Postcode West in pictures

Colin's Postcode West (and Tweets)

Prologue: May 11th

"A last evening of lounging on my sofa draws to an end. One of the luxuries I'll be doing without over the next fortnight or so."
"Hopefully true; after a day of sunshine and showers tomorrow, the rest of the week is supposed to be getting drier and warmer. That'll do."

Day 1: May 12th

"Now that's kind, that is. The sun is shining fair :)"
"House locked up and I'm off. Running a little late, because my camcorder charger has suddenly decided to play up. Brilliant. It's been fine all week, but overnight the contrary bastard decides to rebel. Don't know how much filming I'll be able to do. Too late to worry about it. Time to go. West, always west."

Day 1.1 Stopping for lunch at St. Weonard's Church.

"A morning's hard walking, considering I had to find my own way through farmer's crops. Permissible walking routes, I hasten to add. Just not upheld by the farmers, bless them. One of the farmhands, in fact, stopped me. All very civilised, no hassle. I showed him the route on my OS map and he took a photo of it to show his boss. Then we discussed the merits of iPhone over Android."
"I've had lunch at St. Weonards, now off again. More lane walking than across arable fields, as I head toward Garway Hill. Easier going."
"A morning beset by problems, mind; a camcorder battery charger that has failed miserably and a compass that no longer finds North. It has somehow got air bubbles inside it, sloshing around in the fluid. Has completely buggered it's sense of direction up. Useful, since I'll be going into the Black Mountains tomorrow. Hope my iPhone compass is accurate. Seems to be, but I'll buy one as soon as."
"Man alive, that was testing. I suppose a 1,000ft climb after a 13 mile march always looks easier on paper. I'm at the top of Garway Hill."

Day 1.2 From the top of Garway Hill looking west into Wales.

Day 1.3 Back that way is home, somewhat left of the wild pony's rump. From the top of Garway Hill.

Day 1.4 Crossing railway lines near Llangua. I was to meet them again further west, after I'd got lost.

Day 1.5 A spring near Walterstone Common.

Day 1.6 I think that may be Sugarloaf Mountain to the South.

Day Two: May 13th

"No signal overnight, but I'm back on the grid now. I got a little lost after Garway Hill, for which blame lies squarely on The Herefordshire Trail. The markings and upkeep are awful. If that's an example of what it's like, I'll give it a miss. I found my way to Kentchurch , where I was supposed to be camping."
"Had a refreshing cider in The River Inn and actually walked on to Grosmount, where I camped. Shoulders are bloody sore from the weight of the backpack, but otherwise okay. Grosmount was a little off-route, so I'm heading back on and going towards Longtown and Hattersill Ridge, then down into Llanthony Valley. Hoping for lunch there, before I tackle the next ridge. Got to say - I've been rather lucky with the weather. Hope it lasts."
"Five hours along through very hilly country and I'm not even at Longtown yet, never mind the ridges. And I'm feeling pretty knackered. Got lost and went too far South a couple of hours ago. It's cost me time and distance, although I am looking forward to a pint in Longtown."
"Salvation has come in the form of The Crown Inn, in Longtown. Feeling a bit beat-up, so will have to review the schedule."

Day 2.1 This was on the way to Longtown before Hattersill Ridge.

Day 2.2 This was approaching Hattersill, after my meal at The Crown Inn, in Longtown.

Day 2.3 Descending, wearily, into Llanthony Valley after getting over Hattersill.

Day Three: May 14th

Day 3.1 Ascending Bal Bach and looking along the Hattersill Ridge.

Day 3.2 The Bal Bach route upwards. Already, the heat was stifling and I had a long day's walking ahead of me.

Day 3.3 Oh, gross out. Death and putrification on The ridge of Bal Bach.

Day 3.4 You've seen my Dead Pony shot on the ridge of Bal Bach. Well, this large Cairn was a few hundred metres further on.

Day 3.5 The incredibly boggy, turgid top of Waun Fach. I won't be going back.

Day 3.6 On the other hand, the views were special. It's just the getting there that nearly killed me.

Day Four: May 15th

"Yes, I'm still alive. Have had no signal in the Black Mountains."

Day 4.1 Nice place as I was leaving Cwm Du, where I camped overnight.

