Herefordshire Week 226: Tuesday 23 – Monday 29 April 2024

Skomer stay! Puffins! And Everest Trek Get Together No. 20!

(You’ll have to wait for Puffin Pics – need to get them off my camera) Updated: now with added puffins

Serious puffins, Skomer
Serious puffins, Skomer

A drizzly morning on Tuesday, just right for sitting at my computer doing weeknotes, photos and various bits of admin. The weather perked up in the afternoon, but I was lost to Nepal 2023 trek wrap up – printing out our final itinerary and doing the insert for my diary and the map, and highlighting the route on my copy of the Himalayan Map House map for Makalu and Kanchanjanga, purchased in KTM.

Nepal 2023: Kanchenjunga & Lumba Sumba trek - Map showing our route
Nepal 2023: Kanchenjunga & Lumba Sumba trek – Map showing our route

Zoom with the KMCA ladies, and FaceTime with Phil in Witham. Then packed for Pembs!

Busy morning on Wednesday – up early to plant out seedlings and pack the Panda before driving the Zoe to the gym for aerobics and callisthenics then speedily home for a shower and final Panda packing before setting off for Carmarthen to collect H…. only to realise I’d left the keys in the porch door. Thankfully realisation arrived as I was driving through EH, so I was able to return home and retrieve them. It did mean I was half a hour late picking up Hazel though.

Tasty cake and a couple of mugs of tea at S&Ms then on to Newgale via M&S for wine bags – so practical.

G&T on the deck in the lovely evening sunshine then inside for traditional Everest Trek Get Together curries.

Drinks on the Deck
Drinks on the Deck

Up early on Thursday to get to Martin’s Haven for our 9am crossing to Skomer and the start of our two day stay. Fifteen of us in total, a mix of birders and tourists – we were definitely the latter, in spite of our basic bird knowledge.

Fresh off the boat, Skomer farm courtyard
Fresh off the boat, Skomer farm courtyard

After a brief briefing from the Visitor Officer we settled into our Manx Shearwater room for five and unloaded our food (and drink) into our designated cupboard and the fridge, then headed out for a stroll around the island. Sunshine and clouds, and a biting cold northerly wind.

A pair of razorbills, Skomer
A pair of razorbills, Skomer

Seals at Garland Stone, puffins, razorbills, fulmars and other gulls in the inlets, rabbits (and dead bird remains), bluebells and red campion lining the paths. We sheltered from the wind in the bird hide and spotted mallard ducks, Canada geese as well as the ubiquitous gulls (various varieties) and heard some pheasant squwarks. No short eared owls. Later on a lone buzzard spiralled on a rare thermal.

Rabbit, Skomer
Rabbit, Skomer

Very nice to be able to return to the farm / hostel for tea and cake, a late lunch, and finally chips n dips followed by chilli for dinner. I got the log stove going, warmed up the lounge / dining room nicely.

Decided against going out to watch / hear the Manx Shearwater crash land under the cover of darkness. Felt all a bit too The Birds for my comfort.

Weather was much worse on Friday – wet, albeit a bit warmer. Incentivised by Bird & Bug Bingo we donned waterproofs and photographed slugs, tadpoles, LBBs, coots, oystercatchers, etc etc etc. More time indoors, sheltering from the worst of the rain, the day visitors looking longingly in through the windows…. Bird Log at 8pm in the dining room / lounge revealed our amateur status – although G’s mating curlews and D’s Skomer vole sighting gained us some kudos.

Puffins in the rain, Skomer
Puffins in the rain, Skomer

Up early on Saturday to pack up for the 8.15am “out of the hostel” deadline, cloudy and raining again. Just enough time to walk to The Wick (NO PUFFINS!) and round to the Boat Landing. Repeated the “chain transfer” technique to get our bags down to the jetty, and helped the new arrivals get their much, much heavier bags up one length of “chain”. Then back to Martin’s Haven.

