A delightful autumnal walk following the Cambrian Way in Carmarthenshire from Llandovery to Rhandirmwyn

Date walked: 2nd November 2016

Distance: about 9 miles

Map used: OS Explorer  187- Llandovery

Guide book: Cambrian Way by AJ Drake (7th edition)

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

I joined  Neil and Paul around 9.15 as they were finishing their Full English (no nod to Welsh ingredients) at the Kings Head Inn where we had stayed the night. By 10.30 they had got Neil’s car from Llanddeusant, re-deposited it at the end of today’s walk and were back at the pub. I am very indulged.

Yesterday’s walk completed what Drake (see Guide book) describes as Southern section of his Cambrian Way; he reckons it was 111 miles – you can tot up what I reckon we have done so far. The Central section should be around 86 miles.

Although the ethos of the route is to take the higher ground, there is no path on the ridge heading north from Llandovery so we  accepted Drake’s guidance and took a route that followed a minor road for the first few miles passing St Dingat’s (a new Saint to me) church on the edge of town.

St Dingat's church, Llandovery, photographed from The Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

It was the most perfect of bright and sunny mornings.

Cambrian Way north of Llandovery, Carmathenshire, photographed by Charles Hawes

I reckon Neil is map reading

This little lane seems only to serve a very few farms and isolated houses and was as quiet as you could wish for.

Cambrian Way north of Llandovery, Carmathenshire, photographed by Charles Hawes

We climbed gently and steadily for  two or three miles, pausing at times to enjoy the views to the hills around us, framed by the branches of roadside oaks, of which there were many.

Cambrian Way north of Llandovery, Carmathenshire, photographed by Charles Hawes

Cambrian Way north of Llandovery, Carmathenshire, photographed by Charles Hawes

It was incredibly peaceful and we quite naturally separated (Neil at the lead) enjoying (for me at least) the tranquillity of the place.

The Hawthornes  were mostly still laden with their bright red fruits- perhaps they are not so palatable to the birds?

Hawthorn on Cambrian Way north of Llandovery, Carmathenshire, photographed by Charles Hawes

There were several next to the shell of a railway goods carriage…….

Hawthorns by the Cambrian Way north of Llandovery, Carmathenshire, photographed by Charles Hawes

….. which was very similar to the one that I had  just finished rehabilitating at home.

Railway carriage by Cambrian Way north of Llandovery, Carmathenshire, photographed by Charles Hawes

(Mine looked like this when I started work on it a year ago……

Railway Carriage at Veddw, Monmouthshire, photographed by Charles Hawes

…. and after a year’s work.)

Railway Carriage at Veddw, Monmouthshire, photographed by Charles Hawes

We climbed to about 800 feet, our views over the surrounding countryside getting more and more pleasing as we gained height.

Cambrian Way north of Llandovery, Carmarthenshire, photographed by Charles Hawes

We re-united at a house with a recent conversion to a holiday let called Owl Barn – a peer through the windows showing it to be very up-market. Here is a link to it.

Owl barn on the Cambrian Way north of Llandovery, Carmarthenshire, photographed by Charles Hawes

This was the kind of  landscape where you might be forgiven for thinking that all is right with the world.

View to the Brecon Beacons from Cambrian Way north of Llandovery, Carmarthenshire, photographed by Charles Hawes

The perfect advert to attract visitors to Wales?

Even the sheep seemed happy.

Ram in fields next to Cambrian Way north of Llandovery, Carmarthenshire, photographed by Charles Hawes

He most certainly has a smile on his face

Just past a property called Llettyrhaflaeth we turned off our lane to take  a farm track for about a mile. This was waterlogged and so muddy in one section that we had to cling onto the barbed wire fence in order to avoid a bootful.

Cambrian Way north of Llandovery, Carmarthenshire, photographed by Charles Hawes

Even Paul managed it

Fortunately we all made it without mishap and we were soon back to admiring the views.

The next couple of miles of track gently descended towards the Towy Valley. We stopped for a short break to have  a drink in a field above a steep bank whilst we still had the sun.

Thanks to Paul for this pic

A alder-filled wood near the river  offered an interesting change of scene….

….. but soon we were back in the sunlight, sharing its warmth with the occasional Red Admiral.

Having reached very close to the Towy, we took a track that led through the yard of what the map has as Gwernpwll  farm; it looked more like some kind of outdoor pursuits place.

Gwerrnpwll farm - Coleg Elidyr near Rhandirmwyn photographed from The Cambrian way by Charles Hawes

A little post-walk researching revealed that this is attached to the nearby Coleg Elidyr and is part of the Camphill Communities for people with learning disability.  In a barn in the main yard I noticed a lama inside.

