Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Walking Long Wood, Lampeter

Long Wood, near Lampeter. Photo copyright Margaret Sharrow, 2010

Ignore a place for a few years, and it changes - often for the better. There's a cracking set of walks out of Lampeter in West Wales, starting from behind Lampeter's night club (yes! there is one!) Oxygen (formerly known as the Old Quarry - another change). These walks go through the Long Wood, which is now a community managed woodland complete with all sorts of exciting projects in evidence, including sculpture, areas for woodcraft workshops, and an open air theatre where there will be a performance of A Midsummer Night's Dream later this year. 

Forestry track, Long Wood, near Lampeter. Photo copyright Margaret Sharrow, 2010

You can walk short loops through the woods, or taking in the lovely views along the ridge, passing Castell Allt Goch - but don't expect turrets, as it's a subtle earthwork. A loop from Lampeter to the car park half a mile above Llanfair Clydogau and back (or vice versa) is about seven miles. Wear wellingtons if you want to traverse the ridge walk and see the 'castles' - as the way passes through a veritable Slough of Despond and other mucky bits - but the paths in the woods are mostly on forestry tracks and any well-cushioned shoes would do just fine. 

Brilliant shelter & picnic area with wonderful view of Derry Ormond Tower, photo copyright Margaret Sharrow 2010

To start the walk: If you parked your car in town, head out of town along College Street, which turns into North Road (the road heading towards the A482 to Aberaeron / A485 to Tregaron junction) until you pass the football fields on your right. Turn right at the football club and pass Oxygen and an agricultural vehicles dealer (you could probably park around here somewhere, though parking is really for customers so I'm not endorsing it). The road crosses a cattle grid and a small bridge and then heads straight up the hill to a farmyard. Turn left just as you get to the wall and walk a short distance to a gate into the woods. This bit is often extremely boggy with slurry (that's sludge from animal waste) but as you follow the path through the wood and through a gate it gets better. As the path levels out you are confronted with a stile, leading to a path going straight ahead out of the woods and over the top of the hill, towards the 'castles', or a stile to your left, leading to an information board at the start of the forestry track. From here the maps and signing are very clear, at least if you head into the woods. The OS Explorer map 199 might be helpful in finding your way to the 'castles' over the ridge, but I've always thought that blundering around is half the fun. 

Link to Google Maps for Lampeter showing the football fields (football club is incorrectly labelled as being on someone's house!) and the right turn that marks the start of the track leading up the hill.