Thursday, August 04, 2011

what I did at the weekend

Non-Canada-related this time, but just to finish the photo round-up: last Saturday I decided to head off up a few hills on my own, as I do from time to time. Now I've done quite a lot of the hills around the South Wales area, so I decided to head a bit further afield. Inspired by this list of Hewitts and Nuttalls in Wales (fiddly qualification rules aside that basically means mountains over 2000 feet) I hatched the scheme of ticking off as many as I could, a sort of parallel project to the Munro one that's already underway. The list contains 190 peaks, of which I have been up at least 24 - I say "at least" because without more rigorous checking there may be some subsidiary peaks I've climbed almost without noticing on the way to somewhere else.

Anyway, I noticed that there were three hills up in a little self-contained group in the Radnor Forest, so I decide to go and have a crack at them. I parked up in New Radnor, just off the A44 between Kington and Llandrindod Wells and did an anticlockwise circular tour taking in Whimble (not quite 2000 feet but, ironically, the most distinct "peak" of the lot), Bache Hill (2001 feet), Black Mixen (2133 feet) and Rhos Fawr (2165 feet). There's a bit of steep-ish ascent at the start, but for the most part it's fairly level walking on big heathery plateaus (plateaux?); Black Mixen and Rhos Fawr in particular would be boggy, treacherous and a featureless navigational nightmare in bad weather (fortunately it was quite nice on Saturday).

The trade-off you make by avoiding the more exciting, craggy, higher peaks is that you lose 99.9% of the people who might otherwise be up there with you. How much of a benefit this is will of course depend on your levels of curmudgeonly misanthropy; as far as I'm concerned it's great. Apart from a few New Radnor folk walking their dogs on the lower slopes I had the summit plateau entirely to myself all day. How relatively unfrequented these hills are can be seen by the amount of effort the Ordnance Survey make for you to be able easily to navigate them using their maps: the divide between Explorer sheets 200 and 201 cuts right down between Bache Hill and Black Mixen, and there's little or no overlap between the two sheets, so you need to buy both. You can bet that if that'd happened to Pen Y Fan they'd have moved things around to sort it out.

Anyway, as usual I took the GPS with me. Here's the route map (10.1 miles for the round trip, apparently) and altitude chart:

Also as usual I took the camera and took a few photos. Here they are.

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