We relocated the car to Marloes Beach NT car park and decided to try our luck at the Runwayskiln in the hope of a morning coffee….. and delightedly discovered that they’re open from 9am! RESULT. Coffee turned into Coffee and Carrot Cake, which set us up for a stroll back towards Martin’s Haven via the Lagoons and their bird hide…. An Endurance Hike Event meant the coast path was busy with runners, but handily the headland is open and roomy. Back to Runwayskillin along the road, then a really, really lovely lunch.

Lunch, Runwayskiln
Lunch, Runwayskiln

Back at the van, showered and relaxed, celebrating a successful Skomer Stay with Prosecco and crisps as soon as the sun went over the yard arm.

Time for a stroll on the pebbles and a thin strip of beach on Sunday morning then back to Steffi’s (via Lidl) for the mandatory and much loved Maurice’s Marvellous Sunday Lunch.

Easy drive home with sunshine and showers. Having refilled the peanuts in the bird feeder (top priority), I got the log stove going (and kept it going since) – the house had got cold while I was away; with Phil staying in WTM I’d turned off the central heating.

Caught up with various things on Monday morning – including checking in on my Oakchurch courgette plants and Jean’s seedlings (all doing well) and bringing in the house plants (some doing not so well after the overnight low temperatures, AND the fungus gnats are still around) – then over to dad and Jean’s to help with some DIY in the lovely new garden room. Bought a whole kilo of mealworms from Gen Dogsbody – need to help those breeding birds as much as we can with through this rain and cold weather.

Dug up some of my leeks for leek, garlic, butterbean & crème fraiche dinner. A success!


More orchids out on the front lawn and leaves are out on all the trees. The waterfall clematis is covered in flowers and the cherry trees in EH at covered in blossom, our various apples trees too.


TV: The Gone (season 1).

Podcasts: The Rest is Entertainment, AmericastEmpire, Americast, When It Hits the Fan.


Photos: Herefordshire week 226 on Flickr.

Phil: w/e 2024-04-28.

Herefordshire Week 219: Tuesday 5 – Monday 11 March 2024

Last of the Borderlines Film Festival films; first of the Crickhowell Walking Festival walks, with R&J.

Crickhowell Walking Festival 2024: Overlooking Llangorse - Me at the Mynydd Troed Trig Point
Crickhowell Walking Festival 2024: Overlooking Llangorse – Me at the Mynydd Troed Trig Point <- Rocking the baggy gaiters look there

More rain. Occasional sun but otherwise cloud.


PT first thing Tuesday then speedy turnaround back home to get into Hereford for Borderlines Film Festival film No. 5: That They May Face the Rising Sun. I didn’t really know what to expect, but loved it – the slow pace provided plenty of time to get to know the characters and their relationships.

Home for a late lunch then an hour of greenhouse enhancements with dad: adding door knobs and a shelf inside and, outside, replacing the missing downpipe for the nearer of the two waterbutts.

Greenhouse Enhancements: Shelf
Greenhouse Enhancements: Shelf

At teatime, a full valley rainbow.

My desk stands arrived. Spot on. A big thank you to Weldpress who made them for me. Super service. Recommended!

Grey Valley lived up to its name on Wednesday – misty on a bright sunny morning.

Grey Valley
Grey Valley

In the afternoon depotted all the houseplants (well, most of them), planning to repot with fresh, fungus gnat free compost, only to find that the “new” bag of compost in the greenhouse mustn’t have been completely sealed and was infested with them. Grrrrrrr. Handily, Phil was in Hereford so he picked up a fully fresh bag on his way back.

T called in as I was washing the roots so we had a bit of a catch up before tomorrow night’s drinks and nibbles.

Late starting PT on Thursday due to an emergency road closure in Ewyas Harold. Back at base, the army camp were making a lot of noise – big bassy booms, gunfire, helicopters. Overcast and windy with rain forecast so I settled in to do some more Nepal 2023 photos and notes, plus a catch up with Steffi. Early dinner then down to TJL’s for wine and nibbles. Lovely.

Gym first thing Friday then back make some scones, have lunch and repot the ferns in fly-free compost in the wind and rain. R & J arrived 3.30pm-ish – time for a cup of tea and a scone, a bit of a catch up and some CWF logistics planning then into Hereford for Wagamamas and The Promised Land, film No. 6 and the last in this year’s Borderlines Film Festival for us.

