Once we’d got the kids off to school this morning my wife and I decided to take the dog for a walk together and thought we would head to Symonds Yat for a change of scene.
Having parked the car near to the “Log Cabin” cafe (which is closed at this time of year) on the eastern side close to Symonds Yat Rock we headed south into Mailscot Wood.
Naturally our four-legged companion was darting off investigating all the new scents and attempting to chase the occasional bird, whilst I discovered yet another makeshift structure – I seem to stumble across these on a regular basis when out and about around here!
Before long we found the path that we were on took us to a viewpoint, where we were able to peer over the edge at the rather swollen River Wye below.
From there we slowly wandered, following the fencing at the edge of the land high above the river, in the general direction back towards Symonds Yat Rock.
Another viewpoint gave the perfect opportunity for a candid shot off my wonderful wife as she took in the view of the village on the opposite side of the valley.
Never being shy at coming foward and always wanting to be involved, the dog decided that she also needed to be in on the act, so joined in admiring the view – as can be seen here!
We were also able to see the large outcrop of rock that towers above the valley close-up. I’d never seen it from this angle before, only having viewed it from below, so was a little surprised to see just how far out from the cliff face that it actually seems to be.
Passing the “Log Cabin” on our way, we then walked across the wooden bridge that crosses over the road and up to Symonds Yat Rock itself, from where there are stunning views on the Wye Valley. I had to put the dog back on her lead at this point as she seemed a little bit too keen to have a look over the relatively low wall for my liking. We’d had a lovely walk and the last thing we needed was for her to disappear over the edge of the cliff and down into the valley hundreds of feet below!
Not one of our longest, or most energetic, walks by any means, it was a lovely stroll on a beautifully crisp morning with great company – not a bad way to start a day!…
Having taken the dog out for a couple of trial MTB rides a couple of weeks ago I decided to try her with another first today – her first walk out with a horse in tow.
We met my wife and her “ginger ninja” at Newland Church and headed off up the burial path in the direction of Highmeadow, which was apparently a kind of high street many years ago before the houses were bought up and demolished to make way for a mansion, Highmeadow House, in the seventeenth century.
Emerging from the burial path and turning north onto the road we walked up along past the site where Highmeadow House, which itself is long gone, once stood.
All that is now remaining along this minor road, apart from some possible boundary walls from when the mansion existed, is a farm and campsite on the western side, and what looks like an old lime kiln set into the hill on the eastern side of the road.
The dog was, thankfully, reluctant to get too close to the horse and only attempted to pass (she does so like to lead the way) when there was more than enough room to get past. As you can see, she also felt the need to have a closer look at the roadside wall with a somewhat misty view of the Wye Valley in the distance!
Then it was out onto Scowles Road and up the hill to Scowles itself, where we entered the Dingle Wood in order to gradually circumnavigate Stowfield Quarry.
This gave the opportunity for the dog to shoot off investigating again, and then for horse and rider to gather a bit of speed, with the dog in hot pursuit, leaving yours truly to walk a bit faster and take the occasional photo. To be fair, the dog did stop and check that I was still in sight quite often, and the three of them even came back for me a couple of times!
Once we got around to the western side of the quarry I stopped to take a photo of the view down into it. However, although it wasn’t quite as misty as last time I stopped here, visibility into the quarry itself was rather limited, to say the least.
Heading back into the woods (possibly Bond’s Wood? I’m not sure what the various woods are called but the OS map seems to indicate that to be case) my wife took the opportunity to show the dog and I where she sometimes goes for a gentle ride, and that someone had built some horse jumps in the woods near Staunton. There are also numerous unofficial MTB tracks through these woods, so someone has been busy! Unfortunately, during this brief pit stop the ginger ninja decided he would say hello to me by headbutting me right on the nose! It’s still rather sore now…
Back onto the path heading east along the perimeter of the quarry boundary and we re-emerged onto the lower part of Staunton Road just up from Stowfield B&B.
Turning at the junction next to the former Newland Railway Station, and with the dog firmly back on the lead, we started back towards our starting point. The idea had been that my wife and the horse would head off and the dog and I would make our way more slowly back along the roadside. However, the dog had other ideas and did her level best to drag me along the road as fast as she could in order to keep pace with the other two!
