Paths Less Trodden

Walking

Often when I’m out on my bike I’ll come across public footpaths that look interesting, but my road tyres mean I have to leave exploring them for another day. You only have to open an Ordnance Survey map to see where all of these footpaths are. The amount of people that use these footpaths is probably very little, depending on where they are obviously.

With a new addition to the family, and by new addition I mean the sort with four paws and a waggy tail, I’m starting to venture out a little bit more. Although I think I’m going to invest in some more Ordnance Survey maps because one of this week’s walk didn’t exactly go to plan!

I suppose the thing that is easy to forget is because they’re not regularly used some way-marked routes might be a little over-grown…so when you approach said stile in shorts and t-shirt. I don’t think there’s much chance of you getting past thanks to a large amount of nettles!

The local people were pleasant. I didn’t expect such a happy reception from a farmer when I was stood there trying to figure out where to go next. Maybe it was the fact he’d already seen me close a gate behind me, but he pointed me in the right direction and off we went.

I may not have got very far, but I guess I still saw a part of the world I’d not seen before. I came away with a nettle sting or two, but I’d given the route a go. A field full of cattle was what eventually turned me around to re-trace my steps. All I could picture was me running through a field clutching a puppy trying to outrun grumpy heifers. I’d rather not thanks…

So my wander out might not have been the most successful, but I didn’t get lost at least. I have a tired pup with fluffy ears after a bath, so all is good I think. Maybe I’ll stick to exploring the forests next time rather than cow fields!

Bringing Back Your Childhood Memories

Bringing Back Your Childhood MemoriesLike cycling, swimming is one of those things you do as a child. Whether that was jumping in a river in the summer, or having it forced upon you in P.E. at school. (How cool would it be if cycling was part of the curriculum at school though?).

You may not do either seriously, they’re purely a recreational activity. Yet both can open up door to adventures that haven’t been accessible to you before. With cycling you can cover that little bit of extra distance. With swimming you can enjoy the sea on holiday and see things from a different perspective. Some of my strongest memories as a child are water or cycling related. Long jump into the pool on holiday. Bobbing up and down in the sea resting on a bodyboard in the sea at Pwllheli. Looking up at my neighbour after I’d landing head first in his hedge after a race around our street went slightly wrong…

Combine the two sports and you get a whole host of new adventures available to you. Ride up a mountain, then jump in the lake at the top. Go bike-packing in a foreign country experiencing new cultures, then cool off in the sea after covering so many miles.

Both offer the opportunity to escape. Pushing off the side of a swimming pool wall, like the pressure of the water on your shoulders taking all of the stress away. The adrenaline rush following a downhill section on a mountain bike, where there’s no time to think about anything but the trail ahead.

Mountain Biking

Sometimes it feels like the rush of cold water over your body is required to relax. Other times it requires hammering the pedals on a trail ride. To completely switch off I don’t think there will ever be one solution. The variety has a greater impact and puts a smile on your face. You’ve just got to go wherever your mind takes you.

Open Water Swimming

Some might find comfort in repetition of only ever doing one sport, but honestly? I find everything so much more exciting having a go at whatever comes to mind. Yet cycling and swimming will always be something I come back to. They take me back to my childhood and both are invigorating in their own ways. And living in Wales it means I can do both in so many different places. You’ve just got to know where to look.

MTB Meet Up 2019

Check me out…actually riding a mountain bike!

MTB Meet Up

It’s certainly been a while, but I think I’m slowly getting the mountain bike bug again. I’ve bought new mountain biking kit and everything…ha!

When I saw MTB Meet Up was coming up at Llandegla, I thought I’d head up there. Rolling up to the cafe it was marquee galore taking up pretty much everywhere near the cafe. Marquees full of expensive bikes to demo, but I resisted the temptation to try bikes I’ll never be able to afford. Because naturally I was eyeing up the Hope bikes ha!

We started off as 3 women hitting the trails to ride bikes. The trails were obviously busier than normal so we found ourselves getting overtaken (rather aggressively at times) by multiple E-Bikes. I have nothing against them, but do they really need to barge past when there really wasn’t a gap there? I’d rather not eat part of a tree branch thanks to being pushed to the side of the trail, but hey we’ve got to share the trails right…

With the bonkers heatwave the UK has been having you’d expect me to be say I was riding in blue skies and a vest top. Yet it was drizzly and overcast. The sort of weather I love the most when riding in the forest. Blue skies and dust are great, but nothing beats the forest when it’s damp and muggy. That’s probably the Welsh blood in me though.

