Hay Bluff – Brecon Beacons national park, Wales

Hay Bluff, Brecon Beacons national park, Wales

Hay Bluff is a small (677 meter) peak on the northeast edge of the Black Mountains and Brecon Beacons national park.

The English/Welsh border runs roughly through the left side of the peak in the above photo, as well as Offa’s Dyke national footpath which follows the border for the most part.

The bluff is only a few kilometers south of town here, so it’s probably my most visited area of the Brecon Beacons national park and Wales in general.  It’s a good place to go for some hillwalking in the late afternoon and provides some scenic views of the surrounding countryside.

Wild Welsh mountain pony, Hay Bluff, Black mountains

Hay Bluff panoramic stock photo, Black mountains, Wales

Above and Below: Hay Bluff as seen from near the summit of Twmpa.  The peak rises into a broad plateau which then turns into a ridge that forms the eastern border of: the Black mountains, Brecon Beacons national park, Vale of Ewyas, and Wales itself.  The small single lane road skirts the side of the peak and over Gospel Pass (center right of both photos) and down into the Vale of Ewyas.

Hay Bluff landscape photo, Brecon Beacons, Wales

To Lofoten

Bodo Moskenes lofoten islands ferry, Norway

If I timed this post properly, it should be 4:30 AM (Norwegian time) Wednesday morning and I’ll just be getting off the ferry in Moskenes after over 24 hours of straight travel.  Hopefully it wont be raining and hopefully the 3 hour crossing will have been a bit calmer than the above photo, which was not a very fun ride.  Time to go find a nice flat spot to pitch my tent for a couple hours.  Next is the walk to Reine to catch the ferry across the fjord and make my way to Bunes beach…

Norwegian Hiking and Backpacking

Summer Wild Camping and Backpacking, Jotunheimen, Norway

Photo: Camping above lake Bygdin, Jotunheimen national park, Norway

Jotunheimen glaciers and mountains, Norway

Photo: Cloudy skies over mountains and glaciers in Jotunheimen national park, Norway.

To put it nicely, Norway is not a ‘sunny’ country.  Don’t be fooled by travel guides and brochures showing photos scenic green meadows, waterfalls, or fjords with calm puffy white clouds and blue skies overhead on every page.  This is a lie.  I can’t count how many times I’ve set my tent up in the rain only to take it down in the rain on the following morning, for days on end.  Even during the height of summer one should always be prepared for cold, wet, and windy conditions.  This applies even more if one is planning on venturing out in the mountains.

Camping Kvalvike beach, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Camping at Kvalvike beach, Lofoten islands, Norway.

So if the weather sucks so bad, why even go?  Because Norway is an amazingly beautiful and friendly country.  And because when that sunny summer day does come, you will instantly forget that week of rain and cloud that proceeded and will follow it.  And if you are north of the arctic circle and standing on a mountain top at 2 am under a perfectly blue sky, you will already start planning your return trip.

Mountain lunch, Lofoten islands, Norway

Photo: Mountain snack, above Stamsund, Lofoten islands, Norway

Here’s my packing list for a 3 week trip which I start tomorrow.  The first 2 weeks I’ll out on the Lofoten islands, followed by one week hiking around Jotunheimen national park.  Since the main purpose of my trip is photography, I need to keep the weight of my camping equipment and clothing to a minimum to help offset the weight of my camera gear.

Some useful links for traveling around Norway:

Backpacking packlist for Norway

I normally only wear hiking boots in places where I’ll encounter lots of snow and or bog/mud, such as Norway.  However, I’m trying to keep things a bit lighter on this trip so I’m only going to take some trail-runners.  This may be a regrettable decision and lead to constantly wet feet, but I hope not…

Camping Gear:
•Backpack – Golite Odyssey
•Daypack/camera bag – Black Diamond Sphynx 32L
•Tent – MSR Hubba single person
•Sleeping Bag – Mountain Hardwear Phantom 32
•Lightweight foam sleeping pad
•Leki Makalu trekking poles
•Water filter – Katadyn mini
•Petzl Zipka plus headlamp
•first aid kit
•Rain cover for backpack

•Stove – Snow Peak GigaPower
•Cookware – Snow Peak titanium pan & lid
•Spoon Fork combination

•Multipurpose camp soap
•journal & pens
•Hand cleaner
•Plug adapter


•Shell Jacket – Golite
•Shell Pants – Marmot Precip
•Marmot Driclime windshirt
•Lightweight fleece
•MEC lightweight softshell pants
•Lightweight shorts
•3x t-shirts
•3x socks
•3x underwear
•Fleece beanie
•Lightweight camp towel

Lake Gjende in summer, Jotunehimen, Norway

Photo: Scenic summer view of Lake Gjende, Jotunheimen national park, Norway.

Craig Goch Reservoir – Elan Valley, Wales

Welsh stock photography: Craig Goch reservoir, Elan Valley, Wales

Craig Goch reservoir and dam, Elan Valley, Powys, Wales.

Craig Goch is the uppermost of the Elan Valley reservoirs.  From here the road meets up with the mountain road towards Aberystwyth at the coast or back east to Rhayader.

Welsh stock photography: Craig Goch reservoir, Elan Valley, Wales

Welsh stock photography: Craig Goch reservoir, Elan Valley, Wales

Claerwen Reservoir – Elan Valley, Wales

Welsh stock photography: Claerwen Reservoir, Elan Valley, Wales

Claerwen Reservoir and dam on a surprisingly pleasant summer day, Elan Valley, Powys, Wales.

These waters flow some 70+ miles to quench the thirst of the city of Birmingham.  Claerwen was finished in 1952 and was the last of the reservoirs to be built.

Welsh stock photography: Claerwen Reservoir, Elan Valley, Wales

Wild Welsh Mountain Ponies

Wild Welsh mountain pony, Hay Bluff, Wales

Wild Welsh mountain ponies in and around Hay Bluff in the Black Mountains area of Brecon Beacons national park, Wales.

I’ve posted previously about the wild ponies that run around the mountains here in south Wales.  There’s several herds that hang out on Hay Bluff, just outside of town here.  They make for more interesting subjects than near infinite amount of sheep cruising around.

White Welsh mountain pony on hillside, Hay Bluff, Wales

Wild Welsh mountain pony feeds on grassy hillside, Hay Bluff, Wales

Two wild Welsh mountain pony foals, Hay Bluff, Wales

Portrait of wild Welsh mountain pony foal, Hay Bluff, Wales

Wales – Black Mountain

Black Mountain Landscape, Brecon beacons national park, Wales

Black Mountain (yes, singular, not plural) is the name of the westernmost range of the Brecon Beacons national park.  The other two being the Black mountains (plural this time) in the east and along the English border.  While the Brecon Beacons range, from where the national park takes its name and home to the highest mountain in south Wales (Pen Y Fan), sits between the two ‘black’ ranges.

Access into the Black mountain is about an hour from here, so I’ve only just begun to explore the area in the last weeks.  They are much more rugged and isolated that the Black MountainS here in my backyard, so I’m looking forward to spending more time out there.  There is also a roughly 100 mile long trail called the Beacons Way which runs east to west across the park which has also caught my attention for some time in the future.

Black Mountain Landscape, Brecon beacons national park, Wales

Black Mountain Landscape, Brecon beacons national park, Wales

Welsh Safari

Welsh mountain pony, Black Mountain, Wales

Welsh mountain ponies.  They seemed to think either I and or the car was edible.  Out in the Black mountain area on a mostly fine summer day.

Welsh mountain pony, Black Mountain, Wales

Welsh mountain pony, Black Mountain, Wales