Martin's Blog

from a Slovenian living in Bromyard

Tag: Recreation

Llyn y Fan Fach

Today I was here. Took me a while to get here and find it. Had to give up the whole trek round the mountain ridges as I was going to run out of daylight by the end of the hike.
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Trekking the hills of Snowdon

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Ever since I moved to Wales 2 years ago I had a quiet wish to climb the highest peak in this country – Snowdon. Last weekend was showing to be a perfect opportunity to fulfil that wish. I was working only till 12 pm and the forecast was for sunshine and high temperatures stretching way into the following week. Getting some good literature, so you know what your are doing, is very advisable.

View from Garnedd Ugain: to the right is Snowdon and to the left is Y Lliwedd with its three peaks ) from left Lliwedd Bach, East peak and West peak. Any similarities with Triglav are strictly coincidental :-)

View from Garnedd Ugain: to the right is Snowdon and to the left is Y Lliwedd with its three peaks ) from left Lliwedd Bach, East peak and West peak. Any similarities with Triglav are strictly coincidental 🙂

If you are based in southwest Wales it is a good idea to head up there on the day before you are climbing as the road trip takes you over three hours. There are no motorways or even dual carriageways between the south and north parts of Wales! Instead of going for a more expensive option of a hotel or B&B (the decision to go to Snowdon was make pretty late and the hotel accommodations were either not available or very pricey) I opted for a campsite. The last camping I did was for a skydiving tournament that was held in my “home” DZ in Prečna near Novo mesto a few years back and I was a bit worried I might forget to bring along something essential. Hold that thought.

See the full photo gallery here.

There was a slight snag with camping in this part of Wales. I looked at the weather forecast and the low day temperatures were very, very close to freezing – and I mean 0° or 1°C. This was the forecast for Llanberris. So instead I went for campsites a bit closer to the sea and, of course, the warmth. I found one close to the town of Penrhyndeudraeth called Barcdy. Would recomend it, but it is a bit more pricey then others: it cost £10/person/night for a tent – other campsites were around £6 or £7. The additional problem you might have to contend with is kids – there was a family that came to the camp after me and they put up their tent right next to mine and, you guessed it, had a bunch of very noisy kids with them. Don’t seem to be a big fan of them, but would maybe feel different, if they were mine – and I stress – MAYBE ;-).

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The difference is in the Angle

I am convinced you everyone will see the huge difference in the views you see on the north side of the peninsula, compared to the south – while on the north side you see the beautiful town of Angle, but then as you move further along you are met with the view of all the petroleum and gas industries in the area with their huge piers and tall chimneys. And as you continue to the south part of the peninsula all that you can see is the vast ocean.

The Chevron oil refinery

The Chevron oil refinery

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A small guard fort, probably from Napoleonic times. St. Ann’s head in the distance on the right

The walk started on a very sunny day with hardly a cloud in the sky. As it was Easter Sunday I was better off arriving early as the crowds of tourists were soon to follow. Luckily only the beach parking area and Freshwater West beach were busy, the rest of the path not so much as people opted not move more than 500 metres from their cars.

The tower house in Angle

The tower house in Angle

OK, so I don’t forget to mention this. It is about a reference in the hiking book to a  “leafy lane” – word of warning – the trees above are covered with nests and you would probably want to avoid the poo projectiles coming from the heavens. I also advise changing the path a little bit in the town of Angle by continuing pass the church on the right and turning right on a path through the playground, which, on the other side, continues towards an old guard tower.

As you continue on the coastal path you get the opportunity to have good look of the new LNG South Hook gas terminal – it recently had its first shipment of gas from Qatar and I heard the tanker that was docked in front of the terminal was spectacular.

The more exhausting part of the route is from West Angle beach to Freshwater West, there are many valleys to climb down and just as many to climb up from. A good idea is to pace yourself, especially on the ascent.

Have a look at the photo gallery but the photos, as usual, do not do the »live« views justice.

