Tuesday, February 27, 2024

don't be skirridiculous

Been out for a couple of walks recently that seem worthy of note (hey, it's my blog) so here's the first.

It was my birthday a couple of weekends ago so we headed off up to my parents' place in Abergavenny for tea and cake. On the way I'd decided that we should have a crack at the Skirrid as it's a fairly short walk, I'd only been up there once, twenty-odd years before (on what collective family memory seems to think was Boxing Day 2000, which sounds plausible), and it was a nice sunny day.

Note that this is Ysgyryd Fawr ("big Skirrid"), not to be confused with its little brother Ysgyryd Fach ("little Skirrid") which is nearer Abergavenny, lower, and generally less interesting. The main feature of the big Skirrid is the major landslip which appears to have cleft the mountain in half when you approach it from the correct angle (from the north or south, broadly speaking - the photo below is looking from the north). I should say here that "big" is strictly relative - it's 300-400 feet lower than both of its near-neighbours the Blorenge and the Sugar Loaf

It's a pretty straightforward walk and there's a dedicated car park which pretty much constrains your route - we went clockwise round the route shown below which basically means a nice gradual uphill ramble through some pleasant woodland to a perfect lunch spot sitting on some big rocks right in the middle of the cleft of the landslip (the top left corner of the red route). What you would normally do then is carry on and skirt round the north side of the hill and head for the summit by one of the paths that go up it from that side (the major one which carries the Beacons Way approaches from the north-east). However, Hazel's boots - quite a decent pair of Meindl ones, albeit 15+ years old - had decided to throw a spanner in the works by disintegrating and partially shedding their soles. So we effected a makeshift repair with the bootlaces and my trouser belt and sent her and my Dad back along the low-level path to avoid further disintegration. That left me and the three kids, and Nia, sensing an opportunity for some fun, suggested that we just smash straight up the slope in front of us to get to the top rather than messing about with any more low-level walking. 

Needless to say I was up for it, and so too, commendably, were Alys and Huwie, so we went for it. I did manage to persuade them to take a slightly diagonal route rather than attempting to scramble straight up a cliff, and, as usually happens, once you get in close to the slope it's easier than it looks from a distance. We all got onto the summit plateau safely, doubled back, bagged the trig point and then walked back along the full length of the ridge before dropping down through the woods to the car park. A round trip of somewhere between 5 and 6 kilometres depending whose electronic device you believe. Nia's Fitbit gave the higher number but she did a lot of running off ahead and doubling back and occasionally diving off into the woods to climb a tree, which the more sober walker might decide to skip. Anyway as walks of around three-and-a-half miles go it's packed with interest and I recommend it. As you can see from the map there is a low-level path around the other side of the hill as well which you could take, as Emma and Ruth seem to have done here

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