The Old Oak. DimExcuses MTB Ride, Derwen Trail, Brechfa.

Raven's Wings

This is just a glimpse of my favourite and trusted trail, ‘Y Dderwen’ (Welsh for ‘The Oak’) trail in Brechfa, Carmarthenshire.  It is only a glimpse as I forgot my phone and couldn’t map the trail on GPS for you.  The trail is situated in the Brechfa Trial Centre in wild west Wales and can be found on the Cognation website.  The trail centre also hosts the Gorlech red trail and the famous Raven black trail.  The Raven shares the same car park and linking fire roads as the Derwen trail we were riding.  The Gorlech trail can be found further up the road with its own car park at Abergorlech.  The fantastic Raven’s Wings sculpture is in the carpark for weekend warriors to get their facebook and blog photos (above), ahem…

The Derwen is in two parts and is ideal for entry level rider or a family.  The first part is the green loop that is 9 km long with some moderate climbs and descents.  At the midway point in the green loop you can opt for the more challenging blue  route.  This adds an additional 5 km to the ride, a challenging climb and incredibly fun rollercoaster decent.  A group of differing abilities could split into two at this point with some doing the blue run and the others waiting further on at one of the picnic benches and shelters provided.  Below is one of the much needed bench stops.

Bench stop

Here we are below at the summit of blue trail.  Myself and first time DimExcuses riders Sam Donaldson and Paul Jones.

us brave few...

We were lucky with the weather, but I would class this as an all weather trail for the hardy rider.  Obviously the wetter it is the more technical the riding becomes, especially over loose stone sections and areas where puddles develop.

Bench

It is a great ride, designed and built by Rowan Sorrel.  He has a great understanding of trails, and I find is green / blue routes designed to really flow.  A slower rider can easily follow the track, while a more experienced rider can get a lot out of the berms and table tops along the way.

Post ride

I find the 15 km of both trails combined  a perfect length for the less regular rider looking for a day out.  We were around the trail and back at the carpark in less than 2 hours.  It was then a case of heading up the road to Abergorlech for some home cooked local food in the Black Lion Pub.  We must be charmed because just as our food was being served along with a well earned pint of IPA ale, the heavens opened and in came the weekend’s heavy rain showers.

Rain at the Black Lion

As the Derwen is my favourite route, and one I like to share with people new to trail centres, I will soon be back and this time I may remember my phone, DimExcuses.

You don’t have to walk tall around here, but you do have to stand up. SUP Newgale August 2013

Newgale

Finally this is the last of my blogging backlog from the summer.  You may have read in my earlier post that we did dabble with Stand Up Paddleboards (SUP) last time we were in Newgale.  Well this time we had a flat patch with no surf.  Oli in the Big Blue Experience Shop had been keeping us up to date with the surf reports as we had no phone reception, pop in and see him in the shop next time you are in Newgale.  So with the knowledge there was little surf for a couple of days we rented a SUP.

DimExcuses SUP

This was my first real chance to have a proper DimExcuses go at SUP.  They are big old things, much bigger than surfboards and much more buoyant.  I suppose they have to be if you are going to stand on the things. First thing to say with SUP is they require dynamic (moving) balance, and as any sports science student will tell you that works muscle, in the SUP’s case thigh muscle.  Not my biggest muscle, which lead to much sideways wobble and a regular visit to Davey Jones.  As demonstrated here by Sharon Halpin, Splash!

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Now you quickly realise that falling on the board is worse than falling clear of it.  So at the first sign of falling backwards I developed the Flintstones leg dash, quickly running the board under you backwards for an ineloquent back flop.  But in the calm conditions you soon get the hang of paddling about and it is a great way to wander around the bay.  You certainly get some attention too, mainly in anticipation of you coming off.

DimExcuses SUP 2

This is what it is all about, picture perfect SUP cruising in wild west Wales.

