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April 2002

 

 1-8 April

We were on holiday in Madeira. See my separate section

12 April

Day 1 of the Ramblers Spring Weekend in Cheltenham. Rendezvous at hotel. One car arrives late; none of them had brought their directions and the one who claimed that maps werenít necessary because he knew the way clearly didnít. Sort of who is going on which walk and how to transport them to appropriate start points in minimum vehicles.

Emerge at Winchcombe, fully equipped and off on A walk. We once did a coach ramble from here. My memory for walks (even the ones I havenít led) is such that I soon establish that we are heading off in a totally different direction. I bore fellow walkers by pointing out how we returned that day (1998?).

We go through the grounds of Sudeley Castle and then head south westwards climbing gradually and picking up the Cotswolds Way. The sun is pleasant but has brought with it a haziness that means (for example) you cannot see the Cotswolds. We reach the top and then walk along the scarp edge of the Cotswolds to Belas Knap (a neolithic burial chamber). I first heard of this many years ago but Iíd never been before. We all take time to long around. Unfortunately the principal entrance is in north-facing and in shadow so it doesnít make a great photo.

Carry on along the ridge. Good open views but nothing much to focus on to get decent photos. Eventually reach Cleeve Common. This is a lovely area spoilt by a golf course. We walk at length through this. Sadly being a Friday there are not many golfers to annoy. This does not stop Alan who is leading the walk from striding straight across one fairway, pointing out that we were just out of driving range.

Go to trig station to bag a Marilyn (actually I didnít because I had been here before, not that I had any recollection of the actual top). Then drop off steeply into Postlip valley. Then we tracked the footpaths alongside the A46 back to Winchcombe  

Cheltenham Photos

13 April

The long walk of the weekend, 13 miles from Bredon over Bredon Hill. I have burst out into AE Houseman on a couple of previous occasions in this log of walks. Oh to hell with it, let's have another go:

In the summertime on Bredon

The bells they sound so clear

Round both the shires they ring them

In steeples far and near

A happy noise to hear

Actually although this appears in "A Shropshire Lad", Bredon is in Worcestershire. Houseman was born nearby and, in fact, he wrote "A Shropshire Lad" without setting foot in the county. The second shire in the verse is Gloucestershire. But, enough of poetry, back to the walking.

We parked near the Avon in Bredon and took the track up the valley before crossing the railway and heading for Bredon's Norton.From the village we started to climb the hill proper, a long pull up through Norton Park. We did have a drink stop with views across the Severn Valley to the Cotswolds. The distant views were much clearer than the previous day.  It wasn't far from this stop to the main ridge of the hill (a fairly broad one) and we had a long section of easy walking over the top and descending gentling. Bredon is an outlier of the Cotswolds and it has the same steep scarp edge on the northern side. We followed this for some way before descending almost into Aston-under-Hill.

The walk then really followed a contour line around the hill going through Grafton, Conderton and Overbury. Grafton is very pretty and the gardens were alive with bloom. But the best bit was near Beckford Coppice. Just before entering we saw 5 roe deer capering around a field. In an odd way the more they ran away from us, the more they curved back round towards us. Then we entered the coppice, a riot of bluebells. I was very surprised that they were out yet. As we left the trees we met a woman who told us that we could see more roe deer. Well we certainly could, about 100 yards away (take out binoculars) but they showed no inclination to move even when they saw us. There must have been 25-30 of them. We stopped a while to admire them.

Conderton and Overbury held a different interest. Cotswolds ston houss, distinctly out of our price range. We then cut across to Kemerton, pausing to study the behaviour of a male swan towards a Canada goose that it thought was threatening to take over its territory. The goose eventually took off to escape and the swan took off in pursuit. I just wish I could have got this on film. Across more fields to the edge of Bredon with a long stretch along the road to get back to the cars.   

Cheltenham Photos

14 April

The final walk of the weekend. It was a marked trail from Crickley Hill country park but it went well outside the park on to proper paths. we came out of the park and crossed the A417 over Shab Hill and down aldwell Bottom to Upper Coberley. Go north, cross the A 436 and then up Hartley Bottom  to the scarp edge again. A pleasant amble back along this, taking time out to look at The Devil's Chimney (this is a stack left by quarreymen, a bit like the Old Man of Mow)

The path bends away from the scarp and there is a section of road work by Ullenwood to get back to the edge. You then follow it back to the park.

The Visitors' Centre describes this as the Leckhampton Walk. It's about 8.5 miles and we got back just in time to miss the rain.

Cheltenham Photos

21 April

I had another pass-out and, as there was a break in my regular Sunday evening commitment, I decided that it was off to Wales for me, continuing the Hewitt-bagging around Bala. I'd long been putting off doing the Nuttalls' round taking in Carnedd y Filiast (not to be confused with its namesake on the Glyders) and Arenig Fach. This offered the prospect of long, boggy, pathless sections. To make matters worse it was raining on the drive over.

In fact it turned out to be a lovely day, much helped by the fact that the sun got brighter and brighter as the day went on. Yes there were pathless sections but not as much as I feared. The landscape was open, seemed gloriously remote but still full of interest. There were ever changing views of Arenig Fawr (a wonderfully complex hill in its shape) and Llyn Celyn, which was shining in the sunshine, not its usual brooding self.