MTB Meet Up, Llandegla

Riding down the trails I’ve ridden since I was 10, it’s almost like muscle memory riding there now. No matter how long it’s been, I still know them like the back of my hand. Memories came back even more so this week after building up my old Scott hardtail for Ryan’s little brother. It’s been given a new lease of life and he loves it just as much as I did by the sounds of it!

Doing a mixture of Red and Blue, 3 riders grew to 5 after bumping into 2 who wanted to avoid the Black trail.

Rolling back to the centre I queued up for the bike wash, which had kindly been paid for by Fenwick’s. I left with my bike cleaner than when I arrived ha! Fenwick’s is the only cleaner I’ll use on my bike if I’m honest.

MTB Meet Up, Llandegla

Hopefully I’ll be able to get back to an uplift soon too. I got rather jealous when I saw everyone’s photos from National Champs the other week!

Half Way There, Running On A Prayer…

It’s been a while hasn’t it? Either way I’m not entirely sure where today came from. A 1.51 Half Marathon.

With the weeks leading up to said Half Marathon being less than ideal due to injuries…going into it there was the main aim of getting round at all with a slight hope for a sub 2 hour time. Sub 2 hours means a sub 4 hour London Marathon time could be in sight.

Getting ready for a local half marathon was rather odd. I needed my race number and trainers as a bare minimum. A lot less faff compared to going to a cycling race! Needless to say I was pretty calm because of this.

There was a dilemma of needing a wee with not long to go to the start. It wasn’t even a nervous wee. I genuinely needed to go! Yikes!

Having to find alternative means to the handful of porta loo’s for 5,000 runners…it was working out where I needed to place myself. I came across the 2 hour pacer, so I’d found my position ready for the start gun.

The gun went but it took me a while to get to the actual start line whilst all of the runners funnelled through it. I kept all of the eagerness at bay and stayed at the 2 hour pace to ease me into it all.

Considering my interrupted training plan, I was hesitant to pick up the pace, but as the miles ticked by and I felt ‘comfortable’ I knew I had room to pick up a little speed. Hovering around the 8.30 pace, my Clif Shot Blocks seemed to keep me fuelled and on target for sub 2 hours.

We couldn’t have had more of a perfect day for it. It didn’t feel like the middle of July obviously, but it was warm enough to run in shorts. A pair of Nike shorts I found in the sale that turned out to be the comfiest pair of shorts I’ve ever ran in! Paired with my compression socks (which have literally saved my marathon training) I was channeling Lucy Charles all the way round, plaits included…just maybe not her pace ha!

There was one point I slipped back into my comfort zone, but quickly snapped myself out of it. After some advice of Ryan’s friends on thinking ‘tummy muscles’ on the way round, I felt like my technique was quite strong for once. No slouching today!

Thanks to my training being fairly hilly and the race route being fairly flat, the hills on course were gladly not too much of an issue. I made sure to power up them. It was just one of those days where I had a kick butt attitude. None of this ooo I’ll play it safe, which was a lot different to how I normally approach things!

In my head I wanted to get to the 10 mile mark then pick up the pace. I only had a Park Run distance left then! And that’s what I did. Then with about a mile and a half to go I put all of my cards on the table. It was my final big push to make sure I got under the 2 hours mark. Managing quite a few minutes quicker than that, it was rather surreal crossing the finish line.

I suppose that’s one thing I like about endurance running. It’s all on me. No tactics or attacks to respond to. Just getting from A to B in a time I’m happy with. Granted if I took it more seriously it wouldn’t be like that, but still…

Thank you to all of the organisers of the Village Bakery Wrexham Half Marathon and all of the marshals cheering around the course. There was such a good vibe out on the course today, so I loved spending my Sunday getting a Welsh Dragon medal.

Having my family out on course pushed me on no end too. So hopefully all of this means marathon training is back on track.

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.

 

 

Breeze Poppy Ride

Breeze Poppy Ride bpMeeting up with Lucy for the start of the ride at Alf Jones Cycles, we were pretty swift to get out on the roads. With a ride planned just short of 20 miles, it was a relaxed ride on country lanes and a lot flatter than the rides Lucy was use to doing. Setting off at half 11, it gave us chance to take part in the 2 minutes silence for Remembrance Sunday.

For mid-November it was surprisingly warm, so I didn’t need to pull out my thick Winter Mavic gloves like I did on our last ride over towards Llangollen.

Having not seen Lucy since the Horseshoe Hill Climb a few weeks ago, it was good to catch up and hear if she’s managed to get back on the bike since and how she felt after her first Hill Climb. With an exam looming on Monday, the ride out was a well-deserved break from all of her Maths revision.

After a quick coffee at Cleopatra’s Coffee Shop, the country lanes soon brought us back to Alf Jones Cycles. A relaxed ride in the Winter sun is the perfect way to clear your head for the following week.

