November 2012 – 88 km 3 day solo walk – Black Mountains – Day 3

This is a map of Day 3's epic 44.44km journey which included 1097 mtrs of ascent and 1383 mtrs of descent. This would also be the first walk in the dark! Red is planned, Blue is actual. The main deviation to the West was to get out of the driving wind which was gusting quite powerfully.

This is a map of Day 3’s epic 44.44km journey which included 1097 mtrs of ascent and 1383 mtrs of descent. This would also be the first walk in the dark! Red is planned, Blue is actual. The main deviation to the West was to get out of the driving wind which was gusting quite powerfully.

Before I went to bed the previous evening I knew I was in trouble. According to the route planning software I was using I should have had around 20-25 km to do on day 3. However, checking the map in the tent revealed that I was over 40 km away from Merthyr Tydfil!

It seems that the software I had been using wasn’t adequately taking hill slope into account when measuring projected distances. As a result I found that I had been caught short to the tune of an additional 20 km!

This issue would have a profound effect on the planning of all subsequent walks. Prior to this walk, all route plans had very little slack in them. As a result, they relied heavily on things going to plan to ensure that I got to my destination on time.

After this walk, I realised that things can go wrong! As a result I now always incorporate a lot of slack in all my newly planned walks. This normally takes the form of a ‘spare’ day, or a day where the distance walked would be relatively low.

This helps take the pressure off for the final stages of a journey where I am practically guaranteed to arrive at my destination on time!

Today’s walk would be my longest single day walk of 44.44 km and would also incorporate my first night walk. It was also a walk where I was subject to some of the worse weather I ever had to walk in!

As usual I’ll let the photos tell the story of the journey!

I awake at around 0400 ready for what I knew would be an epic walk. The winds are so strong that I cannot cook breakfast - the stove was being blown over! So it was a case of getting everything packed ready for the journey to Merthyr Tydfil.

I awake at around 0400 ready for what I knew would be an epic walk. The winds are so strong that I cannot cook breakfast – the stove was being blown over! So it was a case of getting everything packed ready for the journey to Merthyr Tydfil.

Walking the ridges at night, especially in the strong winds required concentration. To the right of the picture is a big drop. This picture was taken with the flash on, so one can see a lot more than I could with the head torch!

Walking the ridges at night, especially in the strong winds required concentration. To the right of the picture is a big drop. This picture was taken with the flash on, so one can see a lot more than I could with the head torch!

I get to the top of Mynydd Llangorse. This photo was taken with no flash and is more representative of what I could actually see. At this point I was just starting to appear back on the Northern Edge of my most Northern map which meant I could go back to using map and compass - WOOOT!!!!

I get to the top of Mynydd Llangorse. This photo was taken with no flash and is more representative of what I could actually see.
At this point I was just starting to appear back on the Northern Edge of my most Northern map, which meant I could go back to using the map and compass – WOOOT!!!!

Even a simple junction poses a navigational challenge at night. Compass bearings have to be taken on what can be seen and a decision is made based on one's calculated position on the map. I was double checking all compass bearings as I didn't want to end up getting lost on a night walk!

Even a simple junction poses a navigational challenge at night. Compass bearings have to be taken on what can be seen and a decision is made based on one’s calculated position on the map. I was double checking all compass bearings as I didn’t want to end up getting lost on a night walk!

After around 8 km in the dark, the morning finds me following the River Usk Westward... The tree roots and rocks made this track quite difficult going...

After around 8 km in the dark, the morning finds me following the River Usk Westward… The tree roots and rocks made this track quite difficult going…

Later on I make it to the locks at GlawCoed.

Later on I make it to the locks at GlawCoed.

Here I'm climbing up a hill which should take me toward Talybont reservoir.

Here I’m climbing up a hill which should take me toward Talybont reservoir.

The view back down the hill. The winds are strong here and it looks like the clouds are starting to move in!

The view back down the hill. The winds are strong here and it looks like the clouds are starting to move in!

I get to Ton-mawr farm at start what would be my last big hill climb. This is the view back down the hill. The mud made the going very slippery. To add to the fun, rain starts to fall. It wouldn't stop for the rest of the day!

I get to Ton-mawr farm at start what would be my last big hill climb. This is the view back down the hill. The mud made the going very slippery. To add to the fun, rain starts to fall. It wouldn’t stop for the rest of the day!

I eventually get to the top of the hill. On the other side of that wall should be the Talybont reservoir. The wind and rain are now very strong!

I eventually get to the top of the hill. On the other side of that wall should be the Talybont reservoir. The wind and rain are now very strong!

The Talybont reservoir! One can see the heavy rain battering the countryside. Walking in this kind of harsh weather really lends a different wilder feel to the landscape.

