As part of John’s research into tractors which would be suitable for use on our steep hills we decided to go up to the LAMAS show in Newark which was on the 19th and 20th January so that we could look at some of the options.We travelled on the 18th taking a picturesque route through the Brecon Beacons and then the border country to see John’s mother first. We then went on to Nottingham after stocking up with supplies from Waitrose in Newport, as we do not have a Waitrose locally. Our son Mark and his girlfriend Emma kindly put up with us for one night. It was good to catch up with their news and be introduced to their pet tortoise and King snake.It was an early start the next day so that we arrived at the show at 6am before the traffic had built up. We had our early bird full English breakfast before having a look round the show at some very expensive pieces of machinery. It was worth the trip as we ordered an Alpine tractor at a special show price. Hopefully it will do the job nicely.
This was the first dry pleasant day for a few days so we decided to go for a short circular walk on the Pembrokeshire coast. The drive down took us through St Davids the smallest city in the UK which is quite picturesque.
To see this walk in google Earth click here.The walk started at Porth Clais, which is a small rocky inlet, from which small fishing boats sail. You can park in the National Trust car park, but be aware that you have to pay during the season. Walk down from the car park to the harbour then take the right hand track up past some old lime kilns. From there we walked along the coastal path towards St Justinian. The track is very well marked and this section is quite easy with only a couple of short steep ascents. Throughout the walk there are fabulous views of several rocky inlets and quite a wild sea as we had previously had very rough weather.There were several small rocky islands providing good nesting sites for birds and just before St Justinian there is a good view of Ramsey Island which is a RSPB reserve. See www.ramseyisland.co.uk for more information.We left the coast at Justinian and took a short walk along the lanes, which at this time of year are very quiet, back to the car. It is possible to avoid most of the road by walking across the National Trust land but there are some very wet areas that are best avoided in the winter.The walk is 6.5 miles in total and takes about 3.5 hours with a stop for lunch
Today we walked to the top of the Black Mountain which is to the west of the Brecon Beacons National Park and should not be confused with the Black Mountains in the east of the same Park. Rising to 802 metres (2631 ft) Fan Brycheiniog the summit of the Black Mountain is the third highest top in South Wales. It is a great walk only 35 minutes drive from where we live. The weather was crisp and bright (mostly!). It is approximately 9.5 miles and we have included the details of the walk below.
To view this walk in Google Earth click here.
To reach the start of the walk leave the A40(T) at Trecastle and head south west to Llanddeusant. Then follow the signs to Llyn y Fan Fach. The road turns into a track which turns right over a cattle grid just before the water works/trout farm, proceed along the side of the river and park on the grass verge just by the information sign. (Grid ref. SN 798238). Walk along the track through the valley past the old water installation that is, I think, now a trout farm. As you walk up along the cascading waterfalls views of the cliffs of Bannau Sir Gaer appear ahead. Follow the main track to the right, turning up hill when you reach the resevoir. You follow the track up as it makes it’s way around the western side of Llyn Y Fan Fach and up to the top of the cliffs.When you get to the western side of the lake and almost to the top of the cliffs it is worth stoping to enjoy the view. Below is the lake, Lyn y Fan Fach, while stretching off into the distance are the cliffs of Bannau Sir Gaer with Fan Foel stretching out to the north.
It is now a case of following the ups and downs and in and outs of the cliffs until you reach the trig point on Fan Brycheiniog, the top of the Black Mountain. Below the cliff is another small lake Llyn Y Fan Fawr. This is another good spot to stop and admire the excellent views, especially towards the Brecon Beacons in the east. At this point there are several options for you to choose from for the return. You may prefer to retrace your footsteps and return to your car following the route you walked out on. Or you may choose to carry on a bit further along the cliffs to the “Staircase” which descends the cliffs to the southern shore of the lake. You can then follow the base of the cliffs (this can be boggy) back to Llyn Y Fan Fach.
The weather improved in the New Year still cold but nothing like we had in December. We went out to the Salutation Inn on New Year’s Eve our nearest pub in Pontargothi about 3 miles away. Usually ‘us oldies’ do not bother to stay up for the New Year!! It was a pleasant evening. The Salutation is another pleasant pub doing good food.
Not being particularly interested in consumerism we resisted going to the New Year sales! Instead we just had a day here in the Cothi Valley. The following day we had a trip down to Laugharne to visit Dylan Thomas’ home the Boathouse situated on a cliff overlooking the estuary of the River Taf. He lived here for the last four years of his life and wrote many pieces of work including Under Milk Wood.
Laugharne is an interesting ancient town having a castle first established in the twelfth century, a mixture of small cottages and Georgian houses.
On the way down we saw 2 red kites, one actually over the Taf estuary. They are magnificent birds of prey whose numbers are increasing.
We intended to drive along the coastal road to Tenby but unfortunately followed the SatNav directions along another more inland road. Tenby is a very popular holiday resort, its attractions being the fantastic beaches and views of Caldey Island. The town was even quite busy on a Bank Holiday in winter. A visit to the seaside is never complete without fish and chips which we ate at one of the many fish and chip restaurants.
The following day we went walking in the Brechfa forest which is in the next valley to us. The Brechfa Forest is a mixture of ancient and managed woodland containing several mountain biking and walking trails. We had a good walk even if the weather was a bit cold and damp.
Jonathan, our son, then had to start his return journey to Santiago de Compostela the next day first catching the coach to London and then spending the night in Stansted airport before catching his Ryanair flight the following morning. It makes it a long trip for him but he enjoyed his stay over Christmas and New Year. Next time he will try a more convenient flight and Ryanair are pulling out of Santiago anyway.
So far in January the weather has been all right and we have been able to get around more easily and are starting to enjoy living here. We attempted to climb the Black Mountain situated in the Western part of the Brecon Beacons National Park and is a remote rugged area. Unfortunately the mist set in so we did not make it to the top so had to leave that for another day.
We did have a very short respite in the weather for a few days but the cold weather soon returned well before Christmas. Luckily we have a Landrover which was a godsend in this weather and we were able to get out. However, no deliveries were possible so we have been limited as to what we can do regarding sorting ourselves out here.Whilst we don’t celebrate Christmas in a big way we have been busy sending out Christmas cards etc. Our friend, Mark farmer, kindly did a cartoon of us (also featuring Martin Hayes and Dennis Cahill).
Jonathan, our son, made it over from Santiago de Compostela in Spain for Christmas.. We thought he may have had difficulties firstly with the Spanish Air Traffic controllers striking and then with airports being closed due to the weather. We had a quiet few days just exploring the area visiting Llandeilo walking in Dinefwr Park nearby which has some lovely views and nice old ruined castle. Following that we had a good lunch in the Angel Inn in Landeilo which is a great pub and does good food.
We eventually moved to Wales at the end of November 2010 just a few days before the worst weather in the UK since the 1960’s set in. Luckily we had deliveries of oil and wood soon after moving otherwise we would have had a very cold time as the lanes around here were impassable and we did not even have post delivered for nearly a month.
The house is very easy to keep warm and we only had one mishap with the water freezing in the UV filter outside. John, ever resourceful, soon had that sorted out and it is now insulated. We were lucky as some of our friends were without water for several days.
The snow may be a nuisance but it was certainly very beautiful around here on the hills and trees so we took advantage of it with local walks to take some photographs.