After a few weeks at home catching up on some work and recovering from My UK South Coast Circular Camping Adventure, I was packing my van once again for a week in Wales.
This was a very last-minute trip.
I had originally planned to go to the Lake District, but we had experienced a lot of rain and the campsite phoned to inform me that my pitch was underwater! So, obviously, that trip was cancelled.
Then, in the wee hours of Sunday morning whilst I was having trouble sleeping (and scrolling through my phone), I ended up booking a pitch in Rhandirmwyn, which is a small village in the northeast of Carmarthenshire, Wales, for the following Monday-Friday.
This meant I had Sunday to make sure I was up-to-date with my work, go shopping for food, and clean, refuel and pack my van.
It was all hands on deck!
Visiting the Welsh Dragon
(For those that may not know, the welsh flag is of a red dragon. They don’t actually have a real dragon. Although it would be cool if they did.)
It was just over a 3-hour drive, mostly made up of single carriageway A-roads, which was very tiresome.
We got there a little late in the evening leaving just enough time to pitch the tent (in the rain!), get our bearings, and get settled for the evening.
We were the only ones in the camping field.
The campsite was very picturesque with the River Towy running right next to it, which I could hear from my tent.
…and as you know, any campsite which has an off-lead dog area gets bonus points from me!
Adventure 1 – Chasing a view
The next morning we got up and fuelled up ready for our first hike; up and around a nearby mountain/hill. (I’m not sure at what height a hill becomes a mountain…)
We set off early and were making good progress. You know you’re on the right track when it starts inclining.
Truth be told, I do not like walking up hills (or mountains for that matter), but I do love the view the from top! Which is why I put myself through such torture.
What made this hike more difficult was that the incline was soooooo boring! Just a never ending and unexciting track.
For a couple of miles, I kept putting one foot in front of the other whilst carrying my heavy(ish) backpack and telling myself that the view from the top was going to be worth it.
A third of the way there.
Over half-way now.
This is going to be one amazing view.
The track then started to level off. Success! I had reached the top. All I had to do now was walk around the mountain and enjoy the views.
NO UNAUTHORISED PERSON ALLOWED PAST THIS POINT
Forestry work was underway and I was not permitted to continue following the track.
I checked my map to see if I could find an alternative route around, but there wasn’t one.
I stood next to the stop signs for a few moments almost in disbelief. I could see exactly where I needed to be…and the track looked clear to me.
I did consider sneaking through anyway, but decided that it really wasn’t worth it whilst they were moving huge logs with big machinery. They’ve obviously blocked the path for a reason.
I had no other option but to turn around and walk down the same path that I had motivated myself to walk up only a few moment earlier.
At least the view was a little better heading back down…
I wasn’t quite ready to head back to the campsite, so we took a small diversion past some abandoned building, through some forest that was still standing, and around to the other side of the mountain.
…and there is was right in front of me.
My view. ?
Trying to work out where we were, I could see the campsite (which I’ve artistically pointed out for you with a black arrow), but our location did not correlate with any trails on my map. I’m guessing that some of the trails were changed due to the forestry work.
Nonetheless, after taking in the view, we re-traipsed our steps back past the abandoned buildings (after exploring around them) and down the track and home again.
Back at the tent, we re-filled our stomachs and indulged in an afternoon nap.
Adventure 1 done. ?
Taking it easy
Towards the end of Adventure 1, I was experiencing mild pain at the back of my right knee. I think I must have overworked some of the ligaments.
Although I was feeling fine the following day, I thought that it would be best to have a more relaxing day. I have heard stories of people who have continued walking on sore legs and created irreparable damage.
So, after my 6:30am alarm, I took Winston out for a short walk so he could go to the toilet, we ate breakfast, and then we did the most heavenly thing I could think of…
…we went back to bed for long morning snoozes!
At around 10:30am, I awoke feeling refreshed and thought that we should at least do something that day.
After getting dressed, I decided we should go for a light wander down The Cambrian Way, which is a 298-mile hike from the north to the south of Wales, and the path ran right through the campsite.
As mentioned, we were taking it easy, so we only covered 2-miles, but it was a very enjoyable 2-miles and much more interesting than I thought it would be.
The afternoon was spent laying out in the sun, reading, and playing with my dog and his toy.
It was blissful.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t say the same for the night that followed.
I had been enjoying night time temperatures of around 7°C, but on the third night the temperature dropped to 4°C and I was ill prepared!
The best way to stay warm at night is to not let yourself get cold in the first place; it’s much harder to start a fire than it is to keep one going.
By the time I was aware of the lower temperature, I was already cold.
I spent the night alternating between curling in a ball for warmth and then stretching out again because my butt and legs would ache.
Then cue the 6:30am alarm … ?
Adventure 2 – Chasing waterfalls
I love waterfalls! And if there is one near to where I’m hiking then I always enjoy chasing it down – which is what I had planned for our third day.
The waterfall trail was only about 2-3miles and I wanted to make it longer. I used the AllTrails app to try and connect nearby routes, but I kept getting lost! …Although I suppose I still succeeded in making the route longer ?.
