Wild Camping #microadventure – Brecon Beacons

I have great admiration for those that push boundaries and themselves beyond what ‘people in the street’ think is possible. One of those people is Alastair Humphreys: http://www.alastairhumphreys.com

He is an self made adventurer who inspires me to go out and enjoy life with what little time I have available; so this post is dedicated to him, pictured below on one of his #microadventures.

#microadventure

#microadventure

I’m always checking the weather forecast for opportunities to get out in the hills. Not that I am a fair-weather hiker but as I get older I want a bit more sun on my back!

I saw an opportunity this week and decided to head back down to my old stomping ground: The Brecon Beacons central area around the twin peaks of Corn Du & Pen y Fan.

Brecon Beacons Central Area

Brecon Beacons Central Area

Storey Arms to Corn Du

Storey Arms to Corn Du

The plan was to have a one nighter somewhere near the summits of Corn Du or Pen y Fan so I took the shortish route up from Storey Arms and up to Corn Du.

Path to Corn Du

Path to Corn Du

It’s kind of a nice feeling to meet everyone coming down as you head up in the late afternoon sun, knowing that you are probably going to be probably alone as night falls.

Path to summit

Path to summit

A few others were heading up to catch the sunset as I got on top of Corn Du. As usual I had probably packed too much and was feeling the strain of a heavy pack but I had 4 litres of water with me…and a wee dram!

Llyn Cwm Llwch

Llyn Cwm Llwch

The view from Corn Du rarely disappoints and this one was not an exception. I decided to press on up to Pen y Fan and take in more views of this wonderful national park.

Upper Neuadd Reservoir and Taf Fechan

Upper Neuadd Reservoir and Taf Fechan

The ridge eastwards

The ridge eastwards

There were a few folks still about and I didnt want to set up camp yet so I decided to wander back westwards and onto Craig Gwaun Taf to the south and look for a suitable spot. I thought it would give me good views of the summits at daybreak too.

Golite Shangri-la 3

Golite Shangri-la 3

I soon set up camp with a superb view of Corn Du and Pen y Fan. This was the SL3’s first outing and I soon realised I needed more pegs in a strongish breeze….note to self for next time. It’s a pretty luxurious shelter for one though and I was mightily impressed with it.

lonely micro cloud

lonely micro cloud

The sun was soon setting and the temperature dropping but I was able to light the stove in the tent with the door unzipped at the top….chicken curry and wild berry yogurt with coffee and a dram…perfect!

sunset

sunset

A few more pictures then inside for a warm.

I did have to get up in the night and adjust a loose peg as the wind was gusting and attempted to take a picture of the amazing night sky but failed on the latter…must bring tripod next time.

sunrise

sunrise

The sunrise was beautiful and despite the cold I took loads of pictures while breakfast waited a while. A few patches of old cornice lingered on the ridge.

cloud inversion to the west

cloud inversion to the west

A cloud inversion was forming to the west over Fan Fawr.

pink snow

pink snow

More sunrise pictures looking east along the ridge towards Taf Fechan.

twin peaks with SL3

twin peaks with SL3

The sun soon hit the twin peaks to the north and it started to get warmer!

Corn Du & Pen y Fan

Corn Du & Pen y Fan

Packed and ready to go

Packed and ready to go

I had breakfast and packed up ready to go before  a quick ‘melfie’ (mountain selfie!) despite a bad hair day I was happy with my overnighter.

last views north

last views north

Catching the last views north, I headed down the quick route into the foggy bottom that was the A470.

wild pony

wild pony

I encountered some wild ponies on the track down and met a few early starters on their way up.

into the fog

into the fog

Fan Fawr above the clag

Fan Fawr above the clag

Fan Fawr

Fan Fawr

When I got back to the car it was a cold and foggy day down below and the sun was a distant memory…drove home in 4 degrees all the way 😦

Go on….have a #microadventure…you know you want to:

“This is the year of the microadventure: a whole year when, instead of exotic foreign adventures, I am committed to trying to encourage people to get outside, get out of their comfort zone, go somewhere they’ve never been, go on a microadventure. An adventure that is close to home, cheap, simple, short, and yet very effective.

You do not need to fly to the other side of the planet to do an expedition.
You do not need to be an elite athlete, expertly trained, or rich to have an adventure.”

Thanks Alastair!

