Break in the Beacons

DSC_0098My facebook advertising has clearly been targeted, and targeted well. Most recently I noticed the brightly coloured clothing with the tag line “I don’t need therapy, I need mountains”. It pretty much summed up how I felt as I headed off on a short trip to one of the National Parks in the UK in which I have done comparatively little walking, the Brecon Beacons, in Wales.

DSC_0114Luke and I, both unemployed and therefore with time to spare in the week, headed off to Llyathwey, a small town near Abergaweny. Here we knew of a campsite which was already open, although the fields were mostly mud and the weather is still cold and stormy. The mountains help create the border between England and Wales and are almost hill-like. Old and long, the tops are worn down, making them look like wrinkles on an un-ironed shirt.

The campsite was surrounded by friendly (and greedy) horses, which let themselves be stroked and admired until they realised that there was no food to be had as a reward. It sits downhill from the ruins of a priory with impressive stone arches which frame the views onto the hills red and green with heather. As the first afternoon became gloomy we hid in the nearby Pub, the Half Moon Inn, which provided us with welcome company, great conversation and some truly delicious hot chocolates at a bargain price. The Inn also provides hot dinner and rooms, but, nostalgic for our camping trips in Russia, Luke and I chose to remain in the tent and eat our traditional pasta and sauce dinner. Long conversations and a game of Carcassonne later we used a break in the weather to head back to the tent. We then spent the rest of the night wide awake as a storm broke in with heavy rain and strong winds, attempting to make the tent lift off.

DSC_0131The horrid night was rewarded with a beautiful day, as we crawled out after breakfast to find blue skies and a light snow covering on the upper hills. It was still windy but we generally stayed below the peaks, using the protection of the hills themselves as we marched along our route. It was wonderful to be out again, and the winds somehow added to the adventure- after all, what would a walk in Wales be without storm force gales?

DSC_0149At the end of our walk we visited an active church which has an unusual shape. The building was constructed on the site of a former landslide, on ground which had not completely settled. As a result the church has been twisted, with one end including the bell tower leaning one direction while the other end leans in the opposite direction. Incredibly, the tower of this church actually leans at an angle steeper than the leaning tower of Pisa. Definitely worth a visit!

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