Had been hoping to do something today, but until Saturday afternoon it appeared most likely that I would be spending Sunday learning PHP as nobody wanted to go out today despite an absolutely fantastic weather forecast. Naturally I was quite pleased when Paul called Saturday lunchtime. The forecast was for 18°C, no cloud base, and a wind of about 15mph. I thought I was going to have a nice ridge walk in the sun – I even packed the factor 20!
We had opted for a circuit on Black Mountain, believing it to be relatively near, in fact it is probably as distant as Snowdonia from Birmingham, it certainly took longer to get there and back.
I was quite surprised to awake to the patter of rainfall, and more surprised still to arrive at a mist filled Capel-y-ffin. I was quite confident that this was just a morning mist though, and happy that the sun would be out by late morning as promised.
We headed up to the church where we found a few people pottering around in the graveyard, and followed the lane past Nant Vision Farm where the right of way has been diverted around the farm. At this point we headed up a track through the fields, following the waymarks along Nant Vision until we arrived on the Black Mountain ridge just South East of the South Top.
We were unable to find the cairn on the South Top, and decided that it was either covered in heather, or had been removed from the hill. The mist was very thick at this point, but for a moment the cloud had cleared, and we had not been able to see this cairn anywhere. I’m certainly not going back just to tick that!
We wandered along for what seemed like forever on the Offah’s Dyke path over Black Mountain proper in a northerly direction. If on the South Top we had been unable to find a cairn, we had quite the opposite dilemna on the main bulk which has been blighted by a proliferation of cairns, the ticking of all of which would be quite tedious!
The Black Mountain ridge seemed to last for an eternity. Whilst we were confident that we had not missed our turning for Hay Bluff there was an element of doubt. We sat and paused for a while, and as we did so a large hole in the cloud blew across, and the path heading to Hay Bluff became apparent approximately 100m to our North, and this had been completely invisible in the mist. Hay Bluff appears quite imposing from this direction, and I found it difficult to believe that it doesn’t qualify as a Nuttall. Perusal of the map reveals it to have negligible rise on this face at all
We proceeded over Hay Bluff taking in the first decent summit of the walk, and proceeded down to Gospel Pass on the track that I had driven in on. Hitting the road we turned left and almost immediately right and up on to the flanks of Lord Herefords Knob. This next segement of the walk was much more heavily eroded, part of the reason for which would become apparent later on. I was quite enjoying myself by this point, and soon found myself on the summit, and then heading off an a long dog leg to Rhos Dirion. At this point on the ridge 4 motorcyclists flew past us several times riding back and forth along it.
This sector of the walk felt much longer than those which had preceeded it, yet the terrain was easy, and the only concern was that perhaps we had passed it. After a period of time had passed a white trig point emerged on the horizon, and all doubt passed, at this point I knew that the planned route would be in the bag. We spent about half an hour sat off the escarpment staring down in to an empty valley eating lunch.
We then began the final sectore of the day, heading back South East towards the car. We proceeded over Twyn Talycefn, which felt prominent enough to be a Nuttall, and I was surprised that it was not. For example, it certainly felt like it had more drop on all sides than Black Mountain South top. We passed a group of about 5 people in the vicinity of the Blacksmith’s Anvill cairn on Y Fan. These were pretty much the first people we had seen sice departing from Rhos Dirion. We then found a couple of cyclists on top of Chwarel Y Fan. Back in the cloud/mist at this point we turned almost immediately heading back to Y Fan, from where a good track leads down to Capel-y-ffin. The Nuttall’s book talks about this path weaving between cliffs, which I found to stretch the imagination a little.
The view picked up again as soon as we began to descend. I think that whilst the weather did not produce the expected results, I had a thoroughly enjoyable day, and felt pretty good afterwards for the 14 miles.