Snowdon on New Year’s Day

Snowdon on New Year's Day

Boots and a packed lunch in the car, we were following the twisting roads across Wales to the highest peak in the country. It’s not a mountain I am familiar with as the only thing I knew about where we were heading was the car park at the bottom of the Watkin Path. We’d ventured up to one of the first waterfalls on the path last summer, taking a dip to cool off on a hot blue sky day.

The 1st January 2019 obviously looked very different; deciding on how many layers to wear by looking between the seasoned walkers and those less experienced in the car park. I’ve learnt from my mistakes of over-estimating how well my body copes with the cold, so I opt for more layers than less.

Laces tied we cross the road to the stone pillar reading ‘Watkin Path’ that shows the start of our New Year’s Day wander.

The winding roads had already brought us far from any sort of noise that daily life seems to entail these days. Yet, walking up through the trees pushed it all further away.

Snowdon on New Year's Day

We reached the waterfalls that we’d came across last summer. The water still looking just as enticing to jump into. The water so clear, yet it still has a colour you only find from water in the mountains.

Whilst we weren’t expecting to have Snowdon to ourselves, we were glad to have chosen the less popular route to the top. We might not have been able to see much of it with the clouds hanging so low and rain coming down, but it still offered sights to remember. A mountain-side teeming with history and tough work, but now it is something used for leisure.

Snowdon on New Year's Day

At first we were following the river and crossing railway sleeper bridges, but soon we found ourselves ascending steps made up of perfectly placed rocks. We mainly walked alone but did come across other walkers every now and then. Some in two’s, but others in groups with their four-legged friends.

500m.

600m.

700m of elevation.

We were slowly edging closer to the peak.

Fog making visibility difficult and way markers few and far between, we took a turn on what we thought was the path. When walking turned to scrambling, we only then started to think we’d taken a wrong turn. You know, past the point of being able to turn back…not like us at all!

Snowdon on New Year's Day

The only thing I will say is that I feel sorry for the poor guy who followed us thinking we knew where we were going.

Two became three whilst we got ourselves out of the pickle we’d found ourselves in.

A few points of brushing off our bouldering skills later, we all looked at each other when the sound of people reaching the summit came into ear shot.

It was one time I was actually thankful for fog as it meant we had no clue how steep the mountain-side actually was. Although, without the fog maybe we wouldn’t have made the slight navigation error in the first place…

Snowdon on New Year's Day

The thought of being able to have lunch kept me moving up the mountain. We climb the steps to the official summit by doing that typically British thing of forming an orderly queue on the steps and waiting our turn to see the grand total of bugger all. You’ve got to love Wales. Even when the weather’s against you, it can still put a smile on your face.

We head to the side of the closed cafe in order to get out of the howling wind. Our planned lunch stop turned into a quick sandwich break only for us to get moving again.

Our scrambling adventure meant I had to ditch my thick gloves, so the mountain sapped out any sort of warmth my hands had. I was relieved to come across a sign for the Watkin Path that pointed us away from the steep ascent we had just climbed.

This confirmed we had definitely strayed away from the Watkin Path.

We left the swarms of people that had climbed the Pyg track behind and began to feel more human again the warmer we got.

We passed groups on their way up.

We were overtaken by those swiftly on their way down.

But all of a sudden about an hour had passed without us seeing a sole.

Snowdon on New Year's Day

We stopped for a short while as the sun started to burn away the clouds. I threw my arms up in the air and shouted:

“Sun me!”.

The mountain we had just climbed slowly started to reveal itself. The rocks were jagged, but somehow still uniform. Their shadows came and went as the sun tried its hardest to come through.

The further down we got, the more the clouds started to clear. It seems we had quite literally had our heads in the clouds. Still drenched from our 5 hours wandering, we were fairly close to the bottom, only to pass a couple saying:

“We must be over half way now!”

Ryan and I looked at each other and smiled.

Back to the railway sleeper bridges and waterfalls, we breathed a sigh of relief. Then burst out laughing as we followed train of sheep down the path, with one attacking, going for the breakaway.

Then there was a stop Ryan had already anticipated when his eyes fell on a black Labrador who I would soon be giving all of the attention to. We chatted to the family of four, then covered the last stretch back to the car park.

