Pembrokeshire for the Everest Trek Get Together No. 19.
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.
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.
Back at the van, a cup of tea then down to the beach for a gorgeous sunset.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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….
… before setting off down Skirrid’s slopes, which were covered in lush green 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.
From Hatterrall Hill we were walking north along Hatterrall Ridge, and so the going was easy.
We had great views east over Herefordshire (any beyond) and west into the beautiful Vale of Ewyas, home to Llanthony Priory.
The footpaths down into the valley bring you alongside Llanthony Priory. Grey stone, green fields, blue skies, white clouds. Beautiful.
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.
Anton arrived just as we were having a mug of tea…
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.
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)
Thursday 20 July 2023: Beacons Way Day 2 – Llanthony to Crickhowell (Photos)
Distance: 13.3 miles
Elevation Gain: 3,109 ft
Moving Time: 5½ hours
Elapsed Time: 6 hours 40 mins
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.
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.
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.
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).
At Crug Mawr we met a couple out celebrating a birthday and a family of wild ponies.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Sonia and Sara set of back to their respective homes, and I hopped on the X3 to Wormbridge!
Beacons Way Days 1 & 2. Gardening. Off to Essex. Day trip to London.
Rain returned Tuesday. A good day for admin, and then into Hereford for more admin-y type things. LED call in the evening, followed by my first post-retirement KMCA catch up.
On Wednesday and Thursday I walked the first two days of The Beacons Way with Sonia and Sara. Read the write up in my blogpost. Thankfully we had two days of good weather – and could see the downpours deluging everywhere else!
Phil and I made the most of the third (and final) day of dry weather on Friday to do some garden jobs. Phil scythed (and encountered many toads large and small) and I:
Pulled up plum growth below the pond
Transplanted 4 baby yews I found near the quarry into pots
Cleared the fenced edge of the large pond of bindweed, dead cow parsley, ground elder, giant nettles etc etc etc
Cleared the ground elder under the yew tree by the hedgehog house
Swept the tree house deck (lots of yew leaves and seeds)
Pruned the coffin gooseberry and planted larger cuttings in pots
Picked peas (6 pods) and dwarf beans (4) and 2 strawberries and 4 sweet peas
Planted out the last of the leeks into long plastic planter. Rough and ready but better than the shallow tray there were in…
I also took some photos of the large fungi at far end of lawn – never seen those before.
Before dinner I spent an hour working out route options for day 3 & 4 of the Beacons Way. Most of the time was spent on trying to work out bus routes….
Rain returned with a vengeance on Saturday.
Good weather for another hour looking at days 3, 4 & 5 of the Beacons Way. Again, most of the time was spent on trying to work out bus routes…. until I found Transport for Wales’ super handy TrawsCymru Bus journey planner. I’d wasted a lot of time on Stagecoach’s website which only shows their services (which took me a while to realise).
As we were eating our early breakfast, we were treated to a pair of hares in Kiln field…..
… and a green woodpecker adult showing its young where to find the best bugs on our verge and drive.
I went dad’s return route this time (M50 M5 M42 M6 A14 M11 A120 A12) and it was a million times less stressful than the M25, and faster / easier driving than our cross country route via Milton Keynes.
We got to Witham around 1.30pm and had a couple of hours there before I left Phil with his folks and continued on to Wivenhoe, which proved to be a more painful drive thanks to roadworks on the A12. And meeting a bus on Wivenhoe’s narrow, car-lined High Street.
Tom and Jo supplied an ice lolly on arrival which improved things no end.
By 7pm I was sitting out by the river with a glass of wine.
Monday, train into London for the Persia exhibition at the British Museum (excellent) and a tour of the outdoor shops in search of a new pair of trekking boots (in vain).
Pembrokeshire mini break: walking, painting, eating & drinking.
Tuesday morning, to Haverfordwest to meet up with M&M for Venezuelan brunch at the Haverhub. Our first foray into the town itself – our previous stops have always been supermarket-focused. Bigger than expected!
Full of Venezuelan arepas we drove south to Bosherton and parked in the cafe (aka Mrs Weston’s As Was) car park – it’s £2 for non patrons, handy to know that’s an option when the main car park is full, which it was.
