Saturday 22 December 2012

All quiet

Well, a second operation on the feet has been done. More painful this time but that has now eased. Over the next week or so there will be little walking. However, my eyes are fixed on May and the TGO. Possibly early February there will be a couple of nights camping. There is a tent being reconfigured and I want some time for a wee faff. Gentle walking but a breath of fresh air. My aim will be to start building up mileage slowly through February onwards.

Tuesday 20 November 2012

Hurpling in the Lakes

Mike and I had originally planned on a Cheviots camping trip. However, the recent foot operation had scuppered that. Being laid up and somewhat confined to the flat was not doing me a great deal of good. With another operation looming ahead I was becoming desperate for a wee break. Deciding on something very different from the norm.I finally opted for a camping barn in the lakes. Mike was persuaded to come along. To save on train fares I traveled up to Durham which was some fifty pounds cheaper than catching a direct train. Mike collected me from the station and we drove over to Buttermere. Cragg camping barn offers basic facilities. One thing we rapidly discovered was how cold the place was.

 Thursday started off as a rather grey morning. Not cold though, quite mild. It was good to get out and do some walking though. We headed across Scales to the waterfall. From there we contoured around and over to Mosedale. No difficult walking following the track that runs down the valley..Our walk led us over to Crummock Water and the higher path that follows the lake back to Buttermere. A shortish walk of some nine miles or so. By the time we got back my foot was playing up, just sore though.

 Friday was a trip down to the coast and a daunder along the beach and  dunes. A chilly wind kept temperatures down a a bit with  grey, sullen waves lapping the shoreline.

Saturday saw us having a stroll around the lake at Buttermere. After a cup of coffee we nipped off so that Mike could collect a wee top that was on his list. In the meantime I went for a stroll up a bumpy lane. A few sleety showers on the way back. Sunday saw a dusting of snow on the higher tops. However, we where heading out. Many thanks to Mike, who, I am sure prefers real tents to cold, drafty stone ones!

Tuesday 30 October 2012

Cabin fever

Little is happening with me at the moment. Cabin fever is setting in. Much time has been spent pouring over maps. Unfortunately when I had the foot op. The surgeon decided one foot needed a lot more work than the other. Thus currently, only one foot has been chopped and lopped. That now is healing fine. My next appointment with the surgeon is in November. Hopefully he will get the other foot done soonest?
A random selection of photos from the archives.

An added note. Currently I have two winter sleeping bags. One is a top of the range Golite, down, used only twice. It is up for sale.

Saturday 29 September 2012

Interlude part two

Surgery went through on Thursday. Oh the indignities of hospital gowns and bedpans! However, the surgeon has now decided my right foot need far more extensive surgery than first realised. Living on my own and having Parkinson's has meant he has refused to do both feet at once. My right foot is going to be a lot more painful than my left. It seems December is the earliest he may consider operating. To say that I am gutted would be putting it mildly.  At present I am confined to the flat for the next couple of weeks and am hobbling around on crutches. Thank you to everyone for their kind messages.

Tuesday 25 September 2012


For some time I have had foot problems. The bones around my big toes have fused and there are bits of bone protruding out of the side of my feet. Last week on the Wednesday I saw the surgeon. Two options where on offer, ignore the problem, put up with the pain and allow the situation to deteriorate further. The alternative was surgery, which I agreed to. On the Friday of the same week a phone call from the hospital admission and I am going under the knife this Thursday. Bone is going to be cut from both feet. This something I am not looking forward to. Mind, I am not done yet.

