scribbles tagged ‘walk’

umbrellas at the ready

Wednesday, October 10th, 2012 | tags: , , , , ,  |

Why I love England #19:  Umbrella’s at the ready
a break in the rain

Within 30 minutes of starting our hike up Tryfan from near the Ogwen cottage  – the rain put in an appearance. No real suprise. For me the suprise was the back and white spotted umbrella that arrived to help keep the rain off.  I had to chuckle.  Surely only the English would take an umbrella as rain protection up a mountain when wearing high tech water repellant, goretex, clothing.

Here we see the happy hikers taking a short rest break in the rain, accompanied by the cheerful umbrella.

Excellent show!

 


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Being there: GOLD highlight

Sunday, August 19th, 2012 | tags: , , , , , , ,  |

The pinacle gold highlight position for our teams’ recent Snowdonia hiking goes to:

Gold winner: being there

TryfanBeing completely there, watching where I place my foot, thinking about my balance, taking a deep breath of damp unpolluted air. My mind so totally wrapped up in the here and now that nothing bursts in. The details of work, home ownership, family membership are temporarily lost behind being on a mountain.

Even when I take a break from walking to soak-up the view I am still totally immersed in being on that mountain. The feeling is exquisit and rare. For me it compares to some unpublishable experiences and:

  • racing a Laser in a force 4 gale
  • climbing the technical move on a severe rated climb (highest grade that I managed).
  • excellent sex

This experience achieved ‘4 Smiles’ :)  :)  :)  :) on the Wendy House rating scale -  Ratings explained

 

This highlight alone more than cancels out all the nastiness of the 3 winning downsides:


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Full-on weather: SILVER highlight

Friday, August 17th, 2012 | tags: , , , , , , ,  |

The much awaited silver position for the penultimate highlight of  our teams’ recent Snowdonia hiking highlights goes to:
amazing clouds

Silver winner: Full-on weather

We left the Plas Curig Hostel holding a weather forcast of rain, sunshine, thunderstorm and hail.  Hoorah! No half-measures in this August forecast!  A veritable buffet, lots of bite-sized variety chunks.

“Duck for the lightening, avoid the ridge, and for heavens sake  don’t stand in the water!”

Watching the lightening strike against the black clouds on nearby peaks was exquisit. Counting the seconds ’til the thunder struck then shaking with its power.

Walking through one of the most dramatic scenes in the world, laid on just for us.  We walked on through the sunshine towards a rainbow. No camera, film crew, special effects designer involved – just us directly experiencing the full weather experience – live, unmediated. Very sexy.

This experience achieved ‘3 Smiles’ :)  :)  :)  on the Wendy House rating scale -  Ratings explained

This highlight more than cancels out all the nastiness of the 3 winning downsides:

 


2 bits of fabulous banter »

Good kit: BRONZE highlight

Wednesday, August 15th, 2012 | tags: , , , ,  |

Yay! The awards for highlights of our teams’ recent Snowdonia hiking trip starting in reverse order start with 3rd place:

Bronze winner: Good kit

pathway across the screeThere was good kit all over the place. Good kit made people feel happy, warm, dry, loved and wrapped in just oodles of lusciousness. The key good kit that got hugs galore from me included:

  • Boots – that fit (NO BLISTERS), are waterproof (Goretex), green and by Berghaus in 1995. The hike guides had insightfully bought some compede plasters along to ward off blisters for the few people did suffer.
  • Jacket – early Sprayway goretext (DRY) in a rather fetching royal blue from 1995. Between us we managed a full rainbow of colours
  • Daypack – hung low on my hips carrying lots of yummy food, drink and holding emergency warm gear.  On the two times that I fell over I landed on my bum and this 2004 Arcteryx bum bag gave me a wonderfully soft landing.
  • Flapjack – sticky-sweet and freshly made by LargeOutdoors staff Saul and Gareth at the Hostel. Everyone enjoyed the benefit of the flapjack, no hike should leave home without some good home cooking that includes honey!
  • Welsh water – Oh my! The water in wales tastes SO good! I wish the suppliers would do a deal with Thames water.
  • Outstanding guides – the LargeOutdoor guide, Sian, was a local Welsh lass who really knew how to herd a large group of inexperienced hikers through the basics of outdoor health and safety and make sure their spirits are kept high.
  • Excellent company – friendly adults of all ages. I mainly work with people in their 30′s so it was really refreshing to meet some more plucky ladies in thier late 40s. Yoga teachers, Engineers, Working in Child protection services, Project managers…. all sorts…

