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DAI'S WALK-AROUND-WALES BLOG - APRIL 2015

 

3/4/15

Just a short walk on Aberavon Beach chasing the sunset again. Wales' tallest building reaching up to the sun.

4/4/2015 - Pat Davies birthday walk - St Illtyd's Walk, Resolven - 11 miles

It was 'happy birthday' to Pat Davies and a walk with Cerdded-y-Cwm Walking Club, family and friends to celebrate the event.

From left to right Pat Davies, Brian Morgan (walk leader) Rhian, Ruth Morgan, Alison MacKay, John, Jo-Anne Beale (behind John), Ralph Holland and me behind the camera. 

 Starting at Resolven the walk followed the St Illtyd's Walk to Bryn Llydan before dropping back down into Resolven. There are quite a few interesting points on the route including waterfalls, Roman Camps, cairn circles and old mine workings. I went off path at one point in search of four ancient structures marked on the map, a house platform, cairn circle and two cairns. I managed to find the all without my compass by using map orientation and following the contours which was very pleasing. It took me back to my orienteering days which is another story of course. 

 

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House Platform - the photo doesn't really do justice to portray the elevation on the one side. cairn circle cairn 1 - looks like a grave robber has been at work here cairn 2 - with the walking group in the background

  

According to the information sign adjacent to Illtyd's Walk "The mountain ridge track ways connected up hut settlements which, in all probability, were in sight of burial cairns. Sir Cyril Fox (Archaeologist 1882-1967) has even suggested that area around Craig-y-Llyn was the Picadilly Circus of prehistoric Wales, with branches leading from it to Gelli Gaer, Brecon, Merthyr, Margam and Neath. 

One point in particular was of interest to Pat, the mine at Blaen-Cwm where his grandfather worked so I whipped out the phone to take a quick video.

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New energy & old energy. The wind turbines above Resolven tower over the old mine workings of Blaen-Cwm and in the distance the St Illtyd's Walk makes it's way through the south Wales valleys

The nice weather held and it was back to Resolven canal car park for the finish. 

   

6/4/2015 - Easter Monday - Pen-y-Fan moonwalk for sunrise from Dol-y-Gaer - 12.7 miles

They'd given a 92% visible moon after the previous evening full moon so it was an early 4.10am start to Pen-y-Fan for sunrise. I'd estimated 5 miles to the top and it turned out to be 6.5 so I was a little short of the top before sunrise. The reason I'd chosen Dol-y-Gaer for the start was because the navigation was less technical and the almost full moon was shining on the open side and when I reached the summit of Twyn Mwyalchod the sun would be starting to rise as I walked the Graig Fan Ddu ridge to Pen-y-Fan. This was the light I'd been chasing in my previous 2 Pen-y-Fan sunrise walks last month. The first 2-3 miles turned out to be a bit of slog as I kept losing the path but with the moon keeping me company, even throwing a shadow I didn't feel the need for a light. With about 70 minutes to sunrise at first a murky brown light appeared on the horizon to signal the sun's intentions to rise followed by a beautiful orange glow................

 .................and with 30 minutes to actual sunrise it was light enough to read the serial numbers on the loan 5 note in my wallet. Once onto the Graig Fan Ddu ridge with the moon on my left and the sun rising on the right I had felt I just had to capture the moment so fished out the phone for a video and apologies for the rest, I just got carried away, sorry about the rest.      

  

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I then realised that it would need a big push to get to Pen-y-Fan for sunrise so I put the legs into gear, put the head down and twenty minutes later I give up the push for the top in favour of getting a definite sunrise and here she is........

With sunrise in the black box I continued upwards towards the main paths and could see the crowds were already on top and heading up, and heading down. there's one thing you can guarantee on an Easter Monday with a good weather forecast that it's going to be choc-a-bloc on Pen-y-Fan. Unbelievable as though it may seem by mid-afternoon there was a 50 metre queue of people waiting to be photographed on top of the mountain. 

I then met Grant a photographer on the way and it turned out I knew Grant's mum Kaz and his Auntie Tracey so we had a good chat while he showed me how to point my camera with more creativity. I plodded straight through Corn-Du and Pen-y-Fan because I was Late with a capital L for breakfast and I'd missed my 'porridge on the point' for sunrise so out breakfast came as I sat near the descent to Cribyn. 

    The great thing about this spot is that you are out of the wind with a view looking down the complete route and the Upper Neuadd Reservoir. X marks the start and finish.

 

13/4/2015 - Sgwd Gwladys with my new amigos

 

Victoria, Julio, Elsa & Cristina at Sgwd Gwladys 

Dr Victoria, my youngest daughter and her wife Dr Cristina were visting with Cristina's parents Julio & Elsa who've travelled all the way from Mexico to be in Wales for the weekend, well maybe they came to see Cristina who now lives in Cambridge with Victoria but they were in Wales for the weekend so we took them firstly to the White Horse Inn in Pontneddfechan for a lovely lunch then for a walk to Sgwd Gwladys to see the falls. My eldest son Dale with his partner Jess are in the background with my grandson Gethin in the baby carrier. 

