Sunday, 21 August 2016

Berwyn circular.

Mike, with his meticulous planning, had come up with the proposal of a circular route in mid Wales that incorporated a round of tops, including Berwyn itself. It was something of a long train journey across to Wales. With me meeting up with Mike on the train at Durham and JJ (John Jocys) joining us at Chester. Eventually we arrived at Ruabon and from there proceeded onward by bus to LLangollen. Our way out of town led us upwards. At first the gradient was moderately uphill. Suddenly though it went skyward, thrusting steeply up the hillside. Gradually though things eased and soon we were walking through rolling, open moorland. A homemade water tank, complete with piped water offered a bountiful water supply. A lovely flat spot among the heather and out of sight of the track made for a splendid camp spot.

A heavy dew overnight and calm conditions made for soaking tents come morning. However a brilliant sunrise soon saw the tents becoming much drier.. The weather looked promising, dry and warm. Unanimously we set off in shorts and tee shirts. Steady walking saw us crossing over Vivod Mountain and onward to Moel Fferna.
. The ground around Moel Fferna was deeply rutted were a tractor had ploughed through the heather
A narrow path that led through dense heather led us over Carrig Coediog. With Mike's careful map reading we continued on toward Careg-Y Caws.



What followed was a long, slow, hot and sweaty plod up to Cadair Bronwen. The reward was a glorious view of the surrounding countryside. A wonderful airy ridge along Bwlch Maen Gwynedd, led  us up to the trig point of Cadair Berwyn. We pressed on to Moel Sych. A certain happening here is perhaps best glossed over. It was though a rather hilarious event!.
. Mike had suggested a direct descent off Moel Sych down to Llyn Lluncaws. taking him at his word, I began to thread my way down through craggy rock outcrops and very steep ground. Unfortunately JJ was less than amused, he is not keen on very steep ground. My apologies JJ.



A bit of casting around and a suitable camp spot was found. The stiff breeze we had experienced higher up had now vanished. This in turn brought out the midges. Thin wisps of smoke could be seen rising from the tent porches as incense sticks were lit in an attempt to ward off the wee beasties.  After a starlit night with a full moon, the morning dawned with a thin mist drifting lazily over the hill.

Mike went for an early morning paddle. However he found the water very shallow and the bottom covered in a mixture of slippery stones and mud. My hope for a swim were cancelled.

Our route for the day saw us ascending a short, sharp uphill bit on to a broad, grassy ridge by Moel yr Ewig and then a gradual climb up and over Godor. As we left our camping spot we spotted a pair of red kites quartering the opposite ridge.There was no public right of way off Godor. Thus as we made our way down through rough pasture, there was a little trepidation as we approached a farmer mending fences. JJ put his public relations skills to the fore and the farmer proved friendly. A steady descent down to to Tyn y Ffridd and then a section of road plodding over Llanarmon Dyffryn Ceiriog. This was a hard bit of walking, steep climbs uphill and with the shimmering heat reflecting off the road surface. Our reward was to find a friendly pub in the village where much needed liquid refreshments were partaken off.

From the village we joined the Upper Ceiriog Way. The climb out of the village was brutal. The heat rapidly sapped any remaining energy we had. Higher up the track we came across literally hundreds of young pheasants. Lucky went into hyper overdrive. If he had had his way pheasant would have been on the menu for tea.Cross words were exchanged between Mike and Lucky, I think the outcome was a draw? In the meantime I tried to push on ahead, hoping to clear the track of these crazy critters. Just short of the road we called a halt for the day, managing to get the tents in a grassy spot among the gorse bushes that lined the track.  A great number of small spiders quickly made the tents welcome, also a few ants.
The following morning we were up and away early. A descent down to the road, a short uphill bit of road walking took us over by Tan y Foel. Here we turned off and then a steady walk up through open moorland that was slowing fading in to it's autumn colours. This led us up to were we had camped on the Monday evening. It was then a case of retracing our footsteps back down Llangollen. The hot weather had brought folk out by the score. The town was heaving with people. We made our way to the railway station, a preservation line run by volunteers. There was a bustling cafe here and we indulged in egg /sausages and chips. Large quantities of tea were also quaffed. For entertainment as we sat at a table on the platform, was a steam engine doing steam engine things, puffing and huffing, letting off steam and tooting its whistle.
A delightful few days on uncrowded, indeed mainly deserted, hills. All in excellent company too. Amazingly we returned deeply sunburned!









