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                                                 DOLANOG OCT 2018
 A misty start to the day did not deter the walkers as they drove over the rolling Mid Wales hills to reach the village of Dolanog. It is a village nestling between hills, with spectacular waterfalls as the river Vyrnwy bounces over the rocks on its journey downstream. The sun came out as we reached the car park which offered the luxury of well-cared-for toilets  a bonus before we started our 5 mile walk. The first section was following Glyndwr's
Way along a well trodden path up and over Allt Dolanog a former hill fort,  stopping at times to look at the spectacular scenery and take photos. The grassy surroundings gave way to moor land at the top with patches of marshy bog, before we made our descent to reach the road below.
A large part of our walk was to follow the 'Ann Griffiths Walk' a trail named after the 18th century Welsh hymn writer and poet. A Calvinist Methodist
her work was very influential and by the end of the 19th century she was recognized as a national icon and  significant figure in Welsh nonconformist.  In Dolanog village a chapel has been named as a memorial to her as she had lived a large part of her life near there.
Leaving Glyndwr's Way  we took the Ann Griffith Walk as it lead us down a winding road in the direction of Dolanog, then took a right turn leading us very near a beautiful 17th century black and white house at Plas Dolanog. A way marker in the hedge pointed us into a paddock from where we could hear the sound of the river Vrynwy. Our track lead us through a deciduous wood onto pasture land, with the river's edge to our side. The sun was out therefore a perfect place to stop for our picnic lunch before following the river for another half a mile towards Rhyd yr Abadau. A sign saying 'Bull in Field' made a number of us uneasy, but we continued without seeing evidence of any cattle at this point and within a few yards we left the Ann Griffiths Walk to take the lane that would lead us back towards Plas Dolanog. It was a very pleasant stroll along the tree lined lane, with gaps to stop and look over the surrounding countryside and hills, then following a grassy track we found ourselves in the wood, which took and back to Plas  Dolang. After a chat with the owners of the house, and petting many of the animals that came out to greet us, we made our way across the open field onto the road through  the village  and our cars ready for our homeward journey. A number of our walkers had not walked in the area before and found the village, and the surrounding countryside delightful, well worth the  journey from Newtown to get there.
Crossing moorland on Glyndwr's Way Stopping for a moment beside the river Vyrnwy Autumn colours of the Dolanog area
               'WALKING NEWTOWN' WALK TO BETTWS CEDEWAIN SEPT 2018
 This was a 'Walking Newtown' walk lead by two of  Walking Newtown's founder members, Mike and Paula. Although there are many walks already printed, and distributed to pick up around Newtown, this one is not yet printed as it is one where the volunteers are still working to provide yet another excellent circular walk to add to the collection. The walk for us was part of that walk, a linear walk to the village of Bettws Cedewain for a pub meal.
We met at the Halfpenny Bridge and made our way towards the end of the Barnfields estate, to a footpath winding behind the houses, then onto a field, over a stile  to find ourselves in Lonesome Lane. Continuing on, the road turns into a beautiful green lane, which passes near Gwestydd  then up to Cefn Mawr. The walk was one of moderate hill climbs, which revealed varied and beautiful views of the Mid Wales countryside. Downward slopes took us through woodland and over streams as we made our way over pasture to meet the B4389. A road sign informed us it was a mile to Bettws, but the road walk was not what our leaders had in mind. Passing by the farm we made our way upwards once more to another beautiful green lane which lead us to our destination the Bull and Heifer.
Although not warm, the sun came out during the walk, there was a light breeze making it very pleasant walking through beautiful countryside showing its early signs of Autumn. Lots of chatter, catching up with news, and sharing ideas and knowledge were all part of our walk, and the pub meal, with a pub serving 'real ale' finished of an excellent day in spectacular countryside almost on our own doorstep!
Nearing Cefn Mawr top Passing through a gateway put in by 'Walking Newtown' Volunteers The Gang's All Here
                                                 HAFREN FOREST AUG 2018
 After all the hot weather and feeling of Summer we arrived at the parking area in Hafren Forest in quite dull and overcast conditions. However the weather did not dampen the spirits of the walkers who were joined for the walk by the Leader's family over from U S of A.
