A wonderful wintry walk in the Brecon Beacons climbing Tor-y-Foel in the Brecon Beacons National Park

Date Walked: 8th December 2017

Distance: About 6 miles

Map used: OL13 : Brecon Beacons National Park – Eastern Area

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Climbing Tor-y-Foel was Neil’s suggestion.  A fairly minor hill of 1,800 feet and such a short route would normally present us with little challenge. But when we were both feeling unfit and in the snow, this proved to be a demanding but exhilarating afternoon.

I have had complaints about the lack of pictures of me here, so we’ll start with one of Neil’s.

Charles Hawes portrait by Neil Smurthwaite

The quality is a bit rubbish but I do think I look cute with my red bonnet.

We had left our cars at the Coach and Horses at Llangynidr – having got permission of the staff, of course. We did, really. From there we had half a mile on the lane that climbs south-westwards.

View to Tor-y Foel, Brecon Beacons, photographed by Charles Hawes

That’s our destination – top right

The road was clear of snow but  there was plenty on the hillside and as soon as we turned off the lane we received a flurry.

View over Usk Valley in snow near Llangynidr photographed by by Charles Hawes

Nicely made visible by the backdrop of trees

The sheep were indifferent to  the new snowfall.

Sheep above the Usk Valley near Llangynidr

Notice how neatly I get sheep into this post so early

In fact, they continued to graze through the few inches that covered these lower slopes of the hill.

Sheep grazing on snow covered hills in the Usk Valley near Llangynidr- photographed by Charles Hawes

As you can see, this was the briefest of showers

As we climbed, so the snow became a little thicker, and we became a little slower.

Snow covered hills in the Usk Valley near Llangynidr- photographed by Charles Hawes

Too windy here for the snow to stay on the trees

It was quite hard work as the ground was slippery and the snow drags on the feet.

Climbing Tor-y Foel in the snow, Brecon Beacons, photographed by Charles Hawes

Neil’s already a bit puffed out

This was not a problem for the sheep, who were basically standing still.

Sheep grazing on snow covered hills in the Usk Valley near Llangynidr- photographed by Charles Hawes

Such a clever sheep-link, don’t you think?

The view over the Usk demonstrated how a few hundred feet makes all the difference as to whether snow will lay or not.

View over Usk Valley in snow near Llangynidr photographed by by Charles Hawes

It’s probably far more complicated than this

As we climbed, dark snow-filled clouds were periodically whipping down the Usk Valley, giving us brief episodes of near blizzard conditions.

Climbing Tor-y Foel in the snow, Brecon Beacons, photographed by Charles Hawes

Proper winter weather!

Neil reverted to being properly wrapped up.

Climbing Tor-y Foel in the snow, Brecon Beacons, photographed by Charles Hawes

It was decidedly chilly in the wind.

Time for a cheerful picture of me.

Climbing Tor-y Foel in the snow, Brecon Beacons, photographed by Charles Hawes

I think the blue hood with the red bonnet is a good look, too.

There was a brief  break in the snowfall and a local couple (we knew they were local cos’ they told us so) passed us on their way down from the top. No views for them they said.

Climbing Tor-y Foel in the snow, Brecon Beacons, photographed by Charles Hawes

I was glad of my sticks, too

We were a little disappointed that when we reached the diminutive cairn that marked the top of the hill the blizzard came back with a vengeance. This did nothing to quash Neil’s appetite for a triumphant summit pic.

Climbing Tor-y Foel in the snow, Brecon Beacons, photographed by Charles Hawes

And very proud and intrepid he looks, too

But as I posed for my portrait, the snow nearly stopped and our views improved.

Climbing Tor-y Foel in the snow, Brecon Beacons, photographed by Charles Hawes

Nice pic, Neil

The sun was trying to break through the wintry murk…..

Climbing Tor-y Foel in the snow, Brecon Beacons, photographed by Charles Hawes

As snaps go, I’m quite pleased with this one

…, and then it did!