It wasn’t too long, therefore, before we were back alongside Newland Church and could head home for a well deserved sleep – for the dog, that is, sadly I couldn’t really justify having a nap myself!
Son number three started his half term holiday from school on Wednesday, so yesterday I decided to drag him out for a walk with the dog. In fairness he didn’t need much dragging but I suspect that by the time the other two start their school breaks on Monday we’ll be hard pressed to separate them from their respective screens for very long!
We drove to Broadwell and parked just up from the Oak Quarry council rubbish depot and set off onto the fire road parallel with Speech House Road into the woods past the back of said rubbish centre.
Before long we were passing some stacks of felled timber, which our four-legged companion found very interesting and walking out onto the green overlooking the main road and the view across in the direction of the quarry works, on which we found an odd-looking black pipe protruding from the ground. No idea why it’s there and what it’s for – an air vent for an old rubbish site perhaps?
Anyway, we carried on for a bit and then I led the way down a presumably unofficial MTB path which snaked its way down the side of the hill to the path leading in the direction of Pedalabikeaway from Speech House Road. Well, I say I led the way but in truth the dog does more leading as she is excellent at finding and following pathways – even if they’re practically impossible to see!
Once at Pedalabikeaway we stopped for a drink and chocolate bar (the dog getting three dog biscuits from the cafe as a reward for her efforts) and a brief rest before heading back in the general direction of Speech House Road somewhere roughly half way between the western side of New Road and the path we’d taken on the way down, which was rather wet and muddy underfoot to say the least. Still the canine enjoyed it!
Reaching the path that headed back up the hill behind Hopewell Colliery we started up through the foliage past the museum, finding it to be heavy going due to the number of thorns etc. across the path. Not long past the Colliery, however, the dog found a clearer path up the side of the hill towards the fire road we’d started on.
Just before we emerged back onto the fire road near the rubbish tip number three son and I were led on a final climb up and over a large outcrop of rock, which I think we found a little harder work than our furry black guide did – but it did bring out the child in me, adventuring and climbing in the woods. A great time had by all three of us. Love it!
Been suffering from a cold for the past few days so, once the kids were safely dispatched off to school this morning, I thought that I would take the dog for a gentle walk in the woods.
I do like to take her to different places to keep the interest up for both her and I, and so it was that I decided to start from the lay-by on Scowles Road and head off into Dingle Wood on the Stowfield Quarry side of the road.
It was a rather foggy morning today, so visibility wasn’t great over any kind of distance, but it did make for some quite beautiful scenery. I must say that it never ceases to amaze me the number of times I seem to come across shelters constructed from branches dotted around when I’m out walking and riding through the forestry!
Having skirted around one edge of the quarry where the lake is, we then began the descent through the scowles found deep in the woods before arriving next to the actual quarry entrance.
We crossed over the entrance road and made our way back into the woods on the opposite side, heading in the general direction of Staunton, which entailed finding a path through a tricky area of further scowles, fallen trees, dense undergrowth etc.
My four-legged friend found this all to be great fun, leaping over branches and fallen tree trunks and charging through the undergrowth. Funny, then, that she can’t seem to make it through a partially open doorway at home unless you open it fully for her!?!
The weather highlighted some amazing spider webs in numerous places along our walk, with some excellent examples close to the perimeter of the quarry.
Getting back onto a forest road briefly, we then headed south along the western edge of the quarry, where the fog was particularly thick, making visibiity of the quarry itself non-existent. In fact, the image at the top of this post is a picture taken this morning looking over the greenery down into the quarry!
Now in Bond’s Wood, and realising that if we carried on heading due south we would end up having a steep walk back to the car up Scowles Road we decided (well, I did, since by now I was literally dripping with sweat – so much for a gentle walk!) to try to follow as closely as possible to the edge of the quarry with the aim of perhaps staying on higher ground until we were closer to the car.
That didn’t exactly work out as hoped and, after much slipping and sliding on the banks of the hill along the south-western edge of the quarry, we eventually reached Scowles Road just up the hill from the old Newland railway station, meaning that we still had to walk most of the way back up the road!
The dog still had bags of energy at this point and, having been put back on her lead now that we were on the road, proceeded to try to drag me up the hill! There was just time to take one more photo looking westerly towards Redbrook, and Wales beyond, on the way up.
