“I don’t mind, just don’t kill me!”. That was my response to Rich (@FlintyRich) when asked what I wanted to do for a planned weekend together in Snowdonia. It seemed important – Rich, who is a self confessed addict of bagging peaks on Social Hiking (411 to date this year), spends most weekends up in the mountains, whereas I am lucky to see a mountain more than a handful of times a year (let alone climb one) and recently work commitments and my health had combined to restrict my outdoors time (and therefore my fitness). “How about Northern Carneddau? It’s quite gentle” he suggested….
For a couple of days a week, I am often based on-site at a customer’s office in Stony Stratford, just over 8 miles (by road) from my house. We are a one car family, which naturally means I do not get use of the car, so I have to travel in by bus. As I live in a village with only one bus route, this involves catching the 9am bus* to Wolverton (another nearby town) then waiting around at a bus interchange for a connecting bus to Stony Stratford, arriving by 10am.
(* due to a very odd bus rota, the bus driver who picks us up has to go on his break at the next village, so we have to swap buses – it still counts as a single bus on the timetable though!)
Earlier in the week I was idly day dreaming over a local OS map when it occurred to me that after only 10 minutes on that first bus, we pass though Castlethorpe, a village that is only 4 miles (by road) (3 miles by crow) from my final destination, and the countryside between is actually rather pleasant – two river valleys (one is the Great River Ouse) and the Grand Union Canal. Why don’t I walk to work?
I always think Northamptonshire gets forgotten when it comes to outdoor activities. For the first few years I subscribed to Countryfile Magazine I religiously collected, ordered and stored the ten route cards included each month – whilst almost every part of the country was covered, there was not a single route in Northamptonshire! So imagine my excitement to discover Northamptonshire has, in the opinion of Daniel Martin – Extreme Athlete, one of the best spots for wild swimming in the world!
Despite being only a short break, my recent family trip to Devon and Cornwall was certainly adventure packed. Although we were only away for 6 days, we managed to fit in: crabbing in Looe, watching stormy seas in Polperro, a visit to Plymouth Hoe, exploring rock pools on Seaton beach, walks, swimming and a wild camp on Dartmoor, body boarding in Salcombe and a visit to the largest waterfall in England. Here is a quick write up of some of the things we got up to.
A 17 mile hike through the farmland and woodland of Northamptonshire (and Buckinghamshire) just North West of Olney – via Ravenstone, Weston Underwood, Yardley Hastings and Yardley Chase
Back in September, I spent five days wandering around Snowdonia (my first ‘holiday’ for over a year!) with the dog. Here is a quick run through of the trip!
I love waterfalls. There is something so soothing and peaceful about the constant motion of water partnered with the natural splendour of water surging downwards. I also love forests. My ‘happy place’ would almost certainly be a waterfall in a forest (although I am yet to find a real world location that suits), so I was very excited when, back in May, I came across this waterfall walk on Surfnslide featuring several spectacular waterfalls. I added it to my ever-growing collection of routes in Evernote*, so I had it handy when I was planning this Brecon Beacons trip.
Thanks largely to one too many of the aptly named ‘Hikers Ruin’ I had consumed the night before and the fantastic breakfast my hosts had produced, day 2 was quite a late start! I wanted to head out onto the part of the Brecon Beacons just west of A470 but the lingering headache was making it hard to concentrate on the map, so in the end I download a free route on ViewRanger published by Trail Magazine.
Whenever I am heading towards Wales there is always a point in the journey when everything seems better – after days on end of sitting in front of my computer working, my shoulders loosen, my mind clears and my mood lightens. It is the point in the journey when, after cresting yet another nondescript English hill, you suddenly see the hills and mountains of Wales laid out before you.
In this case I was driving down the A438 heading towards Brecon, on the edge of Brecon Beacons. It was the weekend of the annual Brecon Jazz festival which, in my younger days, I used to attend fairly regularly. This year I was combining spending some quality time with some old friends (and drinking the best homebrew brewed by my friend’s dad), with some much need quality time on the hills.
After successfully tackling Fur Tor and the wilder parts of Dartmoor the previous day, the plan for the Sunday was to explore the more popular Western moors and Tors (a route lifted almost entirely from Backpackingbongos). We were camping at Langstone Manor, a lovely quiet campsite (with it’s own bar serving pretty decent meals!) tucked on the edge of the moor, so, after consuming some bacon sandwiches, we left the campsite and began the gradual climb onto Whitchurch Common.