Climbing Tor-y Foel in the snow, Brecon Beacons, photographed by Charles Hawes

The wind was bitterly cold, though, so we came off the top of the hill and headed northwards down the slope towards Talybont-on Usk.

Below to our left was the Talybont reservoir…

View of the Talybont reservoir from near Tor y Foel in the Brecon Brecons, photographed by Charles Hawes

…..and above and beyond that a wonderful view towards Pen Y fan and its sister peaks.

View from Tor-y Foel to Pen y Fan in the snow, Brecon Beacons, photographed by Charles Hawes

We were very excited, and there was a lot of “wowing” and “look at thating”  and taking of pictures.

Near Tor y Foel in The Brecon Beacons in the snow, photographed by Charles Hawes

Near Tor y Foel in The Brecon Beacons in the snow, photographed by Neil Smurthwaite

Those clear wrap around glasses were brilliant at stopping my eyes from watering in the cold wind.

Here’s an especially nice one of Neil.

Near Tor y Foel in The Brecon Beacons in the snow, photographed by Charles Hawes

It was too cold to hang about though, so we waded through the thick snow-covered grass to return to the track that would lead us off the hill…..

Near Tor y Foel in The Brecon Beacons in the snow, photographed by Charles Hawes

…enjoying the now clear views to the reservoir…

The Talybont reservoir from near Tor y Foel in The Brecon Beacons in the snow, photographed by Charles Hawes

Love that fringe of larch

…the lines of the hedges.

View from near Tor y Foel in The Brecon Beacons in the snow, photographed by Charles Hawes

.., and the hardy Hawthornes surrounded by glowing bracken.

Near Tor y Foel in The Brecon Beacons in the snow, photographed by Charles Hawes

Made all the more glowing but my heavy saturation in Lightroom

Another brief squally snow shower surprised us near the bottom of the hill..

Near Tor y Foel in The Brecon Beacons in the snow, photographed by Charles Hawes

Not at all surprised – and carrying a lamb?

… but as we reached the lane that descends to Talybont the sun broke through again…

Lane near Tor y Foel in The Brecon Beacons in the snow, photographed by Charles Hawes

…. making the most of the gorse flowers.

Gorse flowers near Tor y Foel in The Brecon Beacons in the snow, photographed by Charles Hawes

“When gorse is out of bloom, kissing is out of season”.

We followed this lane for a quarter of a mile as it snaked down the side of the hill.

Lane near Tor y Foel in The Brecon Beacons in the snow, photographed by Charles Hawes

Such a pleasing curve!

As the lane levelled out we left it and headed east now following the route of the Usk Valley Walk towards Llangynidr.  The snow was still on the ground  which was now soft and treacherously slippery.

A farmer zoomed up the hill on his quad…

Lane near Tor y Foel in The Brecon Beacons in the snow, photographed by Charles Hawes

…. giving us a grin as he passed at speed.

We  were low enough now for the grass to be beneath our feet, albeit, sodden slippery grass. Ahead (I think) was a fine still snow-covered view of Pen Cerrig- calch, above Crickhowell.

View to Sugar Loaf in the snow

A little further on we dropped down to finish our walk beside the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal.

Monmouthsire and Brecon canal near Llangynidr, photographed by Charles Hawes

Pause for a little kit talk.

The beady eyed may have noticed a little case attached to the shoulder strap of my rucksack.

Charles Hawes with a Clakit attached to his rucksack

Warning! Double chin alert!!

This is a Clakit Smartphone Strap Pack.  I don’t know about you but I am always have my  phone with me on walks and I am always forgetting and changing which pocket I have got it in. So I spend a lot of time in a mild state of frustration and in fiddling around in pockets. This neat bit of kit has a very solid clip-fixing to the strap is big enough to take phone and cover and is made of heavy-duty nylon.  Problem solved – as long as I remember that I have it there.

I really love canal-side walking. (Well, apart from the last but one time I was here and we found a load of dead ducks floating in the water). And what better way to end the day by doing so in a snow shower.

The Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal at Llangynidr, photographed by Charles Hawes

 

Happy New(ish) Year

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Copyright Charles Hawes (2012)