I parked by the memorial chapel right by the lake. This is slightly different to the Nuttalls' starting point but, on the basis that you have to do at least a mile on the road, I was trying to do more of it at the start. Also, given that there are lots of lay-bys for parking, it was easier to get a definite fix on this on to help locating the first path off the road. This takes you up through a short section of forestry. Once this emerges on to the moor above, the navigation is very easy just following this track, being careful to fork left at the only point where it splits, all the way to the summit of Carnedd y Filiast. One part of the route takes you into the Hesgyn valley; this looks totally uninhabited and packed with heather. Llyn Hesgyn is really desolate.

Carnedd y Filiast is one of these round-topped hills but it is made more interesting by a trig station and shelter. I'd been climbing up the leeward side and was quite surprised by the strength of the wind on top. The shelter was very handy as I paused for a drink.

You then follow a long section of fence all the way over to the Gelyn valley but the Nuttalls' route includes a diversion from the fence on to Llechwedd Llyfn. I thought that this was one of the Nuttalls that isn't a Hewitt. So I felt quite good about myself for hacking through heather on to it. I now find it is a Hewitt so I'm doubly pleased. The Nuttalls say that if you look right over the fence you can see the largest area of bog and heather in Wales - 25 square miles of it. It is wild and beautiful but I have to say that it is indistinguishable from the land to the left. It than struck me; I wasn't walking down the edge of this wilderness, I was walking through the middle. I'm just glad the fence was there for direction. 

You have to leave this friendly direction-finder when you can see the Gelyn, more particularly its confluence with the Trinant. You tack across to this (rough, lots of heather, lots of bog including one spot that I entered up to my knee). However the Trinant looked lovely in the sunshine and I stopped for lunch by the bank.

There was then nearly an hour and a half of hard work to get to the top of Arenig Fach. First up the stream. The Nuttalls say take the left branch; well it wasn't obvious that this was a branch as there wasn't a lot of water in it. The key is that you keep looking up and aiming just to the right of the crags guarding the hill. You continue on this line, deviating slightly here and there to find a more hospitable route through the heather. You eventually reach the bit of a ridge which looks down on Llyn Arenig Fach; this is extremely well hidden. At this point the really steep climb starts but the way is quite well defined. I did however lose it at the point where I found it had leveled out - this turned out to be a sheep run contouring round the hill. A little bit of vertical took me on to another well-defined path which also contoured round. This brought me under a rocky outcrop but I climbed up the side and was on the summit.

Again I had done the climb in the lee of the wind. It nearly blew me over when I caught its full blast. Much thanks again for the summit shelter.

The book says follow the fence line off the hill back towards Llyn Celyn. What it doesn't say is that the fence is defunct although most of the posts remain. It plunges steeply off in places and you are following it through thick heather, never entirely sure where you are putting your feet. This is tough. However when you divert along another fence line branching off left the heather gives way to grass and the rest of the path back to the road is much easier. There isn't a footpath over the final cultivated section but I found a track across it. Then about a mile back on the road. I'd come out further from the car than the Nuttalls say but I'd wanted to follow the fence.

12 miles in total but a hard one. Three Hewitts and two Marilyns

Map                Photos

28 April

A really enjoyable walk with the Ramblers. The attractive features were:

bulletitís always good walking around Dovedale
bullet

it kept threatening to rain and, whilst we did have showers, we had more good weather than bad. We felt as though weíd cheated the forecast which was much worse. We also arrived back just before a big downpour so we felt good about that too. Itís a good job Ron wasnít on the walk; weíd have spent 10 minutes longer over each refreshment  stop and we would have got soaked in the downpour.

bulletit had a good number of paths that I canít remember walking before. 

We parked at Alstonefield; we did have a discussion on its spelling as some signs donít have the ďeĒ in the middle) and walked down to Milldale village. This is on the Dove and features the Viatorís Bridge; Viator was one of the characters in ďThe Compleat AnglerĒ and Isaak Walton did much of his fishing in this stretch of the Dove. Then up the Dove to the part where the valley is named Wolfcotedale at which point we branched off up Biggindale. Well up the dale there is a path off to Hartington and we followed that via a mixture of path, road and green lane to Hartington itself. The  path reaches the village at Hartington Hall which is one of the loveliest youth hostel buildings I know.

We left the village on the path round the back of the public toilets (Iíve noticed the path on my frequent visits to use the facility but I donít think Iíve walked it before) This leads to Beresforddale which has lovely limestone cliffs on both sides. In some ways we left this too soon but our route took us southwestwards into Narrowdale. This lives up to its name to begin with but soon spreads out into a superb bowl, which benefitted from the bright sunshine as we passed through. We climbed somewhat and then stopped to enjoy the view of the dale.  It was then a short walk back to the road and about half a mile along that to the cars.

A treat on the way back. Stuart suggested that we stopped at Eileenís Pantry in Ipstones. Large cups/portions at unpretentious prices. Itís next to the Londis if you ever fancy stopping.

Map                Photos

 

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