Up early Saturday to get to Crickhowell for 8.30am and the first of this year’s Crickhowell Walking Festival walks: Black Mountains North to South from Gospel Pass to Crickhowell.

Crickhowell Walking Festival 2024: Black Mountains North to South - Strava Map & Stats
Crickhowell Walking Festival 2024: Black Mountains North to South – Strava Map & Stats

A bit of ascent from Gospel Pass to Twmpa / Lord Hereford’s Knob (690m) then it’s a ridgeline route via Rhos Dirion (713m), Waun Fach (811m), Mynydd Llysiau (663m), Pen Allt-mawr (719m), Pen Cerrig-calch (701m) and Crug Hywel / Table Mountain (451m).

Crickhowell Walking Festival 2024: Black Mountains North to South - Waun Fach in the fog
Crickhowell Walking Festival 2024: Black Mountains North to South – Waun Fach in the fog

An easy route to follow but foggy to Waun Fach and brutal in the wind thereafter. Not cold, but brace-brace all the way to stay upright.

Having missed Latte Da’s closing time by a matter of minutes, we headed home for showers, tea and scones, beer and nibbles, soup and chilli. And bed!

Sunday’s CWF walk was 12 miles “Overlooking Llangorse” – and yesterday’s main ridges too. A smashing circular route from Bwlch – one to do again.

Crickhowell Walking Festival 2024: Overlooking Llangorse
Crickhowell Walking Festival 2024: Overlooking Llangorse

Handy parking on a lane out of Bwlch. The route took us up over Mynydd Llangorse, dropping down via Cockit Hill and then straight back up Mynydd Troed. Curving back towards Cwmdu for a ridgeline descent into the valley then back up again onto Mynydd Llangors and retracing our route back to Bwlch.

Much easier walking and conditions than yesterday’s Black Mountains North to South.

Crickhowell Walking Festival 2024: Overlooking Llangorse - Mynydd Troed from Mynydd Llangors
Crickhowell Walking Festival 2024: Overlooking Llangorse – Mynydd Troed from Mynydd Llangors

Back at base: showers, scones, soup, chilli and crumble – then bed.

Back to Crickhowell on Monday morning, via Abergavenny to drop off the single duvets at The Laundry Basket in my case. We reunited at CRIC for the day’s hike: Mynydd Llangatwg.

Crickhowell Walking Festival 2024: Mynydd Llangatwg
Crickhowell Walking Festival 2024: Mynydd Llangatwg

My first time walking this side of the Usk. A bit boggy on the top but fab views back down to Crickhowell, Llangattock and across to the Black Mountains – even on a grey day. A really varied route – roads, woodland paths, footpaths across fields and sheep trails over moors.

Crickhowell Walking Festival 2024: Mynydd Llangatwg panorama
Crickhowell Walking Festival 2024: Mynydd Llangatwg panorama

Farewell to R&J then home for the last pair of scones, shared with Phil.

Crickhowell Walking Festival 2024: Mynydd Llangatwg - Traditional post shower scone, back at home
Crickhowell Walking Festival 2024: Mynydd Llangatwg – Traditional post shower scone, back at home

Lentil soup for dinner with Spaceman on the telly.


In the garden I spotted the first leaves on the waterfall clematis, and the Bacton Stud wild garlic is going great guns.

More flowers on the daffs and the camellia. Snowdrops all gone.


TV:  Our Flag Means Death (finished season 2), Shōgun, Spaceman.

Podcasts: History Extra, Gone Mediaeval, Americast, The Today Podcast, Tweet of the Day,


Photos: Herefordshire week 219 on Flickr.

Phil: w/e 2024-03-10.

Herefordshire Week 211: Tuesday 09 – Monday 15 January 2024

Brrrrrrrrr – it’s cold!!

MD comes to stay. Rach & Jon call in. Drinks with TJL. Dad and Jean come for Sunday lunch. A social whirl!

Started PT and did a lot of walking: 30.2 miles, 4540 ft elevation gain according to Strava.

