Dai's walk around Wales blog - June 2020


1 June 2020 - Sunrise walk & swim Llyn y Fan Fawr - SWIMMING THE BEAM - DAY 1

I'm captivated by the reflection of the sun on the water when it is low. When you take photos of the sun in this state then there is a sunbeam that travels across the water from the sun to the lens of your camera. Post sunrise and pre-sunset are the only times you see this and you need to be in position next to the water to achieve the desired photo effect. During the edit of this photograph................ 

.............I had a moment of inspiration, the thought, wouldn't it be nice to swim along this sunbeam at sunrise, the sun is quite high here, its about an hour after sunrise and the beam is quite spread out but I knew from previous photos I've taken that it would be thinner at sunrise and so it lodged in my that it should be done and so on this day I decided that I should swim the sunbeam at Llyn y Fan Fawr at sunrise. Llyn y Fan Fawr being the almost perfect location having low sides on its eastern shores. So I began a journey to SWIM THE BEAM.


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pinking up early doors, about 40 minutes pre-sunrise there she blows there she blows again this time with a lighter shot. Llyn y Fawr from the beach

time for a swimmy swimmy swim - the sun has beam and gone.


2 June 2020 - Sunrise walk & swim Llyn y Fan Fawr - SWIMMING THE BEAM - DAY 2

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This was my first attempt at swimming the beam, when I say an attempt, there was a loose aim to swim the beam, I knew I wouldn't get it right on day 1 so the main objective for the walk was to enjoy it, actually that's always the main objective so there's no change there. The walk to the lake was slow because I wanted to challenge myself and walk without lights, and starting off 90 minutes before sunrise it was quite dark. The early part of the walk was slow and I was 10 minutes short of the lake when sunrise happened without my permission, it was 6 minutes early according to my clock as my 5 minutes to sunrise alarm and gone off. I suppose being 600 metres high, there is less of an angle to the horizon and so the horizon is actually further away than if I was at sea level which I suspect the timings for sunrise at taken from. 

I settled myself onto the morraine below the Fan Hir ridge and as the sunrise was quite shapeless I attempted to get those white fluffy plants into the foreground. My research, see below identified these as cotton grass. 

After stopping for sunrise, I made it to Llyn y Fan Fawr about 15 minutes after sunrise and swum up and down. It was a beautiful experience and I stopped in the middle on the way back and just to see if I could see how deep the lake was I went down a metre or so. The buoyancy on my website prevented me from going down to deep. I swear that heard music underwater, honestly, it was really strange, not eerie just strange.

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What are those plants called butt? 


I call ed upon my friend google and entered the search term........... white fluffy plants brecon beacons 

First page up was the website plantlife.org is one that identifies plants in the park (mainly cliff areas that are rare - a conseravtion project dated 2016. ( CLICK HERE

The second website I tried was the Brecon Beacons National Park website understanding biodiversity section blankjet bog page mentioned "the fluffy seed heads of cotton grass" and this sounded just what I'm looking for.

so I entered the search term - cotton grass - which brought up photos of the very plant I'm looking for ............

Cottongrass (Common) Eriophorum angustifolium

 with links to the following dedicated web pages, again on plantlife.org 

"Cottongrass is a member of the sedge family and so not technically a grass at all. It thrives in the harshest of environments where it can take advantage of the lack of competition. After fertilisation in early summer, the small, unremarkable green and brown flowers develop distinctive white seed-heads that resemble tufts of cotton. Combined with its ecological suitability to bogs, these characteristics give rise to the plant's alternative name, bog cotton."

The Did You Know section on this page throws up some really interesting facts:

Cottongrass can grow densely enough to disguise bogs and wetlands. Consequently, it may be used as an indicator of areas which are hazardous to travel through.

The fluffy white fronds were once used as a feather substitute in pillow stuffing in Suffolk and Sussex.

Experiments have been done to see if a usable thread can be derived from the seed-plumes. However, the fibres are too short and brittle.

It has been used in the production of candle wicks and paper in Germany. In Scotland, Cottongrass was used to dress wounds during First World War.

Cottongrass seeds and stems are edible and are used in traditional Native American cuisine by Alaska natives, Inupiat people and Inuit. The roots and leaves are also edible and, owing to their astringent properties, are used by the Yupik peoples for medicinal purposes. Through a process of infusion, decoction and poultice they are used to treat aliments of the gastrointestinal tract and in the Old World for the treatment of diarrhoea.

It is the county flower of Manchester. The white plumes of Cottongrass are a familiar sight in wet hollows on the moors above the city. They are an emblem both of their boggy habitat and of the wide open spaces. ( CLICK HERE FOR THE SOURCE OF THIS INFORMATION ). 

The wildlife trust also has a page (CLICK HERE) although its not as detailed as plantlife.org The page on the Wild Alba Tours website gives a lovely narrative about how to tell the difference between sedges, grasses and rushes. 

Grasses, sedges and rushes are Graminoids. These are herbaceous plants which have long blade leaves and often occupy areas of open ground such as grasslands and moorland. To a relative beginner, these can at times look quite alike but the short saying ‘sedges have edges, rushes are round and grasses are hollow right up from the ground’ can help with sorting out whether it is a rush, a sedge or a grass you are looking at. As ever there are exceptions to this rule!