There are a number of well signposted trails from the parking spot, including one designed for wheelchair users who can reach the Cascades, as well as a 7 mile trek to Source of the Severn. Our plan was to take a walk to the waterfall known as  Severn-Break-its-Neck  and return to the picnic area by the Cascades for packed lunch before venturing upwards to Blaen Hafren Falls.
 The first part of the walk followed the Severn taking us through attractive meadows with blackberries ripe and ready for the picking, and of course we gave into the temptation. A lot of woodland had been harvested so the area to one side gave rather a  bleak feeling, but as Mike reminded me it will not be too long before it will soon be covered in trees again. There were meadow flowers to enjoy and Rose Bay Willow Herb in abundance.  Because of lack of rain in recent months when  we reached the Falls they were not as spectacular as in other seasons but a great sight and the cameras came out. The track back followed a forest road overlooking the valley winding its way towards the Cascades where we were to have our lunch.
Interesting conversation as well as packed lunches were enjoyed as we sat with the trees to one side and the sound of the Severn bouncing over the rocks to the other. Then it was time to make our way to Blaen Hafren Falls following the path beside river. We were taking a gentle upward path, over a bridge and into an area covered in bilberries. Who could resist the crop as many hands made light work, and the container was slowly and surely filled as we made our way around the contours of the land to reach the forest road and a sign showing us the direction of the falls. Again not as spectacular as in a rainy season but a delightful sight. We stopped for a drink before following a trail the other side of the valley from our upward path and found ourselves back at the Cascades in no time at all.
It had been a very pleasant walk, the company had been exceptional, and we were all discussing, and looking forward to, our next walk together.                                                               
Reaching Severn-Break-It's- Neck Falls Bilberry picking time Photo shoot at Blaen Hafren Falls
                      JOINT VISIT WITH GARDENING GROUP TO HURDLEY HALL,
                                  AND WALK ROUNDTON HILL JUNE 2018

 Mike the leader of the U3A gardening group and prominent member of our U3A walking group made the arrangements for our group members to visit Hurdley Hall, which is surrounded by the hills of Roundton and Todleth, and has views of Kerry Ridgeway. A
 traditional Severn Valley timber framed house build in the 1630's, has been added to over time is set amidst the beautiful gardens, which are open on specific weekends during the season or by arrangement with groups such as ours. Proceeds going to charities, including Macmillan Cancer Support, Marie Curie, Hospice UK and the Carers Trust.  The current owners have recreated the garden over the last 15 years. Hand build stone walls, sweeping lawns  and pathways lead to beds of flowers and shrubs to bring beauty to each seasons. Mature trees left in place stand by the pond, where wild orchids have found a home. Vegetables are grown in  raised beds, an example of variety and quality most gardeners would strive to emulate. Opposite the house is a 5.5 acre hay meadow, already full of many species of wild flowers, and adjoining the meadow an orchard of 74 fruit trees, which  were planted in 2016. It was a delightful visit, which included tea and cake enjoyed overlooking the garden and spectacular scenery. The 'Gardeners' left to visit another garden, and the 'Walkers' choose to take the woodland path beside Roundton Brook to the start of the climb up Roundton Hill.
Roundton, rising to 370 metres,  is a National Nature Reserve due to its unusual volcanic geology and rare flora. Centuries ago it hosted an iron age hillfort, and in later years miners worked the hill for lead and barites, and is now home to Lesser Horseshoe bats.
Mike and Paula led the walk up. Although steep in parts we took our time, enjoying each of the different views as we progressed up. Reaching the top we decided it was lunchtime, and scattered ourselves around looking towards the distant mountains of Wales in one direction, and Shropshire hills in the other. The downward climb was pleasant with time to look at the wild flowers as we reached the lower sections. Returning to the car park a small group decided to do another  310 metres climb to the top of Todleth hill. I understand from photos, and speaking with Mike and Paula the next day that there were cows with calves grazing near the top, and felt pleased I had not chosen that option! Those who did it of course enjoyed their walk. It had been, for all of us who had joined the day, an excellent day out and thanks go to Mike and Paula for arranging it.                                        
Enjoying Hurdley Hall Gardens Downward path of Roundton Hill Meeting the cattle on Todleth Hill
                       BLUE BELL TIME IN LLANDRINDOD WELLS MAY 2018
 Following a delightful journey we reached our destination Llandrindod Wells. An excellent place to visit with its Lake, and Rock Park, home to the National Cycle Museum, and in August Victorian Festival, which attracts visitors from near and far. There are many local walks, which was of course the reason for our visit.
