This is my love letter to Wales. I am fascinated with it's rich history and rugged landscape. Within 50 miles I can travel over 5000 years. The Bronze and Iron Ages, the Middle Ages, and the not so distant Industrial Revolution all huddle beside each other amongst the verdant Southeast Valleys. This is where I ride and this is why I write.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Mad Explore & Discovery

The weather was glorious. The day was long and time felt slow. I had no idea what lay ahead of me. My plans had been simple... to explore an alternate route to Brecon. The ride became an adventure of a life time.


I set out to cycle up to and around Langors Lake. On the way, I was going to explore a road that encircles Blaen-y-Cwm Reservoir just above Brymawr. That was at least my plan.

The scenery was enticing and though the road was unpaved, it was certainly passable. The views did not disappoint. The road, however; diminished quickly...

... and my plans for reaching Langors Lake fell away as I gave up the road and began a two-hour slog across the moors to escape the mire.

I followed "goat paths" when I could... but most of my time was spent dragging the bike sideways over the tall grass dodging the wet. And despite my best efforts to avoid the mud, I was covered in muck up to my knees.

It was physically exhausting. Sweat poured from my face and I could only go a hundred feet or so before having to stop to regain my breath. But the views...

And then suddenly, over the top of a small hill I spotted a vague sense of civilisation... and relief knowing that I might escape my mis-adventure.

Who were these people? What lives did they live? Way up here in the middle of nowhere... who knows of them now?

I stopped to reflect... I was completely overwhelmed with what I had just been through. Had I not given up the road to trail blazing, I would have never found this hidden treasure.

Then I was down... out from the moors, and never has a paved road been more appreciated.

(pause for a moment...)

Because as I got back to cycling; new and different vistas began to unfold.

How can so much diversity be found in such a small place... over such short distances?

... and then there is this; Clydach Gorge.

This photo epitomises my claim; "Wales is like living in a model railroad". Note: There's a cycle path down there too... running along the old rail line. Hmmm?

But first let me finish this road ahead... what looms before me now?

The air was warm with a slight breeze. The road was well-paved, perfectly flat, and beyond traffic of any sort. So sometimes ya just gotta shut up and let the photos do the talking...

The road ended and became a wide footpath that snaked around the side of the mountain. I went as far as I could ride and stopped...

... to have my lunch overlooking the Usk Valley and the village of Llangattock.

Then I turned around and headed back as I came, thinking; the road deserved one more look, one more ride on this amazing day.

"You lookin' at me?"

I then needed to make a decision on how to cycle home. Riding to Langors Lake was completely out of the equation... I had spent too much time hiking across the moors. But I could go down through the valley to Llanfoist where I could get onto the Monmouth & Brecon Canal? I had a few hours of daylight left... AND I had my new dynamo hub light. 'Nuff said.

Then I was back through Brynmawr, into the woods, down the crooked path, and along the other side of the valley... into Clydach Gorge!

And just as quickly, I was then heading down the cycle path toward Llanfoist...

... and the Monmouth & Brecon Canal.

Dusk was setting in. I had been out on my bike for over eight hours at this point and I still had over 20 miles to cycle home...

... and just like the light, I was fading fast. I fired off a few more snapshots as I wobbled down the tow path, but soon it was dark and my head was down as I rode the final miles home.

Thank you Wales.

POSTSCRIPT: It had been an enormous day. It had been exhilarating and exhausting. But there is even more... yes. I've created a gallery of nearly 100 images (edited down from over 300...) that shows the full extent of my photography on this day. If you've further interest, here's the link;

Thanks for stopping by... cheers, cm

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