Monday again. Both parties had early evening plans and it was decided to keep the walk reasonably short.
The weather when I left my home was misty/foggy and remained so almost to Newgale, when lo and behold it cleared. Our plan was to leave the car in Newgale and catch the bus (three cheers for bus passes) to Solva. On the camping ground in Newgale we saw a flock of oyster catchers performing what seemed to be a dance on the wet grass. The considered opinion was that they were trying to attract worms to come to the surface.
At Solva we climbed out of the harbour and up onto the headland known as the Gribbin. I have had many a family holiday based in Solva and it was here quite some years ago my interest in canoeing started.
It was a bit early for elevenses and so we walked on to the next headland at Penrhyn. We walked on admiring all the sea views and rock formations which abound on this coast. We deviated from the path proper to walk on the headland known as Dinas Fawr. What a lovely place, almost arete like and any slip would have resulted in the activity known as coasteering!
We had lunch between Dinas Fawr and Dinas Fach. The latter looked interesting to explore but it would have to wait for another day.
As we approached the northern end of Newgale beach we looked down into a small bay and spotted a sheep lying down on the sand. Two of her friends were looking down from a precarious ledge. It was difficult to see how the sheep had got to the beach and as it had not moved we assumed it was injured.
A friend of mine is an inspector with the RSPCA and I called him for advice. he could not help as he was on his way to rescue a dolphin! However he gave me a phone number to call at HQ. To cut a long phone call short the RSPCA do not have the facility to accept grid references but need a post code! The person I spoke to was also unable to locate Newgale or Haverfordwest and seemed uncertain as to where Pembrokeshire was! I was now low on credit. When I arrived home the RSPCA had contacted the local animal health people in the council, they had been to the scene only to find no stranded sheep but one making its way back up the rocks!
How can a national rescue service not have access to grid references – hopefully dear reader you will ensure that your next walk will include all relevant postal codes. I feel a letter coming on.
Our walk continued on the beach at Newgale with the cliffs showing the power of nature and the possible lair of the Welsh dragon.
Back at the car and the rain started how lucky were we?
Although this walk is close to home I had not walked it before and was reminded about it by Terry.
I walked the first part from Cwm Mawr (link to history) near Drefach to Pontyberem on the 19th Feb. As this is a linear walk I also walked back!
My companions were Ollie and Finn from Many Tears Rescue Centre.
The walk is easy and in good condition and mainly stays in the countryside passing a few farms. The route would be OK for bike riding but not road bikes as it is a little rough in some places.
I continued the walkon 26th Feb from Pontyberem to Pontiets and back. Again an easy walk in quiet countryside. Today I had another dog, Hurley, my friend’s son’s springer spaniel.
You can see from the above picture the path is very straight in places.
Part way along the line there was obvious signs of old industry which I assume related to mining and at one spot a lonely signal.
From Pontiets there is a Mining heritage Trail which will be the next bit to be walked.
I had a choice during my Sunday conversation with our navigator- in- chief on where I wished to go on Monday.
1/ A local walk near my home.
2/ Another Afon Clydach walk to add to my tally
3/ “An adventure” in the Neath area
I chose the latter – an adventure means that Terry has not done this before and paths may not be where the OS says they are.
We parked in Tonna next to the Tennant Canal. From here there is a complicated array of bridges, new and old.
Finding ones way through the urban area can be a problem but we found the path which leads past the Ivy Tower 776984 the ruin of a former two-storey castellated tower built (circa 1780) by the architect John Johnson for the Mackworth family of the Gnoll Estate, Neath.
We found our way into the Gnoll Country Park voted as the Best Picnic Spot in Wales in 2010 in the Warburtons National Picnic Awards, and which is surrounded by a beautiful 18th century landscaped garden which retains many of its original features, including the impressive Gnoll Cascades. We had a coffee break here although not enough to qualify as a picnic.
From here we re-entered suburban life and walked into Cimla and found an unkempt footpath leading to Crythan Brook. Another footpath then led down this brook again leading to civilization.
We came to the cemetery at 747950 and had lunch just outside Jersey Park. Near here we spotted an incline which used to contain a railway and now known as Rhodfa Clark, named after the wife of the engineer who designed Jersey Park. We met a local who told us that the old line used to be used for storing armaments in the second world war.
