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Month: July 2020

Victorian Valve House

Victorian Valve House

This morning we set off to find a footpath. Yes I know, there are dozens around here but we were looking for a particular path. We had seen it on the map but had never walked it so, perhaps, now was the time.

It started in Presteigne Road so we walked over there then started up the road, phone in hand so I could see our progress and position on the map, until our position showed as being at the start of the path. There is housing along here and we could not see an obvious path. There was a small wooden gate which looked like the entrance to someone’s garden but nothing else. We went up to the gate and could see in the relatively lush undergrowth that there was a small plate on the gatepost with a footpath sign on it. It would have been very easy to miss.

Once through the gate it was very obviously a footpath which eventually leds us to another similar gate. Through the gate brought us to open ground and we could see the Victorian Valve House right in front of us.

This was built as part of the aqueduct which runs from the Elan Valley reservoirs to Birmingham to provide a water supply. We knew that if we walked up the hill to the top corner of the hill we could get on to another footpath that we had used before but in the reverse direction.

Unfortunately for us this hill is very steep and some of us needed a rest. Still, it gave me the opportunity to take a photograph of the view.

When we reached the top we joined the other path which took us back home through the wooded area of Frydd Hill.

It was a short trip but it did satisfy our curiosity regarding the Valve House path.

On the road to nowhere

On the road to nowhere

In April 2017 we traversed the Cambrian Mountains, on our way to Devil’s Bridge, on one of only two roads which go over the Cambrian Mountains. This is the blog that covers that trip. https://www.beenthere-donethat.org.uk/deoprrssw/?p=2428

We now decided that it was time to explore that second road. We weren’t going to a particular destination but purely to see what that road was like (Have you ever had a premonition that you are about to make a mistake?).

We headed off, on a warm sunny day, towards Beulah. Yes, I know, you’ve never heard of it. Well it’s a small village about 8 miles south-west of Newbridge-on-Wye in Powys. This is where the mountain road starts and having turned on to it, and before we’d left Beulah, we spotted a nice little church which we had to explore. The original path into the churchyard went over this cute little bridge but the current path bypasses the bridge.

And this is the little church. It is not very old, having been built in 1867, but it is very attractive.

Having had a quick look round ( what else can you do with a church that small?) we set off again along the road. This road is just one car’s width and does have passing places but you can bet that you won’t be near one when you meet a car coming the other way.

The first part of this road is mainly wooded but eventually after a gentle climb of some miles we came out into the open. We continue to head upwards through that valley round to the left.

We carried on to the village of Abergwesyn where we’d heard there was a ruined church. We couldn’t find the ruined church, if it still exists, but we did find the old churchyard with a mega Yew tree.

We carried on and soon went into another wooded section of the road with an unprotected steep slope on one side. No barrier to stop you driving off the edge and you do have to drive relatively near the edge because the road is so narrow.

I was quite pleased when that was over. Next we reached the Devil’s Staircase – a steep bit of read with some hairpin bends. The name is more worrying than the actual road and we successfully negotiated that section without problems. We reached another open area and we are still climbing but the views were getting better.

The road was beginning to get interesting now. It was bending in three dimensions and they tended to be sharp bends. When the bend was in the vertical plane the road beyond the top of the hill couldn’t be seen until the car was beginning to tip down the other side so one couldn’t see which way the road was going to go and there was always the possibility of a car coming the other way. Travelling was slow and if there was a short stretch where one could attain 20 MPH then that would be considered very fortunate. The same applied to bends in the horizontal plane – it meant driving really quite slowly. Don’t pick an argument with a rock – you won’t win.

Having reached the top we took a 7 mile detour to have a look at a reservoir we had heard about, Llyn Brianne, and it turned out to be a worthwhile detour. But it certainly increased our bend count.

Our road was now going downhill again but the bends didn’t get any better.

We finally reached the end of the road in a small town called Tregaron which was a relief from the bends – but not for long. We now had to return home which meant travelling the same route in the opposite direction. I was really looking forward to doing all those bends again. :(

I can tell you that by the time we reached Beulah again I was rather tired and we still had an hour to go to reach home. However we did reach home without incident and I don’t intend doing that journey again in a hurry!

Somewhere Else

Somewhere Else

Now that some of the Covid-19 restrictions in Wales have been relaxed we can go somewhere else – anywhere – so we did just that.

We headed 60 miles due west and found ourselves in Aberystwyth, Ceredigion. It took us about one hour and fortyfive minutes to do those 60 miles because most Welsh roads are anything but wide and straight. The last 10 miles was particularly wiggley but we got there.

We parked in a large car park on Park Avenue and were expecting to pay £1.70 for the day but all the pay machines were covered with large bags and there was no explanation so we ended up paying nothing.

