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Glevum Way, part 1

The Glevum Way is a 39km (24 mile) loop around Gloucester.  Many years ago (seriously, it's at least 6!) I picked up an information leaflet about the route from tourist information and have somewhat miraculously managed to keep hold of it over three house moves and a lot of decluttering.  And yet until now I'd never got round to properly walking it (some bits do often feature on our regular dog walks)

Along with a few friends we started in Cooper's Edge where the route crosses the M5, and walked clockwise through Upton St Leonards and around the bottom of Gloucester,... continue reading »

a walk around Buttermere

Cumbria is a long way to go for a weekend, especially when you get stuck in traffic jams and roadworks and general Friday evening M6 fun.

We were relatively short on time, and the weather was doing its usual thing for January/the Lakes (ie rain), so took the dog for a walk all the way around Buttermere.

It would have been nice to get up a bit higher, but it would have been rubbish with the cloud and wind.  Anyway, the scenery at lake level isn't bad:

Starting at the National Trust car park, our walk was just under 8km, and took less... continue reading »

Haldon Forest mountain biking, and a walk on Dartmoor

It's January, so I've been for the traditional weekend of kayaking on Dartmoor.  But with one slight difference - I took my mountain bike instead of a boat.

"But you love paddling the Dart!".  Yes, I really do.  But river levels were looking like being ridiculously low, and I decided I'd get more enjoyment out of doing something else than scraping down an empty river.  Besides, I've done the Dart low plenty of times before.

Four of us took bikes, and we decided to go to Haldon Forest trail centre.  I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to get too... continue reading »

#onehouroutside in November

Towards the end of October, Zoe from Splodz Blogz issued a #onehouroutside challenge - can you spend (at least) one hour outside every day for the month of November?

And I immediately though "yes, I can.  Shouldn't be too hard, especially with dog walking responsibilities".

Yeah, right.

In fairness, I almost managed it.  I think in the end there were probably 3 or 4 days where I didn't clock up a full 60 minutes, and on at least one of those I'd done plenty of indoor exercise so wasn't feeling super lazy. (the other days... shhh)

Weekends weren't a problem, with many hours spent... continue reading »

dog walking on the Malverns

Last week Abi suggested we go for a walk on the Malvern hills.  Great idea!  We were joined by another friend of theirs, bringing the total to five humans and three dogs.

We met in the car park at British Camp, and headed up to Worcestershire Beacon.  As usual there were plenty of other people (and dogs!) around, and it was a bit windy (again, nothing new there).  Mmm, lovely fresh air.

From the Beacon we kept going around Sugarloaf hill, then headed back via the Chase Inn for a nice pub lunch.  The staff there were more than happy to have... continue reading »

outdoorbloggers in Snowdonia

Last week I attended the Outdoor Bloggers weekend in Snowdonia.  It's been a while since I met (in real life) any random people from the internet, and I've never really done any sort of networking so wasn't quite sure what to expect.

Despite an afternoon off work and good intentions, I arrived in the dark.  Good thing my tent only takes a few seconds to put up!  We were camping at Llyn Gwynant, which rather conveniently features a pizza shop on busier weekends.  Yum yum!

We sat around the campfire telling stories and getting to know each other a bit - though... continue reading »

overgrown footpaths

Last Sunday we went for a nice long walk with the dog.  Ended up being 21km, to a local pub (the Red Lion) and back.

For whatever reason, we took a slightly different route than previous walks, involving some untested footpaths.

Turns out this wasn't such a great idea.

It should have been a warning sign when our path led to this footbridge:

This led into a cornfield, supposedly with the footpath running diagonally across it but this was impossible to do because of all the corn.

Having skirted the edge of the field we just about managed to find our next stile, which led... continue reading »

Cleeve Hill trigpoints

For a slight change of local dog walking scenery we headed up Cleeve Hill.

It's a popular spot - easy access, great views and lots of options for walking, cycling, horseriding, kite flying, climbing, etc etc.  It also has two trig points.

One is in the middle of the golf course, at 317m.  There's a toposcope next to it too.