Snowdon on New Year's Day

We got changed out of layers, then stopped at the closest cafe as during the walk Ryan had realised his coat wasn’t exactly waterproof anymore. We sat in the Moel Siabod Cafe with our hands wrapped around cups of coffee desperately trying to warm them up. We were also munching on cake I’d bought after feeling guilty I’d eaten the Mars Bar Ryan was planning on eating…

The cafe was full of friends, families and their woofers in tow. There were no Instagram perfect selfies going on here. It was all wind-swept hair and damp clothes, but it was perfect in the real sense of the word. Everyone was smiling, chatting and completely disconnected from the digital world.

 

 

Major Milestones for 2018

I often get to this time of year and feel a bit deflated thinking I haven’t done a great deal throughout the year. So I’ve made myself sit down and write this blog post to summarise all of things I’ve done that I may have forgotten about!

The first exciting trip for Lucy’s Life and Bikes in 2018 was a trip to British Cycling HQ. We got to hear about British Cycling’s plans for the year and watch the National Track Champs. Nothing major really happened but it was a good way to kick off the year. It was quite odd meeting other cycling bloggers really with how rare we seem to be!

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Gosh…it’s been a #busy week! Rushing to get an assignment done so I could really chill out in #Manchester this #weekend . Cramming in the #gym to get myself back into a #training regime and have a day at British Cycling yesterday! _____________________________________ Watching the National Track Champs yesterday was mental. The tension of who’s going to cross the line first is intense 🙉 If you see local track races popping up near you, I definitely recommend you go and watch. The #power the #athletes produce is mind-boggling 🙈 _____________________________________ #cycling #BritishCycling #TrackChamps #ukcyclechat #ukblogger #activelife #ootd #anotheroutfitpost

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One memory I do want to take away from 2018 is when me and Ryan pulled a route map out of a magazine and walked up Cadair Berwyn. The walk wasn’t exactly up a mountain, but we still took in some amazing views that day. I think Ryan just wanted to get me out of the house really with #GirlsAtLlandegla coming up the following weekend!

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So then came #GirlsAtLlandegla. I’m not as mountain bike focussed as I use to be, but I still love heading to the forest on my bike every now and then. I’m not exactly sure where the idea for #GirlsAtLlandegla came from, but all of a sudden Manon Carpenter was coming up from South Wales to attend the event. Due to snow, the brave 30 girls who attended the event got to follow Manon around the trails. Still to this day I think about all of the girls who rode that day and were completely amazing. As were One Planet Adventure, Llandegla who made sure the girls could quickly warm up when they got back! We also ended up raising nearly £300 for Help for Heroes!

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It didn’t take me too long to defrost after #GirlsAtLlandegla, but the thought of getting to the beach in Majorca the following week got me round those snow-covered trails! My first cycling holiday, I had the best time cycling roads that dreams were made of. The climbs went on forever, but the views took your mind off the pain in your legs. Despite only being out there for a few days, quite a few blog posts came out of it!

Sa Calobra, Mallorca

Sa Calobra, Mallorca

One of my big goals for 2018 was to race more on my Liv, so post-Majorca a lot of my time was spent ‘attempting’ to train. Paired with wanting to gain more confidence with open-water swimming, I was either on my road bike or in a lake! I also had to chuck some running in there after going back to Oulton Park at the end of April for their Spring Duathlon.

Oulton Park Duathlon 2018

When we started to enter the road racing season, that’s when I ended up making an appearance in Cycling Weekly for a ‘Training Makeover’. They looked at my training and gave me some pointers on how to tackle it during the Summer.

Unfinished Business

The closer we got to the Summer, the more my confidence with open-water swimming came, meaning I wanted to tackle the unfinished business I had in the lake at the top of Cadair Idris. I don’t know why I felt I needed to return to the lake and actually swim in it, but I went back and somehow managed it. It may have taken me a while, but I got there. This was quite a major milestone for me, because, anyone who knows me will know the mental battles I’m sometimes up against. Getting to the point I’m at now has been a long road, back to before Chirk Triathlon even. Some might say I should have gone to the Doctors, but when their only response was to put me on medication, I knew it was getting out of my comfort zone that was going to help me. I’d often feel anxious sitting in a classroom, but now I’ll talk to anyone. I don’t think I’ll ever be ‘cured’, but it certainly doesn’t seem to control me anymore. Unfinished Business was the biggest blog post for me this year. Letting my mind stop me from doing something as simple as swim in a lake had been a weight on my shoulders I had finally lifted. For 2019 I’m hoping I can find some sort of open-water swimming event to enter.

After Cadair I had a busy few weekends getting to concerts. Thankfully Stereophonics was local, but I also travelled to Manchester to see Taylor Swift with Georgia. Taylor Swift was something that was completely spontaneous and booked last minute, so maybe the getting out of my comfort zone was starting to pay off!

