|With the 2nd May bank holiday weekend we decided to get out of the city and go hiking in Wales. The weekend started by watching the Super 14 final with Katie and Martin, then heading out on the highway. Being a bank holiday weekend, every other muppet in the country seemed to have a similar idea, so our 2 hour drive to Wales turned into a 5 hour marathon effort. Additionally, the weather looked like it was going to be a major factor, raining most of the week leading up to the bank holiday, and most of the way over on our drive.
So the delay caused by traffic meant that we didn't actually get any hiking done on the Saturday as it was too late by the time we arrived. Unfortunately there was also steam enthusiasts weekend on, so all of the camp grounds near the Brecon Beacons were busy, and we ended up staying on the English side of the border with Wales...
It did mean that we could go to one of Martin's favourite pubs and drink lots of cider, which was a popular choice for all concerned. The village where the pub was is where Tolkien is thought to have based the elfish village on - it was kind of in the bush and you had to walk down from the road through some very NZ looking bush.
Sunday turned into our major hiking day. After a quick cooked breakfast, we headed over to Brecon, our entry point into the Brecon Beacons national park. For those of you that don't know, Brecon is where the Thomas's originally hail from - so it was really interesting to walk around and just take it all in.
However, after a day cooped up inside the car we were keen to get walking. So after purchasing a map, we got out on the trail. The start of the walk included a relatively steep drag up to a narrow ridge, dodging sheep and their excrement. We really enjoyed the views back down over Brecon, hence the hundreds of photos we took!
After arriving at the highest point, we took a bit of a break, then headed back down to a pass where we lunched before going up another, substanially easier peak. Around this time we saw a Peregrine falcon doing some crazy upside down flying. Pretty weird, I always thought that wings didn't work upside down!
We then treked out along a very flat ridge before Martin developed some blistering issues. At this point we for some reason decided a short cut was in order, so dropped off the ridge, at which point it became incredibly steep. Pretty soon we were picking our way down an almost sheer hill face. Luckily we made it to the bottom without incidence, where we then stumbled upon an old ruin which we had a quick look around.
Afterwards we headed back into Brecon for a coffee, then stopped in a wee Welsh pub for dinner on the way back to camp. I rather randomly decided to try goose - which was tasty if a bit chewy. Everyone else went for lamb, which was brillant.
Before going back to the camp, we ended up at another pub for a few more ciders, whilst sitting outside and playing cards. Plenty of trash talking came out, particularly from Ms Korina 'Potty mouth' Richmond!
We were very lucky with the weather on the Sunday - so much so that I managed to get sunburnt (meaning more than 5 mins of sun across the day). Everyone back at work has been wondering where I've been to get a tan, and are slightly surprised when I reply 'Wales'!
However, it did rain both nights, so I was pretty glad that might Macpac tent is completely bombproof - I've slept in it before in a torrentual thunderstorm and had no problems at all. It did mean that it was pretty mucky underfoot at the camp site, but at least the ground was pretty soft to sleep on.
We got away pretty early on Monday, not wanting to get stuck in a traffic jam yet again. On the way home we stopped in Glouster to have a look at the 'cheese-rolling'. Basically this is a crazy event where lots of pretty drunk people chase a 20kg round of cheese down a very steep hill, usually spending more time cartwheeling than actually running. This year's event had 25 injuries, 14 of which were in the crowd! The women's event was won for the 3rd time in a row by the same kiwi girl. What an achievement...unfortunately (fortunately?) we could not participate as you needed to register in the pub the day before.
The event did seem to garner a great deal of support from the local chav community, but that notwithstanding, it was still worth the stopover!
After a quick lunch we then missioned back along the motorway, missing most of the traffic but finding plenty of rain during the trip home...