SUP Cruise

The second day saw some choppy surf coming and the SUP experience got a lot trickier, thought I would say the learning curve is rapid and the boards are great fun.  I adopted a kneeling approach to get outside the surf zone.

Kneeling SUP

Once outback I was able to stand up but with a lot more wobble in the chop.  I was soon chasing waves…

…and nearly got one!  Great fun, I can really see why SUP is so popular these days.  If you want to learn more about SUP there is a great blog about the journey from beginner to fanatic at staceylovessup, have a read. As well as keeping you up to date with the surf report, Big Blue Experience can sort you out with SUP rental and lessons, so why not give them a shout next time you are in wild west Wales and have a go? Like I said ‘you don’t have to walk tall around here, but you do have to stand up’. DimExcuses! So all that leaves is this one last Newgale beach shot.

Pebbles

The best of the rest from west Wales. Summer 2013

St. Martin's Haven

It is well and truly autumn, and I still have two blog entries left over from the summer. My postings this year could be criticized for being Newgale-centric when in wild west Wales.  I did actually get out and about a bit more this summer, so here is the DimExcuses best of the rest from wild west Wales. Firstly above is St. Martin’s Haven near Marloes, the featured image at the top of the page is Dale, and below is another shot of Dale.

Dale

Here is the beautiful St. Bride’s Bay.

St. Brides Bay

…and finally I do have two shots of Newgale, I had to squeeze them in.

Newgale bay

…this last one is sort of the sunset on Summer 2013.

Sunset Newgale

The only thing left from summer 2013 is some stand up paddle board (SUP) photos, I will post them soon.  Right I am off on my first Gower autumn walk, DimExcuses.

 

After the boys of summer have gone. DimExcuses Gower Walk 2013.

Gower Walk

It has become a bit of a tradition.  Every year at the end of summer, several of us get the first Gower bus to Rhossili and start a mammoth walk back.  We quickly take in the awesome Rhossili Bay and Worm’s Head before cutting across land, over looking Mewslade and Fall Bay, to get to Port Eynon in time for a full cooked breakfast. Much needed fuel for the rest of the walk.

Fall Bay

We weren’t the only ones walking the cliffs.  Have a look at the sheep in the left of this photo, right on the edge of the cliff.

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Leaving Port Eynon we followed the Wales Coastal Path towards Oxwich Bay, taking in the spectacular Gower coast on the way.

Gower Cliffs

Checkout Paul Jones striding confidently in this picture, which I have entitled ‘nature is my bitch’.

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Arriving at Oxwich Bay we are 10 miles into the walk and in need of a pint in the Oxwich Bay Hotel.  It is a cosy break as we sit out the only real shower of the day.

Oxwich Bay Hotel

The back of the walk broken, we then walked across the beach at Oxwich Bay walking past Little Tor.  Unfortunately the tide was blocking the walk past Great Tor.

Gower Walk

With the tide in we had to climb over Great Tor.  Not needed with now tired knees and ankles.  Here is Ade Price at the top of the Tor before we start the decent into Three Cliffs.

Ade Price

I quickly took this photo of Three Cliffs as it is quite an uncommon angle to see Britain’s most photographed and painted beach.  For lots of great photos of Three Cliffs Bay go to 3cliffsbay.co.uk, you may see some of mine.

Three Cliffs Bay

Once across Three Cliffs Bay, which features in my previous Gower Walking blogs, we headed up through Pobbles Bay to the Southgate Pub for a much needed break.

Above Pwll Du

 

We then walked through Southgate and onto East Cliff overlooking Hunt’s Bay, before walking down into Pwll Du.

Pwll Du

It was then just a matter of climbing out of Pwll Du and up into Bishopston for a well earned pint of ‘Three Cilff’s Gold’ in the Joiners Arms.

The Joiners Arms

So 9 hours, 19 miles, 3 pubs and a cafe later we had completed the DimExcuses Gower Walk 2013.  Next year you should come, DimExcuses.