National Botanic Garden of Wales

If only you could trust weather forecasts, life would be much easier. There was a loose plan to walk on Friday as the forecast looked reasonable. Then it changed and Wednesday was forecast as “broken cloud” and Friday as rain. A quick phone call and arrangements changed. However I had not realised that “broken cloud” was Innuit for “deluge of snow”!! Other than a walk to fetch daily papers the walking plan was abandoned.

Thursday is usually my day for volunteering in the National Botanic Garden of Wales (NBGW), but clearly with snow still laying across the countryside I cried off work but decided instead to have a local walk which would include the NBGW and take some some snowy pictures.


I walked from Llanddarog to Porthyrhyd and then onto the NBGW.

 It was indeed a snowy scene and I walked on through the gardens  and spotted some local wild life

The NBGW have always recognised Alfred Wallace on equal terms with Darwin and from recent stories on the news Wallace’s relevance with the theory of evolution is spreading.

My volunteering work includes with my colleague, John, the maintenance of the Willow Play Area.

.I then walked into the wooded area known as Pont Felin Gat.  I returned via the minor road and then onto the traffic free section of the bike route 47.

It was here I saw a rather wiggly cycle track and thought the rider may have had a slippery time.

But then I met the said cyclist coming back and we had a chat.  He regularly cycles from the village of Llanarthne to the post office in Porthyrhyd.  Whilst talking I noticed that the bike did not have the usual chain drive but a drive shaft.  I had not seen this before but the chap explained he had two such bikes and they needed little maintenance and no need for cycle clips! Such an arrangement is however very expensive.

A little further on I came across some animal prints which I assume belonged to a fox or the local yeti.

My wife met me as I neared Llanddarog and treated me to soup and a half of Felinfoel ale in the Butchers Arms where a roaring log fire soon warmed us up.  A good end to a walk – I wonder if “the navigator” could arrange similar endings to our walks.

Bluestone Round

It was in May 2012 on a stay at Bluestone where I rediscovered cycling and since then have bought my own bike. Well here we are again on a bargain break and while my wife went off for some pampering I set off on a bike ride. This was another suggestion on the Bluestone map of local rides.  It would take in the villages of Llawhaden and Robson Wathan using forestry tracks, minor roads and bridal ways.


From the site I headed into Canaston Woods onto the Knights Way which is a good forestry road down to a minor road and Blackpool Mill.  Here I took the bridal way passing the Mill. Oh joy a puncture! Unfortunately my spare tube although the right size was for a road bike and not a wider hybrid tyre.  There was nothing for it but to fix the puncture and with the help of a rain puddle the hole was found and repaired.


The bridal way leads down to the A40 and a tunnel leading to the other side of the road.

From here the route was on a minor road leading to Llawhaden village.  I had a break here and read the history of the village as shown on the information board. I continued down the no through road which is another bridal way. I dismounted for a short while as the way was steep and slippery.  Back on the bike the off road section led to a minor road and a bridge over the Eastern Cleddau. Immediately right was another bridal way which was wide and stony but also very water logged for the whole width and for almost the whole length. On the OS map a stream crosses the path and this after some thought (not wanting to turn back) I crossed pushing the bike and wading in cold water part way up my calf out onto the continuation of the bridal way. Another minor road was met which led steeply up to Robson Wathan. This village used to be on the old A40 and well known as a bottle neck and traffic jams on bank holidays etc. Today I was the only traffic and I headed back down to the new A40 and the Canaston Bridge. Once across I took the first left which led back towards Blackpool Mill and the Knights Way and home to Bluestone.