Looking back down the Dragon's Back and over towards Pen y Fan
Looking back down the Dragon’s Back and over towards Pen y Fan

I had my first PT session at the GV gym on Tuesday morning. So far so good. Then caught up with email and weeknotes in the GV cafe whiling away an hour and a half before my follow up physio appointment at Ewyas Harold Surgery. I am going to get my right hip properly sorted in 2024. It’s lazy right glutes and over worked compensating muscles….

Tea and crumpet in the sunny conservatory, then out into the sunshine (and cold wind) to walk down to Dore Abbey and back via Thistly Field. Lovely. Tea and cake back at base.

Down to Dore Abbey and back via Thistly Field
Down to Dore Abbey and back via Thistly Field

I’d not booked onto my usual Wednesday morning classes to allow us a whole day to get out for a good walk. Still too cold up in the Black Mountains so we opted for more walking around the lanes, to Bacton and then a new bit of footpaths to take us up to Tremorithic, showing MD more of the sights and working up a good appetite for a late lunch back at base. We didn’t quite get the new route right but we know better for next time.

Strava Map & Stats: Tremorithic Footpaths - New Route via Bacton
Strava Map & Stats: Tremorithic Footpaths – New Route via Bacton

A snooze on the sofa as sun set, then beers and crisps segueing into dinner in front of the telly introducing MD to the delights of Dectectorists.

To the gym on Thursday morning for LBT and my second PT session. Speedy shower back home then we headed out to walk to The Temple Bar Inn for a leisurely late pub lunch, washed down with a couple of pints, then back home via the Deer Field. Not as muddy as last Saturday’s GVWC experience.

Pub lunch
Pub lunch

Friday started with another visit to the gym then back to find Phil and MD playing the inaugural hand of Panda Top Trumps – my custom made Christmas present to Phil. Fiat Panda, not Panda Panda. Phil dropped off MD at Hereford train station for his onward journey and shortly after Phil got home R&J arrived for a late lunch en route to Pantygelli for a walking weekend with their club. Lovely.

Ticked off three garden jobs on Saturday morning: on the slope down from Mower Turn I cut down the leggy whatever-it-is tree that had broken the main supporting branch off the same breed of tree (a more mature version) closer to the path and taken out all the lower branches as it fell; bonfired; and, with Phil’s help, redid the compost bin base in an attempt to make it rat proof.

Third time lucky....
Third time lucky….

To be fair, Phil did almost all the work on this last one as it entailed digging out the compost-in-progress from the bin, wheelbarrowing that to its new home (the green bin I scavenged a week or so ago), collecting four paving slabs from the quarry and laying them on the cleared site. I set up the now-empty compost bin, and then Phil returned some of the compost-in-progress – and its worms – to the bin as starter culture.

And then he turned the grass cuttings and leaves that comprise compost corner.

Relaxing afternoon reading on the sofa, then down to TJLs for an evening drink and crisps. We walked back serenaded by tawny owls.

After a slow start to Sunday morning Phil and I headed out and walked Cockyard Anticlockwise. The light cloud gradually cleared and we arrived home under blue skies, lovely and warm!

Cockyard Anticlockwise: A line of sheep and Hatterrall Ridge
Cockyard Anticlockwise: A line of sheep and Hatterrall Ridge

Dad and Jean came for Sunday lunch. They arrived under beautiful blues skies and we had a lovely stroll around the garden looking at the snowdrops. The rain had set in by the time they left. FaceTime with S&S in the early evening, then cheese and biscuits watching EV reviews on YouTube.

I drove over to Pengenfford A479 on Monday morning to rendezvous with Sonia and Sara for a magic walk out in the Brecon Beacons. We headed up the Dragon’s Back via Castell Dinas, along to Waun Fach (811m), down to Pen Trumau and back down the valley to Pengenfford. 7 ½ miles, 19586 steps, 173 flights, 2156 ft elevation gain.

Strava Map & Stats: Dragon's Back & Waun Fach from Pengenfford
Strava Map & Stats: Dragon’s Back & Waun Fach from Pengenfford

A gorgeous sunny day – beautiful under blue skies, but a bitter wind.

Welsh rarebit and a big pot of tea in Crickhowell afterwards.

