21-22 September: Truffy’s first foray into Wales

Author: Mrs A

Location: Castle Clytha (nr Llanarth), Coed y Bwnydd (an Iron Age fort) and Mynydd Llangorse (a hill), Monmouthshire, Wales

We left Somerset in bright sunshine and turned Truffy’s nose north-west, aiming for a bridge over the River Severn. After so much time looking at the Bristol Channel, it was great to be able to see higher up the river and cross over the great body of water. As we passed into Wales, we left the blue skies and drove into fog…fortunately soon lifting as we reached our destination.

Welcome to Wales…and a man opening a beach umbrella…

We pulled into a quiet National Trust carpark beside the River Usk. The river starts high up in the Brecon Beacons, before flowing through Wales to emerge at Newport into the River Severn, opposite Western-super-Mare. We had decided to make our first day’s journey relatively short in order to make the most of the blue sky day. (Strava).

Mr A had found a great sounding walk on the National Trust site which would take us along the river, up to an ancient Iron Age Fort and back via a 17th century castle in a mere 12km (7.5 miles). If you’ve seen our Strava link, you will have seen we must have taken a few wrong turns, as it was 15.6km (about 10 miles) for us!

The River Usk is still and picturesque – home to herons, swans, cormorants and a multitude of ducks
Mirror-like reflections on this still autumn morning
Very quiet!

After passing a group of girls swimming and sunbathing on the river bank, we barely saw another person all day as we wound our way on our circuit walk.

The last of the riverside walking before we begin to climb up into the hills

As we hiked up, the views began to open up, giving us our first glimpses of the Brecon Beacons National Park.

Many sheep here, looking very healthy, grazing on the lush grass
We pass through the village of Bettws Newydd

Fabulous clear views of Sugar Loaf open up in front of us – this is South Wales’ highest mountain (596 metres), and a popular day walk. Its popularity is what turned us off walking up this one, we do prefer to avoid the crowds, even when there isn’t a nasty virus around!

Views across the mountains – Sugar Loaf is the pointed one on the right

The walk description had been written at a time when there were no crops in the fields, so often it was a bit of a challenge finding the pathway through.

Thigh deep in leaves…

High up on a hill we emerged into Coed y Bwnydd, an Iron Age fort. This is a scheduled ancient monument that was gifted to the National Trust in the 1940s by a grieving Captain in memory of his friend killed in World War II. To the untrained eye, it is a simple woodland, but the more you look, you begin to spot the earthworks that signify the involvement of humans here more than 2,000 years ago.

Imagining this as a bustling fort, commanding views for miles around
Stood up high on the banks of the earthworks, you can almost imagine the feet that walked here and moulded this earth thousands of years ago…today the quiet woodland is home to a multitude of birds, insects and flora
A delicate wild pansy flowing in the woodland
Beautiful views are framed by trees and gateways wherever we go
More jungle to hike through – corn swamping Mr A
A welcome sign pointing to Clytha Castle – reassuring us we are still following the right path

Clytha Castle was a folly built in 1790 and is now available for holiday stays.

Clytha Park Estate
Looking back at the castle nestle up in the hills

We stayed the night in the quiet car park, then the following morning we drove a short way to Llangors, where we parked up at an activity centre (predominantly training army cadets to climb and survive in the wilderness). Our plan was to climb Mynydd Llangorse, a 515 metre hill overlooking Lake Llangors and the Brecon Beacons.

Again, this walk was not on the tourist trail, and yet able to provide spectacular views (Strava) in isolated serenity. Away from the carpark, we saw one other person, just as we concluded our hike.

The walk climbs up immediately from the car park, offering great views
Lake Llangors is a great focus below us
Old shepherds huts dot the landscape
It’s a steep climb up but nice and flat once up there
Dragons on the trig point confirm we are in Wales
A steep climb up means a steep climb down…
We can see Truffy from here – looking tiny by himself in the carpark below us

We could see the weather starting to change as we enjoyed the last of the sunshine for a couple of days. After climbing back down, we drove off to our next camp, just outside the small town of Brecon.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *