Monday, 24 August 2009

Lessons in goatherding

Had a great weekend in Wales. Got to Brecon quite late after a slight detour (head torches are an absolute boon when putting up tents at night) but was somehow up bright and early on Saturday and full of energy to go walking. We stayed at Bishops Meadow campsite; woe betide you if you turn up late, but in every other respect, a very comfortable site. Next time I might try Priory Mill Farm Campsite for the scenery alone.

We covered around about 20 miles, taking in some of the Taff Trail and then up to the top of Pen Y Fan and back again. My map reading was mostly ok but there were a number of rest stops while trying to climb a particularly steep slope to rejoin the path we somehow lost. The views going up Pen Y Fan were awesome and it's another one of these peaks that I think you could climb again and again, trying different routes each time. Although it was a bit busy at the top it was much quieter than Snowdon was. I'd definitely go back. Legs and feet were ok apart from a bit of a twist in my right knee and left ankle. These seem to be recurring mild injuries so I may invest in a support or two. No blisters though and the boots are really comfy.

Got to try out a Torq gel which tasted fine but I'm not sure whether it actually did anything. I guess with food it feels like proper fuel so maybe it's all in my mind. I also got to taste a Nakd bar and a Trek bar, both of which were lovely and I might well use some of those on Kili. I'll persevere with the gels for a bit longer. Other new items for the weekend included my lovely new Vango Viper 750 sleeping bag, just about the most comfortable thing in the world (considered using it instead of my duvet last night) with fancy pockets, drawstrings and stuff, and a howies jacket. Fantastic at keeping the wind out and comfortably fits a fleece underneath. Didn't get to test it in the rain though.

Having got a good work out on Saturday we decided to take it easier on Sunday, visiting Hay-on-Wye and the Small Breeds and Owl Centre, a delightful place where you can see shetland ponies, pygmy goats and many different breeds of owl. Some of the goats tried to escape through the double gate of their enclosure with us, at which point I discovered goatherding is not a viable career option but my fleece and trousers are goat delicacies.

You can see photos from the weekend here (not taken by me) and a video I put together on my flip, here.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Brecon Beacons

Things have tailed off a little in the last couple of weeks, mostly due to study. Only managed two exercise sessions last week and nothing so far this week. That's soon to change though. I've got the day off work tomorrow so I might start out with a run or a bike ride/swim and then on Friday night I'm headed to Brecon to spend the weekend camping and walking. I'm sure Pen Y Fan is not quite as challenging as Snowdon but I will be doing two days of walking in a row which is good practice in itself.

Next week, once the assignment is in, I'll be back to at least 3 exercise sessions a week. I know I'm addicted because I really miss not doing it. I find myself standing with my hand on my bike saddle, wanting to jump on and ride off when I need to be studying instead. Maybe that's just escapism rather than a desire to get fit ;)

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Pictures from Snowdon

Our first stop, just a little way up.

Looking up at part of the track. It was pretty steep in places.

One of the many spectacular views.

Closer to the top.

Made it right to the very top.

They should have just flown up :)

Monday, 3 August 2009

FAQ - Kilimanjaro

I've had lots of people asking me about various details of the trek or about Kili facts and figures. I've read quite a bit about it but can very rarely recall the information when asked for ti so thought I'd put together a bit of an FAQ.

Where is it?
On the Northern border of Tanzania in Africa.

How big is it?
It's 5896m or 19340 feet high and is about 60 by 40 kms in size at the base.

Where do you start?
In the Machame village.

What route are you doing?
The Machame route. It's longer and steeper than the most popular route (Marngu, which 70% of people take). About 25% of people attempt it. Where as some of the other routes have cabins for sleeping in, this is strictly tents only.

How cold will it get?
The temperate will drop by approximately one degree for every 200m ascended. There are 5 "zones" to Kili. Cultivation, Forest, Moorland, High Desert and Summit. The temperature will range from 21 to 27 degrees C in the lowest zone and drop to between -18 and -26 at night.

How long is the route?
About 100kms.

What distance will you cover each day?
It'll range from 9kms to 30kms but on average it'll be about 15kms per day.

Will you definitely reach the top?
There's a 65% success rate of reaching the top but I'm feeling pretty confident :)

For a really good overview of the route you can look here and for more general info about the mountain you can look here.


This weekend just gone I climbed Snowdon. Shruti and I were meant to do it together but she came down with something and was told not to do anything strenuous for about a fortnight. So having got my brand new OS map, map case and emergency bag but not feeling brave enough to go alone I asked my friend Phil if he would be interested and able to join. Thankfully he said yes and even invited another friend of his to join us. More the merrier!

We drove up toLlanberis on Saturday and camped overnight. The campsite was fine but if/when we go back I think we might try out the Snowdon Cottage B&B which was highly rated. Had a fabulous breakfast at Pete's Eats (who also do accomodation - might be worth trying out) and set off around 9:30 on the Sunday morning.

I was loaded up pretty much as I would be for Kili, taking the opportunity to try out Lucozade energy bars and fruit bars as well as my merino top. I meant to try out the Lucozade energy gels but I managed to leave them at home. A cyclist friend of mine shared his "Super Flapjacks" recipe with me last year but I didn't get time to make any for this trip. They're totally amazing, full of good stuff and not to be given to children unless you're about to hand them back to their parents and you're feeling mischievous :) He recommended Torq gels Mule bars so I'll try those out at somepoint. He actually gave me a Torq gel to try out as an early birthday present today :) I've heard that Nakd bars are pretty good too.

We made way better time on the mountain tan I thought we would. Although Llanberis is billed as the longest but easiest route it still gave me a bit of a test. The scenery was amazing and changed every few minutes as did the weather. Made it to the misty summit and bought a badge to prove it. Looking forward to doing it again, maybe trying a different route. I got no blisters or sore patches on my feet and the merino top did it's stuff keeping me cool, dry and comfortable.. and smelling fresh! One thing I did learn was that I need to adjust the straps on my rucksack so they don't rub. Other than that it was great.

Only feel a bit tired today because of the 5 hour drive home. And I'm certainly not wearing high heels today! Photos to follow...