Thursday, 17 April 2014

Horsing Around in mid Wales

With remarkably good weather giving perfect conditions two of us enjoyed a spin along the Millenium Coastal path near Llanelli with good views across the estuary towards North Gower after which I headed west and then north and inland to a favourite wild pitching spot near the Teifi Pools above Pontrhydfendigaid.

En route we stopped for lunch at the RSPB reserve near Tregaron and enjoyed a walk out in glorious sunshine to the hide before starting the riverside walk that heads in to the centre of the extensive bog land.
Whilst following the boardwalks we spotted a horse's head sticking out of the wide perimeter ditch with a trail of disturbed mud and silt where the unfortunate beast had tried in vain to escape. The spongy surface deceived the eye as beneath it were many feet of silt and debris and despite our best efforts with a handy fence post we were unable to persuade him out.
Sarah headed off to fetch assistance whilst I tried to reassure the beast and put a section of walkway in place to provide a bridge and give me something to hang on to as I was literally out of my depth. Two local farmers arrived with a telescopic handler but despite a great deal of effort we were unable to make any progress. A tractor was fetched that could cross the bog enabling us to get a rope and head collar in place and after another hour we eventually we pulled the by now exhausted animal out on to the firmer ground.
Almost immediately it staggered to its feet, gave a few hefty shakes and set off in search of companions whilst we all deterred it from returning to what could so easily have become a watery grave.

The rest of our walk was enjoyed in hot sunshine with swans, geese and otter prints to enrich the day.
Up at the pools we parked with a stunning view west and enjoyed a comfiortable evening with phone and TV signal very much appreciated in such a quiet location.
Saturday was grey and cool so we walked up to Claerddu bothy and were disappointed to find it in a filthy condition - a large school group had stayed the previous night and litter, food debris and abandonned clothing spoilt every room. However half an hour with a broom saw order restored and the bin bag full of rubbish was carried out to the van after which we enjoyed a brisk walk round the pools before firing up the genny on a very breezy evening.
Sunday dawned bright and sunny and gave us a full day out north of the bothy enjoying some quiet tops and still pools before a return to Pembrokeshire and then my departure east.
The mountain bike trails at Abergorllech and Halfway provided good filming opportunities before I stayed overnight with friends at Lower Chapel near Brecon where on Tuesday morning we winched a large beech trunk in to position to create a rustic garden bench. Several hours exploring the commons and ridges to the north east were enjoyed in hot sunshine and later that evening Bill came over from Bristol to join us all in a curry.
Bill and I overnighted in my usual town centre hideaway before cycling out to Talybont and climbing south towards Trefil on the old Brynmore tramroad. Further Go Pro opportunities presented although the steam train at Pontsticill fooled us by heading the wrong way as we waited to capture it. The Gap Road climb was superb but on the steep descent north I took a tumble and stuffed the handlebars in to my left rib cage which caused the odd expletive. However a fast descent in to Brecon rounded off a superb day of thrills, spills, punctures and exercise - my aching ribs meant that the evening's badminton was something of an ordeal but 3 pints of Irish pain killer eased my weary bones.
After an uncomfortable night I met an MBA stalwart in Builth to hand over donated tools and then concerned that I may have given the old ticker a jolt popped in to the Minor Injuries Unit at Llandrindod Wells where skilled staff checked me over. Basic obs were spot on and an EEG merely highlighted a heart block that identified my stent. The likelihood of a cracked rib or two will relegate me to light duties over the forthcoming bothy workparty at the Elan Valley but I look forward to the usual good company and stunning surroundings
Anyway a report on that event will appear next week so enjoy piccies HERE and search for me HERE.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Marching Around

After the exertions of the bothy tour I returned to Coventry and Shropshire to put the wheels in motion for Mum's move to the country - there is plenty yet to be done but it should prove to be a relativly seamless transition to a new chapter in life with lots to look forward to.