Welsh Rarebit and a large pot of tea at Latte Da, Crickhowell
Welsh Rarebit and a large pot of tea at Latte Da, Crickhowell

Ah, this is why I stopped working!

Back home via Waitrose.


TV: Reservation Dogs (season 3. Very different and still lovely), Detectorists (series 1, introducing MD to the delights of), Ghosts (series 1, introducing MD to the delights of) and lots of YouTube video reviews of EVs.

Podcasts: Shedunnit, History Extra, You Must Remember This, The Rest is Entertainment, The History of England.


Photos: Herefordshire week 211 on Flickr.

Phil: w/e 2024-01-14.

Herefordshire Week 198: Tuesday 10 – Monday 16 October 2023

Pembrokeshire for the Everest Trek Get Together No. 19.

Marloes Circular: The Gang
Marloes Circular: The Gang

My first full week back home = still catching up.


Tuesday comprised catching up on admin and weeknotes 196 and 197, walking to and from Ewyas Harold for my first in person Physio appointment at the surgery (VG. Assessment = Hip pain, right glute med tendinopathy + some ITB / Iliotibial Band Syndrome symptoms), Pembs Prep, another catch up with Val, more apple collecting, a great update from dad on his jaundice.

Beautiful day.

Home to Ewyas Harold: Top Sheep
Home to Ewyas Harold: Top Sheep

Pilates in the evening – getting back into the gym routine, even if it’s only for a couple of weeks.


Having failed to book onto the morning gym classes, Wednesday was more admin, mainly money – I’m still working out my “being retired cash flows” – and we had our catch up with Carol. Also some Nepal prep – working out paying, online tourist visa (bearing in mind the max 15 days in advance constraint) and checking eBay for Expedition grade down jackets….

Over to J’s for dinner in the evening. Lovely. On my way there, I spooked an owl down by Blackmoor Farm.

A very rainy day.


Thursday morning featured LBT at the Gym and Chutney Transport Box pick up from the shop, then back home to finish off weeknotes 197, which also entailed fully Flickring Italy photos.


More gym on Friday morning, a petrol fill up at the Forge, more computing (I forget what), then off to Pembs for Everest Trek Get Together No. 19, picking up Hazel at Carmarthen en route to Mayhem where Steffi supplied a Greek Feast as a change from the usual Curries. Replete, Dave drove us to the van and we polished off a bottle of wine.

The heavy rain had cleared to sunshine on the drive west.

Steffi spotted Starlink low on the horizon. It was that or anti alien tracer fire….


Saturday’s walk was the Marloes Circular, with sunshine, seals and a super lunch at Runwayskiln.

Strava Map: Marloes Circular
Strava Map: Marloes Circular
Marloes Circular: Seals
Marloes Circular: Seals
Marloes Circular: Runwayskiln lunch
Marloes Circular: Runwayskiln lunch

Back at the van, a cup of tea then down to the beach for a gorgeous sunset.

Magic sunset, Newgale Beach
Magic sunset, Newgale Beach

Once darkness had descended, we relaxed in the van where wine and crisps were followed by cheese and biscuits, fruit and wine. And bed.


Mandatory Sunday morning stroll on Newgale Beach, then back to Mayhem for Mexican! Lovely sunny day. Cold and crisp overnight and in the shade. October has arrived.

Newgale Beach
Newgale Beach

Home by 6pm, got the log stove going – first time this year (well since the spring at any rate).


It had been cold overnight, so on Monday morning we put the heating on. First time…

A couple of hours prepping (these) weeknotes and updating already-flickred photos (Pembs and previous) and doing my new physio exercises, then out to bonfire.

Slow going, and very smoky, but over the next 6 hours or so I got through the three piles of hedge clippings and the older pile(s) of tree / shrub loppings. During the marathon session Phil brought my lunch out to me and laid on the 4pm tea and biscuit on the patio. I was done by 5pm-ish, give or take a few extra bramble cuttings.

Bonfire: Almost all done
Bonfire: Almost all done

In between times I trimmed the broken branches I could reach on our Wedding Plum, deconstructed the old, broken deck chair in the quarry and repurposed it as compost heap “fence” and refreshed the bait in the rodent trap – something had moved the box and dug a path to it; hopefully rats as the bait was all gone.