After some sad news about someone I use to race Downhill MTB with, I soon found myself booking an uplift day at Revolution Bike Park with my brother. It was funny going on a road trip with my downhill bike again, especially with my brother. He took me to a few of my races, mostly thanks to my bike fitting into his car a lot easier than anyone else’s! It would normally mean a trip to Chirk McDonald’s after college on a Friday with a packed car heading to the Ludlow area for a Pearce DH race. The good old days that I miss massively and all the people I use to ride with too. I wasn’t as quick as I used to be, but I don’t think I ever will be…

Mountain biking aside, I was soon back on my road bike leading the Women’s Tour out of Dolgellau as a Breeze Champion. Ryan even gave me a taste of how much pain the pro’s would have been in after taking me up the Bwlch Y Groes…

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The aftermath of the Bwlch Y Groes 😰 •••• Head to my Instastory to hear what I thought after I got my breath back 😂 •••• I’ve never ridden a climb like it…I can’t compare it to anything 🙈 Sa Calobra was longer, but the Bwlch Y Groes felt so much harder 😂 My chest hurts from breathing so hard 😂 Ryan shows me some pretty epic places 🙈 •••• This is my entry for @hayleyjanewarnes competition to win a spot on the #OakleyCyclingTour 😍 •••• #womencycling #LivCyclingUK #ukcyclechat #100climbs #roadielife #digdeep #wildernessculture #adventurevisuals #goexplore #outdooradventures #outdooradventurephotos #SheAdventures #fromwhereiride #outdoorbloggers #ukblogger #ASSOSofSwitzerland #HaveAGoodRide #shareyourkask #RideLife #RideGiant #lovecycling #ridelikeagirl #roadslikethese #bikeridewithaview #knackered #jellylegs

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Following that soon came the time I started road/crit racing. There were some rookie errors (like the major one of miscalculating how many laps we’d done) but then there were some bonkers moves I made by accident that completely changed the race. I never placed very well in the races, but I just loved the buzz of being in the action for once rather than just ‘getting round’. I’d finally got an adrenaline buzz from road racing…ha!

Getting such a buzz from racing again soon saw me organising a day of racing at Marsh Tracks in Rhyl, which I somehow even managed to interview Coryn Rivera as a result of organising it too. Whilst I didn’t get the entries I’d hoped for, I still won’t forget that day of racing seeing so many under 12 riders racing round Marsh Tracks. Stay tuned whilst I finalise the date(s!!!) for 2019. I’m not going to lie, the event was a massive learning curve, so I’m hoping I can fine tune it slightly for 2019.

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I sort of wound everything down after Marsh Tracks. I’d put so much time into the event like making the trophies and understanding the logistics of it all, I didn’t really have much energy left for racing! I started running Breeze rides instead, which is how I met Lucy…who happens to have the exact same Liv Envie as me…ha! From our first Breeze rides, 7 days later I had managed to persuade Lucy to do the local hillclimb up the Horseshoe Pass! She did an amazing job and I can’t wait to organise more Breeze rides for 2019.

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To finish off the year I found myself skiing in France with my brother. I’d done my normal thing of being hesitant to book it. So my brother took the deciding out of my hands and booked it for me. It was pretty much a week of eat, sleep, ski, repeat so I was knackered by the end of it!

So looking back, 2018 has been pretty jam packed! I’d like to thank everyone who has helped me this year with events. They couldn’t have happened without you! I really do appreciate it!

What would you like to see from Lucy’s Life and Bikes in 2019? I’d love to hear, so don’t hesitate to drop me a message!

Revisited: 18 Things to Do in 2018

On this day last year I posted an 18 Things to Do in 2018 blog post, so I thought I’d see how I got on in achieving anything on it. Granted, I probably should have printed it off so I had more chance of ticking each one off, but I ticked off more than I thought.

1. New Year Resolution?
With Ffion on our mountain bikes the other day, we were having a good old chat about New Year Resolutions and fitness came into both of ours. Mine is to get functionally stronger. I’ve let my fitness slip the past few months so its about time I did something about it! I just need to decide on a gym to join…

I didn’t quite get there in terms of being functionally fit like I use to, but I did gain a lot of fitness when it came to riding my bike. A trip to Majorca meant I hit the 70 mile mark and had some pretty exciting crit races on my road bike to.

2. Sport to Try?
After hearing all about my brother’s trip to Whistler, I’m hoping I’ll get to try Snowboarding this year.

