It was also the deciding factor that we would no longer take our elderly Whippet with us, something that goes against the grain. When one goes for a walk it feels only natural that Mole should come too; however he did struggle with the duration of this walk, almost 6 hours, so we now leave Mole at home with my parents and just take him on the lower grade walks.
This walk, like the last, starts at Llanthony but, instead of going straight up the ridge, took us down through the forest heading back to the valley floor. We did find the footpath we were following rather difficult to locate in places as some land owners have either diverted the footpath or have allowed the designated way to become so overgrown it is virtually impassable. This is when common sense has to prevail and you find yourself looking on the map to where it is you are heading and then take the most direct route without damaging or disturbing the area in which you are going through.
Once we had negotiated the lower level it was then onwards and upwards. About a third of the way up the ridge we came to the village of Cwmyoy and its ancient Church, which has a definite subsidence problem – from looking at the age of the flying buttress this happened soon after its construction. I am not a great one for visiting Churches but this one’s history looks like it could be interesting, if only from the construction point of view.
Then it was a concerted effort to get to the top and, because of the heat – by now a good 21 C – and our dwindling water supplies, it was getting tough; Mole was resorting to sitting in every available stream and muddy puddle! I know it sounds as if we were trying to get from one side of the Sahara to the other, rather than messing about in the Black Mountains, but when you are scaling a ridge that is approx 600m above sea level and all of it straight up in the heat of the day, this is when we had to admit that this time we had got our preparations wrong and now we have a check list to make sure we have everything from the map to the boiled sweets before we leave the house!
Once at the top it was “motorway walking” all the way to the Llanthony marker stone, then a steady descent towards the Priory for a well earned pint and slab of home-made fruit cake; not quite the lunch we had planned but most welcome all the same.