What a great way to start 2017.Whatever the reason, New Year and/or Resolutions, the mild weather or the fact that we hadn't had a full walk for 2 months, it didn't matter, it was just great to see so many people sign up for this walk in advance, and most of those turning up on the day, with some members appearing, that we hadn't seen for a while.
We gathered in the car park of a lovely pub between Neath and Pontardawe, in fact with so many cars arriving I feared at one stage that we were going to fill it!!
We started off on the walking path leading out of the back of the car park,and straight away we were by the river and into greenery.
We passed Bryncoch Rugby Club, and veered towards the quaint church of St Matthews' which was ringing its bells long and loud.Through some streets we wandered and onto a path alongside the River Clydach and leading us to Dyffryn Pond and waterfall, an old industrial site, where we stopped for a brief snack.
Carrying on through Stanley Wood and then Darren Wood we walked beside the road for a short stint before making our way towards Coed Maesmelin and then the hard part started, a steady climb up, up and more ups, huffing and puffing onto the top of Drumau Mountain.
Luckily any earlier mist had disappeared so the views from the top were fantastic. Whilst we stopped for lunch we faced a huge panorama, down over the whole of Neath and surrounding areas.
As we settled down to eat there was a minor emergency when we thought we'd lost a few members of the group, but Gail the backmarker, brought everyone steadily, steadily up onto the top to join us.
After lunch we continued on a level path still with great views, and then a short climb up to Carreg Bica a famous historic standing stone, seeming to guard the top of the mountain from any harm.
We then walked through greenery to the other half of the mountain top, to complete our 360 degree views now looking over to the Glais and Pontadawe areas.
Very gradually we started our decent, over two difficult and slippery stiles and down through a notoriously boggy area which really excelled itself this time by being its boggiest worst!!In fact we almost lost our Sandra in the "quicksand like," underfoot conditions.
At last we were out of that and made our way though a forestry track and back passed the rugby club back to the pub.
Some had to rush off, but others went into the pub for a nice relaxing sit down after our exertions, and to sample some welcome refreshments.
It's not always possible, but this is always a really nice way to end a walk.
What a great way to kick off 2017, the first of many other super adventures lined up and coming your way really soon.