With The Navigator and his better half sunning themselves in Madeira and Paul otherwise engaged I went off for a walk by myself.
Just before Christmas I had bought the second volume of Alan Richards “Great Walks in Carmarthenshire” and decided on the Llangain walk.
If you have not heard of these books I highly recommend them whether you live locally or are just visiting. The routes are interesting and so well described a map is almost not needed. For the history buffs Alan adds some pages about the past times of the areas walked.  There were a surprising number of murders in this county.
The weather was somewhat misty not to mention my camera was playing up and hence only a few pictures. I will walk the route again and insert more photos in due course.
That part of the route which takes in Green Castle Woods I know well but the rest was all new to me despite being fairly local to this area.
There is some minor road walking but most is on green lanes and footpaths.  Those areas in the woods and across fields was somewhat squelchy not surprising bearing in mind the rain in recent weeks.
A lot of farms in Carmarthenshire and no doubt elsewhere rarely have their names displayed, but on occasions there are some  with attractive name plates.
As I walked under some power lines I could hear a conversation taking place but there did not appear to be anyone around until I looked up and two linesmen were halfway up a pylon carrying out maintenance work – rather them than me.
As i walked up the minor road from Brook towards Llangain I was suddenly joined by a boisterous brown labrador who seemed keen on walking with me. I had remembered passing a bungalow and holding on to his collar walked him back.  Thankfully it was his home.  The owner said he frequently escapes when someone is walking by!
I frequently pass by Llangain on the way to Llansteffan and had never been into the village and seen the local church, but Alan’s route takes you past this old building before eventually leading you back through Green Castle Woods and the car.

I now look forward to walking more of Alan’s routes.

Llansamlet to Ystalyfera and back (NCN43)

This ride was to celebrate Chris’ first work free Monday as he has opted for a 4 day week from 1st January 2013.

We agreed on a bike ride and I introduced him to NCN 43 and we started from Llansamlet and headed for Ystalyfera. Chris was on a retro Raleigh bike he has had from way back and which  has carried him on some long bide rides.  He recently sprayed it a stealth black and it  looks good with its posh Brooks saddle.


I rode this route in November, the details of which can be found here. Nothing has changed apart from a small new stretch which cuts a small corner.  The memorial to the mine disaster in 2011 is still very sad to read about – from the heart of a friend of one of the victims.

The weather was kind, dull but dry and it seems, at least until Chris said goodbye, his back problem behaved itself.

Here’s to more sneaky Mondays.

Llanddarog – Carmarthen – Llanddarog

Just before Christmas I joined Sustrans as a volunteer as I had been impressed with the work they have done with various bike trails, which I have taken advantage of.

One of my duties is to ride part of NCN47 from Porthyrhyd to Carmarthen and so I decided that today I would do just that and make it into a circular ride.


The route from Porthyrhyd has some traffic free sections one of which is adjacent to the National Botanic Garden of Wales.  Once leaving this the rest of the route is on roads, albeit lane work from the Gardens to the village of Llanarthne.

I stopped in the village to read the information poster and learned about a footbridge which used to cross the Afom Tywi and used by workers of quite some time ago.  I have come across that bridge previously when surveying footpaths and never did understand why it seems to lie in the middle of a field, but now I know its history.The route then joins the B4300 all the way close to Carmarthen.


There was nothing that I could see needed attention and I just enjoyed the ride.  Just before Carmarthen I turned to head up the old main road passing the police HQ and then turned left into the lane which follows the ridgeway all the way back home to Llanddarog.

The weather had turned quite damp and by the time I arrived at the outskirts of Llanddarog I had turned on my lights.

Another ride planned for Monday.

Lougher to Swansea Marina and Back

Welcome to 2013!

December 2012 is best forgot in relation to bike riding as for many reasons , none was done!

However as the man in red brought me some shiny new kit for the bike I was keen to mount the saddle.  I managed a short ride on 1/1/2013 of some 5 miles locally.  The new toys included a basic bike computer, a smalll frame bag for odds and sods, a pannier rack, heavy duty pump and a top bag.  In addition I treated myself to a pair of Deuter pannier bags from Wiggle – bargain.

Anyway today was a longer ride in the company of Paul. The weather was misty and low clouds and hence very little in the way of photos.

We parked up on the east side of Lougher Bridge (Swansea Jack side) and set off on Route 4 passing through Gowerton and onto the main bike trail. Even through Gowerton there was a wide bike lane on the pavement side.

The route follows an old railway line and is tarmac all the way down to the Mumbles road. The previous time I rode here I turned west and headed to Verdi’s but today we turned east and rode to the Swansea Marina where we sheltered by the lock keepers office and had a spot to eat.

We thought we would ride on to Verdi’s but the weather had become worse and we returned up through the bike trail and eventually back to the car.

As usual it was good to be out but hopefully the weather will be kinder next time.