Rufus and Dave’s Fortnight of Fun part 10: Holiday’s End

When I woke up this morning, Rufus had managed to take over about half the bed. Usually, he is waking me up but this morning the alarm beat him to it. Expecting a wet nose in the face, I was surprised to hear just a deep sigh from his half of the mattress. He was reluctant to head out into the garden and very keen to get back to bed again. We had a nice lie in while the sun came up.

It was a much better day today but I decided to let Rufus have a rest, so after breakfast I set off to explore Dinas Rock, near Pontneddfechan. It’s at the other end of the river that we often visit for its waterfalls. I’ve only been here a couple of time. Once to film a promotional video for the Princes Trust, when I went gorge walking with a bunch of volunteers. It was a fun packed couple of hours for me, as a non-swimmer. I spent most of my time bobbing along in a wet suit trying to keep a £2k video camera from sinking into the water. The second time was a brief visit with Rufus after we’d been drenched on Moel Feity.

The area around Dinas Rock is full of history. On the rock itself, there are the remains of an Iron Age hill fort, which gives the area its name (Dinas means fort in Welsh). The car park was once a limestone quarry and nearby were other quarries and adits for the millstone grit that outcrops around here. Further down the valley is the Dinas Gunpowder mill, where carbon from the forest was combined with saltpetre from pigeon droppings and other ingredients to make gunpowder. They tested the quality of the gunpowder by using a sample to fire an 8″ cannon ball. If it didn’t meet the standard, the whole batch was destroyed. Carefully! When the site was decommissioned in 1931, the buildings were burnt out to remove the risk of accidental explosion at a later date from gunpowder residue.

The track I walked along was suspiciously flat and as I suspected, it turned out to be the route of an old railway. In fact, it was a tramway which led out of the valley and down towards Glynneath, following the route of the old road. The remains of the powder works and the watermills that powered it are still visible lining the river, but in a precarious state of decay. Back in the car park, groups of nervous school kids were heading off to do their gorge walking as I drove out.

Rufus had a good rest while I was out and after I got home, but this evening it was time for him to have a little walk. The sunset promised to be quite good so we set off for Broadpool, where we were fortunate in that there were now cows hovering around the pool. I forgot that the car is no longer a 4×4 and we bumped off the road to park; thankfully, I didn’t catch any body work on the ditches. After a short stroll around the shore of the lake, we returned to the part closest to the road where we were rewarded with a beautiful sunset complete with mirror like reflections in the water.

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Drip

Rufus has been staying over for the last few days and I’ve been trying to get out with him every day. But the weather has conspired to keep us in. I’ve become quite adept at looking at the sky and spotting the early signs of a break in the rain. The only problem with this is that while it may be dry at my house, the places we like to go tend to attract the rain, and it lingers in the valleys and on the hill tops.

As a consequence, we’ve been drenched on several occasions recently. That’s not so bad, as it’s only water and we can dry off. But the experience isn’t so good and the photography is certainly limited.Yesterday, be got bored and went out before it had stopped raining. We headed up to the river – I thought that if we’re going to get wet we may as well do it in water. I took my DSLR but I also had a waterproof camera with me. Good job, as during the hour or so we wandered the riverbank, it stopped raining only once – for about 15 seconds. So most of the photos below were taken in the rain. I also tried it out in the river, and it didn’t seem to leak.

Once back in the car, the rain stopped and stayed stopped. Typical! So we headed off to Dinas Rock, a place I’d promised myself I’d visit, but which I’d never got round to. The last time I was here (which was the first time I was here) was with the Prince’s Trust, when I was filming a promotional video for them and the DVLA. I ended up spending most of the day in a wetsuit, gorge walking with the group while trying to keep the camera dry. It was a tremendous experience – scary, exciting and satisfying when i delivered the footage to the guys who edited it together.

Although it was dry, it was cold and my coat was dripping wet. So we only spent half an hour in the area, which wasn’t nearly enough. I’ll be back and I expect Rufus will be with me.

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