Well, I went on a snow sports holiday…just on a pair of ski’s rather than a board!

3. Place to Visit Abroad?
Oo a tough one, but France is probably the most likely whether that’s to hit the slopes on a snowboard or climb the mountain roads on my trusted Liv Envie.

I ended up in France twice this year. Once with work and then with my brother skiing. 

4. Staycation to Book?
I haven’t managed to knuckle it down to one particular location, but I’d love to organise a group holiday to a cottage/cabin somewhere with lots of cycling and mountains nearby!

We never got that group holiday booked, but we did end up on some short breaks in Dolgellau quite a lot, which is probably my favourite village in Wales by now. 

5. Bad habit to get rid of?
Overthinking everything!

Not going to lie…I think I’m always going to do this!

6. Book to read?
With motorsport being another big part of my life, the book I want to read os one written by the wife of Frank Williams. Williams: A Different Kind of Life is written by the wife of Frank Williams and the troubles they’ve overcome after his accident.

I’ve not got round to reading this book, but it is still on the list! One book I have read was Running For My Life.

7. Unfinished project you want to finish?
Paint some canvas’ to put up in the house.

I’ve painted one…

8. Mountain to climb?
Cadair Idris as I have actually only been up to the lake…which I ended up swimming in!

I took it up a notch this year and swam in the lake at the top of Cadair…I mean actually swam not just paddled aha! I’d love it if you read my blog post ‘Unfinished Business‘ on this!

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I finally went back to Llyn Cau over the Bank Holiday Weekend. Ryan and I climbed a bit higher above the lake first, then went to the lake on the way down Cadair Idris. •••• It still took my a while to get the confidence to swim, but it was the best feeling afterwards 💕 •••• A Sigma 10-20mm EX DC HSM lens providing the goods 👌🏻 I love so many of the photos in the blog post, I really hope you go and have a look so you can let me know what you think 😁 •••• #SIGMAUK #lr_people #Wales #CadairIdris #swimwithaview #huubdesign #outdoorbloggers #girlsthatwander #girlywanderlust #outdoorbella #choosemountains #likeamountaingirl #wildswimming #ukblogger #wildernessculture #adventurevisuals #goexplore #outdooradventures #outdooradventurephotos #SheAdventures #CadairIdris #Dolgellau #LlynCau #mountaingirls

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9. Skill to improve?
It’s cheating but I want to put two down, my photography and cycling fitness.

My cycling fitness took quite a big step up this year. I can’t wait to get back to Pimbo in 2019!

10. Film to watch?
The Nutcracker, which was actually filmed somewhere I have been with Ryan earlier this year. I can already recognise the place from the trailer!

Yea…we missed this in the cinema, so waiting for the DVD it is!

11. Recipe to master?
Any recipe out of a cookbook I had off Ryan for Christmas, RAF 100 Cookbook.

I may have used the book for a few recipes, but I honestly can’t remember! My cooking has improved quite a lot though, I don’t really follow recipes anymore aha.

12. Planned event you’re already looking forward to?
Going to see Stereophonics.

I can confirm Stereophonics was very good!

13. Something to start saving money for?
Snowboarding holiday.

I didn’t exactly save…but went aha.

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If you’re wondering where I’ve been…I’ve been living the high life (quite literally 😂) in @tignesofficiel with my brother ⛷ • This will always be the most memorable part on top of the #Borsat #ski lift regardless of how 🥶 it was! It felt like I’d been dropped in the middle of a David Attenborough documentary to find some penguins 😂 Battling the wind and wind-swept powder made it an interesting trip down to the bottom 🙈 Especially when we got back to the hotel and realised we’d covered 22 miles…so basically 22 miles in the squat position 😂 • #tuitravelgoals #tignes #tignesaddict #ladaille #ski #snowboard #olympusuk #olympusfrance #france #moutainlife #winterseason #everytrailconnects #powdergirl #outdoorbella #blueskies #sunandsnow #pistelife #girlswhoski #mountaingirls #powderlove #GetMoreWinter #igtravel #skiholiday #bluebird #skiseason

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14. National Trust Heritage site to visit?
Gunby Hall, Lincolnshire.

I think I still follow their page on Instagram, but I still haven’t been. I did go to Chatsworth House, which is somewhere I’ve always wanted to go thanks to Pride and Prejudice…

15. Film to carry on watching a million times over?
Any of the Fast & Furious Films or Skyfall. I always love getting all cozy with a hot chocolate with Skyfall on the TV.

