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Black Pudding Gaiters

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north wales

First hill walk of 2020!

Lock down is tough.
I’m lucky, I’ve had a fairly easy time compared to many but; all trips abroad and a city break cancelled, concerts postponed or cancelled, no camping trips and unable to access the hills for months.

I have tried to average around 30 to 40 miles a week doing local walks (I’m determined to still complete the ViewRanger 1000 mile challenge!).
I’m lucky, I live near woods and quiet country lanes but Wirral is flat, very flat so, as soon as it was announced that Wales was opening it’s borders, I booked some time off work.

I’m very keen to try out the new MSR tent but I’m holding off any overnight stays at the moment as only self contained units (things with their own loo) can be used for overnight stays.
At least, I think that’s the current rule.
To make matters worse, on the drive up I passed signs saying Welsh Covid rules apply.
I don’t fully understand my own country’s rules!

The weather forecast was brilliant. A bonus blast around the country lanes in the Abarth with the top down perhaps.
Needless to say, the weather forecast changed considerably the day before and, to quote Half Man Half Biscuit, the cloud base was low on the Clwydian hills but, to quote HMHB again, no storm warning was going to stop me setting out again.

I parked up in my usual spot in Llanferres and walked through the Druid Inn car park to Rectory Lane. Just past the last house, I headed up hill.
Only a few minutes from the car and the views were lovely.

Clwydian Hills Views


It’s strange how Covid-19 has changed normal activities. Previously I’d think nothing of opening a gate. Now, it was a well planned manoeuvre involving one ‘dirty hand’, a foot and a squirt of hand sanitiser. Other than though, everything was as it has always been.

The first part of this walk was a route I knew well. Up Foel Fenlli and down towards the Bwlch Penbarra car park. The second part was (surprisingly!) new to me. I stayed to the west edge of the foot of Moel Famau then headed to the north of Coed Ceunant.
Shortly after joining a narrow road, I had planned on cutting across a field towards Llanbedr hall.
After crossing a small stream, I noticed a number of cows in the next field. They seemed content enough, munching away on their lunch.
I glanced down at the map, just continue in the direction I was heading, towards a gap in the fence.
I altered my route slightly to give the cows a wide berth.
They noticed me and started heading closer.
I moved further to the right, they started to group.
They were congregating between me and the gap in the fence which I discovered, led to another field of cows.
I wimped out and turned around and crossed back over the stream.
I knew the road would lead me down to the road in to Llanbedr and from there, I could get back on track.

Old St Peters Church Llanbedr

As it turned out, this wasn’t a bad decision. I headed up the track towards old St Peter’s Church.
After a good look around at the gravestones dating from the 17 and 1800s and getting the obligatory photos, I headed to the back of the grounds, through an old gate and on to a path.
I’m not entirely sure I should have been there, but it got me on to the lane where the cow field would have led to.

It was now getting close to midday. The temperature had increased and it had become rather muggy. I was glad of the drizzle to cool me off as the route slowly climbed back to Fenlli.
I stayed on the lower path around the hill before following the path I’d taken earlier to the car.

This route (with the cow detour!) is available to download as a GPX
I’ve also added a Relive Fly Through.

Tuesday was another walk, this time near Ruabon.
Not as hilly and not as scenic but a pleasant walk, despite a detour along the roads. A farmer had decided to grow the world’s biggest and thickest corn right across the path.

Wednesday was back to the realities of Covid, spending over two hours negotiating a full refund for another cancelled holiday, but the hills are back!

A night at Llyn Rhys Campsite, Llandegla

Camping, for me, is done in a tent which can be stuffed  in a rucksack and pitched in a field or woods with basic (if any!) facilities.  This time I was to be camping in the Vango Woburn 500.
There’s always room for comfort.
Well no, that’s not entirely true. There’s not much room for anything when you drive an Abarth 124!
First mission was to find a way of getting a tent, sleeping bag, mat, Jetboil, change of clothes and walking boots in the car. The solution was a Boot-Bag.

