Date walked: 12th April 2016

Distance: nearly 12 miles

Map used: OS Explorer OL 13 Brecon Beacons National Park (Eastern Area)

Guide: Cambrian Way by A.J.Drake (7th edition) and website 

***************

Let me say from the outset that I intend to keep any knob references to the absolute minimum.  I apologise for the amount of pointing which has crept into these posts; steps will be taken to reduce this in future.

For today’s walk Neil and I were joined by Paul, who was prompt as ever in our meet up at a small car park at Gospel Pass (hallelujah). Wikipedia reckon that it the highest road pass in Wales. It follows the Vale of Ewyas  from Llanfihangel Crucorney to just below Hay Bluff and then drops down to Hay-on-Wye, and is one of my favourite drives. It climbs continuously in this most pretty of valleys, passing the ruins of Llanthony Priory. It is single track for much of the time.  Anne and I have driven it many times (well, usually I drive as Anne finds it a bit hairy and she does not do reversing). Having driven up it, I had the treat today of driving us back down to where we needed to start the walk at Forest Coalpit.

Cambrian Way at Forest Coalpit, photographed by Neil Smurthwaite

Is it me or does Paul have the look of a Victorian about him?

There is neither forest nor coal pit at this most insignificant of hamlets (the coal bit refers to charcoal). There is a telephone box, though and a parish notice board. Our route started with a sharp climb up a little road that I know very well.

Off to the right is the property called The Pant, where Jeremy and Camilla Swift (she, the ex gardens editor of Saga Magazine) have made a most unusual garden that opens for the National Gardens Scheme. Don’t be too put off by that – it is well worth seeing. A hundred yards further up the hill is New Inn Farm, where Stephen Anderton (author of that wonderful book “Discovering Welsh Gardens” (sadly, out of print) and a writer on gardening for The Times) has his home.

Stephen Anderton's Front Garden, photographed from The Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

Well, it is early in the year

 And almost opposite him is a farm that has a small quarry ….

Cambrian way day 7-3

You can glimpse the quarry on the far right of the picture

…. from where we got a fine piece of sandstone which we had carved by Caitriona Cartwright for our garden.

Memorial stone by Caitriona Cartwright Veddw garden, Monmouthshire, Wales.UK. Garden designed and created by Anne Wareham and Charles Hawes

Anne painted in the letters

Phew, that was an exciting start to the day, wasn’t it? Time for a point.

Cambrian way near Forest Coalpit, photographed by Charles Hawes

There are many cultures where being pot-bellied is to be envied and admired.

And a map check.

Cambrian way near Forest Coalpit, photographed by Charles Hawes

We are (nearly) always safe in Neil’s hands

We had left the road and were on a narrow track heading for Gaer Farm, but veered left before the farm, passing (though not really noticing) an Iron Age Hill Fort site called Twyn y Gaer.

Time for some more pointing.

Cambrian way near Twyn y Gaer, photographed by Neil Smurthwaite

I was feeling very indulgent of Neil today

Our path was taking a ridge that was already giving us some fine views over the Vale of Ewyas.

Cambrian way above Vale of Eywas, photographed by Charles Hawes

Marvellous!

Our pleasure in the unspoilt scenery was cut across somewhat by some fellow walker (or rider, I guess) having discarded a crisp packet, which we duly stuffed in my bag along with one or two other bits of litter we found nearby. Good Deed done for the day.

Litter on the Cambrian Way, photographed by Charles Hawes

This was easy and very pleasant walking on short grass and firm ground. A rather insignificant stone in the path is known as Dialgarreg or the Revenge Stone. Read the link – but it’s probably rubbish

Dialgarreg or the Revenge Stone, photographed from The Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

I’m afraid we pretty much ignored this historic lump

Over to the left I was very taken with the tapestry of tree plantations in the Mynydd Du Forest, though my companions seemed less impressed.

Mynydd Du Forest, photographed from The Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

I reckon it was anti forestry prejudice on their part

Time for a point.

Cambrian way near Bal Mawr, photographed by Charles Hawes

Neil pointing very effectively whilst leaning backwards

It was the most perfect days for walking; sunny but not hot and with a light breeze. Above us, skylarks sang out their greeting (warning?) which for me always engenders a sense of peace.

Sky lark above the Cambrian way, in Monmouthshire, photographed by Charles Hawes

It’s often very difficult to spot them so I was pleased with this (very cropped) shot.

And it was very peaceful, with no other sounds than our own, and with wild horses grazing amongst the bracken.