As I write this now, having refreshed myself with a nice long bath on our return, the dog is lying next to me and, just to prove that I’m not the only one who had a good workout on our walk, is currently upside down with her paws in the air and snoring her head off!…
For the second part of my good lady’s birthday celebrations, today we were joined for a walk by her parents, plus our daughter and number two son. The birthday girl had decided on following the Wordsworth Walk in Llandogo, as she liked the look of the views shown in the walk booklet and also wanted to visit Cleddon Falls part way round.
The in-laws arrived around 10:00 am, as arranged, and we headed off – bottles of water and flasks of coffee packed into a rucksack – to Llandogo along the River Wye.
Upon arrival we parked next to a playground, and whilst we sorted out the puppy, bags, walking boots etc., we had out first incident. Number two son thought, in his infinite wisdom, that his younger sister obviously needed help getting down the slide so gave her a helpful shove, resulting in a cut, the appearance of blood and the associated tears. Oh joy! Plaster and TLC administered, we finally set off on the Wordsworth Walk.
The first place of note, after the old Brown’s Village Store (now branded Londis) and – having crossed the main road – the village green, was St. Oudoceus Church. The church dates back to the 1600s, but was rebuilt in 1860.
Then it was off-road and onto the river bank to follow where the old Wye Valley railway used to run. Before the railway’s arrival in 1876 this riverbank had seen use as a towpath, utilising both horses and men to tow boats through the shallow waters into the 19th century.
Shortly afterwards we re-crossed the main road we then took the path signposted Cleddon up the Great Hill between houses. Apparently donkeys used to travel up this path to deliver coal to homes high up the hillside!
As anyone with kids who prefer to spend their lives (or at least as much as possible of them) indoors staring at screens whilst gaming / watching TV / social media etc. can probably identify with, it wasn’t long before our kids started complaining about just how many steps there were on the way up the Great Hill. Personally I felt that the climb had fantastic rustic scenery on, and either side of, the path – and there was some great viewpoints on the way up to look back down over the valley too.
That, however, was pretty much lost on them – especially number two son who expressed how close to death he was loudly and with great regularity!
Eventually we reached the point on the map where the two large rocks known as the Bread And Cheese Stones. This was the site of incident number two. OK, it wasn’t really an incident, just a sense of disappointment from my wife that the view shown in the booklet – from the 1950s – had more or less been completely obscured by trees.
On the plus side we had just about reached the summit of the Great Hill now, and our four-legged friend seemed to appreciate the Bread And Cheese Stones – mind you, she always has had a thing for cheese!
A little further along the pathway we came to a junction with the Wye Valley Walk with directions to Bargain Wood on our left. We headed right, following the bridlepath.
Within a few hundred yards we came to the top of the waterfall at Cleddon Falls. I suspect that, perhaps like the aforementioned stones, the view of the Falls is better in winter when the greenery has died back somewhat. Nonetheless, the Falls is quite a scenic place and nice to visit – though it’s fair to say that some of our party were expecting something a little bigger and more dramatic!
From there it was a case of following a zig-zagging path back down the hill towards to village. At this point I managed to get a bit of life and fun out of number two son by clambering down over the hillside to take shortcuts between zigs and zags, and encouraging him, and also our daughter, to do likewise. After a while they, the puppy and I had built up a bit of a lead over my wife and her parents, so we stopped for a while to let them catch up. At least, that was the plan. It was here that incident number three had its genesis.
Ever since I can remember, the daughter of the family has had a tendency to rush on ahead when we are on the final stages of walks, especially on downhill sections. The same thing happened today, and by the time the rest of us had realised she had gone past a point at which the path diverged in two different directions and we had no idea which way she’d gone!
I shot off in one direction, with puppy-features in hot pursuit, and the rest took the other path. By the time I’d reached the road near the Priory towards the bottom of the hill there was no sign of her. To add further fun to the mix, the complexities of being a blended family meant that although number three son was at his mother’s for the weekend he had arranged to come home early this afternoon to join in with some of the time spent with grandparents. Such negotiations are often not easy to achieve, and so it was that I had to collect said child from the bus stop in our nearest town. And to do so I had to leave Llandogo right at that moment!
