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Snailbeach and Stiperstones in the wet

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Resting Hill Chimney – Snailbeach

Well – did you see it all on Countryfile? (Sunday 8th Jan – Episode 1404 – Shropshire) What a coincidence, Matt Baker leaning on the Gate at Blakemoregate Cottage and talking about the Snailbeach mine.  Go here to have an extensive read about the history of the mine area – scroll down to the bottom of the screen to see many more excellent links.

We assembled at The Oak and who should be in the car park but Charles – a great pleasure to see you again – hope to see more of you, and Maggie, this year. The weather wasn’t looking that promising but six of us set off to Snailbeach, picking up Graham on the way, arriving at about 9.40 with the weather still not making up its mind. We started up towards Lordshill through the old workings and turned off to pass the Engine Shaft building and Resting Hill chimney to break out onto open country above the village.  The views from here were extensive but the weather was slowly  coming in from the south west.  We followed the rather mucky paths up onto the tops at Blakemoregate and started on the ridge walk proper.

The mucky weather started now – thick very wetting drizzle and low cloud – so it was on with the wet gear and on to Shepherd’s Rock.  Here we turned downhill heading to my first intention, the track from The Hollies through to Stiperstones Car park.  But on the recce I found that this was not a good idea –  timber work around the Gatten Plantation had turned parts of the track to slurry – so the path that runs parallel to this and the Stiperstones Ridge was the best alternative.  This was a bit slack in parts, but very much better than the lower path.

We paused for coffee etc at Cranberry Rock and decided to take the ridge path as the return route rather than an alternative that involved a loss of a lot of height (via Black Ditch and the Reservoir Road by Perkins Beach back up to the ridge). We negotiated the rocky ridge and joined the open paths back to Blakemoregate and from here set a route across the Hollies (read about the ancient holly trees here) and past Lordshill Chapel back to Snailbeach.  Have a look for some of the lichens that were showing very red amongst the rocks and heather – Cladonia. The strange circular structure that we saw in the field above Lordshill Chapel is a ‘shaft cap’ – it has a grill on top to let the bats in and out – the one we saw was ‘Paint Shaft’, there are two others in the area: Sheep Shaft and Chapel Shaft. Bird life was not thick on the ground but we did put up a pair of grouse and heard a few others, but the best was on our return to Snailbeach – a peregrine being mobbed by corvids etc over the mine workings. (Len has just informed me that it was not a peregrine but a Goshawk – even better!)

A very good walk for a dry sunny day when you could spend and hour or two poking around the mines.  Pictures here. Thanks to all who came and all who drove.minibootprint

Other links to Snailbeach Mine information:

Large number of good photos and knowledgeable description here:

A pdf of probably the definitive account of the mines here. (171 pages of excellent stuff)

 

Turned out nice again …

The fairy Door on the top of Gaer Fawr

The fairy Door on the top of Gaer Fawr

Christmas detox – don’t they come round quickly – only seemed five minutes since we were here last year. Ice and fog greeted us this morning, rather than floods and mud as of last year, as seven of us set out from The Oak across the Guilsfield Brook by the Scout Hut and then to Sarn Meadow and up Gwreiddyn Lane towards Gaer Fawr.  Very gloomy and icy in the lane but when we got through the bottom gate the going was fine – all frozen.  This is the steep start to the walk and some of us were feeling the effects of the turkey, pud and booze of the last few days – we couldn’t say we were stopping to admire the view as there wasn’t any: but we crested to ridge and made it over to the pig. A bouquet was draped across the back of the pig and a few daffodils tastefully placed by the Fairy Door – now complete with F. Christmas and a tiny assistant. Down through the ring ditches and out onto Gwreiddyn Lane again, lots of frozen bits in the lane led us up past Pump House to the left turn heading west. The fog was  lifting now with the sun showing weakly through the gloom. A field on the right appeared through the rising mist to show a wonderful flock of  Zwartble sheep – very tall, elegant and almost black: very nice to see.