The Talybont reservoir! One can see the heavy rain battering the countryside. Walking in this kind of harsh weather really lends a different wilder feel to the landscape.

The whole area is a mud bath. The winds are now so strong that at times I'm finding it difficult to move.

The whole area is a mud bath. The winds are now so strong that at times I’m finding it difficult to move.

Up ahead is the pass that I need which will take me onto the eastern side of the hills for a direct route to Merthyr Tydfil.

Up ahead is the pass that I need which will take me onto the eastern side of the hills for a direct route to Merthyr Tydfil.

The winds are so strong on this side of the hills that movement forward is extremely slow. At times I feel like I'm about to be blown over!

The winds are so strong on this side of the hills that movement forward is extremely slow. At times I feel like I’m about to be blown over!

In the end I decide to hang a right and head down hill back towards Talybont. This way I would effectively use the hill as a wind shield.

In the end I decide to hang a right and head down hill back towards Talybont. This way I would effectively use the hill as a wind shield.

I make it to a forest nearby to Talybont. I almost make a simple navigation error, by turning right instead of left here. However, a quick compass check sorted me out. When one is fatigued and tired, all turns should be checked by compass.

I make it to a forest nearby to Talybont. I almost make a simple navigation error, by turning right instead of left here. However, a quick compass check sorted me out. When one is fatigued and tired, all turns should be checked by compass.

I'm now headed South Westwards down a muddy track. Although this route is longer, I'm thankful that I'm out of the main winds!

I’m now headed South Westwards down a muddy track. Although this route is longer, I’m thankful that I’m out of the main winds!

Up ahead I spot a stone chair! Seems an odd place to leave one!

Up ahead I spot a stone chair! Seems an odd place to leave one!

I'm on what I think is the main bridle way headed SW. What I don't realise at this point is that I'm not on the bridleway! Instead I'm walking parallel to it on the Taff trail. This trail looks ok here, but later on it becomes so thin that one cannot place ones feet side by side and to make things more difficult it got super muddy!

I’m on what I think is the main bridle way headed SW. What I don’t realise at this point is that I’m not on the bridleway! Instead I’m walking parallel to it on the Taff trail. This trail looks ok here, but later on it becomes so thin that one cannot place ones feet side by side and to make things more difficult it got super muddy!

In the end - after many klicks of hard going - I realise my mistake and decide to go cross country through the woods to get to the bridleway proper.

In the end – after many klicks of hard going – I realise my mistake and decide to go cross country through the woods to get to the bridleway proper.

Finally at the bridle way! I'm now very happy as I should be able to stay on bridleways and roads for the rest of the trip which makes for a much faster rate of walking - despite quite a lot of it being up hill as seen here.

Finally at the bridle way! I’m now very happy as I should be able to stay on bridleways and roads for the rest of the trip which makes for a much faster rate of walking – despite quite a lot of it being up hill as seen here.

Finally I exit the Talybont valley. Just got to hang a left here and hike down the road which should take me to the Brecon's Pontsticill Reservoir - where my previous Brecons hike took place. The only difference this time is that I would be headed the other way!

Finally I exit the Talybont valley. Just got to hang a left here and hike down the road which should take me to the Brecon’s Pontsticill Reservoir – where my previous Brecons hike took place. The only difference this time is that I would be headed the other way!

After many Klicks I finally get to a road I recognise from my previous Brecon Walk!!! Cool - no more navigation as I know exactly where I am. Unfortunately for the camera it finally succumbs to the incessant rain and isn't even able to open the shutter properly At this point I'm still around 14 Klicks from my final destination, but most of it is downhill from here on in. After a monumental walk I eventually make it to Merthyr Tydfil Station at around 1630 - almost 12 hours of solid walking! At 44km and given the poor weather conditions - this is one walk I will never forget!

After many Klicks I finally get to a road I recognise from my previous Brecon Walk!!! Cool – no more navigation as I know exactly where I am.
Unfortunately for the camera it finally succumbs to the incessant rain and isn’t even able to open the shutter properly
At this point I’m still around 14 Klicks from my final destination, but most of it is downhill from here on in.
After a monumental walk I eventually make it to Merthyr Tydfil Station at around 1630 – almost 12 hours of solid walking!
At 44km and given the poor weather conditions – this is one walk I will never forget!

Laters
RobP

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About RobP

Got into backpacking in the spring of 2012. I started as a couch potato then made my way through walker, hiker and now backpacker! As you can see from below I have far too many hobbies! :)
This entry was posted in Backpacking, Brecon Beacons, Camping, Hiking, Multi-Day Walk, The Black Mountains and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to November 2012 – 88 km 3 day solo walk – Black Mountains – Day 3

  1. Pingback: There’s a plan? | Uk Backpacker

  2. Goodness. What an epic walk indeed! šŸ™‚

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