Monday, 2 May 2011

A grand day out (Black Mountains recce #2)

Jamie, Chris and I headed over to the Mynydd Du to have another go at the Black Mountains race route - a great day out with bright sunshine and strong winds. Chris, running in the hills for the first time, put in a good effort following Jamie who was on form and pressing the pace. I trundled on behind on legs that lacked punch, content to enjoy the clear views and very blustery conditions.

We took a better, more direct line from Perth-y-pia up onto Pen Carrig-calch than last time. The run along the top to Pen Allt-mawr and Pen Twyn Glas was exhillarating in the blast of the wind and the sound of inflated nylon coats flapping madly.

Jamie's research had paid off and we found a better place to begin the contouring descent to the valley floor.

Chris enjoyed the many false summits of Pen y Gadair Fawr.

I think we took the wrong line off the summit and down to the valley, following the edge of the wood on an uneven path rather than heading down a long shoulder that eventually leads to much the same point.

The climb up the other side of the valley to Chwarel y Fan felt like a long old pull...

... but we enjoyed the views over to the Malverns and May Hill from the top.

We ran along the watershed in a cross wind where I did the longest spit (yes, Iknow it's disgusting) yet.

From Bal-Mawr we took the wrong line - again - down to the conifer plantations below. More work needed here.

There were some nice bluebells in the woodland section that followed, but my legs were not too enthusiastic by this point and I laboured on behind the other two.

One more visit should do it in terms of getting the route right, I think. We need to work out the best way off Pen y Gadair Fawr and nail the route through the plantation below Bal Mawr.

But the Black Mountains are fine hills and their rounded tussocky forms are suited to a windswept day. Well worth a visit.

The next day out in the hills is in about a month's time when Mike and I will be helping out as pacers for Dave's South Wales Traverse attempt.


  1. Sounds like a good day out. I'll speak later re the Traverse but if you need a guide for your final BM recce (provided it's a goodly while after the 28th) then I'm your man. I can show you the holy trail down to the valley off Pen Twyn Glas and the proper route off Pen y Gadair Fawr, the line off Bal Mawr and the cut through the plantation. Let me know when your planning it.

  2. Hi Matt
    Looks like you took a better route this time, was it hard to find the clag avoiding path?

  3. Dave - great offer we'll be taking you up on that offer when your legs are working again :)

    Steve - with my map reading skills it's amazing we found anything! This is why I must never do a mountain marathon ;)