This is a large waterproof bag that sits on the boot lid and securely held in place with webbing straps.
I had the ‘original’ which gave me  50 litres of space or, put another way, it easily took the tent.
On first use, I was apprehensiveBoot-bag on Abarth 124 Spider about putting too much in there, however, I could have stuffed a few extra things in there without any trouble.
The other stuff went in to my large rucksack.
My day sack was also loaded in to the boot. I’d be using it to hold a couple of drinks, waterproofs etc for the two walks I had planned.
In retrospect, perhaps just the smaller rucksack may have been better with everything else stuffed around the  boot and Boot-Bag.
I had no seating (the floor would have to do) and no food (I hoped there would be a table free in the pub) but I had my accommodation and a bed for the night.

The Boot-Bag was slightly lopsided but seemed secure enough as I pulled off my drive and carefully made my way to the motorway, getting used to only using wing mirrors as there was zero visibility out of the back.   As I gained more confidence in the Boot-Bag, I increased the speed, it remained stable and I arrived at the camp with everything intact.
I had booked my spot at Llyn Rhys Campsite on their website.  £8 per person per night (as of July 2018) which included use of the showers. Kids cost just £3.
I was met by the friendly owner and given a choice of places to pitch, anywhere I wanted as long as I left 6 meters between my tent and others. I wanted to be as far away from others as possible , that wouldn’t be a problem!
The site was fairly quiet. I’d arrived a week before the school summer holiday started, I suspect it can get a lot busier.  I drove my car down the track in to the large field I pitched up on the side of the field, close to the stream. I didn’t want to venture too far from the track in my rear wheel drive car!

The tent had been pitched in the garden a coupe of times, the first time, just after getting the tent home, resulted in part of a fibreglass pole snapping. After an email to Vango another pole was posted out to me.
Needless to say, Vango don’t send out poles every time one beaks, however, I argued that they should last at least one pitching and, fair enough, they agreed.
Out in the real world, the tent went up relatively quickly, although the little hooks to attached the ground sheet were a bit awkward to fit.
I think Vango say it will take 15 minutes to pitch. Seems a little optimistic to me but perhaps with more practice.

The tent is described as 5 person, I wouldn’t like to fit more than three in there. The Cotswold Outdoors promotional video describes it as a good tent for couples and young families, which seems more accurate.
There’s lots of room in the bright, airy living area. Plenty of space for a couple of chairs. Shame there wasn’t the room in the car!
Comparing it with many of the other tents on site, it did look dinky!
Vango Woburn 500 tentWith the tent up it was time to head out on a walk.
Leaving the campsite, I  headed up to the road junction next to the Crown Hotel Pub. Continuing virtually straight ahead on the A5104, the path started just after the junction to the right. This path was quite well signposted  until I reached a farmers field. Whatever had been growing here had been recently dug up and the route across the field to the road wasn’t clearly defined.
At the road I took a left, before rejoining the same field higher up. There were no signs here either and at the end, it was almost impassable. A large, over grown, prickly hedge hid a fence with no easy way to climb.  If it wasn’t for the large footpath sign at the other side of the hedge, I would not have realised this was the route.

The next path I wanted should have been straight over the road according to the Ordnance Survey map and my GPS but there was nothing obvious so I decided to follow the road back in to the village.
The village has a great little community run shop and cafe, at the front was all the supplies you need for camping, pasties, scotch eggs, wine, jam etc and at the back is the cafe. I just had a cafetiere of coffee but the food looked good.
Offas Dyke sign in LlandeglaHappily caffeined up, I left the cafe for the second loop on this walk. After the poorly maintained paths on the first loop, I decided to take the Offa’s Dyke section at the end  knowing it would be the easiest part of the route to navigate.
I needn’t have worried. This walk was also well signed and I followed it up to the narrow road. From there it’s an easy walk back along the Offa’s Dyke to the village.
Both loops of the walks are available in on one GPX file, downloadable from Viewranger.

Back in the tent, I got changed ready for dinner. It is nice being able to stand up in any part of the tent, something you don’t get with the backpacking one and two person tents!
The Crown Hotel is a short walk from the campsite and serves real ales, wines and has a good whisky collection along with the usual stuff and the food is fantastic!!
I started with the spicy chicken wings. Main course was a perfectly rare steak with chips  and peas. Their monster of a  mixed grill looked and smelt great and, if you’ve got a sweet tooth, they’ve a good choice of deserts and local ice cream.

