2/5/2015 - Pontneddfechan

Another month gone by and I'm sorry to see April go, we had amazing weather for most of the month, I didn't get as much walking in as I wanted but there were other things that needed doing, mostly gardening and drinking Guinness. Never mind, onwards and upwards. Today I did a 6 mile loop around Pontneddfechan including the Gunpowder Works and Silica Mines. Primarily my aim was to take photos to add to the movies shot last month with Pat Davies (these have yet to be added). There is so much history in such a small area in Pontneddfechan that you could spend weeks just walking and enjoyig the interesting places. One of the places I visited was the old bridge which was originally built in the 1600s but extended in 1877. You can see the extension a lot clearer underneath by the difference in the brickwork.


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Steps down to the bridge underneath from river side you can just make out the old on the left from the new on the right by the difference in bricks and the extension is set back from the old bridge.


The steps lead down under the bridge but they according to Pat's wife Christine led down, not to the river, but to a minute house which was perched just above the river, she remembers it being there so it must have been not so long ago. I finally managed to finish one of Pat's videos, it's a bit rough, sorry about that........here it is..........





4/5/2015 - Neuadd - Pen-y-Fan horseshoe - Mayday - 9 miles

Mayday, mayday, where is the sun gone, according to the weather forecast there is a window of sunshine for about 8-10 hours, mayday, mayday there is no sun. Maybe it's because it's 3.30am but there is no moon either and like the last bank holiday on Easter Monday we are only one day off the full moon but the clouds are low and the weather for once is wrong. This walk is featured on the National Trust website and although I've done all the route as various other walks this is the first time for me to do this particular classic so I've been really looking forward to it.

Starting the walk at the new Neuadd car park there is a short cut to the road which takes you to the first reservoir, then across the damn wall and straight up the mountain from there, I changed the NT advised route here and forked off on the right hand path up the gully to the cairn at the top which is shorter and one I was familiar with. The ridge walk didn't reveal the rising sun but I did have a sneaky view of a voluptuous moon for about 10-15 seconds, she was in her full glory, beautiful and then she was gone and I never saw her again. Although the clouds were low the visibility wasn't too bad, about 100 metres and even in the dark I could see well enough to pick out the safest route along the path and with about 40 minutes to sunrise it would have been light enough to read a book, if I'd brought my glasses that is. 

I arrived at my first peak, Corn Du (873mts) at 5.10am then straight onto Pen-y-Fan, I didn't hang around at the top because it was a bit windy and the clag was down so I breakfasted just off the top out of the wind, it was porridge near the point rather than on it. 

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Down the path towards Cribyn I went and the sun that had risen behind the clouds while I was breakfasting poked it's head out for a few seconds just in time for a nice pic of the 'Stairway to Heaven' with the top in the clouds but my camera was broke !!! - The Pen-y-Fan trip does it again, last time I left my zoom lens on the Graig Fan Ddu ridge, this time the auto sensor on my Canon says NO (and it still says no) ! so the iphone is whipped out for the Cribyn shot...........

Just a note about the 'Stairway to Heaven' taken of course from Led Zepplin's song, the version I know bestest (Sandfields speak) is from the live album 'Song Remains the Same'. ( CLICK HERE for the live version on Youtube) In the early days of my TA career we used to run a route from Pont-ar-Daf car park that went to the top of Corn Du, then Pen-y-Fan, down and we'd cut across the side of Cribyn to the top of Fan-y-Big and then we'd run down the Fan-y-Big ridge and cut across the valley and up onto the Cribyn ridge. We'd climb the ridge and onto the stairway, in the illustration above it's where the pink turns to red. This is the 'Stairway to Heaven' because more often than not Cribyn would be in the clouds and you could never see the top until you were on it and it's a series of steps rather than a slope, just like a stairway....... and I love it, no I LOVE IT. In my running days this was where I was at home driving my legs through the pain barriers (yes, there's more than one) to get to heaven first, I'm watching the 'Stairway' now on you tube and Jimmy Paige is in his guitar solo and he's is one with his guitar, they are together they are inseparable, his guitar is an extension of his arms and after 2 and a bit hours on the mountains when we were climbing the 'stairway' I was always felt as one with mountain, it became me and I was it, I was the stairway, my legs and the steps were one. Years later, with our new TA team, we'd transferred regiments from the RCT (Royal Core of Transport) to the RRW (Royal Regiment of Wales), we used to do the same run on boxing day. Firstly we would run the 5 mile road race in Glynneath then drive straight to the Beacons and do the same course, then back to Glynneath for a pastie & chips in the snooker hall. One year there was about a foot of snow and we still managed the route in a respectable time............. and when I die I'm having my ashes spread in several important places and the stairway is one of them, one of the most important. I can hear your clogs ticking over again, the remainder of the route was just the quickest back to the car park, off Cribyn and up towards Pen-y-Fan and cut across to Bwlch Duwynt missing out the top of P-y-F then  straight back to the car. Did you want more ? OK then sometimes we used to do this course from Blaen Llia just up from Ystradfellte taking in the top of Fan Fawr on the way over and on the way back. Happy now ? Just a short note about climbing the stairway, if you thought in my running days I used to run it, think again because for me even if I could have run it which is unlikely then walking would be faster.              

