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Sunday, 17 March 2013

Mixed Results from South Wales backpack


abergavenny from blorenge
The idea behind this little jaunt to Abergavenny was to have a reasonably gentle early start to the backpacking season, partly for Dawn’s post-surgeried feet which would need some coaxing into full performance and for the sake of both her post-winter fitness and mine (in my case, more fatness than fitness, it has to be said). The idea was not to go mad on the hills, but to have short and enjoyable days with little pressure to make progress -  a bit in the style of Mr Sloman’s annual daunder in many ways.
Another objective was for the bagging of a loose Hewitt/Nuttall which had escaped from previous Hewitt/Nuttall hunts by some devious strategy of being a bit away from the rest of the Brecon beacons 2000 foot tops up a scary road inhabited by strange beasts and dark and  evil lurking things…  either that or I just ran out of time the last occasion I was down this end of the country.
summit of blorenge
And so, me a dawn duly turned up at Abergavenny train station and we batterred our way by the superstore and the underpass and up a big hill to a canal then even further up the big hill to Middle Ninfa, a bijoux bunkhouse with a proper gas fire and a kettle and with a purchase up the first couple of hundred feet of Blorenge, the only hill in Wales named after a vitamin tablet.
I had a restful night due to the fact that I’d cleverly packed a small nip or two of malt into a hip flask for the purpose. Dawn didn’t. She’s been suffering since Whernside, all those blog posts ago and her lack of appetite and tendency to dehydrate meant a difficult lurch up the hill in the morning turned into an abandonment. And so we parted (temporarily, we hope) – Dawn back towards the comforts of Middle Ninfa and a train to That London, and me to the airy delights of Blorenge (the only hill  etc etc….) A shame,really, but not to be helped, at least not to be helped by me since I was helpless to do anything about it, or make any sensible suggestions other than to agree that it would be best if she went home. Dawn talks about it heredawn's pages
And so, I blundered on, Dawnless.
its a tip!
The path up Blorenge (the only hill etc etc…) was a delight, even if the evil , perishing wind blowing from That England wasn’t. In fact, it was uncomfortable even if the views weren’t. I passed over the summit and joined a road heading West for a while – passing into an area of “tips”, which contained, at some highest point, Pen-Rhiw Ifor, though how the highest point in the piles of stuff can be identified is a mystery. I think I found it, though. The place is a tip (!) It seems to consist of a lot of shale, some lumps of ironstone and a lot of little bits of coal. if this was in Co Durham, somebody would be up there with a sack, gathering it all up. As it is, the hill’s main function seems to be a playground for off-road bikes and, frankly, as there’s nothing to spoil up here, it seems an ideal spot.
There’s no water, though, at least none that wasn’t frozen,  so no place to camp and I plodded Westwards, descending to join a cyclepath which traverses the side of a deep gorge which might have been beautiful once and on into the little town of Brynmawr where I proceeded to get a bit lost. This area is just like West Yorkshire and if you transposed pictures of Brynmawr and it’s environs with pictures of the outskirts of Bradford or Halifax, you’d be hard put to mark a difference. They even have obscure lanes on the hilltops where you can find burned out cars and everything. Brynmawr itself seems pleasant and appears to have kept important stuff such as small pubs and independent shops and, neat and well- kept cemetaries….
dead centre of byrnmawr
I found the cemetery. This was the key to my potential camping spot. I blundered on, passing the burned out cars and crossing the road to the upper reaches of the  River Clydach, just by the reservoir wall – a small and green and hidden patch occupied by a friendly black pony who came to watch me put up the akto but lost interest after a while.
camping spot with pylon
It went dark by half six and a long, cold and frosty night followed, entertained only by the distant clanking of a sheet of corrugated iron which was about to become detached from it’s bit of fencing post. It was very windy.  The river provided good, clean water which tasted a bit of iron, but which was otherwise OK. This would have been no place for Dawn, though. The night was too cold for a troublesome and delicate constitution and the curious attentions of a friendly black pony in the middle of the night’s necessaries might not have been so much fun – and , perhaps the water might have been of a poorer quality than might be required for a delicate constitution, so Dawn’s tough decision to bail out was definitely the right one..
I’d done about eleven miles.
End of Part One. More soon…….

7 comments:

chrissiedixie said...

Cemetaries in Scotland are always a good place to find a tap and thereby top up with water in the van.

I've already been over and commiserated with Dawn - she's not having much luck lately is she?

Never been to South Wales - we should rectify that I think.

Mike Knipe said...

I was waiting for the "I've been up there..." comment from Chrissie. I did, briefly, consider camping at the back of the cemetary, bearing in mind the availability of water and the peaceful company... ( I did once camp in Angus crem grounds. very quiet. Lots of rabbits...)

Alan R said...

A bit “Dawnting” going alone Mike but your a dauntless type. You could have got run over wiv a nikt vehicule. I hate horses in the hills. Nosey beggers.
Sorry about Dawn, miserable time of late after all the effort of getting to Abergavenny. I remember spending a wet afternoon in Abergavenny. I think the pubs now an indian restaurant.

A good point there Chrissie, re cemeteries and water.

Dawn said...

For me it was very frustrating.As you say Mike, it would have most likely meant a highly difficult night for me. As it was I was I was wondering how you where coping with the cold.

Louise said...

More importantly, how's the new tent? Looks bit like the old one...

Shame for Dawn, so many set backs can be very demoralising.

Alan Sloman said...

Is that your wonderful new Akto I spy?

It is a lovely deep green.

It's still a bit too perishing out there at the moment for southern softies, but I will be out for a leg stretch in a week or so's time with my mate Wanda. She's a fine lass, but she is getting a bit long in the tooth these days, but don't tell her I said that.

She can get a bit shirty and I don't want any trouble with her.

Mike Knipe said...

I stayed at The Swan on the final night, Alan. Got rat-arsed and ate chicken and chips. Very friendly in there, though.
Dawn - the second night was even colder (see the next blog post coming up shortly) Brrrrr.. You'd have frozen to the ground!
Louise/Alan - Yessss new akto. A slightly deeper green /less sun bleached maybe. Its got a few new features, none of which I'm going to detail. Cosy, though....