Ok, so I havent posted for a couple of months. In between now and my last post there has been illness, Christmas and illness. Ah well, at least I am posting now and I have been out and about too. My latest walk was a cracking 17 miler on a horseshoe route around a ridge or two in the black mountains. The sun was out, the sky was a definite azure blue. I walked from sun up to sun down. I loved it.
The day began with an early wake up call from the alarm. Normally I would do an overnighter but the temperature was a balmy -6 and I was recovering from my man-flu. Got in the car in the dark and drove the 35 miles from my house to the start of the walk. I drove towards Abergavenny as the light began to filter through the murk. I always love the drive from my house to Abergavenny. Fields and hills giving way to ridges and mountains. Always gives me a lift, whatever the weather. So I drove through Abergavenny and beyond to Crickhowell, the sun now smiling down above the opposite ridgeline. It was still only 8.30am but it felt like I was losing hill time so I pushed on through country lanes to llanbedr, the actual start of the walk.
The air was crisp and cold as I climbed out of the car, a quickly judged decision saw me reaching for the Paramo Velez smock as opposed to a micro fleece and wind top. I felt that it was cold enough for my normally warm person to cope with the Paramo without overheating……. It turned out to be a good choice.
So to the start, a brutal but short climb up to Crug Hywel or Table Mountain. I love this “little mountain” and have often spent 1/2 an hour or so on it just taking in the views.
I have noticed in the past that many people often circumvent Table Mountain up to the ridgeline directly instead. I dont understand this as I feel it is a special little place. Today was no exception and I found myself watching 4 walkers skirt around my vantage point and straight up to the ridge. Ah well each to their own. Pushing on I walked up the rising slope of Pen Cerrig Calch and onto the plateau. Pen Cerrig Calch is a little oddity for me as the top is like a moonscape with limestone rock strewn all around.
Before long I had picked my way through the rock garden and stood gazing on along the ridgeline leading to the next “summit” , Pen Allt Mawr. Taking stock, this was where I had done a bivvy night back in the summer and a lovely spot it is too. A lee off the side of the downslope of Pen Cerrig Calch gives a small amount of shelter and the view to the front is Pen Allt Mawr with ridgelines to the left and right.
I decide against a stop as I know I have 17miles to do in 7 hours and would rather have a good lunch break on the return ridgeline. Walking on, I start to see the end of the Black Mountain escarpment and the plains of Powys and Herefordshire stretching out into the distance. I can also see the ridge I am following bending around in the horseshoe curve that signifies halfway. As I reach the end of Pen Allt Mawr, I pause at the trig point for a breather and a photo opportunity.
I then glance back to be rewarded with a stonking view of the ridge I have just walked and sugar loaf in the distance. The hoar frost is deep and heavy and the sun smiles at me in his blue heaven. Bliss
The descent is steep and occasionally dicey as I find small patches of ice on half buried flat stones. A passing kite gives me a 5.9 for artistic ability as I spin a couple of times on the downward slope. Catching my breath and grinning to myself as I manage to retain dignity and vertical positioning I walk on. The next point I pause at is Pen Twyn Glas. On the little rise there, a couple of boundary markers declaring the counties of Monmouthshire and Powys (my favourite 2 counties of course). They are often mistaken for gravetones for obvious reasons………
Another glance back from this point picks out the distinctive shape of Pen Allt Mawr
I start the home straight even though it is still 7 miles to go. I allow my mind to freewheel as I walk, my feet eating up the miles. I am already thinking of the photos have taken and the satisfaction of getting out on the hills on what has turned out to be a perfect day. I am glad of the paramo choice now as the temperature is -4 but with the windchill its approaching -10. The Velez shrugs off the cold and the wind with ease and more importantly I dont overheat. Good choice. The next stopping point is Crug Mawr, a lovely vantage point with a trig point on the top. I take a few pictures and even manage a few of myself as a reminder that I did do the walk. The sun is starting to go down but the view is fabulous, even if my ugly mug is in it.
After Crug Mawr the last few miles are ahead of me, all downhill….blimey and sooooo downhill…. The sun is beginning to sink behind the ridgeline in the distance and I continue downwards. Passing through fields and light woods I finally bottom out in the valley, cross the river and make my way back to the car. I reach the car just as the sun finally disappears and the gloom of evening begins in earnest. I am tired but I am happy. I have a small drive to get home but I have the evening to look forward to downloading my pictures. Its been cold out but I have been warm. I have had a great day. A day full of sharp sun, the black mountains and a deep blue sky