April 2014 Community Walk

Upper Usk Valley

Upper Usk Valley Community Walks

Upper Usk Walking Group

Our next walk takes place on Sunday 27th April from Trecastle Community Hall.

Please meet at 2.00pm, parking in the layby opposite the Hall, near the red phone box, or slightly further down the road beyond the Antiques Centre

The route takes in some of the ancient track ways around Trecastle, taking in the old roman road, bridleways around the village, crossing the River Usk and heading through old woodlands.

Spring is here, so there are plenty of opportunities to see the bird life and wild flowers en route.

The route is suitable for all ages, dogs on a short lead are welcome, though please ensure they are kept on a lead as there are young lambs in the fields on the route.

Some areas may be wet and muddy and the weather forecast suggests a possibility of heavy showers, so please arrive prepared for these.

 

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A walk on the wild (weather) side

Brecon Beacons Walks, Upper Usk Valley

Upper Usk Valley Community Walk Group

Our first Community Walk completed, big thanks to the 18 people who extracted themselves from the cosy surroundings of home, especially after a stormy Sunday morning.

A very pleasant mix of people came along, covering all ages and with some having travelled from Llanwrtyd Wells and Brecon to join us in our scenic surroundings. The route took in an ancient track past Maesydd Farm to the weir at Abersenni, with the Afon Senni flowing at an impressive rate.

It was then up to Twyn y Gaer – an iron age hill fort overlooking Defynnog & Sennybridge and offering great views over the Central Beacons and the Carmarthen Fans as well as the Senni & Crai Valleys, and unfortunately some great views of the incoming weather too!

Brecon Beacons Walking

Hail storm hurry’s group to Pub!

The exploration of the fort itself was cut short by some ominous grey clouds and we descended the final part of the route back to the Tanners Arms, Defynnog with the accompaniment of a hailstorm, sleet and even a clap of thunder, which made for a complete contrast to an hour or so of pleasant sunshine!

You can see more photo’s from the walk on our Upper Usk Valley Facebook Page.

Very pleasant to have everyone’s company and that everyone enjoyed – we look forward to the next walk on February 23rd in Trecastle.

Defynnog Walks

Twyn y Gaer Walk Route

Community Walks 2014

Upper Usk Valley Walking

The stunning Upper Usk Valley. Photo courtesy of Tomos Bidgood.

Explore the Upper Usk Valley with a series of Community Walks taking in some of the history and stunning views of the area during 2014.

Sunday 26th January 2014: Meet at 2.00pm

Tanners Arms, Defynnog

On the last Sunday of every month, we will visit a different part of the area, moving around the villages within the Upper Usk Valley, discovering more about the history, nature and scenery of the area, encouraging everyone to get out and explore what’s on their own doorstep.

From Roman Camps, hidden valleys, ancient bridges, waterfalls, reservoirs, mystic wells, legends  and old woodlands, the Upper Usk Valley offers some amazing landscapes and views, our aim is to explore these via a programme of short, social walks aimed at all levels, with each one taking 2-3 hours, just about enough to make you feel as if you’ve earned that drink at the end!

These free walks are being organised by Trecastle based activity provider – Expeditions Wales who run walking and camping activities for well over a 1000 people a year – so you’re in safe hands!

Defynnog 2

Looking over the Senni Valley towards Pen y Fan & Corn Du

Do I have to be fit to do these walks? No – our aim is that everybody can enjoy these walks at their own pace. The walk leaders from Expeditions Wales will normally be at the back to make sure everybody gets back safely.

Will there be big hills? To get the best views, we will need to go uphill at times, though we’ve set the routes out so the gradients are fairly gradual and there’s nothing wrong with stopping to gather your breath while you take in the views!

What if the weather’s bad? Luckily we aren’t going too high, so we’ll escape the worst of the wind and rain (although we’d like to promise that it’ll be sunny), most of the routes are sheltered, so nobody will get too cold. A waterproof jacket of some kind will keep the wind off and although they aren’t too bad, some of the routes will be a bit muddy after all the rain recently.

The path coming down from Twyn y Gaer

The path coming down from Twyn y Gaer

Do I need specialist kit? No – just what you’d normally wear outdoors, wellies or boots are fine and a waterproof jacket, hat, gloves and a pocketful of snacks will be enough for the few hours we’ll be out. The leaders will be carrying all the emergency equipment and first aid kits. It’s better to be dressed warmly and walk slowly, than feel cold and rush it to stay warm.

