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Black Mountains

Black Mountains

Postby yokehead » Mon Apr 27, 2009 7:29 pm

Hewitts included on this walk: Mynydd Llysiau, Pen Allt-mawr, Pen Cerrig-calch, Pen y Gadair Fawr, Waun Fach

Date walked: 23/04/2009

Distance: 21.4 km

Ascent: 891m

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After a number of local walks and needing to get to some hills I headed out to the Black Mountains of South Wales, these are the nearest Hewitts to home. An early start from the house and the traffic not too bad on the M4, I was away from the car at 8.45. The weather looked promising and it felt good to see some hills, I was raring to go. Just where I parked the car there was the delightful sight of a small stream coming down some rock, a natural water feature. My first target looked quite steep above, with the sun just touching the top slopes.

slopes ahead, shame about the skip

Up a path for a short way, across a lane and steeply up the edge of a field. Across a stile and I was on heather-covered hillside. There was a grassy path that continued up the slope for a short way then turned to the north. The path was a great warm-up start as it went in a rising traverse until it reached the top of a shoulder. From here I struck out directly up the steep slope to the highest point of the ridge above, crossing some small boulders and using sheep tracks through bracken in places.

initial view ahead, from lower down before the haze

I was soon at a small plateau where there were horses grazing, then another rise across rocks to the summit plateau. This was a dome covered in rocks, I couldn’t see the trig point of Pen Cerrig-calch but headed in what I thought was the right direction and it soon appeared, along with its attendant cairn. The sun was warm, there was blue sky with little cloud, but disappointingly the views were restricted the higher I climbed because of haze. I could see the whole of my route for the day; it looked quite a way. The path for the next 2km stood out clearly, two lines of depressing erosion.

first summit cairn and erosion to come

I moved on and struck up a fast pace, a benefit of paths I suppose. The song and antics of skylark accompanied me. A small descent to a narrowing plateau followed by a gradual rise, the trig point came into view and I was at the top of Pen Allt-mawr. A bit further on I stopped for second breakfast, finding a superb grassy seat for a 30 minute fester. :D :D I could see down into the valley to the west but there was no real sense of being at height. The valleys below Waun Fach were more distinct now being nearer but they too failed to inspire. Perhaps it was the haze and lighting, or just that the landscape was too tame.

gravestone-like boundary markers, the route follows the ridge left then the skyline

Next there was a short bit of descent, welcome steeper ground and a little further on I came across a male Red Grouse that wasn’t too bothered at my presence. To the west I heard a series of what sounded like muffled explosions; mine dynamiting perhaps? The RAF then increased the volume with a Tornado low across the top of Waun Fach, I shall have to write to them with a complaint however since they could surely have waited until I was closer to give me a better ringside seat. The peaty ground was dry, all the wet patches and pools had dried up with the sustained period of good weather. The map shows some crags to the south of Mynydd Llysiau but there was nothing of note apart from the sight of a Red Kite, as for the summit this was one of those where you wonder why it has been defined as such, being an unworthy slight rise in the ridge.

Ahead there was welcome steeper ground, a short rise to Pen Trumau at just over 700m. It wasn’t a peak though, just the end of the ridge leading to Waun Fach that is 100m higher. The ground started to get a little wetter and I came a cross a large expanse of peat on the north side of the ridge that had no grass cover at all, it looked like rough icing on the top of a chocolate cake. The summit of Waun Fach was a non-event, being a plateau dome with poor views. It did have much wetter ground however, requiring some zigging and zagging to proceed on the turn to the south since I couldn’t be bothered to put gaiters on.

scoured peat

I had been looking for another good spot for lunch, there wasn’t anywhere special so I stopped on the grass on the way to the next top. A tin of pineapple chunks went down well along with the sandwiches. :D Although my tendons were fine, having struggled with them in March, I now had the feeling of incipient blisters so I attended to them. My feet do p**s me off! :( :shock: I’ve recently been walking up to 15km a time in very old (well-cushioned) trainer-type walking shoes with no bother, now I get the boots on (Meindl Burma Pro) I feel like my feet have been pounded and bruised, even on this soft grassy ground. I’ve got Superfeet insoles and decent socks; it must just be the way I’m made. Suggestions welcome. An extra pair of socks and a few plasters helped. I moved on into a small dip and climbed to the summit of Pen y Gadair Fawr. Six lads were travelling the other way, they had large sacks. Motor cycle tracks were all over the place, it must be great fun for the riders but I found this reminder of civilisation a little depressing. :(

south from Pen y Gadair Fawr

I zoomed on from here, past the forest that is now much smaller than shown on the map. About 4km on I stopped to check the map for my descent to the valley and cut off the corner to the path by going straight down through bracken. Through the edge of some forestry, along a track then a final 1km of road-bashing brought me back to the car.

path to the forest

looking back

It was great to be out and I was pleased with the distance and ascent covered, however the whole experience was a bit tame I thought and the terrain not wild enough. :( North Wales next time methinks. 8)

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Last edited by yokehead on Fri Sep 07, 2018 10:35 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Black Mountains

Postby maddjock » Tue Apr 28, 2009 6:56 am

yokehead wrote: I’ve got Superfeet insoles and decent socks; it must just be the way I’m made. Suggestions welcome.

I would take out the Superfeet and try the boots without them. Have heard that there may be a case for superfeet on poorer quality boots and trainers, but you shouldnt need them with the meindls. :idea:
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Re: Black Mountains

Postby canisp » Tue Apr 28, 2009 9:32 am

This one takes me back a few years :D came at them from the north over Twmpa, slipped up badly though missed out doing the Black Mountain :( which is nearby on the English/Welsh border. Shame about the haze, but a good shot of Pen Allt-mawr from Pen Cerrig-calch which looks reminiscent of the Brecon Beacons further west.
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