Well, the forecast for this weekend could not have been worse. Heavy rain all day Saturday and all day Sunday was the outlook during the forecast on the previous Thursday. We actually managed to have little or no rain on either day. The views were excellent; I had imagined having to actually describe the views to my groups while we trudged through cloud on a wet and dreary day. But thank goodness this was not to be. There were 52 is on this weekend, mainly staying in the Metropole hotel in Llandrindod Wells. What an excellent deal this was; they charged us £57 for dinner bed and breakfast and full use of the leisure facilities. Many of us could be found in the pool, jacuzzi, steam room or sauna at the end of our day’s walking. I really must thank all the leaders. This was by no means the easiest areas to reccie. I know that several of the leaders had a really difficult time. Map reading was a skill which was virtually useless, since clearly marked routes on the map did not exist on the ground. Below follows individual leaders accounts of their walks.
Saturday – Short Walk – Pat & Bob Bland
After torrential rain on the Friday night, Bob and Pat led a cheerful group of sixteen on their 7 mile circular walk starting from The Metropole Hotel. After fifteen minutes the beautiful Lake came into view from where we climbed up through woods and gained the Trig Point on Beacon Hill with its great 360 degree view back to Llandrindod Wells and surrounding countryside. We had cooled down by the time we had reached Shakey Bridge, so named for a previous perilous crossing and after viewing the ancient Church of St. Michael we made our way back to Shakey Bridge for a well -earned coffee stop in glorious sunshine. We then climbed steeply skirting Bailey-Einon Wood and on to Pentre and back West to Glanyrafon for lunch. We were soon back walking via Noyadd and Trefonen and most of the party took afternoon tea at the Cafe on the Lake.
Saturday – Medium Walk – Frank Gay
The walk started at the Railway Station to catch the 10.30 train to Cilmeri, two stops down the line. The train only stops there if requested. The walk began along farm tracks before reaching the beautiful and peaceful Wye valley. Our coffee stop in bright sunshine by the river bank was particularly pleasant but the leader did not allow the party to linger as we had just over 10 miles to cover on the walk. After a few miles we left the river behind but enjoyed excellent views of the surrounding hills. We then headed to our river crossing at Newbridge on Wye. Along this stretch of the Wye there are several paths shown crossing the river but unless you had a boat or a big pair of waders you would get very wet! From Newbridge the route crosses farm land and provides a challenge to the leader’s navigation skills. After one final jungle section we were back in the town and some of the party went for tea at the Lake café others just went to lie down.
Saturday – Long Walk – Graham Bothwell
This walk started with a bus ride from Llandrindod Wells to St. Mathews Church, Llanelwedd. Starting the walk under Llanelwedd Rocks, an SSSI, we removed our waterproofs and gained height passing Maengowan and Caer Fawr, enjoying extensive views towards Castle Bank and Gilwern Hill. Leaving Carneddau the descent to Cwm-berwyn was via a narrow wooded valley entering the site via a lawn! Passing through the next farm, Cefnbychan, we did not encounter the lively dogs and walked up Castle Bank using ‘access land’. We walked along the ridge towards one of the many hill forts in the area and hoped to use one of the hidden footpaths. As the bracken had died back the footpath was now visible and, using access land we climbed towards Gilwern Hill. Crossing a minor road to join a dirt track we had lunch and enjoyed open views across the moors and hills of what was Radnorshire and could just see the Black Hills on the far horizon 25 miles away. On our way towards Gilwern Hill we passed a private limestone quarry where, palaeontologists have found fossils such as trilobites. Apparently the Builth-Llandrindod Inlier is a small area which contains a treasure-trove of fossil information. The return to Llandrindod Wells was via a byway, minor road and footpath taking us over Llandrindod Hill before descending to the café at The Lake where most of the group cleared the outdoor tables before consuming tea and cake.
Sunday – Short Walk – Jane Gay
I led this walk and about 15 of us left the hotel and walked around the back to the lake. After a couple of seriously steep climbs we were up on the tops where we stayed for the rest of our walk. Even though I say it myself, it was a very pleasant walk with lots of fabulous views. On the reccie, the day before, a very large bull and been standing in front of the style and Frank and I had made a detour!! Having prepared the group a detour was not necessary as he was at the far end of the field. The group did walk very quietly and quickly through that field!! On our return some of us had tea and cakes at the lake cafe while others set off for home.
Sunday – Medium Walk – Sue & Chris Munslow
The weather was just right for walking, a beautiful bright sunny day. We left the hotel to walk by The Lake and enjoy the views before beginning to walk to higher ground through the local golf course and reaching the trig point. Looking back towards the town we could see for many miles the rolling hills of mid Wales. Although it was a struggle to use the map to find a circular walk, trial and error enabled us to discover a lovely byway over a wild and remote moorland . we walked in a south east direction passing smalls lakes and cairns in the remote area Pawl-hir and Careg Grog. As we walked back towards Llandrindod Wells we viewed an interesting landscape which also revealed the long history of early settlements at Castle Bank Hill and St Michaels Church.
Sunday – Long Walk – Ian Mabon
On the Sunday, 5th October, a bright start encouraged 12 walkers to assemble at nearby Newbridge on Wye for the promise of a 12 mile, 2,100 ft ascent walk with a bit of off piste (balanced by some road walking!). Leader Ian Mabon, replaced wife June. Once into Welsh farm land, with the occasional diversion to avoid path obstructions, the path opened onto moorland and we had a coffee break in preparation for the assault on local peak Drum Dhu (538 m). The weather was still fair and to the south we could see the Beacon Beacons and the Black Mountains. At the top, a cairn which looked like a burial chamber, was encountered but efforts to establish its history had drawn a blank. An early lunch stop at 12:30 pm was determined by some gathering clouds which obligingly held off dropping a not very heavy payload until the party was packing up to start the return journey. Cagoules were not needed for long as the route descended to join the Wye Valley Walk, at first through National Trust estate, then fields and woodland back to the start. A particularly pleasant welcome was given to the ECG weekend away and the Sunday long walk party by local business man Pip Samuel who allowed the walkers to use a private car parking area in Newbridge on Wye near the local football pitch.
Jane Gay Photos by Graham Bothwell