The other is near the radio masts, and at 330m marks the actual summit.  Apparently it also makes a very good scratching post for the many sheep on the common.

As you can see it was a lovely sunny afternoon.  Unfortunately this meant I... continue reading »

Long Mynd

Being British, I am very experienced in dealing with many types of rain.

Shropshire was, on this occasion, suffering from a particularly wet variety. The sort which requires windscreen wipers on full whack, and makes you wish you hadn't put your walking boots and waterproofs in the boot of the car because that means getting soaked in the few seconds it takes to retrieve them.

The day's target was the trig point on the Long Mynd, and I'd originally planned a circular walk from Carding Mill Valley (about 8k).  But given the delightful conditions I changed my mind and drove most of... continue reading »

Charcoal Measure and Sentient Forest

Following the removal of 'Place', the Forest of Dean Sculpture trail has recently gained two new (temporary) artworks.

Both are right at the start of the trail at Beechenhurst Lodge.

First up is "Charcoal Measure".  It's basically a series of black lines on the ground, made from charcoal produced from burning the wood that made up Place.  The lines map old coal mine workings in the forest.  So that's two ways it links up with the history of the local area.

However the work itself is a little underwhelming.  It had been there for about six weeks when I visited, and is already... continue reading »

Dartmeet to Bellever Tor

Mid January sees the traditional weekend trip to Dartmoor, for kayaking and drinking.  This year water levels were low, but not so low that we couldn't paddle.  I've not done anywhere near enough kayaking recently, so a nice trip down the Loop was just what I needed to remind me what I've been missing!

On Sunday the levels were no different, so options were: paddle the Loop again, or go for a walk.  I chose walking.

We started at Dartmeet and headed upstream, crossing the East Dart at the Laughter Hole stepping stones.  Not the friendliest stepping stones I've ever used -... continue reading »

The Wrekin

As a small detour on my way to Shrewsbury for Jem's 30th party, I decided to walk up the Wrekin and bag my first trig point of the year.  I knew my timings would mean sunset from the top, but I was lucky enough to get some good golden hour light too (not really what you expect in January, but I'm definitely not complaining!)

I mean, just look at this.  Completely unedited.  Thanks very much to the random people and dog for standing in just about the right place.

The other 'thing' to the right of the trig point and people is... continue reading »

Christmas in Cumbria

My time off work over Christmas was mostly spent up north.

It's been a bit damp up there for the last month or so, resulting in horrendous flooding and a variety of road closures.  Not ideal really, and it's very sad to see ruined ovens/fridges/debris stacked up outside people's houses.

Our plans for a gentle boxing day walk all the way around Buttermere were ruined by the weather, and instead we popped into Keswick and briefly wandered around Derwentwater.

We got a little further than Friar's Crag, and then the path turned into a large puddle. By this point we were fed up... continue reading »

Snowdonia

Another bank holiday, another camping trip.  This time in Snowdonia, staying at Dolgam near Capel Curig.

Saturday started with some mountain biking at Coed y Brenin.  Firstly the green Yr Afon trail (at 5 year old pace!) then after lunch a much more exciting mix of MinorTaur (blue) and Cyflym Coch (red).

To cool down after that we went wild swimming in the Llugwy, just below the siphon-tastic mess that is Pont Cyfyng.  Yuck. Others did actually swim, but I splashed around waist deep because it was rather cold.

On Sunday I turned down more mountain biking on grounds that the Penmacho trail... continue reading »

Morte Point

Once again, May bank holiday meant a trip to Woolacombe.

As well as the usual BBQ, rum, crazy golf and pasties (and me not doing any surfing), I went for a little walk around Morte Point on my way back to the campsite.

It was a bit windy!  Which is also my excuse for wonky horizons...

Malvern hills

Last weekend felt quite springlike!  We headed to the Malvern Hills, walking from British Camp car park to Worcestershire Beacon and back.  11.5km in total, and rather windy on top (for a change...)

