Mountain View(s)

Our estate here in Llanfoist just across the bridge from Abergavenny is called Mountain View.  What I’ve done is take some photographs from the top floor of our home where we have skylights in the roof to show you.  There are seven hills in fact surrounding the town, so let’s see how many we can see!

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Skirrid Fawr
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Blorenge
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Sugar Loaf in the middle with the Deri to the right

Now for two hills that Debbie and I have yet to climb, Bryn Arw two and a half miles North of Abergavenny and Skirrid Fach (or Little Skirrid) one mile to the east.

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Bryn Arw
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Skirrid Fach

Now not surrounding Abergavenny, but seen in the distance from above Llanfoist on the Blorenge on a good day is the Brecon Beacons most popular climb…

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Twin Flat Peaks of Pen y Fan and Corn Du on the horizon
Mountain View(s)

Walk, Avoid, Eat…

Walk

I can’t believe it but another beautiful sunny day in our “escape” prompting Debbie and I to repeat our walk up Sugar Loaf with Hamish and Molly.  In fact we even went higher than yesterday but what’s really special about these walks is seeing the two hounds, off lead, really enjoying themselves in a safe environment.

I love her, she loves me!
The hounds of the Baskervilles!
Following my mistress up Sugar Loaf

Avoid

After about 90 minutes walk we got back into the Freelander and decided to go for Sunday lunch at the Clytha Arms  where we’d had excellent food before and where Debbie’s parents had celebrated their silver wedding anniversary.

Alas, a good experience this time was sadly wanting and for the first time in many, many years after I tried unsuccessfully to get served by the very rude daughter of the owner, I gave up and decided to take my business back to Abergavenny.

Eat 

We parked up in town in the small car park next to the Baker Street cinema where we hope to see the new Disney film “Beauty and the Beast” before it’s too late.  On this occasion however we made our way to a pub called the Grofield where we’d enjoyed a really good afternoon the previous year with Emma and James and as before the welcome couldn’t have been friendlier.

A study in pink 😄
Such a great experience we booked a dinner for seven when Emma, Josh, Alex & Emily visit
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Debs had goat’s cheese salad, while I chomped on roast beef and Yorkshire pudding!

Another really great day and with Emma arriving late tomorrow from Glasgow and James being at home if we can brave the colder weather forecast we may make another ascent of Sugar Loaf before too long!

 

Walk, Avoid, Eat…

Overground, Underground

Let me explain…

Today has in fact been more of a reverse of “underground, overground, wombling free” with Debbie & I taking Molly and Hamish up Sugar Loaf for a walk, which I think we all enjoyed looking at these photos!

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Sugar Loaf in the background!
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Does my tongue look big in this?
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Skirrid Fawr looking lovely in the Black mountains…
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Molly running back to us with a grass airfield to her left (sans planes thank goodness)

After climbing back down to the car we then went back to Llanfoist for some liquid refreshment.  I know what you’re thinking but no – a healthy juice made of cucumber, spinach, avocado, apples, celery, & lecithin – before we headed off to the Big Pit with a talk about the effect of the industrial revolution on Wales by the 77 year old ex-First Minister of Wales, Rhodri Morgan.

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Our first visit to the Big Pit and we’ll return soon to go underground
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The National Museum is free to enter and go 300′ underground but £3 to park!
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Debs surrounded by lockers in the (men’s) changing room…
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Rhodri was very articulate and very passionate about Wales
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Merthyr Vale is where Debbie was living most of her life before we met

When the sun shines here in God’s country there really is no better place on earth, so to celebrate Debbie and I finished the day with a swift drink at the Bridge Inn, Llanfoist which under the new management is considerably cheaper to drink at than before.  Result! 🙂

Overground, Underground

Ding Dong on Deri on High

No dear readers, my dyslexia isn’t getting worse, the post’s title shouldn’t be “Ding Dong Merrily on High“!  Let me explain…

After our recent ascent of Sugar Loaf mountain together I thought the expedition season was now probably over until the New Year.  So much to my surprise last night Debbie suggested that today we should climb the Deri.

This mountain is covered in oak trees and is within walking distance of Abergavenny town centre.  It’s famous for the “Croeso” sign with a smily face 😀 as the “o” cut into the heather visible from across town.

So after dropping James off for work this morning Debbie, I and the two dogs parked up in the free car park opposite Castle Meadows and walked down Pen Y Pound road towards the dome shaped mountain.

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Deri’s dome-like appearance
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Are our parents lost?  This isn’t Castle Meadows!

Stopping to ask directions once we crossed over the road just past the Deri View primary school and walked up some rather steep wooden steps carved into the bank onto a lightly path leading to the base of the mountain.

