Post image for A circular walk around Blorenge and Blaenavon

A circular walk around Blorenge and Blaenavon

December 17, 2012 · 21 comments

Date walked: 5th December 2012

OS Map: Explorer OL 13

Distance: About 9 miles

Starting point:  Car park at Keepers Pond (OS map names it as Pen-ffordd-goch Pond), a half a mile north of Blaenavon.  Map reference SO 254 107. There are no facilities here and no car park charges.

Terrain : The starting point is around 1581 feet up and the highest point of the walk is only about 60 feet higher. The ground varies between firm stone and grass paths and very boggy and quite rough parts across the moor.

 

Keepers Pond, near Blaenavon, Wales, photographed by Charles Hawes. Walking in Wales.

I had planned to follow a route from Kevin Walkers excellent “Undiscovered Wales: 15 Circular walks” which explores some of the rich industrial archaeology of part of the Blaenavon World Heritage Site. That was still my intention when I set off around the left hand side of the blue-black Keepers Pond, his book in hand. The views north and west were stunning and this was the brightest of blue sky days and the visibility was excellent. But it was also very cold – 3 degrees according to my car. The wind chill factor was certainly making it feel freezing and there was frost on the ground and ice on the puddles in the path.

I was glad that I had put on my Damart long johns beforehand and had a fleece gillet under my outer fleece and a windproof jacket in the bag in case I need another layer of protection.  But it felt exhilarating to be high up with such amazing views and in the full, if not very warming, sun. Walkers route was going to immediately take me down to Pwll-du, which I could see was in the shade of the hillside which produced a big “no” in me so I made an instant decision to stay in the sun and carry on this wide gravel path which climbed north east along Blorenge’s western flank.

Path on the side of Blorenge, Wales, photographed by Charles Hawes. Walking in Wales.

In the distance, my first sight of snow this year on the top of one of the higher peaks of the Brecon Beacons National Park (one of you is bound to know which it is).

Sheep on the side of Blorenge and view over the Brecon Beacons photographed by Charles Hawes. Walking in Wales.

And then as this now short grass path turns east, Abergavenny was revealed below and the view straight ahead is to The Skirrid.

View over Abergavenny from Blorenge, Photographed by Charles Hawes. Walking in Wales.

Almost at the most northerly part of the hill was this extraordinary series of bumpy mounds and this rather ugly little building, the function of which remained a mystery (maybe I missed some explanatory board).

Unduklating ground on the north side of Blorenge., photographed by Charles Hawes. Walking in Wales.

Blorenge’s summit of around 1840 feet is only a straightforward half a mile or so from this point but I had “bagged” that peak on another walk at the begging of the year so I was quite content to keep to the obvious wide grass path that continued east through the bracken and heather covered hillside with the sun straight ahead.

The wind was whistling in my ears and high above me the throbbing, insistent noise of the engines passing jets also made themselves heard. I began to think of a word or words to describe their particular drone but was defeated.   I came back to this challenge (and failed) all afternoon; their vapour trails kept grabbing my attention as they streaked the blue skies. Every so often I came across a lone tree that had germinated somehow in this rather challenging of habitats.

Isolated tree growing on the side of Blorenge, photographed by Charles Hawes. Walking in Wales.

The path drops down to a very narrow asphalt road and I was quite happy to follow it for just short of a mile back up to the twin masts that stand at Cefn y Galchen, passing a stunted holly and then a little lay by where the explanatory board had been replaced by graffiti and the signs urging you to take home your rubbish had been ignored by at least one person.

Vanadalised board by the road over Blorenge photographed by Charles Hawes. Walking in Wales.

A finger post before the masts points to a swath that has been cut through the heather and heads south-east. This is rough and very squelchy walking and at times my boots went right into the soft mud or disappeared into the mossy mounds (this stuff isn’t moss, I know, but I don’t know what it is.)

Vegetation on Blorenge, photographed by Charles Hawes. Walking in Wales.

The views remained wonderful – on the one side over the Usk Valley…..

 

View over the Usk Valley from near Blorenge, photographed by Charles Hawes. Waling in Wales.

….and on the other to the unmistakably landscaped and terraced hillside on the far side of Blaenavon.

View to Mynedd Varteg from Carn y Big Fach photographed by Charles Hawes. Walking in Wales.

Looking back this is a view of Blorenge’s  rather  under-stated summit.

Summit of Blorenge from Carn y Big Fach photographed by Charles Hawes. Walking in Wales.

Here’s another of those isolated trees with a view back to the masts.

Isolated tree near Mynedd y Garn Faw, photographed by Charles Hawes. Walking in Wales.

 

About two miles from the masts the path drops gently down to another single track road that goes to Blaenavon . The view over the valley below is now shielded by a conifer wood. Thanks to Ian (see comment below) I  know what fate befell  Tunus.

Roadside memorial near Blaenavon, photographed by Charles Hawes. Walking in Wales.

Googling on H.T.I.D brings up “Hardcore til I die” and I am none the wiser. But Ian (see comment below) offers some insight.

Blaenavon’s houses (at least the ones  I saw) could not be said to be of great architectural interest, being mostly very functional looking bungalows or plain terraces. A park of remembrance was deeply moving though, its four sides lined with gravestones mostly the late C19th. I could have spent the rest of the afternoon slowly reading their poignant  and sometimes banal inscriptions and admiring the intricate work of their creators.

Gravestones in Blaenavon memorial park, photographed by Charles Hawes. Walking in Wales.

Gravestones in Blaenavon memorial park, photographed by Charles Hawes. Walking in Wales.

Gravestones in Blaenavon memorial park, photographed by Charles Hawes. Walking in Wales.

