Even though the weather wasn’t the best I finally took the chance and headed off for a long delayed trip back to my childhood stomping grounds in Wales. The colder nights and rain setting in over the last few weeks has done away with nights out using only a sleeping bag and I found myself a nice budget ProAction Tent to use until the winter sets in proper.
Given that I happen to live in a town without a dedicated camping shop (the last one shut down last year) the tent was a great find and while not exactly what I was looking for, it did a good job on the mountain. I opted for a 2 man version just to give a little extra room for all my gear (there’s nothing worse than being all boxed in while trying to sleep).
Jumping off the train at Pontypool and New Inn, which is one of those backwater train stations that commercialization and railway staff have passed by, its usually about 2 hours walk to my intended camping point at the top of Mynydd Maen.
A nice (but steep) walk up through Cwmynyscoy brings me to a even steeper lane that goes all the way across the mountain to my hometown of Cwmbran. Mynydd Maen is unmissable on the right as you walk toward Cwmbran and although there are many routes up to the summit, only a few are of the easier variety.
One such path to marked by the giant slabs of stone pictured below.
Reaching the summit of Mynydd Maen showed that the cloud was brushing against the mountain and causing a rolling fog like effect (if you’ve ever been caught in low cloud you’ll know what I mean.
This bought the temperature down a lot and I decided to take a good walk around before making camp.
After about an hours walk the cloud really started to move in so cut the planned circular route short and headed straight back to my chosen camping spot. My one worry here was that even there wasn’t any rain forecast, everybody get things wrong and I was going to get a total soaking before the tent was up and ready for me to climb into.
How Weird I Felt in a Tent!
It bought it home to me how little I use a tent when trying to bed down for the night. Even though I’m less vulnerable with the tent to sleep in, it still felt really odd. I put it down to how visible the thing is compared to just the usual sleeping bag I use in the summer.
Soon got over it though as it had been a long day already and managed a good 6 hours of half tidy shuteye.
Waking up the next morning to almost identical crappy weather I had to deal with the day before, I wasted no time breaking down the tent before the cold set into my bones.
No trip to this part of where I grew up would be complete without a visit to “the hut”. One of only a few structures on this mountain, the hut has been a stopping point for many walkers to scratch (or spray paint) their names on the walls.
While messing around in the hut, the mountain had a major whiteout and instead of waiting until it cleared (like I know I should and tell others), headed off in what seemed like the right direction, lost the path and ended up with very wet boots and legs before getting myself back on track 🙂
Not normally one to enjoy having to come down a mountain, Mynydd Maen makes a good stab at being the exception. There is a beautiful hour long descent through some stunning forestry, made even better that morning by the almost primeval look all the mist gave it.
A Winter Camping Plan
Now I’ve got used to using a tent again, there’s going to be much more camping this winter than I normally get in. Going to have to upgrade my sleeping bag though as my 4 season mummy bag has seen better days.