Spring Walks

There is no better way of seeing Spring coming into season than being outdoors.  All around there will be signs of spring – buds on trees, bulbs and new growth peeking from the soil, lambs frolicking in fields, bluebells and snowdrops starting to appear, bracken starting to unfurl new leaves.  There are lots of places that these signs can be seen and here are a few of my favorite places to visit in spring, and a couple of reasons why thrown in too!

Pontypool Park

Pontypool Park is around 120 acres of park land, with grassy areas, mature trees and the Afon Llwyd river running along one edge of the grounds.  There are lots of different paths you can take that lead to so many different things, like the walk up to the refurbished Nant-y-Gollen ponds where, if you sit quietly, you can see frogs and tadpoles in the water.  There are walks through woodland where you will be able to see new growth appearing on the trees, buds of blossom starting to form and other plant life just starting to emerge.  And if you are feeling energetic, up a short, steep slope lies the Grotto and not too far away is the Folly which to get to, you will need to cross some pasture land and might get a chance to see some lambs in the nearby fields!

Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal

Walking along the canal from Goetre Wharf towards Abergavenny is a lovely walk to do in the spring.  Walking by the water, looking a the reflection of the sky and being able to look at all the animals grazing as you make your way on your journey is a perfect way to spend a few hours on a weekend.  The canal weaves its way through wooded areas, fields and past some waterside houses.  You might be able to spot fish in the water, see ducks and ducklings, swans and cygnets along with sheep and cows and their babies too!  You should be able to spot sings of spring all around you from trees and plants to animals and insects.

Talybont-On-Usk

Talybont-On-Usk is set in the Brecon Beacons and is beautiful to walk any time of the year yet for me there is something magical in seeing this landscape starting to wake after the months of winter.  There are lots of different walks to go on and plenty of things to see along the way, waterfalls, streams, woodland, grass land, and all the wildlife that goes along with it.  You should be able to spot lambs in the surrounding fields and bulbs starting to shoot up as well as see the new growth on the bracken as you walk through the landscape.

Wherever you are planning on walking please adhere to the Countryside Code of Conduct, keep dogs on leads and be careful around baby animals – not only can they scare easily but the parents can be very protective of their young and become aggressive if you approach to closely.

Where are your favorite spring time walks?

Pontypool Park

Pontypool Park is around 250 acres of park land which was originally leased to the family  around 1655.  Further land (which became known as Pontypool Park) was purchased by Capel hanbury in 1689.  The Hanbury family built their home on the land around 1694 and the Park Gates were erected some years later in 1720.  You can still see the house, complete with stables and an Ice House today, the house now makes up part of St Alban’s R.C High School, the stables are now home to the towns museum and the Ice House remains virtually untouched and is sited opposite the museum. (The ice house is a double chamber building that is unique in its design and build and unlike any other of its kind!)

There is a lot of history in the park, commemorative stones placed in memory of the Pontypool and District Hospital which finally shut its doors and was demolished shortly after in 1994, the Italian Gardens and Fountain which are a short hop over the river, behind the bus station on the edge of town (added in 1924), the bandstand at the center of the park, an addition in 1931.

Further into the park is the Pontypool RFC pitch which was developed and laid out in 1925 (which the rugby team had to share with the cricket team!) with the addition of the grandstand almost 20 years later in 1945.  And keeping with the theme of sport from the path that runs along the top of the rugby pitch toward the leisure center you should be able to see the ski slope that was added in 1975!  The tennis courts that should be seen if you face toward the clock tower (added in 1952) were added to the park around 1924.  There is a bowling green set next to the tennis courts that was added in 1925 too.

If you venture even further into the park and up towards the ski slope you will come to Nant-y-Gollen ponds, originally a mill pond to feed a forge, it was remodeled back in the early 1990’s, there are lots of stories about the pond (a good starting point of research is here )

Then there is the proper heart of the park, for me that is the Shell Grotto and Folly Tower, the Shell Grotto is worth a visit when it is open, the inside is decorated with shells, animal teeth and bones, it was built as a summer get away/picnic area for the Hanbury family in the 1830’s.  The Folly tower was added earlier, around 1765 but later demolished in 1940, when World War 2 was taking place – it was feared that the tower would act as a reference point and guide for German aircraft.  The tower was finally rebuilt in 1994.