Gwernpwll farm, near Rhandirmwyn, Carmarthenshire photographed from the Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

It hid before I fired up the camera, so you’ll have to take my word for it

As we left the farm a guy told us that we would meet a flock of sheep in a few minutes. And we did.

Sheep of Gwernpwll Farm near Rhandirmwyn, photographed from the Cambrian way by Charles Hawes

We stood aside to let them pass

Although we were in the river valley, it was still quite open and the sun shining through the trees continued to delight.

Tree in field near Rhandirmwyn, photographed from the Cambrian way by Charles Hawes

We crossed the field….

Field near Rhandirmwyn, photographed from the Cambrian way by Charles Hawes

….turned sharp left and passed the sewage works….

Sewage works at Rhandirmwyn, photographed from the Cambrian way by Charles Hawes

… and found ourselves at a caravan site.

Caravan site at Rhandirmwyn, photographed from the Cambrian way by Charles Hawes

Tidy – and deserted

The site is next to the river and a path follows its banks. We took this and found a nice seat by the river for a late lunch.

Seatt by River Towy at the caravan site near Rhandirmwyn photographed from The Cambrian way by Charles Hawes

Thanks to Neil for taking this pic

There was shrubby tree with bright yellow fruits which I should know the name of but can’t remember it.

Tree by River Towy near Rhandirmwyn photographed from The Cambrian way by Charles Hawes

Come on, one of must know this one

The riverside path  passed a field where someone had kindly provided toilets for the resident sheep.

Field of caravan site near Rhandirmwyn photographed from The Cambrian way by Charles Hawes

A little lane crossed over the river (turn right here for the village of Rhandirmwyn)….

River Towy near Rhandirmwyn photographed from The Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

…. and our path followed the bank of the river on the other side. This path became increasingly narrow and indistinct. We were following a tributary of the river now and it seemed like not many people had been there recently.

Tributary of the River Towy near Rhandirmwyn photographed from The Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

We were having to clamber over fallen trees and it was getting a bit soft underfoot; we passed an interesting little culvert.

Culvert near Rhandirmwyn photographed from The Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

Why?

Neil was getting a little concerned at this point about whether we were on the right path but then Paul, who was in front, found that it veered left and climbed the bank to meet the lane which we had met briefly as it crossed the river. This was welcome.

Near Rhandirmwyn photographed from The Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

The lane showed me something I had never seen before – a property where the owners had colour coordinated their woodwork and their car.

House near Rhandirmwyn photographed from The Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

I wonder if the theme contnues inside?

Our Guide had mentioned that there was a pub and shop at Rhandirmwyn, but did not mentioned The Towy Bridge Inn. though it is shown on its map. I halfheartedly suggested we might like a drink but this was met with such an equally halfhearted response  so we didn’t stop. I regret this now. I bet it had cake.

The Towy Bridge Inn near Rhandirmwyn photographed from The Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

This is really spooky – notice the colour of the bike and the pub

We did stop to admire the Rhandirmwyn Bridge. Drake refers to this as the Towy Bridge and designated it as “Checkpoint 15” –  the check points are what he considers need to be visited in order to be “doing” the Cambrian Way.

The Towy Bridge near Rhandirmwyn photographed from The Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

OK, its not exactly beautiful

It’s been there for over 100 years.

Rhandirmwyn Bridge photographed from The Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

A little way after the bridge we left the lane to take a path off to the right. We were entering the Doethie valley – which Drake considers to be the most attractive valley in the whole of the Cambrian Way.

The slopes of the copper-coloured bracken with its skirt of colouring deciduous trees was certainly a lovely sight.

The Doethie Valley, photographed from The Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

Our path followed a track which led down to a field by the river Doethie. In fact Neil reckoned that we  (meaning he) had missed a path staying above the valley.  The field had a couple of  horses who looked a little under-weight to me.

Horses in the Doethie Valley, Carmarthenshire, photographed from the Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

They were friendly, though and Paul had a little commune with one.

Horse in the Doethie Valley, Carmarthenshire, photographed from the Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

You smell nice

The sun was just about to dip below the horizon but I had time for a few more shots of the light through the trees.

Doethie Valley, Carmarthenshire, photographed from the Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

At the far side of the field we did find the path that we should have been on and this took us East, following the bend in the river.

Doethie Valley, Carmarthenshire, photographed from the Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

At the bottom of the path was a property called Gallt-y bere. This seemed a bit of a rough old place and I was a bit concerned that another horse in a stable looked quite thin.

Horse at Gallt-y bere in the Doethie Valley, Carmarthenshire, photographed by Charles Hawes

What was even more worrying was that the owner had parked  his car and trailer so close to Neils car that we were not sure if he could get in.

