This is marked as the toughest walk in the Brecon Becons & South Wales book and it turned out to be living up to its name. The most difficult part was trying to not get lost on Bryn Rhudd at the same time as not loosing interest in the walk as well. The views on there are almost desert-like, nothing but dried grass and boggy moors. Even the sheep are sensible enough not to stray that far from the valleys.
The day of the walk also happened to be the hottest day so far in 2010 and the humidity was excruciating. Despite it still not being a complete sunny day I managed to rack up quite a nasty sunburn and don’t forget we are talking about Wales of all places – go figure 🙂
This walk also takes you to some very remote areas of Wales and in the 6h 20min it took me to walk it I didn’t see a single person until reaching the Glangwesyn farm when I asked for directions.
After the walk I took a drive in my car up through the valleys of the man-made Llyn Brianne reservoir that was completed in 1972 so the same young age as I. Some nice views there so definitely recommended!
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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 🙂
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 ;-).
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
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
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.
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.
I just love this photo, I think it is good enough to be framed 🙂
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
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
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
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.
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.
Coetan Arthur burial chamber on St Davids Head
OK, same book used from the last walk, but this time it was walk no. 11: St David’s Head and Carn Llidi. You start off at Whitesands near St David which is convenient as there is lots of parking available – you will be charged parking if you come during the tourist season.
The Carn Lidi hill is a prominent feature in southern Pembrokeshire and you can see it from miles away. In fact I could clearly see it from the Preseli mountains from the a trek I did a couple of weeks ago to Foel Eryr. The walk is straightforward enough but by the time I got to the north-western part of the walk the wind was really really strong. In fact I was a bit tempted to do some skydiving practice by performing some RW (relative work) positions.
At this point I was barely able to stand up properly, yet alone take a photo
As I turned inland and looked towards the summit of Carl Llidi the slovene genes in me were starting to kick-in again and the unexplainable urge to climb on top of stuff was getting the better of me. As I got about mid way to the top I was met by these small thick and very thorny bushes for which I know somebody somewehere knows the latin name of. In my book they are probably something like Frutex dolens vulgaris (the common painful bush). There were some very narrow paths through this bushy thorniness and as I was scrambling up I surprised a few horses that were grazing below the summit. I tried to ignore them but the relation was not reciprocated. The presence of so many horses explained the huge ammount of poo that I was forced to walk around on my way to the top.
The poo tredding and thorny bush evasion was immediately forgotten as I came to the top – the views were just stunning, you could see for miles all around you 360°. I was a bit worried about lightning as there was a storm approaching from the north and as I was standing on the top of the hill I was really sticking-out towards the sky as a sticky thing on a stick on a sticky day.
Getting down the hill, however, proved to be even trickier than the trip up as I nearly got blown over by the gale force winds. I took a different route to avoid the above mentioned Frutex dolens vulgaris only to be met by more of the also above mentioned horse poo and your general bog-standard mud. It seemed like you were walking a path and came to a part where it was so muddy you had to take a detour only to find out the detour is covered in sh*t. So the choice was: wet and muddy shoes or dry and crappy shoes.
Just as I was approaching the Whitesands car-park I was met by these beautiful scenes of a sunset above the ocean facing east south-east. Sorry for the poor quality as I took it with my Nokia N95 phone cam. Not happy with it, plan on getting an iPhone anyway soon 🙂
Beautiful sunset above the sea at Whitesands