This was to be my first introduction to the Brecon Beacons and I was lucky enough to be joined by 13 others: a lovely mix made up of some of the kate & tom’s family and friends.
On setting out early on the Saturday, my rucksack strapped to the back of my bike and a leisurely 60+ miles before me, the sky hung overhead as a white-grey reminder that I could get very wet before I’d even walked 100 metres.
But whatever worries trickled through with my thoughts were assuaged by what I knew was waiting for us all in the Talgarth area of the Beacons: the chance to walk a hearty 9 miles in the stunning Welsh countryside for one of the best causes: children’s health and wellbeing. We were walking for WellChild and I couldn’t wait.
The journey was a smooth one and I don’t recall hitting any rain – I couldn’t tell whether that was a good or a bad sign. The sky was still overcast, grey in places. But as the brilliant saying goes: “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing.”
The group was parked up, kitted out and raring to go…
Talgarth is a small town, which we didn’t leave ourselves a lot of time to explore, but it took only the first half mile to understand the attraction of this area for walkers. Leading a steady line higher above the town towards Park Wood, the rooftops fell away and the full grandeur of the surrounding hills gathered round as far as the eye could see. But this was just the start, and the route led higher still. Into the woods we go…
This was our first couple of miles and it didn’t have to be raining at that moment for us to have to negotiate our gradual way over more than a mile of deep wet mud. But who cares about mud? It sparked the first laughs of the walk, the dog was in his element and the remaining miles were just round the corner.
To our collective surprise the sun was shining by the time we emerged from the cool, close shading of the woods. After more referring to our trusty old Ordnance Survey map and some printed directions we were on our way along the pylon line, up and to the right towards fields and commons which would lead us eventually out into the open where local sheep grazed and horse riders clip-clopped past. We didn’t let them leave us without offering a little help with directions.
This is where the beauty of the Brecon Beacons and the Black Mountains really hit us. The midday sunshine was winning the battle with the few remaining white clouds and the vast plains stretched out past more sheep and cattle with the lush, untouched calm we’d been anticipating.
This was why people came here. I knew it wouldn’t be long before I’d have to return myself.
Stopping at the half-way point for some well-deserved packed lunch, further conversation and photos, the question still remained: How far is it to the waterfalls? The Talgarth Waterfalls were to be one of the highlights of the walk and we were looking forward to setting ears and eyes on it. But we had some more miles, wrong turns and the unexpected show of a helicopter at some hauling work to come first.
It was just as we’d nearly given up hope of being on the right track (some stiles/gates had evidently been blocked, lending confusion to which was the correct way) – this was when we began to hear running water. We knew Talgarth was only a mile away, so it must have been the waterfalls. Phone cameras at the ready…
We were right. Nearing the town, we still had half a mile or so of woodland to walk through – and beside the Talgarth waterfalls. Quickly increasing in size, the falls crashed down over ancient rocks as the enduring sunshine fell through the light canopy, dappling all before us perfectly. Jackpot, I thought.
After the photos, it was time to head back into Talgarth. We were thirsty for a beer, we were aching, some had blisters and bruises – but it was so worth it! It always is. Something always easy to forget but just as quickly discovered anew: the tranquil, restorative effects of a proper walk in the countryside.
Oh, and the rain finally arrived – on the ride home. A heavy burst which lasted no more than 10 minutes. All I could do was smile.