...followed by a tasty and well deserved ice cream!  First of the year, yum

Carding Mill valley

I found myself in Shropshire last weekend, so decided I might as well make the most of the scenery and go for a little walk.

I arrived at Carding Mill valley at around 1pm - not quite enough time for a longer walk up to the top of the Long Mynd, and it was rather windy anyway so that can wait.

Instead I followed a couple of the signposted walks in the valley - to the reservoirs, and to Lightspout waterfall:

An excuse to crack out the ND filters!  They definitely leave a slight red colour cast, which is a bit annoying but... continue reading »

busy easter

Four day weekend + good weather = no excuse for staying inside doing nothing productive (ie wasting hours on the internet)

So:

one session of cardio tennis 40km bike ride shopping (yawn) walk on Painswick Beacon walk on Haresfield Beacon many laps of CIWW (no capsizing!) 45km bike ride (complete with steep hill) a bit of gardening one tennis lesson

More than enough to justify a large takeaway pizza, several creme eggs and a bag of mini eggs... probably.

Worcestershire Beacon

Sunday was another 'make the most of the sunshine and get some fresh air' kind of day. (following a wedding reception on Saturday evening!)

So Abi and I wandered up Worcestershire Beacon, because I haven't been up there for a while. (plus the added bonus of indulging in my occasional hobby of logging trigpoints)

I like the Malverns, partly because they're so accessible.  Loads of very obvious footpaths scratched into the landscape, plenty of car parking options, and no real need for a map. 

Not the place to go if you want to get away from other people though - the toposcope was... continue reading »

river sources

Remember when I was on a mission to walk/cycle/kayak the whole river Wye?

Well, I still am - just keep getting distracted by other stuff and rubbish weather.

Anway, it was nice the other weekend and I had no other plans so on Friday afternoon I drove up to Llangurig.  After a brief evening stroll from the campsite into the village and back, I sat with a bag of chips watching the sun set.  Lovely.

Saturday was a little less relaxed.  I got up and drove to Rhyd y Benwch in the Hafren Forest.  A really nice (and quite popular, it seems) Forestry... continue reading »

Purton Hulks

Monday was an unusually sunny bank holiday. I went for a wander along the Gloucester and Sharpness canal to visit the Purton Hulks.

Apparently Britain's largest ship's graveyard, between 1909 and the early 70s 81 boats were deliberately beached on the thin strip of land between the Severn and the canal to shore up the bank and fight erosion.

Over time they've filled up with silt, rotted away, and generally been reclaimed by nature.  It's quite fascinating.

Some boats - particularly the concrete barges - are still mostly intact.  Others have completely vanished, or are just a few bits of wood sticking out... continue reading »

Stiperstones

As I was up in Shropshire last weekend visiting friends and meeting their babies (and consuming large amounts of cake, pizza and crisps), I figured I may as well stick my walking boots in the car and do something productive on the Sunday.

I decided on a short walk along Stiperstones. Starting from The Bog visitor centre car park, walking to meet the Shropshire Way and following that along the ridge past the trig point, then another big obvious path back again.  Just over 5 miles in total.

It rained.  Also it was quite windy, but that's to be expected walking along... continue reading »

Wye/Usk walking

First little bit of Wye for 2012!

Not hugely much to say about this one really... supposed to be kayaking, but I wasn't feeling well enough to want to sit in a boat all day, so instead went for a short walk from Rhayader down the to Elan confluence (then slept in the car until the others returned).

Crossing the Elan is a ridiculously wobbly footbridge, which actually made me feel seasick - this is a very rare thing!

On Sunday the Usk looked low and I didn't fancy it (the middle usk isn't my favourite bit of river, for whatever reason), so... continue reading »

Glasbury, Boughrood and Llanstephan

Probably the last bit of Wye Valley Walking for 2011 - Glasbury to Boughrood, and back again.

Mostly flat, walking through fields alongside the river, plus a little bit of road at Boughrood Brest.

When I reached Boughrood I stopped for lunch, then walked back to Glasbury along the road (the B4350).  I'd hoped to cut a corner of that with a footpath, but what was visible on the map was not obvious in real life!

