Monday, 17 October 2011

The perfect antidote!

It’s alarming how rusty one gets after a month of inactivity. A busy start to the new academic year, has seen me dedicating far too much time to work, and neglecting the important things in life, like, err.. well, having a life for starters!

So this weekend getaway to the Star Inn Beer Festival in the Brecon Beacons was a necessary stress buster; mission was to ease that tightness in the chest, give my forehead some respite from that bloody wall, and forget those lost hours of sleep worrying about how to solve work issues without the use of fire arms!

I arrived at Talybont on Usk on Thursday afternoon, pitched the tent at the farm in the village, popped into Brecon for groceries, then returned to settle down to a chilled evening under canvas, with a meal of pasta, a bottle of Old Speckled Hen and Bram Stokers’ classic on my Kindle. Already, work, or “the anti-life”, was a fading memory.

Friday morning; as is often the way, I headed out with low cloud shrouding the tops of the hills, and as I descended back to the car a few hours later, the sun showed its face, the mist cleared and it was a glorious day!

The promise of sunny intervals certainly looked a broken one when I set off from the car park near Taf Fechan Forest, along the Taff Trail towards Neaudd Reservoir. I then followed the rocky Roman road that passes above the filter house. Instead of continuing on to Bwlch ar y Fan, the pass nestled between Cribyn and Fan y Big, I turned right and followed a stream known as Nant y Gloesydd. The ascent was boggy, and my fitness was showing as I blew a little too hard on a relatively gentle climb of 220 metres in just under two kilometres.

IMG_1947Leaving the stream, I soon reached the cairn at Pile of Stones. I was in a respectable mist, good enough cover to warrant the use of a compass to carry on to Blaen Caerfanell, along the Beacons Way.

The gloom did not last, though; on the return along Craig y Fan Ddu, the dull green slopes of Cerrig Edmwnt, to my left, were suddenly illuminated by the emerging sunshine. Off with my Paramo jacket and on with my sun hat, as summer was appearing to be making one last curtain call.

With a change in the weather, I lingered longer on the trail. I diverted to one of the waterfalls on my descent, and, sheltered from any hint of a breeze, I enjoyed my lunch in a sun trap. What a beautiful day! All in all, only seven and a half kilometres, but how good it was to be out!

IMG_1954Saturday; Jon and Jo had arrived the night before, and after breakfast and witnessing the demise of Wales in the rugby, at the hands of a sorry French side, we went off for a short walk close to Talybont.

Allt yr Esgair is a minor hill, standing at 393m, but it commands a wonderful view. Starting from the car park on the A40, South east of Llansantffraed, it’s a gentle climb along the hill’s western slopes, through shady woodland and grassy meadow. At the walk’s northern tip, you start to see glimpses of Pen y Fan and Cribyn in the distance, whilst as you turn to climb south to the summit, Llangorse Lake and Mynydd Llangorse come into view on the other side of the hill.

The ascent hugs a crumbling drystone wall right to the summit. From the top, I could easily spot my Orange Quasar tent in the field over two kilometres away, as the crow flies. Reassuring, should I ever find myself having to be picked up by Search and Rescue when I’m out wild camping.

This was a short walk of only five and a half kilometres, and a couple of hours, but who cares, it was another cracking day in the sunshine, and this weekend was all about getting away from the stresses of the past month. It certainly hit the spot!