I’m going to be making these rides, which are aimed at 16-20 year olds, a regular thing, so if you want to hear about future rides just drop me a message. Otherwise, you can follow me on social media to keep up with what rides are coming up next.

Race Report: #GirlsAtMarshTracks

With a rapid turnaround #GirlsAtMarshTracks took over the closed cycling circuit in Rhyl. Quiet for entries online Lwsi and Lauren took to the track in the Under 16 categories and were pushing hard on the pedals right to the chequered flag.

Then it was time for the busiest race of the day for the U12, U10 and U8. 13 girls took to the track and for many it was their first time. They raced round the shorter version of Marsh Tracks and were getting cheered on by their parents at the side of the track. Girls from Hafren CC and North Cheshire Clarion has a strong presence at the race and definitely represented their clubs well. Many keen to learn more about road racing and tactics used by the pro’s!

North Cheshire Clarion took the top spots in the U10 and 12, but were beaten to the podium in the under 8 category by Hafren CC rider Isobel.

All of the girls did remarkably well and all got round to the chequered flag. I couldn’t be more impressed by them all. They all kept pushing on right to the finish line.

Come half 12 it was time for the senior races to hit the track, with the first being the E123 race. A field of four, it ended up being a photo finish to see if Emily or Jo got the coveted first place. Emily pipped Jo to first by a lunge for the line.

The other two riders in the E123 race actually had MTB XC backgrounds, which is how they gained their 3rd cat licences. Polar opposite to what their use to in the forests, they both rode really strong races.

When the 4th Cat race lined up on the track, we had a mix of riders wanting to gain points for their 3rd Cat licence and complete beginners. Catrin rode a strong race, even for her first Crit race, but just got beaten to first place by Leonie. Again, that had to be decided on photos taken at the finish line!

The biggest part of #GirlsAtMarshTracks for me was seeing girls race for the first time and giving it a go. I think it can be so daunting turning up to a race sometimes, that people listen to the voices in their heads that say they’re not good enough. You won’t be great from the offset. I’ve found this year that racing is just one big learning curve. But I’m hoping events like #GirlsAtMarshTracks break the barrier even if women (and girls!) want to try racing even just the once. They can say they raced and stepped out of their comfort zone.

The most prominent memory will be the smiles on the faces of those in the youth races. That’s what I wanted to do the event for also. To give the opportunity for the youth girls to have the track to themselves. Normally thrown in the mix with the boys, they often end up near the back, but for this race the Under 12’s (and Lottie from the U10 believe it or not!) were at the front. Seeing young girls so passionate about the sport and racing was great to see, especially the friendships they’d formed in their clubs. You can’t go wrong with having friends you can share a sport with.

The first race I’ve ever organised, it was a big learning curve for me too. Even one of the Hafren CC Dad’s was showing me how to do a gear check for the youth riders! I’ve learnt a lot and hopefully I can take it to the next race I organise, which I’m hoping to be next Spring.

I hope all of the riders have a good Winter, whatever training they get up to. If you’d like to hear direct about the future races, then drop me an email and I’ll email any information about dates etc as it becomes available. I really hope I can grow the events next year, especially with how many new racers came to the track.

Maybe a British Cycling race licence will be on your Christmas lists this year!

If you have any questions about the event, or about getting into racing in general. Feel free to drop me a message.

A massive thank you to everyone who helped on the day, especially to Jasmine for coming to be the Commissaire for the race. She definitely had a busy day working out positions for the U8, U10 and U12 race!

#GirlsAtMarshTracks – What You Need To Know

If you’ve been following me on social media you’ll know the next event I’m organising is #GirlsAtMarahTracks. A day of crit racing for women at the North Wales’ closed cycling circuit, Marsh Tracks in Rhyl.

I’ve not been road racing (or road cycling!) long, but it’s clear to see that women’s road races are hard to come by, which can be understandable when they’re not always the easiest of races to fill to make them viable to run. But I’m taking the jump and doing a full day of women’s racing anyway!

For anyone new to road or crit racing, what does this all mean?!?

First off…Criterium Racing,

More commonly known as ‘crit racing’, this is essentially closed circuit racing, whether that be on closed roads or closed circuit. You race for a certain amount of time, then so many laps after that. For example, the 4th Category race is racing for 40 minutes plus 5 laps. So as soon as you reach 40 minutes you know you’ve got 5 laps left! You’ll know you’ve got to the 40 minute mark as a board will appear at the finish line counting down from 5 until the last lap is indicated by a bell!

But what do all the race categories mean?