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Small footpath leading to Deri from road – Debbie looking wistfully back at Abergavenny

Crossing two more stiles were the dogs had to squeeze through narrow openings we came to some white corsages and the sign for the public footpath which led up the hill.  Unfortunately it wasn’t terribly well marked and at one point we were toiling up through gorse and bracken like something out of jungle warfare films.

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Debbie and Hamish wishing they had a machete

Although Debbie kept Hamish on the lead I (foolishly) decided that Molly would find it better to be free to run up and down the track as she’d done on the route to Sugar Loaf the week before and to begin with all was fine.

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Molly free climbing up and down the track
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Welsh flag half way up
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Like stop halfway up
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Abergavenny below

We reached a convenient place to stop, water the dogs and have a breather before heading into the tree-line itself.  This is where our “ding dong” happened when Molly suddenly disappeared from in front of us and we panicked.  Shouting “Molly” I headed further up the track , pausing every so often to try and hear here moving through the undergrowth but nothing!  Eventually I reached a puzzled looking and rather large sheep and realised that it was unlikely she’d come this far.

I could hear Debbie below hollering periodically for Molly and as I approached her much to my relief I could hear “good girl” – she’d finally come back.  Phew – valuable lesson learnt!  You can see how dense & dark being under the tree canopy was in the photo below.

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Yours truly looking sweaty but calmer after the relief of finding Molly

After a few moments to hug each other we continued up and eventually came out of the tree-line as we got closer to the summit.

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Small quarry just before Deri summit

Although the Deri is one of the smallest of the seven mountains surrounding Abergavenny the views from the top was spectacular.

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Sugar Loaf from Deri
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Blorenge from Deri
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Sugar Loaf selfie
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Blorenge selfie
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Skirrid Fawr selfie

Then the “fun” of the descent happened.  What comes up, must come down, however no-one tells you that it’s much trickier coming down, especially when you have Molly trying to unbalance me in the race to get home and Debbie trying to retain her balance on the steeper parts of the descent while holding onto Hamish.

Hamish having partaken of a sheep’s poo lunch on the way up, proceeded to throw up on the way down much to our shame!  A last gulp of water for the dogs who were very thirsty at the bench heralded the final retracing of our steps through town and back to the car.

I write this blog after a relaxing bath with all limbs aching.  We did pick up a small rock that we intend to trace the name “Deri” and today’s date onto the front & reverse to add to our collection.  When it’s done I’ll update this page, but for now we all need some blissful rest!

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🙂

Ding Dong on Deri on High

Famous Four Go To Sugar Loaf Mountain

It’s been a while since I posted on this blog, a week’s holiday in Pefkos on the island of Rhodes in Greece is due once I’ve sorted out all the photos but in the meantime today Debbie, Molly, Hamish & I had an adventure this morning and finally made it to the summit of Sugar Loaf mountain overlooking Abergavenny.

The four of us had tried it before but due to extreme heat and lack of provisions we had to turn back.  This time, with snacks and water secured from Waitrose we headed back to the car park and retraced our steps until overlooking the peak we turned right to ridge walk to the top.

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It was quite cold and windy going up but we weren’t going to be beaten this time!  Note the embryonic goatie…
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Molly jumped in the muddy pool to the back left and was running to visit the next one…

Although we didn’t see anyone en route from the small National Trust car park at the back of the mountain  (most people go up to the big car park via Sugar Loaf vineyard) there was a chap who took our photo before Debbie and I did the obligatory selfie on the reverse of the trig point.

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For an older dog pushing 11 years old Hamish was incredible
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Debs & I didn’t do too bad either!
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View of Abergavenny & the River Usk from the top

We did it – hurray! 🙂

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Famous Four Go To Sugar Loaf Mountain

Into The Death Zone..

Ok, slight exaggeration here, but today I drove Debbie, Molly, Hamish over to the Fro National Trust car park at the rear of Sugar Loaf Mountain, to reconnoitre the way to the summit later in the “climbing” season, as this is one summit in the Brecon Beacons we’ve yet to complete.

We would never have found the tiny free car park if it wasn’t for the “Seven Hills of Abergavenny” guide book written by Chris Barber, a fellow resident of Llanfoist!

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Going through a small gate at the back of the car park, we climbed up a steep & overgrown path initially, out onto a grassy track heading ever upwards for about an hour.

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Slow down for me?

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To our left we had splendid views of Skirrid Fawr or “Holy Mountain” that Debbie, Hamish & I  climbed earlier in the summer.

It was so peaceful, apart from a few birds there was no-one else on the walk going up we could see despite two other cars parked next to the Freelander.