From here we walked into the woodland and then down into Britton Ferry and onto the towpath of the Neath Canal.
This was to be our companion all the way back to our starting point. It is a surprisingly peaceful and attractive canal, apart from its short course through the town of Neath. However once through the built up area it again becomes a pleasant walk.
Just outside the town you will come across a canal side church,St Illtytds (click the link for the history)
Close to Tonna the canal is joined by the Tennant canal. From the basin there is still a well preserved aqueduct which takes the canal over the Afon Nedd although this is closed to the public. More information about both canals can be found by clicking the link.
You may well pass by this area when travelling on the M4 or the A466 and not realize there is much to be seen but you would be wrong.
Welsh weather! Little point in wandering uphill today and our venue was going to be the Clydach Gorge and the industrial history it supported some time ago.
Plan A was to park in Llanfoist, catch a bus to Brynmawr and walk back. Unfortunately the local bus service did not understand our plan. In the absence of any up valley buses we changed to plan B. Walk up the valley and hope that there were buses back from Brynmawr.
We took the converted old railway line and eventually looked down on a frozen Mon and Breck Canal.
The canal footpath was joined and we stayed on this until Gilwern. Here we left the canal and followed a path up the Afon Clydach (my third Afon Clydach since starting this blog in January 2012).
We crossed the old Smarts Bridge and came across the old furnaces. This must have been a hive of industry way back when but all was quiet today.
Our route led us back onto the old railway bed for lunch. After food we kept on this path which led us close to the Clydach Nature Reserve and all the way into Brynmawr.
Thankfully Plan B was achieved as we caught a bus back although it did take a very roundabout route. Not much income for them today as we were the only two passengers and both claiming free travel!
Although the forecast for tomorrow, our last day, was looking good it was decided we would head home. A good week of walking in a variety of weather and venues. Must now start thinking about our October trip.
Another day forecast as worth getting up higher. The target today was the Sugar Loaf a ‘proper” looking mountain as a child may draw.
We parked at the car park near spot height 234 and then walked uphill and then took a path leading south east into the woods above the Afon Cibi.
At Sunny Hill we turned uphill heading onto the ridge of Deri. There were fine views of the Sugar loaf and surroundings.
A lovely wide grass path led us to a northern route up onto the top of Sugar Loaf. Part of the route was icy but once in the sun the grass reappeared.
We soon reached the top and took in the views.
The trig point has a plaque mentioning the local mountain rescue team and its members who have passed on.
It was too cold to have lunch on the top but a short drop down found us a sheltered spot. After the break we headed down the south east side towards High Beeches and back to the car.
Today the forecast was more promising and so we headed uphill onto Black Hill and headed towards Hay Bluff and a return down the Olchon Valley. Once again the Microspikes made an appearance.
We parked at the car park at the foot of the south end of the Black Hill and Crib Y Garth. Not much chance of awalk in hill, but straight up. Once the climb is over and you step onto the level ground the view is well worth the effort. The ridge before you is just as you would imagine a ridge with falls either side albeit not direct.
The air was very cold and the grass and the sparse trees carried interesting ice work.
We had the usual photographs at the top.
We followed the obvious path which, I imagine in a wet spring and summer would be very muddy. However today we crunched our way forward passing solid ice filled pools and snow fields.
We had a quick lunch sat on the snow and decided that we would leave the trig at Hay Bluff and head back.
In the distance we saw a large group of children presumably on a field trip all dressed in red kit. Hopefully the cold weather will not put them off to returning when they are older.
We found the junction of paths and headed towards the Olchon Valley. This was, at the start, a steep way down not helped by it being covered in thick ice.
It eventually eased and the ice less. In fact the sun came out and we stopped for a coffee and a quick doze. Refreshed and the warmest we had been all day, we continued back down the valley and back to the car.
The weather forecast was for a dull and misty day so we decided to keep low and headed for Llanthony. The forecast was correct with any clearing short lived.
We parked in the Priory car park (no charge) and headed north west up the lane on the north side of the Afon Honddu.
The tarmac ended and became a green lane before again joining a road near a rather muddy caravan/camping site.