Saturday 15 September 2012

South Downs walkabout

A month or two back Mike,, casually mentioned something to me about a walk along the South Downs path and would I be interested? Probably I was in a bit of a dwam when I consented? Suddenly though it was a reality. Mike was actually going to come South, in actual fact Mike has a little list of particular hill tops he wishes to visit. These involve travelling to the far climes of the UK to actually tick them off. The usual flurry of e mails, lists drawn up and so forth. One thing became rapidly apparent. Camping was going to be difficult in some areas and there appeared to be a distinct lack of water. Also, as a departure from the usual, maps where dispensed with. The trail was well sign posted, plus Mike would be carrying a guide book and I had a singular Harvey's map which covered the whole route. Mike was up at some unearthly hour, long before the sparrows where out of their pyjamas, to arrive at Kings Cross shortly before eight on the Monday morning. Here, I was waiting for him and with little ceremony led him through tunnels and tube trains to Waterloo station. My apologies Mike, I am always on edge trundling around town.
We duly arrived in Winchester by mid morning, an indifferent pasty and a soft drink served as  brunch. The cathedral charged a fee for those who wished to enter and so we wandered past. A check with an ice cream man on a tricycle and we where soon heading down to King Alfred, a statue on a roundabout. There we found the first of the S.D.W. way marks. Before long we where out in open, rolling country in warm, dry sunny conditions. Our goal for the day was a fairly short one. Holden farm had come up on the net as offering a camping spot. Arriving there though, the place was deserted, the only sign of life two horses in loose boxes. A pickup truck came down the track and turned off toward a series of buildings. Wandering over we found out that the farm, as such existed only in name. the majority of buildings let out as industrial units. Finally we pushed on. There was pub at Millbarrow and we wondered if they would allow camping? Once more there was no sign of life. Finally a travelling salesman arrived and we found the pub opened at six. Again we wandered on, now considering a stealth camp in the wood we where passing through. Water was the biggest problem, there was none to be found. Finally, by asking a gent at Wind farm, we got permission to camp on a triangle of grass between two tracks. He also kindly gave us use of his garden tap.
Tuesday morning was a dew soaked one. Traffic had been moving up and down the tracks during the course of the night. Owls had been calling, foxes barking. Something had been munching grass close to the tents. Probably deer? Dew soaked tents where packed still wringing wet. The day was promising to be a hot one, shorts and tee shirts dress of the day. The downlands offered rolling hills, at times long, steady climbs and descents. Skirting around Meon Stokes the route on the ground and that shown by Harvey's differed a little. However, we stuck to the sign posted route and  before long we where heading high over the iron age fort of Old Winchester Hill. Descending to Whitewool farm, we stopped for refreshments at a fishing lodge. The ponds where well stocked with large fish that even a schoolboy with a home made rod would have little difficulty catching. There is a camp site there but we pressed on. The long haul up Salt Hill took its toll of us. There was no breeze, the heat was relentless and we where both suffering. Rather than struggle on we stopped at HMS Mercury an ex navy signals station, part of which is now the Sustainability Centre. They offer a campsite which was expensive. There are also wigwams and yurts for hire.. Solar powered showers and composting loos in the woods give the place a hippyish feel to the place. There  is also on offer sustainability burials and a chap was actually busy making wicker coffins in a lean to as we set up camp!

We knew Wednesday was going to be a long day. Serious miles had to be walked if we where to complete the whole route in time allowing. Once more the tents where dew soaked but we wasted little time in getting away. Our first goal of the day was Butser Hill and then along drop down down to the Queen Elizabeth Country Park. an excellent cafe served bacon butties which where washed down with several cups of tea. Two slabs of fruit cake where stowed in the rucksack for later in the day.A long, steady plod uphill.The track led us through mixed forestry, the trees offering welcome shade. Ascending a rough track Mike and I where surprised to see an electric  invalidity buggy bouncing and swaying valiantly upwards behind us. The chap had been a keen walker but illness had curtailed his activities, the buggy had given him a degree of mobility. That man deserves our respect. The downland tracks are composed of chalk with great quantities of flint.This makes it very hard on the feet, especially when carrying a full pack.The heat bounced off the surface in a shimmering haze. One of Mike's tops was Beacon Hill, oh my, a stiff haul up. Fruit cake and quantities of fluid where consumed at the trig point. We pressed on, our goal for the day a mile or two further on. A tap was marked on the map at Cocking. Harvey's map shows a discrepancy here. Manor Farm was on one of the lists as a camping spot. However, the map shows the farm some two miles off our route. Our only option seemed to be to lug our water up the hill and camp high. Suddenly, as we filled up with water I noticed the house next to the track was marked as Manor Farm. A quick inquiry and an encounter with a large black alsation, friendly though, and we had a camp spot for the night. A grassy horse paddock all to ourselves. Basic, but that was fine with us, cheap too, a fiver for the pair of us.

