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 »
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".
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)
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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.
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 »
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 »
Four day weekend + good weather = no excuse for staying inside doing nothing productive (ie wasting hours on the internet)
one session of cardio tennis
40km bike ride
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.
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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:
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°.
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 »
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.
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 »
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.
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 »
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 »
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!
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 »
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 »
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.
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.
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 »
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 »
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)