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Glascwm - Gwaunceste - Colva Walk

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If you stand on Hay Bluff, one of the northernmost outposts of the Brecon ranges and look north, you'll see rolling hills below and farmland stretching far into the distance. Similarly, any journey heading from central England towards the mid-Welsh coastline gives tantalising views of, not exactly dramatic, but enticing emptiness. I first noticed these parts when I stumbled across the fantastically named Water Break Its Neck Walk (3802) near New Radnor, which led me to do a long circuit of Radnor Forest, sadly on a day without my camera. I could see the cluster of hills further south, clearly requiring investigation.

There is no obvious circuit or ridge walk here, but a choice of tracks, valleys and hilltops to link up any way you want. I picked Glascwm as a starting point almost at random and was lucky to arrive a few minutes before the fourth (or was it fifth?) annual tractor convoy hit town to raise money for the village hall. So I threw together a round of the area which could give short cuts or extra sections as the mood took me. Paths are generally well-signposted and clear, but some care is needed, especially on the open moorland sections.

This is serious farmland and mild moorland and on the day I was there (early May 2009) the sky was bright, sometimes sunny and warm, the light was amazing and the vegetation was dayglo green and hi-viz orange. The moors were burning with autumnal reds and russets from the burgeoning wild blueberry plants - it's going to be a great crop this year - the fruit still small, claret-and-blue. Mosses, grasses and trees were livid greens, with underlying heather providing a brownish contrast; the colours were bizarre - see Waymark 31. Yes, it really did look like this. Pleasant views around the circuit are over rich-looking farmland, grazing sheep, broad river valleys, exposed moors and pockets of managed woodland. I'm no birdwatcher, but I did see a red kite at close quarters, a heron and hundreds of (non-flying) rabbits.

The last stretch from Waymark 41 has an optional extra hill to climb which will add 180m to the total (included in the 850m estimate). Without this option, from 41 you've just a 40m rise and 100m fall along the road straight back into Glascwm.

A warning: there were two points on the circuit which required some agility to get over wire fences, where tracks and open access weren't as they should have been or as I'd expected. At Waymark 07, the footpath across the corner of the field is blocked, so either clamber over without damaging the fence, or follow the fence round two sides of a triangle. And at Waymark 25, I was expecting a stile or gate at the end of the riverside track to give me access to the open moorland on the opposite bank, but a (flood-damaged?) rickety wire fence presented no great challenge.

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