Thursday was going to be another long day. Once more we where heading uphill. By now we getting to grips with covering distance. The heat was something different, especially in the afternoon, it was relentless. Heatwaves are not something we are used to?!

Good walking with panoramic vistas, the valleys below shimmering in the heat haze. Long descents followed by equally long ascents. The heat was relentless and we had to drink regularly to avoid dehydration. A pub lunch at Amberly and then a long haul up to Rackham Hill.Possibly the heat was affecting me, but I found myself mentioning to Mike a few times that there was a diversion down to Washington to avoid a dangerous road crossing?The camp site at Washington is  very up market, with caravans and camper vans, some of  which looked more like luxury coaches. The facilities on offer where luxurious too.

Our first goal  on Friday was Chanctonbury Ring. An atmospheric place, much more density of trees than  I remember from from my last visit. A wonderful place for a wild camp, even though water would have to be carried up.It was a fine day for walking. Straight forward enough, the way is well sign posted. As we approached Devils Dyke so the hoards of people increased. The hot weather had brought folk out in their hoards. We stopped for another pub lunch and sat for a while watching the heaving mass of humanity.

Dropping down to Saddlescombe farm we spotted a sign for a National Trust tea room. Surmising that they would have a loo, I headed over with Mike in tow. Sure enough, they did, " Please bolt the loo after you or the chickens will get in!" Mike had ordered cups of tea while waiting. Also, he had spotted a little sign for camping. We conferred and made a few inquiries. Yes indeed, there was a camping field. Possibly someone may come around to collect fees, but if not please leave camping fee in honesty box. It was an easy call. We camped early.

Saturday meant an early start. Unfortunately this darn Parkinson's slows me down, I take longer to do things, which can be very frustrating. Mike was up and packed long before me. Despite my slowness, we still managed to be away fairly early.

Ditchling Beacon was our high point and then on to Blackcap before descending down to Housedown farm. There is a camp site there. We had miles yet to cover though and after filling up with water  and a short break, we strode on. If anything the temperature was even higher than yesterday, whew!

As we climbed the hill following Juggs Road, a herd of cows stood listlessly on the track. They where totally unfazed as we eased our way through them. Dropping down to Southease, we stopped to stock up with water and have a break by the village church. Chatting to a lady organizing some form of church event we made friends with her dog. Not a cute, pretty dog, some may say ugly, although I would disagree. Ollie was a polite, well mannered dog with character, posing for Mike as he took his photo. At this point I was not feeling good and we still had another hill to climb. My energy levels had fallen through the floor. Plenty of water drunk and some sticky, cloying chocolate consumed and we shouldered our packs to head off once more. It was a slow plod up Itford hill. A combine harvester droned in a field close by, enveloped in its dust cloud. Finally we reached our goal and set up camp. It took me a long while to get the tent up but we both agreed, this was our best camp yet.

Sunday was our final day of walking. An amazing sunrise, the bonus of our first morning with dry tents and it was not long before we where away. Following tthe ridge line, past the masts at Beddingham Hill and on to Firle Beacon.