Not sure I’m a massive fan of these anymore…

16. 2018 Challenge to complete? (#365PhotoChallenge?)
In relation to my blog it will be to make sure I post every week, but for cycling it will be to enter some more CRIT races.

I decided against forcing content for my blog, so I didn’t post as regularly as I’d hoped unfortunately! I did have great fun at crit racers though. I even ended up in Cycling Weekly!

17. Fitness/Activity event to conquer?
Welsh Champs TT.

I ended up doing Welsh Road Champs…which didn’t go too well!

18. Thing to be most grateful for?
Having supportive family and friends around me.

I’ll always be grateful for this. 

 

I didn’t tick all of these off, but it was a rather long list! If you look at my year as a whole, you’ll realise these pointers don’t even scratch the surface with everything that has gone on this year. There’s been quite a few milestones meaning a ‘Milestones for Lucy’s Life and Bikes’ blog post will be on the way shortly. But until then, don’t get too bogged down with New Year’s Resolutions, because as above proves, keeping it simple and going with the flow is a good way to be.

Silverstone Classic Photo Epic

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If you follow me over on Instagram you’ll know I spent last weekend at the Silverstone Classic, which attracted the crowds to watch the cars of years gone by return to the track. I spent the weekend around the Volvo S40 which Rickard Rydell had come from Sweden to drive again.

I was forever behind the lens of my camera like always, so got quite a few pictures over the weekend. A weekend that saw original mechanics reunited with the driver they use to spanner check for, whilst current mechanics kept the car running in tip top condition.

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A team put together by Jason Minshaw it was all hands on deck to make sure the car got to where it needed to be over the weekend.

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With unpredictable weather, a few wheel changes took place as well as alterations to the tracking and gearbox over the weekend.

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Qualifying on Friday turned out to be quite eventful with some cars facing issues that lead them to retire from the weekend.

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Luckily the Volvo didn’t suffer such issues and Rickard placed the car in pole position for the race the following day.

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Celebrating 60 years of the BTCC, the JET Super Touring Car Trophy was a popular collection of races over the weekend.

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With plenty of fans coming to meet Rickard when he wasn’t driving the Volvo.

In between its time on the track, the Volvo was checked and adjusted following feedback from Rickard.

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Despite biblical downpours at one point over the weekend, the heatwave meant hydration was key before and after jumping in the car.

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The cars waited by garages 1 and 2 to get to the pit lane and out to the track.

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Rickard’s biggest competitor over the weekend, James Dodd, who was driving the Honda Accord.

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Despite the multiple position changes on track making it impossible to predict who would come out on top, Rickard and James showed impeccable sportsmanship off the track.

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James Dodd pipped Rickard to the top spot of the podium, to which Rickard responded in good spirit “if it was my car he wouldn’t have got past”.

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I was possible too young to remember these cars racing in their day, but I surprisingly still recognised some of the liveries thanks to the countless motorsport books on the bookshelf and not a BTCC race missed on the TV.

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Bjorn and Daniel flew from Sweden to help with the car over the weekend.

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With a few season back racing, the hype around the Volvo S40 was even greater with Rydell back in the driver’s seat.

Head over to the full album of photos by clicking here.

For more on what Rickard Rydell thought of the weekend, you can also read this article on his website.

Unfinished Business

Unfinished Business

It’s all well and good being the queen of planning a Bank Holiday weekend, but then me and Ryan tend to have our best days out which have been completely spontaneous.

Our spontaneity meant we found ourselves at the foot of Cadair Idris, which has quickly become one of our favourite places.

Walking up Cadair Idris

The sky was hazy but the sun still heated the exposed rocky steps that started the route up one of the many mountains within Snowdonia. Despite dripping in sweat I felt privileged to call Wales my home. Some walkers were coming down, their dogs eager to get to the shade of the trees and the river at the bottom. Some ascending, and like us, completely under-estimated the temperatures that would be present climbing such a steep mountain.

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Over a crest we’d find the never ending steps behind us and more of Cadair Idris revealing itself. All I wanted to do was quicken up the pace to find the lake I fell in love with a few years ago, despite not being able to swim in it yet. Our last time here was our first holiday together. Camping in Dolgellau, which is still one of my favourite holiday memories.

The pace not speeding up quite enough due to me being distracted by an army of Labradors that made me wish Jenson was with us, and a Westie loving life in his owner’s back pack watching the world go by. A previously adventurous dog, but his ageing legs meaning he can’t quite get up the mountains anymore. But you can’t leave him at home can you? He could still come out on the flat after all.