 We set off from the bus station and within minutes followed a woodland path to the Lake, then turning the corner found our way marker pointing to our path. We passed a 'Llandoddie' one of the carved wooden characters, which are found around the lake and park and continued through the woodland edge to a stile. Crossing a field we emerged at the edge of a housing estate, and soon to a beautiful dingle taking us upward to a wide open field. On the left there is evidence of the occupation by Celts in the form of a Tumulas.
Walking to the top of the field we entered a small conifer wood then onto more pasture skirting Bongam Bank. There are excellent views as we walked around the hill, and St Michael's Church way down in the valley came into view. Reaching the next way marker we followed the track down the field to Cefnllys Lane. It is only a short distance along the lane and down a grassy slope to reach our lunch destination at Shaky Bridge.
Crossing the Ithon, the original 'Shaky Bridge' dated from the 1890's and was made up of boards suspended from wires. A notice warned that no more than three people should cross the bridge at a time! The current bridge constructed in 1940, leading to St Michael's Church, is of course perfectly safe.
Massive carved wooden tree trunks gave us all good seating to enjoy our lunch break, and with the babble of the river Ithon close by it was a very pleasant setting.
Lunch over we found our upward path to the area known as 'Happy Valley' or Cwm- Brith Bank which was carpeted with Blue bells, and had a stream running to one side. We enjoyed the scent of the blue bells, a swing from a tree, and meeting a pony, before we reached a tarmaced lane, which took us upward to a stile on the right, and field to a trig point. The views from there were extensive, surrounded by hills in all directions and Llandrindod Wells below in the valley.
The rest of our walk was downward covering pasture, rough scrub,
marshy areas and woodland, until we re-joined the small track which had lead us up from the Lake. The Lakeside cafe  was everyone's choice for a stop before we made our way to catch the bus home
Entering the Conifer Wood Happy Valley Bluebells A Pony comes to greet Bronwyn
                         PISTYLL RHAEADR AND CADAIR BERWYN APRIL 2018
 15 walkers shared cars to reach the foot of Pistyll Rhaeadr the start of our walk and many thanks to the drivers who drove us from Newtown, and in particular the 4 mile single track from Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant. We were lucky and had chosen one of the exceptional sunny and warm days in April to do the walk so with light clothing and plenty of sun cream we set off. The majority of the group choose to do the full walk, which demands an assent of 1,870 ft  to Cadair  Berwyn across typical moor land of moor grass, mosses and heather.
The views at various sections of the walk were spectacular, and because of the sunny weather gave sight  at one point of the Shropshire hills in one direction, and as we walked higher the distant hills of West Wales came into view. A number of the group heard skylarks, but no sighting of the birds in their usual upwards and upwards
flight pattern . In one section was the promise of summertime bilberries, but of course only the green shoots appearing at this time of year.
The upward trek was filled with chatter but quite uneventful until we came to the boggy stretches, which would have been much worse had it not been for the heat of the sun drying them out these last few days.
We were all given a warning to be careful as one of the group stepped into the bog to the top of his boot then next step went in well above the knee. The walking was quite tough to the top and along the shale ridge of Moel yr Ewig, but the downward slopes around Llyn Lluncaws were very pleasant. A number of streams crossed the path and leaving behind the uphill climbs it was a downward path to return us to Pistyll Rhaeadr.The falls are well worth a visit to see the near vertical drop of 120 feet of water which the 19th century author of 'Wild Wales' George Borrow said "I never saw water falling so gracefully, so much like thin, beautiful threads as here". A good way to end a demanding walk in glorious Wales.
                                             
Keen to make a start on the walk Artist impression of Pistyll Rhaeadr Enjoying the downward path towards Llyn Lluncaws