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From Wales to Wallonia - Part 1

From Wales to Wallonia - Part 1

Postby Riverman » Sat Apr 15, 2017 6:07 pm

Hewitts included on this walk: Esgeiriau Gwynion (Foel Rhudd), Foel Hafod-fynydd, Llechwedd Du, Moel y Cerrig Duon, Post Gwyn

Date walked: 01/02/2017

Time taken: 8.42

Distance: 26.3 km

Ascent: 1475m

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At the end of January I left my job in London and a few weeks later left London altogether to move to start a new life in Belgium. With a massive 6 weeks off work (4 in the UK, 2 in Belgium) I had dreamed of filling the time with tons of exciting winter climbing in Scotland or possibly even further afield. However, I had underestimated just how time consuming and exhausting moving my entire life to another country would be. As it turned out, I only managed two days in Wales in February both of which were a little mired by injury and illness.

1 February 2017 - Eastern Arans - 16.1km - 1003m ascent - 5 hr 7 min

Shortly before quitting London I headed up to my parents for a few days. It’s always good to see them and their location in North Worcs makes such a convenient base camp for forays into Wales. I targeted the Eastern Arans. On paper the route didn’t look too demanding but I was in for a shock. First, I had not been on a hill since the end of November and was not exactly in form. Secondly, the terrain in this part of Wales is some of the cruellest I’ve ever walked. Energy-sapping heather and bog just drains you, even when walking along the flat.

Tough terrain

The parking spot at the top of Bwlch y Groes is somewhat reminiscent of the Lawers car park but on a much smaller scale. The first section of this walk towards Llechwedd Du doesn’t climb all that much but the going is really tough. So tough in fact that I really could not be bothered with the Nuttall of Foel Rhudd and headed directly to the second Hewitt of the day, Esgeiriau Gwynion. From there there is a surprisingly steep descent and re-ascent to gain the day’s high point at Foel Hafod-Fynydd.

Aran ridge

By the time I reached this third summit the grey clouds had lifted and I was rewarded with a very fine view of the main Aran ridge. Its black silhouette looked menacing but the smooth hillside above Creiglyn Dyfi seemed to offer a temptingly easy way on to the main ridge. Sensibly as it turned out, I decided my energy levels were not up to pressing on further or higher so I turned back to descend eastwards via Bwlch Sirddyn.

How green is your valley?

It was at this point that I began to detect the first murmurs of complaint from my troublesome knee. Ilio tibial band issues and other musculo-skeletal aggro have been an on-off source of knee pain for me over the last few years. Having ended 2016 on a high, with exciting climbs in Wales, Scotland and the Alps under my belt I had pushed knee worries to the back of my mind. By the time I had climbed the 300m or so back Bwlch y Groes I was in two minds about whether I would manage to bag the fourth Hewitt. Against my better judgement I decided that I would and, unsurprisingly, arrived back at the car in considerable discomfort. If you’ve battled IT band issues yourself you’ll literally feel my pain.

All in all this is a tough little walk. The climb back up Bwlch y Groes is a real sting in the tail too. It’s a cracking road though and one I’d like to cycle one day. I didn’t see a soul all day and while these hills might lack the grandeur of the main ridge they have their own attraction. If you just want a solid test of your fitness you could do a lot worse than yomp over this bit of Wales.

Moel y Cerrig Duon

14 February 2017 - Post Gwyn - 10.2km - 472 ascent - 3 hr 35 min

This was my second visit to Pistyll Rhaedr in under a year. What a spectacular waterfall it is! Undoubtedly the highlight of this walk. After my knee troubles of early February I was keen to get moving again as quickly as possible and this short, easier walk seemed a sensible way back in terms of recovery.

Pistyll Rhaedr

Once again though, I seemed to make heavy work of what ought to have been a quick whizz up to an easy summit. It was very cold and grey on the hill and as I waded through icy heather near the top I managed to soak my legs above my gaiters and was really feeling the chill at the summit. I descended without any knee pain which was a relief but within 12 hours of returning to my parents house I was gripped by a very nasty fever which didn’t relent for the best part of a week. I spent two days in bed and then surfaced to make final preparation for my departure to Belgium from where I am typing this report some 2 months later.

Cold and wet

In the intervening period I’ve crossed various Belgian bureaucratic hurdles to officially establish myself here. An Irish passport was the best legacy that my grandfather could have left me and it’s a weight off my mind knowing I don’t have to fret over a possible change to my status here after Brexit. I’ve started work in a new job that I’m finding interesting and enjoyable and have moved into a nice new home with my wife. I’ve also joined the Belgian Alpine Club and participated in a few of their weekend hikes about which I’ll tell you more in future posts.

Post Gwyn

I’ve learned that while Belgium may be a flat country there’s no shortage of climbing nuts and mountain lovers here and plenty to do for those who enjoy the outdoors.

The way from Wales to Wallonia
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Re: From Wales to Wallonia - Part 1

Postby arjh » Thu Apr 20, 2017 8:21 pm

Good luck in your endeavours Riverman, will be interesting to hear what the Belgian outdoor scene is like. :)
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Re: From Wales to Wallonia - Part 1

Postby Mal Grey » Fri Apr 21, 2017 12:28 pm

Nice way to spend time before leaving.

Good luck with the Walloons!
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Re: From Wales to Wallonia - Part 1

Postby Alteknacker » Sat Apr 22, 2017 9:48 pm

Good to see you're still connected to the WH community.

Keep us updated on the Belgian alpine scene - I've read somewhere that there are hills ranging above 400m :D . Could this be true???

PS Love the "The way from Wales to Wallonia" pic - that really is a cracker :clap: :clap: :clap:
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Location: Effete South (of WIgan, anyway)

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