Back to my walk, it went up Cribyn and down to the Roman Road, up Fan-y-Big (719m) and onto Craig Cwmoergwm. The path split here..... 

.....and I took the right fork onto the ridge above Tor Glas, on the ridge I came across an unusual stone marked GH, the main advantage of the ridge as opposed to the Roman Road for heading back down the valley are the views............ 

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..............but if the cloud base is below the ridge then the road would probably be the best bet. I did have good views though so stuck on the ridge and when it curled away to the left I headed on down a small track which took me to the main path. I managed the round trip in 4 hours 18 including breakfast and this was best I've felt on the mountains since breaking my leg last year. I saw just one other person on the mountains, a guy from Essex training for the Fan Dance event. The car park however was filling rapidly when I got back, the bank holiday rush for the Beacons begins again.



08-border-bridge-welcome-to.jpg (249171 bytes) 17-dyke.jpg (211689 bytes) I managed to do another leg my walk around Wales, 7.5 miles on the Offas Dyke, Knighton to Newcastle. For more information on this walk please.............. CLICK HERE 


19/5/2015 - DAI-ATHLON LEG 1 - North to the Island Church

In a similar vein to my walk around Wales I have a plan to do a continuous triathlon relay from the very Northernmost point of Wales (Middle Mouse off the coast of Anglesey) to the most southerly point of Wales, Rhoose point near Barry. I've talked a friend, Heather Pierce into this madcap adventure as well and we are calling it the Dai-athlon. Because the patron saint of Wales is St David (St Dai for short) and my name is Dai as well so the Dai-athlon fits all around. 

Heather & Dai at the most northerly point on mainland Anglesey with Middle Mouse in the background

On this day we did the first leg and the sea around Middle Mouse was a touch bumpy so we started the Dai-athlon at the northernmost point of mainland Anglesey near Porth Llanlleiana and walked 3 miles of the coastline to Cemaes Bay where we went for a dip. A long cycle followed before alighting our trusty bikes just south of Rhosneigr. We then walked/run (wun) to Aberffraw Bay and I walked more than run so I'm blogging it here. This course was closen because I wanted to visit St Cwyfor's Church on Cribanau Island. This 12th century church is cut off when the tide is high so timing the wun for low tide was a key element to this visit. 

Dai with St. Cwyfor's Church and the mountains of Snowdonia in the distance


20/5/2015 - DAI-ATHLON LEG 2 - Anglesey - Coast to Coast

For Leg 2 of the Dai-athlon we plumped for an Anglesey West to East Coast triathlon. Starting at the Aberffraw Bay, where yesterday's triathlon finished we swam an out an back course across the bay and cycled across the island to Beaumaris Castle with a detour through................ wait for it.................... here it comes....... 


  ............ try saying that with a mouthful of your favourite digestive biscuit. Once at Beaumaris we dropped off the bikes, thanks big time to Heather's husband Simon and son Cerith for their support, and headed off towards Puffin Island on the east coast. The coastal path here was mostly on the pebbled beach with the last mile on the road. One interesting rocky section had a lecturer with a group of univerisity students investing the local geology. I had to interrupt the lesson to ask them that age old important question 'Excuse me - is this the way to Amarillo ?' and as we moved we could hear the chorus being sung our new best friends so we did a quick 180 and returned to join them for a top rendition of this classic song.


Heather & Dai at the most easterly point on mainland Anglesey with Puffin Island in the backround, the Great Orme, Llandudno is in the distance on the right hand side of the photo.





Anniversary of Spitfire X4588 crashing in 1942 on Gwaun Nant Ddu  - more to follow soon.

Yesterday I was checking over where I should walk and stumbled across the Brecon Beacons Aircraft Crash Sites info I have tucked away somewhere and out jumped Spitfire X4588 telling me it was the anniversary of the crash so I hastily planned a route to include 4 other crash sites, 2 without wreckage, one recent without wreckage and one on Waun Rydd with a substantial amount. The walk also includes Corn Du, Pen y Fan, Cribyn & Fan y Big. I'm building a special page for this walk so I'll come back and link to it at a later date, meanwhile here is a disappointing sunrise photo at the Spitfire crash site.  












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