Category Archives: Myths

A near perfect morning for Landscape Photography in the Brecon Beacons…

Over the last few years there have been many memorable moments spent amongst the hills, valleys, mountains and rivers of the Brecon Beacons National Park, but few more so than the morning of the 3rd November 2015.

As a hill-walker & amateur photographer there are few experiences more coveted than being able to stand above the clouds looking down on everything below and the chase for this experience will more often than not mean sitting in cold/damp conditions atop your chosen location, cursing the Met-office for not being right all the time.

pyf no see

These mornings have been quite frequent, where there is little to do but  hunch over in the sometimes sub zero temperatures and disappear in to an almost meditative state trying to keep warm  while waiting, wishing and hoping for something interesting to happen. Often this can be quite a de-motivating experience given the effort that is involved in getting to these places – the 4am alarm, the sickeningly strong coffee, those awkwardly dry mouthfuls of an unwanted but needed breakfast, not to mention getting growled at by your dogs for waking them at such ungodly hours, and all this before you have even left the house! There is still the 45 minute drive with the now twitchy caffeine enthused eyes and the horrible first few hundred meters of walking, when your body is still doing everything it can to get you to turn around and go back to bed.

But I persevere.

In the hope that one day I can reach the top and have the clouds so close I could step right on to them!

On the morning of the 3rd November I came as close as I have done to this feeling.

The few days prior had seen Temperature Inversions in the Brecon Beacons and the Sunday had tempted me up out for dawn a hike up Pen Y Fan. It was a pleasant morning out on the hills, with a nice blanket of “the Dragons Breath” on the land below. But it didn’t rise much passed a few hundred meters and so failed to give me the experience I had been chasing.

brecon

But undeterred from this experience and with another Temperature Inversion forecast I had nothing to lose other than sleep so off I went.

Week-days are a great time to get up on to the hills for sunrise if, like me, you enjoy the solitude and isolation of hill-walking. As I reached the summit of Pen Y Fan, there was a wild-camper packing up and heading back down, a decision I am sure they would later come to regret, as this had the makings of a very special morning indeed! The build up was near perfect. With the Moments before Dawn, my favorite of almost any outing, gracing me with the most beautiful pre-dawn sky and soft pastel colours.

Cribyn (1 of 2)-2

near perfect (1 of 1)-3

Sitting on the summit of Pen Y Fan, South Wales highest mountain watching the clouds flow over Cribyn like a river was like nothing I have experienced before and one that will be with me for some time. If the weather took a turn for the worse from here, I would’ve been quite satisfied and would’ve gone home and then on to work, with a smile on my face and a definite spring in my step.

With the sun still a way off rising, I took some time to enjoy the events unfolding infront of me, without the pressure of trying to photograph it. I just sat above Cefn Cwm Llwch with a flask of coffee, some home made brownies and took the time to enjoy the moment.

The sunrise itself was pretty uneventful, due to a band of cloud on the horizon. But still the Dragon breathed, the valley-fog kept rising and eventually started to engulf the whole of Cribyn. A scene that I had just had to capture, but with little light around I was at first unsure of how best to make a photograph from it. But watching it flow over the highest point of the mountain and cascade in to the valley below gave me the idea of using a long exposure to encapsulate it’s slow graceful enveloping of this iconic Welsh Mountain.

I composed my shot to include a little foreground and used the topography of the mountain to lead the eye in to the main interest of the photograph, I focused (using the back-button method approximately) 1/3 rd in to the scene as I don’t know about you but calculating the hyperfocal distance still confuses me. I set the sensitivity to my cameras lowest native setting, calculated 5 shutter speed stops back from my camera’s light-meter reading &  used the Timer function to ensure as sharp an image as I could.

As soon as I pressed the shutter the sun just began to peak through the clouds, but not so much as to over-expose the final image, just enough to grace the clouds above and below it with a subtle tint of it’s early morning colour. I knew at this point I was going to have a final image to be proud of!

And I was not wrong! I am still smiling 2 weeks later as a result of having this image short-listed for Outdoor Photography’s “Outdoor Photographer of the Year”

Cribyn

 Kit used

Nikon D610, Tamron 24-70, Velbon Tripod, Format Hi-tech 5 stop ND Filter.

Settings

Manual Exposure, 24mm, ISO 100, F20 , 20 Seconds.

If you’ve reached this far  – thank you!

Grant Hyatt

Also posted in Blog Post, Brecon Beacons, Landscape, Sunrise, Wales Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The start of my walking season..?

