Almost Spring in the Banwy valley

Fri 6th March

Carol did dialysis. Got married (our upgrade backdated to our civil partnership in 2008). Went shopping.

Married again!
Married again!
Halifax Registry Office
Halifax Registry Office
Sat 7th March
Drove to new holiday cottage in Llangadfan. The cottage is part of an old farm now owned by working artists (Shani Rhys James and Stephen West) ( We are in the calf shed. It’s clean and well equipped and remote enough. Short walk along the lane by the river. Omelette for supper. Watched the last half hour of a really bad movie with Angelina Jolie in it.
Sun 8th March
Lovely lie in and lazy start to day. Drove a few kilometres up the hill to park in the forest. Went along forestry tracks to find the Lookout Tower. I went to highest spot of forest but no lookout tower anywhere in sight. Beef casserole and baked potatoes and Cavolo Nero at home. Watched Gosford Park but both dropped off at different points. Annoying murder mystery that is not clear as to who dun it. Carol says the point is that it isn’t a murder mystery.
From the outside looking in?!!
From the outside looking in?!!
Forestry trail
Forestry trail


Serious mating in progress
Mon 9th March
Giant rabbit and a robin outside the door. V. Beatrix Potter.
Melverley wooden Jacobean church. Lovely but intensely cold. Welshpool for a small bit of shopping.
Delivered Carol to holiday dialysis. You can’t just turn up. First of all she has to send in blood samples in advance. Then she has to book the sessions. She basically gets the slots the local patients don’t want.
I drove back towards Criggion passing several old MOD buildings to park near the hideous scar of a giant quarry that has torn most of the hillside away. Walked up Breidden Hill 300m to Rodney’s pillar (Admiral). It only rained a bit on the way back down. It was so windy at the top that I couldn’t walk round the pillar and had to wedge myself against the trig point to take a photo.
Picked Carol up. Whilst waiting a fellow renal patient asked me if I was her mother (because we look alike)!
We watched a couple of episodes of the Twilight Zone.
Top secret MOD radio station, Criggion
Top secret MOD radio station, Criggion
Vast quarry at Criggion
Vast quarry at Criggion
Rodney's wotsit
Rodney’s wotsit
Melverley church
Melverley church
River at Melverley. Terribly cold there.
Tues 10th March
Drove into mountains via Lake Vyrnwy. Nice dry day with some sun. Walked from Llanymawddwy along a good track. Carol managed a bit further and higher than when we were here last year.
Back to cottage and out to Just 3 Drops bistro in Llanfair Caereinion for a large meal. We both ate too much. Peroni on draught, I’d never had that before and it was a proper treat! I had pate selection and toast followed by fettuccine in creamy sauce with chicken, mushrooms and Parmesan. Carol had goats cheese log followed by beef and chorizo cassette with mashed potato, dumpling and petit pois. She also had chocolate ganache and a cup of tea. I had a fruit tea and 2 chocolate truffles. We were so full we couldn’t move. Greedy old gits!

Ha ha!
Ha ha!
No idea what was going on here
No idea what was going on here
The rivers meet
The rivers meet
In the stream
In the stream

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Garage at Pont Llogel
Garage at Pont Llogel
Weds 11th March
Oswestry for shopping and market. Then to Welshpool for Carol’s dialysis. I went off to climb one of the other of the 3 volcanic peaks. Moel y Golfa. Climbed up through woodland very steeply. A little bit of hands on scrambling to reach the top. Romany monument at top to father and son Romany Chell, not sure if this means a Romany leader or if it is contraction of Romanichal. Down along the spur on the other side nearly to the bottom then contoured back along past several farms. Back up into the wood and round to where I started.
Picked Carol up. Back to cottage and watched Airplane. Very sophisticated holiday viewing schedule!
The Romany monument
The Romany monument
MOD establishment with strange dead ring around it.
MOD establishment with strange dead ring around it.
Uriah Burton, Romany Chell
Uriah Burton, Romany Chell
Ernest Burton, Romany Chell
Ernest Burton, Romany Chell
This is a small quarry.
This is a small quarry.
Thurs 12th March
Lazy start to day. Drove to Pont Llogel and walked along the river Vyrnwy to Dolanog and back. This was along the Ann Griffiths Way. We thought we had completed this walk last summer but actually we only did half of it then, so this does now finish it off. River badly polluted by strands of agricultural plastic festooning the trees overhanging the river for the entire length we walked. I’ve reported this to Powys Council and to Keep Wales Tidy. Weather forecast had lied and the rain came on heavily just as we got back to the car.
I bought some non self service diesel and that felt like a treat.
C had fun with the washer and dryer.
Chicken and veg pasta with purple sprouting broccoli.
More Twilight Zone.
Derelict hall at Dolanog
Derelict hall at Dolanog

