Two weeks spent in my homeland.
This is the first time I have ever showed anyone properly around Wales, my home. Claudio was a suitable willing victim to practice on, complete with portable accomodation and cooking facilities.
For whatever reason, Claudio picked April for this visit. Apparently he had never heard of April Showers. The weather was destined to be a mix of blazing sunshine and repeated rainshowers, so you are never sure if you should wear a raincoat or not. Wales is a green country for a reason. As it turned out, the weather broke. It stayed good almost the entire time, which it really should not have done. Can't complain, of course, but it did mean that he missed out on the "real" Welsh weather.
The holiday would include lots of mountain walking and visits to various pieces of industrial and cultural heritage.
The plan for the first week was to cross a large part of the Brecon Beacons National Park, ending with a caving trip, which was to be the first time Claudio had been caving. There is a route called the Beacons Way that crosses the park, but it fails to be of much interest for several reasons:
It seems to be done in an attempt to cross the park as quickly as possible, without requiring too much fitness. It is spaced out to have somewhere official to stay every night. It misses out most of the more interesting parts of the park; the steep buttresses of the Black Mountains, the World heritage site, Clydach Gorge, and Waterfall Country. Even the part that follows the mountains fails to include stunning peaks like Cribyn.
In fact, it seems to go out of its way to be as boring as possible. I have to wonder why anyone would choose to make a route that ignores so many beautiful and interesting parts of the park.
So I created my own route that included them all. There were no official places to stay, and a few less interesting sections would be avoided by using a car, to keep the length down to a week. If you choose to follow this route, you are on your own, but it is worth doing. If you have enough time, you may also choose to add in the extra parts such as the Llangatwg Escarpment, the Hepste valley to bridge the gap between the Brecon Beacons and Ystradfellte, and the superb ridge walk along the Black Mountain (which is actually part of the Beacons Way).
Our main camping equipment was kept very light by using Claudio's two man ultralight tent, and Trangia cooker, which needed only 0.5 kg of liquid fuel for the whole week, though we took an extra 0.5 kg just in case. I also made the smart move of carrying all the food (dried food plus cheese), fuel, and cooking water, so my 16 kg pack got lighter as we went, while Claudio's remained heavy with a tent that slowly absorbed small amounts of water. It took him over half the week to realise this clever accidental strategy, but by then, I was unable to carry anything heavier. Each day of walking was kept short in a failed attempt to avoid aggravating my knee injuries.
The St. Fagans gallery is out of sequence, as it was actually the last day of the holiday. However, it fits best in this section. You can mentally adjust its position to the end of this page if you want.
At one point during this holiday, we were lucky enough to see a peregrine falcon hunting, including chasing off some crows. Since I do not wish to betray its location, and leave it vulnerable to idiot egg thieves, I have kept these pictures out of sequence from the rest of the set. Unfortunately, the speed of the flight, and its clear dislike of being photographed, meant that these pictures were taken at the maximum limits of my camera. Please enjoy them for what they are.