The Road goes ever on and on; Down from the door where it began;
Now far ahead the Road has gone; And I must follow, if I can;
Pursuing it with eager feet; Until it joins some larger way;
Where many paths and errands met; And whither then? I cannot say.

[JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings]

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Length of Wales (LoW) Day 1 - Swansea to S side of Black Mountains

Tuesday 17 April (0820-1645)
Distance: 19 miles (+ the walk to the start point)
Weather: sunny intervals, one short shower
Number of long distance walkers encountered: 2

Setting the compass to south, we found our way to the sea-front at Swansea this morning, where, having paused for a few photos under glorious clear skies, an about turn was made and north we headed, up the River Tawe.

Cycle Route 43 was our route for much of the day which gave us easy navigation (cycle routes always being well signed) and kept us off roads. Just a pity that it was tarmac under foot. About 16 miles of the day were on hard, flat surfaces, which are always hard on the feet and legs.

We'd barely cleared the outskirts of Swansea when we encountered Lee and Ross who set out from Newcastle 17 days ago and are in the middle of walking between all of the Premiership football stadiums (stadia, I suppose?), aiming to finish their walk at Wembley on cup final day. With 800+ miles to cover in 35 days, they've certainly set themselves a target, but they looked fit and happy when we saw them. You can find out more about their journey (raising money for Shelter) at

Leaving the river for the tow-path of the long-disused Swansea Canal wasn't a favourable swap. The canal has the appearance at that point of a cross between a silted-up brook and a dumping ground. It was nice when the canal disappeared and the cycle route put us back on the riverside.

Even better was the sight of a big 24hr Tesco on the other side of the river, with a footbridge for access. With a cup of tea in mind, over we went. It hadn't even occurred to us that a store of that size wouldn't have a coffee shop, so we were disappointed when we got there.

A couple of miles later we abandoned the cycle route for a while, in favour of more canal. A good move, as this section was entirely different, having been taken back by nature (and, indeed now designated as a nature reserve).

Back once again to the river and the cycle route, we put bets that a bench wouldn't appear until about 50 yards (and just around a bend) from where we stopped for lunch, so it was a pleasant surprise when a bench appeared just at the right time. That so rarely happens!

It was then just a 6-mile hop, skip and a jump (including a bit of seduction by a newly tarmacked bit of ex-railway line, which lured us away from our intended route) to the village where we left flatness and hard surfaces and headed up to the open land.

Today's photo was taken on that last leg, about half a mile before we camped. It was a trousers-off crossing for me, and that water was certainly a little on the bracing side!

If we'd camped at the first potential spot we saw, then we would have had the tent up before the shower hit, but today we weren't to be quite that lucky. Still, it didn't amount to much as we crossed a wide bog to see what shelter could be had behind some forest (forecast to be wet and windy tonight).

And so now we're pitched in a reasonably sheltered spot, beside a bubbling stream, braced for another night of rain (hope that the newly seam-sealed Susie turns out to be waterproof now, or this could become a very short trip!).


  1. Hi Both. You are in my area , but where was the stream and where did you camp?

  2. Sounds a good start. Hope your weather is better than here. Its Awful and the forecast is for worse tomorrow.

  3. Yep, that would've been up over my knees. Looking forward to reading about this trip, I don't know Wales at all.

  4. Like Louise I don't know Wales at all so I'm looking forward to following your progress before we head off ourselves.

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  6. We're on t'other side of the Bristol Channel, doing a section of SWC Path - Bude to Newquay. I hope your weather is better than the cold, wet and wind we're getting!