We turned off the tarmac at The Lane and joined the wide farm tracks across to Trawscoed-hen Farm.  The frost and fog were easing now and the grassy track down to the woods was very wet underfoot but it was all downhill from now to the village with glimpses of sunshine. Back along the Arddleen Road to the warm welcome of Jean at Sŵn y Nant who was ready with the mulled wine, punch and many other delicious goodies.

So ended another year of The Guilsfield Hill Walkers – next year is on the stocks and ready to go – visit the 2017 programme, link on the left of the screen, this will be regularly updated as details come in – please log in to see what is happening or changing.  Pics in the gallery. Very many thanks to all our leaders, drivers and walkers: see you and many others in the New Year. minibootprint

 

 

Marrington Dingle

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In Priest Weston – photo by Annie

A damp December day – no rain, but wet leaves, brown rushing streams, skeletal trees and a fleeting low weak sun occasionally easing through the gloom was the order of the day.

Annie led us East out of Chirbury and down into Marrington Dingle then South following the Camlad for a while. Annie was temping us with a ‘…bit of a climb out of the Dingle.‘  When it came it was like the side of a house – and covered in wet leaves. But we all made it, some in better fettle than others, to the top and out into the open fields. We crossed the fields and climbed many very slippery/wobbly stiles and bridges and hove to in the middle of Priest Weston for early elevenses.  Christmas sweeties did the rounds and we set off again heading North West-ish towards a feature called The Ridge.  This involved more wet n wobbly woodwork plus three, or was it four, electric fences in succession – and some cows, but we made it to The Ridge and was very pleased with view that opened out before us.  We plummeted down into the Dingle again and crossed the Camlad at Whittery Bridge.  It was then the final dose of wet n wobbly before we hit the tarmac that led us back to the cars in Chirbury. Just the sort of walk we wanted at this time of the year: not too long, not too far away, not too taxing (except for the side of the house bit!)  Thanks Annie for leading and all who came and all who drove.

Back to The Oak for a bit of a very much delayed (my fault) 2017 progamme planning session.  Got all the date filled and will be putting out a provisional programme shortly.

Don’t forget the Christmas Detox.  28th December, 9.30 from The Oak – Gaer Fawr and round the fields etc and back to Swn y Nant for mince pies and mulled wine stuff.  If you don’t want to walk just turn up at Swn y Nant a bit later and help Jean in the kitchen.  minibootprint

 

A game of three halves

Summit of Moel Morfydd

Team photo at the summit of Moel Morfydd. With a skilled bit of Photoshopping: so good you can’t see the join.

Ice, snow and low cloud on Llantysilio Mountain – warming sunshine down in the valley – chilly winds back at The Ponderosa, then  three different terrains – very steep and slippery mountains, good field footpaths and a long lane to finish – what more could you want in the way of a day out?  This wonderful variety was provided by Brian who led us on Sunday – a day that earlier in the week I thought would bring tempest, deluge and thigh-high snow.

We rolled up at a very cold and gloomy Pondarosa Cafe at the top of the Horseshoe Pass  at about 9.00 and wonder of all – not a motorbike to be seen in the car park.  Getting our kit on was not delightful as it was blowing and sleeting with not much visibility, but we are made of stern stuff and we were soon stepping out up to the first of many summits on the Llantysilio Mountain Ridge.  Moel y Faen, Moel y Gamelin, Moel Caer, then an unnamed top and finally Moel Morfydd are the five tops that make up this wonderful ridge, each with a steep ascent and a steeper descent – much to the annoyance of Len’s knees.  Along this switchback ridge we saw much evidence of Grouse activity: plenty of footprints in the snow and also of obvious ‘fights.’ At the summit of Moel Morfydd was a large saucer-shaped depression that was a maelstrom of footprints, wing prints and all sorts of other distubances in the snow to show that the grouse had been having a real go at each other earlier in the day.

Coming down from Moel Morfydd we could see the weather breaking way to the north with sunshine gleaming on the pristine snow-covered Snowdonia peaks. We followed the good bridle path heading North-east  for a while until we came to a bit where the path just stopped at a deep gorge.  We explored up stream, the way the path was shown on the map, and got attacked by trees and bushes with no hope of getting across the barbed-wire entangled stream, so we retreated and did a bit of following-your-nose until we got back on track at the curiosly named Plas Norway. From here on it was the gentle contouring lane through the old slate workings and out onto the open hillside at the Ponderosa, now full of cars and a few motorbikes.