Blackpool Mill and the Old Slebech Church

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This one the walk no 27 taken from the book and is a bit of a deviation from the books theme – it being that there are 41 circular walks in Pembrokeshire. Well this walk is still in Pembrokeshire but it is not at all circular. However the authors can be forgiven for this as it is a very nice easy walk with some nice views, especially at the main Slebech estate (see their website for more details. If you are a birdwatcher then this walk should definitely not be missed. In quite a few places along the road you can reach the Eastern Cleddau and gaze upon the views of the river and the bird population that occupy it.

See the complete photo gallery here.

There is also quite a bit of history related to the Slebech estate and the church. It dates from the 12th century A.D. when the grounds were owned by the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem who “have their roots” in the first crusade. Cool.

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I just love this photo, I think it is good enough to be framed 🙂

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A six hour Tour de Struble Head

The Strumble Head lighthouse

This was the longest of the walks in the book and a walk not to be reckoned with. It is long and by the end you just really want to see that lighthouse in the distance.

The authors say in the beginning of the walk »Although the longest of the walks in this book, there is nothing difficult about its undertaking« – Yeah right, either they (both authors) came home from this walk and their egos were to big to admit the agonizing pain in their muscles or they had themselves a post-hike LSD trip.

However there is apossibility I brought the toughness of this trip on myself as I completely forgot to bring along something to drink ending-up being rather dehydrated by the end of the hike. There are no refreshments to be bought on the way, not even in the part that runs through Goodwick 🙁

St. Gwyndaf's church in Llanwnda

St. Gwyndaf’s church in Llanwnda

A word of warning, in the first part of the walk as you leave the coastal path to start-up Garn Fawr it is a bit confusing as to where to turn. Do NOT continue on the paved lane. This will only end in tears – tears due to the realization you have to go back as you have gone the wrong way. There path signs is missing, well, I say missing. I found it hidden in the grass on the ground.

I was also quite surprised to find an inscribed stone commemorating the last invasion of Britain – by the French none-the-less in 1897 at Carregwastad Point. What were they doing here, we all know where France is, I presume they shot their navigator.

Memorial stone on Carregwastad Point commemorating the landing of the French on 22 February 1797

Memorial stone on Carregwastad Point commemorating the landing of the French on 22 February 1797

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The Hill of Angels

Looking down towards Cwm mawr

Looking down towards Cwm mawr

What a thoroughly enjoyable way to spend a March Sunday. In fact it was so nice I wish the hike would have lasted a bit longer. Instead I took the opportunity to sit and enjoy the sunshine on the wooden bench by the Sychbant car park were this walk starts and ends.

The walk (no. 39: Mynydd Caregog and Carn Ingli) starts off with a nice steep hill and then should continue in a conifer forest. As this has now been cut down the walk continues in something more resembling a wasteland. Conifers are not a native tree in this area and due to the concervationalism of today a more proper forest is being planted. However I haven’t seen any signs of the this today.

a Pembrokeshire traffic obstacle

a Pembrokeshire traffic obstacle

Once you leave this so-called forest the view changes into a more familiar Preseli hillside on the Carningli Common. The Carn Edward stone group did not really draw my intention so I skipped it and rather choose the hilltop on my left – Carn Briw – no doubt being, again, a decision influenced by my Slovene origins.

If you are walking in the area the ruins of the Carn Ingli fort (the translation of Carn Ingli is the “Hill of angels”) is a definite must-see, if not for looking at it, at least by climbing on top of it and enjoying the views. I attempted to bring the view to you but not getting the live experience does give the place its justice.

The book then states you should circle the fort on its north side and then find a path towards the hill on the eastern side. This is actually quite tricky but I was either lucky or my navigation experiences proved to be the basis of some good instincts. I though I completely missed those two poles and the tramway that were supposed to be somewhere on the descent. Instead I ended-up right on top of them – spot on!

See the complete photo gallery here.

The walk then continues towards some farms and ends up in the Cwm gwaun valley. The “second” part of the walk continues on a delightful path on the opposite side of the valley and there was absolutely nobody on it but myself. You will find a stunning forrest scenery, abandoned farms and even an abandoned mill.

