I knew the weather wasn’t going to be brilliant today but what I love about Wales, Mid Wales, is that I still find it stunning even if it is raining or windy, hail, whatever – sometimes it only adds to that exhilarating feeling when you are outdoors. That’s what it was like today. I set off from Gregynog Hall and went north from the rear of the hall through Great Wood. I love Great Wood and I wish I had known it was there when my children were little. We visited Gregynog many times but played on the lawns at the front. So if you haven’t been to Great Wood, it’s a must - a magical place.
Then along the lane that took me up to Firhouse Sheepwalk. As soon I went through the gate on to the track I knew this was going to be a fantastic walk - the land is so rugged and unique to Mid Wales. To add to the atmosphere, a hunt was taking place, hunting for what I'm not sure, but the calls from the hunting horn, carried by the wind, made it all quite surreal. At the next gate I took a pic of the view looking back, it was very satisfying, even today. I turned off on to a track called Borfa-hafod Firs that takes you down to an old quarry. On a new walk, you can sometimes underestimate what fantastic views you are going to get and from this track the views of the Severn Valley were breath taking. I love it when this happens – it’s like finding treasure and I immediately want to share it with others.
From the quarry I knew the bridle way very well, having walked it many times when I lived up in Adfa and many times since. The bridle way takes you right up on to Bryn Du across open access land. The weather up here is rarely what it’s like on lower ground and so up I went into the mist, onto what really is the middle of nowhere. Thankfully it was all very familiar to me but I probably wouldn’t recommend doing this if you’d never been there before and definitely not on your own, like me. The track was well used by possibly tractors or quads and extremely boggy in places, there is the odd waymarked post but today I could only see about 20 yards in front of me and the wind was so strong and noisy. It really was very exciting.
I was looking out for Llyn y Tarw, a beautiful lake with a small island that has a colony of terns. When I’ve been up here before the terns have seen me and made a din but today I couldn’t even see across to the island, never the less, it was exhilarating to suddenly come to this mass of water in the mist. Time for a snack and a drink but today wasn’t a day for hanging around for too long. So onwards onto the track that takes you to the main bridle way which runs across the ridge of Bryn Du. It was quite eerie - I could hear the wind turbines but I couldn’t see them first of all, then the mist cleared and, like them or loathe them, there they were.
I came off this track further on and headed down towards Gwgia Reservoir. On the way down I could see back across to Borfa-hafod Firs –I think it’s always nice to see where you were earlier on in the walk, satisfying. Gwgia looked as lovely as ever with its little dam, boathouse and causeway, one of my favourite spots and good diversion to miss out some road on the way back. There is a pretty little lane from the dam back to the Bwlch -y-ffridd road, and then taking the lane back to Gregynog, via Great Wood. 11.6 miles
I wanted to do this walk there-and-back so that I knew it really well, but really it’s a walk designed to use the light railway between Welshpool and Llanfair Caereinion – catching the train from Welshpool and getting off at Castle Caereinion, walking over Y Golfa on Glyndŵr’s Way.
The start of my walk from Welshpool, taking Glyndŵr’s way from the Raven Pub, took me through some very smart, well-kept park land. There is something about walking early on a Sunday morning, and today was particularly still, it was so quiet and tranquil – perfect. Glyndŵr’s Way is a long distance trail of 135 miles forming a meandering loop from Knighton to Welshpool.
The oak trees in the park land, scattered across the fields, either side of the lane lead that up to Llanerchydol Hall, were magnificent and I'm sure would look even more beautiful in early summer. I didn’t know this hall even existed - certainly hidden away. It is privately owned and was built in 1776 by David Pugh - a local man who had made he fortune selling tea in London (he also owned Aberbechan Hall). I noticed an ice house near the back of the property, apparently there are two, possibly joined. Very intriguing, and imagine having enough ice on the rivers and ponds to fill these things. To be able to preserve food and, so they say, enjoy ice creams in the summer must have be high tech in its day but I expect only to be enjoyed by the gentry of the big halls. The lane continued and eventually became a track at Home Farm and just passed here, gradually getting higher, the views were fabulous although visibility could have been better.
I followed the well-marked Glyndŵr’s Way all the way to open access land / Welshpool Golf course and took a foot path around the perimeter. On the way, though, I detoured to the Trig point on Y Golfa where 360° views can be enjoyed, shame about the clouds but it was still very colourful and I had buzzards and kites souring above me. There is a fort on the footpath to look out for. Then the path follows the edge of the open access land down into the valley and to the main road, crossing the little railway and over fields to Castle Caereinion, all fairly well marked.
