Run-touring the Cleveland Way, in the rain.

[6 minutes read time] Teaching is a very rewarding profession. The main reward is August. In my five week break of 2016, I’d squeezed in a cycling tour of Holland, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Norway, a climbing trip in North Wales, a week in the French and Italian Alps, and a week climbing and Munroe bagging in Scotland. I had just three days left before term recommenced and felt determined to squeeze something into the final weekend and it wasn’t going to be the ironing. It was decided that I’d embark on a new kind of tour. One that involved running.

I’d already done plenty of tours by either walking or cycling, but never running. The key was keeping the weight down, so we’d not be camping. I had already done a section of the Cleveland way from Helmsley to White Horse Bank so we agreed that car park atop Sutton Bank would be the meeting place. Friday night, from Nottingham, I was there in two hours, I ate a poor egg sandwich from the visitor’s centre and swallowed it just in time to

Continue reading “Run-touring the Cleveland Way, in the rain.”

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Part 4 – 15 Peaks – No Messing

If you go to the trouble to shave your legs and know your FTP power in watts then you are probably a pretty keen cyclist. Which means that by most peoples standards, you are pretty fit. Lots of people who go to the gym lots are also pretty fit, as are many footballers, 10k runners etc. When attempting to climb several high, rocky mountains in one trip, fitness alone just won’t do.

Cycling blesses the legs but also teaches you how to look after yourself on a big day out and that is a pretty transferable skill.  Knowing to eat before you get hungry, never go in the wrong direction, wrap up before you get cold, strip off before you sweat and keep drinking makes a big difference over ten or more hours of exercise. This means any fit cyclist could easily handle some pretty amazing mountain days. The way I see it, if you are pretty fit, you have a responsibility to go out and do the Welsh 3000s. It’s an adventure between mates at its most beautiful. It’s a feat of endurance and most importantly it’s free.

This time I was determined to hit all 15 of the Welsh 3000ft mountains in a single weekend.  I had two fellow cyclists from my club come along with me. We carried only what we needed and nothing more.  Trainers, pork pies and one map between three. We didn’t run but we did walk quickly. We drank at the same time as each other, ate at the same time as each other and pissed at the same time as each other.  We stayed warm when it was cold and didn’t sweat too much when it got hot. The cumulative benefit of working together to eliminate ‘faff’ and keep moving towards the next peak worked wonders.

Experience is a fine thing and so after many visits to Snowdonia, I finally managed to get all 15 mountains summited in just one weekend. Once you know what to do, it’s pretty easy really.

The only problem was that it made me realise that I really ought to do it in just one long day.

 


On Friday night we bivvied up behind the Pen-y-Pass YHA. It was a great bivvy. We had some wine out of tin mugs and slept pretty well. It rained lightly in the morning but it was time to get up then anyway. This was free.

We paid for the car park (£4 for four hours) and did the first loop before we ran out of time.

We then drove to the Ogwen valley for the second loop and parked on the A5 for free.

We camped at Ogwen Valley YHA. It was inexpensive (less than £10 and worth it for showers/toilets somewhere warm to sit in the evening).

We parked at the car park near Corwen for free on the Sunday. Then had a little wash in a puddle and drove home.

Very cheap and very fun.

 

 

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”

Off the grid in Wales – Bothies and Babyhead.

Another Sunday afternoon discussion in a pub. Two friends letting their imaginations run away with themselves. Wouldn’t it be good to just disappear into the wilderness for a few days? Go somewhere really wild, where you won’t see anyone, where there is no phone signal and no car headlights lights on the horizon. No fences, no rules, no measurement of time beyond the setting sun. And I’m not talking about your favorite Lake District tarn with its four foot wide gravel paths, picnic benches and cairns like stalagmites in a show cave. I’m talking about somewhere so silent that there aren’t even any footprints. Probably have to go to Canada or Siberia or somewhere like that. Somewhere with an expensive air fare anyway. I’ve only got a few days holiday anyway. Plus we’d be at the mercy of the weather – if it’s foul and there’s only a little tent for the two of us that’d be pretty miserable. Once stuff gets wet, it stays wet. In Norway they have those little huts where you can dry your stuff out in front of a fire. Yeah – I’ve seen that on Instagram. We can’t bloody go to Norway on Thursday, I don’t get paid till next week. Continue reading “Off the grid in Wales – Bothies and Babyhead.”

4 Cyclists in a Van – 100 Greatest Climbs Wales Edition

The van was visible above the ugly fence panels. Parked across the block of prefabricated garages and illuminated by the orange streetlight it looked pretty big. Feargal was hungry and therefore angry. Ollie had a rough day at work and also hadn’t eaten. I had spent the afternoon scouring Strava and making a list of objectives to be displayed in the back of the van. Matt didn’t know what to expect but had packed his trusty up-cycled bowl.

This was it – four lads, four bikes, three days, one van and fifteen of Wales’ most offensive stretches of tarmac.

Continue reading “4 Cyclists in a Van – 100 Greatest Climbs Wales Edition”

Bothying – relaxing in Arenig Fawr

The story here is really a non story. There isn’t any particular point nor is there any particular event that just cries out to be written about. Another excellent weekend immersing oneself in the glory of wet autumn colours, being blasted by white swirling clouds and watching the moon rise to the sound of damp wood cracking in the fireplace. DSC_2562

It started on a hangover from another great stag do – this time in Manchester. With some free time afterwards, what better way for the body to ride out the stormy aftermath than Continue reading “Bothying – relaxing in Arenig Fawr”