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.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

The Lonely Shepherd

As part three of the "Bike & Ride" trilogy, we made our most aggressive climb yet by visiting the Lonely Shephard high above Llangattock.

I've cycled below this "sculpture" several times going out Hafod Road. I've seen it from across the valley whilst riding through Clydach Gorge, but I had not made the climb up to the top... and what a treat it turned out to be!

The day started off looking like a bad idea. The skies were dark and gloomy as we cycled through heavy mist at Garn Lakes heading into Brynmawr.

Thanks to John's keen eye, he spotted this sign which leads to the top.

We asked a fella along the way for directions and his immediate reply was; "You'll not get up there on those..." Laughing, John replied: "We can always push 'em". And push we did...

... for a while at least. John takes a quick break where we ditch the bikes and begin the "real" hike as the grade begins to steepen.

The ground was very wet making the loose rocks quite slippery... plus the mud stuck to the bottom of our cycling shoes which made for some treacherous hiking.

Soon enough we got our first glimpse of the Shepherd.

Looking good fellas! We're getting closer.

Upon leaving the brown ferns and heather, the trail got MUCH steeper and became just a sheep path. At this point Brian turned back as we were on all fours scaling the hill. (Understandable I suppose... Brian is only 83 after all. He gave it a shot though...)

Getting closer and getting higher.

Sugarloaf and the Skirrid far off in the distance.

The Blorenge; site of our last Bike & Hike to the Punchbowl.

Not far away now... just across a few small ridges.

Looking north across the high plateau and quarry behind the Shepherd...

And then we were there.

John stands by to give a sense of scale.

And then we are off...back down the mountain having found a better trail no less!

Then just as we were about to leave the sun came out... so I grabbed a few quick ones with my phone/camera (hence the different aspect ration).

I love the contrast of the light on the rocks in the foreground against the dark valley below. Couldn't have asked for that!

From the looks of it, we just might get a bit of rain when we get down to Llangattock. (Can you spot the rainbow?)

Myself and John at the top...

  Ride Report Card
  Ride Name: The Lonely Shepherd
  Ride Date: October 10, 2017
  Distance: 85.3 mi
  Duration: 13:16:36
  Moving Time: 07:57:41
  Elevation: + 5214 / - 5215 ft
  Avg. Speed: 10.7 mph
  Weather: Clouds, sun, & rain
  Temperature: 15°c / 59°f
I should clarify some about the map shown above and the overall ride. We rode quite a bit further than just to the Lonely Shepherd and back. I met John and Brian in Pontypool where we began, but then we came back from Llangattock through Gilwern and Llanfoist.

John disappeared somewhere after Llanfoist - racing ahead as he does in the afternoons, while Brian and I hobbled along nursing a couple of pesky punctures. We rode together until the crossroads at Llanellen. There he split off to Pontypool while I then continued on to Usk and eventually down to Newport where I turned north to head back home - making a great big loop.

It was a gorgeous autumn afternoon and I thoroughly enjoyed just making my way along at a casual pace - looking at the yellowing leaves and the freshly plowed fields, but around 8:00 pm the temperature dropped and it started to rain as I entered Sirhowy Parc. I finished the remaining 10 miles in the dark and under a steady shower. Needless to say I was cold and soaked to the bone by the time at got home at 9:30 pm... plumb worn out.

The three musketeers on Hafod Road. Time to make our way home. It's been another fabulous adventure. Thanks guys... cheers!

Relevant Links:

Ads Inside Post