Day 4.2 There's pretty. Bluebells and a chuckling brook - how rural can you get?

Day 4.3 A track I walked along today. It's an equestrian route called the Three Rivers Ride.

Day 4.4 Having lunch, overlooking Llangorse Lake.

Day 4.5 If you can feel sorry for an inanimate object, I did. Reminded me of a dead dinosaur.

Day 4.6 I also hiked along the River Usk today. The keen-eyed amongst you may see the Cormorant in this shot. Or use zoom.

"Didn't go to Plas-y-gaer in the end. The lure of comfort has taken me to a B&B near Llanfrynach, called Ty Newydd. It's right by the canal and there are narrow boats all around. Lovely. A meal in a pub in Pencelli this evening, hopefully."

Day 4.7 Not my B&B for the night, although on the way to it.

Day 4.8 The view from one of my bedroom windows.

Day 4.9 A peaceful evening on the canal. My room is about 100 metres away.

Day 4.10 Taken from the jetty. I could hear the occupants of the boats pottering about and chatting.

Day Five: May 16th

"Up and going down for breakfast. Just been trying to make the bloody camcorder work. Useless. Both batteries have been charging all night. But I put one in and switched on and within a minute it says battery depleted and dies. It's either the charger or the camcorder itself. I suspect the latter but whatever, I'm just carrying around dead weight now. Must find a bigger town with a post office. Send it back home in disgrace and also some of my used maps. Lugging around too much unnecessary stuff and it's going to be a hot one today."
"Still, I'm not faring too badly. Muscles are stiff, but they always are first thing. A couple of small blisters on my heels, but no wonder."
"By far the most horrifying thing that has happened to me on any of my walks occurred three days back, when I was lost before Longtown. I entered a farmyard on the Monnow Trail, jumped a gate onto what looked like dried mud and sank knees deep in liquid cow manure. It was hideous and I had to wade through it. I found a river and washed what I could off my boots and trousers. I smelled bovinely rustic for another two days, before I found a camp-site that did laundry at, Cwm Du. My boots still whiff a bit."
"Hard walking aside, the highlights have been the magnificent views from the top of the Black Mountains. I could see back to May Hill in Gloucestershire, several miles behind where I live. I could see Shropshire and the Bristol Channel. Wonderful, far-reaching views in all directions. I'm now walking with the Brecon Beacons to my left. Will be paralleling them today."

Day 5.1 I don't know what dangerous creature it contained, but it required a door and a barred gate. Pity it had no roof.

Day 5.2 The Roman road through the Daudraeth llltyd nature reserve. I wouldn't know how to pronounce it, either.

"A happy day's walking, though I had a hell of a shock when I looked at my map for tomorrow. I'd got so caught up in the whole Black Mountains thing that, when it was over, I'd convinced myself that the real tough part was over. I had a vague notion that I was going to clip the tail-end of the Brecon Beacons range, but dismissed it as one easy climb. In actual fact, the summit of Fan Brycheiniog on The Black Mountain tops out at 802 metres - just 8 metres shy of Waun Fach a few days ago. It'll also be 17 miles tomorrow if I try to make it to my proposed stop at Manordeilo (near Bethlehem!)."
"Circumstances unfolded, so that I stopped a mile or so short of my designated place for today. I'm currently in Sennybridge. I actually finished today's walk at Crai, instead of walking on to the Glasfynydd Forest to camp."
"Met a lovely couple (Walter and Annette) and got a lift into Sennybridge, so that I could fill my empty wallet with cash. One thing led to another and I now find myself having another 'luxury' night out of the tent and in a B&B."
"Today's walking in itself was grand. It was warm but overcast and with a cooling breeze. Ideal walking weather. Some river walking, quite a lot of lanes, a smidgen of woodland, a nature reserve and also fields. And always climbs and dips. It's Wales."
"I stopped at the Tai'r Bull pub in Libanus for a pint of lemonade, followed by a pint of cider. Also sneakily ate my lunch there."

Day 5.3 I wonder how much for the week?

