Post image for Cambrian Way Day 4: Pontypool Park Folly to Llanfoist

Cambrian Way Day 4: Pontypool Park Folly to Llanfoist

April 17, 2016 · 14 comments

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 to say that he died on April 20th. 

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The more observant reader will notice that well over 4 months have gone by since we did the last section of the walk. Various factors conspired in this delay, though I have to admit that mostly I haven’t liked the weather forecasts. I am not one to grumble (much) if I have to walk in the pouring rain but when I know that getting drenched and having no views is what to expect I would rather stay in bed.

Today the forecast was for a cold, bright day – a perfect day to be in the hills. Dave was able to join us today – you will have met him several times if you are a regular visitor here.

As usual, Neil had planned out itinerary. We were to walk to Llanfoist, on the outskirts of Abergavenny and just below the hill called Blorenge. So Llanfoist was our meeting point, taking my car from there to the start of the walk. Well that was the plan, but a map misreading on Neil’s part brought us to the dead-end of a single track lane  about half a mile  from our intended car park near Pontypool Park Folly. Having impressed Dave with my fluent and speedy reversing and my exemplar three-point-turn we left the car as un-obstructively as possible and made our way on foot.

Roman road near Pontypool folly

Neil’s pic, obviously. Dave’s the one on the left.

The lane had an impressive laid stone surface; a chap we had met as we parked up referred to it as a Roman road and it was signed as such as we reached the top. So, an unexpected, treat.

We headed north. Behind us the top of the folly was visible on the horizon…

Pontypool Park folly, photographed from The Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

It seems that someone has blocked off the car park,

…ahead, a vintage tractor sat chugging away, prompting fantasies of an unusual TDA offence.

Tractor near Pontypool Park Folly, photographed from the Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

Bet it would be fun to have a ride

Said tractor had certainly made an impression on the ground; deeply rutted tracks snaking away to the brow of the hill.

Cambrian way near Pontypool Park, photographed by Charles Hawes

Need to keep your head down here

Looking back, the view to the folly was particularly nice.

Pontypool Park folly, photographed from The Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

Definitely the best pic of the folly so far

At the brow, on Mynydd Garn-wen, was our first trig point of the day – a modest 1,394 feet. Pause for pics to be taken and to admire the views.

Mynydd Garn-wen trig point, photographed from The Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

Dave and Neil -that’s Blaenavon over on the left

 

Mynydd Garn-wen trig point, photographed from The Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

Dave always adopts a unique dress code on our walks

Vanity satisfied, we had an easy mile or so of easy walking on sheep-cropped grass…

The Cambrian way near Mynydd Garn-wen, photographed from The Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

… the hills in the distance were white with snow – the first I had seen that winter.

View from the Cambrian Way near Mynydd Garn-wen photographed by Charles Hawes

Wonder why the nearer hills don’t have the snow?

The ground briefly changed to lumpy and bumpy, raising speculations amongst us about mine workings and spoil heaps. But what do we know?

Lumpy ground on the Cambrian Way near Mynydd Garnclochdy, photographed by Charles Hawes

And I couldn’t find any references to this spot

I did know that it was cold, confirmed by the snazzy patterns of the ice in the passing puddles.

Ice of the Cambrian Way near Mynydd Garnclochdy, photographed by Charles Hawes

I resisted the desire to stamp on it

Our views now were Eastwards. Whilst it was clear and bright where we were, in the Usk valley below, Abergavenny and the Skirrid were distinctly murky, the air almost grey.

View to The Skirrid and Abergavenny, photographed from The Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

Didn’t look like a normal mistiness

It was strangely disturbing – were we witnessing some horrid pollution that we could not understand?

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

That’s a big area to be affected – by what?

As we climbed to the plateau of Mynydd Garnclochdy, we had better views ahead…

Cambrian Way near Garn llech, photographed by Charles Hawes

Beautiful!

….where the wonderfully isolated property of Garn Llech had a great backdrop of those snow-covered hills.

Garn Llech, photographed from The Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

Looks like you may be able to have a holiday here

Somewhere not far ahead of us should have been a minor road that crosses the hill but it was not visible, causing Neil a slight anxiety and a need to consult the map.

Map checking on the Cambrian Way, photographed by Charles Hawes

Safe in Neil’s hands

A mast over to our left was a clear marker, confirming that whilst we may not have been on the”official” footpath, we were certainly where we wanted to be.

Communication mast above Cwmavon, photographed from The Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

Could be my favourite pic of the day

The road was there, of course, but barely visible from our vantage point.

Cambrian Way near Blaenavon, photographed from The Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

Off in search of the road

The road crossed, the next couple of miles were quite hard going.

Cambrian Way near Carn y Big Fach, photographed by Charles Hawes

Savour this – not many sheep pics on today’s walk

The ground, still peppered by thin ice….

Ice on the Cambrian Way near Blaenavon, photographed by Charles Hawes

Interesting holes

… was increasingly soft and boggy…..

Cambrian Way near Pwll Mawr, photographed by Charles Hawes

Careful lads, don’t get a bootfull

… but easy enough to follow.

Cambrian Way near Pwll Mawr, photographed by Charles Hawes

That might be Carn y Defaid on the right – a scheduled ancient monument if so.

The views to the left of us….

Cambrian Way near Carn y Defaid, photographed by Charles Hawes

Nice composition, eh?

…and to the right were still fabulous, though The Skirrid was increasingly looking like a brown iceberg in a sea of smog.

View to The Skirrid, photographed from The Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

I don’t often do similies but I think this works

Ahead the twin masts at Cefn y Galchen came into view, though it seemed to take a long time from first sighting until we began to see them more clearly.