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Managed to take photo without a dangling piece of plastic festooning the branch
Managed to take photo without a dangling piece of plastic festooning the branch
Fri 13th March
My birthday. Went across to Borth to see Chris in her new flat. Chris and Carol gave me a tarp which I’m hoping to use on my Pyrenean trip later this year. The idea is so that I don’t have to sleep like a sardine with complete strangers. We went out to Ffarmers and had spicy bean burger (me), beef burger (Chris) and fish and chips (Carol). All very yummy. I had almond slice with ice cream and have now forgotten what the others ate. This was my 3rd visit and continues to be a good place to eat. Back to Borth and along to Ynaslas to look at the estuary and the mountains. Drove back via Cadair Idris and a quite exciting long road down to the Brigands’ Inn and back to the cottage.
Sundown at Borth
Sundown at Borth


Sat 14th March
Packed up. Said goodbye to Shani and Steve. Went back via the little lanes to Llanfyllin. Home in good time for Carol to get unpacked and onto dialysis machine. This is where we stayed:
IMG_0133 IMG_0138 IMG_0139 IMG_0145

Please visit Map and Compass and learn how to interpret a map and use a compass with me and my navigation partner, Cath.


Mid Wales 31 August – 7 September

Friday 31st August
Journey to Llanfechain was a bit mad because we decided to use the little roads but with the road map. We should have got the OS maps out!
Walked from Pentre where we are residing this week, out the back, up the hill, along a heavily nettled path past a derelict building that was too small to be a cottage. Then along a bit and back down the road. Very pretty and completely unspoilt along little lanes. Lovely.
Home to easy supper of Look What We Found chicken korma with rice.


Saturday 1st September

Walked from Llangynog car park along road to east then up green lane through very old oak wood. One enormous oak had a circumference of 6 metres. We measured a piece of grass on my compass and did some sums. This is about 430 years old according to the Woodland Trust’s ready reckoner.
It was hot in the sun so we stopped for lunch by a stream and then walked a bit more along the u shaped valley. We retraced our steps but went back to the little road on the far side of the stream.
Having done my Hillfit exercises this morning, I now did some HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) so ran 220 metres in 2 bursts. Can’t be too unfit as recovered very quickly.
Carol and smallish oak
Posing? Moi?!
 Saturday evening
After delicious home made not Shepherds Pie because no potato masher, we stepped out for a night walk along the lanes near the house. We walked about 3 miles or so and saw no one and no cars. The moon came in and out as a day after full.
With flash
Without flash


Sunday 2nd September
Drove to Llandrillo to the Tyddyn Llan restaurant where I waited quite a while to see if Carol would recognise that we had been here before. We both had set lunch for £19.50. I had mozzarella with tomato huge portion, followed by chicken tarragon on a pancake with loads of veg.. There was roast spuds, peas with bacon, leeks in cheese sauce baked, steamed green beans and carrots and yummy courgette fritters. Carol had pork loin with all the veg. To be honest the food was good but a bit heavy on the grease levels for Michelin star and Good Food Guide. C then had biscuit glacé with raspberry sauce. This was a sort of nougat ice cream. We were both very stuffed then so came back for early evening walk.
We walked from the cottage again but a different circuit mainly off roads but coming back using the little lanes. Again saw no one and no cars. It’s a great spot for quietness. Lovely weather too. My legs actually getting an airing!
Towards Llanfechain
Made me think of soldiers marching up hill
Proper walker
Not posing again
Just loved the green
Monday 3rd September
Back to Llandrillo to walk to the stone circle called Moel Ty Uchaf.  Very hot. Tremendous views from the circle where we lunched. Across to Arenig Fawr in the west and Aran Fawddwy in the south west.  Then back using a bit of a circuit to ring the changes. Only saw 2 men with motorbikes.
Nicky showed us round her house which is lovely. She is an ex model and was in famous Ossie Clark creation taken by Norman Parkinson, I recognised the picture. I cooked chicken and veg and pasta but it was a bit on the hot side.
Moel Ty Uchaf stone circle
And with hills in background
I liked the contrast
Also here
Lane back to Llandrillo
Carol not posing
Me neither
Inside of the cottage


