27. Apr, 2022

Three Days in Wales

One of my Geocaching goals is to find a cache in every county in Great Britain. I have been planning a road trip to South Wales for a couple of months now hoping to visit the fourteen counties that I haven’t visited and to find at least one cache. I already visited Powys and Monmouthshire.

My plan was to travel over the north of the region heading towards Carmarthen for an overnight stay then over to the Pembrokeshire and Ceredigionshire border and work my way back south collecting more counties until I reached Newport, the last county needed.

I didn’t realise until late on in the planning that I would only need a short detour from Torfaen to get to the First in Wales cache which if I found it would fill the hole for February 2001 in my Jasmer grid. I‘m not going to add every cache found, only highlights from each county. Here’s how it went.

Day 1 - 25/4/22

I set the alarm for two o‘clock and was on my way at half past. I had an uneventful drive and stopped just outside Raglan in Monmouthshire just before six. I was after a 4.5/2 CC , 5000 Favourite Points Challenge. A quick find was the perfect start to the day. I drove on to Abergavenny and parked in the empty bus station close to the Standing Stones EC. I needed a Welsh EC to qualify for a CC in Kent so I was keen to get one early on.

Now I was heading for Blorenge, a sort of mountain, for one of the trip’s highlights. I parked up near the radio station and set off on the Blorenge Bimble, a Wherigo which took in the main prize as well as a couple of trads. I eventually reached The First in Wales trad placed in February 2001. I scrambled around the rocks for a while but I soon spotted the veteran ammo box.

I walked back to the Bimble route only to realise that the oldie was one of the stages. So back I scrambled, completed the stage and bimbled on. Once I had reached the last, the coords for the 3/3 cache appearred and I made a quick find near the trig point.

Feeling very pleased with myself, I drove down the mountain into Blaenavon in the county of Torfaen. I found my first county cache at the trad, Blaenavon sip and scoff 4. This was on the gate outside the Blaenavon Cheese Shop. This rang a bell as the CO owned the shop and I had “talked” to him on the Tuesday night #UKCachehour.πŸ˜€ It starts at 2000, folks.

I found somewhere for breakfast and then sought out The Big Pit, an Earthcache at the mining museum. I was here too early to visit the coal face but I gathered the required info and took some photos. I left Torfaen behind and crossed the border into Blaenau Gwent. I was after Wales’s Oldest Cinema in Brynmawr and luckily had a quick find of the trad. A short walk away was another trad at a Buddhist temple.πŸ€” No monks were encountered whilst finding the cache.

County borders came thick and fast here so in a few minutes, I was in the County of Caerphilly at the ST - Rhymenny. I first heard this name on a Byrds album, Mr Tambourine Man, in the 60s. The Bells Of Rhymenny was adapted by Pete Seeger from the poem by Welsh poet Idris Davies. Checking the lyrics out now and almost all the counties that I am visiting in the next few days are mentioned. It’s a pity that Roger McQuinn sings “Bells of Rimini” instead of “Bells of Rumney“.

Another short drive and I was in Merthyr Tydfil in the County Of Merthyr. I picked a couple of the (Taff Valley) series of trads and even dropped and retrieved a Travel Bug at (Taff Valley) Canal Head.

Merthyr was very busy so I headed north towards Hirwaun in the County of Rhondda Cynon Taf. I was after a RST here which was an important junction for the defunct Vale of Neath Railway. With this one in the bag I followed the road down to Aberdare and then up to Pontwalby Halt just inside the County of Neath Port Talbot.

I then travelled down the valley picking up RSTs from the Vale of Neath Railway. I was going to the War Memorial in Neath for the trad and whilst I was there, I paid my respects to the war dead and scanned the surnames for mine for any family tree connection For once, I found one.☹️

Ordinary Coder Leslie David Jeffreys aged 21 died on 16th February 1942 during the Fall of Singapore. He was based at HMS Sultan, the RN Shore Base. He has no known grave. RIP Leslie.

I moved on down the road to a virtual cache NIDUM ROMAN FORT based on a Roman gateway, part of which still stands here having been built in AD 100. Luckily the CO allowed my answers through his checker and I carried on with my journey.

I was now going back up north to Gwrhyd for another one of the few CCs in South Wales. I was after the 4.5/2 Xenochallenge : Alphanumeric Challenge Cache. After climbing up the valley, I parked just off the single track road on moorland and set off for the search area. I wish I had read the hint before I set off as the cache was hidden in gorse and I could have done with gloves.πŸ₯΄Thankfully I didn’t get too many scratches and thorns.πŸ˜€

It had been a long day so I started to work my way over towards Carmarthen and my hotel. I was passing through tiny villages collecting CMs and the occasional FP but the highlight of the afternoon was an Earthcache near Brynaman. Celtic - Turlough is the only example of a disappearing lake in Great Britain. They are nearly all found in Ireland. Once I had gathered all the answers and grabbed the associated trad nearby.