Listened to a lot of the Empire podcast episodes.

Got my Disney+ subscription up and running in the evening and started The Mandalorian.


The days are definitely drawing in. Dawn colours lingering over Grey Valley at 7.30am, and getting dark by 6pm.


TV: Fleabag, The Ghosts cast on the show’s final series | BFI Q&A (plus the Comic Relief Kylie Special and Bloopers on YouTube), This Farming Life, The Mandalorian.

Podcasts: In Our Time, Shedunnit, Empire.


Photos: Herefordshire week 198 on Flickr.

Phil: w/e 2023-10-15.

The Beacons Way Days 1& 2: Photos & Notes

On Wednesday and Thursday I walked the first two days of the Beacons Way with Sonia and Sara. Thankfully we had two days of good weather – and on Thursday we could see the downpours deluging everywhere else!

Great walking and well signposted once we got onto the footpaths and into the Brecon Beacons National Park.

Waymarker for the Beacons Way
Waymarker for the Beacons Way

Photos are in my Flickr Album: The Beacons Way 2023.


About The Beacons Way

We’re aiming to do the whole of The Beacons Way (map), which traverses the Brecon Beacons from east to west, following the established itinerary, but bit by bit rather than all in one go.

Here’s the full route outline from the BBNP:

Day 1: Abergavenny to Llanthony Priory
Distance: 22km / 13.5 miles
Ascent: 850m / 2790ft
Difficulty: Hard
Time: 6 hours

Day 2: Llanthony to Crickhowell
Distance: 19km / 12 miles
Ascent: 890m / 2920ft
Difficulty: Hard
Time: 6 hours

Day 3: Crickhowell to Llangynidr
Distance: 19 km / 12 miles
Ascent: 750m / 2460ft
Difficulty: Moderate
Time: 5 hours 30 minutes

Day 4: Llangynidr to Storey Arms
Distance: 23.5km / 14.5 miles
Ascent: 1110m / 3640ft
Difficulty: Strenuous
Time: 7 hours
Includes Fan y Big, Pen y Fan & Corn Du

Day 5: Storey Arms to Craig-y-Nos
Distance: 23.5 km / 14.5 miles
Ascent: 610m / 2000ft
Difficulty: Moderate
Time: 6 hours

Day 6: Craig-y-Nos to Llanddeusant
Distance: 16km / 10 miles
Ascent: 760m / 2500ft
Difficulty: Hard
Time: 5 hours

Day 7: Llanddeusant to Carreg Cennen Castle
Distance: 20.5km / 12.5 miles
Ascent: 660m / 2170ft
Difficulty: Hard
Time: 6 hours

Day 8: Carreg Cennen Castle to Bethlehem / Llangadog
Distance: 16km / 10 miles
Ascent: 280m / 920ft
Difficulty: Easy
Time: 4 hours


Wednesday 19 July 2023: Beacons Way Day 1 – Abergavenny to Llanthony (Photos)

Sara, Sonia and I rendezvoused in Abergavenny at the Bus Station and started walking from there, setting off around 9.30am.

Gorgeous sunny day. No hint of any rain, which was a relief after so many wet weeks.

The day’s two peaks were Skirrid / Ysgyryd Fawr (486m) and Hatterrall Hill (531m) so I was on familiar territory. I’d walked almost all of the route, albeit not in one go, and Sonia and Sara had walked the section from Llanvihangel Crucorney / Llanfihangel Crucornau to Hatterrall Hill (531m) doing the Offa’s Dyke Path, and that filled in the gap.

The roads out of Abergavenny provided a good opportunity to see more of the town beyond the centre, and from the golf course onwards we were onto footpaths and following the Beacons Way waymarks.

We got amazing views from Skirrid – all the way to the Bristol Channel and the Severn to the south – and had a stop at the Trig Point….

Sonia & Sara at the Skirrid Trig Point
Sonia & Sara at the Skirrid Trig Point

… before setting off down Skirrid’s slopes, which were covered in lush green bracken.