The lake finally came into view.

Blue. Clear. Still. And in the shadows of the crag that led to the top of Cadair Idris.

My body wanted nothing more but to jump in, but the desire to see what the view was like from the top was greater.

Walking up Cadair Idris

Our path got steeper once again, but we did pause every once in a while to take in the view. As much as we rush through our daily lives, we shouldn’t rush in places as beautiful as these.

Now the only thing that stood between us and where we would climb to was loose rocks. So naturally we had to take our time up these.

Coastguard at Cadair Idris

Walking Up Cadair Idris

Coastguard at Cadair IdrisWalking up Cadair Idris

Over a stile we joined families already at the top. Young kids battling with their curiosity to get close to the edge, but being scared to at the same time. Taking photos and making memories. It’s been a while since I’ve seen kids exploring the outdoors and being so happy about it. The parents had no phones, they were just spending time with their kids.

Walking up Cadair Idris

Looking down at the lake, I was eager to get in it so after some photos we made our way back down.

Photographing Cadair Idris

The lake side dotted with others fully immersed with being outdoors.

Skipping stones. Taking a quick dip before the cold water getting the better of them. Brothers trying to push each other in.

Swimming in Llyn Cau, Cadair Idris

I squeezed into my wetsuit that Ryan had been lugging around in his backpack. He pulled the zip together so I could get it around my shoulders. Then it was time to see if I could beat the demons that stopped me swimming here last time.

Swimming in Llyn Cau, Cadair Idris

Not confident in my ability (or lacking of) to swim and unsure how my body would react to the cold. A few years on after learning to swim, a Triathlon and a few open water swims around my belt, I was in a bit of a better position than last time.

But it was still a lake up a mountain. It was still going to be cold and I still didn’t think I was a strong swimmer.

So I didn’t get in straight away. Ryan got in before me.

I was looking at the water before me. The darker it got, the deeper it got. The water giving me shock every time it squeezed inside my wetsuit.

After a few dunks of my body in the water, I was finally started to get use to the water.

Ryan waited and let me build my confidence up on my own.

I suddenly found myself pushing off through water and I slowly moved through the water. The coldness of it making it exhilarating. The battles my body has when it gets cold, swimming in such cold water was massively out of my comfort zone.

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I only ventured so far before turning back, but each time I got a little bit further.

Swimming in Llyn Cau, Cadair Idris

All of a sudden I was getting lost in the beauty of seeing the lake from a different perspective. The crag looked bigger. And the sun catching the surface of the water to make it glisten, contrasting against the deep blue water. It was so quiet, yet my mind completely switched off.

Swimming in Llyn Cau, Cadair Idris

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My legs may have turned to jelly when it came to come out, but I had the biggest sense of relief. Despite the things I’ve done since, not being able to swim that day a few years ago stuck with me. I kind of knew I wouldn’t be satisfied until I’d gone back to Llyn Cau up Cadair Idris.

Swimming in Llyn Cau, Cadair Idris

There were demons there I needed to conquer.

Swimming in Llyn Cau, Cadair Idris

Walking back down the mountain I was in the best mood I’d been in for a while. Already planning my birthday so I could come back and swim again.

Swimming in Llyn Cau, Cadair Idris

 

Alderford Lake & Open Water Swimming

Swimming in Alderford Lake

A lot of what I do is overcoming the mental barrier to do it. This year a big goal is to gain confidence open water swimming. I’ve got confident in the pool now, so why not swimming outside too?

With the weather we’re having I knew it would be a good time to get my wetsuit back out. My last and first trip out in it wasn’t very successful at Manley Mere.

I messaged some friends I use to work with about Alderford Lake and I suddenly had plans to go open water swimming. With friends and not on my own this time.

Swimming in Alderford Lake

For newbies to open water swimming I’d definitely say Alderford Lake is better than Manley Mere. Alderford has an island in the middle and jetty’s you can swim too. Once you start swimming at Manley you’re committed to the 250m loop.

Squeezing into my wetsuit, we ventured into the lake. The expanse of water between me and the island was daunting. I knew I could do it if I managed to stay calm, but it was that weird situation of stressing about being able to stay calm.

Swimming in Alderford Lake

A few breaststroke’s in I was off. Slowly, but I was moving. I tried not to think about not being able to put my feet down and to just concentrate on my stroke instead.

I wasn’t quite ready to do front crawl, so I just carried on smoothly and calmly with breaststroke.

