Walking up “a bit of a hill”!

I told my friend Maria that I wanted to get fitter through this summer. She said to me that they were going for a walk today up, and I quote, “a bit of a hill”. She reckoned that we would be up and back in about an hour. So I accepted her offer to go with them, thinking that an hour of hill walking would probably be quite a good way to kick-start my fitness campaign.

And then we got to Abergavenny and I saw this;

Blorenge from Abergavenny

The Blorenge.

At first, I just glanced at it and paid it no attention. Then, Maria said, “there it is!” and the sudden hollow realisation struck me that I was expected to climb, with no fitness level other that the ability to walk to the car and back, the beast of a mountain that dominates the sky over Abergavenny. I think I was probably quite quiet for a while.

It took a long, long time to get up, but I managed to reach the summit (559 metres) and was both extremely proud of myself and extremely hot! I was so glad that we’d not tried to do the walk yesterday, when it was very hot here in South Wales. I undoubtedly would have passed out, and been one of those stupid people that the air ambulance have to rescue because they are foolish enough to attempt a climb far beyond their capabilities. However, I digress.

Once we all got to the top, and I had regulated my heart rate a little, the views were stunning.

Me up the Blorenge

This is the proof that I made it; look how far away the flat ground behind me looks! Don’t look at my t-shirt; it was an incredibly stupid, non-breathing, non-stretching, now shapeless top which I plan to discard at the first opportunity now that I’ve seen photos of it on me. That is Abergavenny in the background. Apparently there is a lovely market there, which I have been told to visit, on Tuesdays and Saturdays. I shall have to remember that!

Starting the descent

This is my friend Maria (nearest the camera) beginning the descent. I think that the skyline gives a good indication of just how high we were!

Steep slope on Blorenge

There were sheep all over the Blorenge, and lots of lambs as well. Mainly they ran away from us, seemingly mocking us with their ability to run up the side of the mountain as if they were powered by Duracell batteries, but this mother and lamb sat quite still, as if drinking in the view themselves, as we went closer to them than to any other of the sheep. This photo also gives a good indication as to the steepness of the incline on the side of the Blorenge that we climbed. Apparently (so I learned when we reached the summit), there is a much easier walk to the summit that you can do, from a nearby car park. But we had to come up the hard way!

punchbowl

We visited this pond on the way down the mountain, taking a quick diversion to do so. It was created by a glacier, and is a very peaceful, calm place to be. The water was teeming with tadpoles, near to where we were sitting, and we definitely spotted a couple of fish break the surface of the pond. We stayed here for a few minutes before heading off back down the mountain and thence to Abergavenny where we had a pub lunch to build our energy reserves back up again. Maria on Blorenge

And finally, here is my friend Maria towards the end of the ascent. Yes, I know my pictures are all out of order, but I climbed a bloody mountain today, for crying out loud, and I’m tired! Our other friends who climbed as well can just be seen on the horizon. Maria and I lagged behind somewhat, although I’m sure her lagging was more to keep me company and make sure that there was someone around to perform CPR than because of any lack of fitness on her part.

All in all, I’m really glad I went, even if it seemed like I would never reach the summit whilst I was actually climbing. Oh, and the part where my legs turned to jelly on the way down and nearly gave out was fun, as well as having to walk around in the sweaty clothes for the next few hours! But I can now say that I have climbed that particular mountain, which I’m sure can only be said (truthfully) by a minority of the locak population, so I’m proud of my(very very unfit)self for managing it. I can see why people get addicted and entraced by this, and try to climb as many peaks as possible. I don’t think I’d get that excited about it, but I’d certainly be up for trying a couple of other (preferably gentler) slopes this summer.

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A walk around Castell Coch…

…or more properly, the woods near Castell Coch, but I can’t remember what they are called (if they have a name!). Jo, the dogs, GG, my boys and I all went for a brisk, bracing walk yesterday afternoon, enjoying the lack of precipitation for a change. It’s a steep hill to the start of the walk, but well worth it. I thought I’d like to share some photos with you.

