Black Mountains, Wales

Present: Claire (organiser), Alan, Keyna, Shaun, Maggie, Paula, Sarah, Bruce, Catherine, Jo, Chris, Dave H, Nicola, Trudi, Simon H (plus Bob and Rhoda staying in Llanbedr)
Location: Perth-y-Pia bunkhouse, Llanbedr

The first NMC trip of the year, and with no snow and ice forecast it should have been a quick and easy journey. For those who left Newbury before 6pm, they did not encounter the motorway exit closures forcing them into a long detour via Monmouth, but we all had to encounter the hill to the bunkhouse. Perth y Pia bunkhouse is situated at the top of two large fields – and the track to reach it goes straight up. A magnificent setting perched just below Table Mountain and with far reaching views, but to drive up to it takes nerves of steel, particularly in the pitch dark with just a faint light to aim for on the horizon. When it started getting late and some of the group had still not arrived, a drunken search party set off down the slippery field and into the dark lanes around Llanbedr. We found Catherine settled nicely in the local pub. Having called in to get directions she had been greeted by the familiar voices of Rhoda and Bob offering to buy her a drink! We joined them and gave lots of advice about how best to drive up the fields. On wandering back to the bottom field we also found Dave and Nicola. Catherine put her car into first and floored it to the top, with one enforced stop to avoid a suicidal sheep. Dave and Nicola took 4 attempts. So with the smell of burning rubber behind us, the whole group were now able to settle in on the comfy sofas by the not so roaring fire (damp logs?) and continue drinking into the early hours.

A respectable 9.15am Saturday departure took us straight on to Table Mountain, followed by a long 17 mile romp along two ridges of the Black Mountains, or the horseshoe route as referred to by the locals. This took in Pen Cerrig calch (701m), Pen Allt-mawr (719m), Waun Fach at the head of the valley (810m and still covered in snow), Pen Twyn Mawr (658m), then eventually dropping down to the village of Llanbedr. As the pub was full of sweaty bodies in red shirts watching Wales play England, some went to Rhoda and Bob’s accommodation to watch the rugby match. Then it was the hard slog back up to the bunkhouse, followed by lots of chilli, garlic bread and apple crumble, washed down with copious amounts of wine.

Those still able to walk on Sunday (Claire, Alan, Keyna, Shaun, Jo, Chris, Maggie, Paula, Simon), did an 8 mile circuit from Llanbedr taking in Sugar Loaf. The summit was thick in cloud with temperatures below freezing, but the rest of the walk was enjoyable, particularly when a certain lady got caught with her trousers down by an elderly farmer and his dog going by on a quad bike!

Claire White

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