There is a walk called the Pontypool Park Circular which takes you past many of these landmarks and places of historical interest, the full walk takes around 4 hours and is moderate in its rating – there are some steep parts and muddy trails along with woodland and rough ground.  If you would like to do this walk then details for it can be found here.

 

Walking Route -Cycle Track In Pictures

As promised earlier in the week, I am going to share some photos of the cycle track that I have taken.

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And now to share yesterdays stats, did I hit target?

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Of course I did!

I am aiming to walk 10,000 steps a day for the whole of september in order to raise money for Cancer Research, if you would like to sponsor me or donate, you can visit my Just Giving page where a few clicks will see your donation added to the cause.

 

Walking Route – Cycle Track

The cycle track is one of my go to walks whatever the weather.  I love that the path is smooth and tarmaced and you can walk for hours through lovely wooded areas, see streams and wildlife, flowers and birds.  The walk is fairly easy, on a slight incline (so slight I never noticed until I looked at the stats on my Map My Run app, though the website http://www.sustrans.org.uk/ncn/map/route/pontypool-blaenavon-cycle-route says the climb is “steady” and it “rises up 200feet to Blaenavon) and has places on the way to stop and rest if you wanted to.

The cycle track is a hive of activity, most days there are poeple walking their dogs, cycling or even horses being ridden up and down.  In the past the cycle track had a different life, it used to be a railway linking Pontypool to Blaenavon.  You can see remnants of its past life in the bridges you pass under, old station stops you pass through, buildings that have been re-purposed and the run off streams running beside the path.

I join the cycle track in Wainfelin, just down from the ambulance station, follow the track past the Little Crown and the steps for Branches Fork Meadow, and along to Pentrepiod, past old railway buildings that have been turned into a kind of animal holding area and along to Abersychan before turning around and heading back.  This walk is usually between 8 and 10km for me.  I plan on walking further, up to Blaenavon, one day soon.

I shall share some of my photos of this walk later in the week but right now I’m going to share yesterdays stats with you all…

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If you would like to sponsor me in my challenge of 10,000 steps a day (or Walk All Over Cancer) where I am raising money for Cancer Research, please visit my Just Giving page where a few simple steps will see your donation added to the charity!

 

1 Week In

Today marks the end of the first week of this challenge.  In the past 6 days I have taken 69192, (I can’t include todays stats as I’m still adding to them!).  In 6 days I am really surprised and pleased, its 9192 steps more than I was expecting and only 808 steps away from what I was hoping to achieve in 7 days!  I have covered a total of 28.2 miles in those 6 days (or 45.4km) and done a whopping 7 hours worth of exercise over that time!

So far I am really enjoying the Walk All Over Cancer, 10,000 steps a day challenge though I have found a few days to be a bit hard (saturday in the rain and monday were a bit hard and I found it difficult to get motivated, once I was going though I did wonder what the fuss was about!).  I have found that I am sleeping better overall and seem to be less stressed overall and I look forward to coming home, putting my walking shoes on, getting the dog harnessed up and heading out!

I have learned that it is essential to wear comfortable socks (I prefer socks that look like gloves for your feet – toe socks, or socks made by a company called Jeep that are made for running), I made the mistake of wearing a pair of socks that had a sparkly pattern woven into them which made the inside of them uneven and lumpy – I got blisters 😦 .

The other thing I have learned since starting this 10,000 step challenge is that I like to have a variety of walks to choose from depending on the weather, my energy levels, mood, and a whole host of other things.  I’m so lucky to live where I do as I have a whole host of different types of walk to go on – woodland, cycle path, park, canal, and all of them are easy to get to (I don’t need to drive there) and take me through some beautiful scenery.

Anyway… yesterdays stats… Did I manage 10,000 steps? 🙂

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Of course I did!

I am aiming to walk 10,000 steps a day for the whole of september in order to raise money for Cancer Research, if you would like to sponsor me or donate, you can visit my Just Giving page where a few clicks will see your donation added to the cause.

