This year I thought I would combine a bike pack with a visit to a cousin whom I haven’t seen for a long time.
I drove to Melksham where I left my car at a friend’s house and then cycled south to join the Kennet and Avon Canal and National Cycle Network 4 which I would follow to Aldermaston.
Day 3 – reverse of Day 2
Day 4 – reverse of Day 1
The trip would be over 4 days there and back, camping for two nights and staying at my cousin’s for one night.
I intended to go sometime in June or early July. Eventually my diary and weather conditions gave me a window from 4/7/2017 to 7/7/2017. If I was being picky the weather was really too hot for the ride but at least better than a wet windy one. The total distance was about 110 miles.
My camping spot for the first and third day were spent at the Bruce Arms situated on the B3087 between Easton Royal and Littleworth. I can recommend this site but worth telephoning to ensure it is not fully booked, a probability during holiday periods. Clearly the pub is a bonus but food is not served during the week.
I found the Cycle Travel web site a useful resource and together with the OS Landranger maps 173, 174 and 175 route finding was not difficult. It is also well signposted as NCN 4.
The route is both on the canal tow path and quiet lanes through pretty villages with more thatched cottages than I had seen in such a short time. There were some hills but all manageable and short lived.
Pictures of my trip follow.
Vale of Pewsey
A skillful job.
My beast of burden.
Bruce Arms campsite
Compare and contrast!
Beware low hanging branches!
As the “Navigator” had a hospital appointment in Carmarthen to check he was still alive, today’s walk would be fairly local.
We parked in the Bronwydd village hall car park and headed downstream alongside the Afon Gwili and passing the station of the Gwili Railway.
From here we crossed the main road and walked uphill into the countryside and turning north towards Newchurch along a very overgrown bridleway.
Dr Livingstone I presume?
Follow me, this is definitely the way.
Our route turned east towards Cwmdwyfran and again alongside the Afon Gwili back to the car.
Afon Gwili a fine grade 2 canoeing river at the right levels.
Can you spot the “Navigator”?
This was the “scorchio” week and the decision was made to head for the coast where there was bound to be sea breezes but it was not to be.
We parked the car in Middle Mill a hamlet just up the road from Solva. From here we walked a lane to Whitchurch and then onto the old St Davids Airfield now a SSSI.
Our coffee break was had in a postage size piece of shadow and then via lanes and footpaths down to the coast through Trelerw.
On reaching the coast path turned east heading for Solva.
With lunchtime approaching we were desperate for some shade or at least a breeze. There was none of the former and despite being on a high cliff overlooking the earthworks of an old fort there was little of the latter.
Following our food break we continued into Solva and back along the lanes to our car in Middle Mill.
I have had this ride in my mind for some time, taking in the mountain road to Llangadog but returning prior to that village.
I parked opposite the Black Mountain Centre and started the climb along the A4069 which entailed a couple of “photo opportunities” (rest stops) until I reached the Herbert Quarry.
The long and winding and steep road ahead
From there it was a welcome down hill ride to the sharp left turning which would take me back to Brynamman via narrow lanes and views over the countryside to include distant sightings of Carreg Cennen Castle.
Carreg Cennen Castle in the distance
View from the road summit
Carreg Cennen a bit nearer
My destination not on the signpost!
I was looking forward to a coffee back at the centre and perhaps a cake but doom and gloom the cafe closed for food at 1400! To be fair I was offered a coffee if needed but it seemed churlish to reopen just for me.
With the recent rains it was a good choice to visit Waterfall Country near Neath. We parked up in Pontneddfechan sharing the car park with a mini bus full of wet suited youngsters presumably heading for some gorge walking. Judging by the screams we heard a little later the water must have been cold!
Craig y Ddinas
The first fall we visited was a there and back walk to the east of Craig y Ddinas but I forget the name of the falls and it is not named on the map – no doubt the “Navigator” will remind me. It looked likely that the falls could be ascended carefully but not today.
I’ve forgotten its name.
Back at the car park we now followed the signed path leading upwards and on to Sgwd y Eira. On the path we passed two ruined farmsteads which must have had a hard time making a living in this wild area.
Heading up hill en route to Sgwd y Eira
We heard the fall before seeing it and it was running well.
This fall has a walkway behind the downpour but must be taken with great care. Before crossing we donned full waterproofs. Probably after a dry spell this may not be necessary but today it was essential.
We all made it through safely.
Looking down on Sgwd y Eira
Gore Tex testing
There was now a steep climb out of the valley and on to our next objective Sgwd y Pannwr a steep descent! Before the obvious improvements to paths in the area clearly with safety in mind you could walk close to the waters edge leading to the waterfall system and we were hoping that it would not be necessary to march up and down the steep valleys to view each fall. Thankfully the old path still exists albeit a narrow one with steep drops down to the river. Again care is needed especially with young children in tow.