Wild horses above the Vale of Ewyas, photographed from The Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

About a mile along the ridge was a large cairn, marking Garn Wen,  which was a good opportunity for a pose. I added a couple of rocks for good measure.

Garn-wen, Cambrian Way, photographed by Charles Hawes

OK, Paul, it’s not Everest

About a mile further on a pile of stones at a crossing of paths marked where one might climb down the hill for lunch (or even stay the night) in the Llanthony Priory Hotel, but nice though the place is, it would be a breathtaking climb back up. Up to now, most of the walk today had also been following The Beacons Way – and its route takes this path to the Priory.

The Cambrian Way and Beacons Way, Monmouthshire, Photographed by Charles Hawes

We were still climbing at this point. The top of the hill ahead of us is called Bal Mawr, where the Trig Point has a plaque saying that it became redundant in 2013 and has subsequently been adopted.

Bal Mawr Trig Point, photographed from The Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

Goethe may have been a fair weather walker

This raised several questions.  How does a Trig Point become redundant? Why this one? How do you go about adopting redundant ones? Why would you want to? What would you feed it?

Time for a pose.

Charles Hawes at Bel Mawr Trig Point on the Cambrian Way, photographed by Charles Hawes

I think Neil has brought out my inner ruggedness rather well here.

The next couple of miles continued along the ridge….

Cambrian way near Bal Mawr, photographed by Charles Hawes

…. the horses being entirely un-fazed by our proximity.

Wild Horse on the Cambrian Way in Monmouthshire, photographed by Charles Hawes

Actually, this one was looking a bit deranged

Looking back, there was a good view onto Llanthony Priory.

View to Llanthony Priory, photographed from The Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

OK, not such a good view of the Priory – it’s the blob in the middle

Ahead at a small cairn known as Blacksmith’s Anvil (I think) we stopped for a bite to eat and a drink. And a pose.

Blacksmith's Anvil on the Cambrian way, photographed by Charles Hawes

Neil here demonstrating why he has such an enormous reputation as a poser

Blacksmith's Anvil, photographed from the Cambrian way by Charles Hawes

A valiant attempt by Paul here- whilst I am going for a more relaxed look.

Ahead and below us to our left we began to see the Grwyne Fawr reservoir, which prompted a lot of excitement amongst us.

Grwyne Fawr reservoir, photographed from The Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

Paul and I had walked the next couple of miles a year or two back; I remember thinking what a good spot the reservoir would make for a wild camp sometime. This next stretch was a bit boggy underfoot and more demanding on our beginning-to-tire legs.

Cambrian way near Chwarel y Fan, photographed by Charles Hawes

Neil and Paul trying to abandon me, here

Another cairn provided a compelling reason to have a bit of a sit and a wonder about when we were going to head off to the east to mount Lord Hereford’s Knob (Knob gag No.1)

Cairn on the Cambrian Way near Twyn Tal Cefn, photographed by Charles Hawes

We found the path shortly after the cairn and a mile or so after that we reached the north escarpment of the Black Mountains;

Northern edge of the Black Mountains, photographed from The Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

the views were just fab….

Escarpment of the Black Mountains near Lord Hereford's Knob, photographed by Charles Hawes

…. Neil being moved to not only express elation….

Escarpment of the Black Mountains near Lord Hereford's Knob, photographed by Charles Hawes

Pic especially for James G

… but also to insist on demonstrating his multi-tasking skills by pointing and posing at the same time.

Escarpment of the Black Mountains near Lord Hereford's Knob, photographed by Charles Hawes

Look away now, John

At this point Lord Hereford’s Knob (I don’t know why it’s called that but there is a folk song about it – it’s quite fun – apologies for the porny pics) was looming above us. Huge it was (Knob gag No.2). But unlike any Knob that I had seen before. (Final Knob gag)

Climbing Lord Hereford's Knob, photographed from The Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

We trudged up its slope a little wearily, but still enjoying the company of horses…

Wild Horses near Lord Hereford's knob, photographed from The Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

… and now benefiting from the views back into the Black Mountains.

Black Mountains from Lord Hereford's Knob on the Cambrian Way, photographed by Charles Hawes

When we reached the top Neil had a sit…

Lord Hereford's Knob, photographed from the Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

Neil on the Knob

… and Paul, being significantly younger than us (I know, but he’s had a hard life), demonstrated one of his break-dancing moves.

Lord Hereford's Knob, photographed from the Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

Now after such a pleasant walk I am sure that the following pic will offend some of my readers but as you know, this is a “warts and all” blog, so if the sight of a rotting horse’s carcass causes distress look away now.

Carcass of horse on The Cambrain Way near Lord Hereford's Knob, photographed by Charles Hawes

I feel a bit offended by this myself

Here’s the antidote pic.

