Part 3 – Snow in Snowdonia – What not to pack on a winter walk

You’ve probably all seen those photos with a silhouetted figure looking out across some high alpine ridge, snow everywhere and a slogan about ambition or achievement or standing tall or that you should ‘go to your dream’. I get the impression that rather than actually wishing to climb mountains in the winter, most of the people sharing these photos actually ‘dream’ of a couple of weeks on the Costa Del Sol and free chips on the flight out. Don’t get me wrong, I love free chips as much as the next guy, but I like to think of climbing mountains not as symbols for something difficult or inspiring,  but as a good way for just about anyone to spend their weekends.

The funny thing is that Continue reading “Part 3 – Snow in Snowdonia – What not to pack on a winter walk”

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From being lost in the clouds to my first ultramarathon – the Welsh 3,000s and the V3K

It’s been about a year since my last post on here. Since then I’ve ridden 1,500 miles from Nottingham to Norway; ran a few ultramarathons; hiked in the Italian and French Alps; learned how to rock climb and been on a climbing trip to Mallorca; ridden to Brugges and back on a fixed gear bike (again); been to a golf dinner with my grandmother; slept out on Hadrian’s Wall and all sorts of things that I’m dying to share with you.

As much as I can’t wait to write about getting so hungry in Sweden that I squeezed a three day old tube of the saltiest fish paste imaginable straight into my mouth, there is something about my Welsh trips that embodies what I’m trying to achieve with the whole thingswhatihavedone thing. All the other places I’ve been to, even the most spectacular, have had only a fleeting hold on me, but Wales has me by the balls.

This post is the introduction to a collection of five shorter posts about my relationship with a particular feature of Wales. There is a list of mountains in Snowdonia, all of which are 3,000 feet above sea level. The number of mountains in this list is the golden part – there are 15. Enough for a challenge, but few enough to really get to know them as individuals. They are known collectively as the Welsh 3,000’s and I have a feeling that the majority of people reading this entry will have already ticked at least one off the list – Snowdon itself.

The articles are a a mixture of nostalgia, advice, kit lists and just general self indulgent tripe spanning over eleven years. Read from the beginning or just pick the part that could help you on your next adventure.

Part 1 – Snowdon 2005: The first mountain.
Part 2 – Welsh 3,000’s Aug 2011: The first time being lost and scared. 
Part 3 – Snowdonia in Winter Feb 2014: The first time I’d ever seen an ice axe.
Part 4 – Welsh 3,000’s: The first time it feels like I know what I’m doing.
Part 5 – V3k: The first ultramarathon

You can go alone but its a good idea to have someone with you to open the gates. Then, when they are about to get in, you can do that thing where you pretend to drive off.

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The Scottish Highlands – Shafts of Sunlight and Blizzards

corran ferry

When you regularly ride your bike you get really good at gauging the temperature outside, making assessments as to your likely intensity, the wind conditions and evaluating your choice of clothing on yesterday’s ride. Over the years I have amassed a pretty comprehensive collection of clothing to cover all weather conditions and still, crucially, look Euro Pro. (I’ve since discovered a different, crazy-dutch-cyclo-tourist way of dressing but that is covered in another post). There is a way to layer up. There are ways not to layer up.

It’s always the same, after having had a few days off the bike the weather has changed, and despite standing in the garden in your underpants for a few seconds as part of your preparatory assessment, as soon as you reacquaint yourself with cycling, you inevitably either overheat or chill and shiver.

When going to the Highlands at the end of October, standard Autumn attire is just not going to cut it! I have since learned through many other trips to Scotland that for cycling purposes it’s always winter and in winter it is extra winter.

This trip was undertaken in in October half term 2012, when I was enthusiastic and naive and when my companion Rick was even more naive and even less enthusiastic. 
Continue reading “The Scottish Highlands – Shafts of Sunlight and Blizzards”

Norway – “It’s nice here mate” – Part 1

A nice early train to Manchester Airport. I preferred to snooze rather than start the ball rolling on my book. The last Hemingway I read had nearly consumed the whole holiday. Norwegian is a fantastic airline. The seats are more spacious, the boarding relaxed and I got my first glace at the Norwegian populace. They look noticeably healthier than the last fuselage sample I took – a Ryan Air flight Continue reading “Norway – “It’s nice here mate” – Part 1″