Suitably fed and watered, I walked back to the tent where I took down the divider to make one large bedroom,  got in to my sleeping bag and settled down for a reasonable nights sleep.
The Vango has a slightly darker bedroom, while not a black out, it did a reasonable job at keeping the morning light out.
Next morning the tent was moisture free, the vents under the main window had done their job. I opened the ‘curtains’ sat in the porch, fired up the jet boil and made a coffee.  The tent is really bright and airy with plenty of large windows. A very pleasant place to be.
Packing up was easy and (amazingly!) everything fitted in and on the car.  The first rule of any camping, ‘leave no trace’!

Breakfast was taken at One Planet Adventure, just up the road. Already the car park was filling up. I paid my £4.50 and  made my way to the overflow car park.
The breakfasts at their cafe are good and the slices of toast are huge!!

I was one of the odd ones, I wasn’t cycling, instead I took the longest of their walking trails, the well marked ,7 mile Moorland trail.
Moorland Trail route One Planet Adventure Llandegla

A pleasant walk through woodland and offering great views.

So, in conclusion…..I love to be miles from anyone and anywhere with a small backpacking tent. This was quite different but still a great trip although I must admit the very un-British sunny, warm weather helped make this such a pleasurable camp!
I’m looking forward to getting out in the Vango again soon….but maybe after a trip in the smaller tent 🙂

Two days off, two trips to Wales

I was swearing at my Satnav.
There was several gig worth of unused SD card sitting in the slot but it refused to use it and refused to accept the car park I’d selected on my laptop route planner.
I muttered to myself as I scrolled through the settings on the satnav and typed in the ridiculously long Welsh road name. There were three potential car parks, the one I wanted, one quite close to the one I wanted and one quite a distance away. The latter was easier to enter in to the satnav as it sat in the middle of a distinctive junction.
Press the screen. Navigate to here. Sorted.

I headed down the same familiar route, down the A55 towards Conwy, however, I experienced my first drive through the centre of town and on to the parking spot in the hills just off Sychnant Pass Road.
The weather was lovely as I got out the car, perused the walking route and left the car park. It was about a mile to the car park I planned to start the walk from. In retrospect it would have been easy to find if I’d have persevered driving down the road. Oh well, hindsight and all that.

Start of footpath, ConwyWhen I reached the third car park, just past a large country house, I crossed to the left hand side of the road, walked through the gate posts and on to the footpath.
The path was very easy to follow and plenty of signs along the way ensured I was heading in the right direction, South (ish) initially.
The views over the bay towards Anglesey and Puffin Island were beautiful.
As usual in this part of the world, there’s always plenty of sheep but I also had a bit of a Rolling Stones moment passing several wild Carneddau horses.
Wild horses Conwy

The path changed direction, crossing a stream to my right before hitting a crossroads where a number of paths joined. I took the path to my left.
The map below may provide some useful inspiration for other walks in the future!
Map of paths near Conwy

As I stopped to take a swig from my water bottle I began to wonder if I should change my route as I was not parked where I’d planned the walks started and ended. I dug out the map and decided to take the next (and only) path to my left. This should eventually bring my out right at the car park I was using.
Unlike the paths previously, this  was not signed and not easy to follow. It was difficult to stay on the right path  across the wet, muddy terrain. I knew I wanted to be heading South East so using a combination of GPS and compass, I headed in roughly the right direction.
At one point the ground dropped away steeply to a stream below, but despite a jiggle to take the less steep slope, I stayed  on course and it wasn’t too long before I’d rejoined a more obvious path.
Coffee with view of Conwy BayAgain, the views were great and I saw a great opportunity to get the Jetboil out for a coffee break. I’ve marked the point with a beer glass on my downloadable route (well, it’s the best icon I could find!)

After my brew,  I continued to Craigyfedwen and on towards the road where I’d left the car, however, rather than head straight back, I looped around Crow’s Nest Hall and Farm, meeting a couple of llamas along the way.
All in all and enjoyable 8 mile walk with some great views…..I even forgave the satnav….but how do you move content to the SD card….hmmmmm….

A week later, another Monday off work and another walk.
Again, I was planning to try somewhere new.  I had two ideas, both were in North Wales, one 40 minutes drive, the other 70 minutes away.
Looking at the weather forecast, rain was due to hit the furthest location at around 3 pm, the closer location would be dry all day, so, a 40 minute drive it was!
I’d driven through the village of  Trelawnyd on my way to Dyserth on previous walks so no swearing at the satnav today!
I left the car in the free car park near the church at the centre of the village.  I changed in to my boots and walked back to the main road, crossed over and down the one way road opposite.
This soon became slightly muddy path through field, the theme for the day.
Initially I was following the North Wales Pilgrims Way, a   130 mile route which links ancient churches dedicated to  saints of the 6th century.  I had followed  part of this route on the walk 30 miles down the road the week before.