"Stupid lapses of concentration also led me to going off-route a couple of times, too. Wasted an hour getting back on at one point. Although, in my defence, the signing for the route at this point was very poor and I had a choice of four tiny paths to take. It happens. The nature reserve was great, because it had a Roman road cutting all the way through it. I whizzed along. And always, there were the Brecon Beacons to my left. The Black Mountains are now fading to a smoky blur behind me, as I continue west. I suppose home must be about sixty-five miles back by now, perhaps somewhat less as the crow flies, rather than as the walker limps."

Day 5.4 Rocky, wet and with plenty of overhanging branches to snatch the cap off my head, but it was a short-cut and useful.

"As I was standing in Crai, wondering about a bus journey into Sennybridge, a lady came out of her house and asked if she could help. In a trice, she invited this scruffy stranger into her home, sat him down and made him a sandwich and a coffee. Her husband arrived, insisted I try his Whiskey Cake and then have me a lift into Sennybridge so that I could get money. He then took me around to the local B&B's he knew, until I'd found a room for the night. Thank you, Annette and Walter, for being so lovely. If you want your faith in people restored, stick a backpack on and go walking. Even better, if they can see you carrying a bedroll. During the week, folk have constantly stopped me and asked me where I was walking to and where I had come from. Genuine interest out there."

Day Six: May 17th

"No signal in my tent, but a meagre one in the utility room of the house on whose land I'm camping. A full-on day in lots of respects. First, the practical stuff this morning. I had a dead camcorder and two used maps, so I visited the post office in Sennybridge. Packed them off home and JUST caught the bus back to Crai, where I could pick up on where I finished the walk yesterday."

Day 6.1 Funnily enough, I did near enough follow our star 'Sol' to get here, walking south-west.

Day 6.2 Bethlehem post office, as seen on TV. The place where Christmas cards from all over the world arrive to be franked.

Day 6.3 Llyn y Fan Fawr lake in the Brecon Beacons.

Day 6.4 And again, as I was starting to climb up the ridge on the Beacons Way.

Day 6.5 The same lake, from the top of Fan Brycheiniog. Nearly invisible on the horizon is Hattersill Ridge on the border.

Day 6.6 Walking towards Fan Foel.

Day 6.7 Looking back towards the lake.

Day 6.8 Whilst I was eating lunch, a rescue helicopter flew below me and along the valley.

Day 6.9 Had to make my own way back down into the valley, after losing my way.

Day Seven: May 18th

"Catch-up tweets, since I have a full signal. Yesterday started off fine; a lovely, sunny and hot day, after all. But, I reached a farm and two problems occurred. The first was a choice of three routes and no clear indication of which was mine. Inevitably, I chose the wrong path and merrily headed off in the wrong direction. This took about an hour to resolve, during which problem number two made an appearance in the form of a female Lurcher-type dog. She suddenly decided she was devoted to me and followed me for about three miles, trotting by my side, taking off after some wildlife. But always returning to me. I seemed stuck with her, despite my pleas for her to bugger off. I was beginning to have visions of her completing the walk with me, dashing happily into St. Peter's. Then what? Take her home? I was saved, eventually, by Glasfynydd Forest. She stopped at a fence, watched me enter beneath the trees but went no further. It seems that this was her personal limit and I suspect I'm not the first walker to be so befriended by her."
"I then entered a part of the Brecon Beacons, scaling the peaks of Fan Brycheiniog (802m), Fan Foel (790m) and Picws Du (749m). Great views up there, photos to follow. I did, however, suffer a lapse of concentration and follow the wrong sheep track off course. Duh. This cost me about an hour and a half and much of my command of bad language. Still, I put in a few good miles yesterday."
"I reckon I've walked about 18 miles or so today, too. Different terrain; lots of lane walking, some by design, some because of circumstance. I passed through my biggest 'town' so far, that of Llandeilo which still took me only about ten minutes to meander through. I've also had my route thwarted by fences, hedges and no way to get through them. Hence, the back-tracking and extra lane-walking. My feet are throbbing from the pounding of hard tarmac all day, but they'll survive. I have a couple of blisters, but no big deal."
"About an hour ago, I was getting a bit desperate about finding somewhere to camp, but a farmer saw me and very kindly let me use his field. Now I lie within my tent, listening to evening birdsong and watching the sun go down. The only thing missing is a cold beer, but they'll be other times. Tomorrow, I continue west, looking to stop near a place called Talog."
"For the first time, chatting to locals is becoming a little more difficult each way. The Welsh accent is broadening and as for my Brummie tones, well. One lad of about seven I spoke to, just gaped at me. But I suppose that could have been the baggy trousers, daubed with cow-shit."
"I reckon I've walked just about 100 miles of the route, so around another 74 miles to go."

