Two groups of apprehensive Gold candidates eventually arrived at the OEC ready for the drive to South Wales. Once over the Seven Bridge it was a quick wriggle up the lanes to Capel y Ffyn, where we soon set up camp and headed off for a brief navigation refresher, followed by a night-nav exercise down in the valley bottom. It was good to see that skills had improved considerably since the last time we were all out together.
The next day the expedition started in earnest with a long walk over Waun Fach following the main ridge of the Black Mountains. Punctuality at departure and check point timings proved to be a little problematic, despite the chilly breeze hurrying everyone along and making it easy to resist the temptation to linger at rest stops! On return to camp we were all rather sobered to hear the tale of another Gold group which has just had to call out Mountain Rescue to help a girl with a broken ankle off the hill. “There but for the grace of God…”
Good Friday saw another long day and a slight deterioration in the weather. Up to the ever popular Lord Herford’s Knob, over Gospel pass and then along Offa’s Dyke, before dropping down through the drizzle to the ruined priory at Llanthony for the night.
Easter Saturday was a shorter day, with routes taking the groups along the flanks of the Vale of Ewyas to the final pick up point, surrounded by fields resounding to the paschal bleat of spring lambs.
As ever, lots of learning was done and the experience certainly helped ready the candidates for their assessed trip to Pumlumon, in Mid-Wales, later in the summer. Fingers crossed for better time keeping when the assessor is around!
Many thanks to Miss Becs Gibson for giving up another slice of her Easter break to help out and endeavour to keep us all sane.
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