Tuesday, 2 August 2016

College Valley round

The Northumberland hills are lovely places to walk. There were a few tops Mike and LTD wanted to visit. Thus it was, with the car parked at Hethpool, we headed upwards towards White Hill. The cultivations terraces marked on the map, clearly visible.
. Gradually we worked our way past the outline of an ancient homestead and then up through what had been forestry, now with grass high enough to hide elephants!  A stop for lunch close to an unnamed top which Mike and Lucky bagged. When the Sun came out it was warm but the strong breeze was chilly.
 A path led us around to Ring Chesters, an iron age fort, although some of the surrounding cultivation terraces are reported to be much older.
Mike had his eye on Coldsmouth Hill whereas I skirted around it's flank, meeting him on the other side. Some lovely walking led us over to Madam Law.
Once more there were wide vistas and grand views.
A  steady descent and a short sharpish ascent brought us to Ell's Knowe and our last top of the day. A total of six wee tops for Mike and Lucky and four for me.

. Descending to Elsdonburn it was then a short walk down the valley and back to the car.
However, our day was not yet done. We had a cunning plan. Instead of making our way homewards, we headed instead over to Ross Back Sands for another beach bivi and a spot of dallying in the briny!
It was with laden packs that we made our way the mile or so to the beach. There is a sign stating no camping. Thus we had no tent, only our beach shelter?
Mike soon had a fire burning, (in a fire pit) The wind was quite strong and in turn the fire got a tad hot. Unfortunately this did not bode well for our sausages and baked spuds?
Mike slept soundly, Lucky had doggy dreams, unfortunately I did not sleep as well. Mind, being awake in the wee small hours can have its own reward.




Possibly I went a little snap happy but it was a lovely sunrise.
A morning spent drinking tea, having a picnic breakfast and frollicking in the ever so calm ocean.

A pleasant time had by all. As yet I am unsure what sort of miles we covered, although I feel we did a decent walk. Mike, I am sure, will soon enlighten me?

Saturday, 23 July 2016

Beach bivi.

This was something Mike and I had chatted about a few times. An overnight bivi on the beach seemed an interesting idea. Originally our goal had been Ross Back Sands. However with birds nesting on the beach area and  notices concerning that plus patrolling wardens, we opted for Druridge bay.

Heading up the beach to find a suitable spot in the dunes, my pack felt ridiculously heavy. Mind, I was carrying a large tarp an equally large groundsheet. Also six heavy duty eighteen inch wooden stakes for fixing the tarp. A lot more gear than my usual bushcraft type overnight bivi kit.
Also carried in a meths stove and all the usual picnic stuff.
.
There was also the problem of water, I lugged in six litres. We set up camp and spent the rest of the time pottering, drinking tea and having pasties for tea. Lucky spent his time digging holes, building nests and snoozing. Well, he is from a rare species of ground nesting dogs??!!


With the evening drawing on, we collected driftwood. Wandering up the beach I spoke briefly with a chap who had been wandering around the same area of beach for some time. He claimed to be checking up on birds nesting on the beach. A little odd, he was curious as to what Mike and I were up to.. Rather than say we were stopping overnight I explained we were having a beach picnic. His little, rather ancient dog was in a grumpy mood and kept growling at me. Half an hour later Mike wandered up and had a wee chat with him. Trying to hide in the dunes and wandering around the same patch of beach for a couple of hours is a little suspect!


A fire pit was dug and Mike soon had a blaze going. Before anyone says anything, we left no trace of there ever being a fire there.
Sometime in the early hours, before 4am, we were both sitting drinking tea and watching the dawn of a new day.
Early morning light.

A growing lightness in the sky.


.
A wee bit of a snooze and then a breakfast of cold meats, boiled eggs, cheese and bread wraps and more tea.
A morning spent nipping in to the sea, paddling, splashing around and have fun in the water and getting a wee bit of a tan.
That, all in all, was our overnight bivi. We are now contemplating another. This could become addictive?