Did randomly discover a roadside bird hide though - looking across Pwllpatti nature reserve.

Rather than driving straight home once I had a little detour further upriver, for... continue reading »

Builth to Erwood

Just because the map says 'bridleway' does not necessarily mean 'this will be a nice route to cycle rather than walk'.

I should probably learn this lesson, and do more google maps spying when planning stuff (in fairness, I had done some...).  Especially when the bridleway in question is on top of a small Welsh hill where it's been raining on and off for a few days...

Builth Wells to Erwood, along the Wye Valley Walk. Starts off on country roads and tracks (including some steep bits which I walked). Then you get further up the hill, and the path heads off... continue reading »

Glasbury

So, the day after buying new boots (and wandering up my local hill in them) I headed over to Glasbury to do another section of the Wye Valley Walk.

Two options from Glasbury: walk back to Llowes (about 4km), or walk upstream to Boughrood (about 5k)

I was contemplating getting both bits done in one day, so leaving the car in the middle of a vague figure of 8.

As it turned out, this didn't happen.  After walking to Llowes and back, the new boots were rubbing my heels a bit, so I decided it would be silly (and probably painful) to walk... continue reading »

I can see for miles

I bought some new walking boots.  No more squished toes and worn down soles!

Good excuse for a quick wander up the local highpoint - Robinswood Hill.  A mighty 198m above sea level, topped with trig point, some sort of jubilee beacon and another pillar that probably should have a toposcope on it, but in fact just had holes and bits of old glue/cement.  Useful.

Anyway, the scenery was fairly obvious - Gloucester (including my house!), the Cotswolds, May Hill, Bredon Hill, some of the Malverns (hiding under a rain cloud), and these:

Both Severn bridges, 25 miles away.  Wasn't expecting to be... continue reading »

two walks in one day

Last weekend was the start of October.  Yet we had 27° and glorious sunshine.  What's that all about?  Supposed to be autumn, not a very late summer...

Anyway Saturday was far too hot and stuffy for me to feel motivated to do anything, so I chilled out at home and read an entire book.

On Sunday I got up early for the rugby, then headed off in a Hay-on-Wye direction for yet more walking.  Once I got the other side of Hereford the sun vanished, but my car was still telling me it was 25°.

Parked up near Priory Wood, and headed off... continue reading »

a town made of books

I'm spending a large amount of my spare time at the moment editing photos.  This is the one 'downside' of spending weekends out and about!  It also creates backlogs of actual blog posts (ie the words to go with the pictures!), oops.

Here's a small hint about where I went walking last Sunday:

Books and bookshops wherever you look.  Must be Hay on Wye!

I arrived around lunchtime, having got up early to watch Wales put in a fantastic effort against South Africa in their opening game of the rugby world cup (far more entertaining than watching England miss kicks the previous morning... continue reading »

Merbach Hill

Next up on the Wye Valley Walk: Bredwardine to Castleton.  Starting from the Red Lion pub car park, which was the turnaround point when I cycled the adjacent bit.

Easing into the walk might have been nice, but nooo.. instead we start with a 1 in 4 hill to walk up.  That certainly woke my calf muscles up!

From here the path moves onto bridleway, and heads across some fields towards the top of Merbach Hill.

I had planned to eat lunch at the trig point, but never found it.  Analysis of my GPS trace once I was home showed that I was... continue reading »

a walk of two halves

Lower Lydbrook to Ross-on-Wye.  Another 10 miles of Wye Valley Walk, made possible once again by mum's taxis (thanks mum!)

Started off by crossing the river, over the old railway bridge - which I am much more used to seeing from river level, complete with "canoes keep left.  no stopping! no landing!" etc scribbled on the pillars.

The first few miles follows the riverside, past Welsh Bicknor church/youth hostel, and through fields.  Loads of people out enjoying the river in canoes and kayaks (and I think I spotted some rafty things?).  Quite a few other walkers around too.

Eventually, I reached Kerne Bridge. ... continue reading »

two lots of cycling, a walk, and some overpriced Pimm's

The final weekend of July (a five weekend month!) was a busy one, even by my standards.