One thing I love about the AllTrails app (this post is not sponsored and I am not affiliated with them) is that it points out where the viewpoints are, and there was one that was only a small diversion from our waterfall.
I had to go!
It was a lovely spot and well worth the sweat it took to get there!
In the distance, we could see the waterfall flowing off the side of the mountain (not in the above picture). Our next mission was to get to the base.
After another mile or so of walking, clambering over fences and ducking under trees, we had made it and she did not dissapoint!
The waterfall was actually made up of lots of smaller waterfall tiers, making it difficult to get a photo of the whole thing. These photos show less than half of it. But just take my word for it, it was impressive and the sound was deafening!
Never being content at just looking from a distance, I had to explore closer, and in doing so I slipped on a rock and fell in!!
I sank until the water came up above my waist and I smashed my right shin and hip on a rock.
In hindsight, I was very lucky. I hadn’t seen another living soul out hiking that day and if I have banged my head or broken something, I would have been really stuffed! Luckily, I escaped with nothing more than a banged-up leg and wet pants.
After laughing it off, we continued to walk the trail.
As he always does, Winston was running off ahead and playing in the shallow stream with his toy.
After catching up with him, I could see him looking for his toy in the water. He obviously thought that he had left it in the water in a certain place. Little did he know the flowing water had carried his toy downstream. How far, I did not know.
At this point, my legs and feet were as wet as they could have been, so in the water I went.
Together, we walked down the middle of the stream, following its course, hoping to find his toy snagged on a branch or floating in some corner.
Sadly, after over half an hour of wading (and ruining my hiking boots), we did not find it and Winston was very distressed about having to carry on without it.
Walking back to the campsite along a quiet road, I was enjoying the sounds of the countryside, until I heard a loud engine.
At first, I thought a large truck was coming. I turned around to see nothing behind behind me. Then out the corner of my eye, I noticed, of all things, an airplane.
…and not just any airplane. This was not RyanAir or some local on a recreational flight. This was a huge black (or dark charcoal grey if you want to be particular) plane flying incredibly low.
I stood there in disbelief as I watched it turn on its side and fly through the Welsh valley.
I have no idea what type of plane it was, who it belonged to, or where it was going.
All I can tell you was that it was black, big, and flying very low…
…and that it was an awesome sight.
I wish I had got a video or a photo of it, but within a few seconds it was gone.
When we got back to the tent, I thought it best that I change out of my wet socks and pants.
I first took off my trousers and threw them into a carrier bag. Next, I went to take my socks off, but in doing so I noticed that I didn’t just banged my shin, I had cut it.
The elastic on the top of my sock was conveniently laying right over the top of the cut and applying gentle pressure to the wound. However, when I removed the sock, blood poured out and I nearly passed out.
Okay, that may be a tad melodramatic, but I not very good with blood (especially my own) and upon seeing red, I did go lightheaded.
I laid back on my air bed and elevated my leg in the air whilst I tried to compose myself.
Thankfully, no one was able to walk past the front of my tent, because if they did they would have got a right eye full as I laid there half-naked with one leg in the air.
After some deep breaths and giving myself a pep talk, I got the first aid kit out of my backpack.
I cleaned the wound as best as I could and used a plaster as a steri-strip to help keep it closed.
I was unsure whether I would need a stitch or two, but I had no intention of driving to a hospital to find out. I was going home the next morning and if the wound hadn’t started closing by that time, then I could go to my local doctors for them to have a look.
The funny thing was that since banging my shin I had managed to walk almost 2-miles back to the campsite and trek up and down a rocky stream looking from Winston’s toy, but as soon as I saw that I had cut it, I miraculously developed a limp! …and I couldn’t stop it ?
After my near-death medical experience, Winston and I were relaxing at the front of the tent (whilst I elevated my leg, obviously ?), and when I looked up, less than 2-meters in front of both of us was a hedgehog.
A friggin’ hedgehog!
In broad daylight in the middle of the day.
(Sorry about the crap picture. I have no idea why I didn’t use my Canon camera which was sat right there!)
It looked healthy enough and well-fed, so I have no idea why it was out during the day. I always thought that they were nocturnal. (Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong.)
Harry (which is what I named him) seem oblivious that a human and a dog were within arms length of it.
Winston and I just laid there watching it, completely entranced, until after about 15-minutes it hopped back into the hedge and carried on its way.
What a bizarre trip
It was once again time to pack away and head home.
This has got to be my most bizarre trip to date! Nothing went to plan, but boy did we have an adventurous week!
Diversions, abandoned buildings, wrong turns, waterfalls, hiking through streams, injuries, an unexplained aircraft, and unexplained hedgehog, and lots of great memories.
This adventure is going to take some beating!
…but I do love a good challenge ?
P.S. Winston got a new toy (the exact same one that he lost) when he got back home. He was very happy!
- How to Stay Warm When Camping
- 18 Things to Take for Your Dog When Camping & Hiking
- The 4 Different Types of Camping
- Camping at Youlgreave, Bakewell