We had intentions of breakfast at Alfriston. However, the place was totally geared to the tourist trade and prices reflected that. We opted to make our own sandwiches and washed them down with a bottle of soft drink. In some respects it seemed incongruous, the local church bells where ringing out, calling the faithful to worship. Some of whom where arriving in very posh, classy cars! All around though was this materialistic drive to make money. Tea shops, restaurants, pubs, antique shops and so forth, driven by commerce. From Alfriston the trail divides, one branch goes inland, the other heads  for the coast. We followed the coast route. On past Litlington, plunging in to woodland that offered some cool relief from the blazing sun A couple of steep climbs where taken very slowly. Suddenly though a style led over a low wall, there below us lay Cuckmere Haven.
The place was awash with humanity. Filling up with water and an ice lolly from the ice cream van,we moved on. With our packs and boots, looking hot and trail worn, we presented an odd sight in comparison to the throng of folk around us, all heading to the beach. Push chairs, buggies, excited children, everyone out to enjoy the day.
Our route soon saw us heading up hill once more. We where now on the Seven Sister, a series of rolling switchbacks high above the sea. We pressed on, both of us suffering somewhat from the blazing heat radiating off the surface of glaring chalk. Ascending, descending until finally we made Birling Gap. In need of more fluids, we stopped at the cafe, I had to ask the lass who served me if she would carry the glasses to the table for me. Tired, and with energy levels low, I had a case of the shakes.

The wind picked up and sea fog clouded the sky as we came over Beachy head. Finally we reached our desired goal as we descended down to Eastbourne. Once again Harvey's map proved inaccurate In an insert it indicates the youth hostel in town. We had seen a sign post for village shops and headed in that direction in search of a cash point. The co'op cash point was broken but  a kindly gent had offered to guide us in the direction of the hostel. Guiding us through the back streets, he then gave detailed instructions on how to get to the hostel. Unfortunately they went against the map. We stuck to the map, a mistake. The map was wrong and the chap correct. Muddle finally sorted,we eventually found the hostel on the outskirts of town. Mike looked wearied, I felt wrecked, but we had achieved our goal and felt pretty pleased with ourselves. On Mike's estimation we had covered roughly 108 miles over the course of the week and in a heat wave too!

A pair of North Face Hedgehog mids, less than a year old. Not up to the job??

Saturday 18 August 2012

Afoot in the Radnor hills

A week or two back I had gone for an explore in the Radnor hills. In some respects I was obeying doctor's orders which where to keep walking. Also the wandering pie man, Mike ( had his eye fixed on a few tops in the region. My first foray in to the area was more in the way of a reccie. The area though is delightful walking country. Slightly difficult for wild camping, due largely to the lack of water in the hills though. With the knowledge gained on my first trip, I managed to draw up a route using public transport at both ends of the walk. The usual flurry of e mails, train times exchanged, a meeting place agreed upon and thus we linked up at Shrewsbury. Mike was rather aghast when he saw the large number of people on the platform  and the single carriage train that served as the Heart of Wales service. Being well used to the vagaries of public transport, politeness was laid aside, as soon as the doors opened and I nipped aboard in double quick time to ensure us a couple of seats.
We arrived in Knighton mid afternoon. It was a steady up hill plod leaving town. However the gradient soon eased off and we enjoyed a pleasant afternoons walking. We made good time and by five thirty we where thinking of somewhere to camp. There where a couple of places I had in mind for our first night out. Mike and I conferred and agreed that Hawthorn Hill was a nice little spot.

Water was once again a problem. However, I found a water trough which allowed me access to the ballcock and with a bit of juggling managed to fill our large water bladder.
Sunday morning was grey and wet.We where up early, I knew this was going to be a long day and had warned Mike that we needed an early start. We where packed up and under way by seven thirty. Following the Offa's Dyke path,  Kington was reached by lunch time. Mike was, I think, suitably impressed by our progress and also by the countryside we had passed through! Spotting a pub there was mutual agreement we needed a sandwich and a drink. With a fair distance still to cover we did not linger long. Soon we where heading up Hergest Ridge. Mike found the monkey puzzle trees, well, a little puzzling! A visit to the trig point, a little casting about to ensure we actually had the highest point. The big grin on Mike's face made the effort worth while.

