Sunday, 7 July 2013

July 2013 - The Black Mountains & Brecon Beacons

Walks Summary
Routes planned for forthcoming trip to the Black Mountains and first trip to Wales booked for 28 July 2013 staying at Brecon Beacons Youth Hostel.

Seven nights and six walking days should be plenty to achieve the trip objectives of completing all 12 Nuttalls in the area known as The Black Mountains.

Initial plans show that all tops can be visited in two circular walks albeit in excess of 14 miles, with fine weather and long summer days this should be quite achievable. However taking account of worse weather I have planned an exit route on both walks resulting in 4 days being required if inclement weather persists for the whole week.

No specific order of walks has been set at the planning stage. This will be determined on arrival in Brecon after checking the next day’s weather and forecast for the week ahead then choose the two days when I could expect to be able to complete each 14 mile walk in one day. If the weather looks particularly bad next day then I will tackle one of the three shorter walks planned for the Brecon Beacons 

Another factor will be my physical fitness. While I do not expect this to be a problem, I will be setting off on this walk with very little preparation due to me enjoying a three week holiday in Portugal keeping me out of the gym. Normally I am in the gym at least 3 times per week, which combined with local walks keeps me prepared for most trips. Fitness preparation for this trip and ones I have done in the past can be found here.

Either way I expect to have a couple of free days to attempt a couple of shorter walks on the eastern end of the Brecon Beacons.

The majority (13) of the 22 peaks in the Brecon Beacons can be visited by walking the 152km, 95 mile Beacons Way from Ysgyrwd Fawr near Abergavenny in the East to Bethlehem near Llandeilo. Whilst I have no specific plans to do this walk I have kept the option open by deliberately planning the 3 walks to visit 7 peaks that are not on the Beacons Way route. Assuming I do not walk the Beacons Way the remaining 15 peaks can be tackled in 4 further walks; 3 circular and one point to point route between the public house at Tafarn-y-garreg on the A4067 and the car park near Foel Fawr on the A4069.

Taking this approach and effectively splitting the trip in to two phases; The Black Mountains and the Brecon Beacons, gives every chance of completing the trip objective of visiting all 12 Nuttalls in The Black Mountains while making a structured start on the Brecon Beacons.

I have concentrated on exit routes here to take account of weather and my physical fitness but other factors being considered can be found on the planning section of 

Phase I - The Black Mountains
Black Mountains (North)

The orange route bisecting the circular walk is the exit route if weather conditions reduce pace to below 2 miles per hour. Although the overall walk will not be much shorter it will certainly be a lot easier with only 46 metres of ascent and all of it along a B class road from Gospel Pass. I will start the walk in a clockwise direction which will be 8.31 miles with 613m of ascent from Capel-y-ffin to Gospel Pass. Significantly less than the second part from Gospel Pass to Capel-y-ffin along the Black Mountain Ridge which is 6.14 miles with 254m of ascent.  However if conditions or my physical fitness dictate, the exit route will be a lot easier and shorter at 2.76 miles with only 46 metres of ascent and all of it along a B class road from Gospel Pass. 
If the walk is split in to two the second part will be done in a clockwise direction from Capel y ffin and return from Gospel Pass along the same return walk to the start point.
Walked 29 July 2013

Black Mountains (South)

As for the northern route above the more ambitious 14 mile circular walk is bisected by the orange exit route. Slightly less road to follow but it will be downhill on a well marked path down to Hermitage Bridge when a B class road will be followed back to the start point. Again I will start walk in an anti-clockwise direction. Although the distance (6.55 miles) is less from Green Cottages to the spot height exit point the ascent (608m) is greater suggesting the first half of the walk will be easier. Depending how I feel at the spot height I will cut the walk short and descend the 5.67 miles with only 100m ascent to Green Cottages or carry on on the second part of the circuit which is 8.06 miles with 359m of ascent.
Once again if the walk is split the second walk will be in an anti-clockwise direction, the main reason for this, as in the northern route, is to get the main ascent out of the way, peaks visited and walk objectives achieved on the earlier part of the walk.
Walked 01 August 2013

Phase II - The Brecon Beacons
As for all walks on this trip no specific order has been set for the three walks in The Brecon Beacons. Though with two of the walks just over seven miles and the third in excess of 10 miles would suggest that either of the seven mile walks would be first if they are being used as a fall back if the weather conditions are preventing an attempt on either of the 14 mile Black Mountain Routes. For the same reason if the weather is good I would expect the seven mile routes to be walked first to allow some recovery and split the longer Black Mountain walks. 

Brecon Beacons (East)
Walked 30 July 2013

Fan Nedd, Fan Fraith & Fan Gyhirych
Walked 02 August 2013

Cefn yr Ystrad
Not walked on this trip, though 19 Nuttalls still visited by including Fan y Big on the Brecon Mountains (East) walk