There is a little road that myself and my wife often take from our home near Brynamman in to Llandeilo and the Towy Valley.
It traverses the far western fringes of the Brecon Beacons National Park and offers up great views over the Amman Valley and then, further along, over Carreg Cennen Castle and the picturesque village of Trap, with Bronze Age Burial Cairns dominating the hill tops to your right with some great walking opportunities, on paths that few others seem to tred, despite the great views, topography and history that it follows. Tair Cairn Isaf
The slopes / open land here is grazed by Cattle and Horses and with narrow roads, driving slow is highly recommended and be prepared for lengthy reversing manoeuvres if you come across others. It is very wet underfoot, often quite boggy which offers up great conditions for some plants as the seasons pass. In the Spring, Cotton Grass seems to do exceptionally well here.
Cotton grass
Though, now Summer (if it can be believed we had one at all) is drawing to a close, it is the turn of Heather, and it hasn’t disappointed! This area is dominated by vibrant purples / pinks at the moment and can be seen from miles away! Heather loves the moist soil here and it’s tips are often grazed on. It has been lapping up all of this rain and is flourishing! A lovely place for an evening stroll!
It also gave me a little time to think about where I am going to concentrate my photographic efforts on during this coming autumn/winter/spring.
Heather (2 of 4)

Heather (3 of 4)
I’ve decided to stick around my local hills and try to avoid the more popular central beacons. I am very much in my infancy with Photography, having only really discovered the importance of good light, quite late in to last years Autumn and was left mesmerised by the effect Dawn’s light had on anything it graced. I spent the next few months out as often as my work commitments would allow and felt I made huge leaps in my confidence both in composure and in my understanding of the elements..
Now with this in mind I think regular visits to the likes of Llyn Y Fan Fawr / Fach, Fan Bryncheiniog, Fan Foel, Picws Du, Fan Gyhirych would offer me up some great viewing experiences and give me the chance to learn more about the landscape and it’s history, aswell as help me progress in this most captivating of hobbies that is photography…..

Heather (1 of 4)

Have a good day!

Also posted in Blog Post, Brecon Beacons, Landscape, Sunset, Wales

A place of myth and legend…

I am lucky enough to call the Brecon Beacons my home, with some of my favorite summits visible from my back garden and the starts of great hikes just a short drive away. I live in a little village called Ystradowen at the base of the Black Mountain, on the Western fringes of our National Park. In my village next to a disused school is an information board. This isn’t the sort of information board that I had been accustomed to, growing up in London or even in my many years living in Swansea. The sort of information board that I had come to expect provided information on bus time tables and local martial arts classes.

Now Ystradowen is a pretty small village in Carmarthenshire and is pretty unassuming. No pubs, no shops, no school, not even a post office (though we do have a community centre). But what it does have is stories, myths and legends! The most famous involving my little village is one of the “Twrch Trwyth” . The Twrch Trwyth is said to have been an enchanted boar that was chased all across Wales by the infamous King Arthur and his dog Cavall. Having only come to live in this little village a few years ago, I found this legends association here amazing and has made my calling this home a little magical.

The myths and legends of the Brecon Beacons don’t end there! One of personal favorites involves the daughter of the 5th century King “Brychan” and his most beautiful daughter, Gwladus. Gwladus is said to have fallen in love with a peasant by the name of Einion. I will not do the story the disservice of attempting to tell in my own words so here is a link – ( http://tinyurl.com/oefv6c8 ).

But I will say is that her spirit is said to have become immortalised in Sgwd Gwladys, a wonderful waterfall (and one of the more accessible) in the Brecon Beacons National Park.

Sgwd Gwladys (1 of 1)

I have spent alot of time around this lovely waterfall and have even had a quick dip in it’s plunge pool during a run in the heat of last summer! About 500 meters up stream, in a far less visited area is another waterfall that has links to this story, the waterfall of Sgwd Einion Gam. This waterfall is said to contain the love stricken spirit of Einion, Gwladus’s love.
It is in a beautifully secluded position, far out of reach for all but the most adventurous of ramblers to this area. But to those that make the effort in the month of May, it’s journey is filled with the colour blue 🙂

Sgwd Einion Gam (1 of 1)-2

The waterfall is really only accessible during drier times as several river crossings are needed to reach it, though even then wellies are advisable! It can be tough, it can be slippery, but on arriving at this incredible enchanting place, you will wonder why you’ve never bothered before!

Sgwd Einion Gam (1 of 1)

I think stories, both of fact and fiction are the most complimentary of companions to any outing in the wilds of Wales 🙂

Thank you for taking the time to read this post and I would encourage you to look up the Mabinogion, which is the earliest prose literature of Britain and full of wonderful welsh stories!

Grant

Also posted in Blog Post, Brecon Beacons, King Arthur, Landscape, Legends, Mabinogion, Wales, Waterfalls