I just love this.
The Skippy Racer Scooter.
A bit more digging found this... bargain.
I just love this.
The Skippy Racer Scooter.
A bit more digging found this... bargain.
The guys at Turboflame have been great and replaced my lighter, explaining where I might have gone wrong with the old one.
I am a little confused as I did try everything they suggested in their comprehensive FAQ section, but there is no way I could get it to work. Their engineer managed it though.
Anyway, the new one is perfect.
Big thanks to Paul at Turboflame for first class customer service.
These shoes have walked around 400 miles with me over the toughest terrain Wales has to offer and performed brilliantly.
I had a few days free a couple of weeks ago, so I packed up and went to west Wales to do some proper camping and exploring.
Cardigan was just a few miles away, so I popped into Howies.
Howies is a very smooth brand turning out some rather special clothing – their marketing is world renowned and I always look forward to their catalogues, emails or any other ‘little something’ they may send to amuse me into purchasing. Timberland acquired a chunk of them last year, but all the fears of what damage a nasty megabrand could do to them dissolved into nothing. They are still the same, but with a few more quid behind them, which is good for all involved I suppose.
I left quite a few £’s lighter with an Epic cotton waterproof jacket and a shirt I like so much I might frame it.
BTW, my favourite ever tee shirt is a ‘Howies’ and I am going to wear it until it falls to bits.
On to Boncath
I stayed at Rhydhowell Farm campsite, just outside the small village of Boncath (pronounced 'Bonkers' with a lisp) for my three nights in Pembs. I found it via the Campfires Burning website and when I emailed the chap who owns the farm and asked him if it was OK to cook on an open fire, he replied with “How else would you cook when camping!” I booked immediately.
The farm is run by John Quinn, and Englishman farming in the heart of rural Wales and a true gentleman. He has a beautiful property, dating back to the 1790’s, but he has been resident for the past 35 years. The farm is over seventy acres with a large percentage of it a stunning semi ancient wooded valley that would have the bushcraft boys sharpening their Mora’s in anticipation (don’t worry, he has plans for you!) John has set a path through the woods that makes it accessible to most who can handle a gentle stroll – he gave me a guided tour with his sheepdog Sally at his side.
The campsite is very basic, with a loo that I couldn’t use (I’m an arachnophobe) and an old static caravan that contains a sink for washing up, a decent WC and a hot shower. He has piped water into the various fields that he has set aside for campers and has fire pans dotted around for his campers to use.
I stayed in one of his ‘hideaway’ pitches – small enclosures set aside for a more private camping experience. The pitch had a fine group of Douglas Firs at one end and enough room for several tents. Sadly, the firs were just too far apart for me to hang my Clarke Jungle Hammock – a night in that will have to wait just a bit longer.
Rhydhowell is one of those sites that when you find it, you want to keep it a secret. But that wouldn’t be fair to John, who is trying his best to make a simple but beautiful campsite for those that would rather have a more natural camping experience.
Just don’t tell anyone else.
I set up the Bison Lavvu, got comfy (and I mean comfy – lots of luxuries come with me when car camping – a real bed, a fridge, rugs, chair and a gas cooker with a grill) and settled down to cook ratatouille over the fire and slug a bottle of wine while watching the flames flickering.
It was a very cold night due to the crystal clear skies and my RayWay quilt struggled to keep me warm, but l also bought my down backpacking quilt just in case. Had a damned good nights sleep.
Today was Preseli Hills day.
As I was on my own (you need two cars) and I wasn’t sure if the local hiker’s bus was running, I decided not to walk the full 8 mile end to end route. I parked up in Crymych and quickly stomped up Foel Drygarn and then onto Carn Sian and back down to the van creating a short circular route.
Although not particularly high, the Preseli Hills have a character all of their own and the really do feel ancient and mystical. A quick bit of research will tell you that the stones from Stonehenge came from here and all sorts prehistoric remains have been found – the place is riddled with sacred sites.
I then drove to the western end of the range and climbed up to the highest point, Foel Cwmcerwyn at 536 metres past decimated forestry and a few very boggy sections. The view from the top was stupendous – I could even see the Gower peninsular. It was also obvious that this route could be extended, staying fairly high, pretty much all the way to the sea. Lots more exploring to be done another time.