I would definitely recommend this trek to anyone and the muddiness factor was quite low.

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A great forest walk in the Pentre Evan nature reserve

Pentre Ifan Burial Chamber

Pentre Ifan Burial Chamber

Nice contrast from the Rosebush walk I took yesterday. This walk is no 40 called Pentre Evan Nature Reserve and I just a great forest walk with some hill climbing thrown in as well.

This was also the walk that was the most confusing as the instructions in the book did  not help in many parts of the woods. I got badly lost once and had to back-track quite a bit to get to the right path again.

Also worth mentioning that that a couple of fields at the end of the walk before you re-enter the woods for the last time have been ploughed and will be very difficult to walk once something grows on it or after a downpour.

Again this walk is very appealing, especially if it has been dry for a few days/weeks so there is less mud to deal with. I just wished I had a dog with me.

Also I found out to late that the four rock formations at the top of Carnedo Meibion-Owen  are off limits as there is some rare lichens growing on them?? I managed to pick the only one formation (the second) that had the warning sign destroyed and climbed on top to have a rest. Hope the relevant people correct the problem and put up the sign.

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Skiing on Vogel

Vogel

Started off while it was still dark. Plan A was going to ski on Krvavec. No plan B at that time. Just as we left Cerklje there was a suspicious hold-up in the traffic which turned out to be due to the great number of cars – all heading for the same ski resort. My friend and I parked just soon after Cerklje , where the buses usually park. That meant  were were at least a few kilometres aways from the valley cable station. This didn’t sound good and quite surprising as it was a Tuesday and still a working day.

Vogel - the viewWe had to come up with a plan B double time or faced having to return home. Plan B came to be the Vogel ski resort which turned out to be a great idea. It took us about 45 minutes to get there and once we found a parking found no queue to go onto the cable lift.

However once we reached the top cable station we found out how right we were to choose this place. The views of the valley below and the surrounding mountains were stunning and there was also plenty of snow to enjoy – 260 cm (thats 8 and a half feet for my friends back in Wales 🙂
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Skydive London for a day

Last weekend I did what I wanted to do for a long while – to actually skydive in the UK. I’ve been putting it off for a long time, lately mostly due to the weather we have been having. Last weekend the weather was OK, no flu lingering in the background and no lameness in any of the legs 🙂
The Skydive London dropzone is situated about 3 hours drive away from Haverfordwest, adjacent to the town of Swindon. Being used to relatively small dropzones in Slovenia I was surprised that the DZ which bares the name of the nation’s capital is smaller than most of the DZs in Slovenia. But that is not relatively a bad thing. The environment is very friendly, everybody knows each other by their first name and there is no large scale manifests to have to battle with. The only real drawback for me, as a skydiver, is the focus on tandems which means you probably have to wait a while to get a seat on the next lift.

I heard from some skydivers, that the DZ only has an Airvan and that it takes about 20 minutes to get to 12,000 feet – I must be pretty unspoilt as I though the flight was relatively fast and comfortable. My last high altitude jump was in the Antonov-2 which needs about 30 minutes to get to 3,000 metres and you usually have the opportunity to enjoy diesel fumes and turbulance (with all due respect to our lovely Fata). In fact the Airvan very much reminded me of the Canguro airplane although the two planes are quite different from each other.

I made two jumps and unfortunately the second did not end with a very great landing. Just metres from starting the second stage flare I dropped what felt like about half a meter which resulted in me landing on my knees and not my feet. Ouch! I still have a lot to learn about landing in zero-wind conditions 🙁
It definitely is my fault as the parachute is quite stable and forgiving to my mistakes so you should deduct from this that it is NOT “idiot proof”. The good thing I found about the parachute is that I am slowly getting the hang on the packing. Not long ago, in Prečna, the packing was a nightmare and the only respite came from the last pack of the day, when the increased evening humidity helped with wrangling with the still relatively new parachute material of my Atair Dragon 170.

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