Scary sheep of TrelawnydAs I wandered through farm land towards I started to sense I was being followed.
One sheep initially, then two, three…
….eventually there were about 20 sheep extremely close to me,  following me across the field bleating very loudly.
It was  like a scene from ‘The Walking Dead’…..if ‘The Walking Dead’ featured zombie sheep.

At Graig Arthur, I left my woolly tormentors and headed South towards Glanllyn.
Here, I joined the Offas Dyke path, following a road.
The path left the road to the right, passing through a hedge and over  more fields towards Marian Cwm.

I remained on the very easy to follow Offas Dyke path until I reached a junction at Marian Mill Farm.
Here I took a right and found a great spot to pick some wild garlic.
It’s quite easy to spot with it’s wide green leaves, however, you will smell it before you see it!

garlic
Wild garlic.

I love this stuff, it makes a particularly good pesto when whizzed up with olive oil and Parmesan cheese
It’s a shame the growing season is quite short. It is really worth tracking some down in the Spring months.
After filling my now rather garlicy rucksack,  I continued to Cwm Road (stop sniggering!)  then back to the main road then over to the car park It was still early afternoon, I still hadn’t made a coffee and I still had a lot of energy left so I passed the car park and went on the path up Gop Hill.
The views from the peak were pleasant. I found a decent, sheltered spot to get the Jetboil going and make a cuppa.

Two very nice walks, but,  if I’m honest, I preferred the first and suspect I will be back around there very soon.

As usual, this 8 mile route  and the Conwy route are both available as downloadable GPX files on Viewranger.

Walking Through Cwm

Yep, there is nothing like a rather rude sounding village to get me giggling like a stupid child but (surprisingly) walking through Cwm was a humorous coincidence. I was wondering where to walk, I opened the OS mapping on ViewRanger, found a place with some walks, check for car parking on Google Maps.
Dyserth ticked all the boxes, plenty of paths  and free parking. It was an easy drive there, M53, A55 then not far from the A5151. First impressions, Dyserth is a very hilly town!
I parked up in the waterfall car park. I had arrived early and there was only one other vehicle but I can imagine it can get very busy here.
After paying a visit to ‘Loo of the year 2009’,  I left the car park,  took a left and headed up hill. Following the road up to the traffic lights, I went straight across and joined Cwm Road (cue some giggles), a pleasant, hilly residential road. As I climbed up, I got some great views across to the coast below.
Shortly after taking a left on to Lower Foel road, I got on to the path through Foel woods.
Sign to Cwm North WalesAt the end of the woods I crossed a small road over to the farmland opposite, following the signs to Cwm.
Cwm itself is a small village containing a church and a nice looking pub, The Blue Lion The pub has extremely limited opening times (Thursday to Sunday from 18:00 to 24:00) and needless to say, was closed when I got there.

view from Mynydd y CwmLeaving Cwm, I took a footpath towards Mynydd y Cwm, one of the hills of the Clwydian Range  I skirted the base of the hill then joined the Offa’s Dyke path. This is a trail which is on my ‘Bucket List’. I’ve walked small sections of it many times but I’d love to do more of the 177 mile route. Today, I’d only be following the Acorn signs for a short distance initially to Marian Ffrith  where, on this lovely summers day, the views were fantastic. As with many of the hills in the area, this was once home to a hill fort.
Dropping back down the hill, I crossed the road and headed towards Marian Mill farm. Continuing on the Offa’s Dyke path, I crossed the A5151 road.
I left Offa’s Dyke when I reached the wide, tarmac North Wales Path. Initially I mistook it for a road given how wide and well surfaced it was. As it was school summer holiday, there were a large number of families walking and cycling. I felt rather over dressed in approach shoes, walking trousers and rucksack!
Dyserth WaterfallAs I got closer to Dyserth, I left the North Wales Path and took the path over the bridge through Maes Hiraddug nature reserve  and down towards the impressive 70 foot high waterfall at Dyserth.
After popping my 50p ‘entrance fee’   (Aug 2017 price)  in to the honesty box it was a short walk back to the car park.

