The following report was published in Strider, the LDWA magazine, in April 2011
Where Ravens Dare, 16 October 2010, 25 or 15 miles organised by South Wales LDWA
Although using the same venue as The Caerphilly Summits Challenge, the South Wales Group’s trademark event, Where Ravens Dare is very much a new venture. So, with a lot to live up to, expectations were high on both sides of the check-in desk. Could it emulate the success and satisfaction of its respected predecessor? Such a question was not at the forefront of my mind, following a 150 mile drive. Toilets, toast and a little time to re-orientate were in pole position prior to kick-off. All were readily available, along with a spirited send off from Gwyn Matthews, one of the LDWA’s ‘Passion Daddies’. That put me in just the right mood. So, with perfect weather and one of the entrants dragging an old car tyre, complete with battered orange bucket, our climb to the summit of Mynydd Machen was an interesting start.
Dropping straight off was a bit of a nuisance, but such emotions had been cleverly anticipated and biscuits were on hand, by way of compensation. Twmbarlwm was next and although at this stage portraying roller coaster tendencies, with nearly half of the 5,500ft of ascent completed, the route would become easier. No sooner said than done, with several miles along a splendid whale back ridge. It was the highlight of the day with the scenery blazing and a sense of flying high and feeling free. Exhilaration! Dense woodland followed, although more importantly, chocolate biscuits and plenty of them. In spite of another steep climb the terrain eased, with a nicely woven mix of woodland, field and moor (something that sounds like a new outdoor shop or firm of rural solicitors). Eventually, after a couple of highly entertaining sections, the route dropped into urban territory and, despite a well-stocked checkpoint, less than a mile away, I allowed myself to be provoked by the local mini-market, and ended up arriving with a can of pop in one hand and an iced lolly in the other.
I was offered a full and varied menu, which included something spicy. The next hill, if nothing else, was good for the digestive system. After passing a sculptured raven, which was apt, and an attractive reservoir, it was down to the Ynysddu Hotel for a brace of yoghurts. After gaining a bit of height the last five miles were easy, along track and through wood, with open spaces affording views of where we had been, as well as terrain that might be saved for another occasion. The winding grassy path, initially high above Machen, descended slowly, with a few hundred yards of pavement leading to the finish and passionate hospitality.