We passed one farm which had presumably just brought all there sheep in from the hills as the yard was a sea of off white ewes. Eventually this lane again became a green lane which led us into Capel Y Ffin and its two little churches.
The main one of these we had a look into and it could be described as cosy. It had a lovely inscribed window with the words “Unto the hills I will lift mine eyes from whence cometh my help” and it did just that.
Just outside of the village we headed uphill by the farm known as Y Fferm! A lunch stop was made on the hillside with a fine view back to Darren Llwyd and the further hill, along which Offas Dyke runs.
If you look at the map at 255307 there is a path which seems to encircle a small hill. however you will find this to be a large dip which at one time may have contained a small lake, odd.
We now followed a path just inside the open access area and headed roughly south east.
In the January 2012 TGO magazine a walk near here is described where the writer had an altercation with a farmer although the exact area was not pointed out. We however met no one but did come across an advisory notice to use a path which avoids Nantygwyddel and that path was fine.
Not far from the Priory we took a sign posted footpath which seemed to be a bed of a stream and in heavy rain would not be pleasant. Back at the car we were greeted by a noisy cockerel.
The weather was clearer but still very cold and our itinerary today took us to the Llangatwg area to walk under the escarpment and then back walking above the escarpment.
The main roads were clear but the car park at 209154 was just about manageable. Just after leaving the car we came across two pigs who seemed very happy digging away in their enclosure.
There is a wide path leading north east under the cliffs clearly part of the old quarry systems and which made for easy walking with views north.
The path soon became ice covered and another opportunity to slip on the Microspikes. The edges of the cliffside were covered in ice formations as were the entrances to various holes in the cliff faces. Some of these no doubt led into the extensive cave systems which riddle this part of the world. I have to say this is one area of outdoor(?) pursuits which will remain unknown to me.
We were so taken with the path and the surroundings we went straight past the well sign posted footpath leading down off the quarry area. However we backtracked and resumed the planned route. We were now in the Ciliau Nature Reserve and Waun Ddu.
Before reaching the road we cut back up onto the hillside battling over snow and heather and then following intermittent paths heading south east passed the large cairn near the map description of Eglwys Faen.
We found a cosy little shelter for a coffee break before descending back to the car.
At a junction of paths we came across a true sink hole. Someone had somehow managed to transport a large Belgium Sink and placed it here. Possibly a container for the sheep to drink from.
Because of yesterday’s snow we again decided to walk from the cottage and the days objective was to be Ysgyryd Fawr.
We were able to walk to the base of the hill across country in the main including the nearby golf course without seeing any hardy players. As we started to climb the hill at the foot of Caer Wood we decided it was sensible to put on the Microspikes. As we were doing this a pair of walkers were coming down the path, they had found it too slippery and had turned back. They spotted our spikes and following a positive sales pitch they said they were off straightaway to buy a set each. (we receive no commission and are not connected to the company – worse luck).
Our route was the path which skirts the eastern side of the hill and then a direct assault from the north. This last bit was very steep and the spikes came in very useful even when there was no ice or snow.
The views today were much better and despite the cold we lingered at the summit and viewed the remains (not much really) of St Michael’s Chapel. By the time we had reached the top there were numerous others coming up the from the south approach.
We found a sheltered spot for lunch before winding our way down and ending up on a nice old green road near Crawfield Court Farm. We were back in time to watch Wales beat Ireland.
The plan was to park up somewhere short of our destination and have a half day walk. However as we sat and ate our lunch in the car the snow started to fall quite hard. A decision was taken to abandon the plan and head for our cottage and to possibly walk from there.
We arrived safely and unloaded the car. Terry had a look at the map and said we could walk to Ysgyryd Fach from base and so suitably dressed we set off in the snow. As we entered the woodland at the foot of the hill, we met a country ranger out with his dog. I assume he had his doubts about these two elderly folk and politely asked if were suitably equipped! He accepted our answer and on we went. The top of Ysgyryd Fach is now clear of trees but there was no view because the weather was clamping down. The route down was quite slippery and warranted some Microspikes, but we ignored this and walked down very slowly.
The only picture I have is above, taken on day 2 as I had forgotten to charge the batteries and the views were non existent in any case.