A long descent down to Gladestry where we parted company with Offa We had yet another hill to visit. Despite a spot of bother on my last visit, I felt that our trip would not be complete without a visit to Llanfihangel Hill. There was one slight problem, .it was Sunday the twelfth, the official start of the grouse shooting season. However, being a Sunday, shooting did not start until Monday. That gave us a small window of opportunity. As we made our up toward Wain Wen a heavy downpour had us scrambling back in to waterproofs. As we climbed higher, fueled by a handful of jelly babies, an object higher on the hill caught our attention. Mike thought it was a caravan, possibly someone acting as a lookout? Progressing upward, we found out is was a large water tank on a trailer. Further up the track we passed two guys and their dogs in a landrover. They looked over in our direction and I gave them a little wave and pressed on. One guy gave a nod of his head but otherwise ignored us; odd? Oh my, I was glad to see that trig point, tiredness now was telling. A long drop down to Pant glas and then another quarter of a mile or so and we set up camp close to a lovely, fresh brook. On estimate we had covered around twenty miles over the day
There was no rush on Monday and we took our time over breakfast and finally got underway at around nine. A lovely walk over to New Radnor. We paused at one point to allow a shepherd to move his flock of fifteen hundred spring lambs. Such wonderful skill and dexterity to see the sheep being shepherded in a long flowing column. The farmers accent sounded more west country than Welsh. Tea and cakes in New Radnor. Also we took the opportunity to stock up with water. Knowing that there would be no water high on the hill where we intended to camp, I had brought a four litre water bladder. Possibly a tad over kill but at least we plenty of water. It was an awful weight to be carrying though!

 Our intention was to camp high. The bridleway initially started off steep but gradually eased off. The path was thick with vegetation in places. Horses had managed to churn the ground in places to a thick mud, making the going a tad difficult. As we slithered and climbed higher the cloud base was dropping lower. Soon we where enveloped in grey dampness. Initially we where looking for somewhere to camp by Whinyard rocks. Stony ground meant us camping actually on the nearby bridleway. When the mist and drizzle began to clear we found ourselves with wonderful views. Mike was getting excited about the Whimble behind us and shot off for an explore while I curled up with a book and a mug of soup.
Tuesday was marked up as an easy day and so it proved. A gentle walk over to Bache Hill and then over to Black  Mixen. The massive mast dominates the area. Off road motor bike riders had left their mark with deep ruts and churned up bog. It was leisurely stroll over  to the trig point of Great Ross.

Mike, having a 'yoof full' moment!
We stopped early afternoon near Cross Dyke and after a steep drop down the hillside to a mere trickle of water and a climb back up to the tents, we relaxed. The tents where pitched on a ridge that allowed a gentle breeze to keep off midges and other wee beasties. Something that does seem interesting, is the question of just where all the water goes to? There are streams marked on the map but on the ground they are non existent. The geology is fascinating. Steep, narrow clefts in the hillsides, wrinkles in the landscape, akin to an elephant's baggy wrinkles. A lot of the rock appears to be shale. Possibly water filter down through to aquifers deep underground?

The wind got up during the night and swung around so that the full force of the rising gale was hitting the front of the tents. Despite it being early I decided to have my wash before breakfast. However, Mike gave me a shout, his tent had been trying to take off across the hill and he had packed up and stowed the tent before he lost it. It was a hurried wash as Mike waited patiently. We made Dolau just as it began to pour down with heavy rain. A long wait for the train but we had the shelter of the tiny waiting room. All in all, a successful trip.

Tuesday 31 July 2012

Moments of madness

Mike and I had been toying with an idea of having a wander to tick of three tops that where on his little list. ( A few ideas where shuffled back and forward via the web mail thingy. Finally I decided to have a little mosey, just to sort of check things out and get a feel of what was involved! On the map the route looked just about doable, however, I had a few concerns. The map indicated that the route would be a switchback affair, crossing the grain of the country. In other words, a lot of up and down.
The train connections were good and on the Thursday afternoon around three I arrived at Knighton. The idea was to follow the Offa's Dyke path for a couple of days, camping en route, simple!! It was hot and sticky when I arrived. Not having a guide book I had to keep a close eye on the map just to get out of town. The route went up, steeply, in the heat it was hard. Probably I have become acclimatized to more wet and  cold conditions? Mind, I always suffer in hot weather. Finally the steepness eased off to a more manageable level. Skirting the golf course and then onward through rolling fields. A group of teenage lads where heading down. All of them looking dour and fed up. Only one acknowledged my "Hi, nice day" and that was more of a tribal grunt. It was pleasant walking, always upward but with fine panoramic views. A short section of road walking and back on to paths and tracks. My intention was to head for Furrow Hill. It offered high ground for a discreet wild camp and shortened tomorrows route by a sizeable degree.. Alarm bells where ringing in my head though. One thing that struck me was how dry everything was. Pools and springs where dried up or else just muddy affairs. After having been on the go for some three hours plus it was time to stop. The first priority was water. Finally I resorted to taking water from the troughs used for the sheep. At least it looked clean and fresh. Boiled, it would do fine.