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Carneddau Wild Camp

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Llyn Eigiau Car Park

I’m an avid weather watcher, so when I saw the forecast for this Friday/Saturday I had to make plans for an overnighter soemwhere in Wales. I had just bought a new tent to rpelace my ageing Vango, so it was a perfect oppurtunity to try out the Wild Country Zephyros 1 by Terra Nova. It was a tentative purchase as I had already bought a GoLite Shangri-La 2 off an Ebay contact but it had been lost in the post!

I planned to head off sometime on Friday morning and decided to head for the Carneddau Range in Snowdonia as its an area I know quite well.

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Maeneira in the north eastern Carneddau

I parked at the Llyn Eigiau car park and set off to find a suitable spot overnight spot as high up as I could manage. I set off along the track to Clogwyn Maldy which leads to the twin reservoirs of Melynllyn and Dulyn.

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The car park was almost full at 12.00hrs and I had plenty of light left to hunt out a suitable site. My GoLite Jam was a little heavier than usual and I probably had too much stuff for just an overnighter but it was good training either way.

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Looking west back to car park

It was steady walking on the track as I passed another walker coming back down; ‘Afternoon’…no response as he looked at me?! Whats the matter with some people?

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The weather was just about right with a light breeze and some clouds skirting the Carneddau ridge and Foel Fras to my right.

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Craig y Dulyn

I paused to refill my water bottle from the many small streams and headed slowly upwards to the abandoned workings at Melynllyn Quarry.

Quarry buildings

Quarry buildings

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Llyn Melynllyn (Welsh for yellow lake) is a lake on the edge of the Carneddau range of mountains in SnowdoniaNorth Wales. It lies at a height of just over 2,000 feet (610 m), and has an area of some 18.5 acres (75,000 m2). Cliffs rise steeply from its western edge, up to the summit of Foel Grach, and down from which most of its feeder streams flow. A small dam was built at its northern end in 1887, but this was deliberately breached in 1970. The lake acts as a reservoir for theLlandudno area. Less than a kilometre to its north lies the larger Llyn Dulyn. The outflow form the lake is called Afon Melynllyn, this stream flowing north-east to join Afon Dulyn, itself a tributary of the river Conwy.

I decided to carry on up the path to Melyllyn and try and find a suitable spot to camp. I did consider camping at Dulyn but it has a reputation for eiryness: An account translated from a Welsh magazine printed in 1805: “There is a lake in the mountains of Snowdon, called Dulyn, in a rugged valley, encircled by high steep rocks. This lake is extremely black, and its fish are deformed and unsightly, having large heads and small bodies. No wild swans are ever seen alighting upon it (such as are on all the other lakes in Snowdon), nor ducks, nor any bird whatever. And there is a causeway of stones leading into this lake; and if any one goes along this causeway, even when it is hot sunshine, and throws water so as to wet the furthest stone, which is called the Red Altar [yr Allawr Goch], it is a chance if it do not rain before night. Witness, T. Prys, of Plas Iolyn, and Sion Davydd, of Rhiwlas, in Llan Silin.”

Dulyn Reservoir

Dulyn Reservoir

I found a suitable spot near to Melynllyn looking back down the valley north west. It was my first pitch of the Zephyros but I had plenty of time to get it right?!

Zephyros 1

Zephyros 1

I had time to explore so I set off to take a look at both reservoirs nearby and took some pictures on my trusty Canon 350D.

Melynllyn

Melynllyn

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Tree frames Afon Dulyn and The Montain Bothy left.

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Track descends to Dulyn

I returned to camp and cooked tea and watched as a Merlin Helicopter flew in over Carnedd Llewellyn and circled overhead.

Merlin Heli

Merlin Heli

The clouds soon parted and the evening sky was clear with little wind. I made another brew and decided to head for the tent and have a lie down after all this excitement. Maybe its just me but I was disappointed with the room inside the inner tent; I felt a little claustraphobic actually.

I had an uncomfortable night all in all and was glad of the cold dawn so I could get out and make a brew! Maybe the GolLite Adrenaline sleeping bag wasn’t up to these low temperatures either??

Sunrise at Camp

Sunrise at Camp

I had a quick brekky and broke camp, deciding to head down to Dulyn and the Mountain Bothy and return via Maeneira.

mountain bothy

mountain bothy

It was a soggy walk back down to Maemeira and the car. I would seriously have to think about using the Zephyros again and would be trying out the DD Tarp next time in hopefully warmer weather.