Fortunately, despite a generally lacking mobile phone signal, my wife and I were able to liaise and they managed to track our daughter down whilst I was racing into town and back! Unfortunately, by the time number three son and I got back to join everyone at the playground else ten minutes later, there had been incident number four involving heated words between number two son and his grandmother, leading to some not very happy folk at all.
We de-camped to the nearby village of Tintern, and the lovely Anchor Inn, and had a drink in the pub garden whilst the puppy threw up, probably as a result of a little too much excitement and exertion on the hill, and anyone who needed to had a chance to calm down and relax a little.
Then it was time to head home for a beautiful homemade (thanks to mother-in-law) meal of South African bobotie, some World Cup rugby on TV (for the benefit of the in-laws) and all was right with the world again.
As an aside, the walk is named the Wordsworth Walk after the poet William Wordsworth, who wrote a piece entitled “Lines Written A Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey…” during a visit in July 1798 – though it’s not clear that he would have walked this route, or even in Llandogo. It was published in “Lyrical Ballads” the same year.
It’s my birthday next our little family. I’ve already promised number three son we’ll go on another walk, as he missed out on this one, and I just hope it’s as scenic and enjoyable as this one was (in the end!)…
No blog post yesterday as that was my wife’s birthday and we had decided on a day out together. So once the kids were all packed off to school it was just the two of us… plus the puppy of course!
First stop was Monmouth to purchase some new laces for my walking boots as the old pair had given up the ghost, and then a stop at Costa – a regular haunt of ours on days out – for coffee (skinny caramel latte) and breakfast (sausage and egg sandwich), enjoying the morning sunshine as we sat outside.
My significant other had already done her research for dog-friendly places to visit for lunch with walking nearby and decided that she liked the sound of the Felin Fach Griffin which, with talk of simple but delicious food and local produce sounded lovely, so off we set onto the A40 towards Abergavenny, where we would pick up the road to Crickhowell and eventually Felinfach.
Unfortunately there are road alterations taking place on the Heads Of The Valleys road, meaning that our desired exit was closed and my trusty mobile phone’s navigation app re-routed us to the next available exit, which turned out to be a rather steep and narrow up Church Road through Llanelly and on what soon felt like a magical mystery tour up to a sharp almost U-turn in the shadow of what at first glance resembled a single standing stone on top of the hill.
We later learned that this was known as The Lonely Shepherd, and is a limestone rock carved and left in the early 1800s by workers at the nearby Daren Cilau quarryworks on Llangattock Mountain (also known as Mynydd Llangatwg).
Deciding that we had plenty of time before lunch, at that our four-legged companion could do with a little exercise, we parked that car at the next available spot, which was at the side of what I think is called the Hafod road just after the turning down the hill towards the Wern Trekking & Riding Centre – which will now be on my good lady’s list of places to visit.
From there we walked along the straight and narrow road past the old stone sheep dip until we reached a proper car park (typically enough!) some minutes later.
At that point we left the road, followed the track to the edge of the car park and then headed up the side of the hill until we reached the quarry and some long-since abandoned structure at the edge of the old Bailey’s Tramroad.
Once we had admired the views, and our furry companion had explored to her heart’s content and restrained herself from chasing any of the sheep – and they were wonderful on a lovely sunny day – we headed back to the car for the rest of the drive to Felinfach.
Upon arrival at the Griffin, however, it quickly became obvious to us that their idea of simple food and ours were quite different things. The food on offer there may be very nice, but wasn’t for us I’m afraid.
So we piled back into the car and headed down the road to nearby Brecon, where we visited The Cafe on the High Street. Now, it must be confessed that we have been there more than once in the past, having first discovered it on our way home on the last day of our honeymoon in 2011.
As before, the service was quick and friendly and it wasn’t long before our lunch arrived. Jacket potato with a lovely spicy homemade chile con carne, followed by their wonderful victoria sponge. Now that’s nice and simple food, and delicious too.
Then it was time to head back to reality with kids needing picking up from school etc., but it was a lovely day out while it lasted. OK, so it wasn’t misty and there was no actual hopping done on the mountain, but the birthday girl certainly had a great day out, so job done and here’s looking forward to our next excursion together…