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Skirrid Fawr

After a rather circuitous route through fern clad paths and passing by to our left a small grass airstrip runway together with a billowing windsock, we finally approached our ultimate goal.

After checking our oxygen cylinders (only joking) – I mean our supplies of refreshments, the lack of water for us and the dogs – we decided to save the summit attempt for a later date.

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So near, yet so far – Sugar Loaf!

Given the heat and consequently with two rather exhausted panting dogs, we wisely retraced our steps back to the “Hippo”, who’s rear window was quickly lowered to cool Molly & Hamish down and so they jumped in with alacrity for the journey home!

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Get me home – quick!

I think next time it will be just Debbie & I making the summit attempt, it’s probably too much for the dogs given Hamish’s advanced age at ten, together with Molly’s recent “escape” from a puppy farm and the need to build up her leg muscles slowly!

🙂

Into The Death Zone..

Six Go to Sugar Loaf Mountain 

No, not the miss-printed title of a new Enid BlytonFamous Five” book, but last weekend 5 humans (Debbie, myself, James, Alex & Emily) plus Hamish the dog, had an “adventure” of sorts in the Ford Galaxy driving up to the National Trust car park half-way up the Sugar Loaf!

In the dim & distant past Debbie’s mum claimed to have climbed Sugar loaf and picked wimberries, but as she nearly always pointed to a peak just before the Storey Arm’s path leading up to Pen Y Fan, we’re not so sure it was the right mountain.

In any event back to the plot dear readers, so there we were, finally going past the turn off to the Sugar Loaf vineyard and heading up a narrow and rather steeper than I anticipated, single lane track (I hesitate it to call it a road).  As the 1.5 mile journey continued, the occupants in the car fell silent and I crouched over the steering wheel fastidiously ignoring the huge drop to Debbie’s left and concentrating on hugging the road as best as I could without letting on the fact I too was terrified.

Why oh why had I taken the Galaxy, rather than the trusty four wheel Land Rover….

Eventually we came to a few cars parked in passing points where Debbie enquired if we were now turning back.  Wishing that I could but knowing that I couldn’t I barked a polite reply “no dear, just a little further” through gritted teeth.  At long last we approached the nearly full car park and I managed to get the Galaxy parked overlooking some most beautiful views.

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Help me Alex, I feel faint!
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Dad, do you mind if Hamish and I walk down?
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Only half way, how do the sheep do it?
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I’m alive!
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Alex & Emily looking proud of my achievement in not cutting short their lives, little did they know what was to come….

Trying to look relaxed I casually got out of the car and fixed a smile on my highly tensed visage.  “Take some pictures Debbie” I commanded manfully while I walked over to a map of the area and tried to find a different route back to no avail.

Worse was to come, after about 15 minutes of wandering around and exploring the area we realised that it was a 2.5 hour return journey by foot from the car park to the summit.  So after a few deep breaths when my heartbeat had finally reduced to only 200 beats a minute we got back in the Galaxy and made our way back down.

At first things seem to be going well when around the bend came the biggest looking camper van I’d ever seen on such a small road followed up by a convoy of two more cars, there was no way round that wouldn’t have us all launch ourselves over the edge.  Now unfortunately those going up a hill have right of way over those going down, so after finding biting point on my auto box with a lot of help from the hand brake I edged slowly back up the very steep road in reverse, sweat appearing on my brow and I said in a high pitch tone to Alex “let me know if I’m going to hit something!”

By some miracle i squeezed into a tiny lay-by, just avoiding a fellow down-hill traveller who helpfully tooted his horn several times as I got closer to his bonnet.  As I parked up I manfully lowered my drivers side window to give the oblivious camper van driver and his (I hope) long suffering wife a hard stare which they studiously avoided!  Not the driver of the next car though that playfully winked at me and in a rather loud, jovial voice told me “it was a big one alright!”

Immediate panic over I continued the drive down praying there’d be no-one else driving a bus or lorry up the narrow road.  As each yard went by without company my confidence grew and triumphantly I pulled into the Sugar loaf vineyard for something to eat and drink – so say nothing of calming down….

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Alex, for some reason, looking uncharacteristicly happy in my presence…

4 cups of tea later, 2 rounds of coffee cake and a bowl of water for Hamish we got back in the car and made our way home to drop off Hamish.  Shortly afterwards we drove (sans Hamish) to Llanfrynach’s White swan pub for a well earned lunch before heading off to Cardiff’s Sophia Gardens bus terminal where Alex & Emily had a relaxing journey by National Express back to London.

A clearly impressed (by my driving skills) Debbie was seen to silent mouth “never again!” as we crossed the threshold of home. 🙂

Six Go to Sugar Loaf Mountain