Walk 208 [5½ miles] - Pembridge

OS201 OS149 garmin

Today six of us walked off the excesses of Christmas in the beautiful countryside around the village of Pembridge. Whilst overcast it was dry and breezy. Leaving the car park, we made our way towards the centre of the village passing the Duppa’s Almshouses

Duppas Almshouses

up, past the Market Hall

Market Hall

before entering St Mary’s Churchyard and spotting its unusual Bell Tower.

St Mary’s Church Bell Tower

We then passed the moat that once went around Pembridge Castle

Pembridge Castle Moat

and walked through an orchard,

Making way through orchard

avoiding the mud as best we could.

Mud!

We crossed the Rowe Ditch, an artificial earthwork that runs N to S across the Arrow valley, which was probably built around the 7th century, and then walked along the disused railway line that once connected Leominster and Kington.

Walking the old Leominster to Kington railway line

Val then enquired about a stop for coffee and miraculously a set of logs appeared, catering for each size of walker.

Coffee stop

Our next stop was the Court of Noke, a particularly fine English House with unusual canals within the gardens …

Court of Noke

and then we came to a bridge over the fast flowing river, where the walkers took part in a game of Pooh sticks.

Pooh Sticks - before......and…

...after

We then made our way back to Pembridge for lunch down by the river.

Lunch by the river
all photos courtesy Colin

The walk was 5.4 miles long and relatively flat, but there was one tricky bit on the way back where loppers were used to clear the way and a steady nerve was required not to fall in the water. My thanks to Anne, as joint leader on the day, and my fellow walkers for their support and good company.

[Blog entry: Anne and Colin]


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Walk 207 [8.63 miles] - Vinalls, Mary Knoll Valley, Lower Whitcliffe & Bringewood

OS201 OS137 garmin

At last a small break in the weather promised us a dry day. The walk was advertised as a muddy one which was an understatement to say the least!

11 of us gathered at Vinalls car park in Mortimer Forest and we set off along the gently descending track in Mary Knoll Valley. Just beyond Sunnydingle Cottage (a real misnomer as there was no sun at all) we turned sharp left and made the climb up to the viewpoint for a coffee. Spurning the convenient bench most of us either stood or sat on the grass for our brief break and long discussion on the state of Frangipanes!

What is the word coming to?
No icing now on Frangipanes

Heading down towards Whitcliffe

We continued the walk alongside the Evens on the Mortimer Trail down to the Whitcliffe car park and, after crossing the road, took a left turn along the forestry track and the mud bath which was to follow.

The Lower Whitcliffe path started off reasonable firm but we were soon taking evasive action to try to keep out of the mud with only limited success. We were approaching our first Elan pipeline aqueduct when disaster struck. It was very muddy along this stretch, and Geri, at the rear, in taking evasive action lost her footing and within an instant found hereself upside down on her back sliding headfirst out of sight to the horror of Catherine who saw it all. Fortunatley a strand of barbed wire arrested this uncontrolled slide and (with the assistance of Catherine, Ros and Bob) Geri eventually found herself back on the path with not too much damage done.

The 5½ hugged oak tree at Deepwood Dingle aqueduct

We passed the Vallets Crossing aqueduct and the Deepwood Dingle aqueduct where we decided to hug a very large oak tree. After much slipping and sliding 6 of us managed to hug the monster making the measurement 5½ hugs. Shortly after we stopped for our lunch - again sprurning a perfectly sturdy bench seat in favour of a misty view of the aqueduct and the valley below.

Deepwood Dingle aqueduct

We continued through Deep Wood, passing more evidence of the Elan pipeline in the form of two buildings housing the syphon outlet and the syphon inlet valves.

We then turned left handed and climbed up Hunstay Hill, eventually emerging from Bringewood into the daylight and the final descent via Monstay Farm to the car park.

A viw of Downton Castle from Hunstay Hill

A good walk (and exciting for some) and my grateful thanks to Catherine, Ros and Bob - the heroic rescuers of Geri.


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Walk 206A (#52) [6.8 miles] - Elan Valley, Claerwen circular walk

OS200 OS147 garmin

Seven of us set off on what looks like being the H-C’s biennial Lingen Loop walk. With some concern I was reminded that we lead this walk in 2008, 2011, 2013 and now 2015! Shows lack of originality on our part, or, more accurately, the only walk I can remember easily when doing a recce for new walks proves difficult.

However every time you do a walk it is a bit different and that proved to be the case this time. We were very lucky with the weather. Raining in Bucknell when we assembled at the lych-gate, sunshine at Lingen when we set off at 9.25am. And it stayed that way. We stopped, as usual, to talk to the pigs, tossed them a few windfalls from the tree by their enclosure and admired the two rings that the boar has in his nose – very trendy.