A good day out thanks to Brian and thanks to all who came and all who drove. Pics in the gallery.minibootprint

Gorge-ous day out

By Alex Liivet, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5614794This was the swap walk between Brian and Graham with Graham leading the Derek’s “Weatherman Walking” route in the Afon Rheidol gorges around Devil’s Bridge. For a detailed description of the route, with picures and background information follow this link to Derek’s page.

Five of us had a cosy drive over the hills and far away to park in the Waterfalls car park for a 9.15 start into a bright day with a chilly east wind. The walking is on mainly good tracks and paths all the way and the first section takes you down across the Vale of Rheidol Railway  and through the most remarkably tall conifers to the banks of the Rheidol. If you want scenery and views this is the walk for you, but take a spare memory card for the camera as everywhere you look is a picture postcard view. We headed North East down the gorge to cross the river by a narrow footbridge to the north bank and into the land of old lead mines. There is a remediation project on-going to prevent the tomato soup coloured mine drainage getting into the river and poisoning things, but nature is taking back much of the spoil with birch, heather and conifers beginning to get established.

The next section takes you through good woodlands and upland grass to a high point at Pant Cerrig and then up the gorge of Afon Tuen to the farm at Penrhiew. It was on this section, and following, that we saw probably in excess of 1000 Redwing flying overhead – not making a sound: also a few Fieldfare showed up to complete the picture. Other sightings – plenty of Red Kite and Buzzard, one Kestral and lots of small birds calling in the woodland. It was then across the tops and down to a very impressive Parsons Bridge – very narrow and very high!  This takes you up to the little church at Ysbyty Cynfyn – read the sad story of this church on Derek’s page.

The final section back to Pontarfynach is lanes and fields but then another gorge and river crossing – this time the Mynach – and then out onto the road and final fields back to the car.

This walk could be very busy in high season but probably looks it best on a sunny late Autumn day as the ‘Golden October’ colours are out in full force.  Thanks to all who came and Graham who drove.  minibootprint

 

 

Another beautiful day on the Long Mynd

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Nature surving on Adstone Hill – Rowan

Finding new routes on the Long Mynd is not always easy – but on Sunday we did manage some new bits. The day dawned chilly and bright, I even had to scrape the windscreen before leaving home, just hard frozen dew, not frost. The mist was trailing about as we left The Oak and headed out to Bridges for our starting point.  We went via Montgomery, as the Chirbury/Church Stoke road was shut, the castle looked magnificent with its ghostly ‘fingers’ towering out of the mist. More wonderful atmospheric views on the way over to Bridges, arriving to find out from Graham the road is now only shut at night.

Our route was a sort of clockwise circle.  Up past the Youth Hostel and over the stile by the Darnford Brook, then not far into the trees took the bridge up into Ratlinghope.  It was then a bit of a drag up the road towards Belmore Ring and diving off to the left at the cattle grid and on up to the Long Mynd ridge by the Shooting Box. Here a group of ‘D of Eers’ were cooking, I think soup, in a very chilly breeze and wondering why nothing would boil: but hey ho, they were having fun. The views from up here were endless, a perfect cool blue sky, just bits of lingering mist in the valleys.

The first weekend of October is always Long Mynd Hike weekend and there was much evidence of check points being cleared at Pole Cottage.  As the going was good we worked out a bit of an extension to the route – going right along the ridge to the Gliding Station. We watched them doing launches and landings while we had our elevenses, they were not doing a lot of gliding about.

The route now turns sharp north westish down towards Stanbatch on Prolley Moor above Wentnor.  The view down into the valley was one of bucolic beauty: patchwork fields, sheep and cattle grazing, wisps of smoke gentling up into the bright cool air, hills into the misty distance – does the soul a power of good.  From Stanbatch we picked up the Shropshire Way and followed this across fields and lanes to Adstone and started up the long whale-back that heads north back to Bridges. We took a long lazy lunch lolling against the fence on the sunny bank.

