Beacon Hill 2009
Hills at the northern edge of the Radnor Forest.
At the northern edge of the main Radnor Forest mountains there are a series of smaller hills, extending all the way up to the Berwyn range in North Wales, parallel to the main Cambrian Mountains. At their southern edge, they are a little over 500 metres high, consisting of boggy moorland with scattered farming communities on their flanks. This walk takes in the tallest of these; Beacon Hill. There are countless routes over these hills, including Glindŵr's Way. My route started from Llugwy Farm near Llangunllo, where the B4356 joins the River Llugwy (known as the Lugg in England). The entire country had been suffering from heavy rain for a while, and many areas were flooding. This has to be good for something...
- The hills. On the left is Beacon Hill (547 metres) with Stanky Hill (506 metres) directly in front of it. On the right are Pool Hill (516 metres) and Rhos-crug (508 metres).
- Moelfre Hill (475 metres) and Gors Lydan (528 metres), and nearly horizontal lighting.
- Bridges at Llugwy Farm. The road - only a dirt track - becomes unfollowable here, and there is not much parking space. If needed, park on the side of the B4356 instead. The main track starts climbing steeply from the farm.
- Just a few metres upstream of the farm, along a lower track, the river drops down the tiny Washpool Falls. It's barely a waterfall, only just over a metre high, and not worth even the slightest detour. Not even worthy of the short distance from the main track. But it's there, and it has a name, to please visitors.
- <monty:python>Run away! Run away!</monty:python>
- Heading up the main track, I followed the local advice, and took the first gate to the left, crossing a small tree-lined field, to reach open countryside, with this tremendous view up the Llugwy Valley. Though not open access land, and lacking a right of way, the locals told me that there is no farmer using the land, and nobody minds it being used as a route.
- From here, the way on is to climb up to the right, above the gorse. Failure to get up above it early enough brings painful results - I speak from experience. Alternatively, continue to a junction of tracks at the top, turn left, then take the first gate to the left, and head around the hillside to reach the same point.
- Rich colours and immaculate lighting on Fiddlers Plantation. It looks like sunset, but it's nearly midday.
- Montage of a falcon that took off and whistled past before I could think about changing lenses. The size, behaviour, colouring and habitat all suggest that this is a juvenile Eurasian hobby, the first I have ever seen. However, it seems to have forgotten what season it is, and should be in its wintering grounds in Africa. Ah well, still 15 days to go until natural winter.
- More amazing light on Rhos-crug and Cnwch Bank (499 metres). The main valley heading up to Rhos-crug is the upper Llugwy/Lugg, with its source at the top end of that valley. On the right is an unnamed stream, and just before it joins the Llugwy, a small cluster of trees signify the point where it tumbles down the area's main waterfall.
- The 7 or 8 metre waterfall is known as Water-break-its-neck. This makes it easily confused with another waterfall sharing the same name on the other side of the Radnor Forest range (less than 10 miles away). On the map, these are written the same way, while the forestry comission omits the first hyphen when referring to the latter. Neither stream has a name on the map. Therefore, the hyphen seems to be the only differentiator, so that is what I will use.
- Nearby inlet spouts.
- Back on the track (turning left at the top), my route continued past Llanlluest, and through a forest to the edge of the Beacon Hill estate, where I turned left.
- View from the edge of the estate over the Lawn Brook Valley to Beacon Hill. The crags in the middle of the ridge are the Fron Rocks.
- To bypass some of the boredom of the main dirt track, I headed over the nearby unnamed hump towards Pool Hill. The whole area has been ripped up by motocross bikes, and plenty of them and their ugly tracks could be seen over the hillsides.
- Panorama of the hills; on the left are Rhos-crug and Pool Hill, in the middle is the long ridge of Beacon Hill, and on the right are the lower hills of England, on the far side of the wide Teme Valley.
- Light on the bracken, with ominous clouds in the distance.
- Last of the light on Fron Rocks.
- Streamers over the mountains of Radnor Forest.
- The top of Beacon Hill. Within the time it took me to reach it, the weather had turned.
- Darkening skies, and the start of pelting rain.
- There are no paths to the top of Pool Hill, only a few fire tracks that criss-cross it in unhelpful directions. By the time I reached the top, the sky above me had become almost black, but with blue skies allowing the light to reach the English hills. Quite surreal.
- As I headed down, the skies cleared a little, and I got a good view of a storm cloud launching itself on the Radnor Forest mountains; Bache Hill (610 metres), Black Mixen (650 metres) and Great Rhos (660 metres). The mountains are virtually indistinguishable from here, but from the southern side they encircle a very deeply incised valley.
- A short drive to the other side of the Radnor Forest, and the beginning of the ravine containing the other waterfall, where its outflow joins the Black Brook.
- This is the main Water Break-Its-Neck waterfall that people seem to know, and is the one that they are referring to when using the name without a qualifier. The 10 metre waterfall is now in flood conditions, while on my last visit it was in low-flow conditions, with barely a trickle. Quite a transformation.