15/4/2015 - Dai's Walk Around Wales - Discoed to Knighton - 6.5 miles

Onwards and upwards up Offas Dyke for another 6 miles today - I had to be in Ludlow for an auction at around 9.00 - 9.30am so an early start was called for. It was a 4.00am rise and on the walk for 5.30am. A 6.18 sunrise was witnessed on Furrow Hill near the delightfully named Dolley Green. I made it to Knighton just before 7.45am and proceeded to make my way back to the car via the road. The thumb was working well with a lot of people on their way to work, most with their noses in the air. A big thank you to Jim the Argentinian Tango Dancer from Knighton in his orange VW van for the lift almost back to the car. It took less than half an hour in total and I made it to Ludlow at around 9.15am. Nice one Jim. For more on this walk please CLICK HERE

19/4/2015 - Ogof Ffynon Ddu - with the Jones Brothers - 5 miles

 

Another great walk with my favourite band of brothers and Vernon around the Ogof Ffynon Ddu National Nature Reserve. OFD as it's known locally is best known for its cave system, which is one of the most extensive in Europe. The caves were discovered by the South Wales Caving Club in 1946, and since then more than 45 kilometres of passages have been explored. There are also some good open paths throughout the reserve, and on a clear day the views across the Brecon Beacons are spectacular. The route we took today gave us a great view of our Georgie Dog rescue walk in January . The area also has extensive industrial remains being the site of a former firebrick works with several brickwork kilns. In the area too are massive quarry workings with tram roads forming the main thoroughfare through the reserve.

Also on the site is a terrace of houses that were once homes for the families of workers in these enterprises. this building is now the headquarters of the South Wales Caving Club. The lone building opposite the terrace is the former Stump Inn where workers quenched their thirst and spent their hard earned pay. The Swansea to Brecon railway line runs just below the reserve and Danny remembers well travelling the line to see his grandmother in Brecon. The station which served the nearby Madame Patti's Craig-y-Nos Castle has in the past seen royalty stop there. 

Vernon, Danny, Eirwyn & Emlyn at the far end of the OFD reserve

Our route on the northern edge of the reserve took us past the old engine house where Danny explained the main & tail system that was used to transport the quarried limestone to the brickworks below. 

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The engine house (left) and incline right

There was no power involved, a pulley system was in used, as the dram full of limestone went down the hill the empty dram was pulled up the hill.   

Then it was on to Pwll Byfre ( SN 875166 ) where the Byfre Fechan stream sinks before it's resurgence near the Craig-y-Nos Castle ( SN 846152 ). This stream is partly responsible for the extensive cave system below, see the vitual tour link by the caving club below for photos of the passages and formations with the cave.

Vernon and I explored a few industrial relics in one of the quarries near the stream and got chatting about his time underground. Vernon had worked in several mines, he reeled them off in a big long list.  He'd worked underground for 39 years so there were a quite a few different mines that he'd worked at and I asked him when he finished. His last shift he said "finished at 1.30pm on October 23rd 2007" and did you have any near misses, falls explosions etc, yes he said "at 1.30pm on October 23rd 2007 when a big rock hit me in the side and took away half of my spleen, I lost a kidney and was in  a coma for 4 months". Vernon counts himself lucky to be alive and his recovery has been a long road. He praised the brothers and in particular Emlyn for helping him get back on his feet, "at one point" he continued "it hurt to get off the settee and I was as weak as a kitten, my weight was down to six stone and I was frightened to look in the mirror" but thankfully Vernon is back on his feet and as the bothers often say 'he's out there in front again pushing the pace"

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Industrial relics - rails & a cramp (used for holding rails onto sleepers) 

After the stream we followed the path to the edge of the reserve before crossing some moorland and cutting back into the reserve following the other path leading to Pwll Du over the top. Passing by some nice limestone pavements..............

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 .............I stopped the guys for some leg shots which I've added to the website address. In time I hope to complete the web address with additional legs.

 

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The garmin route above shows a different start and finish but the route we took started in the same place it was just that as soon as we arrived Danny was off and I had to start before the garmin picked up the sattelites. 

LINKS

The OFD cave system a virtual tour by the South Wales Caving Club - CLICK HERE

Countryside Council for Wales - OFD - general information (location, travel, toilets etc) including plantlife - CLICK HERE

Brecon Beacon National Park - OFD page - CLICK HERE

The walk done it was a short drive back to Emlyn's.  Congratulations to Emlyn's wife Avril (centre) who last week was a member of the winning team in a bowls competition in Torquay.

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22/4/15 - AM - SHORT WALK ON THE BEACH

Just a short walk from the car to the sea but I thought I'd blog it because Georgie Dog needed to be rescued again. She fell down between some rocks on the pier and Simon had to squeeze between them to lift her out. Heather and I were swimming around the pier, she's in training for an early season triathlon in Llyn Padarn, Llanberis so a bit of cold acclimatisation is needed.  

22/4/15 - PONTNEDDFECHAN - FILMING WITH PAT DAVIES

Pat and I have struck up a cameraman/presenter relationship and we had a short filming session in PNF and as we were filming Peter Lewis and his dog Miller walked past, Peter looked a serious walker so we had an interview with him. 

 

 

 

 

CLICK HERE FOR MAY 2015 BLOG

CLICK HERE FOR MARCH 2015 BLOG

 

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