From the lunch stop it is easy walking along the ridge top and down into Bridges where outside the pub stood gently wheezing was John Sankey’s beautiful traction engine: a grand end to grand day.  Thanks to all who came and all who drove.  minibootprint

A nice walk

img_3411After all the frustrations of the recce the new cobbled together route turned out to be very pleasant indeed, and the weather turned out to be “Goldilocks” – not too hot and not too cold, just right. Four of us left The Oak at 8.00 and we were walking just after 9.00.

The start from Llandrillo is great – free car park and very tidy loos – and just a walk across the road and you’re onto the footpaths. The route heads south from the village gently up through the woods of Cefn Pen-llety then east-ish until you break out onto the open hillside of the western slopes of the Berwyns. The track now turns north up the fence line and then east to near the low summit of Trum y Wern and the gate in the fence – (548m). This is not high but the views are very good, across the valley all the way into Snowdonia and everything in-between. A bit of downhill now, north west to that well known place – Sheepfold – on the Taith Tegid – the Tegid Way, for elevenses. The Tegid way runs 18 miles from Cynwyd, near Corwen, to Bala. To the east of the path on the way down is a Cairn Circle:  we should have gone and had a look at it because it’s quite impressive.

The route follows the Tegid Way generally east-ish on good tracks up to Pont Rhyd-yr-hŷdd. From here the route turns back on itself across a good grassy path down to a very suitable lunch stop at the first fence – complete with gurgling stream, comfy rocks and shady bits if required. The next few miles follow the north bank of the Afon Llynor on good forestry tracks with open woodlands and hundreds of pheasants. The last mile or so back into Llandrillo is on farmland footpaths and stiles of some awkwardness, but it resolves itself into a steep lane back down into the village. About 8 miles of loveliness. Thanks to all who came and all who drove. minibootprint

Brecon Beacons – Cwm Oergwm Circuit

Image2A 7:30 start from The Oak for our drive to Llanfrynach, a picturesque village straddling the Nant Menasgin, a fast flowing tributary of the Usk, just south of Brecon town.  Leaving the village we walk upstream for about an hour along a bridle path that threads through mature trees and pastures: a delightful start to any walk.  This leads to the open hillside at the foot of Fan y Bîg.  Now for the real hillwalking: a long, and at times steep, pull up the ridge of Cefn Cyff.  The effort is well rewarded with close up views of Cribyn, the valley of Cwm Oergwm and looking back towards Brecon.  Plenty of photo stops and a coffee break provided welcome relief on our ascent.  Now at the summit of Fan y Bîg we followed in the footsteps of thousands by having a photo call on the cantilevered stone that juts out like a bird’s beak over a sheer drop, (the translation for Fan y Bîg is ‘peak of the bill’).  This setting was the front cover on the O.S. map of the Beacons for many years.

Lunch on the summit was accompanied by 2 Peregrine Falcons soaring overhead before stooping spectacularly, they obviously had a nest nearby as young birds could be heard calling for food.  Now for an easy afternoons walking, starting with a traverse overlooking the valley of Cwm Oergwm via Craig Cwmoergwm with a gradual gain in height to our second summit Bwlch y Ddwyallt.  Views to the South included Neuadd Reservoirs and the headwaters of the Taf Fechan.  At this point we turned North, heading towards Llanfrynach.  An easy downhill walk along the Bwlch y Ddwyallt ridge and Ffordd Las track, with views to Llyn Syfaden/Llangorse Lake took us to within a mile of our starting point.  All that remained was a stroll along a country lane into the village.  There was just time for a quick examination of the stock in Llanfrynach’s library, open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year (see photo), before arriving back for a welcome cup of tea and pieces of cake at Bev Lewis’s house.

