The hot and cold mountain

December 6, 2013

A month has passed since I last made it into the hills, or had any major form of exercise.  Too much travel, too many meetings and my resolve not to get back into this rut has been challenged.  I had started to think about using evening rugby matches in Cardiff as an excuse to get a walk in during the day.  The proximity of the Brecon Beacons and the Gower make this more than possible so today that opportunity dawned.   Cardiff were playing Glasgow at home in the Heneken Cup (we won by the way) that evening and I didn't have to fly out to Seattle until Sunday.  So I booked a local hotel using a last minute rate and resolved to have two days walking regardless of the weather.

Now this itself is a return to a past life, when I was young if a day was designated for a walk then you went on the walk regardless.   There is pleasure in adverse conditions as I rediscovered today.   I choose a sentimental trip namely the Neuadd Horseshoe which takes in the three main peaks of the Beacons and finishes with an easy exit along an old Roman Road.  It is one of the classic walks from the south with great views.  Now the children were old enough to walk and not so old they had other engagements we came here a few times and it was either boiling hot or freezing cold so in the manner of children everywhere they called it the hot and cold mountain in the same way as Goodrich Castle became the Ribena Castle after its colour.  Memories of those walks (and loosing both my wedding ring and signet ring on Cribyn) brought me back for my first visit to the Beacons in years.  

I was rather embarrassed at the start as I had all new equipment.  The old winter climbing gear is not to loose to provide protection and I had to invest in new Paramo gear, namely their Enduro jacket and trousers.  I also had their base layer coupled with Rohan socks and gloves and new Black Diamond Ultra Mountain FL Z Walking Poles, my former set having broken on the Glyders at the start of the month.   Given that other people in the car park were all donning much used equipment I felt a little fraudulent and wanted to explain my apparently nyofite status!

The walk starts up a small road before turning to the left and passing across a reservoir dam before a near vertical ascent.  Given that I passed everyone else in the car park in that ascent I felt I had proved a point and relaxed at the top with a scotch egg and some nuts.  From there the walk in my memory was one of ever emerging views.  Today it was of ever increasing wind and rain.  It needed care on several sections as the risk of being displaced over a drop was high.  I made the top of Pen-y-fan (pictured) and foolishly determined to eat the rest of my lunch on the summit rather than seeking shelter.   It too some time to warm up, but then I headed east.  Navigation is no longer an issue on the popular summits and stone pathways seem to have been laid.  A steady drop down to the saddle and I resisted the temptation to contour around Cribyn.  No sign of any rings on the top, but the weather was starting to clear.  From there it was down to the Roman Road and a gentle stroll back to the car.

Half an hour later I was enjoying a bath at the delightful Llechwen Hall Hotel and then donned pink for the Arms Park with Iwan following a rapid and well deserved dinner.  All in all a great day, and tomorrow I plan another horseshoe walk, this time from the north.

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