Where Typhoons Roar

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‘Cadair Idris Range from Cribin Fach above Bwlch Oerderrws’

Had a short walk up onto the ridge above Bwlch Oerderrws, from the car park on the A470 between Dinas Mawddwy and Dolgellau today.

We are in the heart of the ‘Mach Loop’ low flying zone where military jets from all over come to test their low flying skills in the welsh valleys.

This car park is usually full on weekdays as the jet snappers get here early on good weather days and stake their claim on the various pitches above ‘The Bwlch’ as it is called.

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‘Looking back down at the car park on the ascent’

I cannot match the skills and high level equipment of these fanatical snappers (yet) and I make no apologies of recommending a fantastic site where the quality of images can be seen.Visit www.mjaviation.co.uk for some highly recommended images.

Two Typhoons and a T2 Hawk trainer came up the valley from Dinas Mawddwy and roared below me as I made the climb up to the ridge. Sadly no pics this time but I will return for a shot soon.

My task was alot simpler: to test out the new LEKI walking poles and also get some landscape shots of the hills; including Cadair Idris and The Rhinogs.

Cadair Idris from A470

Its a steep and boggy climb up onto Cribin Fach but a well laid path eventually finds a boundary fence on your left and then just follow this upwards. Beware in mist or cloud as there is a VERY deep old slate quarry just to the right of the fence line when heading south west and I sheltered there for lunch as the clouds rolled in for a while.

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The clouds agreed to part a little and I was able to take some shots with my tripod in between the clouds rolling in. The sun was a little too high in the sky though and I had some lense flare. Ideally a shot of Cadair would be at sunrise. I made a mental note to try and have a wild camp one night and hope for a clear dawn.

I have posted a screenshot of the OS map showing the car park and place where the images were taken, below.

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There were some spectacular views west of The Rhinog range and The Snowdon Horseshoe and Arans.

The whole set of images are on my Flickr page at www.flickr.com and you are welcome to take a look. They are in the ‘mountain walks’ set and also in the photostream.

There are some great ridge walks once up on top and I recommend a days walking up here; preferably when the weather is clear! I was lucky as the sun set and made it back down before the clouds rolled in again.

My new Craghoppers Climaplus jacket was excellent too; very light and warm. It was a bargain in the sale at £25 squid. Wished I had bought two as they are nowhere to be seen now!

I sort of got used to the poles and will persevere as I aim to try out the new DD Tarp soon.

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Ashes Hollow Walk from Long Mynd

A Walk Along Ashes Hollow from Long Mynd

The weather forecast looked very good today so I decided to head for The Long Mynd and try out my Garmin Etrex Vista HCX

I had already plotted a route on the Ordnance Survey ‘getamap’ site and had downloaded it to the Etrex Vista the night before.

‘Pole Cottage car park’

Its only a 30 minute drive for me from home so I approached via The Burway out of Church Stretton and headed for the small car park at Pole Cottage on The Portway at grid reference SO412937. A group of happy ramblers were departing from the car park as I arrived but there was only one other car there so no problems at all.

The route starts from here and heads east across the Mynd and skirts north of Round Hill (named after me perhaps?).

The path is well trodden but it was all about trying out my Garmin GPS so I headed off to the first waypoint following the compass red arrow which counted me down to waypoint 2. It gave a warning bleep as I approached the waypoint which was useful and then automatically loads the next waypoint.

As you can see looking back from waypoint 2 the path is a clear one.

I continued south-east towards Barristers Plain and Little Stretton with fantastic view towards Ragleth Hill, and The Clee Hills on the horizon. There was some sort of temperature inversion and the cloud hung in the valleys ahead.

The path skirted around a few hills and headed downwards towards Little Stretton and past a cute little camping site by a stream.

But before this I paused to take some pictures of the valley with the A49 and also Ragleth Hill and Caer Caradoc sprouting from the valley floor.