Furrow Hill wild camp.
Friday was going to be a long day, that was obvious by just studying the map. Needing to be away early, I was up, fed and watered, washed and packing up by just after seven. As I was taking the tent down the putter of a small tractor was drawing ever closer. A farmer was bringing cattle up the nearby track on to the rough pasture. Mentally I braced myself for a ticking off but the guy just glanced in my direction and drove off. It was obvious I was moving on. By around seven thirty I was on the move. A fine dry morning with a bit of chill to it and overcast.
A steady descent down toward Dolley Green. A meander through pleasant meadows and then it was uphill once more. Short and fairly steep. Good walking brought me around to Lower Harpton. A surreptitious use of a farmhose pipe to top up on water. Risky maybe, I had no idea where the water came from? Once again the way ahead was up. A stop for a snack and drink and then a slow steady plod. Some folk going up hills can put their heads down and just keep going. Some though need to stop for a moment or two, catch there breath and then continue. Yes, I am one of the latter, annoying?

Heading up the side of Horrock Hill.
To be honest, it was lovely walking, views spread out way below and away to the far distance. The day had warmed up and there long sunny spells Just as one thinks they have reached the top of the hill the path veers left and heads up once more. The rewards are more panoramic views and excellent walking. Once again there is a descent and here I made a mistake. The Dyke sign points directly toward the Bower. Hot and possibly a tad dehydrated, (that is my excuse anyway!) I came down close to the Bower, in hindsight I should have been further over. Dithering and being on the edge of my map I ended up taking a circuitous route round to Kington. This added a good couple of miles to my route. Nipping in to a shop in the town I bought a couple of bottles of soft drink. Sunk one immediately, dehydrated?  Following a regular pattern now, it was steeply uphill once again.There was a frisson of anticipation here though. This time I was heading for the Hergest Ridge. This was one Mike and I had discussed and I was keen to see it. It is not often one can walk a high ridge complete with an abandoned race course and a stand of monkey puzzle trees!