On Friday evening I headed over to see the parents, who provided food and a lift into town so I could see the mighty Goldie Lookin' Chain playing the festival.  Which was generally rather entertaining.  I was less amused at the cost of a small cup of Pimm's from the bar mind you...

On Saturday I ticked off a bit more of the Wye.  Monmouth to Symonds Yat (and back again), on my bike via the Peregrine Path.  A really nice cycle route actually -... continue reading »

the boring side of Hereford

Last weekend's walking takes the dubious honour of being the most boring bit of Wye Valley Walk so far...

It started with a short bus journey into Hereford, where I got my passport stamped, had lunch, and wandered around the market for a bit.  So far, so good..

The path closely follows the river bank for about 4km out of Hereford.  Not that I could see the river, because of loads of hedge/bushes in the way (and butterflies, ick).  And on the other side of the narrow footpath?  A barbed wire fence, and some very boring fields.

After 45 mins of boredom, the... continue reading »

Walking the Upper Wye

Part two of "making the most of days off work" - a weekend walking in Rhayader.  (by 'weekend' here I mean Sunday and Monday, but that's a minor technicality).

This plan wasn't decided until Sunday lunchtime, and since it's a 2 hour drive away I think I did quite well to start walking at half 3!

I'd paddled a small section of the Upper Wye in February, so decided to spend a couple of days completing this stretch.  Started from the layby at Pont Marteg, I walked up through Gilfach nature reserve (next to the Afon Marteg) then over a hill and... continue reading »

Llandogo to Monmouth

Making use of "mum's taxis" for this one - aka getting a lift to Llandogo and walking back.

For some reason most of the photos I took are of bridges.  Probably because that's about all there is on this stretch to bother taking pics of!

Nah, it's not that boring really - another section I'm relatively familiar with due to Scouting activities as a teenager.

From my previous end point above Llandogo, I continued on through Cuckoo Woods, with the occasional sneaky glimpse down to Bigsweir Bridge (currently being repaired).  The path then drops down to meet the river in Whitebrook, and continues... continue reading »

Chepstow to Llandogo

The postman brought me two exciting things on Saturday morning.  First up, my FSRT certificate, and secondly a shiny brand new map.

So I tootled off to Llandogo, parked the car and jumped on the bus.  £3.05 and 25 minutes later I arrived in Chepstow.

Chepstow Castle marks the start (or finish, depending how you look at it) of the Wye Valley Walk.  There's a big lump of stone there to prove this, taken from Plynlimon.  Apparently there's a bit of Chepstow rock at the other end too, which I will see later on this year!

From Chepstow the walk goes through the... continue reading »

Brockhamptonish

Hurrah, I have completed an entire section of the WVW - between Ross-on-Wye and Hereford! 

Last weekend featured Brockhampton (reached on my first walk) through How Caple to Hole in the Wall (where I ended up last time).  And back again.

A relatively short and easy journey - 13.5km - but quite pleasant and peaceful.  A bit too close to being a straight 'there and back' for my liking though - I did the return leg along the road to avoid completely retracing my steps!

As it had been a fairly easy walk, I still had enough energy left on Sunday for a... continue reading »

Easter walking

Easter was vaguely planned to be a multi activity weekend of fun... somewhat typically that didn't quite happen, for various reasons.  But I did get some good walking in, so it wasn't all bad!

On Good Friday I ticked off a bit more Wye Valley Walk - starting in Ross on Wye up to Hole in the Wall (home of PGL, fact fans) and back again along the Herefordshire Trail.

Ross was heaving - lots of sunburnt people lazing about by the riverside.  And walking slowly in my way.  But I soon got past them, and out into the fields.  Horrible smelly... continue reading »

Hereford to Mordiford

Another sunny weekend with not enough water in the rivers for kayaking... so I've ticked off a bit more Wye Valley Walk!  For extra novelty points, I used public transport too.  Been a while since I've done that, hah.