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I did meet three sheep that were very interested by me as I walked past…rumour has they thought I was Justin Beibers uncle!

three sheep

three sheep

And one last look back up from the waterworks above Maeneira.

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Quick Trip up Penygadair

It isn’t very often that I get out in the hills on a weekend; I am usually too busy at home doing the domestic necessities. As I work from home and that is only sporadic, then I usually escape during the working week.

But as Mrs. R was going to be holed up doing her university assignments all weekend (I vant to be alone) and I saw the weather forecast was excellent, I decided on a quick trip to the hills.

Preferably during a normal April Saturday I would have combined it with an overnight camp but as we are on the verge of the new ice age I planned a day trip instead.

I set off early from home leaving the snoreheads behind and headed to my beloved Wales and was soon driving through Welshpool and well on the way. I intended to try a walk in the Rhinogs but as I drove over Bwlch Oerddrws on the A470 I saw Cadair Idris beaming at me in the rising sun and changed my plans.

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I have slept on its summit several times and I am rubbish at poetry (must be mad then?!) and only climbed via the Minffordd Path so I decided to take the easy way up and try The Pony Path from the north side for once.

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Ty Nant

It was still early when I arrived at Ty Nant and the small car park, with only a few cars in it and not a soul around. On the plus side the NT pay and stay machine was out of order so I saved myself 4 squid to boot. On a day like today I would have happily parted with the cash but hey ho, on we go.

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Pony Track

The track is very well marked and very well trodden but there are repairs ongoing further up before the main ridge to prevent erosion, so I guess the money is being spent wisely.

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Gaining the Ridge

Lots of deep snow patches lay on the path on this north facing side but it was fairly easy going up onto the main ridge before turning east onto the saddle.

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View North

There were some great views north towards the Rhinogydd range and beyond.

I continued on and then saw two figures descending towards me. Two guys stopped to chat saying, “Where is everyone?” They said there was nobody on the summit so I plodded on hoping the situation would stay the same.

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The Summit Ahead

The summit trig point was just visible as the sun started to rise and I was the warmest I had been in ages despite the altitude. I had been wearing my newly acquired RAB Vapourise Lite top up to this point but now it had to come off. The wind was very light and all in all it was a gorgeous morning.

Still no one else about as I climbed onto the final ridge and gained the trig point cairn.

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Looking north to Barmouth

Only a pair of ice climbers emerging from a gully on the north face surprised me as I walked to find a spot for my brekky feast!

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Breakfast Stop

The views all around were stunning and I could see/hear approaching climbers via the Mynffordd Path to the south.

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View South

I settled down to eat and savoured the silence for now until more climbers joined me on the warm and surprisingly balmy summit.

I decided to have a wander down the east ridge and bag another summit, Mynydd Moel at 863m. As I did so I considered descending on the Foxes Path but the lack of spikes/crampons changed my mind.

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Mynydd Moel

  So I climbed back up to the summit and started down the Pony Track again and admired the views north as I went.

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Llyn y Gadair

I took a short detour via The Saddle and then picked up the Pony Track further down the ridge.

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The Saddle

The sweating hordes were approaching as I hopped and slid down the now thawing path to the car at Ty Nant. An early start was a good idea.

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View back to Summit

It wasn’t until I saw myself in the rear view mirror that I realised I should have put on sun screen and maybe a hat! Mrs. R called me a beetroot! How very dare she!

Brown Clee Bimble

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BIMBLING

I generally hate the word ‘bimble’ as it conveys an image of ‘old folk’ struggling to walk very far. But its all I seem to able to manage lately with work and other stuff; so a bimble it was today because I needed an excuse to get out in the fresh air, even if only for a couple of hours.

I decided at the last minute to head off to Brown Clee and get some height and fresh air as it is afterall the highest point in my home county of Shropshire at 540 metres.

I drove out of Shrewsbury and headed for Cleobury North on the B4364 and the picnic spot at the foot of Brown Clee.

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The golden slug parked opposite the picnic area

A bitterly cold wind greeted me as I donned boots and rucsack and headed off through the gate and the gentle climb up through woods and sheep fields.

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The path was quite clear and I also had printed off an A4 OS map from ‘getamap’ just in case. The route can be seen in a screenshot above.