We did the Bosherton Lily Ponds & Stackpole Quay Circuit: Lily Ponds – Broad Haven – Coast to Stackpole Head, Barafundle Bay & Stackpole Quay – over the Park fields to the Eight Arch Bridge – back around more of the Lily Ponds. Cool and cloudy but no rain.
Distance: 6 miles
Walking Time: 2h 10 mins
Elapsed Time: 2h 40 mins
Elevation Gain: 582 ft
Returning north toward H’West we were driving towards blue skies. Screwfix for deck painting kit and Lidl for supplies. G&Ts out on the decking under sunny skies – lovely.
Mexican wraps for dinner.
Wednesday was designated deck painting day! We had a mix of blue skies and clouds – no rain though and not too hot – perfect for painting Steffi’s new decking with wood preserver. We were done by 1.30pm, including a tea / coffee break in between completing the spindles and bannisters and starting on the decking floor.
Lunch inside then out to walk Southwood Estate (short version to avoid possible cow encounters) and for another stroll on Newgale Beach, this time at even lower tide and with more time exploring the rock pools. All under blue skies and sunshine. Gorgeous.
Distance: 5.3 miles
Walking Time: 1h 55 mins
Elapsed Time: 2h 15 mins
Elevation Gain: 1,005 ft
Back at base by 5pm.
Prosecco. Crisps. Olives. Carrot sticks and the last of the dips. Garlic bread. Pasta. Bed 🙂
Thursday started late but we were parked in St Davids and heading off to walk the coast path from Caerfai Bay to Whitesands by 10am. Coffee and carrot cake at Porthclais, lunch at the usual spot (the old copper mine works looking out over the tidal race to Ramsay Island), St Justinians, Whitesands and back into St Davids for ice cream. No porpoises but we did have oyster catchers and rock pigeons, and an adder at St Non’s Stone Stile.
Distance: 12.3 miles
Walking Time: 4h 15 mins
Elapsed Time 5h 40 mins
Elevation Gain: 1,155 ft
We were home by 4.30pm just as the wind picked up and the rain began.
Fish & chips / Breaded mushrooms & chips / Sausage, chips & beans from the Back Lane Chippy for tea. Early to bed (again).
Friday saw us return to St Davids, this time on the 09.30 T11 bus from Newgale Bridge. Grey clouds, cool, v windy for the walk south from Caerfai to Solva. We stopped for lunch at The Cambrian Inn… and watched the last of the cloud clear to leave blue skies and a very, very sunny afternoon for the remainder of the coast walk back to Newgale. We lucked out on the tides again and headed down to the beach at Pen-y-Cwm rather than doing the final climb up and over the headland.
Distance: 12.4 miles
Walking Time: 4h 30 mins
Elapsed Time 7h 40 mins
Elevation Gain: 1,823 ft
Ice cream / pints to celebrate the almost end of the walk, then back to the van.
Hot hot hot. Too hot to sit out on the deck. Hoovered, did the recycling, showered. Breeze outside meant it was nice and cool inside.
Tidied up leftovers for tea. Turns out yesterday’s chips revive brilliantly in an air fryer….
Lots of rabbits! And swallows whizzing around overhead.
Saturday morning = packing up, final clean, recycling & rubbish, then driving back to Forty Acres. I drove H, C & P into Hereford for lunch at Zizzi’s and to drop off H at the station, after we all got caught in the downpour getting pork pie and burgers from Neil Powell’s.
C & I spent the remainder of the afternoon relaxing in the conservatory as the rain sporadically hammered down until it was time for the football for C (Under 21 European Championship Final) and reading for me – happily devouring Fanfare’s discussion of Ted Lasso season 3. I’m at the forgiveness and mercy end of the Nate redemption arc. And Jade as restaurant staff deliberately gives nothing away to the many many punters who she must have to engage with rather than having nothing to give away.
After tea in the conservatory we watched The Friday Crossword Masterclass from Cracking the Cryptic on YouTube. If you’re on the fence when it comes to crosswords, it’s worth a watch. Particularly as the one we watched was the day after a lot of drinking the night before for Simon Anthony…. we are all human!