View from Lord Hereford's Knob, photographed by Charles Hawes

That’s better

There was more drama to come. As we walked down from the Knob towards our car, a farmer on a quad bike appeared, driving up the face of the escarpment and then parking the bike. Strange place to start a walk methought. But we then saw that he was obviously concerned for one of his sheep who was grazing recklessly on the steep slope.

Lord Hereford's Knob. photographed by Charles Hawes

“I want to be alone”

The sheep proved to be as stubborn as it was sure-footed and the farmer, who was less sure-footed, retreated to his bike and sped off for his tea. We, meanwhile, ambled down the now gritted path back to the car.

Path from Lord Hereford's Knob to Gospel Pass, photographed by Charles Hawes

Apologies, again, for the horse.

{ 15 comments }

Cambrian Way: Day 5 and 6 – Llanfoist to Forest Coalpit

May 1, 2016
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  Date walked: 19th February and 10th March 2016 (see below) Distance: around 9 miles Map used: OS Explorer OL13 – Brecon Beacons National Park (Eastern Area) Guide: Cambrian Way by A.J.Drake (7th edition) and website  ****************** OK, here’s the thing. We felt that we didn’t want to finish the last walk by walking across […]

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April 17, 2016
Thumbnail image for Cambrian Way Day 4: Pontypool Park Folly to Llanfoist

Date walked: 19th January 2016 Distance: 10 miles Map used: OS Explorer 152: Newport and Pontypool and OS Explorer OL 13 Brecon Beacons National Park When I posted this on April 17th I reported that Dave (seen with me above) had been very ill and was unlikely to be able to walk with me again. I’m very sad […]

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Thumbnail image for The Cambrian Way Day 3: Risca to Pontypool Park Folly

Date  walked: 28th August 2015 Distance: about 9 miles Map used:OS Explorer 151- Newport and Pontypool ***************** Just Neil and I for this leg of the walk. We met at a little car park at the top of Folly Lane, near, surprise, surprise, the folly and deposited one of our cars there, driving back to […]

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Cambrian Way Day 2: Castell Coch to Risca

March 20, 2016
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Date walked: 10th July 2015 Distance: about 8 miles Map used: OS Explorer 151 (Cardiff and Bridgend) and 152 (Newport and Pontypool) (you might have to scroll out a bit to see the whole route) ********* Today Neil and I were joined by Dave, who you have met before on several occasions. We met up […]

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Cambrian Way Day 1: Cardiff to Castell Coch

March 8, 2016
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  Date walked: 17th June 2015 Distance: 8.75 miles Map used: OS Explorer 151 – Cardiff and Bridgend *********** My apologies for the length of time since the last post. I have been a bit poorly. Normal service will be resumed ASAP. So, day 1 of a project that could take a couple of years to complete, […]

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Walking in Tuscany: Pienza Ring Walk

February 14, 2016
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Date walked: October 4th 2015 Distance: about 6 miles Guide book used: “Walking and eating in Tuscany and Umbria” by James Lasdun and Pia Davis.  Edition published 2004. See website www.walkingandeating.com for comments and corrections. ************* Since my last walk I had been in Siena for a few days, photographing several gardens in the area. Last […]

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Circular walks in Chianti: Lamole Ring Walk

January 31, 2016
Thumbnail image for Circular walks in Chianti: Lamole Ring Walk

Date walked: 30th September 2015 Distance: about 9 miles (but should have been less if I had not got lost) Guide book used: “Walking and eating in Tuscany and Umbria” by James Lasdun and Pia Davis.  Edition published 2004. See website www.walkingandeating.com for comments and corrections. ********* This was the second of my walks when I was […]

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Circular walks in Chianti: Badia a Passignano

January 17, 2016
Thumbnail image for Circular walks in Chianti: Badia a Passignano

  Date walked: 29th September 2015 Distance: about 6 miles Guide book used: “Walking and eating in Tuscany and Umbria” by James Lasdun and Pia Davis.  Edition published 2004. See website www.walkingandeating.com for comments and corrections. *********** Tuscany (taking in the cities of Florence, Pisa and Siena and the countryside in between) has some of Italy’s finest […]

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A tribute to Nigel Buxton

January 3, 2016
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  My uncle, Nigel Buxton, died on November 30th last year aged 91. Nigel was a journalist and  travel writer, working for the  Sunday Telegraph newspaper between 1961 and 1989 – for much of that time as the editor of its travel section. Here is a link to his obituary.  When I was a young child […]

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Copyright Charles Hawes (2012)