Sonia & Sara on the Skirrid descent through the bracken
Sonia & Sara on the Skirrid descent through the bracken

After a section on a very narrow lane, the route to Llanvihangel Crucorney was through fields. And crossing the busy A465 was easier than expected. Sadly The Skirrid Inn wasn’t open for a lunchtime pint, so we carried on and had a late lunch on the upper slopes of Peak No 2, Hatterrall Hill.

It was on one of the quiet lanes heading up Hatterrall Hill that we met Anton, who was doing the Offa’s Dyke Path and was staying the night in Llanthony too.

More bracken, and sheep, brought us to the top of Hatterrall Hill.

Hatterrall Hill Trig Point, and Herefordshire
Hatterrall Hill Trig Point, and Herefordshire

From Hatterrall Hill we were walking north along Hatterrall Ridge, and so the going was easy.

Sara & Sonia on Hatterrall Ridge
Sara & Sonia on Hatterrall Ridge

We had great views east over Herefordshire (any beyond) and west into the beautiful Vale of Ewyas, home to Llanthony Priory.

Vale of Ewyas (and Llanthony Priory) from Hatterrall Ridge
Vale of Ewyas (and Llanthony Priory) from Hatterrall Ridge

The footpaths down into the valley bring you alongside Llanthony Priory. Grey stone, green fields, blue skies, white clouds. Beautiful.

Llanthony Priory
Llanthony Priory

We were staying at Treats, where Sue provided a warm welcome and showed us to our room. It was basic, but everything you need – bunk beds, towels, tea/coffee/biscuits, comfy chairs, plenty of things to hang stuff up on, power sockets, and a bathroom/shower just for us albeit not en suite. Not dissimilar to a tea house on a Nepalese trek.

Treats, Llanthony - Our B&B Bunkhouse
Treats, Llanthony – Our B&B Bunkhouse

Anton arrived just as we were having a mug of tea…

Teatime at Treats, Llanthony
Teatime at Treats, Llanthony

It was a gorgeous evening, and after showers we all headed back to Llanthony Priory and down into the Cellar Bar for a pint (or two) of Blorenge Golden Ale and dinner – a surprisingly tasty Spicey Bean Goulash which came with an array of veg.

Beer Barrels, The Cellar Bar, Llanthony Priory
Beer Barrels, The Cellar Bar, Llanthony Priory

I used the Strava app on my iPhone to map my route and track my stats. The first stile, into the golf course, was when I realised I’d not started Strava, so I’ve added an extra 3km / 1.86 miles / 30 mins for that section of Beacons Way Day 1: Abergavenny to Llanthony, via Skirrid / Ysgyryd Fawr (486m) and Hatterrall Hill (531m).

Distance: 12.46 miles (14 ½ miles from Abergavenny)
Elevation Gain: 2,636 ft
Moving Time: 5 hours (5 ½ from Abergavenny)
Elapsed Time: 6 hours (6 ½ from Abergavenny)

Strava Map & Graph: Beacons Way Day 1: Abergavenny to Llanthony
Strava Map & Graph: Beacons Way Day 1: Abergavenny to Llanthony

Thursday 20 July 2023: Beacons Way Day 2 – Llanthony to Crickhowell (Photos)

Beacons Way Day 2: Llanthony to Crickhowell, featured three “peaks”: Bâl Bach (520m), Crug Mawr (550m) and Crug Hywel / Table Mountain (451m).

Strava logged:

Distance: 13.3 miles
Elevation Gain: 3,109 ft
Moving Time: 5½ hours
Elapsed Time: 6 hours 40 mins

Strava Map & Graph: Beacons Way Day 2: Llanthony to Crickhowell
Strava Map & Graph: Beacons Way Day 2: Llanthony to Crickhowell

The day started with a big breakfast courtesy of Treats: an array of cereals etc followed by a fried breakfast, plus a cafetière of coffee.

Breakfast, Treats, Llanthony
Breakfast, Treats, Llanthony

Having said farewell to Anton, we headed off for the first ascent of the day, up the lovely Cwm Bwchel valley to Bâl Bach, then south along the Ffwyddog ridge to Garn Wen –  the beehive cairn.