Day 7.1 My first hello to the winding Afon Tywi (River Towy) as I head west, approaching Llandeilo.

Day 7.2 Hell of a gate post, ancient monument style. On the Bethlehem Road near Llandeilo.

Day 7.3 The Goose and Cuckoo in Llangadog, where I had lovely Hungarian goulash and some top Welsh real ale.

Day 7.4 A modest home for the night, but it was a lovely evening and the field was all mine.

Day 7.5 A diffuse sunset as I sit inside my tent. Diolch yn fawr to Dai, the farmer who let me use his field at Twyn Farm.

"Saw quite a few Red Kites today. Fantastic birds - saw one over my home a few months back and hope they become regular there, too. Also, only my second ever Bullfinch, a male, as I was walking along a country lane yesterday evening."
"Oops. Battery depleting rapidly and nowhere to charge my phone. I'd best turn it off overnight. It's becoming a thing, as the batteries and spares have died in my head torch, too. Now I can't update my journal notes or read my book. Will have to get some batteries, somehow, tomorrow. 'Night for now."

Day Eight: May 19th

"Exactly a week ago I set out from my front door and headed west. Now approaching Felingwmuchaf a hundred and a few miles down the road :-)"
"It's all been both a huge amount of fun and very difficult at times. I've seen some wonderful views and met some lovely people. More of the same during the next five days, I hope. Postcode West has not disappointed."
"The barest of signals from the car park of The Hollybrook Inn, in Bronwydd, where I'm staying and currently being eaten alive by midges. Today, the weather turned at first speculative and then downright moody and I've caught my fair share of rain showers. I got to Felingwm uchaf, to be confronted by an inn that not only didn't open during the day, but sometimes wouldn't bother in the evening. This was a blow. I was low on food and water and my oasis had turned out to be a mirage. Some sort of salvation, of all things, came in the form of a nursery school. A kind lady refilled my water camel. She also gave me several pieces of toast, leftover from the kiddie's breakfast. Any port in a storm."
"It rained in determined bursts, as I continued west to Peniel."
"The early days of amateur mountaineering may have been left behind, with the traverse of The Black Mountains and The Brecon Beacons. But, my God; if there's one thing that Wales cannot be accused, it's of being flat."
"I spent a hard day amongst the hills and valleys of Carmarthenshire. I also got further acquainted with farm dogs and liquid cow manure. One of the two I was inclined to pet, since it was all they seemed to want anyway. The other was a hideous trial to get around. No prizes."
"I ended up in the modern and swanky-looking village of Peniel and from there walked to a garage and got food and drink, glory be. I even managed to book the B&B I'm now staying at and one of the guys at the garage gave me a lift here. Top man."
"To sum up today's walk; hard graft up and down those inclines, but the views and the rural remoteness have been wonderful. I'm now off to the bar for a further pint of Reverend James and perhaps a malt whiskey. Got three day's worth of journal notes to do."

Day 8.1 On the trail towards Felingwm Uchaf.

Day 8.2 Crossing the Afon Cothi at Dolybont.

Day 8.3 Walking through woodland, next to the Afon Cothi.

"The gaff I'm staying at tonight is the Hollybrook Country Inn. Where I enjoyed a vengeful steak in memory of cow dung. Not that I thought of the latter whilst consuming the former, of course."

Day Nine: May 20th

"A full signal, a good breakfast inside me and as yet, no significant wet stuff from the sky. All is well and I'm Talog-bound."

Day 9.1 Leaving Bronwydd and passing the Gwili railway station, this morning.

Day 9.2 Eco-house. Love it!

Day 9.3 What's this mean? Saw it just before taking very steep lanes upwards?