The village used to have a castle and there is a mound in the churchyard which they say could possibly be the remains of some sort of fort. The village its self was very quiet and petty, the shop was shut but outside was a rack with the papers in and a little old post box – all very quaint. There is a pub too which would have made a good lunch stop but I was too early for lunch so walked to the station where I had my packed snack and coffee on the platform bench (no trains today!) and then I walked all the way back. 10 miles all together and all done by 2.15 in the afternoon!
What a fantastic walk, one of the best I’ve done recently. I feel very excited about this one. Really impressive scenery and included 3 trails – pretty good for a 7.5mile circular.
Starting from Bishop’s Moat, which was a short drive from Mellington Hall, up to a cross roads where the road intersects the Kerry Ridgeway. There is a small motte and bailey there, the mound still very much intact – it was built in round 1120 (so about 400 years after Offa’s Dyke was built) by the Bishop of Hereford and was later possibly occupied by Llywelyn ab lorwerth in 1233.
The weather in the morning had been really stormy - snowing at one point, so we hadn’t started the walk until the weather had eased. The wind was still bitter walking south but a good uphill towards Reilthtop to meet the Shropshire Way warmed us up. The Shropshire Way, going west from here, took a lane that turned into a lovely old avenue of trees - a green lane with fantastic views down into the river Unk valley. We continued to walk the Shropshire Way through Knuck Wood following the river Unk northward and then it veers west still following the meandering river, or I think a tributary to the river Unk (actually I’ve just looked it up – it was the river Unk).
The Shropshire Way intercepts Offa’s Dyke at Churchtown, a quiet little place tucked right down in a steep sided valley. From the south side of the valley we could clearly see Offa’s Dyke climbing straight up the hillside opposite. An amazing and spectacular sight. We came across a big old sow and her 5 comical piglets at a small-holding in Churchtown. The Friendly farmer told us that he hadn’t expected them to survive in the awful, wet, snowy weather, but I think he’d done a jolly good job, they looked as happy as anything. A coffee stop and a lump of Christmas cake at the church before the steep incline of Offa’s Dyke.
The views of Churchtown Hill and Stevens Dingle were amazing even on an overcast day like today. The climb was certainly worth it and my mum, who was with me today, is in her mid-seventies so if she can do it…..
Incidentally, if you haven’t read a previously blog – Offa’s Dyke was ordered to big dug by King Offa – king of Mercia from 757 to 796. The trench is always on the Welsh side for extra defence. The trench is still there as too is the dyke.
Then almost straight down into the next valley following Offa’s Dyke but before that, a short plateau where we had 360 deg views. I just love it when you get views like that and can hardly see any civilization – gives me a wonderful sense of passion for walking and the stunning countryside that’s on my door step.
The stream in this valley must be a tributary to the river Unk, then, as it doesn’t seem to be named on the OS map but joins the Unk at Mainstone. So then crossing a substantial foot bridge over a bursting stream and up into Nut Wood where we took a bridle way NE back to meet the Kerry Ridgeway. It’s road from here but I noticed that all the way along adjacent to the road runs the old ridgeway track – a pity that it’s not a foot path. On our left we passed Caer Din, an iron-age fort. I couldn’t resist running up to the top to see the views even though the light was fading by now. A great spot for a picnic and that’s one thing recces are for, to find all these memorable and ideal locations.
Brilliant – I can’t wait to walk it again!
Muddy and soggy! I don’t think I have ever seen the fields so wet and swamped in places. There is water pouring across them and every gully and brook gushing with water. I started this walk from the carpark at Gregynog taking the foot path east that takes you down to a well-built foot bridge that crosses Bechan Brook. The footpath was good here with gates, and after a field of horses (that I’m always a bit wary of) came out on to the lane that passes round the back of the grounds of Gregynog. So far so good but after that I didn’t see another proper style/sign for a good while. I was heading for Bronhafod dingle where a footpath, on my map, runs all the way through….
I came across a little, stone, tumble down building on the way. I love ruins and always wonder what their purpose might have been. Getting nearer the dingle I saw a poor, dead old heron, one of my favourite birds (although one once pinched all the fish from my pond), so to see the great long beak of one so close up was, to me, very interesting. I’ve included a photo of it so if that’s not your kind of thing, apologies – shut your eyes!
