Exploring what may be lost

by backpackingbongos

Our homes, our land, no choice.

That was a sign that caught my eye as I drove the main road between Welshpool and Newtown.  My backpacking plans sometimes don’t pan out.  Last weekend I should have been backpacking the Crianlarich seven, a rollercoaster route over some mighty fine hills in the Southern Highlands.  The route that I had planned is complex and good weather is essential to enjoy it to its fullest.  Unfortunately towards the end of last week it became apparent that Scotland was not going to deliver the goods over the weekend.  A hasty redrafting of a backpacking route instead saw me heading to Mid-Wales on Friday during an unseasonable hot spell.

I was heading towards a small slice of backpacking heaven, the hills and lakes sandwiched between the lovely town of Machynlleth and the mighty fine hill of Pumlumon.  This wonderful part of Mid-Wales is now firmly in the sight of the developers who want to turn it into a giant power station.  I wanted to get the opportunity to enjoy it before it may be lost forever.  I wrote about this area back in March and what it means to me in Hyddgen – desecrating the sacred?

Anyway, back on the road between Welshpool and Newtown.  During the entire stretch there were banners and placards every few metres including the one above, the strength of feeling against the TAN8 proposals in this fine area looking very high.  I was simply a dismayed visitor for a few days, there are countless numbers of people who will have to live, day in day out with what may be coming their way.  And what is coming their way?  Well in a nutshell there are plans for 800 turbines, giant pylons to carry the electricity generated and a 20 acre electricity substation near Abermule.

Turbines give you pylons.

Another one of the protest signs.

I spent a wonderful three days backpacking the hills, lakes and forests surrounding the Nant-y-Moch reservoir.  A place of peace and tranquility almost designed with the misanthropic backpacker in mind.  It was a poignant journey with the knowledge that in a few short years the area may be blanketed with 64 turbines up to 481 feet high.  The scenery was outstanding which is impossible to accurately convey with this photograph.

It was taken on the way to the summit of Moel y Llyn, looking back towards Pumlumon on the horizon.  Turbines will blanket these hills, full details on the map below.

Although my three days on the hills was spent amongst some spectacular wild scenery, there was always the presence of turbines on the near or far horizons.  The most prominent of these being the 56 turbines at Carno.  Waking at dawn on the summit of the 565 metre Foel Uchaf, I looked east and thought ‘blimey they are massive’.  They were 7 miles as far as the crow flies from my camp.  I have just looked up that wind farm on the internet, their height is 176 feet.  This is substantially less than the proposed turbine height of 481 feet for Nant-y-Moch.

Anyway I better stop banging on about this depressing subject.  In due course I will do a full trip report, concentrating of the wild beauty of the area and the two magnificent summit camps with my dog Reuben.

In the meantime, if you have not already signed these two petitions………………

http://www.gopetition.co.uk/petition/33775.html

http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/no-to-the-industrialisation-of-mid-wales.html

Now, would it be worth the risk putting links to these on Outdoors magic?

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27 Responses to “Exploring what may be lost”

  1. Petitions signed. Thanks, this is an effective way of garnering signatures.

    Have a go on OM. Just put a very bland post on OM linking to the petitions and see where it goes. If it gets nasty then hopefully Jon Doran will red card the offenders.

  2. couldnt agree more James,

    a fabulous area. I had one of the best times ever out and about on this trip. Ok, it wasnt strictly “camping” as we went to the camping barn at the Maesnant Centre, but it was stunning and my kids got to go as well.

    http://backpackbrewer.wordpress.com/2011/05/06/pumlumon-and-nant-y-moch-bunkhouse-trip/

    • Aye it is lovely and I remember your trip report to the Maesnant Centre. I walked past the place at the weekened and have to say that it could do with a bit of TLC, it is looking a bit forlorn!

  3. Put a link on my blog. Suggest if you do put something on OM, do it anonmously 😉

  4. signed one already, got the other now, cheers.

    area is stunning, its so beautifully quiet for hiking round there.

    Plans are afoot to save it, locals as you say are mobilising. Can’t be won on visual impact if previous legal cases are a guide, must be on basis of inefficiency, subsidies, destruction of habitat.

    • Good to hear that people are interested in saving this rather lovely area. It’s just a shame that visual impact alone is not a good enough reason to save an area from development.

  5. sorry, I should add its worth emailing

    cath@thebmc.co.uk

    if you are a member of the BMC as they may welcome your views on the matter at the moment. It follows the publication of a document there today:

    http://www.thebmc.co.uk/Download.aspx?id=872

  6. Good piece James.

    It is a slow motion car crash. And the people who live and work there are the witnesses.

    It really is incredible that this is being done as part of out country’s “green energy policy.” It is never “green” to despoil huge swathes of wonderful land with such a wild quality with a total disregard to the locals’ wishes.

    • I feel that it is like a bad dream Alan, its going on around us but I feel powerless to change the direction the dream is going. It all seems to be gathering momentum very quickly. Soon the wild land will be gone for good.

  7. Pumlumon is an incredibly special area, and one that I’m lucky enough to walk in frequently, I blogged about Nant y Moch and Cefn Croes earlier this year – http://butnoidea.wordpress.com/2011/05/20/last-chance-to-see/ – but hadn’t found the petitions then. Thanks for a good piece!

    • A nice post that you wrote there Roddy – it really is a special area and you are lucky to be able to visit the area frequently.

  8. Glad you had a good few days. I nearly drowned every time I took Dougal out to the Kelvin, one of the worst weekends all year so I’m glad you didn’t schlep up to Scotland. Regarding the turbines, Alan sums it up exactly. We spent a few hours driving around the Borders in the week where the onward march of the wind turbine is much in evidence.

    • I think that it was a good choice not travelling up to Scotland Pete, trench foot may have set in. Aye the borders now have turbine spreading like an unwelcome rash.

  9. The previous commenter has beaten me to it. Living in the Borders area it seems like wind turbines are breeding like wildfire. While my heart says they are a bad thing and my head says they are needed to produce “clean” energy I have been witness to the gradual destruction of some outstanding scenery across Southern Scotland.

    These issues are always difficult and emotive, but surely there could be a better location to place this than an area as fine as that.

    I think what it boils down to is, lack of popularity (more national an international visitors than local use) makes these places an easy target

    • Hi Ron. What has always attracted me to the borders is their lack of popularity, this has probably been their downfall as not enough tourists visit the area for hillwalking. On my last visit there in May whilst walking the Moffat hills, it appeared that new power plants had sprung up all over the place, Sad, very sad indeed.

  10. Hi James. Petitions signed! I have a special place in my heart for this area. Whilst I’ve never hiked the hills, my grandparents had a caravan on the coast nearby for most of my childhood and I spent may happy days out by Nant-y-Moch and on the mountain roads nearby. I always looked longingly at the hills and wanted to climb them.even as a small boy, but never had the chance. My parents now have a caravan in the same area so I plan to explore these hills properly now – especially as the clock is ticking before they ruin it

    • Hi Andy. I can’t recommend these hills enough, they are simply superb. Even the mountain roads are worth exploring if you fancy grand scenery without any physical effort. I think that the road alone is a bit of a tourist attraction. Please go and write about it so I can follow your journey!

  11. It’s enough to make one weep if only one didn’t feel so angry. I’ve backpacked here a lot and some of my reported trips felt superbly remote, in fact I remarked that the area had a real backpacking atmosphere about it, more so than most others.

    • I recently read one of your trip reports to the area Geoff where you describe it making you feel like a backpacker. After my recent visit I fully understand what you mean. A lovely area simply too good to lose.

  12. petitions about to be signed here…

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