It started quite well on Abergavenny Bus station whilst studying the timetable for the bus to Crickhowell, which, incidentally and a bit worryingly, bore no relation to the information provided on the internet “plan a journey” by public transport site. Anyway, this chap gets off a bus, wanders over to me and gives me his day rover ticket which effectively pays for my journey to Crickhowell. (A bus turned up by the way)
At Crickhowell, I put the tent up and visit the Bridge End pub for an expensive but very nice steak and ale pie and some beer and return to the campsite where I’m invited to drink Guinness with a couple from Kent on a campervanning trip. So, it was a late night…
Wednesday is damp and drizzly but the local bakery does a cracking Welsh full English and, replete, I set off up the Beacons Way to find the first drizzly mizzly hill of the day. The path climbs up through some very impressive oak woodlands which would pay a much longer visit than this fleeting glimpse from under a caggy hood.
I climb wetly up to the cairn on Pen Cerrig-calch and along the hillfog bound path to pen Allt-mawr and see nothing much. But the path is easy to follow and I think there’s a big drop down to the right…
Then, as I descend a bit, the cloud suddenly lifts to reveal a green and lush Welsh border countryside below and a series of flat ridges going off into the distance. The little pen Twyn Glas is bagged and I meet what appears to be two gravestones..? – then Mynnydd Llysiau where I rest and completely redesign my route to take account of the duff forecast predicting gales and persistence in the precipitation precinct for Friday. I can finish all the hills by Thursday afternoon, in fact. And so, I walk past my planned camping spot at a sheepfold just below the ridge and plod on up to the top of Waun Fach, the highest part of the walk at about 810 metres.
A camping spot is found on some comfy bilberry on the edge overlooking a reservoir and I put up the akto and have a brew.
After a snooze, I walk off the 1500 metres South to bag Pen y Gadair Fawr and return to my obscure camping spot by retracing my track on the GPS (If the fog had returned, I could have had a problem finding the tent)
Overnight, it chucked it down and the breeze made the old akto fidget about like a toddler experiencing his first extended bout of bladder control. Luckily, no accidents of any dampish nature occurred and, after breakfast I found a path to the reservoir, crossed the dam and bagged Chwarel y Fan along a long and narrowish ridge in quite a strong gale. I make the pack wait at a cairn. It doesn’t seem too bothered.
Next, there’s a long and wide pony-populated ridge which goes for miles and miles up to the top of Rhos Dion, on the Northern edge of the Black Mountains and the walk from here to Hay Bluff over Lord Hereford’s Knob is a sheer delight. This would be a superb place for a fine set of wind turbines. Its such a shame to let all that windiness go to waste.
So, Twmpa (L. Hereford’s Eminence) came and went and, indeed, I would recommend wearing a Jwmpa on this breezy nobble- and so did Hay Bluff, which turns out not to be a top at all, but a bit of a lump attached to Black Mountain. A walk along the Offa’s dyke path/Wales/England border brings the top of Black Mountain (which is fairly green by the way) underfoot.
Job done – I just missed a couple of borderline Nuttals which, frankly weren’t worth the effort of the miles needed for the bagging. So i didn’t.
I followed Offa towards Hay on Wye and, after a fierce and wetting rain/hail shower lasting all of six minutes, I put up the akto in a discreet and sheltered spot in a litle gorsey gully underlooking* Hay Bluff.
Another breezy night.
And, in the morning, under the threatening clouds I wandered along Offa’s once again through meadows of orchids and oak woods and cow pastures into Hay on Wye where another proper breakfast was had.
I camped on Radnor’s End campsite and ate and drank and shopped in Hay till the rain came at about 3:00 o’clock – very late. And with no note as to where it had been. I retired to the tent at about eight o’clock with a bottle of red, a tin of chicken curry and egg fried rice and a banana. What luxury, wot? Its nice being in a tent in the rain with a bottle of plonk and a loud MP3 player on shuffle. Simple pleasures….
Saturday was for the bus to Hereford and the long train trip home.
The walk was just 30 miles and 5500 feet of uphill contours. The walking, I must say, was joyfully easy going. A real blast, in fact. if it wasn’t so far away from home, I’d be doing a lot of walking around here. In fact, it occurs to me that a walk from Crickhowell, or, possibly Abergavenny, to Hay would be a cracking pre-TGO two or three day romp.
*I reserve the right to invent my own words by the way. I mean, you can overlook something when you’re looking down, so………