After soaking up the coastal magic of Pembrokeshire, we packed up the car and headed back east. The simplest of drives, constantly following the A40 across the roundabouts and past the green fields until it draped across the northern edge of the Brecon Beacons National Park. Our destination was a up in one of the valleys skirting Brecon itself, a hillside home above Llangors Lake, the largest in southern Wales.
Over the subsequent days, we explored the immediately surrounding hillsides, relishing the opportunity to run in the countryside directly from the door. The size and steepness of the hills was the perfect step up from our Island’s, the climbs certainly longer but within my capabilities. Despite the season, the weather was mostly grey and mizzerly, but this is an atmosphere I enjoy in the hills. The ground was soft and springy, the Beacons either spread away or blocked the view for most of the panorama with a perfect patchwork of hedgerows and trees completing the remainder; perfect trails. Sheep of course, but mountain ponies as well emerged from the mist to provide fleeting company.
The route directly behind our house was a rocky bridleway which wound through some woods, while opening out every so often to provide glimpses of the River Usk winding through the valley, the brightest aspect of the landscape beneath the slate sky. The human history of the land was delightfully obvious, with an Iron Age hill fort upon the peak and the remnants of a Roman road taking us back to the valley floor.
Although not the highest points of the Brecon Beacons, or nearly the remotest, our local hills and trails were a perfect place to really immerse ourselves in what must be, for me the southern UK’s most beautiful rural landscapes.