Back on track

It’s less than 10 weeks to go until I leave for Tanzania and the trek to Kilimanjaro. I’m behind on my training schedule thanks to a couple of injuries. So this weekend I have to make an effort and pick up where I left off.

It’s too hot for Rufus to do any long walks at the moment; he insists on wearing his fur coat everywhere, and he tends not to take things easy. So today when I set out, I was on my own. It was odd not to have him in the car and I found myself looking around to see if he was okay only to see an empty back seat.

I parked at the Blaen Llia car park and set off up the path to Fan Llia. The sun was shining over the tops of the trees as I crossed the river on the wooden bridge. Someone had fixed two bunches of flowers to the side, presumably to remember a loved one who was no longer with them. It’s a lovely place and ideal for such a memory. Across the stile, there were sheep everywhere and they scattered as I walked through them.

As I started climbing the hill, the sun disappeared behind a cloud. Ahead, I could see mist crossing the Llia valley around where the standing stone is sited. I deliberately took my time and tried to keep my pace slow. A breeze blew but it was warm and the walking conditions were just comfortable. I reached the top of the hill after about 45 minutes and was slightly alarmed to see dark rain clouds ahead. I’m always wary of thunder storms when on the hills. Having been caught in one on Ilkley Moor several years ago and only just getting back tot he car before the lightning started, I’m on the look out for them. There had been a warning of isolated storms possible; these were dark enough that they might cause me problems. My plan was to turn left and descend to the valley if I saw or heard anything.

The breeze picked up on the ridge and the air was humid, but the clouds moved away to the west and I carried on heading north. I was fully expecting rain though, as the cloud cover was complete. I looked over to Fan Nedd and saw that it was in bright sunshine. So I decided to drop down into the valley and climb it.

I crossed over Sarn Helen but my route today lay in a different direction. I was crossing open moorland and it was hard going. There was no path but more than that, there were a lot of birds rising as I walked along. I had to be careful not to step on some well concealed nest. So I made my way slowly until I came across the modern road.

After a brief rest, I set off on the path to Fan Nedd. Disappointingly, the sun was still hiding behind the clouds. It’s funny how I missed Rufus on this part of the route. We’ve done this hill so often that I associate various landmarks with him. The stile is one he clears with no trouble, but he always waits for a treat afterwards. There’s a rock about half way up the hill and when I reach it, Rufus is posing like a great explorer, looking over the valley below, while waiting for me to catch up. When we near the top, he disappears over the lip of the hill and a few seconds later, his head appears as he checks to see if I’m coming.

The sun started to appear between clouds and when it did, is was instantly warm. But between those moments, the atmosphere remained humid and heavy. It wasn’t pleasant walking. Dropping down off the Fan Nedd ridge, I was heading towards another pathless section. This one has large tufts of grass and hidden dips and hole that are just waiting to catch an ankle. Given my recent luck with injuries, I was most careful where I stepped.

Just before I reached the road again, the ground flattened out. There were a lot of sheep there and as I arrived, they ran in all directions. Across the road, hundreds more lay basking in the sun that had reappeared once again. As soon as they saw me climb over the stile, they gave a chorus of bleats and stampeded away down to the river.

I did just over 7 miles in four hours today, climbing more than 500m in the process. It felt good to be back on track.


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