The mountains have re-opened now lock down restrictions are lifting.
I spoke to Jess from Brecon Mountain Rescue Team to get their advice on how to stay safe now we're heading out.
Even though I've been walking daily, its not been on the peaks, so I know I'm not as confident or as fit as I was before.
This is great advice and I learned so much from writing it too!
The Blorenge isn't a sexy mountain. It looms over Abergavenny and has car parks almost at its summit.
But I lived on the side of the Blorenge for 10 years and for me, its a very special place. Yes it can get busy, but the trick with the Blorenge is to avoid the summit and stick to the slopes, where you'll find woodland, a lake and reminders of our industrial heritage. It's a mountain I can't stay away from.
So this two hour walk isn't a summit walk. Park on the grass near the cattle grid on the Llanover Road (don't block the gate). Head through the wooden gate and down through woodland, to the Punchbowl. The lake is a stunning spot and becoming more popular with wild swimmers.
The walk carries on around the mountain, with views over Abergavenny, to the Black Mountains and Sugar Loaf. You'll join the remains of Hills Tramroad, used to transport ironore from the works down to the canal in the 19th century - look out for the stones in the middle of the path and an old tunnel. You'll climb again after that and return around the mountain on a higher path before dropping back down to the car.
It's a good walk for windy days or just when you want to enjoy beautiful surroundings and views.
The walk is on the link below
It's so frustrating when you read about a great walking route, but it doesn't say whether there are stiles on the route.
I have a huge dog and if we meet an unexpected stile it turns into a nightmare. Benji weighs 42kg and hates being lifted - and it takes two of us. If I am by myself, I often have to turn around and retrace my steps. It's the same for those with limited mobility.
That's why I was so chuffed to be asked to contribute some walks to Julia Bradbury's website for a stile free walk special.
As this blog develops I will be sharing more walks and all of them will say whether there are stiles or not and if the are, whether they are dog friendly.
Meantime, click on the link for Julia's The Outdoor Guide, Stile free walks.
The sun is shining and the last thing on our minds is wet weather gear. But this is our opportunity to dig out our waterproofs to wash them and reproof them.
Remember to use either a specialist technical wash or very simple soap flakes. Clean out your detergent drawer first too. Also whatever you do, don't put fabric conditioner in with the wash unless you want to get very, very wet out on the hill.
The hot sun means that you don't need to put your waterproof in the tumble drier to activate the proofing agent, so doing it now is better for the environment and your pocket with electricity bills.
I use Nikwax tch wash to clean it all, followed by Nikwax TX Direct to reproof. Grangers is also very good. I prefer two separate products rather than an all in one which I don't think reproofs as well.
Enjoy the sun!
There have been a lot of positives from these strange times we are living through and I really hope that in years to come we'll look back and remember some of them with fondness.
For me, its been the quiet.... The dual carriageways near my home are quiet, the constant rumble of planes going over has stopped. The birdsong is so loud and at night the silence is encompassing.
I'm really going to miss the peace when restrictions are lifted xxxx
For my reflections along with other OS Champs, click the photo to open the page.
A lovely short stroll of almost 5km through Wentwood Forest, a greenspace of more than 1,000 hectares of conifer and broadleaf forest.
Just north of Newport, Wentwood is popular with walkers, cyclists and horse riders. But you can always find a quiet spot.
This walk is on wide gravel tracks and woodland paths.
Start at the Cadira Beeches car park NP26 3AZ. Take the wide gravel track that was immediately in front of you as you drove into the car park. Keep following that track, don't turn off until you reach the Five Crossroads (it's a really big open area). Take the left fork in front of you (the second left) and follow that until you reach a turning on your left. Take that and follow it through the woods until you reach a t-junction. Turn right there and follow the broad gravel track to another t-junction. Turn left there and follow the wide track slighly uphill. You'll enjoy gorgeous views to the left over the woodland. When the track bends sharply to the left, take the dirt track on your right. This narrower track will lead you through the woods and eventually you'll reach a fence on your right where clearance work has taken place. At the end of the track turn left. Follow this gravel track around and when it forks take the right fork. Keep going right to the end of this broad track, enjoying views to the right over to the mountains of the Brecon Beacons. As the gravel track starts to end you'll see a dirt track on your left through the woods. Take this track and follow it straight down to Cadira Beeches car park.
Link to walk here:
E-bikes are having a renaissance during lockdown. Sales are through the roof, social media is full of people talking about their ebikes. Yet out and about there is still a feeling of guilt at owning one.
They are cheat bikes.
I haven't owned a bike since I had a Raleigh Shopper to get to school on. With three gears, I hated it. I vowed I would never cycle again... and I didn't!
Not until lockdown. My partner has an ebike hybrid. He kept telling me how great they are.
And finally, going stir crazy from not getting out, I took the plunge and spent an awful lot of money on a brand new Giant Fathom Hybrid ebike (in my defence it is an early birthday present for a significant birthday in July).
And I am a convert. It's not a moped, so you still have to work. But it means I'm not getting off and pushing my bike at the first uphill. As the weeks have gone on, I've got stronger. Now I'm using the engine less and less.
We cycle from our home to Wentwood Forest, we're exploring the green lanes, bridleways, forest tracks and the country lanes of Monmouthshire. I've fallen off it more times than I've fallen off my horse. But I am truly a convert.
So please, to all those dedicated cyclists. don't sneer at ebikers; to those who are tempted but feel it's `cheating' it's not!! We did 25 miles today and I'm shattered, my thighs ache so much I can barely walk upstairs. But it was such fun and I couldn't have done it without that engine.
All that matters to me, is that I'm out enjoying the outdoors, breathing in fresh air and steadily getting fitter.
My first blog walk in lockdown! There's so many more I want to share with you - mountains, woodland, valleys and moorland.
But I'll start with a walk I've been going on for more than 20 years. It's on the Gower Penninsula, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and this is a walk missed by so many as they race to Rhosilli Bay.
Cwm Ivy and Whiteford are both national nature reserves. This pleasant walk takes you onto the beach, through dunes, then into the salt marsh and finally through broadleaf woodland. Its a joy for dogs, great for kids and a special place for adults too.
A lovely walk through woodland, sand dunes, along the beach and the salt marsh.
Starting from the car park in Cwm Ivy, turn right onto the road and head down the lane (remember to put some money in the honesty box first). Walk through the village until you reach the National Trust gate signed 'Cwm Ivy Wood' Go through the gate and follow the track down the hill. Keep straight on towards the beach and on your left is Cwm Ivy Tor. When you reach the beach turnand walk all the way along to Whiteford Point. Round the point and return along the Wales Coastal Path or detour into the dunes. Then take the footpath on the left through Cwm Ivy Marsh. If you have dogs keep them under control here as sheep are grazing (alternatively you can ignore this left turn and carry straight on and then turn left at the end and the return back to the village the way you came out). Bear right into Cwm Ivy broadleaf woods and follow the footpath until you reach a gate back into the village. Turn left and retrace your steps back to the car park.