The well kept secrets of Wales – Part Two

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The earlier post, part one is here. 

We had sorted out a couple of hills already during this holiday, the next day would bring the last one of those. We were searching for camping places at a road, with couple of marked parking spots and some forest, right at the edge of the protected moor. It was wonderful. We had the river Usk, a view to the Black Mountain and peace for all we had bargained for. There was a small herd of sheep grazing around and ponies too to keep us company.

There is not many things better, than the peace you find after the camp has been built, the fire is cracking and the water streaming close by, with mist slowly covering the landscape. We had a nice sunset on the background, common snipe bleating in the sky and pleasant tiredness weighing on our muscles. The right thing for that moment is stream cooled rose wine. Goes nicely with the shade of the sunset too!

The morning shone the colors of the landscape even more beautiful, subtle greens, yellows and browns, sitting there, in perfect harmony. That is one of those sites, you just can’t stop staring. During the night we had heard the ponies moving around close by as the occasional car rattled the cattle grid. The herd was still there, with tiny foals, still looking for security from their mothers. They were getting a little bit curious too, running around on their unstable, way too long legs. What a nice morning. And then came rain.

Rain or not, the Black Mountain was waiting, a thing you don’t skip for a small reason.So we drove again, down those narrow narrow roads, through a couple of steep valleys and sheep fields, got lost once and arrived at a stream, coming down a winding valley.

The start of the hike was a sandy road, that goes up to the mythical lake, Llyn y Fan Fach sitting at the shadow of the lower peaks of the Black Mountain. Onward from there, it just kept getting better and better.  As we approached the ridge of the day, we found ponies. One of them as pretty as they come. There they were, calmly grazing on the steep hill side and looking at us, as if we were morons, disturbing their peace. Not that they were too wrong with that, since I was again over my head in happiness.

It was only a short hike and we reached the ridge, which we were meaning to walk along. The view. Oh the view. The steep valley and the lake on the other side, and the smoothly descending slopes on the other, dark sky over it all, with sun penetrating the clouds here and there. It is such a pity, how the camera just is so limited thing to capture the full beauty of the nature there. You just have to go there yourself and witness it.

It was a fairly mild walk once you got up to the edge of the mountain. Just gently climbing up, until it dives down and then goes up again to reach the point of 802 meters above the sea level. By the end of the climb the rain was over and the sun was doing its best to toast us again. Not that you heard anybody complaining.

We had decided that to be all the climbing we needed for this holiday, so the natural way of proceeding was to head to the coast. Navigator was directed to the city of Pembroke and it diligently and almost accurately pointed us through the prettiest of villages and beautiful countryside. I am honestly jealous of the sheep living there. Lucky bastards.

Once we reached the coast, it was like we had entered a whole new world. Gone were the mountains and rugged moors. Instead we were looking at the blue Atlantic and ancient cliffs. We went to the beach to have a relaxing evening stroll and found stackpoles, crammed with seabirds, razorbills to be exact. Beautiful small things, that walk like penguins and look like they were not meant to fly once they take off, hilarious to watch, I promise you. Just stay up wind from them, they stink! The nesting colony oozes a stench of rotten fish and sulfur!

Sunday came and we had to be back in Dover by 7 in the evening. That left us plenty of time for a coastal walk to go wander in on the cliffs. Those are amazingly beautiful. First thing is the colors. The flowers are there blooming, in green grass, the stones have dozens of shades and on the background you have the Atlantic, being the ocean it is. There you don’t need the imagination to understand the geological change our planet has gone through, you can clearly see it, the stone is ancient and has gone through a lot. The coast is also full of caves, arches and hidden beaches, with hardly anybody there! We stayed at a camping right by the shore, it was a farm house called Trefalen. Look it up if you are traveling there! Tidy, reasonably prized and well facilitated thing!

We drove off and left all that beauty behind, only to find that our boat had been cancelled. We managed to get to another boat, thanks to the flexibility of DFDS and arrived to France in a reasonable time. We were looking at a very short night though.

We are both already missing Wales. It exceeded our expectations, the beauty of the place is remarkable. Also the people there are extremely friendly. The region is also very hikable. The mountains are relatively small, and you can easily navigate through a day hike, though there are plenty of longer trails too! We will be returning, definitely!

Maps and guides we used: 

OS Explorer OL12, OL13 and OL36 – 1:25 000, and Cicerone walking guide Walking on the Brecon Beacons

The pictures are here!

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