Tuesday, 27 October 2009


We've not had chance this year to get down to our favourite English county, Cornwall!

So, here's a few photos from trips past of some of our favourite haunts in the Duchy...

First up, the atmospheric St Ives. It's unlike any other city/town/village/hamlet in the Uk (that I've visited anyway). There's just a feeling thats generated when visiting that you can only appreciate after you've been there...
The harbour

Porthminster beach. We nearly always stay at a wonderful little hotel called Primrose Valley http://www.primroseonline.co.uk/ which is around 30 yards from the beach and ticks all the boxes - food, decor, location, relaxed atmosphere and friendly staff!

And one of St Ives' many charming cobbled streets.
The Minack Theatre is a must visit. Situated on the cliffs overlooking Porthcurno beach, it was the life vision of Rowena Cade http://www.minack.com/dayvisitors/history.htm and must be one of the most original tourist attractions in Great Britain.
The aforementioned Porthcurno beach is simply breathtaking. I'll shut up as a picture tells a thou....etc.

And the view from the Minack.

I'm a big fan of the gardens and nurseries in Cornwall. Trevena Cross near Helston always has an excellent selection of tree ferns and ground ferns. It's where my wallet usually gets emptied and my wife usually gets bored.
Cornwall is probably the premier UK climate for exotic plants and gardens. Trebah is one I never tire of visiting. It's a little more commercial than some of the less frequented 'gems' but is beautiful all the same.
These Dicksonia antarctica almost look too pristine, but they work so well in this setting.

And finally, the wonderful St Michael's Mount. Quintessentially Cornish, like a large pasty dropped in the middle of the bay.

Sunday, 18 October 2009


I've suddenly become fascinated in Redwoods - the giant kind! An excellent article in National Geographic (first time I've ever bought this publication) led to some googling and the discovery of a website focusing on Redwoods in the UK. It lists different trees all over the country, but Gwent (or what was Gwent) was noticable by its absence from the list.

I was pretty sure that our local Country Pak, one Tredegar House, was home to a number of Redwoods. Armed with the description of the needles in my mind, and my beautiful son, we set off on Saturday morning for a walk, a kick of the footy, and a redwood hunt at Tredegar Park.

Yes, I was right. There are several, in fact, well over a hundred Sequoiadendron giganteum (Giant Sequoia or Giant Redwood - the other large American species being Sequoia sempervirens) growing in the grounds of Tredegar house. They really are awesome trees, and these are just babies compared to the titans growing in California. My son now thinks I'm a tree-hugger! :)

Friday, 16 October 2009

In search of the Goat Track

I'd read of a track that traversed the north west face of Cribyn in the Brecon Beacons, so armed with a mate, Tony, I set off to try it out on a sunny Friday afternoon.

This was the first time I'd walked Cribyn from the North, same for Tony, and the hardest part of the afternoon proved to be finding somewhere to park the car. We eventually settled on the entrance to an overgrown bridleway somewhere at the end of a narrow lane north of Llanfrynach - the satnav didn't even recognise the lane!
The weather looked great - clouds at first on the tops but a North wind was blowing them away towards Merthyr.

We headed up the ridge towards Cribyn and eventually spotted the 'Goat Track' just as the nose of the ridge got really steep.

We then headed west along the Goat track. It wasn't as steep as I'd imagined, but gave great views of Pen Y Fan's North east Face. It was pretty wet even with the recent dry period. After heavy winter rains, I can imagine this path being pretty hairy.

A sharp right turn then took us back Eastwards onto the summit of Cribyn for the usual angled summit-timer shot.

Then it was a quick yomp down to the saddle of Bwlch Ar Y Fan and up the other side to FanyBig (a name that would have countless amusing minutes of innuendo for a teenager).

Fan Y Big has two recongisable features. A circular windshelter of stones...

And the well known 'Diving Board' rock. The drop isn't as precarious as the photo's make out but it's one of those 'mountain traditions that you have to do'. After the pants-staining leap between Adam N Eve on Tryfan, this was a piece of p*ss.

From there it was an easy trek back North along the ridge, then down into the valley to the car. Unusually, for the Pen Y Fan area, we didn't bump into a single person, or any goats. Loads of sheep though, plus these two vain wild ponies!

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Here's some gear!

It seems, from reading other outdoor blogs, that it's customary to post when you acquire some new gear. Well I treated myself today to a couple of items from a new outdoor shop in Cardiff. Firstly, was a new daysack - the Vaude Triset Ultraslight 35. Having read good reviews on a few websites, I liked the look and the price of this sack.

The main plus-point has to be the weight. It is so light. When I took it home and put it on the kitchen table it immediately floated to the ceiling where it has remained ever since! B******s! Anyone know how to get rucksacks off ceilings?
The other purchase was a Montane prism 2.0 insulated softshell jacket. This should be ideal for winter walking and scrambling, etc. I already own a Mountain Equipment Lightline which is good for static stuff but too warm for on the move, even though I feel the cold, being 8 stones soaking wet!
Can't wait to get out there and try them now.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Ysgyryd Fawr

Just north of Abergavenny is Ysgyryd (Skirrid) Fawr which must be the easternmost of the Brecon Beacon mountains. I decided to take a short walk up it whilst I had a few hours spare. Up to the summit and back around the skirt is only 3 miles and not particulary strenuous, but the views are great. The first half mile is through ancient woodland and some fo the trees look like they should be Ents in Lord of the Rings.

Probably, the best view of the Sugarloaf is from the top of the Skirrid - it juts out of the landscape in volcanic fashion.

It only took me 30 minutes to get to the top and I only saw one other walker - Steve from Hereford - who tagged along for the walk back to the Carpark, and told me some of the many myths that concern Skirrid. Despite being a short walk, it's interesting and there's something alluring and mysterious about the Skirrid...don't go up there on Halloween!

Saturday, 3 October 2009

The irresistable lure...

Back on a rugby field for my beloved Pill Harriers 1st XV today. A few injuries and cry-offs meant they needed a few in the backs and my phone went at 10am. Away to Gwernyfed (Talgarth) in a gale force wind with one 41 year old and a 37 year old (moi) in the back 3 sounded lijke it might have been a long difficult afternoon. The result - a bonuspoint 31-10 win for Pill with yours truly even managing to get on the scoresheet! Fantastic. I shall now ache for 6 days...