By now it was late afternoon and I had to find somewhere to camp. Once again water was the issue here. Time was wasted trying to source a few springs marked on the map. They where dry. What to do? There was little option of pushing on. There where no camp sites down in the valleys and the next place worth considering would involve many miles of walking. In the end I had but one option and that was the dew pond used by the sheep and ponies that roamed free. The water looked fairly clear at least, no algae. Using my cup I very carefully skimmed the surface layers of water, taking great care not to stir up the sediment that lay on the bottom.It took time but I finally had my water bag full. Brought to a roiling boil it would suffice. Camp was set up close to the trig point. Lovely firm ground with soft grass, a lovely pitch. Camping close to free roaming ponies made me a little wary and I pitched the tent close to a clump of gorse bushes.
As it was a few ambled across, checked me over and wandered off, no problem! Having to get out of the tent during the night, a large, pale yellow, three quarter moon hung low in the sky. Heavy dew soaked the grass, cold on bare feet. A soft snicker close by, a group of ponies lying down, resting. Softly I apologize for disturbing them. Shivering, I was glad to get back in to the sleeping bag.
Saturday morning was dull and gray, much cooler too. With a wet, dew soaked tent I dawdled over breakfast to allow the tent to dry a little. A fundamental error I later regretted. Packing up and getting underway, I descended down to the village of Gladestry.Here I would be leaving the Offa's Dyke path and navigating another route. Carefully checking the map, there where no indications, no footpath or bridleway signs, nothing; I followed deep, narrow sunken lanes, reminiscent of the old Cornish lanes. Always leading upwards. At one point I had to squeeze in to a gateway to allow a tractor to pass. They led me up to Wain Wen. Something of a dither here, I wanted a bridleway that led above the farm.. There where two tracks, one each side of the farm. No indication of which was which. Finally I opted for the left hand one. Higher up I was able to align the map with features on the ground and verify where I was. A drink,a few jelly babies and I pressed on upward. There was the distant blast of guns but I paid it no heed. My concern was navigation. There where many tracks on this high moorland, some unmarked. More shotgun blasts, closer too, nothing clicked in my mind. Finally I made the trig point of Llanfihangel Hill.  A lovely spot just to sit down and have a wee break. Settling down with my back against the concrete pillar, legs outstretched,comfy, I had worked hard to get there.. Suddenly there was the blast of  a shotgun. Close, very close indeed, I swear I heard the whistle of shotgun pellets as they fanned out. That was disconcerting, it certainly got my attention! It registered in my mind then that there was obviously groups of folk out shooting in differing areas of the moor. Oddly I has seen no indication of anyone around, no vehicles, nothing. Mind, I had seen grouse butts marked on the map. Why had no one seen me and warned me off ? A tad shaken I headed off rather quickly. Muttering under my breath about irresponsible, moronic shooters.There was a mental image in my mind of some landed gentry in his stately pile sipping his gin and tonic, chatting to an associate. "Poor shooting today, only ten brace of grouse and a p(h)easant!"  Indicating me hanging on his trophy wall!!!?
A long descent down toward Pant Glas. A hippy-ish sort of shack. Rather ramshackle but obviously inhabited, small wind turbines whirring away and a satellite dish. Met a few folk out for walk and heading up the hill. They where rather concerned when I warned them there was shooting on the tops. Having three dogs with them, they opted for another route. From there it was pleasant walking on bridleways. Rolling countryside, on past Molecatchers wood and around the flanks of Castle hill. Descending down past the buildings at Redding, I ran in to a slight problem. There was a crossroads here of bridleways. The one I wanted ran straight on and then curved right, aiming across the opposite hillside. There was one problem, for the first few hundred yards the way ahead was blocked by triffid like stinging nettles. Massive brutes, standing over six foot tall. No way was I going to even attempt getting through there. Swinging right I followed a short track through the wood. The wheel marks of a quad bike descended down the steep hillside. They where heading for a track that ran up toward Stockenny farm. Plunging down I joined the track  and headed over toward the farm. Trespassing? Possibly but I was prepared to argue my case. Time was getting on and I had a ways to go. Scuttling rapidly through the farm backyard, I joined the lane that would lead me down to New Radnor. Again, a steep descent. There is a pattern here, it is not that the surrounding hills are significantly high, although the valleys appear deep when viewed up high. It is the initial ascent and descent in and out of the valleys. they are always steep and then as the hill opens out the gradient eases. A knee jarring descent down a tiny lane. A caravan site by the main road with a tea shop. Here I broke a cardinal rule, 'Thou shall not pass by an open tea shoppie'! Hoping there was a village shop and with time against me, I pressed on. The village shop is now a private house. In an unusual move for me, I nipped in to the village pub. A couple of glasses of orange juice and a sandwich later and I was heading uphill once more. It was now around four o clock.  My first aim was for a pool marked on the map by Jack's Green farm. It never materialised. Uphill and more up hill. Not steep, a steady plod. My original stopping point was penciled in for somewhere around the Whinyard Rocks. High enough to be out of the way, out of sight out of mind. Once more the area was devoid of water. This now was becoming a problem. Initially I started heading over toward Stanlo Pool. The track I was on seemed to drag on and on. It seemed a lot further than that marked on the map. Uneasy, I headed up the hill on another track leading upwards. Checking later I could see that I had come over Bache Hill and just missed the trig point. The need for water was now becoming a serious issue. Dropping down to the valley below, the only water found was a stagnant pool, green and slimy, nasty! By now I was just below Black Mixen and headed up in that direction. A few short sharp showers rattled through, just enough to warrant waterproofs.There was a plan in mind. From the trig point I headed over toward Shepherd's Well. There was stream marked on the map. On the way across I kept looking at a strange apparition. It looked like a caravan, most odd? The stream at Shepherd's Well was dry. This was not good. It really was a caravan and a four four parked on the forestry track. What immediately caught my eye though was the large water container hooked up to the caravan.With no hesitation, I headed straight for the caravan. A dog barked inside, the door opened and a  lady looked out and asked if I was alright? Quickly I explained I needed water. There was no hesitation, the woman and her husband whisked me in to the caravan, sat me down with a mug of tea and a sausage roll. They seemed unfazed by this wild eyed, disheveled wild looking woman appearing  out of the goodness knows where. It turned out they where marshals for a rally being held on the forestry tracks. The kindness of strangers, most humbling and I was very grateful.With water containers filled I headed off along one of the forestry tracks. All I needed now was a place to camp. Checking the map, I turned up a smaller track. Tall trees lined the track, their canopy shutting out the light. All appeared gloomy, almost spooky and I was glad to get out of the forest, find a place to camp and get the tent up. A hot drink and I was soon snuggled up in the sleeping bag. There was no appetite for supper, I was tired and shaking like a leaf in an autumn gale. Parkinson's always affects me that way when I am tired.
Sunday, a rest day really. A few showers in the early hours and when I looked out, the area was shrouded in  low cloud. All was a uniform grayness. With no need to hurry I lazed  and dozed for a while. When I finally made a move the weather was clearing with a hint of sunshine.