The dingle was absolutely beautiful – I felt as if I’d found a secret location, hardly trodden or visited by anyone. The sides of the dingle were lined with oak and beech so the floor was strewn with a mixture of their leaves but also of lovely ferns and a carpet of celandine. The brook was traveling extremely fast and probably looks quite different in the summer. It was so soggy under foot that negotiating my way through was really quite difficult in places and the light, being down in the gully and surround by trees, wasn’t great although it was only early afternoon. Good fun all the same.
A stile at last and a path that lead across the fields to New House Farm. Taking the farm lane to the Bwlch-y-ffridd road - I have to say I was glad to see a bit of tarmac after so much sogginess not to mention jumping two small streams that at any other time of year probably would be just a trickle. This is a stretch of road that I love and used to travel along it when I lived in Adfa – the views are magnificent and even today with such poor visibility I could see The Kerry Ridgway. Turning left then on to the lane that goes back to Gregynog, downhill all the way and then entering the Great Wood. I could see why it has that name – very impressive old trees, beautiful. 5.5miles
At the weekend I stayed in Barmouth at my sister’s holiday home - Goronwy. It’s a lovely, cosy cottage with views of the sea and estuary – a really comfortable place to stay and Barmouth is full of great places to eat and shop, very up and coming. I had planned to walk the Roman Steps by the Rhinogs over the weekend so that’s where we all headed off in the Land Rover.
These steps are not Roman and are in fact the well preserved remains of a medieval packhorse trail from Chester to Harlech Castle – so very old, non the less. I’ve climbed Rhinog Fawr a long time ago, from the SW side but I’ve always wanted to go back and investigate the Roman Steps. The drive from Llanbedr to Llyn Cwm Bychan passed some fantastic scenery, some of it could have been the film set for Lord of the Rings – every rock covered completely in thick, bright green moss and fresh looking fern sprouting from moss cover trees, very damp but pretty. We braved the weather and set off from Llyn Cwm Bychan – a well signposted route up through a pretty wood, over a stone bridge and on to the start of the Roman Steps.
The views were breath taking. Even though it was cloudy, the clouds were fairly high and added to the amazing colours, making a very atmospheric picture. The path climbs up and up and you get that feeling that in minute you’re going to get an amazing view in the other direction – and we did. Just after this point we took a path to the right up to Llyn Du. This lake, although beautiful, was just below the clouds so we made the decision to go down the same way as we came up.
Coming down was slow progress, negotiating every step, literally each roman step was covered in a thin film of water possibly on the point of freezing. Some of the way was completely water logged and the steps were more like a stream. A really good bit of pure fresh air and an exhilarating hike– enjoyed by all of us, so much so we are going to come back in the summer and do a circular walk. Enjoy my photos.
Mellington Hall is a beautiful country house with Offa’s Dyke running right through its grounds and not far from the Kerry Ridgway, so a perfect starting/finishing point for a circular walk. It always amazes me how much of Offa’s Dyke remains. The Dyke, which when constructed was up to 65 feet wide (including a ditch on the Welsh side) and 8 feet high, runs between Liverpool Bay in the north and the Severn Estuary in the south – 150 miles (the Offa’s Dyke path is 176 miles long). It was ordered to be built by Offa, king of Mercia, in approx 750 AD. The ditch is on the Welsh side for added defence.
It was quite a long climb up to where the dyke intercepts the Ridgway but stopping to turn round and admire the views made it all worth it. I could see right over to Clee Hill and a clear view of Long Mountain, Cordon, Stiperstones and the Long Mynd. It was sheltered as I walked this gradual incline but once on the Ridgeway, which began as a tarmaced lane, the biting wind picked up. Offa’s Dyke continued into Shropshire while I now walked westward with Shropshire on my left and Powys on my right – this part of the Ridgeway being the county borders. The wind was really quite bitter and plenty of icy, slippery snow left on the ground. The clouds were lower looking towards the northwest so I couldn’t see the mountains that I thought I might. Once on a track, which is much more what I think of as the Ridgeway, it was so pretty, baron and quiet - except for me crunching my way in the snow, and a few sheep.
I decided that it was unlikely that I was going to find anywhere sheltered up there so I had my coffee break on my way back down. I took a bridleway down and then a byway open to all traffic (a B.O.A.T ). Because of the rapidly melting snow the ‘boat’ became a very steep, slippery gully/stream. I eventually reached a welcomed bit of tarmac for only a few yards before making my way on footpaths (some easier to find than others) across the fields (and mud), joining up with Offa’s Dyke, once more, that lead back into the grounds of Mellington. So due to the recent snow and the big, quick thaw – a muddy, slippery walk but with stunning views, beautiful scenery and of course very good fun – my photos say it all I think, have a look. It was 8 miles.