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The walk through the woodland was easy and I saw nobody at all during the trip up.

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Quarrying was for long the main income of the area as can be seen by the skeletal remains of buildings and walls. It was widely known as a dangerous and gruelling job. People would walk to the Abdon Quarry on Brown Clee Hill from as far as Bridgnorth and Ludlow, and often they would tend to at least one other job. They were quarrying for Dhustone (Dolerite), a very hard and challenging material to extract.

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The Abdon Clee quarries closed in 1936, and by this time the area had become almost industrial, with a concrete plant, tarmac plant in Ditton Priors, plus a small railway to move the stone – and the quarries themselves. If the wind was coming down over the hill it was apparently possible to hear the stone crusher at the top crunching away, even down in Cleehill village.

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After the quarries closed, a lot of the quarrymen went to work at the Cockshutford quarries on the other side of Brown Clee. But the dhustone there wasn’t as good quality and durable as over on the Abdon side and that quarry failed to after a short period. Many of the men returned and worked at the naval ammunition depot set up at Ditton Priors at the start of the war. The quarries totally finished in the 1930s and 40s.

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Brown Clee Hill lies five miles north of its sister and neighbour, Titterstone Clee Hill. The highest peak of the hill is Abdon Burf, at 540 metres high with Clee Burf at 510m.

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This picture shows the viewing stone on Abdon Burf summit and Titterstone Clee on the horizon.

Much more of Brown Clee Hill is private land than on Titterstone Clee, and large areas are covered with coniferous plantations. The eastern expanse of the hill is in possession of the Burwarton Estate under ownership of Viscount Boyne, whilst the western fringes of the hill are owned by various private land owners and the parish of Clee St. Margaret.

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Whilst the radar facilities of the Clee Hills protect aircraft, both hills were once a hazard to aircraft, and a memorial commemorates the 23 Allied and German airmen killed here when their planes crashed into Brown Clee during World War II. The first aircraft to crash into Brown Clee was a German Junkers 88, on 1 April 1941. Two Wellington Bombers, a Hawker Typhoon and at least two Avro Ansons also crashed here. It is now thought that there were more wartime crashes on Brown Clee than any other hill in Britain. The engine and other parts of one of the Wellington Bombers are said to rest on the bottom of Boyne Water, Brown Clee.

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As you can see it was a dull dismal day on top and I must say its probably the most unimpressive of the Shropshire Hills in my humble opinion, especially on a ‘bimbling’ day like today.

BUT it got me out of the house for a while so I musn’t complain!

Carneddau Feb 2013

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Inpired by ‘blogpackinglight’ I set off to explore the Carneddau and specifically the area around Maeneira a crumbling and abandoned Farmhouse.

Unfortunately it was only going to be a daytrip as I had a job the next day but thankfully the weather was set fair.

I set off from Shrewsbury at 0610hrs only to realise two miles down the road I had forgotton to pack my DSLR…bugger…ten minutes late already.

I was soon on my way again in the dark but the drive up to Betws y Coed was fast and I was soon crawling up the access road to the car park near to Llyn Eigiau.

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A cold but superbly clear day awaited as the sun rose in the east and gave a little warm glow to proceedings.

I had planned a route using ‘OS Getamap’ and also some diversions just in case weather/tiredness set in. The place was deserted and I soon set off up towards Maeneira and then the hydroelectric building above it.

It was pleasantly warm (4 deg) as I was sheltered from the winds as I huffed and puffed up the fence line and onto the ridge between Foel Fras and Carnedd Uchaf. The ground was frozen mainly with some boggy patches and minor snow banks.

I stopped for a snack on the ridge and then climbed up to Garnedd Uchaf.

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I had donned some more clothing as the wind started to bite now but the sky was crystal clear with views across to Conwy Bay and Menai Straights.

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Breakfast View

I had brought along the new gas burner to try out but failed the gear check test and had the wrong type of gas canister (note to self: check kit before setting off). The old staple cheese and brown sauce (daddies) sarnies would do the job. I admired the view as I snacked along.

I carried on along the windy ridge to Garnedd Uchaf and saw Foel Grach in sight as I stopped again to take some pictures of the desolate but sunlit scene.

Carnedd Uchaf

I wanted to stop again soon and take more photos but the sun was dead ahead and I knew I would get lense flare without any lens hood

Foel Grach

Sure enough I did!

