A walking belt has always been an essential piece of kit for me and the dogs. I have had quite a few over the years. A walking belt can save the constant strain on your wrists, arms and shoulders, which over time could lead to muscular or joint problems. Walking more than one dog at a time can be tricky to hold the leads, especially when you arrive at a gate or need a free hand. The Ruffwear omnijour hip belt has got to be the best purchase yet. I was a little apprehensive at first due to the holding clip for the tow line and quick release system. I really thought the clip would not with stand the strength of both Asher and Marley, however I was so wrong. I have had this belt for a year now and being used daily, it has not let me down.
The belts hip design is so comfortable, slightly padded and sits great on the hips. There is no rubbing or any restriction felt, you actually forget you are wearing it. It is fully adjustable so can be altered to suit whatever type of clothing you are wearing. I would advise wearing a rucksack without a waist strap as this can feel awkward with the hip belt. But wearing both the hip belt and a rucksack is not a problem. I alternate between 30 litre and 60 litre rucksacks depending on my length of walk and it does not cause any restriction to the belt. If you are wearing a rucksack you will not be able to use the bottle holder at the back of the belt.
The quick release system is a great safety feature. If a problem arises and you need to release the dogs quickly, a pull on the quick release line will free the dogs from the belt instantly. This was another feature that I was a little cautious about, however I haven’t as yet released them accidently. If you feel you don’t want the quick release system a knot can be tied close to the clip and the tow line will not release.
The adjustable tow line at the front is a great feature, that allows the leads to run smoothly side to side, enabling the dogs to walk free to and fro in front of you without pulling you side to side.
The hip belt has two handy sized zipped pockets at the front. I use one for my phone, should a great photo opportunity arise and the all important dog waste bags. There is a handy clip attached to the inside of one of the pockets which I attach my van keys, which gives you peace of mind knowing they will not fall out, should you forget to zip the pocket.
The leads I use with the belt are double ended clipped leads. They can be used by clipping one end to the dog collar and one end to the tow line. Or if the lead is long you can thread it through the tow line and double clip at the collar. Bungee leads could help absorb some of the shock from a dog that pulls. The tow line can be threaded through the lead handle and back through the clip.
My favourite cottage is Tawny owl. A small two bedroom cottage with its own little garden perched up on a hill with beautiful views of the surrounding forestry. Tawny Owl is very private as there is no through road, making you feel as if you are the only person within this tranquil wood.
The cottage has a large, cosy living area with wood burner, fully equipped modern kitchen and bathroom with shower and bath. Upstairs has two bedrooms with double bed and two single beds. It also has the added bonus of a log burning hot tub in the garden!
Located at the foot of the Cambrian Mountains, it’s the perfect location to walk the forestry trails and venture up onto the hills for some spectacular views. The breathtaking Llyn Brianne is only a short drive away, perfect for mountain biking, hiking, taking a short stroll or just stopping to take in the beauty of the area.
Click on the link below to take you to Trallwm Forest Cottage website.
A short circular trail around Tawny Owl cottage.
This walk will take you above the cottage and it is especially beautiful at sunrise. The open moorland of the Cambrian Mountains can be seen to the north, with the shapely deep valleys of Craig y Cwm, Esgair y Craig and Esgair Ganol.
A short circular walk through the woods to the pond.
In between the two complexes of Trallwm cottages is a lovely walk alongside a tranquil stream to a picturesque pond thriving with nature. There are many pheasants in this area along with many other woodland birds. It’s not unusual to see red kites and buzzards. Squirrels and rabbits also like to make an appearance.
One of my favourite walks is to the cairns of Drygarn Fawr. Drygan Fawr is one of the highest peaks in mid wales , standing at 645m above sea level and has the most amazing views. The area is extremely remote and can be quite challenging with its peat bogs and vast open moorland. Walking this area on a clear day is advisable and be sure to take an OS map with you. There is one available to borrow at the cottage.
Click on the link below for more details on Drygarn Fawr walk.
A walk to the summit of Garn Wen
Parking at SN 9067 5370 at the end of a through road, just north of Beulah. It is a five minute drive through the lanes just off B4358, look for the old car at the end of the road, there will be a small area to park.
The walk starts by crossing a foot bridge over a river and up through old disused quarries. Follow the forestry track winding your way to the top, with some fantastic views of the surrounding hills. The summit of Garn Wen has a stone built OS triangulation pillar sat within its own stone shelter.
Forestry track walk to Pen y Garn-goch with fantastic views
Parking at SN 8908 5037, a short 5 minute drive through the lanes just off the A483 west of Beulah. There is parking space at a green barrier. The walk winds up the forestry tracks to the top of Pen y Garn goch opening up some fantastic views. There is a OS triangulation pillar at the summit, although hidden in a clearing amongst the trees.
Craig Cwm bach 1 mile stroll
Parking at SN85614939
Only a short 1 mile stroll all up hill, through the trees, however the views are simply gorgeous!
I have saved the best for last! Llyn Brianne is a beautiful reservoir surrounded by the Tywi Forest. It is a quiet area with lots of forestry trails to explore on foot or by mountain bike.
Click the link below for routes
It’s that time of year when the days are longer, the temperature is a little milder and the ground is drier. I can start wearing my favourite footwear on my hikes again, my hiking trainers. Trudging through bog and extremely wet ground during the winter months, I’m limited to my heavy, restricting walking boots.
My new Merrell Siren Sport Q2 starts my spring 2017 hikes with great results. They were recently put through their paces at a weekend of navigational training at the Peak District. Although given the time of year, I was hoping for firmer ground, but the bogs at Bleaklow did not beat the waterproof membrane of the sirens. Trudging through dense heather, I usually collect quite a lot of those prickly branches in my shoes! The bellowed tongues kept those irritating pieces of heather out!
From the first wear these shoes fit like a glove. Some new footwear rub for the first few hikes, usually resulting in either wearing two pairs of socks or using a whole box of plasters! These Merrells did not let me down.
I have only tried the siren sports on short runs, mainly descents. They feel great. There is a cushioning that takes away some shock and my calf muscles or shins have not suffered any after effects.
On multi terrain these shoes give great support and grip. Ascending the mountains whether is rocky, muddy or grass, I feel I have good traction and grip. I really need that with 85kg of dogs pulling me! The metal hook and lacing eyelet will ensure secure lacing throughout the whole hike. Not once have I had to stop to retighten or re lace.
After a long hike and removing my shoes my feet don’t feel damp or sweaty, the breathable technology of the shoe really does what it says and no bad odours! Absolutely fantastic! Love these Merrell!