On Sunday we waved Catherine off on her drive home then pottered until it was time to pick up Sue from Hereford station in the evening. It’s all go here! Heavy rain on and off all afternoon.
Admin on Monday morning mainly catching up on weeknotes and Flickring photos (although Flickr was down a lot so that took some time). Army camp busy. Very wet again. More computing in the afternoon, including making a start on a Blurb Book for my Nepal 2022 trek.
I saw the nuthatch on the bird feeder. AND A SQUIRREL HAS WORKED OUT HOW TO GET INSIDE THE SQUIRREL-PROOF BIRD FEEDER. Yes, that merits ALL CAPS. GRRRRRR.
Oxford, Highnam, Aconbury Camp & Athelstan’s Wood, and Pembrokeshire.
Monday’s flat tyre meant I needed to rejig my Tuesday plans a bit, so that I could take the car to Bernie Jones’ for some new front tyres. I had already bought an entrance ticket and train tickets to Oxford to visit the Labyrinth exhibition at The Ashmolean Museum, and luckily the exhibition ticket was for the early afternoon so I had time to get a later train.
GWR’s new timetable appears to have given up on most of the direct Hereford-Paddington services, so instead the journey requires a change in Worcester from WMR to GWR which makes for a much longer journey, and carries the inherent risks of dealing with two separate TOCs. On the plus side, the last minute advance First Class ticket was cheaper than the Standard so at least I got some complimentary refreshments on the Worcester to Oxford leg, which put me into a better mood.
I didn’t think much of the exhibition though. Bit of a waste of a day.
Another outing on Wednesday, this time on a group trip with dad and Jean to visit Highnam Court gardens and Highnam church. VWW once I got home.
Thursday was a rare day at home, although it did feature tea and catch up with A in the morning. Mowed in the afternoon (getting a stack of insect bites in the process – and they itched for days) and then got the garden railway track and other dad railway related stuff down out of the loft and cleaned it up. Too much and too tired to inventory it, so I’ll need to reschedule my visit to Hereford Model Centre. Caught up with RG over Zoom, with beer and Bombay mix, then dinner and telly.
I had my first class at GV gym on Friday morning – Stretch with Caz – then home for a quick tidy up my office ahead of H using the guest room elements tomorrow (she and C arriving for our Pembs minibreak) before heading out into Hereford again – tip, Sainsbury’s, Aldi and B&Q for Pembs Purchases, plus fresh cheese supplies for J&J’s party tomorrow.
In the evening, we wrapped up Ted Lasso series 3. Just right. And pizza too.
I decided not to do the Elan Valley walk on Saturday – 90 mins each way would have made the evening plans a bit too much of a rush. So I pottered until lunchtime when Hazel and Catherine arrived. We lunched out on the patio, sat and chatted, checked out the newts and the fish, strolled around the grounds.
In the evening we all walked to Kerrys Gate for J&J’s party. A lovely sociable evening. We returned under an almost full moon, clear skies. No need for torches.
Sunday breakfast then to Little Birch for the GVWC Aconbury Camp and Athelstan’s Wood Figure of Eight walk.
Distance: 7 miles
Walking Time: 2h 34 mins
Elapsed Time: 3h 30 mins
Elevation Gain: 944 ft
Nice route and we managed to follow the path through the broad bean field. Over 20 there and 5 dogs made for quite a slow pace so it was 2pm before we were home for a late lunch.
Lovely drive to Pembs via Hay and Brecon, once we had Tetris-ed everything into C’s car. Gorgeous sunny evening – perfect for a glass of wine on the deck before dinner.
Monday was cool and cloudy after heavy rain overnight, and very windy, so we settled for a long stroll on the beach south to explore the rock pools. Out in St Brides Bay a kite surfer was making the most of the surf and the wind and a few folks were heading out with surf boards.
With the tide on the way out we walked north to Pen-y-Cwm Beach and back over the headland for views of Newgale Beach …. and a couple of pints at the Duke of Ed. Thatput paid to our plans to do the Southwood Estate walk in the afternoon.
In garden news – I have a pea pod!
… and a cucumber big enough to pick!
TV: Ted Lasso (finished season 3 – a bit baggy in places but still lovely).