This experience achieved ‘3 Smiles’ :)  :)  :) on the Wendy House rating scale -  Ratings explained

I hope that you’ll agree that this highlight feels all the more fabulous when set against the scurrilous backdrop of the recently winning downsides:


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Spongy bog: GOLD downside

Saturday, August 11th, 2012 | tags: , , , , , , , ,  |

Tryfan across the bogThe only bog I want to see from now on is white and made of porcelain (anon)

Before karmic predictability brings the awards for the mountain highs I am proud to present the gold winner of our Snowdonia hiking teams’  lowest experience:

Gold winner: spongy bog

The bog and lack of opportunites it ironically supplied for private, midgeless, ‘wild wees’ were the lowest point of our Tryfan hike.

The bog on Tryfan is high up, soon after the relief of summiting. It’s relatively flat open land on a gently curving ridge. See how pretty it looks:

It’s like walking on a sodden sponge

schhhhlllllop….. ….schhhhhlllllup…. ….sccchhhhhhhhhhllllllllop

There were times when I wanted to use both of my hands to pull my foot out from its last step. Thank goodness for waterproof, tightly tied-on boots. One walker demonstrated that his 6ft pole was easily swallowed by the bog, just a few feet away from our trail.  That depth of water could easily submerge everyone of our party. We cautiously stayed on-trail, behind our guide. Hmmmm….   …..nice firm looking bottom ahead…..

All this water and nowhere to pee in privacy, not a pert little boulder or little rise to sneak behind. The sound of schlurping water taunted our middle-aged bladders. 10 minutes, 30 minutes, an hour on the bog….  it just goes on and on and on….

The bog broke our spirits as surely as chinese water torture.

This experience achieved ‘3 Frowns’  :(  :(  :(  on the Wendy House rating scale -  Ratings explained


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Swarming midges: SILVER downside

Thursday, August 9th, 2012 | tags: , , , , , , , ,  |

Welcome to the 2nd in a mini series of  mountainous, yet not Olympian, awards for our teams’ Snowdonia hiking experiences. In the tradition of reverse-order announcements we’re first going through the downsides, then we’ll celebrate the upsides.  2nd place for the downsides goes to…

a break in the bogSilver winner: swarming midges

Single handedly I saved the lives of about 100 midges by providing essential blood supplies from my face, neck and ears. More generous hikers got their arms, cleavages and backsides out for the banquet.

These midges curtailed all of our rest breaks.  Our lunch stop lasted less than 10 minutes.  It takes about 10 minutes for a few stray midges to gather a swarm and target us.  While we kept moving we just walked into stray midges,  lone biters. So generally we just kept moving and I was left popping peanuts to make up my lunch.

How do such large swarms of midges survive on the top of this mountain? Midge food in the form of other hikers and the sheep were both few and far between – so what do they eat when mammals aren’t about?  Are they canabalistic?

We saw quite a few happy bog frogs.  Frogs eat insects. Midges are insects. Those frogs really do need to up their gameplan, be much more active….

EAT more MIDGES!

 This experience achieved ‘2 Frowns’   :(  :(  on the Wendy House rating scale -  Ratings explained


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Scree scrambling: BRONZE downside

Tuesday, August 7th, 2012 | tags: , , , , , ,  |

I am honoured to present you with the mountainous, yet not Olympian, awards for our teams’ recent Snowdonia hiking downsides. The lows of the experience. These downsides played an essential role in making the highs, the upsides, so much more intense and pleasurable. 3rd place for the downsides goes to….

Up to the saddle

Bronze winner: Scree scrambling

No-one told me we’d be scrambling, we’d have to use our HANDS

The scramble was an unexpected, unpleasant, suprise for those with immaculately mannicured nails.

There were mumbles of being mislead and longing looks back. But no-one mentioned turning back.  Going forward meant that we all had to scramble.

For unmanicured, short-nailed, me – traversing the slippy slate was actually fun. A tad exciting!