 

As I stood by this more recent stone a passing group of three men told me that this was the only war grave in this field but couldn’t tell me why Private Allcocks memorial has been placed here.

Gravestones in Blaenavon memorial park, photographed by Charles Hawes. Walking in Wales.

From here, and heading up though a small housing estate I found an “official” route which took me along the back of this most easterly boundary of Blaenavon and over  a stream to climb up some bumpy wet and muddy ground that was dotted with iron clad hatches their purpose a mystery.  Perhaps something to do with Welsh Water- I passed a pond and then their fenced off compound and headed for the B4246 just over to the left. Near the point where it joins that road leading to the masts this tree caught my eye. It wasn’t by the roadside and the flowers were fresh. Another mystery.

Flowers in tree: a roadside memorial near Blaenavon, photographed by Charles Hawes. Walking in Wales.

The Keepers Pond car park was just another 100 yards up the road. The sun was low in the sky now and the light even more beautiful, so I wandered about taking more photographs.

Keepers Pond near Blaenavon near sunset, photographed by Charles Hawes. Walking in Wales.

I could see a great opportunity for getting a shot just as the sun dipped behind the horizon. The wind was picking up and it was rapidly getting desperately cold, but at such times when the light is about to be lost or has just appeared  photography becomes exciting as you look and compose and move around to find that special shot.

Sunset over Keepers Pond, near Blaenavon, photographed by Charles Hawes. Walking in Wales.

I think I got it. There could have been others. This wasn’t  the last of the day.

Sunset over Keepers Pond, near Blaenavon, photographed by Charles Hawes. Walking in Wales.

This was.

Keepers Pond, near Blaenavon just after sunset, photographed by Charles Hawes. Walking in Wales.

How different the view would have been when near this pond stood a massive noisy smoking forge. And the valley below was a hive of industrial activity.

 

{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

Neil December 17, 2012 at 8:23 am

Hi Charles. Looks like it was a lovely winters walk. Needless to say, I can’t help with any of the mystery’s. Great photo’s, and good sunsets !!! 🙂

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Charles December 17, 2012 at 6:43 pm

Yes, it was really super. You must get out there with me soon and I can immortalise you here.

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Anne Wareham December 17, 2012 at 10:35 am

Yep, loved the pics – sunset stunning sorry about your wet knees – and the mouse stroking very rewarding. But another mystery – what’s a swath? (think that’s what it said…) XXxxx

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Charles December 17, 2012 at 6:45 pm

Thanks pet. Wet knees are as nothing when one is seeking the ultimate shot!Swath is short for swathe. Must be a Twitter thing. Glad the stroking pics was up to scratch.

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Paul Steer December 17, 2012 at 1:15 pm

Sphagnum moss is the mossy stuff, it has been stolen in large quantities from up there, so much so the police now patrol the area, used by flower arrangers and in something called hanging baskets (best ask Anne). Beautiful photography .

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Anne Wareham December 17, 2012 at 5:33 pm

Hanging baskets are disgusting. Delighted to discover a reason for making them illegal…

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Charles December 17, 2012 at 6:49 pm

Well, there’s many an NGS garden with great hanging baskets.

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Anne Wareham December 18, 2012 at 10:06 am

O ?

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Charles December 17, 2012 at 6:47 pm

Thanks Paul. I will amend the post accordingly. At least hanging baskets are not on my conscience. Are you guilty of them? A man of your taste?

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Bethan Lloyd December 17, 2012 at 9:21 pm

Hi really interested in buying some of those photos, looking for one of the keepers for a present would be greatful of you could get in touch not sure how this site works though as found through google.

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Charles December 18, 2012 at 10:01 am

Hi Bethan. The pics are all taken hand-held on a Canon G12 top-end compact and I have processed the files myself from RAW images. I have checked the metadata and all all them were taken at acceptable shutter speeds, and the file sizes should produce decent A3 prints at standard print resolutions. I could send you a set of all the low res pics for you to have a better look at.

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Julia December 18, 2012 at 9:57 am

Charles, great. You have the knack of exuding the climate through your pix – shiveringly wonderful.
Hanging baskets – god awful – esp when provided a requested ‘contemporary’ garden, only to return to see bits of Swiss stuff hanging from the walls. Give up.

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Charles December 18, 2012 at 10:03 am

Thanks. *blushes* . It was quite a special day. Don’t give up get even!

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Ian Thorpe December 20, 2012 at 1:35 pm

Clearly a wonderful day to choose for this walk. Very much enjoyed your photographs and could feel you getting colder towards the end!

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Charles December 20, 2012 at 3:45 pm

Yes, and haven’t had too many of those of late! Though two more nice day walks are in the pipeline.

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Ian Thorpe December 23, 2012 at 9:48 am

Fiddling around, I found this which may be of interest re the plaque above:

http://www.southwalesargus.co.uk/news/1030493.print/

Having an unusual nickname helps researchers!

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Charles December 23, 2012 at 3:44 pm

Thanks Sherlock! I have amended the post and used your link.

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Ian Thorpe December 23, 2012 at 6:51 pm

It’s a pleasure. This may help with HTID:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UK_Hardcore

Ian

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Charles December 24, 2012 at 3:43 pm

Thank you, my good sleuth. A further amendment will be made to acknowledge your contribution.

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Lydia January 3, 2017 at 10:38 pm

Hiya did some of this walk today, only made the summit and back to the car parks tho so couldn’t quite figure out the route.
My dad thinks the little building is sone thing to do with trams they used for industrial reasons?
Lovely pics.

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Charles January 4, 2017 at 4:06 pm

Thanks for the comment, Lydia. Yes probably something to do with the trams.

Reply

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Copyright Charles Hawes (2012)