Wednesday 29 June
On Tuesday afternoon I settled Colin into the far corner of the main (riverside) car park in Builth Wells*, fully expecting to have the place to myself for most of the night, and hoping that I wouldn’t be plagued by boy-racers or other antisocial behaviour.
By 8pm I felt like I’d accidentally parked in a truck-stop. Late on, I even moved Colin across a touch, to allow one final artic to squeeze in next to me. The plus side of the company was that I felt very safe and secure (what boy races or antisocial youths are going to hang around a car park full of burly truckers trying to sleep?). On the downside, I suspected my neighbours might be early (and noisy) risers.
Carneddau (SO070552; 445m)
I managed to sleep through a few of the lorries moving, but at 5.25 the one next to me started up and that was me awake. The absence of the sound of rain had me springing out of bed in an instant. Was there a chance, that by acting fast, I could get up my first hill before it rained?
Gone was my plan of a longer-than-necessary walk over the high ground in this area in order to get to this hill. Instead, I’d identified a layby on the A481 which would allow me a much more direction assault:
Alas, I didn’t outrun the rain. It started not long before I reached the top, but at least the cloud base was high enough for me to see my surroudings, and from those views I rued the fact that I’d hit this range on such a poor weather day. Maybe we’ll return to Builth Wells sometime for a more significant investigation of the area.
It wasn’t as misty as it looks in this shot. The photo was taken through my phone case.
Shouts on my return alerted me to the presence of two farmers on quadbikes who were just setting about rounding up the sheep off the hillside. I bet they didn’t expect to see someone striding across that hill, given that it was only 7am! After a bit of a pause to decide whether I was going to cause an impediment, I scurried onwards and don’t think that I got in the way.
By the time I got back to Colin (after 3.3 miles with 1000’) it was looking like my comment yesterday, about needing to walk at 5am then wait till 5pm, if I was going to avoid the rain, was the best plan, so I relocated to my layby for the next hill and set about waiting, waiting and waiting some more, whilst rain variously pitter-pattered or drummed on the tin above my head and the nearby trees went from gently rippling to seriously swaying.
Aberedw Hill (SO 084508; 451m)
After seven hours of waiting, I was getting itchy feet, so when, at around 3pm, there was a brightening of the sky, I hoped that it signalled the end of the weather front and got myself waterproofed up, ready to go.
This snap doesn’t really do justice to the pretty purpleness of this lane, which led me to the foot of my hill, with fox gloves and thistles in bloom. Nor can you see how slippery the wet stones of the track were.
Beyond that lane (just as the only shower of the outing hit me) I could clearly see the track switching-back up the steep hillside ahead of me, in a way which gave easy passage up to the more gentle gradients above:
Once up there my immediate impression was what a good place this would be for an overnight on a backpacking trip. The difficulty would be choosing on which of the flat, cropped grassy areas to pitch. Next to one of the pools, perhaps?
I’d love to know how this bit of machinery came to be left up here. Was it an intentional abandonment, or a case of not quite getting around to retrieving it?
By the time I got to the bright-white trig point, the sun was out over Builth Wells…
… although it was still cloudy in the other direction. I wondered whether the small pools in this next snap are usually there or whether they only appear on particularly wet days, like today:
It was no hardship to retrace my steps through such loveliness and I arrived back at Colin with 4.7 miles walked with 1100’ of ascent.
The Begwns (SO155444; 415m)
By the time I’d eaten an early tea and driven down to The Begwns, it was 6pm, which had made it tempting to cut this walk very short by parking on the little lane just to the east of the hill. The thought of parking Colin on grass after so much rain put me off that option, so I stuck to plan and walked from the good parking area on the next road across.
Wide pathways run all over the place through the bracken which covers the gently rising and falling terrain, only some of which tracks are shown on the map, but it didn’t prove too tricky to just keep heading in generally the right direction.
The Black Mountain Ridge, of which we walked the length in April, was the notable feature to the SE.
As I crossed the road just before my objective I saw that the ground was perfectly firm enough to have parked there without a problem, but by then the point was academic, so onwards I went to ‘The Roundabout’ atop this hill – a circular stone-walled enclosure, planted inside with trees.
The stated ‘Summit Feature’ for this hill is “highest point in trees of roundabout”, which I thought a bit of a pointless description. Of course the summit is the highest point! This is where I settled on as being the top, although I did, of course, have a good tramp around elsewhere, just to be sure:
My return leg (which was as wet as my outward one; there were lots of fast-moving showers around) varied slightly from my outward leg only because one path through bracken looks very like another and I failed to pick the same options on the way back.
This one came in at 3.6 miles with 400’ of ascent and rounded off a day which, considering the weather, was surprisingly good, with three enjoyable hills walked and a book and a half read.
(*Powys County Council has an unusually motorhome friendly policy and allows both motorhomes and caravans to stay in its Pay & Display car parks for one night in seven)