I got chatting to a ‘local’ walker on the top who told me that on a clear winter’s day, you could see Snowdon and the Beacons from this summit. We stayed chatting and we spent a very pleasant couple of hours discussing everything from a love of wine to pickling chillies on the walk back down to the cars. Sorry, I never asked your name, but your old black lab’ was called Jasper I think.
Driving in this part of Wales is amusing to say the least. I saw at least two cars with no number plates or tax – one of these came screaming around a corner towards me and the driver had a large dog on his lap. He waved as he passed.
Back to camp and a fantastic meal of vegetable and paneer kebabs marinated in lemon, basil and olive oil. You can’t cook like that when you are backpacking. I phoned Sarah who was in Paris with the kids and my in-laws paying homage to Mickey Mouse and I think I was a little too pissed to hold a totally coherent conversion. I can’t remember.
The day started with a stunning sunrise, a solid cooked breakfast and lots of proper coffee to shake off a minor hangover.
I drove out to Strumble Head to walk a section of the Pembrokeshire Coast Path that my mate Tim had recommended. The weather was perfect, blue skies, turquoise seas, hot sun and tourist free roads. It was immediately obvious that something was going on. Groups of people peered over the top of huge cliffs down into shady bays – ‘twitchers’ I thought, until I heard the crazed honking of dozens of fluffy white seal pups. This was a first for me.
I walked out to Trwyn Llwyd and back and on every inaccessible beach were groups of pups with the parents lazily sloshing around in the shallows seemingly enjoying the attention of the onlookers.
I was sitting on a hot rock in blazing sun eating my lunch when a glistening white ferry left Fishguard harbour and disappeared into St Georges Channel. It reminded me of months spent on the Greek Islands when I left college. I had to remind myself that it was almost October and this was the end of one of the worst summers I could remember.
I stopped at the amazing Pwll Deri Youth Hostel perched on the cliffs under Garn Fawr and filled up my water bottle. (When I got home, it turned out that my next door neighbour’s sister-in-law was warden there for years. What a perfect place to live).
I got back to the van tired, dehydrated and footsore. Looks like my trusty Salomon’s have finally had enough with around 400 miles of rough terrain under their belts. (Just bought some new ones, with a GTX lining for the winter – no way I’m going back to boots).
Back at base was another perfect evening cooking on embers, drinking organic cider from Hereford (nearly Welsh) and listening to all manner of creatures 'doing stuff’ in the trees over my head.
I was going home today, but Tim had given me one last tip – to check out the nature reserve at Tycanol. “You would be right into it” he said.
I packed up camp, said goodbye to John and drove the few miles to Tycanol.
It was a stunning few miles across open hills and ancient forests with magnificent 360 degree views, with Carn Ingli looking particularly inviting. It looked out of place perched above a seaside town in west Wales – it would have been more at home in Snowdonia. If you are in this part of Wales, add it to your itinery. Just don’t tell too many people about it.
I am totally in love with west Wales and wish I had discovered it years ago. The hills, surrounding countryside and coast are absolutely stunning. The people are friendly and laid back. There is something crazy/stunning/cool/wet/high around every corner.
I’ll be back.
For those readers of a certain age...
Before mountain bikes, before BMX, even before the Raleigh Grifter, (and about the same time as the Chopper), we had Trackers.
A 'racer' with the drop handlbars swapped for cowhorns and if you were flush, you would have some knobblies for 'bombing 'round the woods'. Your wheels were always buckled from jumping and your tyres were always a bit too bald from 30 foot skids.
Suddenly remembered mine on the way home from work tonight. Happy days.
I haven't bored you with it, but I reported recently that I had my camera back from Jessops after a repair.
It developed another fault within minutes of picking it up, so I contacted Jessops head office and asked for a new one (apparently, they send cameras back three times before replacing - that is equivalent to three months out of action). I thought this was crap and asked them for an immediate replacement.
Head office were fantastic and contacted the shop and told them to expect me. When I got to the Swansea store, I was treated like a mangy dog by the grumpy old twat behind the counter. He was rude, unhelpful and made me feel like a criminal.
I believe in karma, so hopefully, someone with a shorter temper will punch him in the mouth this week.
Anyway, I now have a nice shiny 40D and 17-85mm lens.
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