After the initial excitement back in 2005, there has recently been a lot of negativity and cynicism and about the London 2012 Olympic Games – whether it is the McDonald’s monopoly on chips, the failings of G4S, spiralling costs or restrictive social media policies. However, for the last two years, project manager Mark Stanley has been working on a fantastic positive project for normal people to get involved in the Olympic celebrations – The Games Way, a 184 mile long distance path between Weymouth (the location of some of the Olympic sailing events) and the Olympic Park in London. The route goes through some fantastic British countryside – the Jurassic Coast, the New Forest, the edge of the South Downs, the Surrey Hills and along the Thames, past ancient castles, over hills and through woodland and across fields. The opening walk leaves from Weymouth on Saturday 28th July – you can either walk (or run) the whole thing, or join in for different stages.
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
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.
We left Bristol early on Saturday morning (fuelled by bacon sandwiches) to head down the M5 and A30 to Dartmoor in a convoy of three cars (6 people, 1 big dog and lots of car camping kit). During breakfast, I had been updated by @DanSantillo that the hills were still shrowded in mist, and I was a little nervous as the haze covered countryside flew past. Fortunately though, by the time we arrived at the tucked away Lane End carpark, the sun had done it’s job of burning away the mist leaving mostly blue skies and glorious sunshine.
As a kid I used to attend an annual cadet camp in Devon as a cadet leader (the main influence on my present day outdoor interests). The aim of the week was to get the younger kids through part of their Duke of Edinburgh, so there were class room based map exercises, an accompanied hike and camp on Exmoor, a night military navigation exercise (the highlight – think flares, finding contacts on dunes and ex-army personnel ’hunting’ you!) and the main DofE hike and camp (usually along the coast). During the main walk the cadet leaders, who already had their DofE awards, had to be kept busy, so we usually ended up on Dartmoor. I have fond memories of bogs, magnetic rocks upsetting the compasses and getting lost in the fog (I knew where we were but no one listened!) – all these memories came flooding back yesterday after spending a few happy hours in the local pub with my Dartmoor OS map (OL28) planning some routes for this weekend.
In April 2010, Alex and I (and my dog) undertook an epic adventure to walk the Offa’s Dyke National Trail in aid of MS Society. This is my account of Day 5, on 9th April 2010, walking Llangollen to Trefonen (16 miles)