Having driven to Mordiford, I parked the car and ate lunch whilst waiting for the bus to Hereford, and was a little surprised when it actually arrived, bang on time! (I did have a back up plan of a circular walk, just in case).

I've not been to Hereford for ages - obviously no time for shopping this time though!  Some fairly impressive... continue reading »

Capler to Fownhope

Saturday: sunshine, blue skies, warmth and general springyness.  Not a day to be spent cooped up indoors!  So I decided to go walkies.

2011's challenge is the River Wye.  I paddled a very short stretch of it last month, but 4km out of 215 isn't really much to show a quarter of the way through the year!

So I added another 5.5km of the Wye Valley Walk - from a total of 16km, starting (and ending) at Capler viewpoint (that's in Herefordshire, by the way).  Walking anticlockwise around this loop:

I set off following the Wye Valley Walk up past Capler Camp Hill... continue reading »

winter walking

Well, I was supposed to spend last weekend kayaking in North Wales.  But then the British Weather happened, so it got cancelled.  Frozen rivers, snow everywhere, icy roads, etc etc.

Gloucestershire, of course, has done its usual clever trick of almost entirely avoiding any snow.  Freezing cold with freezing fog, oh joy..

Luckily there was a backup plan, so my weekend was not entirely ruined - a walk in the Brecon Beacons on Sunday. 

From the Storey Arms, we walked up Corn Du, across to Pen y Fan, and back down the main tourist path.  6 miles, 4 hours of walking.
We had... continue reading »

Wedding and Waterfalls

I appear to have reached the point of growing up where my friends are starting to do silly things like getting married and having babies.  This summer seems to have been a steady stream of fancy invitations, and occasions where I can't get away with wearing shorts and flipflops (or better, freakshoes).

Last Saturday we celebrated Lucy's wedding.  For me, this mostly involved getting quite drunk, dancing badly, and covering everything I touched in purple glitter.  Oh, and pinching strawberries from the chocolate fountain to put in my Pimms, 'cos I'm classy like that.

Obviously that meant Sunday was a bit of... continue reading »

I miss the mountains

My legs ache. 

Entirely due to having walked 17.5km (about 11 miles) in the Brecon Beacons yesterday.

The plan had originally been to walk up Pen Y Fan, but it looked decidedly grim and rainy up there - so instead we wandered around on the other side of the A470.  I have a nice GPS trace of the whole thing. Yay for gadget phone :)

I don't do anywhere near enough hiking any more, hmm.

Punctures are evil

It's been one of those rare weekends where I haven't had anything planned to do.  So as it was reasonable weather yesterday, I thought I'd go for a nice bike ride.

Bit bored of the towpath close to home now (obviously it's rather flat, and generally has lots of people walking along it to avoid/scare the crap out of), so I thought I'd take the bike into the Forest and do something a bit more interesting :)

First step - a trip to Halfords to buy a bike carrier for my car - something I've been meaning to do for the last... continue reading »

Walking in the Black Mountains

I'm currently recovering from two days of hiking in the Black Mountains :)  Nice and relaxing, but I'm rather tired now.

Most of my scouting memories of walking around the Black Mountains/Brecon Beacons involve lots of cloud and rain.  Luckily this weekend was beautiful.  No rain, not too hot or hazy and a nice cool breeze.  Lovely :)  Unsurprisingly I took loads of photos, but I'm not so great at taking really impressive landscape shots so they didn't all get uploaded, heh...

My new boots appear to be rather good at repelling mud.  This is slightly annoying but probably a good thing... continue reading »

walking past swans

I went walkies yesterday :)  10 miles of mostly flat up in North Shropshire (Prees/Whixall ish).  Nice day out actually - and I'm quite glad it was yesterday and not today, silly weather!

Would anyone be surprised to hear that I went out in shorts?  I guess not, hehe.  This slightly backfired as there were stinging nettles and things, but I survived with just a few scratches and a couple of bites of some variety.  Need to invest in a pair of those trousers that zips off into shorts I think.  New hobby yay (or more correctly, rediscovered old hobby) :D

Part... continue reading »