I stopped over the summit of Foel Grach and found a sheltered spot for an drink and another bite to eat. Four walkers drifted by me with dogs in tow. I gave one dog half a sarnie as he looked hungry. He didnt ask twice and munched it down.

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Carnedd Llewellyn and Yr Elen loomed ahead so it was time to move off again and start the short but testing climb up to Carnedd Llewellyn

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I soon reached the top and passed the dog hikers coming back the other way and we exchanged pleasantries but no cheese sarnies this time.

I dallied a while and soon got cold so decided to head back down the ridge and off towards Cwm Eigiau and then head back to the car.

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I then had a change of plan again and decided to avoid Llyn Eigiau and head down to Melynllyn instead. I would follow the ridge and then pick up the land rover track that would lead me back to the car park.

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I took a few more shots as I descended slowly and eventually got down to the ruined workings by the lake.

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A fast trog got me down to the car in good time and there were now three cars including mine on the car park.

Two guys were packing ready to set off and asked about conditions on top. They were packed for an over nighter and I envied them as they set off towards Maeneira and what would be a gorgeous evening in the Carneddau. I must bring the tent/tarp next time and spend the night in a wild camp. Thats the next job for 2013.

Long Mynd – Lightspout, Pole Bank, Ashes Hollow

First Training Walk of 2013  – got the guys together for the first time this year for a quick circuit around Long Mynd.

Strong winds but clear skies greeted us in the car park at deaths waiting room, otherwise known as Church Stretton. Paid my parking fees but didnt realise 50p had been rejected so not enough time on the card. Dont trust these car parks so had to pay again…bummer…and it would have been a squid cheaper to pay the NT…oh well.

This was my first ‘proper’ walk with the GOLITE Jam 50L pack so I was keen to load it up a little and see how it fared.

Set off via The Burway then down into Carding Mill Valley to pick up Jack Myttons Way (Read about mad jack here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Mytton)

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Carding Mill Valley

We took the path left up towards Lightspout Waterfall and didnt linger long as we were eager to get back into what sun there was up above.

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Path to Lightspout

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Lightspout Waterfall

We trudged on to pick up the well trodden path up to The shooting box @ SO421953, then kept heading west until we found the trig point at Pole Bank (The highest point on the Long Mynd is Pole Bank at a height of 516 m (1,693 ft))

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From Pole Bank we headed back to the road and towards Boiling Well spring to pick up the boggy path down into Ashes Hollow.

We stopped by one of the many wizzended hawthorn trees and had our spot of lunch while the sheep looked on nervously and wild ponies wandered by.

Mostly downhill from now on with the path very boggy after the recent heavy snow had melted. We chatted and planned our 2013 in the hills, and looked to further afield as we are planning a trek along the Lycian Way in Turkey later this year.

Before long we were in the camping site at Ashes Hollow and then into the pub for a few well earned pints.

The Golite Jam was very comfortable and I cant wait to load it up properly and try out the DD Tarp on a night (or two) out.

Quite an easy start to 2013 but we were all knackered after Xmas excesses. Ive been wild camping, mountaineering, bivvying, drinking, walking with these guys for 40 years now and every day is a pleasure. Long my it continue.

See the OS Getamap route below.

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Caer Caradoc After Breakfast

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View North showing The Lawley and Wrekin in distance

Decided I needed to start my 2013 fitness campaign today after one too many snifters last night. I woke up feeling guilty and as the missus was doing university work I decided to head off down the A49.

I parked just before Church Stretton in a layby and headed up onto Caer Caradoc for a morning decoking of the lungs (remember when you had to do that with petrol engines?)

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A49 in Valley and The Lawley looking North

The aim was to also try out a new daysack that I bought on Ebay last week. Another impulse purchase but it is only a daysack and seems to be the now discontinued Golite Breeze. Its very basic but I may see if I can add a chest strap and hip belt.

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Quite a tough pull up from the ridge onto the summit but well worth it for the views all round.

I am still getting used to these walking poles and I find them better when descending. I will persevere just so I can try the DD tarp out when I get chance.

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Church Stretton & The Long Mynd from summit

Met a ramblers group when descending and they had leaders at front and back with little yellow hi-viz bibs on??? Whats that all about….H&S gone mad I guess…not my scene.