With conditions dry overhead and dry underfoot and good visibility we had enjoyed a superb day out. Thanks to all who came and drove, Bev and Abi Lewis for the hospitality and Doreen Lewis for the cakes. (Report by Len)  minibootprint

Wild and wet Arans

Img_3121The weather forecast was not very favourable: a breezy wet start, then a bit of a gap, followed by a wet afternoon – so the mac was put near the top of the rucksac.  Brian was leading and he had said that his recce was rather damp underfoot and he was right, I think sturdy wellies might have better suited. The route is well known but little visited, particularly in poor conditions, we only saw two other people all day.

The route starts at the top of Cwm Cywarch at the honesty car park (with portaloo) at Blaencywarch, and heads North West up the very steep and rocky cleft to the ridge between Glasgwm and Aran Fawddwy.  This little valley is a wild flower paradise with so many varieties, enough to keep anybody happy. (A few pictures in the gallery) From the top the route turns North East and follows one of the many fences on the ridge. It was here that the duckboards started and Brian’s ‘wet underfoot’ warnings kicked in.  It was a bit of a sloppy trudge up to the summit, but in good conditions the views from the top are stupendous – you can see practically anything in Wales from here – but not today. (Aran Fawddwy 905 m / 2969 ft ) The scramble from the fence up to the summit pile was accompanied by the most ferocious wind, nearly having us off our feet.  Needless to say we didn’t linger long, just long enough to snatch a couple of pics and then quickly back down to the comparative shelter of the rocks below.  All this was achieved in sporadic drizzle, but luckily none of the torrents we were expecting.

From  the summit the route heads south east and then east at the memorial stone with views down to Craiglyn Dyfi (source of the Dyfi) and Llyn Tegid (Bala) away to the north.  The grand sweep of Hengwm below soon opened out, with our route out clearly showing as a dark green line down the slope to the South West and back to Blaencywarch. Brian teased us with ‘a sting in the tail’ – this turned out to be what was once a rocky lane, but was now a steep rocky stream of wondrous slipperiness.

Safely back at the cars we had had a good day – not as wet as we had expected but wetter underfoot then we liked.  Thanks to Brian for leading and to all who came and all who drove.  Pics in the gallery. minibootprint

Bird list

  • Few Skylark
  • Innumerable Meadow Pipits
  • One Red Kite
  • One Wheatear
  • Few corvids

 

Phew – wot a scorcha!!

Img_3065Where was the hottest place in the UK on Sunday?  Porthmadog just down the road from Snowdon – 28° (give or take a tiny bit).

Sunday was a bad “senior moment” day for me.  First I turned the wrong way in Beddgelert and ended up nearly in Porthmadog, then found I had left my sunhat behind and to cap it all when we got back to the car in the afternoon I had a parking ticket.  But that was because I HAD bought a ticket on arrival and put it in my pocket while I went to the loo. The ticket stayed in my pocket all day and not on the car dashboard where it should have been.  I put it all down to the heat.

Five of us set out a bit late from Rhyd Ddu and enjoyed the gentle early mile of the path.  Very few people on our side of the hill, but as we were to find out at the top, hoards toiling up all the other paths. We stopped at all the walls to try and get some shade and take on more liquid and ‘paused to admire the view’ quite often. The views were typical for a hot day – lots of haze – could only just see Anglesey.

Arrived at the top at 12.30 and the place was heaving: lots of big groups on sponsored ascents etc, so we ate our lunch a little way back from the summit accompanied by the friends of Alfred Hitchcock. The clouds to the north of us looked very dark and threatening and mist boiled up from Cwm Clogwyn to the west making it cool enough to need fleeces. We left the hoards at 1.00 and got onto Allt Maenderyn (the South Ridge) and had it virtually to ourselves. A steep descent with one or two scrambly bits brought us down into the quarry where it was hot and airless. One or two birds about but really all very quiet – that still, hot, lazy time of the afternoon when sitting in the shade with a cool drink at your elbow was what was called for.

We arrived back at Rhyd Ddu just in time to see the Welsh Highland Railway train in the station and watched it pull out heading north.  Back to the very hot cars and a slow drive home at 45 mph – we met all the folk on their way back from the coast.

A good day and I still say that this is the best route up and down Snowdon.  Thanks to all who came and all who drove: pics in the gallery. minibootprint