Once I checked into the hotel and found out that the restaurant was closed for maintenance, I set off into town looking for beer and food.πŸ€” I managed another two trads too.πŸ™„

Day 2 - 26/4/22

I had a lie-in for a change and after breakfast set off on the hour long drive to Cardiganshire. This county could be tricky for me. Caches are few and far between but I had two in mind near Newcastle Emlyn.

First off was The Smithy in the tiny hamlet of Cwm-Cou and luckily I had a quick find here. πŸ˜€ I drove down to Cenarth for the Wooly Patch close to the river but I couldn’t find the cache so I had to make do with just the one in this county.

The borders were very close here and across the river was Pembrokeshire. I found four trads here of which three were recent DNFs. One of them was at Capel Colman, a church with a magnificent vista. I decided to replace this one in case the view was lost to future cachers. Amazingly I had an email from the CO thanking me for this. They had moved away and hadn’t been able to visit and maintain as much as they would have liked.πŸ˜€

It was time to move on to counties new and drove across Pembs and Carmarthens into Swansea. I found the CM multi and VHs trad in Pontlliw and then took off into the hills for another CC. This time I was after the 5/5 South Wales 365 Challenge Cache. I walked up a track fringed with close fitting gorse.πŸ₯΄ It was torturous for a while but I eventually reached the prize. Back in the car, I followed the road down picking off a few trads.

To get down to my last cache in Swansea I had to get back on the M4 and as I came off at Llansamlet. I spotted a Costa coffee shop so I stopped for refreshments. I used one of my free coffee icons here.πŸ˜€

Once I had found the nearby ST trad, I took the short journey across the border back into Neath Port Talbot. My main target here was the 4.5/2 7 Cache Types CC. I parked close to the search area, popped over the stile to collect the cache. 

I was taking a chance at the CM Margam Abbey multi as it had been DNFed for a little while but as I had worked out the coords online, I thought that I would give it a whirl - no problemo.πŸ€” It was time to visit the Vale of Glamorgan for the first time. I found four caches here of which three were CM trads and the other a FP multi in Llangan.

I had a check up and realised that I had bypassed Bridgend. πŸ₯΄ However the counties are quite close down here so it was only a short drive into the county town. I took another chance on FP - Bridgend opposite the station this was another recent DNF but again no problem.πŸ€” I finished off in town with the CM ~ St Mary’s multi.

It was still some drive to the digs so I headed off onto the M4 stopping for a wee at Cardiff West Services and the nearby Motorway Mayhem trad, of course. I had to get up to Gwaelod-y-Garth up in the north east part of the county, right next to the border.

I was staying at the local inn and once I had a shower and refreshed, I ventured out up the village to find the FP multi.πŸ˜€ For some reason, the restaurant and bar was closed at the inn, so I had to walk down the path to the River Taff and walk across the bridge into Taff’s Vale in Rhondda Cynon Taf. There was an EC next to the village pub which I wanted to have a look at. Ffynnon Taf - “Water you think about this.” Just here was a geo-thermal spring just like the one in Bath. It‘s not as hot as Bath but then it is not as deep. See I learnt something about geo-thermal qualities.πŸ˜€

Breakfast was at eight next morning so I was up at half five and signing my first log sheet of the day just after six in Groeswen in Caerphilly. I found a trad here and a FP multi. I tried for the CM multi for it required a lot of translation from the Welsh language and I didn’t have time for that.πŸ€”

I worked my way up into Pontypridd in Rhondda Cynon Taf collecting a series of RST trads and some other odds and sods. I had hoped to find a ST multi on the Rhondda/Swansea border but I ran out of time as I wanted to get back for breakfast promptly. What a breakfast that was.πŸ‘ The lady said that it would keep me going all day and it did.πŸ˜€

I packed up, signed the visitors log and bowled down the road down into Neath. I hit what you could call rush hour but got down to Langstone for the WM multi. I stopped a mile or so down the road in Penhow for the CM multi and the VHs trad before cutting down into Llandevaud for the FP trad which was to be my last cache in Wales... for a while. I had achieved my target so it was time for home.

I drove via Wickwar in Gloucestershire for another challenge, the 4.5/1.5 Church Micro Counties Challenge and then headed off for Swindon where there was a series of challenges that had caught my eye and that I had qualified for. πŸ€” There were two different series by the Lydford Locators but I knew that I only had time to do one of them. I chose the southern set of Centenary Challenges in Webb’s Wood which had seven caches of varying difficulty. Luckily I found them all and now I really did have to call it a day and head for home.

It had been a great few days. I had achieved all that I had hoped for although I would have liked to get more caches bu that would have been just greedy.πŸ˜€πŸ˜€

1 Virtual 1 Wherigo 4 Earthcache 7 Multi 12 Mystery 54 Traditional