So much fun to be had today on the Bryn, a favourite place for sledging. We've been living here for three and a half years and this is the first time we've been able to use our sledges. Snow and more snow!
I went for a very exciting walk yesterday, a circular from Gregynog. The low early morning sunshine was beaming down on the front of the hall making it look even more beautiful. I visited the water garden first on my way to the footpath and then although a bit muddy, slippery and boggy I made my way across the fields and came across a couple a men working very hard renewing a foot bridge over Iethon brook. A brilliant job! Thank you Powys County Council. One of the men, as it turns out, owns Dolgadfan Farm campsite near Llanbrynmair and I shall be doing some guided walks for his campers so I’m looking forward to doing a recce in that area soon.
Then through a farm where I encountered 5 friendly dogs (who I was introduced to by name – I hope they will remember me but I’m not the best with names) and 2 friendly farmers who apologised for the mud. No apology needed, it’s the nature of the beast at this time of year. I love old green lanes and there were three stretches on this walk. There is something very nostalgic and magical about them. I soon reached the tarmaced lane that would take me up to the Fachwen Pool, passing an intriguing crop of trees on a mound - on the OS map it looks like it is Black Well (Chalybeate). I’ve looked up what chalybeate means - mineral spring containing salts of iron. I had my coffee stop at the pool. Such a picturesque location and always seems a sheltered spot. From here I took the Severn Way northward to head back round to Gregynog. The views from the Severn way were absolutely fantastic, looking towards Glog at Devil’s Elbow and up the Severn Valley towards Llandinam.
To avoid the Bwlch-y-ffridd road I joined a bridle way NE that goes across Blackhouse common where I came across an engineering master piece in the middle of nowhere, in the middle of Mid Wales – see photos. I love a bit of old machinery and the workmanship in this piece was amazing. I don’t know what its purpose would have been but I wonder when it was used last. At the end of the bridleway - views right over to The Callow near Marton and Corndon Hill. A footpath then goes into The Warren in the grounds of Gregynog and the hall soon comes in to sight.
It was certainly an undulating walk and packed full of interesting places – green lanes, beautiful little gullies, superb views and varied scenery. Enjoy my photos.
I set off from Maes Mawr Hall Hotel about 9.30am. A lovely crisp cold start and the hall in all its splendour in the morning sun. Taking a path to the west of the hall I headed across the fields to Caersws. It was muddy in places and the temperature needed to be a bit colder to harden up the ground. The River Severn looked very high, cold and foreboding but beautiful all the same. The path follows the river’s sweeping bend and comes out just by the bridge into Caersws. Turning left by the grocers and then left again after crossing the railway down a lane sign posted as a cycle route. Just before the track is a plaque that describes the roman history in and around Caersws – very interesting. Once on the lane (The Severn Way) I followed this, and it was pretty flat, until the footpath veered off left on to a much rougher path. The river came into sight again as the path rose, getting quite muddy. I was looking out for Cefn Carnedd an ancient fort, it would be a diversion but worth it. Sure enough a waymark pointing directly up the hillside to the fort. What a climb! But what a view! 360 degs – right across to Shropshire and the beautiful meandering River Severn - an ideal spot for a fort and an ideal place for a spot of coffee. When on the way back down I came across a huge mushroom ring - I need to look up what kind of mushrooms they were. Onwards then to Llandinam. An old iron bridge typical of the old bridges in Montgomeryshire crosses the river in Llandinam. There is a pub, The Lion, would make a great lunch or refreshment break. Taking the lane SE, that I am familiar with from the Cross Wales Walk, going up quite steeply until a waymarked bridle way is signposted to the left. This was very muddy and the path had almost turned into a stream. So a bit of a scramble down but very pretty. This bridle way takes you all the way to a place called Little London where there is an old, lone, red phone box with a bunch of shiny rose hips hanging down in front of the door- a postcard picture. All the way along here were beautiful views back across to where I walked on the Severn Way and to Cefn Carnedd. I had wanted to take a footpath that went right passed another fort but it the path was none existent and I could see that the fort was covered in trees and not on the scale of the one earlier today. There are remains of the old railway that would have gone to Llandinam and Moat Lane Station, which in its hay day was a busy place. I took the path along this old line and then an almost overgrown foot path back to the main road, back over the main railway and into to the fields where I started.
A fabulous walk, good paths, fantastic views, places of interest and lots of fresh air.