Today, we trekked the Sirhowy Valley Walk from Manmoel to Ynysddu. Our friend, Gilles, bravely accompanied us through a day filled with sun and showers, barbed wire and bluebells.
From CC24, we headed down the hill to a footpath running along the boundary between field and woodland. We followed this path south until it met the SVW. Although marked on OS Explorer 166 as a green dashed line (a public right of way, which we carefully followed with the help of a compass), the land owners have apparently become a bit hostile. We encountered several new wire fences topped with a string of barbed wire in lieu of a stile. We managed to climb over without rips or snags, if rather ungracefully.
Once we regained the SVW, we had a quick look at an abandoned railway bridge and continued on our way. Presently, we encountered a three-step wooden stile with shiny-new barbed wire twisted across the top (SO 1799 0083). We untwisted it and left it out of the way at the side of the path. (On Monday, we reported these problems to the Caerphilly County Borough's Countryside and Landscape Service, who were very helpful and glad to know.)
As we walked, we watched the sky to the west grow dark, and, about a kilometre outside Gwrhay, the rain came pouring down! We fought and flapped our way into our waterproofs as thunder rumbled overhead, and hailstones pelted us as we rustled on our way. When we reached the road at Gwrhay, we saw the gate to the cemetery on the corner but noted that no church is marked on the map. Here, it took us a few minutes to locate the SVW on the other side of the road. After attempting a couple of false leads, we boldly walked on to someone's property and across their drive, on faith that this was indeed where the map meant us to go, and behold: a SVW-marked stile, just out of sight down the hill.
We squelched our way across the field and down to the river. The rain let up momentarily as we pulled out the cache, and we signed quickly, before it could start up again.
Thanks for this navigational exercise!