The GPX file for this route is available to download.

Llanfair Talhaiarn

This post should have the subheading, ‘I’ve made the mistakes so you don’t have to’
I had some time off work, no time constraints and the weather forecast was good. I had a number of routes planned and I wanted to go somewhere different, somewhere new.
I opened up the OS map, looking for places with plenty of paths then looked on Google Maps to see if there was anywhere to park up.

  Llanfair Talhaiarn seemed to tick the boxes. A pleasant little village  5 miles south of Abergele, it has a good size car park with toilets, a couple of pubs for refreshments and it is easy to get to, just off the A548.
After leaving the car at the School Lane car park, I headed to the river Elwy, taking the bridge on the A544 to get to the footpath on the other side.
This was a pleasant start to the day.
Easy to follow, well maintained footpaths, a nice river, a waterfall and a little ‘beach’ which if I’d come across it later in the walk, would have made a great spot to brew up a coffee.
The route followed the river,  along the edges of a field and through woodland…
then came the overgrowth.

The path seemed to go on forever through this mass of wet plants. I’m quite tall but plants where taller. It was difficult to see the path on many occasions.
Despite being a warm, summer day with no clouds to be seen, I was drenched.
My trousers stuck to me and my feet squelched with every footstep.
Just when I thought I’d reached the end, there was more. These plants were almost goading me.
No mater how well you plan a walk, there are somethings you don’t expect and this was one such thing.
Sadly, I suspect that unless something is done to clear this path it may well become unwalkable soon
There was eventually a light at the end of this fern covered tunnel…..it came in the way of a muddy track covered in cow manure.
At the end of the track, through a gate I hit a road. This would give me a chance to dry off if nothing else.  I followed the road south for a while, crossing over a bridge. At a second bridge I had a choice, assume that that the track to the right of the cottage with the barking dogs was the way to a path on my planned route or continue to the signposted bridle way.  Not wanting to argue with the dogs, I took the second option.
This was more like it, a good path and nice views.
I carried on until I reached a farm house. According to the maps, there was a footpath running behind the house. I couldn’t see it. There were a number of signs, none pointing to where the path should be so I continued along the bridleway which brought me out on to a road.
I spotted another track on the map which would lead me back the route I had planned, however, the ‘access forbidden’ signs on the gate made it clear this was no footpath! Once more I went back to the road and continued up hill.
Not to worry, there were another two footpaths up by a farm, one of those would lead back on track.  I walked up the farm track and opened the gate. According to my GPS I was right where the path should but there was nothing. No path, no signs. I really didn’t want to go trudging through the farmers land looking for the route so, again, I returned to the road.
To be fair, the walk along the road wasn’t too bad, I’d only seen the one car and the views were good. I’d come to the conclusion that if all else failed, I had an ‘escape route’ .  I  could follow this road to the main road then back to where I had parked the car.
There was one last route I could take, crossing over the sheep fields towards Llyn Du. The path was easy to find from the road and the lake was a good reference point. A little voice in my head kept telling me that this part may be easily navigable but at any point the path and signs could disappear and I wouldn’t have the road to fall back on.  I put these thoughts to the back of my mind, I wasn’t to be defeated!
Things were going well until I reached the farm at Cefn-treflech. There were a number of signs between the road and the farm then nothing. Well, not quite nothing, a post lay on the floor in front of the gate. I wondered if this once had the route labelled on it. To make matters worse,  the owner of the property had come outside. I didn’t want to go marching through his property, he might get angry, he might have a shotgun or worse, he may ask if I needed directions!
Once I was through the rusty gate, walked round the back of the house and on past another farm, I started to enjoy the views.
This seemed like a good spot to fire up the JetBoil and make myself a coffee.
I consulted my map. Perhaps I should have braved looking for the path at the side of the house near the second bridge. Not too worry, this coffee stop was enjoyable and I could see clearly where to head next. I confirmed the route on my map and with my GPS – all was good!
Nope, this was the calm before the next storm!
From the coffee stop, I headed towards the woods. A sign confirmed I was heading in the right direction. Splendid. I then ended up in more tall, wet foliage but, to make matters worse, there were also two meter high prickly blackberry bushes. At times the only way I could get through was to turn my back, duck down and let my rucksack push the worst of the branches out of the way. I couldn’t see the path at all but, amazingly, one I reached a crossroads with a track I was right on course. I crossed the track and followed the sign. Again, the plants made the path impossible to see so I checked the GPS and compass and headed in what seemed to be the right direction, unfortunately, although I achieved the objective of reaching the woods without being ripped to shreds, I was in the middle of a mountain bike track.
I couldn’t find any information about this track, only finding this one YouTube video. Luckily for me there were no bikes around as I weaved my way as best I could through the woods in roughly the right direction.
I could see the track I needed but a barbed wire fence stood between it and me. It seems that I’m not the only person to have made a mess of navigation, at one point the painful bits of the fence had been removed. I managed to step over and follow the track down to the road to Llanfair Talhaiarn.