                      

There are some eerily brooding and wonderfully barren Hawthorn trees dotted about and so I continued to descend towards Little Stretton. Eventually I passed the cottage with the campsite and headed over the stile through the campsite and up towards Ashes Hollow. There are dozens of valleys on the Long Mynd, many of which are named Hollows and Batches. The highest concentration of valleys is on the eastern edge of the Long Mynd, near Church Stretton town. The geography of the valleys has many of the larger ones adjacent to each other, running north-west to south-east. Though smaller valleys flow into these, the smaller valleys are hence namedbatchesdales, and brooks to distinguish them from the larger features.

I knew that this was now going to be all uphill from here so I planned a lunch stop somewhere soon to energize me for the long drag back up to Pole Bank.

There is a small cottage and another footbridge to cross before the path emerges into Ashes Hollow for real. I passed the cottage and then found a good spot for some lunch by the stream.

A couple of walkers passed by heading up onto the Mynd but I lingered and enjoyed some cheese and brown sauce sandwiches; made by my own fair hand of course.

The path became narrower and eventually I came to a fork in the stream. The GPS sent me up along the left hand stream and I got a little wet crossing the now raging torrent. It became narrower and rocky as I had to cross and recross several times before the way opened out to a nice wide track.

The GPS had kept me on route just fine although I should have double checked it with the landranger map but all was fine in the end.

Not a soul in sight, apart from nervous sheep, as I continued up with lots of false summits until I saw a car crossing in front of me and eventually I realised I was back on The Portway.

I headed up onto Pole Bank and the trig point. The highest point on the Long Mynd is Pole Bank at a height of 516 m (1,693 ft). Pole Bank and nearby Caer Caradoc, at 459 m (1,506 ft), are both Marilyns.

Pole Bank is the third highest point in Shropshire as can be seen from the list below.

  • Brown Clee Hill 546 m (1,791 ft) The Highest Point in Shropshire
  • Stiperstones 536 m (1,759 ft)
  • Pole Bank 516 m (1,693 ft)

Corndon Hill can be seen here on the horizon past the trig point and the viewpoint pillar on Pole Bank.

I wandered back down to the road and the car at Pole Cottage. Here is the GPS readout showing the summary of todays route! (includes 30 minutes for lunch).

Had a little stroll out this afternoon as the weather was so bright and sunny. Went up to Mitchells Fold Stone Circle just off the A488 near Shelve, Shropshire. Follow the highlighted link above to the English Heritage site.

Mitchell’s Fold Stone Circle was constructed in the Bronze Age, over 3,000 years ago, using dolerite stones from nearby Stapeley Hill.

Today there are fifteen stones, arranged in a rough circle, but there may once have been as many as thirty. Much of this damage is ancient.

The tallest stone was once one of a pair, and these would have formed an impressive entrance into the circle. It is thought that there may also have been a central stone.

We do not fully understand why stone circles were built, but it is clear that they were ritually important for prehistoric people. They may have provided a focus for funerary rites, or perhaps had a calendrical function, with carefully aligned stones marking important lunar or solar events.

Mitchell’s Fold is just one of a remarkable number of prehistoric monuments in the surrounding landscape; there are also two other stone circles, a long barrow and numerous cairns. Nearby was the important Bronze Age axe factory at Cwm Mawr, where distinctive axe-hammers were produced and traded extensively into central Wales and England.

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I also tried out my new Apple IOS6 panorama feature on the iphone4S. See what you think below?!

Then went on up to Corndon Hill just a klick away and watched the Paragliders on the eastern ridge. Managed to get some good shots on the DSLR and some video on the iPhone.

Lady having a tandem ride using the ridge lift. They stayed up quite a while and even found a thermal towards the end.

It got surprisingly chilly up there so I headed back to the car and headed home to Shrewsbury. Saw the sign for this charming hamlet…John Wayne would have been proud.

