Brecon Beacons
23-26 May 2008

Brecon Beacons Arrive Hills Woods Blaenavon Thanks! Links Maps Read Me

Brecon Beacons - IVC Visit 2008

We had an interesting time and good company, our walks benefitting from David's excellent navigating. We stayed at the Wern-Watkin Bunkhouse, south of Llangatwg (Llangattock) and Crickhowell. Saturday, our first full day, was sunny with some clouds; however, it was VERY windy on top of the hills. This, no doubt, presaged the rain to come on Sunday. As we left on Monday there was more rain, but we made the most of the givens by visiting Blaenavon's "Big Pit" on our way home. On Saturday and Sunday evening we enjoyed Jason's in-house catering; we were lucky that Jason, with his culinary skills, was in our party.

Trail of the Lonesome Pine ... Larch ... Spruce ... .
A nice green valley on our first full day,
shortly before we got back to Wern-Watkin.

These pictures cover only some aspects of our activities! In addition, I took these pictures with my ancient digital camera (3.2 MP, vintage 2006 from Woolworths), which I used in anticipation of the robust weather conditions to come. Please make allowances for the technical, and my artistic, imperfections!

We Arrive on Friday

Many of us arrived by about 7pm, having followed David's detailed instructions. After settling in, a number of us gathered outside our accommodation and left before eight in search of a local hostelry. It would be a short car ride to - I think - Llangatwg, just to the north of where we were staying. The weather was overcast, but tomorrow we would see the sun.

Outside Wern-Watkin Bunkhouse

Still outside Wern-Watkin Bunkhouse

Wern-Watkin - The Farmhouse

Wern-Watkin - Pond with "Barrel Nest" - Lucky Birds

We Take to the Hills on Saturday - The "Long" Walk

This sounds like Chairman Mao's "Long March", but David assured me that according to his Sat-Nav it was about 13.2 miles (not kilometres). As mentioned, it was very windy on top, but with some nice views. We reached a maximum height above sea level of about 159 metres (522 ft).

It was moderately busy regards other walkers. These included 2 groups of girls, who, I think, were doing the DoE award. They were loaded with large backpacks including tent gear - away beyond my carrying capacity! Regarding our own IVC group, it was boys only today, the girls doing their own - perhaps more relaxing - thing.

On the Ascent

View from First Stop

First Stop - Already Quite Windy

First Stop again ...

... and again.

Coming down and round the "mountain"

"How green is my Valley"

Penultimate Stop - 1

Penultimate Stop - 2

Penultimate Stop - 3

Trail of the Lonesome Pine ... Larch ... Spruce ...

Last Stop - The Sun lightens up the Valley

Last Stop - Almost Back - 1

Last Stop - Almost Back - 2

We Take to the Woods on Sunday - The "Forest" Walk

There were NO pictures for Sunday, because it was too wet to take any - or at least, I did not know how water resistant my camera was! The forest was very green, but the tree cover did not really provide us with the protection - for which we had hoped - against the elements. The girls joined us today.

Sunday. Lots of rain. Lots of forest.

As far as I can remember, we took cars to the start of the walk. This is likely to have been the foot of the wooded hill called Myarth which is about 4 Km north west of Crickhowell. We then started to explore the said hill until "rain stopped play".

Monday - Blaenavon's Big Pit then Homewards

Monday was also very wet, but we made the most of things by visiting the "Big Pit" on the way home. On our visit, we descended to about 300 feet below ground - no pictures because, for safety reasons, batteries were not to be taken into the pit itself. However, you see here three of my "surface" pictures.

Here at the "Big Pit", towering over the building, is the Cage Hoist,
which took us down and duly brought us up again!

While the colliery ceased production in 1980, coal winding had already come to an end in 1973. Today, some ex-miners acted as guides and explained to us the challenging conditions under which they used to work to obtain the nation's fuel supplies. On the surface, there was an interesting museum showing us not only the winding gear, but also the little steam locomotive and coal trucks for taking the coal to the main line railway. The main line railway was the "Pontypool and Blaenavon Railway", part of which, near the "Big Pit", has been reopened as a heritage line. (See also the following links: Link01 and Link02.)

At collieries, industrial Saddle Tanks were widely used, since, after all, they could benefit from the coal mined "on the doorstep". This one was built in 1920 at the Andrew Barclay Works as works number 1680 and its nameplate reads:

NORA No. 5

Here is our saddle tank again with coal trucks.
Behind the hills in the distance lies Crickhowell.

Thank you!

Thank you to all for your great company. Thank you to David for organizing our visit to this part of the Brecon Beacons and for leading the walks. Thank you to Jason for the culinary creations. Thank you to the givers of car lifts from and to London and other places.

The clip art including (1) the dragons in the header and (2) the rain and trees in the picture for Sunday, is from the Microsoft® PowerPoint® Clip Art Library originally supplied with versions of MS Office®.

Links & References