Like a prince charming, one young guide took his cheeky disposition downhill to catch any slippers. Some of the girls considered deliberately Miss footing, but no-one was prepared to lose face in order to win a hand up.

 

This experience achieved ‘One Frown’ :(  on the Wendy House rating scale -  Ratings explained


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3mph between daydreams

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012 | tags: , , , , ,  |

Stroll route around Aldermaston wharf The Butt Inn Guide book for the strollsWalk 14: The Butt Inn at Aldermaston Wharf

A Sunday morning stroll is a sociable stroll.

A wizard disguised as an elderly gentleman stopped to give me advice on the best position to see the Kingfishers on the river Kennet. Sitting with your hand over your mouth works best.  He also explained that local Geese are the top of the local food chain and they are maliciously breeding and pooping-up the place. Pests and hygiene hazards.

The wizard advocated a ‘bash their eggs in‘ approach to flock-size control. With a little persuasion we managed to compromise on a strategy of collecting then selling the eggs for outstanding breakfast omelettes.

Silver Speedy Ramblers Old man Inbetween stories and advice the wizard would pootle-on ahead at about 6mph. Gradually making up the ground between myself and the other silver-haired speedy ramblers who blazened past while I pondered the emotional commitment of copulating dragonflies.

Sunday morning strolls are full of these speedy silver strollers. I met them coming the other way and was overtaken by at least 7 of them per mile of my walk. They are a healthy, plucky, lot. I prefer them to the dressy ramblers. Silver strollers’ casual outfits look like they are pulled together from stuff anyone might have around their house rather than using a small overdraft in a specialist ‘Outdoors’ store.

Even without go-faster gear they still outpace my meagre 3 mph between daydreams.

As expected, despite valiant efforts, I went off-track

Both off and ontrack revealed all sorts of countryside goings-on, animals galore – Goats, Cattle, Lambs, Alpaca, Chickens, Horses, Kingfishers, Geese etc, meadow flowers, avenues of ancient trees, ponds, rivers, canals, faerie grottos and Indian hide-outs. Who would have guessed that wandering through Berkshire would take me to all these magical places? Can you see the magic?:
Tent  Canal boatsSwings  through the trees


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Stroll from the Horse and Groom around Mortimer (walk 13)

Sunday, June 17th, 2012 | tags: , , , , ,  |

Guide book for strolls A very refreshing saturday stroll around Mortimer tackling gusts of 40 mile an hour winds. Thank goodness for fitted hats!

It seems that a ‘Stroll’ is a walk that doesn’t involve any:Horse and Groom

  1. severe inclines
  2. special equipment other than a stout pair of shoes and a drink and some snacks
  3. unfit people such as myself breaking out in a sweat, huffing and puffing…

By contrast, a ‘Ramble’ requires a bright Goretext jacket, Hiking boots, thick wool socks, a walking pole, gloves and all sorts of fancy accessories.  I know this becuase I turned up at the head of a ramble arranged by the Berkshire ramblers association where a flock of brightly Goretexed people were circling a style at the trail head.

I looked at my lack of Goretex and all terrain hiking boots. This equipment has been hibernating in my cupboard since leaving the mountain ranges of the NW USA.  Temporarily downhearted, I decided to work my way up to releasing my rambling gear with a few less imposing, walks.  The idea of some morning strolls with the help of Nick Channers book of Pub Strolls in Berkshire raised my spirits.

Walk 13: Mortimer from the Horse and GroomWalk 13: Horse and Groom

If the stroller can follow the instructions provided, “Walk 13″ is a 3 1/4 mile stoll that starts and ends at the Horse and Groom in Mortimer. It’s a problem solving challenge to follow a map that is not to scale and omits a lot of key landmarks.

Very quickly I discovered that my walk was actually likely to be 6 miles, the extra distance caused by going the wrong way, realising it, and retracing my steps and trying another option. This could me more healthy than I’d anticipates!

I never managed to get to the 3rd marker point, several unmarked junctions near the “N” north sign proved too distracting.

The latter part of my walk turned from problem solving into a creative fiction.

It all ended well, at lunch time in the Horse and Groom. A substantial Victorian pub with a classic 1970′s decor, decent real ales and a rather good chef.

Yummy. I might be back to see if I can find the real route on another day…
Trees on the horizon Trees in the valley Iron style


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