In between I enjoyed a few days north of Llandovery with good walks and company whilst staying at the excellent Camping and Caravanning site at Rhandirmyn which is but a short waddle from the equally satisfactory Royal Oak.

Whilst in the Neath Valley I returned to the old silica mines that were once a favourite haunt when I lived locally and spent a couple of hours exploring underground whilst familiarising myself with the intricacies of an excellent Go Pro video camera. Using the Fenix torch as I had done last year in Box Stone Mine produced some encouraging results enhanced on a return visit the next day by diffusing the light output with a piece of white muslin. A quick blast at Halfway on the bike also produced some good footage and I hope to introduce clips from a trip planned for Coed Y Brennin in the run up to Easter in to this blog.

Mum and I then headed to Sheffield to celebrate Penny's forthcoming significant birthday, with Mum heading north to York for a couple of days and Penny and I enjoying some superb scenery and remarkable light conditions around Ladybower Reservoir.

Back in Coventry a new VW Up for Mum demonstrated to me how much car design, comfort, sophistication and economy has come on in recent years although for me the practicality and adaptability of the van takes some beating and the recent attention of Carwoods ( to the diesel leak has resolved a starting problem when parked on a slope or unused for a day or two. The pump's spindle bush had worn and as this had been replaced with a steel bush 140,000 miles ago in Portugal a new cover was required this time as the pressing itself had worn. Anyway with 293,000 miles on the clock I guess similar issues are to be expected but I still have no desire to trade up and have as yet to see anything that would inspire me - perhaps the forthcoming Horizons Unlimited event will shed light on the matter.

The old Kangoo was delivered to a new owner in Manchester giving me the opportunity to visit that city's Museum of Science and Industry before catching a train home - the abysmal signal until near Wolverhampton made me question the logic of an HS2 line when surely providing opportunities for passengers to work whilst on the move would be a far cheaper, less disruptive and probably more productive strategy. Anyway such luxuries even if afforded would have been of little use to me as my Sony Experia had gone in to meltdown - amazing how these gadgets take over your life and become seemingly so crucial. Perhaps in my case this is exacerbated by my nomadic lifestyle and the current need to monitor not just my own affairs and finances but those concerning Mum, the house purchase and sale, car related matters and a busy social life whilst on the move. The replacement thick phone was just about capable of calls but its smart counterpart had scrambled most of my contacts so

Anyway a repair seems to have been undertaken although the covering email suggested a replacement handset was to be supplied - as part of my travel security measures my original device was discreetly marked to help identify it if stolen and the so called replacement has miraculously also been so marked - clever these Sony johnnies eh??

As a high tech back up I will tomorrow be purchasing a new fangled 'address book' which seems to be an alphabetically segregated collection of paper that is cunningly bound together and can be written upon with a magical stick - what a technological marvel to behold it will be - piccies and review to follow.

Another enjoyable break in the mid Wales hills took me back to Moel Prysgau bothy for lunch where we took shelter from the snow and carried out the usual junk that visiting aliens from the Planet Zog leave,  followed by a real cracker of a day starting at the beautiful and isolated Soar y Mynydd chapel and incorporating the Doethie Valley, Tyncornel hostel and a remarkably eroded track back across to Llyn Brianne.

Finally I returned to Sheffield - as my long planned Scottish trip has been put on hold whilst family matters are addressed I was actually able to join Penny for her birthday meal with over a dozen friends and colleagues. In the days beforehand we walked extensively with a hard day in low cloud enriched by wine, cake and good company, a brighter day above Castleton and for me a long overdue blast on the bike following the Trans Pennine Trail up to the Woodhead Pass.
 After a lovely evening I returned to Coventry prior to a longish spell away over Easter with bothy work parties planned at Penrhos near Dolgellau, Lluest Cwm Bach in the Elan Valley, socialising in and around Brecon and other goodies to be reported on in due course.

A few pics sit HERE and looking ahead you can pin me down by clicking HERE