It was a hot day, possibly one of the hottest on record so we decided to don our walking boots and head up on to The Black Mountains. It had been so long since we had gone for a walk together, as a family, so today was the day, whatever the weather...
Firstly, for those of you who have read my previous blog post on getting kids outdoors, I would just like to point out that there was no way on earth we were going to get Lily to join us. At the start of the week we were already talking about this day and how much we were looking forward to a long walk up on the Black Mountains. Literally within half an hour Lily developed a mysterious knee injury.... this proceeded to gain momentum throughout the week and she wavered between mild panic and sobbing mess. It was clear that we had two choices; 1) we force her to come with us, knowing that once she was up on the hills she would be happy, although this carried the risk that the injury was real and I didn't fancy calling out our friends Mountain Rescue or 2) Ban her from coming.
So we went for option 2. Harsh maybe, but as we departed that Sunday morning she looked slightly sheepish and when we returned it was clear that 1) her knee injury had disappeared and 2) that she wished she had come with us. Well, hopefully young lady, lesson learnt because you did indeed miss a fantastic day...
As some of you who have followed my blog will know, Twmpa (sorry, I refuse to call it Lord Hereford's Knob as I am utterly childish and snigger every time), is my favourite mountain. I thought that I had climbed up it pretty much every way but my husband, being the map wizard that he is had realised that there was one way from which we had not approached it. And, not only that but it was what I call a Classic Tony Approach Walk, one which involves a lovely, slow steady ascent followed by a thrilling descent. I was excited.
We started at Capel y Ffin and headed up past Grange Pony Trekking centre and the The Monastery which was built in 1870 by Father Ignatious to restore monastic life to the Church of England and was used as a monastery for over 40 years. In 1924 the monastery was bought by stone carver, engraver and typeface designer Eric Gill who designed the font Gill Sans – interesting fact for you!
The first part of the walk is on road and trackway, but as you rise up through the Vale of Ewyas you are greeted with the most stunning view both in front and behind you. With the Nant Bwch river on our left we walked on seeking our first spot of shade for a drink. Barney was in his element as he was able to lead the way on this clear route. It really is perfect for kids as there is a clear path, beautiful views, a river to play in and lots of stunning wildlife. With my Mountain Leader Assessment soon to be booked (when I can pluck up the courage), I spent much of the day looking at the flora and fauna which proved another great way to engage Barney and get him excited.
The trackway ends at what looks like an abandoned cottage but what is in fact a cooperative rental cottage called Blaen-bwch which looked really interesting and a great place to stay. We were then on the path weaving through the bracken, and unfortunately for me this was where my walk became a little less pleasant although I didn’t realise it at the time. Being a hot, hot day I had chosen to wear my shorts. It is after all a very rare occasion when my legs are on show. But I figured there wouldn’t be many people to suffer the ignominy of that site. However, this made me a prime target for horsefly’s. OUCH. I have never been bitten by a horsefly, let alone the half a dozen little b******s who got me that day. They literally draw blood, I was dripping! It looked like a small pixie had hacked at my legs with a sword made from a blade of grass.
Still, once we rose up over the ridge and were greeted with this view, my blood bath was forgotten and the smile that spread across my face, and Barneys was as wide as the view itself. Bliss. Worth every bite.
After lunch on the summit we turned back and walked along Darren Lwyd and were then greeted by a magnificent view over the Vale of Ewyas. After a skip and hop down the steep side we decided the best way to end the day was with a refreshing dip in the river down by the chapel. Perfect.
Distance: 11km/7 miles
Time: 2h 46 mins