In conclusion, this wasn’t one of my favourite walks!  Llanfair Talhaiarn is a lovely village and a great base for walking, it’s shame the navigation is made awkward.
I can understand why landowners don’t want people trudging through their land, their home, their place of work but, put up a few signs, make the paths obvious and you won’t have people  climbing over fences and being in places they shouldn’t be.
As a crude analogy, my office has signs to the training rooms, the toilets and the reception. Visitors find where they need to be and we don’t have people wandering past our desks looking lost.
I’m sure I’ll revisit Llanfair Talhaiarn  in the future, perhaps trying some of the paths to the other side of the village.
In the meantime, my route is available to download as a GPX file.…good luck!

JetBoil Flash Review

I’ve a new toy – the JetBoil Flash basically, a portable device for boiling water.

In the past, my rucksack contained a couple of flasks of juice and I would march along my route, hardly breaking stride as I reached round for a swig.
More recently I started to fill a flask. I would make up a coffee before I left home/base and it would be there when I needed it. Trouble was, I often ended up drinking cold coffee, especially in winter and much of the drink would spill or leak.
I progressed on to a meths burner. It wasn’t the easiest thing to use but it was cheap, light and usually/eventually provided enough boiling water for a drink –  just add instant coffee and milk.
I did, however, have problems in winter,  in the wet and when I forgot my lighter – the most likely problem!

Jet Boil BitsStep forward the  JetBoil Flash cooking system. It is self contained (at least it would be if I had the smaller gas canister!) and boils water in around two minutes.
Every thing except the  a screw top gas canister comes straight out the box.

I packed my rucksack and headed to my usual playground – the Clwydian Range.
Initially, I noticed the sack did feel a bit heavier but after a few minutes climb didn’t notice the extra load. Needless to say, not only would the smaller gas fit in the mug, it would also reduce the weight considerably.

I had followed the first part of the walk many times before but today seemed so much more picturesque. Spring was in full force leaving a technicolour vista punctuated by the imposing, snow capped Snowdon in the distance.
Views from Moel Famau to Snowdon

I took the Offa’s Dyke path up Moel Famau and continued to the west passing Moel Dywyll before dropping down towards the road.  I’d often been around this area and wondered where the track to the left hand side of the road went….so I followed it.
The path soon moved away from the road and I found a spot with lovely views to christen my JetBoil.

Jet Boil in the fieldSetting it up was easy.
I took the orange ‘feet’ out from the mug, unfolded them then clamped  on the gas canister.
Next out was the stove itself. Flip out the gas regulator on the site and screw the stove on to the gas canister.
Covering the bottom of the mug is a measuring pot which is handy for keeping dry ingredients  – coffee in my case.  Popping the bottom off reveals the flux ring heat exchanger.  This does the clever stuff which enables the JetBoil to work so well.
Little lugs can be found on the bottom of the mug, line these up with the stove and give it a small turn to lock in place. No chance of accidentally knocking the cup over, something that happened a few times with the slightly top heavy meths burner and mug.

