Twmpa and Black Mountain

February 24, 2009 at 10:00 pm | Posted in Walking | Leave a comment
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I arrived at Gospel Pass in thick mist and there was no improvement as I walked up to the summit of Twmpa. The far ridge over Black Mountain, my eventual destination, was little more than a shadow, and I just hoped that it might lift for my return leg along the ridge.

Things improved as I walked down the Nant Bwch valley and dipped below the mist. The valley itself is marked by the gentle river running through it and by the series of three streams running down from the bluff above creating small waterfalls. The middle stream has carved out a small grassy and rock strewn plateau. Just before reaching this spot, I came across a dead fox strewn across the path. It wasn’t clear what had killed it, some of its innards were showing and the crows and buzzards had obviously made a start. It had a strange grimace on its face, suggesting it may have died painfully and aware. It seemed forced to tie this image to the peacefulness of the valley – balancing the brutal facts of nature against its beauty seems trite – the dead fox was just that in all its honest brutality and the landscape carved out by water and wind and ice was similarly true and untouchable. They were juxtaposed only by the accident of death and of my being there that day.

I emerged out of the valley at Capel-Y-Fin and after a few mistaken steps started the long climb up to the ridge, meeting the Offa’s Dyke Path at the top, where the mist was thick again. Black Mountain’s southern peak is marked only by a few stones. Though there were glimpses of the fine views across to the Vale of Ewyas on one side and Olchon Valley on the other, sitting on the cairn for lunch was an ascetic experience, but at least there was no lashing rain. Then it was on over the peat bogs, easy walking only because of the work done on the Offa’s Dyke Path.

On the whole walk I saw only one other group of walkers, and there was something majestic about the quietness and the greyness, but it’s a route to do again in fine weather.


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