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  • jen9484

Hiking the Taff Trail - Adventure time between Cardiff and Brecon

Day one: Enthusiasm and these songs in my head Cardiff Bay to Rhydyfelin I set out in the early morning on a Tuesday in October. The weather was pleasant, I was dropped off at the trailhead in Cardiff Bay and I took a few obligatory pictures of the trail marker. Then, I started to walk. The stretch was a bit odd since I walked exactly how I would walk home from the bay, passing my house about 30 minutes after I had started.

Day two: Rain and hiker hunger Rydyfelin to Pentrebach It had been raining on and off on day one so I had the pleasure of putting on damp hiking clothes when I set off on Wednesday morning. It was drizzling again so I would have been damp very soon anyway, but starting out in wet and cold attire was still not the most motivating start. It didn’t help either that I got lost right away and climbed a hill that turned out to be a dead end. Back to my starting point I went.

Day three: Flipflopping Brecon to Aber As soon as one reaches the Brecon Beacons good points to enter or exit the trail become much rarer and so does accommodation, both in hostels and in terms of campsites. After my super wet day from before, I was craving a shorter and more playful day, so I decided to flipflop and take a bus from Cardiff to Brecon and hike the rest of the trail backwards. That allowed me to have a later start and a scenic bus trip before I hit the trail again. It was only a 12-kilometre walk to Aber Farm, where I booked one of their Shepard’s Huts to spend the night. I love Aber Farm and I have stayed there since, also with my own tent pitched in their fields and I highly recommend that place to anyone who is looking for accommodation in the Brecon Beacons (check them out here).

Day Four: Welcome to Jurassic Park Aber to Pontsicill Refreshed from a short day and a long night, I sat out before dawn the next morning. In the beam of my headlamp, I left Aber and continued to Talybont Reservoir. The sun was beginning to rise as I made my way through the thicket along the banks of the lake. The ground was so boggy from all the rain the night before and I was once again thankful for my water-resistant hiking boots, my trekking poles for stability and particularly the mud baskets on them that helped with not sinking into the ground so much.

Day Five: No signal anywhere Pontsicill to Pentrebach This left me with another 11 kilometres to walk on my next day. Another short one. I was in a pretty bad mood when I hiked out due to some heavy miscommunications on my part backfiring and with absolutely no signal to fix it. Take it from someone who really wanted to make a call: In wide areas of the Brecon Beacons and the Valleys there is no mobile signal or internet connection and if you feel like you rely on either your mobile device or some form of communication to others – think of a different way and think of it ahead of time. But what was done was done and the only way to go was onwards. So onwards I went through the woods and along the stream once more. Soon after - I was halfway through Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets - I hit Merthyr. Fueled by my last energy bar my feet carried me the remaining 4 kilometres to the train station in Pentrebach.

This rush in the end... As I plonked down on a seat in that train back to Cardiff, wet, dirty and probably a little smelly, I felt such a rush of energy and accomplishment. I disembarked the train and on my way home from Cardiff Central, I wore my hiking gear (which looks properly out of place in the city centre) as a badge. It was only about 100 kilometres that I walked and I even had the added comfort of sleeping in my own home for many nights, but I felt like I have truly achieved something. My body, my very own legs, have carried me all that distance. And I was and still am so sure they will continue to carry me.

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