I  removed the top from the mug and poured in enough water to reach the ‘2 cup’ mark.
I put the lid back on, turned the regulator to start the gas flow, clicked the lighter on the opposite side and it started to boil up the water.
Simple!
Boiled changes colourIt sounded vicious but in less than two minutes, the water had boiled.
A handy feature is the marking on the side of the mug which turns orange when the water has boiled. This takes the guess work out of the boiling and stops the urge to pop the lid to see how hot the water is getting.
The neoprene ‘cozy’ covering the mug ensures the mug is safe to lift up. Incidentally,  the side strap of the  ‘cozy’  can be used to store teaspoons.
Once boiled, stop the gas flow, twist the mug to unlock and brew  some coffee……or tea, or cook noodles, make up dried food….there are a whole load of things you can create and JetBoil have posted some recipes on their website

After my cuppa, I continued on my walk.
I could have remained on this path right around the ‘base’ of Moel Famau, however, keen to increase my mileage for the ViewRanger challenge, I turned off on to a road to my right.
At a junction, I took another right towards the small village of Llangynhafal.
A footpath passes to the left of the  Golden Lion Inn and through the campsite behind. The views from this campsite are spectacular, however (at the moment at least) the only ‘facility’ is a tap in the corner of the field.
Airbus Beluga from Hawarden
The path crosses a road before following the base of Moel Famau, at one point I got cracking view of the Airbus Beluga aircraft taking wings from the nearby factory in Hawarden.
Near a farm, the path joins a concrete ‘road’. There is a path which continues South, however, it was impossible to tell what was the route and what was a gate in to their garden even checking against my GPS and paper OS map. I wasn’t brave enough to risk trespassing so continued along the road to a junction in Hirwaen where I took a left.
There are a number of ways back  on to the original route, I took a left at Pen-y-waen, from there I headed East back to the car park.

All in all, a very enjoyable walk and I can definitely see the JetBoil getting a lot of use!

Download this route as a GPX file

 

Misty Minera Mines

I was nearing the end of my week off work.
The first walk I had done during my annual leave was lovely. Blue skies, sunshine and fantastic views. This walk however was a complete contrast.

I parked up for free at the Minera Mines car park, an interesting open access site containing an the remains of the old mine. Amazingly, despite being about 35 minutes drive from my house, I’ve never been here before and only discovered it by accident looking at an OS Map on my laptop.

Misty MinesIt was very misty when I got out of the car and headed up towards the old mine which had stood on this site since 1845.
The remains looked imposing in the mist which suited the scene.
The first written record of lead mining at Minera dates back to 1296, however it wasn’t until 1845, when a steam engine was built, that the Minera Mining Company was created.
Sadly, by 1900, the price of lead  had fallen while the costs of running the steam engine rose and by 1914 the mine had closed.

Face in the treeAnother piece of history around here is the old disused railway line which now forms a pleasant footpath but was once part of the line between Wrexham and  Brymbo.
Funnily enough, like my last walk, this path also took me past a disused quarry, once once the largest lime workings in the north of Wales.
The path skirted along the northern side of the quarry before I turned right to join the quiet, narrow road to Llandegla Forest.
Although primarily geared up for cyclists,  a number of footpaths criss-cross the forest and it’s well worth downloading the walking map from their website.

I took the Reservoir trail initially, up to and around part of the Pendinas Reservoir. From there, I joined the Black Grouse trail. The end of this trail was easy to spot!

Black grouse trail Llandegla

The paths through Llandegla are well marked and easy to follow, however, I was about to leave the dense woodland and onto the misty moor beyond.
All went well initially, two finger pointers marked where two routes split and I headed off to the right along a clearly defined (albeit narrow) path . Soon, however, this path disappeared.  In front of me was water and boggy ground. I put my left foot down in to a stream nothing too deep….then my right leg plunged in to  knee high icy water. It soaked through my boots, gaiters and trousers. As I backtracked, my left leg went in to deeper water.
Misty moorsI returned to dry land and checked my map, compass and GPS. Yes this was the route I wanted but I couldn’t see a way through that wouldn’t require a flotation device!
Consulting the map, this path followed parallel to the water course for some distance – that would not be pleasant on a cold, misty January day!
There was another possible route about 200 metres to the East.
I made my way over the boggy ground until I hit  another obvious path going in the right direction. I followed before it too disappeared.
There is nowhere as lonely as  a misty, featureless moor with no obvious path and little viability. I knew I wanted to head south towards the road. I was armed with map and compass but (sorry purists ) I was very grateful for my GPS as a picked my way through.

Esclusham Mountain.Eventually, I hit the road, it was nice to feel tarmac under my extremely wet feet.
I took a left, following the road until a crossroads of paths and roads. I had a route back whichever way I went but continued on the path straight on.
This also followed moorland but the path was slightly easier to follow.  Again, there were a couple of routes further along; one down Minera Mountain or the one I took to Esclusham Mountain.