"A fine day's walking, despite the rain showers earlier on. Up and down hills and valleys all day, but my legs are well trained by now. Met an amazing lady, who is walking from Salisbury to St. David's and as she put it, is "closing in on 60" years of age. I'd heard about this person doing Salisbury to St. David's a few days ago, whilst staying at a B&B she'd previously stayed at. Today, I caught up with her at a place called Newchurch. We spent half an hour together, like old walking companions. Comparing walking stories and the state of our feet. She had plenty of plasters in evidence, but was in fine fettle otherwise. She reckons her walk will add up to about 280 miles, but added that she hadn't done any of the mountains I had, steering south to avoid. To hell with that. 280 miles? She's done bloody marvellously."

Day 9.4 Marion, the lady who is walking from Salisbury to St. David's.

Day 9.5 The gorgeous gorge, on the way to Talog.

Day 9.6 A valley on the way to Cwmbach, where I had a bite to eat.

Day 9.7 The sort of terrain I've negotiated all day.

"Tonight, I stop in Llanboidy. Taking a risk and I suspect my family won't be amused. Arrived in a spit and sawdust pub. Asked about B&B's and a local said I can use his room for a tenner. We've had a few pints together with his mates and I've sussed them out. I reckon I'm okay. I'm not naive, I grew up in Chelmsley Wood."

Day 9.8 My housemates for the night.

Day Ten: May 21st

"Back on the road after an entertaining evening and a room for the night. Thanks go to Mabon and Jonesy of Llanboidy. Cheers, lads."

Day 10.1 Straight from a Tolkien book; an Elvish name, I think.

"Battery dying, so I'll be switching off until I can recharge. Yesterday, I heard them. Today, I can see them. Seagulls. The coast nears."
"Grr! Cross-country trails that peter out into wildernesses of nowhere. I'm done with them; sticking to the lanes from now on. A wasted hour."

10.2 The rigours of last winter's storms have provided many fallen trees as obstacles, whilst walking off-road.

10.3 Not a mountain in sight. Even the Brecons are far behind me now.

"Well, well, well. This trip has certainly thrown me some googlies and tonight is no exception. Consider it a complete opposite of yesterday. I have purposely gone at it today and have covered an awful lot of miles. I arrived at my chosen destination, the village of Spittal. This was about an hour and a half ago and I deposited myself, footsore and weary, at a pub with the unusual name of The Pump on the Green. Got chatting to the locals and was pointed in the direction of a bloke called John, who might be able to put me up for the night. This was true. And how. I have my own luxurious cottage, my laundry is currently washing and I have been given swimming trunks and a towel. The latter pair are for me to use the heated swimming pool opposite my cottage. I mean, really. From dossing with the lads to living it up. I'm staying at Beech Cottage of the Scolton Country Cottages estate. A delightful place."
"As for today's walking, well of course I've headed west and it's been my third day of negotiating hills and valleys. The valleys have been marked by the villages they've contained; Llanboidy, of course, then Llanglydwen where I stopped to apply sun-cream. It's been a hot and sunny one. Efailwen and Rhydwilym, where I stopped by a brook and a church to have lunch and also to write some notes. Then, the ill-fated trek down into the Dol-fach valley, to find a cross-country route that has long since been forgotten and neglected. That was when I ranted at the map and chose, mainly, to stick to lanes. I've learned a lesson, finally. Routes for people are ignored and left to wilderness or fencing across. Bridle ways for horses, on the other hand. They've been my friend all the way through this walk. Well-signed, well-maintained and never a horse in sight when I've been on them. Evidence of them, with churned-up and boggy, uneven ground but they've helped me cut corners enormously. Human routes have cost me time."
"So, tomorrow is the penultimate day's walking and I should pass by a place I know from camping with friends late last summer. Then, it's the final push for St. David's and St. Justinian's beach, where my walk ends. Almost there."

Day Eleven: May 22nd

"A totally non-urgent start this morning and I'm only just leaving Spittal. I was reluctant to leave the bosom of luxury that was Scolton Home Farm, but happy enough now I'm on the road."
"It has just stopped raining; a temporary reprieve only, by the look of the sky. No matter, my clothes may be damp, but not my spirit :)"
"Will shortly cross the river of the Western Cleddau and pass through Treffgarne. Good views of the relatively flat land ahead. Off I go."

Day 11.1 The lounge and kitchen of 'my' cottage.

"It's started raining again. Told you."

Day 11.2 Strolling by ancient magma plugs at the Treffgarne Gorge late this morning.