Sgwd y Pannwr
Following lunch where we watched more gorge walkers/swimmers getting immersed in their sport, Sgwd Isaf Clun Gwyn was our next venue and then onto Sgwd Clun Gwyn the last of our day.
Sgwd Isaf Clun Gwyn
Sgwd Clun Gwyn
Sgwd Clun Gwyn from opposite bank
A longer walk will take you west to the Afon Nedd Fechan where there is another series of waterfalls and will lead back to the car park at Pontneddfechan.
Our usual Monday date was postponed because of stair rod type rain and so Friday was chosen. Unfortunately the “Navigator” takes politics seriously and had stayed up late to witness May’s humiliation and his own tiredness.
The theme for the day was to be flowers and St Davids the venue. When we arrived the first thing we noticed was a new roundabout and road had been built since our last visit.
We set set off in a westerly direction first along a footpath and then lanes leading to Porthselau on the coast where people were happily sunbathing.
Following coffee we then turned north passing Whitesands Bay and onto St Davids Head for a lunch stop.
Whitesands Bay with Carn Llidi
The return journey was via the shoulder of Carn Llidi passing the Youth Hostel and along the narrow lanes barely wide enough to accommodate tractors and pedestrians at the same time!
The flower theme follows.
Yellow daisy type flowers.
Today’s walk was based on Pumpsaint better known for its connection to the Dolaucothi gold mines.
We had bee promised that most of this walk would be new to us despite having walked in the area on a number of occasions. We would see.
Immediately after parking the car we set off in a direction that I had not been before and so the “Navigator’s” pronouncement was proving correct.
In Wales it is frequently the case that farms carry the same name but distinguished by the suffix lower (isel,) middle (ganol) or higher (uchaf). Someone’s knowledge of geography had however gone awry as Penarth Uchaf was at the bottom of the hill and Penarth Isel was at the top! perhaps it was done to confuse the Romans.
This is not Penarth near Cardiff
The old fashioned milk churn stand
Although the weather was dry the clouds were low and not the best for photos of the landscape and hence none in this blogg.
Near Froodvale Farm we headed east to cross the A482 and onto the village of Caio. From here the route was north west to overlook the old gold mines and then into the grounds of the Dolaucothi Estate.
We did try to follow a signed public footpath across a field but there was no exit and we retraced our steps to head north and uphill to the spot height of 283.
Politics being discussed
Paul trying to sneak into the “Navigator’s” rucksack
Our high spot
This would have been a good viewpoint of the surrounding countryside but the misty weather thought otherwise.
Our route back to the car was through a woodland. The “Navigator” had been correct as the only part of this walk I had done before was that part within the estate.
My wife and I were dog sitting in Guilden Sutton near Chester and so I managed an away day with Andy. We decided to visit Llangollen.
We parked near the school and walked along the canal and then onto a footpath just up from the Museum and passing above the Valle Crucis Abbey.
We were heading towards Creigiau Eglwyseg, the limestone outcrop which is above the Dee Valley.
At Plas yr Eglwygiau Eglwysegseg we we joined Offas Dyke and then climbed up the first valley onto the top of the limestone escarpment.
We walked east slowly descending and then climbed the hill to Castell Dinas Bran and back to the car.
By my request i had asked not to travel to far to this Monday walk and as usual the “Navigator” came up trumps (no, not that one).
This walk was all new to me and most was along green lanes and a dinner stop in the grounds of Narberth Castle.
Some weeks ago Paul and I were walking in our local area near Carmarthen and looked across the Tywi Valley to Merlin’s Hill. This was one I had not visited but the “Navigator” was about to change this.
We parked near Carmarthen Museum and began our walk heading through Abergwili village. The footpath sign showed our proposed route but because a of large flood prevention scheme the path was clearly not available. There were no diversion signs and so we crossed a number of fields in the general direction the “Navigator” had planned.
Abergwili and Carmarthen beyond
An old stone stile
Since the last ascent by the “Navigator” a local landowner had opened a Merlins Hill Centre and the public footpath sign was somewhat overgrown as compared to the paid for visit path sign. A little further along the public path was the remains of a stile now blocked by a wire fence and a lot of baler twine.
Compare and contrast to the stile in previous picture.
We were not put off and adjusted this obstruction to carry on to the summit of Merlins Hill. there were some good views of the surrounding countryside.
Carved stones protecting a spring
Views from Merlin’s Hill
We retraced our steps down the hill and carried on towards our turning point at Llanfihangel Uwch Gwili and followed quiet lanes back to the cars.
Chapel at Llanfiangel Uwch gwili
Plain and fancy gates
An email has since been sent to Carmarthen Council concerning the path blocked by the flood defence and the uninviting obstructions on Merlin’s Hill.