Dear readers, every now and then you owe it to yourself to get away from it all! My way of having some “me time” is to hike. Now I’m sure you must think of me as some Bear Grylls character but far from it. I use my annual treks to reach those places that are unreachable by any other means, and in Wales that means on top of great bloody big hills! Not for me, light weight uber expensive kit, rather I go for army surplus gear, tinned food and a sarcastic expression.
Note the speed limit, 30 metres per hour maybe more appropriate!
The Beacons Way runs for a hundred miles between Holy Mountain, to the North of Abergavenny, and Bethlehem, to the West of Mynnydd Ddu or the Black Mountain. It is a real favourite of mine and I’ve been trying to complete it for the last seven years. Last year, I did the Eastern half to Pen y Fan. That encompasses the Black Mountains, Llanthony Priory and also the site of an Anglo-Welsh skirmish at the Dial Cerrig ( Marcher Lord Richard de Clare meeting his end at the Stone of Vengeance). The trail takes in some amazing scenery and sites of historical interest.
It’s not too long of course before you see a castle in Wales. Below is the biggest Iron Age fort in the Principality, Carn Goch.
And if one castle wasn’t enough…..at the end of my first day, there was another, Castell Carreg Cennen.
Edward the First had taken the castle from its Welsh owners. Later it was taken over by brigands and partially demolished for that reason in 1462. Modern Wales has its fair share of brigands of course and, as often happens on my trips , I bumped into them. High on the hills, miles from anywhere I pitch my tent where three car loads of teenage smokers decided to congregate…
Anyway it was half past one before the last car left and I could sleep. One of the nocturnal visitors was coughing like a trooper as he got back into his car and I was so tempted to call out “bless you” from my hidden campsite and scare the bugga!
It came out exceptionally hot the next day. Again Wales never lets you down. The country is full of historical relics. The hilltops are littered with cairns. There are the quarries and also Chartist caves to be found.
It being Wales, three days of fine weather meant that the next day would be rain. Sure enough the Fans were enclosed in mist and fog as I passed but I’d made it to Craig y Nos and my destination.