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The Earthquake of Wales 2018

On 17th February 2018 Wales had an Earthquake! At the time, I was out walking with friends. We were doing a lovely linear route from Defynnog to The Gwyn Arms on the Eastern side of the Swansea Valley. The epicentre of the earthquake was Cwmllynfell, which was not far away, and if you look at the diagram above, you will see next to the word "Brynamman" the line of the Cwmllynfell fault, which is on the opposite side of the valley to where we were.

We began the walk in the village of Defynnog, just South of Sennybridge, on the A4067. It was raining when we when first set out, but better weather was forecast to arrive within a couple of hours, which it did.

Now, unfortunately for me, apart from being soft and flabby and unfit after the winter, I had a dreadful cold. How can one little baby grand daughter, sneezing in your face, be the cause of such a huge cold? I haven't had one for a year or two, and the cold air was hurting my pipes, I kept having coughing fits to the extent that I was advised to give up the Woodbines, and I have now taken out shares in Kleenex due to the number of tissues I got through.

There was a lot of "up" at the start of the walk, so I was glad to get to a little chapel to stop for our first coffee break. There were beautiful snowdrops in the grave yard, and views across to Pen y Fan and Corn Du, but unfortunately they had little cloud caps on at that time.

As we left the chapel the conversation turned to why we have Yew Trees in graveyards. Apparently, in Christianity, they were seen as a symbol of the Resurrection and often used at Easter celebrations.

We continued through fields to the quarry below Fan Bwlch Chwyth and remembered that the last time we had done this walk, the weather was very different. It was a few years ago, and the hottest day of the year. Unfortunately, it was the day that three soldiers died during a training exercise.

Pen y Fan and Corn Du, Brecon Beacons

The track from the quarry goes round to nowhere, so we started the steep ascent above the quarry. If anything was going to give my lungs a workout, this was it. Huffing and puffing and panting, as though the Three Little Pigs were in sniffing distance, I eventually got up to some flat ground. I won't say the top, because we didn't go to the summit. Apparently there is a crash site up there somewhere, so we skirted around in the hope we might come across it. That usually only happens when you're not actually looking for something though.

There are several crash sites in the Brecon Beacons, with six on the Black Mountain in the West of Brecon Beacons National Park. I lead walks visiting all six of these crash sites - if you'd like to know more about these walks contact me for further details.

As we yomped across the tussocky ground, my short legs had to work hard for their dinner clambering over all the lumps and bumps, and avoiding the bog. My windpipe was burning, and I don't know what I looked like with my buff up over my nose to try and warm the air up before it got in. The consolation was the views - still a bit cloudy, but fantastic views across to Fan Hir, Fan Brycheiniog, and Fan Foel.

Fan Hir, Fan Brycheiniog, Twr y Fan Foel, Fan Foel, Llyn y Fan Fawr, Brecon Beacons & Carmarthen Fans

Eventually we made it to the track, and headed towards Penwyllt, passing Fan Fraith on the left, and Fan Gyhirich on the right, along the way. Half the group decided to go up Fan Gyhirich, but there was no way I could do another steep ascent, and I knew the descent would be even steeper! It's good to push yourself beyond your comfort zone, but when you're full of cold on a cold day in winter, at the end of a walk, it's wise to know your limitations!

Fan Gyhirich, Brecon Beacons

Three of us headed back, and decided to stop at the little quarry on the track junction at the edge of the forestry. We sat down on some rocks, and poured our coffees, and ate the last of our sandwiches We were just outside the Ogof Ffynnon Ddu Nature Reserve above Penwyllt, and didn't have far to go to get back to the Gwyn, but it was nice to have a sit down. And that's when it happened.

There was a noise behind us, in the quarry, like the noise a hot air balloon makes when it is first fired up - a whoosh, and then a steady "blowing" sound as though from a gas cylinder, just for a few seconds. When the noise stopped, the rocks we were sitting on reverberated. We looked at each other, not quite knowing what had happened. "Did you feel that?", said one, "What, the Earth moving?" said the other. We looked for a hot air balloon, but couldn't see one., so we then spent a happy five minutes laughing about the movements we had felt, and saying, "I bet when we get back, it'll be all over Facebook that there's been an Earthquake!".

Little did we know.


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