Falls), Sgwd Isaf Clun-Gwyn (Lower White Meadow Falls) and Sgwd y Pannwr (Fuller’s Falls) – and some super balanced stone piles. From Sgwd y Pannwr we climbed back up through the forest and dropped down to the Afon Hepste for the “you can walk behind it” delights of Sgwd-yr-Eira (Snow Waterfall). Red on the tourist map and signposts / Green for the Waterfall Link Path sections. Very, very busy.

Waterfall Country Walk: Sgwd yr Eira Trail - Sgwd yr Eira (Snow Waterfalls)
Waterfall Country Walk: Sgwd yr Eira (Snow Waterfalls)

The Sgwd yr Eira Trail then brought us back to Dinas Rock (yellow on the tourist map and signposts) and a short stretch along the road back into Pontneddfechan – for a perfect pint at The Angel Inn.

Sugar Loaf Circular

A super 2 hour 20 mins walk summiting Sugar Loaf / Pen y Fâl (596m) in the Brecon Beacons National Park. Magic views all the way, especially from the top.

Sugar Loaf Circular: Summit Panorama - Trig point to Skirrid
Sugar Loaf Circular: Summit Panorama – Trig point to Skirrid

It’s single track roads (and a few steep sections too) from the A40 to the car park at Mynydd Llanwenarth. I parked too soon, joining the other cars on a large grassy flat patch a couple of minutes’ walk before the tarmaced National Trust car park.

Sugar Loaf Circular: Sugar Loaf car park, looking across the Usk Valley towards The Blorenge
Sugar Loaf Circular: Sugar Loaf car park, looking across the Usk Valley towards The Blorenge

Having checked out the information board, I continued along the road from the car park, which is an unmetalled stony track that gradually peters out into a wide grassy path through the tall green bracken. And sheep.

Sugar Loaf Circular: Sugar Loaf summit from the lower slopes
Sugar Loaf Circular: Sugar Loaf summit from the lower slopes

Staying (relatively) low, the trail skirts the dry stone walls that mark the end of the fields and the start of the open land. The trail drops down to a small stream, alongside (on your left) what would have been woods but which have been cleared since the Countryfile route was published. Looking upstream you have a clear view of the summit.

Sugar Loaf Circular: Descent into the (no longer) wooded valley
Sugar Loaf Circular: Descent into the (no longer) wooded valley

It’s a shallow stream, easily crossed with or without DIY stepping stones, then the path climbs up from the stream. For a shorter walk, there’s the option of the trail joining in on your right (very obvious in my photo above), but for the longer route (and better views) I kept left and at the top of the diagonal slope the path levelled off and continued towards Llanbedr contouring round the slopes between bracken and the field line.

All along this first half of the route there are great views out over the valley of the River Usk from The Blorenge to Pen Cerrig-calch, and up into the Heads of the Valley (the “new” road – A465 – is the giveaway).

Sugar Loaf Circular: Panorama: The Blorenge to Pen Cerrig-calch
Sugar Loaf Circular: Panorama: The Blorenge to Pen Cerrig-calch

Shortly after passing below some piles of stones (industrial rather than ancient, balanced or cairn), there’s an obvious crossroads of paths and clear views ahead towards Llanbedr, and a particularly prominent farm. Turn right up the grassy path and climb the ridge that leads to the summit.

Sugar Loaf Circular: Looking towards Llanbedr - when you see the farm, you're ready to turn right onto the ridge
Sugar Loaf Circular: Looking towards Llanbedr – when you see the farm, you’re ready to turn right onto the ridge

The ridge route starts steeply, eases off a little into bilberries and heather, then there’s a stiffer climb up to and over the rocky outcrop that marks the start of the summit plateau.

Sugar Loaf Circular: Grassy path up to the summit
Sugar Loaf Circular: Grassy path up to the summit

The summit plateau provides 360° panoramas plus a trig point and plenty of space to sit and enjoy the views out over Herefordshire, Monmouthshire and Powys.

Sugar Loaf Circular: Panorama to the north west
Sugar Loaf Circular: Panorama to the north west
Sugar Loaf Circular: Summit Panorama south east
Sugar Loaf Circular: Summit Panorama south east

It was a straightforward descent down the main trail taken by people doing Sugar Loaf as a there-and-back.

Sugar Loaf Circular: Sugar Loaf descent
Sugar Loaf Circular: Sugar Loaf descent

The trickiest section was back amidst the bracken and being sure I was on a path that would lead to the car park. I suspect they all do for the most part.

Sugar Loaf Circular: National Trust Omega Sign
Sugar Loaf Circular: National Trust Omega Sign in the car park