Wild Camping in The Black Mountains 2012/12/25
Back to the hills, leaving the tarmac and breathing in fresh cool
air. Wild camping in The Black Mountains during winter make a perfect
landscape to travel through and when you are carrying everything you
need to survive on your back it is a wonderful environment to spend
nights out in.
I was joined by a good friend and fellow outdoorsman; we spent three
days bivvying out on the hills and walking over some tough terrain
trying to reach an idyllic wild camping spot hidden in a forested
valley. Would we reach this highly sought after spot? A combination of
the short winter days and a rather lethargic morning start meant we were
walking through darkness yet again.
One of my favourite views and
photographs with rich deep colours up in the Black Mountains.
This trip would partly follow the route I did solo almost a year ago, up
to Table Mountain from Crickhowell on the first day and then continuing
around to Stanton on the second.
However the light was fading fast by the time we got onto the hills, so
it was decided to pitch camp for the night. We found a stone bivouac on
top of Table Mountain and with a tarp strung over the top of the circle
it made for a great little shelter from the wind. Which at this point
was freezing and getting stronger. Wild camping in the Black Mountains
is always eventful.
It's equipment failure that always
feels the worst especially when it happens on a trip. I pride myself
with meticulous gear maintenance but my beloved Primus Express
Spider just did not want to cooperate this time and didn’t work
throughout the entire trip accept for rather gingerly the first time
boiling some water. Thank goodness for Kieth's stove (MSR Pocket
Rocket), which did both our cooking for the three days.
Sleeping out on top of a mountain, with the stars out in full force is
always a humbling experience. Every now and then when the clouds cleared
I would stick my head out of my bivi and into the cold. The wind was
pretty strong all night and at various points had us both worried for
the tarp pitched above. it managed to hold thankfully.
Wild Camping in The Black Mountains
The landscape was a deep red, burnt orange and cool blues. Walking in
the winter season produces these vivid colours and it's one of the
reasons one should strive to head out to backcountry throughout the
year. Up on the ridge it was perfect walking weather, not a cloud in the
sky and with a cool breeze blowing and the viewing distance was
With light fading again we pressed on towards the forest and lower
ground. Having covered a considerable amount of ground in a rather short
space of time. We were eager to find a camp spot. The location we were
in now was predominantly working forest which is not the best to stay
in. Trees jammed right up next to each other along with drainage
problems made the whole area approaching Mynydd Du rather depressing.
Pressing on into the disappearing light we found a track leading into
complete darkness through Mynydd Du. This would take us to Grwyne Fawr.
We unpacked and turned on our headtorches for the descent into the
imposing gloom. All the reasons to why moving through forest blocks are
pretty bad were presented to us. Hardly any room to move, really damp
and with random streams gushing out of nowhere. Hardly anything lives
naturally in them so they are eerily quiet apart from the occasional
distant owl. We moved out into open space and the blue light from the
moon lit up the area. We were heading towards a stream trying to use our
ears to locate the sound of gurgling water. This led us onto more
woodland tracks which eventually took us back onto the tarmac. A rather
welcome break I must say. No bogs to worry about! The rest of the walk
turned into a quest for a roaring fire, a pint of something and a seat!
We found that in Stanton which required a determined trek to reach
through the mist and darkness. Until next time for some wild camping in
the Black Mountains.