Due to the fact that nearly one third of the year group has signed up for Gold this year we have had to organise a number of different expeditions to accommodate all the candidates. This trip to the Black Mountains was for the three groups who wished to undertake the traditional expedition to Wales. After the startlingly warm weather of the early holidays the blustery return of normal April showers and overnight frosts came as a bit of a shock to the system.
After the inevitable bus journey things kicked off with the usual tutored “warm-up walk” followed after darkness by a night nav exercise round the valley bottom. The next day saw the three groups being dropped off in the Crickhowell area to make their way back over the tops and ridges to Capel y Ffin where we camped in the shelter of Chapel Farm. After another somewhat frosty start the groups set off again over Twmpa, down through Gospel Pass and up onto Offa’s Dyke, which forms the Welsh-English Boundary. Recent work along here made the going much easier than in previous years as a stone path has been installed across the boggier sections. The final night was spent in the picturesque surroundings of Llanthony Priory. Here we learnt that only the previous week various D of E groups had had to be ferried off to local church halls, having been caught out by unexpected heavy snow fall. Fortunately the heavy overnight rain had largely stopped by the next morning, allowing the groups to head off in relatively dry conditions for their final leg down the Vale of Ewyas, before being picked up and ferried back to Surrey in a rather muddy and malodorous heap.
As always the groups were great value and seemed to gain a lot from the experience. Lessons were learned and will, I am sure, be put into practice during the assessed trip to Pumlumon in mid-Wales, after the AS exams.
A huge thanks to: TIMW for helping out with transport, AJG, Leslie Griffiths and Alasdair Young for help with supervising groups on the hill and to Andrea Young for tea and moral support.