What a contrast to yesterday! I had a lovely time on three hills this morning, without a single sting or prickle incurred
Bradnor Hill (SO282584; 391m)
(Post blog note: 12 October 2016 – After this trip I bought 1:25k mapping for the whole of the UK and have just noticed that the relevant land around Bradnor Hill is designated as Access Land. Thus all of my reference to trespass in this post are incorrect. I had every right to be there!)
This hill was originally scheduled into our Offa’s Dyke jaunt in April, but got omitted due to the blatant trespass across a golf course at a busy time of day. It was far from busy this morning, which I attribute to the fact that I set out at 6am.
Consideration had been given to driving up to the Club House, but when I weighed the time it would take to relocate myself there, versus the time it would take to just walk from Kington town car park, I opted for the longer walk, revisiting a part of Offa’s Dyke Path which was still fresh in my mind.
Only one person was met on the entire outing, and that was a groundsman/greenkeeper. He was a friendly chap and didn’t bat an eyelid at my plans to walk across the golf course. A golf course, incidentally, which was covered in sheep and in sheep-poo at the moment. Either the course isn’t open, or surely sheep must regularly get hit, not to mention the likelihood of the golfballs rolling in poo.
Having taken a photo of myself beaming at the top…
…I opted for a different descent route. Well, if I was going to trespass across a golf course, I thought I may as well make a thorough job of it and cover as much ground as possible!
I’d covered 3.4 miles with 800’ of ascent when I got back to Colin at a couple of minutes past seven, and I didn’t even pause for tea or second breakfast before I made haste towards my next hill. Why the rush? Rain was forecast at noon and I didn’t want to get wet!
Great Rhos (SO182639; 660m)
My intention had been to start this one from a car park next to the school in New Radnor, but when I got there the whim took me to go and look at the Water-Break-Its-Neck car park a couple of miles up the road. I probably would have abandoned Colin in the picnic area I’d spotted on my on-line explorations of this area, if it hadn’t been for a sign indicating that there was another car park a kilometre up the track. Onwards I went, almost losing my nerve as I wondered if I’d misunderstood the sign and whether it was telling me that the car park was by the road, and the waterfall was a kilometre further on. By then though I was already committed to a lengthy reverse, so thought I may as well plough on in the hope of finding a Colin-sized turning area if nothing else. What I found was a car park a kilometre further on. Excellent! That cut an out-and-back walk up a dull track from my outing.
The going on this one was varied indeed, featuring forest paths, forest tracks, mown bits of forest…
…a hill track so long abandoned that it is now but a vague suggestion of a trod on the ground, and a couple of hundred metres or so of very rough yomping. On arriving at the trig I found that the latter had been unnecessary; I took the good path on the way back!
Two possible circuits had been plotted for this outing, one taking in just this hill, the other taking in a series of tops. In the event, I did neither, but retraced my steps instead. For the eagle-eyed, who pay great attention to my selfies, the clue as to why is in the next photo:
Yikes! Where are my sunglasses? Presumably somewhere in the forest where I’d dropped them whilst adjusting my layers. Retracing my steps seemed the most likely way of recovering them, so that’s what I did, trying hard to concentrate on looking at the ground.
So hard did I look that I noticed this skeleton, which I’d missed on my outward leg. Is it a dog?
A few minutes before getting back to Colin, it seemed rude to pass by the turn for Water-Break-Its-Neck without going for a look. Worth the short detour, I thought:
I arrived back at Colin with 6.4 miles walked with around 1600’ of ascent. And the sunglasses, I hear you ask, were they found? Yep – sitting on Colin’s sofa…
Gwaunceste Hill (SO158555; 542m)
I came up with two plans for this trip, imaginatively called Plan A and Plan B. Plan A was the conservative Plan. Plan B was more ambitious and included more hills. Having finished today’s Plan A hills before 10am, and with no sign of approaching rain, it was a no-brainer to skip to Plan B, which saw me heading over to Gwaunceste Hill.
Many people start this walk from just before the farm at Rhewey, and many others start from the layby on the main road at the bottom of Rhewey’s access road. Those options give shorter walks, but they also involve passing through a farm with reports of vocal, although tethered, dogs. Tethered dogs are better than untethered, but I still prefer to avoid walking through farms where there’s an obvious alternative, so I opted for a slightly longer walk in from Llynheilyn.
Good decision! What a lovely walk that was on some gorgeous grassy hill tracks. Even the final yomp through deep heather, when I realised that the ‘path’ I was on was so poor that it would be easier to go straight up than to continue onwards to the track which would (theorectically) take me more easily to the top.
The skies were starting to look ominous by the time I took my summit photos, so pausing only to text Mick to tell him of my whereabouts, down I headed.
The rain had been forecast to arrive at noon. At 1209 the first drops were felt. At 1212 I arrived back at Colin. Twenty minutes later it was lashing down. I’m so glad I wasn’t out in that! Alas, I watched the BBC forecast this lunchtime which has confirmed that there will be no avoiding getting wet tomorrow – unless I set out at 5am or after 5pm.
This final hill of the day came in at 4.4 miles with 700’ of ascent.