Tuesday 4th September
Mainly a day touring round in the car. Went to Welshpool and Llanidloes via Tregynon. Gregynog Hall is in Tregynon and brought back memories of a fairly raucous few days there back when I was at UWIST (University of Wales Institute of Science and Technology – UWIST now subsumed into Cardiff University when it was amalgamated with University College, Cardiff). Liked Llanidloes and had nice time in the bookshop. Travelled some more B and unclassified roads to get back to the cottage. Needed air after too long in the car so did another circuit of the lanes round here for about an hour. Carol had some leftover lamb hotpot. I am on a fasting day so had some broccoli.
Gregynog Hall, Tregynon
Llanidloes market hall
Please help me to identify this
Evening walk
Wednesday 5th September
First we looked in Llanfechain and went round the church which is dedicated to St. Garmon. Then drove to Llanrhaedr-ym-Mochnant on lovely little lanes without seeing other cars.
We were following a walk in Ron’s Rambles. It goes up on the road towards the waterfall and then up what is someone’s drive then into the woods. This comes out onto a field and it was ok until we needed to avoid some cattle. We did this but then reached a gate saying “No entry”. We could have gone back to a gate but instead decided to cross a barbed wire fence into a cow dung puddle. This got us more or less to the other side of the “No entry” gate. Then it was across a road, along some fields to the Afon Lwrch. We used a footbridge to cross and then up another field to a track along the side of Mynydd Mawr. We stopped for lunch and carried along the track which has great views to green valleys. Past what seemed a very remote house and up onto the side of the hill, Ron’s measurements were a bit on the generous side. We then tracked back along the hill at height which was very beautiful, coming to a tiny church tucked into the hillside. This is St. Garmon’s too. We chatted with a sweet old couple and tried to help them decipher a tomb stone but this was doubly challenging as in Welsh and very eroded.
Down the lane and then continuing with Ron, we took a path across a field of sheep but clambered into one full of bullocks. Big mistake. They were a bit too interested in us and we couldn’t get back to the gate so in a mega panic we not only got very muddy but ended up crossing a stream and another barbed wire fence to escape from the killer bullocks. We tracked down some fields, squeezed under an electric fence and arrived at the Afon Lwrch again but it was too big to cross so we got back over the barbed wire again, over the smaller stream and then up what felt and looked like a near vertical ascent of scrub, brambles and dead trees to reach the road. Then it was just a couple of kilometres to get back to the car.  It was a bit too adventurous and we both agreed we had made the wrong decision by going into the bullock field. Silly idiots!
Chicken and veg in white sauce bake with sliced spuds on top and more sprouting broccoli. Yum!
St. Garmon’s Llanfechain
St. Garmon’s Llanfechain
How green was my valley
Not a good look
Any fungi people out there?
St. Garmon’s Plas-y-Newydd


Thursday 6th September
Went to Montgomery which I had been told was a town with lots of shops. It’s a very nice town but only actually has about 3 shops. I managed to buy a book and some veg. We walked up to the castle and ate our picnics in the ruins.
Then went on to Bishop’s Castle which had lots of shops by comparison. Here I managed to buy 2 books, some soap, and some cheese.
This all took a surprising amount of time so we headed back to do a bit of packing up before heading out to Seeds in Llanfyllin. This is a very nice little resto. I had Italian cold meats and mozzarella starter with figs, main of sautéed lambs’ kidneys in mustard sauce with beetroot, broad beans, carrots, spuds. C had chicken and black pudding in nice sauce. I had creme brûlée and C had treacle tart for pudding. All washed down with beer from Pontypridd. Chatted with some of the other customers who helped us with our Welsh pronunciation and we got the hostess warmed up by the time we left.
Montgomery Castle
Montgomery Castle
Montgomery Castle
Friday 7th September
Came home via Lake Vyrnwy which is a Victorian reservoir with splendid big chunky made to last architecture. I was very taken with the Straining Tower. Then took a mountain road to Bala, stopping on the way to walk a few kilometres in the sun on Foresty tracks. We also had a brew by the road and sat by a babbling brook to drink.
Then stopped once more at Carrog for our lunch and then home.
A lovely week with the best weather of the year, no rain and lots of sun for a whole week in Wales!
The Straining Tower!
Lake Vyrnwy
In the Aran mountains
Next time at this cottage bring wooden spoon and cheese grater. Spud masher and lemon squeezer optional.
Please visit Map and Compass and learn how to interpret a map with me and my navigation partner, Cath.