Day 11.3 This is railway bridge "Salem 274m 61c CRL". I know, 'cuz a sign said so.

"Lots of lane-walking today, in line with the past few days. Not so hilly, though. I haven't had to swoop up and down an innumerable amount of hills and valleys."
"The trudge across the moor and woods of Plumstone and Dudwell Mountains proved to be more of a challenge than I'd reckoned. It wasn't the fact that they were steep or high, because they were neither. In fact, neither topped out at more than 175m (about 500ft) and they insulted the word 'mountain'. It was the exposure to the elements and the gradual disappearance of any visible trail that was the challenge. Once in the woods, it became a flora and fauna lottery and I ended up drifting too far south-west and into a small settlement of caravans. I tried heading back north-west and was blocked by a wall of cliffs, so ended up taking a track back onto the lane. This meant an extra trudge up Cuffern Mountain before I got back on trail. A silly lack of concentration had me take a wrong turn later on. My first inkling that all was not well was when I entered a working quarry, somewhere I should definitely not have been. At least, not without a hard hat and steel toecap boots. And perhaps a Yorkie bar."
"The rain has embraced me like a long-lost friend today and brought along a blowy wind. It's made for a forlorn figure marching along. I was rescued by the appearance of the Bryn Awel B&B at Penycwm. I'm not Bear Grylls enough to be trying to set up my tent in this wet murk. I'm now warm and dry for the first time in several hours. Feels damn good. Looks like I've only got about twelve miles to walk tomorrow. That'll take me to St. Justinian's and the end of my journey west. For now, I'll kickback and relax."
"It was my waterproof clothing finally admitting first defeat and then the rain, that drove me to seek shelter. I was walking down to Newgale right on the coast, a place I have been to before, when I passed this B&B and tried my luck. Bingo."

Day 11.4 Open moorland on Plumstone Mountain. In the rain.

Day 11.5 The working quarry I should never have been at.

Day 11.6 The evening drawing in at Newgale.

Day Twelve: May 23rd

"Dare I hope? I woke up to absolutely foul weather; rain lashing down and a gusty wind. I made sure to take a leisurely breakfast. This wasn't difficult, as John has been an excellent host and invited me through to their 'inner sanctum' as he called it, their home. A friend of his turned up and we all had a natter, including some friendly banter concerning England/Wales rugby matches :-) During all this, the rain stopped. I'm now walking and it remains dry, though very blustery. Hope the wet stuff stays away."

Day 12.1 The cove at Porth Clais.

Day 12.2 The home stretch; walking along the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path.

Day 12.3 Lol. Fair warning.

"Just about to go down a track through St. Elvis Farm. I know. And I forgot my blue suede walking boots."
"I can see the sea! Just about, out there in the soup."

Day 12.4 The lifeboat station at St. Justinian's.

Day 12.5 The warning sign wasn't kidding. Rugged cliffs and a steep drop down.

"The last day's walk was a quiet one, in the end. I was lucky in that the rain held off, although the wind at the coast was a bully. I didn't enjoy having to walk along the A-road into St. David's. Never fun, having speeding vehicles whipping by your elbow. I merely shaved St. David's before heading for the coast. I negotiated Pen-porth-clais and nipped back over the headland, using lanes. Then finished off by using part of the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path facing the Ramsey Sound. Here, the wind was the type to give you earache. I got to the cove of St. Justinian just a an Aussie couple were leaving. They asked where I'd walked from and then how many miles it was. "One hundred and seventy-four miles?" The husband repeated, clearly unimpressed. "Well, that's not a bad warm-up!" The wife stuck a boot in, too. "All the way from Ross-on-Wye? Fair dinkum - We've just come all the way from Sydney!" It was good-natured enough and she congratulated me."

Day 12.6 Job nearly done. Just the matter of St. Justinian's beach.

Day 12.7 St. Justinian's and the end of the Postcode West walk.

"After a rest, there was really nothing more to do than wander back to St. David's. This suited me. I've got four nights at The Old Cross Hotel and just want to chill out and maybe explore at leisure. It's going to feel strange tomorrow, not having to strap the rucksack on and head off to the horizon."

Day 12.8 Re-entering St. David's in search of my hotel.