Brecon Beacons April 2010

Spring is here and so it was again time to go on the Walking Holiday, earlier in the year we decided that after 8 years visiting various parts of Scotland we should have a change and the Brecon Beacons was chosen.
At various times during the week there were either 3, 4 or 5 of us together. Let me explain, Peter and John Corbishley along with myself travelled down to South Wales on Saturday 24th April, Ray had to stay behind as he had no one to cover him for the Sunday Service (and Bolton were at home on the Saturday!) and he followed on the Sunday afternoon. Ray's son Andrew, who lives in Berkshire, joined us after work on the Wednesday and stayed until Saturday.

We travelled by motorway and found Aldi in Brecon to shop for all the essentials needed for breakfasts and packed lunches (John is a sucker for Aldi bargains and, given half a chance, would have bought loads of camping gear for Brigade) and then on to the cottage we had booked in the small village of Trecastle. We found out later that like many other villages Trecastle had lost the Post Office and School although it still had a community hall, antiques/junk centre, farm shop and cafe, pub and a small rather dowdy looking hotel (which turned out to be very homely inside and served good food)

We did walks of various lengths on 5 days and as none of us had walked in the area previously we did not know what to expect. We variously described the area as being like North Yorkshire, Saddleworth Moor and Kinder Scout. There are valleys divided by broad moorland ridges, some of these rounded like a whale's back others having almost vertical edges. There is very little exposed rock, almost everywhere being grassy with a few forests. A lot of the paths follow the vertical edges and according to the guide books should give spectacular views. On the 2 days we were promised the best views it was misty and rained so we only got occassional tantilising glimpses of what we were missing!   
We had a couple of good weather days with the others being mixed.

On our full "rest" day we visited the Big Pit at Blaenavon, a museum based at what had been one of the last working mines in Wales. We went underground and were shown what the miner's working life was like by our guide who had, like all the other guides, been a miner. There was also an imaginative display showing how the machinery had developed over the years. The pit head baths building contained the original showers and changing rooms along with a large display of photos showing how mining dominated everything in the area and was a complete way of life not only for the miners themselves but also their families and the broader community. The most poignont moment for me came in the Medical Room when listening to the recorded voice of a nurse who described what happened when fatal accidents occurred and the gentle, respectful manner in which miners would bring to the surface the bodies of their dead former workmates.


We found plenty of places to eat and drink and in the absence of a pool table turned to darts as a form of entertainment, all I will say is I am no good at the game but do not under any circumstances play Andrew unless you enjoy loosing!

All to soon it was Saturday and time to say goodbye to Andrew as he headed home and we loaded the cars for the journey north, I enjoyed the Brecon Beacons, the walking and the company of my friends and as I write this on the day before I go back to work all I will say is I am not looking forward to tomorrow, give me the wide open spaces and good company every time,

David Mills.

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