I’ve got a medical issue – can I still come? Of course, it is walking for all wherever possible. We will be asking for medical forms to be completed, though, if you are concerned at all, you can email Aled Davies (aled@expeditionswales.co.uk) or phone 07791 739025 if you have any questions. We’d rather know about any medical conditions in advance rather than have nasty surprises out on the hills.

Walk 1 is based from the Tanners Arms, Defynnog, where following the walk, there is the opportunity to try a small glass of local ale, or if you’re feeling brave, book yourself in for Sunday lunch, using our walk as an excuse for some post lunch exercise?

The route takes in Abersenni Bridge and weir, before exploring the old hill fort of Twyn y Gaer, offering excellent views over the Crai & Senni valleys and looking down onto Defynnog and Sennybridge.

This walk is 6km or 3.2miles long and should take around 2-3 hours at a relaxed pace, there are some muddy sections and about 30 minutes of walking uphill, though the views will be worth it! See the poster below, or email Aled Davies from Expeditions Wales (aled@expeditionswales.co.uk) with any questions or for more details.

For more about the area follow Upper Usk Valley on Facebook, or on Twitter.

Walks Poster January 2014

Dark Skies in Winter

With the iminent return of BBC’s Stargazing Live we thought we’d share some of our own dark meteor showerskies experiences in the Upper Usk Valley, part of Brecon Beacons National Park.

The long nights mean that the planets, stars and moon become visible from early on, within a few hours of darkness, clear skies can produce an amazing show, with many of the more famous constellations at their height during the winter months.

In the Upper Usk Valley, we have the 2 darkest locations within the Brecon Beacons Dark Skies Reserve area, so where better to witness these wonderful overnight shows and to discover more about the dark skies around us, with clear views and very little light pollution.

Not only are the stars in clear view, but December offers a great opportunity to see meteor showers (or shooting stars) with this year’s Geminid Meteor Shower peaking on the 13th & 14th December.

Taking advantage of some clear skies, Carole Gledhill of Madog Fechan Barn, a Brecon Beacons National Park ambassador explains more…..

One of the absolute joys of living in the Upper Usk Valley (UUV) is the lack of light pollution and easy access to sheltered spots from which to observe the night skies. Brecon Beacons National Park recently became only the fifth destination in the world to be granted prestigious International Dark Sky Reserve status and Crai was awarded Dark Sky Discovery Site, Milky Way Class recognition in 2012. You can find out more about the Dark Skies movement at www.darkskydiscovery.org.uk

The Upper Usk Valley is very fortunate to have several Dark Sky Ambassadors residing within its boundaries and many accommodation providers have equipped their properties with telescopes and binoculars. It is hoped to host stargazing events in the UUV in 2014.

What sort of events would you like to see happen?

At certain times of the year the stargazer can look forward to meteor showers and last weekend it was the turn of the spectacular Geminids, named after the Gemini constellation, the direction from which its parent asteroid, 3200 Phaethon, originates. As this asteroid passes close to the Earth, bits of debris will crumble in the upper edges of the atmosphere, vaporising as lights in the sky.

We set ourselves up late at night outside Madog Fechan Barn in Crai, wrapped up warmly and seated on deckchairs, just the right angle for viewing the stars! No need for telescope or binoculars, the meteors were very bright and easy to spot streaking across the sky. We do provide 4 pairs of astronomy quality binoculars for our guests to use, along with insulated mugs and blankets to make the experience more comfortable. Then it was just a matter of turning our backs to the moon and allowing our eyes to become accustomed to the dark and we didn’t have long to wait to enjoy the spectacle of reportedly, 100 and 120 meteors every hour at its peak, although unfortunately a number were obscured by patchy clouds and we weren’t counting anyway!

Did anyone else catch the Geminids this year?

Why not share your experience here?

Having quality dark skies is as much an attraction to residents and tourists as it is a massive boost for tourism operators in the Upper Usk Valley. Do your bit and keep outside lighting to a minimum to help preserve our wonderful dark skies.

Click Here to find our more about the stargazing events in 2014 maybe an ideal time to plan a visit to the Upper Usk Valley and witness these incredible spectacles!

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