After we’d been walking for a while, we came upon an archway with “Lost and Found” inscribed upon it. We followed Jo and went through, to discover lots of things apparently part of a fairy world! The boys were delighted. I think the pictures speak for themselves, so I’ll post them and stop chattering on aimlessly!

castell-coch-spider

Incey Wincey Spider...

GG and his Des Res!

GG and his Des Res!

Handsome and Cheeky inspecting a cauldron

Handsome and Cheeky inspecting a cauldron

Dragon in his lair!

Dragon in his lair!

Monkey like face carved on a tree - not sure what this was about!

Monkey like face carved on a tree - not sure what this was about!

Jo, Midge and Snipe

Jo, Midge and Snipe

We all really enjoyed the walk; the boys made it round what was at least two miles and probably more without any whingeing at all, and we’re looking forward to the next walk. It definitely makes a difference, walking with a dog!

The start of an adventure?

All difficult things have their origin in that which is easy, and great things in that which is small.

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. 

Lao-Tzu

My husband has decided that he would like to try the Three Peaks Challenge next June. With that in mind he wants to get significantly fitter, and so we started off gently today by going for an after dinner (short) hike through the woodlands near Castell Coch to the north of Cardiff.

I bought him a couple of books listing local walks and hikes, and we chose this walk as our first. It was a truly lovely autumn day, with clear blue skies and beautiful colours in the foliage of the trees which surrounded us.

We parked in the car park of Castell Coch, where the trail listed in the book began. It took us up a fairly sharp hill until we met the Taff Trail, a route that runs from Cardiff Bay up to Brecon. We walked along this for a while until we reached the edge of the Fforest Fawr car park. We then doubled back and headed down the hill through the forest until we arrived back at Castell Coch.

The walk only took about an hour, but it was really lovely to be out in the freah air and getting some exercise. My mother in law looked after our children for us so that we could walk on at a good pace. In future though we do look forward to taking the boys with us as there are plenty of rambles within easy reach of Cardiff that are more than achievable for their short legs!

I was really impressed with the fitness exhibited by the cyclists who passed us going up and down the steep hillsides around Castell Coch. It was all we could do to get up the hills without crawling, let alone being able to propel a bicycle up the inclines!

I’m looking forward now to some of the walks that we will be doing (subject to the weather, of course!) over the coming months in order to help my husband train for his challenge next summer. I’m especially looking forward to taking the opportunity to see more of this beautiful country in which I live.

Self powered transport

I want to be able to travel by bike or foot power more often. I’m missing so many good photos because we’re hurtling by (as much as one ‘hurtles’ at 30mph!) and I can’t lean out of the window to capture the moment. My father, on the other hand, is cycling regularly, and as a member of the slow cycling movement, is taking the time to admire the views and taking the opportunity to photograph things which please his eye.

A prime example of something I missed happened only yesterday. We were driving past Roath Park Lake (one of my favourite places to relax) in rather a hurry to get to our destination, and there were dozens of people enjoying the weather and taking the chance to get out on the lake in boats. I can’t remember the last time I saw so many people out rowing, and I would have loved to have got a photo of it. Instead, I offer this much less busy shot of the lake this afternoon;

We managed to have an impromptu picnic lunch by the lake today, and so I snapped these energetic people out on the lake for your viewing pleasure!

I think that I need to focus efforts on teaching my children to ride their bikes so that we can all get out together in the holidays.

On another note entirely, I found what we think may have been a baby ladybird crawling on my leg earlier;

This photo has obviously been enlarged somewhat, and as you can probably tell, the ‘ladybird’ is at this point sitting on the tip of my finger. If anyone has any idea what sort of insect this might be, please let me know! I’m hoping that it’s not actually a ladybird-locust hybrid as I put it in my mum’s back garden to live!