Cotton-grass, or bog-cotton as it is sometimes known, is actually a sedge. Following the ‘sedges have edges’ rule, a cross section through the stem shows that it is triangular in shape. This is also very obvious if you roll the stem between your fingers. ( CLICK HERE FOR THE SOURCE OF THIS INFORMATION )

This page also goes on to say that there are more than 25 different species. One is enough for me, its cotton grass and its a sedge because as well all know "sedges have edges" and that is all I need to know........

5 June 2020 - Llyn Fawr

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I made the short drive to the base of the Craig y Llyn ridge and walked to the edge of Llyn Fawr in the hope that I could get a good photograph of sunset. The angles were all wrong to see the sun and the sky was full of white fluffy things but there was some nice pinking up over the central Brecon Beacons. 



6 June 2020 - Treasure Hunt

One man's trash is another man's treasure they say, my Rugby Relics business is testimony to this, what to some people is rugby rubbish, to me can be rugby gold. My point is that it is interesting what some people collect or perceive to be useful while others consider it rubbish. The reason behind this introduction is that on the way to my morning swim on this day I came across an interesting phenomenon. Bin emptying on a mass scale. All the bins had the rubbish taken out of them except the doggy poo bin which was only half empty. Rather than condemning the person that did this maybe we should ask the question why this happened. Did the empty the bins because..........

It was a drop off point for drugs, weapons or something else illegal?

It is rubbish art in the style of Banksy?

Bored with nothing else to do?

Deliberately out to annoy people?

Someone is on a destruction phase of their life?


I would be interested to hear any other ideas people may have as to why this happened.............

I'd like to think it is the start of an appreciation for rubbish and the start of an art craze like Michelle Reader who has been sculpting with rubbish since 1997. CLICK HERE for her story on econmy.org (Economy).


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Keep Wales Tidy bin there done it doggy poo in neat little piles doggy poo bin only half full or is it half empty



14 June 2020 - Sunrise walk - West Cross to Oystermouth

A socially distanced walk to watch the sun rising above Swansea from Oystermouth with Nigel and Barrie. Its so easy to keep away from other people at 4.30 in the morning.


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24 June 2020 - Llyn y Fan Fawr Sunrise Swim - SWIMMING THE BEAM - DAY 3

Some things are hard to improve on and this experience is one of them. I was up at 1.50am and on the mountain for 2.30 - Two and half hours later I was swimming into sunrise in Llyn y Fan Fawr on a perfect morning. But before the swim I discovered there was a rock I could dive off and from the video capture on the camera I got this fantastic photo...........

I was so busy enjoying the self performance in front of the cameras that I nearly missed the sunrise. I've uploaded a short video of the experience to youtube, please click on the link below to view this.............



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25 June 2020 - Llyn y Fan Fawr - The Shy Way to heaven -  SWIMMING THE BEAM - DAY 4

I've been working on getting my angles and timings right to swim into the sun along a sunbeam at sunrise for the last month or so. Yesterday I was almost there and I said that yesterday's experience was a difficult one to improve on, but in everything we do there's always room for improvement and nothing is perfect. But today was a step up from yesterday, yesterday was fantastic, today was amazing but its still not quite perfect. Having said that it was good enough and I'm am totally and absolutely satisfied with the outcome of today's experience. See the video for more..............

short video -  https://youtu.be/sINmCO-QMhU


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26 June 2020

June update for the enz-NO development

Neath Port Talbot Council have updated their website with amended plans and a habitat survey. The plans still show the streams to be culverted however the habitat survey more importantly has identified the stream running behind Brynhyfryd and Woodland Park as a "Site of Importance for Nature Conservation". It recommends that the stream remain open and not culverted. 

The habitat survey says:

"The stream is a SINC (Site of Importance for Nature Conservation) and considered to provide habitat for a range of species. It is therefore recommended that it is retained in its current state (i.e. open, and not culverted), and protected from effects of development during construction and operational phase. A drainage plan will inform appropriate protection of the stream and any ditches/associated features beyond the site. A minimum 7m vegetated buffer is required to protect the watercourse for Otter and Water Vole."

The only other difference I can see that the three houses in the south west corner have been moved slightly but still remain to be built on the flood plain.

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I've uploaded all the new files recently uploaded by the council to our website with links from this page. 



5.3.1 - The stream is a SINC and considered to provide habitat for a range of species. It is therefore recommended that it is retained in its current state (i.e. open, and not culverted), and protected from effects of development during construction and operational phase. A drainage plan will inform appropriate protection of the stream and any ditches/associated features beyond the site. A minimum 7m vegetated buffer is required
to protect the watercourse for Otter and Water Vole.

5.10.2 Planning authorities must seek to maintain and enhance biodiversity in the exercise of their functions. This means development should not cause any significant loss of habitats or populations of species, locally or nationally and must provide a net benefit for biodiversity.



HEIGHT LEVELS PLANS Shows the height of the land at each house and the boundary



CLOSE UP CORNER Close up of flood plain corner. They have moved the three houses away a touch but they are still building on the flood plain.



PLANS WITH DRAINAGE PLANS Shows the culverted streams and drainage system



PLANS WITHOUT DRAINAGE The same plans as above without drainage






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