Twin masts of WT station at Cefn y Galchen, photographed from The Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

Our path took us to the masts and its adjoining car park.

car park near the Twin masts of WT station at Cefn y Galchen, photographed from The Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

I don’t often take pics of cars

This was near the site of a colliery, though my superficial researches have come up with no more information about it. Sorry. Another road crosses the mountain here …

Mountain road by the twin masts of WT station at Cefn y Galchen, photographed from The Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

Still quite murky down there

….running straight down to the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal on the east side and to Pen -ffordd- Goch or Keepers Pond on the west, itself a man-made feature created for the C18th Garnddyrys Forge.

The road crossed, we had another mile of boggy mile and a half ahead of us. The sun was already quite low in the sky, illuminating beautifully the brown reeds and grasses.

View over the Usk Valley from near Blorenge, photographed from The Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

By the time we reached the trig point for Blorenge, the view back to the masts was spectacular…..

View to the twin masts of WT station at Cefn y Galchen, photographed from The Cambrian Way near Blorenge by Charles Hawes

Actually there is quite a competition for my favourite pic of the day

… and those to the valley below even more misty and murky.

View to Abergavenny and the Usk Valley from Blorenge, photographed by Charles Hawes

The summit of Blorenge (1841 feet), marked by a wide cairn,  is not very striking the land around falling gently rather than steeply, but we took our statutory pictures before heading for the hill’s edge. All the pics are good so here they are.

The trig point on Blorenge

 

Trig point on Blorenge

Neil, takes quite a nice pic under my close supervision

 

Trig point on Blorenge, photographed by Charles Hawes

Its called Blorenge, Neil

The northern-most edge of Blorenge is another undulating terrain where man has been doing all sorts of things in the past, but which are now grassed over, leaving craters for the sheep to graze and for us to wonder about.

Blorenge, near Abergavenny, photographed by Charles Hawes

# we, like sheep

The view from it’s side overlooking Abergavenny is fab.

View of Abergavenny from Blorenge, photographed by Charles Hawes

Kinda strange pic but I like it

Neil took this rather nice pic of me enjoying the last of the sun.

Getting up Blorenge from Llanfoist is a long “pull”, but the path is clear enough. Getting down was another matter.  Our map showed a track skirting the hill for 3/4 mile before reaching a footpath. We decided to take a more direct route down.

Descending Blorenge, photographed from The Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

It being more direct, it was also more steep but we could still see well enough to pick our way round the boulders.

Climbing on Blorenge

A great shot from Neil, here

When we did re-join the path, the camera was at its tolerance for shooting on low light, so it all begins here to look a bit blurry….

Footpath on Blorenge, photographed by Charles Hawes

Action photos

.. and by the time we reached the bottom of the hill it was really quite dark.

Trees blocking footpath up Blorenge, photographed by Charles Hawes

We could have done without these obstacles

On reaching the canal we were a bit flummoxed by how we were intended to cross it until we saw a tunnel running under both canal and an adjacent house.

House near the Brecon Beacons Canal at Llanfoist, photographed by Charles Hawes

We could hear running water but not see anything so it was all a little bit scary but we got through without mishap.  From there, it was just a few hundred yards back to the car park.

St Faith's church, Llanfoist, photographed by Charles Hawes

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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Neil April 17, 2016 at 8:36 am

Great pics (and very for thoughts and best wishes to Dave).

Reply

Charles April 17, 2016 at 5:34 pm

Thanks. I think I owe you some positives! You did a great job map reading us once we got started.x

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John April 17, 2016 at 10:38 am

My thesaurus has now run out of words to describe photos so I’m going to have to start at “great” again. Though in that header photo it looks like you’re feeling smug because you managed to nick the packet of jelly babies from Dave’s pocket without anyone noticing. Good that Neil is as adept at map holding as at pointing. And good that you were able to skip the last half mile of that boggy ground. I think you’ve actually got a photograph of the remains of Cefn-y-Galchen (or Craig-y-Galchen – I’ve seen both names used) colliery. It’s that dip and mound to the right of the road running down from the masts.

Very sorry about Dave’s illness.

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Charles April 17, 2016 at 5:37 pm

I think I need to look at mine for some more adjectives for description of views. I feel I am repeating myself. Neil is an excellent holder of the map. Almost a natural. And thanks for the place-naming, as ever.

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Anne Wareham April 17, 2016 at 10:44 am

You nearly returned by torchlight – did you have one?!

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Neil April 17, 2016 at 11:48 am

But of course 🙂

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Charles April 17, 2016 at 5:37 pm

Indeed. And a whistle. And an emergency blanket.

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Paul Steer April 17, 2016 at 1:26 pm

Fabulous views and light – a good day in the hills for the three of you.

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Charles April 17, 2016 at 5:38 pm

Thanks, Paul. Glad you were able to make the more recent one!

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Valerie Lapthorne April 18, 2016 at 4:46 pm

Charles. You could prepare ” gentle walks with a zimmer” so Dave doesn’t miss out completely.

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Charles April 24, 2016 at 5:33 pm

That’s a nice thought Valerie but sadly Dave died on April 20th.

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Michelle April 20, 2016 at 1:55 pm

Great pics – I like the one of Abergavenny. I suppose it makes a change to use landmarks other than the sea to find your way! Best wishes to your friend too. Michelle

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Alan May 22, 2016 at 9:41 am

So sorry to hear about the passing of your friend Dave. No doubt the remaining stages will give much time for reflection, and may you treasure the memories.

Reply

Charles May 29, 2016 at 1:20 pm

Thanks Alan, though “passing” is not a word that fits for me when people die. I think of death as more final, not a transition. Hence, perhaps, the loss seems greater?

Reply

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