Really cold along this stretch of path

The first couple of miles headed roughly north alongside the Claerwen Reservoir. The path was a made up one but covered here and there with snow and ice which made for tricky walking.

Looking north along the Claerwen Reservoir

Ice underfoot

Coming into the sun at last

Frequent stops to wipe our eyes dry became the norm and it was really good to turn into one of the sheltered inlets to get some relief from the wind. "Never mind" I said to Sue and Geri, "Once we start to climb, and up on the top we'll have the wind behind us and it'll be better then". Prophetic words indeed.

Anyway, we carried on alongside the reservoir only to be forced to take to the side of the track to allow about a dozen off road motor cyclists to speed past us. We rounded a second corner and here it was - our climb up onto the top. We had come 2 miles already as we began to climb the western side of Cloddau. After a short distance we sheltered for a quick coffee break.

Climbing up the side of Cloddau

Tussocks looking just like hedgehogs

Once we got going again the path continued right handed and gently climbing and I was beginning to think this wasn't so bad after all....until the path (as expected) petered out. Then we were left with snow covered grassy tussocks and little else - and we needed to keep climbing to the top. This seemed to take forever - with frequent stops to re-group, catch our breath and plod forward - feeling and prodding with our poles for each footstep. Occasionally our poles just went down without touching anything, and sometimes our feet did the same. We were all struggling and, as we neared the top of our climb, Geri fell flat on her face doing a spectacular 'face plant' (sorry, no photo available). Suffice it to say her face was covered in snow and her right ear was full as well. After dusting herself down we set off again.

Near the top of Craig Dyfnant
looking back the way we came...


...and a panorama looking towards the east
use + or - key to zoom

At times the going became slightly easier as we came across a less tussocky stretch, but for the most part we plodded forward at a slow, careful pace. By now I was looking to cut corners off the planned route and just get us back to the car quickly and safely. We had reached a point of no return and we all agreed that it was preferable to carry on rather than turn round and retrace our steps.

Our path took us round Craig Dyfnant, and near to Cae Blaemethan we turned south in an attempt to intersect our original planned route. Luckily the wind was still behind us and so we kept warm enough. Ahead we could see quadbike tracks which occasionally made walking a bit easier, but for the most part it was back to tussock hopping.- with the occasional stop and regroup when either Sue or Geri let out an "Ooof" or a squeak as they slipped over. It was by no means easy walking at all.

From near Cefn Cmw-coel looking down onto Garreg Ddu dam

At Cefn Cwm-coel we could see our path ahead in the distance and below us. Another quadbike track helpfully took us along our way and walking became a little easier. We eventually gained a made up track near Blaencoel and stopped for a late and much needed lunch.

The final stretch

Our final stretch followed this track for a while and then branched off and gently climbed back up to the Claerwen Dam. At about half a mile to go I suggested that Sue and Geri might like to wait whilst I did the last half a mile of so to the car.

Claerwen Dam

So, in conclusion, it was a really interesting but hard walk. I'll certainly chalk this one up to experience and won't take the group there - oh dear me NO!


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Walk 206 [5.8 miles] - Lingen Loop (biennial)

OS201 OS137 garmin

It seemed like such a good idea! After days of rain, high wind and similar I thought that this circular walk might be just the ticket for the Bucknell Walkers. As the weather was promised to be fine and bright and cold, Sue Geri and I set off for the Elan Valley.

We arrived at about 9.30am and set about getting ready. It was immediately apparent that there was a bitterly cold wind coming down from the north towards the Claerwen Dam and that all of our windproof facilities would be required today. With that off we went.

We stopped, as usual, to talk to the pigs
photo courtesy Isabelle

Then up through the woods and down onto the lane that leads to Upper Lye. Left turn after about half a mile and into the forest where we stopped for coffee sitting on a strategically placed stack of logs. Then we tackled the zig-zags up the hill. This time we found a short, or perhaps it was a ‘long’ cut. Because we were talking so hard (an interesting discussion about children’s names) we missed the turning and continued up to the top of the hill on the forestry path. A quick consult of the map reassured us that if we continued on we should pick up the official route a little bit further on. So there you have it - it WAS a slightly different walk! The second part of the walk was marked by that other H-C favourite – mud. The descent down what was this time virtually a stream bed was a bit treacherous but no one fell over so that was good news. The final part across the fields and back to the woods was gluggy and squelchy at the field gates but we survived.

Back to the car by 12.15pm where one of the group who posesses a Fitbit told us that in fact the walk was 5.8 miles – a reasonable morning’s excursion. The H-Cs promise to maintain the tradition and will repeat this walk in 2017.

[Blog entry: Margaret H-C]


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