As the evenings get lighter and the snow is limited to the hilltops, we’re getting out more often for walks. Some leisurely strolls. A few tougher climbs. Our dog, Buffy, enjoys them all.
We’re looking forward to Crickhowell Walking Festival 28th February to 8th March: nine days of guided walks of various grades, all led by experienced local guides. We really rate Walk 33 ‘Llangynidr waterways and history’ which introduces walkers to the joys of the Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal. And Walk 34 ‘Lower Ewyas Valley’, though a strenuous 14.5 miles with 2,500ft of ascent, is amazing for its wild beauty. It's set in one of the most secluded and serene locations - a steep-sided valley that is home to the ruins of Llanthony Priory.
High above Llanthony Priory in the Ewyas Valley
The festival offers plenty for the not-so-keen walker, too. From stargazing in the Brecon Beacons and a choral concert on St. David’s Day, to illustrated talks about mountain adventures all over the globe and an energetic Twmpath (barn dance) to round it all off. The difficulty is choosing what NOT to do.
Saturday 28th March will be another great day of walking on the mountains around Abergavenny. Described as a ‘challenge walk designed to test endurance and map reading skills’, the South Wales Three Peaks Trial attracts a few hundred steady walkers and some of those amazingly fit fell-runners who never go slower than a trot. There is a choice of four routes ranging from 10 to 20 miles, though, interestingly, the toughest one isn't the longest. The money raised from entry fees goes to charities including the National Trust for footpath maintenance on the Sugar Loaf and Skirrid Fawr mountains, and Longtown Mountain Rescue Team.
A view of the Skirrid Fawr from the top of the Blorenge, two of the peaks in the South Wales Three Peaks Trial
Alasdair’s biggest challenge this year, by far, is the London Marathon on 26th April. He says it’s going to be his one and only marathon so he’s determined to do his very best. His training regime sounds serious - around 40 miles a week, including one day of hill running. He’s in the perfect location for that, as the Blorenge mountain rises up right behind the boathouse here in Llanfoist Wharf.
Step out of the boathouse and you're on the lower slopes of the Blorenge mountain
If Alasdair sticks to his plan, he’ll be running a test 26 miles on Sunday 5th April, and may not be doing much work on Monday 6th. All the effort is for a very good cause – he’s aiming to raise £2,000 for Barnardo’s. If you’d like to encourage him with a donation please visit his fundraising page. We’ll let you know how he gets on. In the meantime, why not use the interactive map at the bottom of our Things to Do page, to see what you’ll discover when you walk along the Mon & Brec towpath.