I must admit I was making my shoulders works that’s for certain!

Swimming in Alderford Lake

Getting to the island was a massive hurdle for me. How far I swam probably wasn’t even that far, but I’d managed to keep my Chimp in its cage for once.

It was a big hurdle that also came as a massive relief. Like a massive weight off my shoulders had lifted. Open water triathlons have always been something I’ve wanted to do, but the swimming has stopped me doing it.

I’d love to have stayed in the water longer, but knew my body had dealt with quite a lot for the hour we were in there. It was better to get out when I felt good in the water, than let myself get too tired.

From the island we went to the other side of the lake, I had another break, then took the same route back. Swimming with other people definitely makes difference and I can’t thank Natalie and Emma for being so patient!

Swimming in Alderford Lake

I’ve overcome the first big hurdle…onto front crawl in open water next!

Swimming in Alderford LakeAlderford Lake

Cadair Berwyn

When my alarm started blaring out early on a Sunday morning I wasn’t the most enthused about getting out of bed. But when Ryan said it was blue skies outside, I knew I’d regret turning over and falling back to sleep.

We chucked some sandwiches in a bag with our walking stuff and made our way to Pistyll Rhaedr, which isn’t too far from Llangynog. I was expecting the car park to be full, but we were the first ones there! The cafe wasn’t even open to pay to park.

Cadair Berwyn, Wales

We changed our shoes and started to head out of the car park and up into the hills. We could go left to the top of the waterfall or straight to end up at the top of Cadair Berwyn, which is what we wanted to climb.

Cadair Berwyn, WalesCadair Berwyn, Wales

There was nobody else on the path but us and the skies were clear blue. Not even aeroplane trails in sight.

Cadair Berwyn, Wales

With a lot of climbing, stream hopping and bogginess later, Llyn Lluncaws reveals itself. Looking back on the paths we’ve just walked, there no civilisation in sight. No houses or busy roads, just rolling Welsh hills.

But we weren’t at the top yet. We were about to have our breathe taken away once again.

We had the ridge line to climb to say we were at the top, so it only got steeper.

I’m not going to lie, it was tough going, but at the same time it was so pretty up there we just couldn’t wait to see what the view was like from the top.

We finally made it to the top, and had a 360 degree view from the top. Again still on our own.

The rest of the walk we were following in Trail Magazine meant we went up and down nearby hill tops. The next one we got to had a little fort on the top, which meant we could get out of the wind for lunch.

By this point we were both knackered so we’re glad we’d packed an Easter egg to share at the top. And yes we split it straight down the middle!

The later it got through the day we started to see more people making the most of the weather. We even saw a family on one of the peaks and offered to help them take a family photo. I’ve never seen two young boys so happy to be up such a steep hill! We couldn’t let them get a photo without heir Dad in too!

We may have deviated off the path, but we never got round to figure it out. We got caught out in snow drifts we though were solid, but swallowed Ryan’s legs up to his knees! We got stuck in bog and wandered across a hill trying to get back to the path.

As spontaneous as it was, Cadair Berwyn is yet another hill that captured my heart to stay in my collection of memories forevermore.

Going into the hills is such an escape from everyday life. Polar opposite to what I fill my weekdays with. The weekend is when I can explore.

Scarpa R-Evolution Pro GTX Walking Boots

Scarpa R-Evolution Pro GTX Walking Boots

On our trip around North Wales last weekend I finally managed to pick up some new walking boots. I’ve been looking for some for so long now, I’m just glad I’ve found some!

I’ve had some Salomon boots for a few years now, and they’ve been good enough for the walks I was doing. They’re just starting to show their age a bit now. Letting water in and a well used sole having been battered by plenty of dog walking miles with Jenson.

Looking for a new pair of boots, I knew I’d need to spend a little bit more this time. (Well my Dad actually bought my last pair but that’s another story!) If I want the boots to last and look after my feet, cheap boots just wouldn’t make the cut. I also want to be a little more adventurous this year with the routes I’m keen to try, so it’s important I have the right kit.

Scarpa R-Evolution Pro GTX Walking Boots

I did actually buy some Mammut boots last year from Go Outdoors, but they only lasted two weeks before one of the eyelets came off.

To avoid disappointment with another pair of boots, I went to where the knowledge of walking kit would be…Betws Y Coed. I spent so much time there as a kid, I always love going back there.