 Great Rhos trig point.
It was an easy stroll around to Great Rhos trig point and then a gentle amble down the hill. Coming down the ridge I could see far, far down below in the narrow steep sided valley the glisten of water. My plan was to camp somewhere close to the bridleway. A wander over to Carrog Dingle, dry.Went higher to a ford marked on the map, nothing. Finally there was only one more option. A stream was marked in a narrow cleft  of the hill. Knowing there was water way down on the valley bottom, I stowed the rucksack out of sight and headed down. A scramble down the narrow defile, loose shale and rocks making it a little more difficult. Eventually I reached the stream, cool, crystal clear water. A hard, sweaty scramble back up. That was hard        but I had fresh water, luxury. Camped in a nice little spot, most comfy. What did surprise me though was the lack of people. My concern had been that I  was camped close to a well used bridleway. All I saw where two guys who  wandered over to say hello.

Monday, showers of rain passing through and low dark clouds scudding across the hills. No great rush though. It was an easy stroll down to Dolau and the station. A strip bath and a clean change of clothes and a leisurely packing up and I was on my way. Heading over toward Cefn-y-grug  I noticed a quad bike busy rounding up a herd of suckler cows. A second quad was racing around higher up the field rounding up stragglers. The farmers wife drove over to warn me  the cows would be heading down the track I was on and could be frisky. Standing to one side, I watched as the woman led the cows through the gate in to the lane. Some of the beasts where not having it though and made a break for freedom. They turned and raced towards me. In the best possible manner I jumped up and down, yelled at them, waved my trekking pole at them and ran around. The farmer raced across on his quad and helped turn them, gave me a thumbs up and raced off back up the hill. Heading down the hill  a couple of cows decided to make another break for it. Giving them a gentle poke with the handle of my pole, they saw the error of their ways and joined the rest of the herd. The farmer came down to drive them on, giving me a big grin and a 'thank you' Best bit of fun I have had in a while!!  
A gentle potter over to the station, a very clean, neat and tidy station. Pretty with big pots of flowers in bloom and a little waiting room. It has been a hard few days but this is really fine walking country. Rounded, whale-backed hills  and great scenery.