 

RubbishFrom the trig point, I descended Esclusham to the road, where I walked East along the  back towards where I had parked the car.
The weather was still very misty and there was little in the way of views…apart from litter. Surprising considering it was a quiet, single track there was a lot of rubbish, even more surprising was the car radio I found left on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere.

I soon grew bored of walking along the road, so turned off to my right following a footpath through a farm. I reached a muddy area containing a feeder surrounded by sheep and a lama!

Cows blocking the path
The stile is behind her bum!

Their field led to another far, far, far muddier field. I assumed that this field contained cows, however, I couldn’t see any.
I made extremely slow progress through this quagmire before discovering the cows.
They were standing in a group, in the corner, right opposite the stile…a sneaky climb over the fence was required!

From here, it was an easy walk back to the Country Park where I had left my car.
I trudged the final stretch. I was cold, wet and extremely muddy.
This walk came at the end of a week off walk and was in complete contrast to the first walk of the holiday.  I really like the country park and will be returning and I’m sure this route would be nice in the summer but, I definitely don’t recommend it on a cold, wet, misty day!

Download the route as a GPX file

Alternate, solo Valentine’s

It’s Valentine’s Day. The cards, presents and flowers are nowhere to be seen so, rather than a candle lit dinner, I decided upon a slice of malt loaf up a hill.

Parking up in the upper Moel Famau/Bwlch Penbarra car park, I eventually tracked down the one working pay and display machine and headed up Foel Fenlli. I glanced over to Moel Famau behind me, watching the hordes of people strolling up to the Jubilee Tower like ill equipped sheep.  I concluded I’d made the right decision with this route….albeit not a well planned route. I had planned nothing other than head up and over Fenlli and just go where ever I fancied. Somewhere different would be preferable but, given the crisp sunny day it was just nice to be out, and away from the masses.

It’s quite a steep climb to the top of Fenlli (511 meters) but once at the peak there are some lovely views and  the remains of the Iron Age hill fort can clearly be seen.

View from Foel Fenlli
Foel Fenlli peak

From the peak,  I continued South down a steep scree path to join the Offa’s Dyke path to Bwlch Crug-glas and on to the junction of paths to the East.
It was at this junction I drew up a rough route plan. I had never ventured over to the East of the A494 so quickly devised a route towards Mount Pleasant.

The first step on this hastily arranged plan was a left, heading North East, passing through plenty of mud and a farm gate.
Where the path splits, I could take either, both led to the same location. For no particular reason I continued on the ‘top path’ before taking a right and dropping down to Plymog and crossing a A494.

River near LlanferresThe next path was almost directly over the road. Crossing over a river, I continued to where a spring joined the river and plonked myself down on a large piece of concrete jutting in to the water.
An ideal place for lunch.
Here, there was nobody about at all and I was far enough away from the main road for a peaceful break.

Crossing stream

I eventually made my way on to the path in to the woods, using stepping stones and a small wooden bridge to make my way over the water.
The trees became fewer as I walked towards what was presumably an old quarry at Bryn-yr-ardd.

As the path became more of a track, I took a left almost going back on myself, into the woods. As I passed old, derelict buildings, I crossed a stile to my right, deeper in to the woods towards the buidlings at Mount Pleasant where I took another right heading initially East and then turning to the North.
The original ‘plan’ was to take the next path to the West towards Llanferres, however, I spotted a cave marked on the map so continued North through the woods of Big Covert. Unfortunately, as this was a very haphazardly planned route,  I didn’t have the exact co-ordinates of the cave. After a short wander in the general vicinity proved unfruitful, I decided to return another day (with my head torch!) and rejoined the path.to the small village of Maeshafn.

Woods near MaeshafnTaking a left when I reached the road, I took the next footpath on the right, walking South West to the track. At the crossroads, I took a right towards the houses and continued West to the A494, crossing the road and taking the narrow road almost opposite through Llanferres.
At the end of Rectory Lane I took the path through the field heading North West, passing to the left of the farm at Fron Hen.

When reaching the road, I took a left and another left at the t-junction heading to the lower Moel Famau car park. From there I followed the path parallel to the road back to the top car park.

The gpx file for this 7 mile walk can be downloaded from the ViewRanger website

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