Scarpa R-Evolution Pro GTX Walking Boots

Me and my Dad went round a few shops, but it was only in Cunningham’s where the staff filled me with confidence in what they were saying. Grant, one of the staff, was extremely helpful and wasn’t just about selling me the most expensive boots.

Scarpa R-Evolution Pro GTX Walking BootsScarpa R-Evolution Pro GTX Walking Boots

I tried on a few pairs just see what different styles felt like, but took a liking to these Scarpa boots fairly quickly. A firm sole and they really hugged my feet. I’ve not been able to wear Scarpa in the past due to having wide feet, but I’m getting on with these really well.

What do you get from the boot?

– When I get a little more adventurous next Winter, I can fit crampons to them to go exploring in the snow!

– Anti-Abrasion rubber in high wear areas of the boot

– Memory foam padding for a better fit

– Gore-Tex for a breathable but waterproof boot

– Stiff sole for stability on more rugged terrain

I’ve done this post as a little first look I guess. I’ve not tried them in the vast Welsh mountains yet, just Bulkeley Hill Woods in Cheshire. But the 6 mile loop we did was enough to break them in!

Looking Down On Llandudno Bay

Llandudno Bay

Looking Down On Llandudno Bay

I recently watched the film Wild, which is based on the book by Cheryl Strayed. I much preferred the book to the film, but in both there’s a quote:

“There’s a sunrise and sunset everyday and you can choose to be there or not. You can put yourself in the way of beauty.” – Cheryl Strayed

Granted if it’s pouring down with rain those dramatic sun rays and colours may not make an appearance. And on British soil, those colours are more likely to stay hidden above the clouds than reveal themselves.

But when they do make themselves visible, they can be rather special.

Nestled away in amongst a housing estate was some steps leading to Penrhyn Bay. Following a grassy path, the bay reveals itself with the odd seal resting on the beach. If they weren’t on the beach, their little black heads were popping out from under the waves.

The light was turning golden casting shadows on the waves. Whilst my Dad was taking photos of the seals I kept looking up to the large hill on my left. I look from the bay to the sun and back to the bay.

The curiosity of what the view was like at the top chipping away at me. From that high up it had to be impressive right?

I just had to go up and find out.

Soon enough I was finding my way up the hill whilst battling the wind. I even had to crouch down at one point to wait for the wind to die down so I could cross a particularly open section on the path.

The path began to split and turn in different ways, so I questioned if I’d find my way back to the car again. But I kept following the paths which would lead me to the top.

Making my way over the brow of the hill Llandudno bay came into view. Rays of golden light streaking over the bay and waves.

I’d never seen anything like it. The bay stretched out before me, it had been a long time since I’d seen a view travel so far. I was battling the wind to stay standing upright, but I just didn’t want to leave. I wanted to sit there until the sun disappeared. But with the sunset two hours away…I thought I’d get rather cold!

#InternationalWomensDay

International Womens Day

8th March marks International Women’s Day and rather than a long rambling post about equality amongst other things, I thought I would keep things positive by sharing a few women that inspire me to lead the life I do.

#1 Leena Gade

Since I ventured into the world of engineering, Leena’s achievements have definitely helped encourage me along the way. In the ‘man’s world’ of engineering, a career in the industry can sometimes be a little daunting.

#2 Lucy Charles

Whilst the thought of doing some of her training sessions makes me shudder, I love following Lucy’s training for Triathlon and Ironman competitions. If she’s not swimming she’s cycling, and if neither of those she’s probably running. Then there’s her gym work too. It makes me tired just typing it all!

#3 Jazz Carlin

I met the GB Swimmer when she came to my local gym for an event with Speedo and she is one of the most down to earth people I have met. Keen to help people with their swimming! I am always jealous however when she posts about training camps from somewhere much hotter than the UK.

#4 Joanna Rowsell Shand

I’ve been lucky enough to meet this incredible athlete at a Time Trial her and her husband organised in the West Pennines. I certainly didn’t expect to see her marshalling on the side of the road in the pouring rain warning us about a rather big pothole! With a big involvement in British Cycling’s Breeze programme, she’s doing more work than ever encouraging people to get active by riding bikes.

#5 Claire Rose

I met Claire at the Isle of Man in 2017 in the hours before she won her National TT Championship title. Her relaxed personality was a breath of fresh air from the ‘serious athlete’ personalities that were in abundance on the day of the big race. With a big team change this year, I’m looking forward to seeing how her season turns out!

Happy #InternationalWomensDay !

Who are your inspiring role models when it comes to being a #girlboss ? Leave them in the comments below!