Friday, 10 April 2015

Waterfalls without falling

About four years ago I stayed in the Beacons for my Birthday, I was taken by the beauty of the place, but forgot the name of the place I stayed in, I thought I had no chance of finding it again ... until yesterday. I planned to go waterfall walking in a place near Talybont, which included a steep climb up to the top of Craig y Fan Ddu. As I drove through the countryside towards my destination, I started to recognise the area, the bridge at Aber, the winding road with a solitary frog crossing to the other side, the reservoir. Yes! I had found the area from four years ago, and knew exactly where I was going as I'd been bowled over by the beauty of the place once before! 

This was a different walk though, a five hour trek of ridges and waterfalls. Starting at the Blaen y Glynn car park I made the steep ascent to the top of Craig y Fan Ddu. 

Walking along the ridge I came across evidence of more deer, rabbits and a snake concealed in owl pellets. No red kites today, but I was again joined by crows. 

At the middle of the horse shoe ridge there was a stunning view overlooking the valley below and the dramatic Pen y Fan.



A quick lunch and then the descent, following the stream down through muddy verges, rocks and sodden moss. 


As the streams from the surrounding mountains converged the water widened and soon I was walking down the hanging valley, with gushing water and pounding waterfalls.


 The ascent to the car park was the most difficult part of the walk! 

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Walking in the opposite direction

It's Easter half term and I've booked a few days away in the Brecon Beacons at The Usk Inn in Talybont. With all my plans scuppered at the last minute, I've come away without any guide books, so I decided to make a random walk; a meditative, organic approach to where I go and what I do. 

Yesterday, after a fantastic full Welsh Breakfast, I decided to go to Pen y Fan, the highest peak in southern Britain. I parked up at the Storey Arms, and feeling unsure and a little lost at where the path started for the ascent, I clumsily opened a gate nearest me, and walked on and up. I soon realised that I'd walked in completely the opposite direction to Pen y Fan. Oh well! It was a glorious mistake.


As I walked up the open access land with no path to follow but my own, I was greeted by the sounds of crows cawing in the air above me. Soon, away from the throng of people trying to reach the summit opposite me, I was joined by a trio of red kites soaring and exploring the thermals. Other delights were a fleeting glimpse of a common lizard - way too shy for a photographic opportunity, bees, butterflies and the horses that are free to roam the deserted Beacons. 

I found evidence of other inhabitants mixed with the odd glimpse of boot marks in the wet mud. There were deer up here, marked by their footprints, and frogs - I narrowly missed walking in a clump of frogspawn. In amongst the mosses, grass and rocks there were the remains of an owl's feast on a mouse, bones, the bird carnage left by a fox, and a solitary, dried up, perfectly preserved frog.

The landscape was marked by outcrops of rock and deep scars cut by the streams flowing down into rivers and reservoirs. Here the mountains and hills all roll into one with deer and horse tracks leading the way from one peak to another. I walked on through damp mossy ground towards a gorge in front of me, this was my destination. Here the water ran clear over rocks and stones, jumping into pools, and rushing over high ledges.  


I made my way back to the car clambering up the stream, jumping on tuffs of grass trying not to get sucked into the sodden ground, and walking up rock strewn edges. At the end of my journey, sauntering up and down the mossy mountainside, were the two crows who had greated me at the start.