Sonia & Sara on on the Ffwyddog ridge footpath south from Bâl Bach
Sonia & Sara on on the Ffwyddog ridge footpath south from Bâl Bach

A little further on, past the woods, we reached the Revenge Stone, Dialgarreg.

The stone marks the spot where a Norman knight, Richard de Clare, was ambushed and murdered by a band of Welshmen in 1135. Jeremy Bolwell provides more detail on Geograph:

Gerald of Wales (1146 – 1223) writing a short time after the event records the incident in 1136 that gave this location its name thus: ‘It happened a short time after the death of King Henry I, that Richard de Clare, a nobleman of high birth and lord of Cardiganshire, passed this way on his journey from England into Wales, accompanied by Brian de Wallingford, lord of this province, and many men-at-arms. At the passage of Coed Grono and at the entrance into the wood, he dismissed him and his attendants, though much against their will, and proceeded on his journey unarmed; from too great a presumption of security, preceded only by a minstrel and a singer, one accompanying the other on the fiddle. The Welsh awaiting his arrival, with Iorwerth, brother of Morgan of Caerleon, at their head, and others of his family, rushed upon him unawares from the thickets, and killed him and many of his followers. Thus it appears how incautious and neglectful of itself is too great presumption; for fear teaches foresight and caution in prosperity, but audacity is precipitate, and inconsiderate rashness will not await the advice of the leader’.

Typical Gerald. This was an upland route in medieval times, followed by de Clare, despite current unrest, against advice and was a crossing of paths at this point, so a likely place for a commemorative stone. The landscape was presumably more thickly wooded than today. The Welsh knew which route he was taking, either through watching his progress or through informers and lay in wait, ruthlessly dealing with a Norman in a way that Normans often dealt with them.

So there.

At the Revenge Stone, we dropped down off the ridge and into the valley of the Grwyne Fawr. Across the river, across the road, and up a green lane towards Patrishow – where we managed to miss the church so intent were we on going up!

Fields and a bridleway brought us out onto the lower slopes of Crug Mawr, more up brought us to the only trig – and the highest – point of the day: peak 2, Crug Mawr (550m).

Me, Sara and Sonia at the Crug Mawr Trig Point
Me, Sara and Sonia at the Crug Mawr Trig Point

At Crug Mawr we met a couple out celebrating a birthday and a family of wild ponies.

Wild ponies, Crug Mawr
Wild ponies, Crug Mawr

We also got great views, and looking east we could see heavy rain over towards Garway. Amazingly we dodged the rain all day, despite seeing downpours in all directions at various points in the day.

There's rain in them thar hills....
There’s rain in them thar hills….

From Crug Mawr we dropped down into the valley of the Grwyne Fechan, following the route I’d taken at the end of the Llanbedr Horseshoe, over hillside and then through woods down to the road. There we turned north for a spell on the lane before taking field footpaths down to the brand new bridge across the river. On the other side, a steep up through some woods brought us out onto another lane where we headed back south turning off into a green lane to start the main section of ascent to Crug Hywel / Table Mountain.

Peak No 3: Crug Hywel / Table Mountain, and Pen Cerrig-calch
Peak No 3: Crug Hywel / Table Mountain, and Pen Cerrig-calch

We’d felt a few plops of rain so we lunched by a tumbledown barn and outbuildings near the top of the green lane before emerging onto the flanks of Pen Cerrig-calch where the footpath made its way through emerald green bracken to the Iron Age Celtic hillfort, and third and final peak of the day, Crug Hywel.

Sonia and Sara en route to Crug Hywel
Sonia and Sara en route to Crug Hywel

It took a good hour to descend through moorland, fields, woods and residential roads to get into Crickhowell where we headed for Latte-Da and celebratory tea and cake – and had time to start planning days 3 & 4 before catching the X43 bus back to Abergavenny.

Celebratory tea and cake, Latte-Da, Crickhowell
Celebratory tea and cake, Latte-Da, Crickhowell

Sonia and Sara set of back to their respective homes, and I hopped on the X3 to Wormbridge!