 

 

Walking Routes – A Woodland Adventure

I am going to try and post once a week about the walks that I go on, the terrain type, ease of walking the route and any other information that I have about the walking route.

The first in this series is one of my favourite walks!  I love walking through woods and have done since a child when my Grandma would take my brothers and I out in the day.  I stumbled upon this route quite by accident, with a touch of curiosity and nosiness thrown in for good measure!

The walk starts off on the cycle track that runs up towards Blaenavon, I join it just between Tesco (Pontypool) and the Little Crown Inn (Wainfelin).  The cycle track is tarmaced and the path is fairly flat until we get past the Little Crown where there is a short climb up, its not too much of a strain or too steep to worry about too much.  We then pass through a type of gate, one that makes it a bit awkward for cyclists as they often need to dismount to pass through it, and continue on the path for probably another kilometer and a half.  On the left you will see a few steps going up toward a swing gate which you need to pass thorugh.  To the right will be an information board about the area that you are now in.  This area is called Branches Fork Meadow.  It is worth looking at the information board, it tells you about all the wildlife you may glimpse along the way!  In the spring the areas under the trees are thick with bluebells and its such a lovely sight!

The terrain has now changed to mud, rocks and tree roots, it is fairly uneven, (you will need to be fairly stable on your feet to negotiate the walk from here), and we begin a short climb up into the woods, follow the worn path directly up and you will come to another swing gate (which is broken at the moment…) and enter the woods.  From here I tend to keep going forward, following the path.  There are lots and lots of different paths you can now take and I shall leave the choice up to you!  You are now in charge of your own adventure!  But a word of warning, stick to the well worn paths, I sometimes don’t and before now have been armpit deep in bracken and up to my knees in boggy mud!

Here are a few of my favourite photos from my woodland walks!IMG_7076IMG_7079IMG_7004IMG_7006IMG_6489IMG_6501

And now to reveal fridays stats…did I manage 10,000 steps?

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I did indeed!!!

I am aiming to walk 10,000 steps a day for the whole of september in order to raise money for Cancer Research, if you would like to sponsor me or donate, you can visit my Just Giving page where a few clicks will see your donation added to the cause.

Why I chose the 10,000 Steps a Day Challenge (or Walk All Over Cancer)

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I have signed up to the Walk All Over Cancer step challenge run by Cancer Research, it starts tomorrow.  All I need to do is walk 10,000 steps a day for the next month, covering no less than 300,000 steps in total, moving my feet for 12 hours at a rate of 13.8888 steps per minute, sounds easy doesn’t it?  But, in the day I work a, mainly, sedentary job save for the odd toilet break/shuffle to the vending machine or staff room for refreshments or snacks, or a quick scoot off to the print room, approx. 70 steps from my desk to retrieve some prints… My point being, I don’t move a lot at all in my 7.5hr a day desk job which means I have to get my steps in during the evening after work.  This is not the main reason for taking on the challenge, more like a small part of it – I know I need to move more and get fitter, to me that is just a side effect of what I am about to embark on…

I love walking and being out doors, I love a challenge, I like to explore, targets are fun to meet…the list goes on…

The real reason?  I have never had a relative or friend struck with cancer, but I know a ton of people who have, friends who have lost loved ones, workmates who have had to give up work to nurse their parents, then make the gut wrenching decision to send them to a hospice, heard others speak of loss and it breaks my heart.  While I have not lost anyone due to the disease, I know plenty who have.  And Cancer is not picky who it attacks, the young, old, healthy, weak, good people, bad people, it doesn’t care.  Too many lives have been cut short and I believe that with a lot of research and money invested into medicines and treatment, we can slowly stamp it out.

I should also let you know that I will be trying to blog each day about my adventures with meeting my 10,000 steps a day, how I met them and showing you some pictures of my walks!  Come back and visit tomorrow to hear about Day 1 of the 10,000 challenge 🙂

If you would like to help me raise some funds towards helping the guys behind Cancer Research then visit my Just Giving Page to donate today.