I’m not going to lie, the race categories alone can be enough to put you off giving racing a go! The senior women’s races are either the E/1/2/3 or the 4th Cat.

E/1/2/3

How road racing works with British Cycling is you buy a licence and depending on where you come in race you can get points, eg you win a race and get 10 points. Over the course of the year these points can build up and a certain amount of points will mean you move up at category. For example, I’ve been chasing 12 points this year to go from 4th Category to 3rd Category. I’m nowhere near, but you get the picture!

To put it all into context, I’m a 4th Category rider and I’ve just started road racing. The women racing in the OVO Energy Women’s Tour are in the Elite category, so ‘E’.

4th Category

If you’re new to racing then the 4th Category race is the one for you! You can enter with a day licence and give racing a go! 4th Cat is also for those chasing those 12 points to get to bumped up to 3rd Category if you already have a British Cycling race licence.

So, how do you go about entering the 4th Cat race if you don’t have a British Cycling race licence? To put it simply, you need to enter on the day by paying for the entry to the race and for a day licence.

Day Licence Fees

The 4th Cat race is a Regional C+ categorised race. If you’re a:

– Bronze British Cycling Member, Ride British Cycling Member or not a member of British Cycling, a day licence will cost £10.

– Silver or Gold British Cycling Member, a day licence will cost £5.

Obviously if you have a British Cycling race licence you won’t need a day licence, you just need to check what race category you are and enter the correct race accordingly.

For Junior and Youth riders it works slightly differently. If you’re child is under the age of 16 they will be a Youth rider and therefore a day licence will only cost £1.50.

Over the age of 16 will class them as a Junior rider and they can race in the 4th Category race with a day licence. These will follow the same guidelines as the adult prices, but be half the price. So:

– Bronze British Cycling Member, Ride British Cycling Member or not a member of British Cycling, a day licence will cost £5.

– Silver or Gold British Cycling Member, a day licence will cost £2.50.

You won’t be able to sign up online if you need a day licence, so just drop me a message if you’re planning on racing so I can get an idea on numbers! Drop me an email at lifeandbikesblog@gmail.com.

What bike can you ride?

For various safety reasons, British Cycling stipulate what bikes can and can’t be used in road and circuit racing. For the senior races, so 4th Cat and E/1/2/3, a drop-bar road bike will only be allowed to be ridden in the races. Working gears and brakes are a must too! Don’t forget to check the tyre pressures, high tyre pressures make pedallig so much easier!

A drop bar road bike looks something like this…

These rules apply for the Under 16 and Under 14 races also, but allow cyclocross bikes to. Drop bars are a necessity though.

When it comes to the Under 12’s, 10’s and 8’s, British Cycling allow any type of bike to make it easier for younger riders to have a go! I must say these bikes have obviously got to have working brakes and be in good working order. Again, for safety during the races.

What category will my child race in?

Have a look at the details below,

Under 16 if born in 2002 or 2003

Under 14 if born 2004 or 2005

Under 12 if born 2006 or 2007

Under 10 if born 2008 or 2009

Under 8 if born 2010 onwards

The obvious need for the Under 8 category is that your child can confidently ride a bike. British Cycling also stipulate gearing restrictions to protect young riders from using big gears that could be harmful to them. (ie too strenuous!) If you have any queries on gearing restriction or if your child can race, have a read of this document by following the link, or contact British Cycling via the details in this link:

Youth Gear Restrictions: A Guide for Riders and Parents

Facilities

From racing various cycling disciplines, I know facilities at cycling races can sometimes be an issue, so I just wanted to highlight Marsh Tracks has toilets and changing facilities.

For more information about #GirlsAtMarshTracks keep monitoring my social media pages and website for more blog posts! Thank you to everyone who has helped with the event so far, especially Cyced for designing the poster! You’ll be able to find out more about Cyced with a blog post that will be posted in the next few days.

Cyced: Where rides become cycling art

I’m also working with Andy from SDS Graphics on some stickers you’ll be able to take home with you! SDS Graphics have been supplying vinyl graphics and designs in the motorsport industry for 25 years. His vinyl graphics can be seen on Formula 1 cars, British Touring Cars and many others. So you’ll have F1 standard stickers you can put on your bike, to remember that time you took part in a day full of women’s crit racing.

I’ll drop some other useful links below, but if you feel like you can’t keep up to date on social media with the event drop me an email at lifeandbikesblog@gmail.com and I’ll email you any updates!

Facebook Event Page

British Cycling Event Page (you can enter via this link!)

Marsh Tracks Website

If you’re a company who fancies getting involved with the event, then please don’t hesitate to get in touch!

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.

DSC_6930

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.

DSC_6993

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

DSC_7002

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

 

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.