 Gallt-y bere in the Doethie Valley, Carmarthenshire, photographed by Charles Hawes

He did manage, at a squeeze.

This had been one of the best days of the walk so far. Not for the drama of the landscape but for that very special and rare combination of the most beautiful day and one of the most peaceful parts of the countryside that I had come across in Wales.  As I write this we will be returning next week to spend another day in this valley followed by a night in “the most remote Youth Hostel in Wales”. I can hardly wait. You will have to.

 

 

 

 

{ 8 comments }

Cambrian Way day 13: Llanddeusant to Llandovery

February 5, 2017
Thumbnail image for Cambrian Way day 13: Llanddeusant to Llandovery

A gentle hike through the Carmarthenshire countryside, following the Cambrian Way from Llanddeusant to Llandovery, and encountering some beautiful wild horses Date walked: 1st November 2016 Distance: about 11 miles Map used: OPS Explorer OL 12 – Brecon Beacons National Park (Western Area) Guide book: Cambrian Way by AJ Drake (7th edition) ************** It had […]

Read the full article →

Les Plus Beaux Villages de France: The upper Dordogne, final day – Loubressac to St Cere

January 22, 2017
Thumbnail image for Les Plus Beaux Villages de France: The upper Dordogne, final day – Loubressac to St Cere

For the first time in a weeks walking in the Dordogne we come across the walnuts being harvested. From the village of  Loubressac we followed the edge of the Parc Des Causses De Quercy to the Plus Beaux Village de France of Autoire, visiting the ancient Chateau des Anglais perched on the side of the […]

Read the full article →

Les Plus Beaux Villages de France: The upper Dordogne, Day 3, 4 and 5 – Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne to Loubressac

January 8, 2017
Thumbnail image for Les Plus Beaux Villages de France: The upper Dordogne, Day 3, 4 and 5 – Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne to Loubressac

October 12th: Rest day in Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne October 13th: Beaulieu to Carennac – 10.5 miles October 14th: Carennac to Loubressac – 9.5 miles   This  self-guided walk was booked through Keith Starr of Dordogne Experience. Day 3 was designated a rest day, but we didn’t really feel the need for a rest so we followed a circular […]

Read the full article →

Les Plus Beaux Villages de France: The upper Dordogne, Day 2 – Meyssac to Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne

December 18, 2016
Thumbnail image for Les Plus Beaux Villages de France: The upper Dordogne, Day 2 – Meyssac to Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne

Those who regularly read this blog may notice a new logo for the UK Blog Awards to the right of this post. I have been nominated in the travel category. I would be very pleased if you would vote for me – before December 19th – by clicking on the logo to link to the voting […]

Read the full article →

Les Plus Beaux Villages de France: The upper Dordogne, Day 1 – Cartassac to Meyssac

December 5, 2016
Collonges-la-Rouge, Dordogne, France, photographed by Charles Hawes

Those who regularly read this blog may notice a new logo for the UK Blog Awards to the right of this post. I have been nominated in the travel category. I would be very pleased if you would vote for me by clicking on the logo to link to the voting page.  Date walked: 10th October […]

Read the full article →

Cambrian Way day 12: Bwlch Bryn-rhudd to near Llanddeusant

November 13, 2016
Thumbnail image for Cambrian Way day 12: Bwlch Bryn-rhudd to near Llanddeusant

Date walked: 9th September 2016 Distance: around 12 miles Map used: OS Explorer OL 1 2- Brecon Beacons National Park (Western area) Guide followed: Cambrian Way  by A.J. Drake – 7th edition ************** Today Paul, Neil and I  were joined by a good friend of Neil’s called Malvern (no, I never did ask where he got […]

Read the full article →

From Lucca to San Vivaldo, San Gimignano and Abbadia Isola

October 31, 2016
Thumbnail image for From Lucca to San Vivaldo, San Gimignano and Abbadia Isola

Just to re-cap, I had been invited on a press trip via Italian Wonder Ways to be introduced to the pilgrim route called the Via Francigena. This was our second day.  Date: 23rd September 2016 Location: Tuscany, Italy Distance: If  we had been walking on the Via Francigena then this would have been a trek around […]

Read the full article →

An Introduction to the Via Francigena and a walk around Lucca

October 16, 2016
Thumbnail image for An Introduction to the Via Francigena and a walk around Lucca

  Date: 22nd September 2016 Location: Lucca, Tuscany, Italy ******** The back storey The consortium of Italian Wonder Ways (see my tab on the home page) had invited me and 70 journalists and bloggers from all over the world to participate in an introductory week to one of the 5 main pilgrim routes in central […]

Read the full article →
Copyright Charles Hawes (2012)