The Amazing “Singing Toilets’ of Clun

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Here is Cluns’ second attraction after the ‘singing toilets’, Clun Castle in all its glory.

And here is the main attraction : The Singing Toilets of Clun.

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They are well worth a visit as you will be serenaded while you perform your ablutions. Plus they are the cleanest public toilets I have ever seen. Well done Clunsfolk.

They are situated just over the old bridge in a small FREE car park on the Newcastle on Clun road.

So this is where Tricky Micky and I found ourselves on a sunny but blustery September day.

A Clun Circuit

We started from the small car park and here is the location for the start: OS grid reference SO299808 Lat 51.689503546215704 + Long -3.442513445818019
Postcode SY7 8JR (approx. location only).

The walk was taken from the ‘Walking Britain’ website and is a good free source of walks all over the UK.

The plan was to head out north west on The Shropshire Way which runs between River Clun and River Unk. The way is marked by signs and posts and with well maintained stiles as you can see.

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The path is sometimes difficult to pick up as it crosses numerous fields and the use of a 25.000 scale map is recommended over the 50.000 Landranger series.

We managed to wind our way over the fields and the path meets a minor road between Bicton and Whitcott Keysett.

Cefns Ridge

The Shropshire Way continues north west uphill along the edge of a freshly cut field of wheat, although at the time the farmer was ploughing this field so we kept well over to the boundary.

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‘Climbing onto the Cefn Ridge’

We met a couple of walkers coming the opposite way but they weren’t very talkative so we pressed on upwards.

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The path descends through a field of cattle (which we gave a wide berth) and meets a track running east west. We headed on upwards along the ridge north westwards.

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With views of Newcastle on Clun ahead in the distance under a wonderful Shropshire sky.

We eventually came down into the hamlet of Three Gates (counted a few more than that) and ahead at the crossroads. Then up Hergan Hill and eventually turning west towards Offas Dyke Path.

Offas Dyke Trail

Once we met Offas Dyke we headed south following the very well marked long distance path away from Newcastle on Clun.

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As an aside I just saw the fastest time has been set for the ODP (Offas Dyke Path). Mike Wood ran it for two charities. Go HERE to donate to his great effort.

This is probably the best part of the walk as the Dyke is clearly visible for alot of this section as it undulates along the border with Wales.

Another road crossing and Tricky Micky decides to build a home made road closure all by himself.

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We climbed again out of Mardu and eventually stopped for a quick lunch break sitting on the Dyke. True to form it started to rain, as a brief shower blew in.Image

A lone walker appeared and stopped for a chat. He was doing the ODP in daily stages and he showed us his super duper GPS system so he definately couldnt get lost. I think it was called a ‘satmap’.

He sped off into the distance never to be seen again!

Soon we were hitting another road and crossing The River Clun again as we continued south.

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The ODP halfway mark is here showing already knackered walkers how far they still have to go. Demoralising or inspiring? Depends on your attitude I guess. Tricky Micky hangs on to the post for grim death.

We headed on through a farmyard and climbed again up to the road at Springhill Farm.

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Jack Mytton Way

We finally leave the ODP and head westwards on The Jack Mytton Way back towards Clun. We were on minor roads by now and hit by another blustery shower but we were on the homeward stretch.

We now had views of Clun Castle over the fields as we descended into Clun.

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Another serenade by the toilets and we were off to find a local hostelry and rehydrate ourselves, or not, as the case may be.

It was a pleasing walk of about 11.5 miles and lots of climbing involved but still enjoyable. This is great walking country with several long distance walks converging and we only saw three people all day.

Come and visit Shropshire, you won’t be disappointed!

Wenlock Edge Dawdle

Had a short dawdle along Wenlock Edge yesterday on a nice sunny day.

Parked at the car park halfway along and took my camera and tripod with me to try and get some interesting pics.

Took some general  view pics off the ridge but was not very inspired by what I saw…need to revisit at sunset/sunrise methinks!