A wet wild camp in the Brecon Beacons

7/8.5.14
Walking with; Nathan

  Although my Granny has lived in the area for over twenty years my experience of walking in this area is pretty limited, although I enjoyed my trip there this time last year http://www.comewalkwithmeuk.co.uk/2013/05/south-wales-wanderings.html. We were well aware that the forecast was pretty poor so were pleasantly surprised to arrive at the remote parking spot on Gospel Pass (the highest road pass in Wales) with hints of blue sky still peeking out from the cloud. The Pass is apparently named after the 12th Century crusaders who preached and raised funds on the pass. It’s a desolate spot but an iconic one within the park.
  We set off onto Twmpa or Lord Hereford’s Knob and tramped across the marshy land watching the Wild Ponies and foals and crossing our fingers that the weather would continue to hold. We were looking for a protected spot to camp given the forecast and eventually came to the conclusion that although it meant some more mileage if we could cross the valley and make our way up to the Mynydd Du forest we’d be liely to be able to find a sheltered and protected spot. We passed the Capel-Y-Ffin monastery, now a riding centre, and after a short, steep switchbacked scramble made our way over to the forest where after some searching we found a patch of pine needles flat and wide enough to accommodate my tent and Nathan’s bivvi! After tea we had a quick night nav before the conditions started to move towards inclemency and we retreated to our respective shelters!
   Breakfast done, tent packed and then the rain started! It stayed with us for most of the day as we made our way along the forest edge before dropping down to the valley floor and coming across the beautiful ruined abbey at Llanthony. The abbey is an abandoned Augustinian Priory founded in 1100 on the site of the ruined chapel of Wales’s patron saint, St David. It’s a beautiful spot and well worth a wander around. Leaving the abbey we headed up on to the Hatterall Hill ridge and followed the six odd km ridge back to Hay Bluff and eventually the car! The conditions were grim. The rain was persistent, the wind gusted brutally and continually threatened to knock us off our feet and the path was mired in bog and water. It was reminiscent of The Pennine Way, miles of boggy marsh with the real feeling of something potentially nasty, but the flagged path providing a degree of security. The Beacons weren’t shown at their best in these conditions, but I’ve seen more than enough to justify a return visit in the not too distant future!

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