We headed fo the sea front and soon after leaving the car park we walked past the Vale of Rheidol Railway Terminus which is a Heritage Steam Railway that runs to Devil’s Bridge. The last time we went to Devil’s Bridge we saw the other end of this line and took some photographs when a train arrived from Aberystwyth.

This time the terminus in Aberystwyth was closed with no signs of life anywhere so we continued past. Probably because of Covid-19. Pity really.

We headed for the harbour and were then planning to walk north along the sea front as far as the Funicular Railway at the far end of the bay. Where we parked was an obviously new area including a retail park but the buildings and streets suddenly changed when we reached the old part of the town.

This was one of the streets in the area of New Street and the hill in the distance could be Constitution Hill and the funicular railway runs up that.

It was a short walk further on to the harbour which includes the River Rheidol just before it runs into the sea. Both pictures are taken from the same viewpoint but in different directions.

A short walk from the harbour brought us to the sea front. This view is looking south and shows the wall at the entrance to the harbour.

Walking on South Marine Terrace along the sea front we passed these colourful houses and could see the castle in the distance.

Then an equally colourful plant bed.

A short way on we reached Aberystwyth Castle built by Edward I in 1289 but by 1343 the castle was in a bad state of repair. In 1649 Oliver Cromwell ordered the castle to be slighted, i.e. rendered unusable, hence its current condition.

We finally left the castle after having a really good look round and went back down to the sea front onto the New Promenade which was completed in the early 1900s.

On Constitution Hill in the distance, on the left of the next picture, there is a straight line visible running from the top to the bottom – this is the funicular railway of which more later.

In 1795 John Nash built the Old College buildings on the right, with George Jones as the architect, in Gothic style. It was later sold to the University of Wales who turned it into a college for higher education and it later became the University of Aberystwyth. It remained as the main part of the university until the 1960s when the university open a new campus near the National Library of Wales.

A short way on and we found two things – an ice cream kiosk and the pier. We had some ice cream, to help the local economy you understand, and had a look at the pier. It has to be said that this is the shortest seaside pier that we have ever seen. It does have amusements inside and a restaurant at the outer end which has a sun deck visible at the far end. We didn’t have time to visit the restaurant so we moved on.

When we reached this point along the sea front there was a turning off to the right which, having previously looked at the map, I knew led a short distance to the Tourist Information Centre. Having previous looked at some web sites which gave opening times I thought we’d pop in to see if there was anything we should visit that we might have missed. Needless to say it was closed with no signs of life. It was, however, a pleasant part of the town.

We went back to the seafront which has, as you can see, a rather fine beach. This beach runs all the way along the seafront promenade and has a greyish sand but sand nevertheless and there were plenty of people enjoying themselves.

We continued on towards the Funicular Railway passing some colourful, fine looking houses on the way.

We finally arrived at the bottom station of the funicular railway expecting it not to be running because of the current virus problems but it was so we decided to make use of it and take the easy way up.

We were asked to wear masks whilst on the ‘train’, which they supplied at a small charge, and the single fare was £7 for two.

We boarded the coach and, after a short time, it started to move. As with all funiculars there are two sets of rails and two coaches. When one coach is going up the other is coming down so that each coach acts as a counter-weight for the other.

This funicular is interesting in that the rails start up steeply then level off a little then go up an even steeper slope. When we reached the top I took a photograph from the station looking down.

You will be pleased to hear that there is a cafe at the top -we certainly were. They had a good selection of items on the menu including cake so we had to try some. We both had some cheesecake (very nice) and a cup of coffee each. The view from this level is really quite amazing.

The second picture was taken with a telephoto and is of the castle area with the war memorial on the right and parts of the castle showing on the left. You can also see the sundeck on the pier.

Once we had finished our cake and coffee we had to walk back down but just before we did that we had a look at the view north of Aberystwyth towards Clarach Bay. Beautiful.

This is the start of the footpath down but it isn’t that wide all the way.

We are almost at the bottom now.

On the way down we saw a number of wild flowers including Sea Campion, Thyme and Quaking Grass.

Finally back to sea level we now have to walk back to where we parked the car but we did pass through some more interesting parts of Aberystwyth.

We finally staggered back to the car and set off home but this time we are going home via the mountain road rather than the main road which brought us here.

We first go from Aberystwyth to Devil’s Bridge where we join the mountain road.

The next picture, which is just before we reach Rhayader, will be of particular interest to our friend Marie because she has been there. It shows one of the reservoirs in the Elan Valley and we brought Marie this way on that little road in the bottom right corner.

We reached home without incident although Amanda was feeling a little travel sick by this time. It took her about an hour to recover.

I wonder where we’ll go next time!