“They’re Friends from Work”   12 comments

The fact that I like to hike in the hills seems a source of constant humour for my work colleagues with me the butt of the jokes. I was surprised to find that secretly some of them actually hankered for a hike in the hills so I said I’d lead them out on one my favourite south Wales hikes in the Brecon Beacons.

A little gang of four assembled at the cafe in Talybont on Usk for a fry up before heading for the mountains. (The title of the blog is in reference to one of my favourite lines from the Marvel movies – very topical at this time)


A round of the Neuadd Reservoirs taking in the highest summits of the Beacons range. We were all rather caught out by just how cold it was.


Here is the first of our little band posing for a photo. She decided to tone down the colours for this hike!


Its a short and very steep climb up on to the edges that had is puffing hard. Luckily the sweat was soon removed by the ferocious and icy wind that was blasting at us across the valley.


The photos don’t really do justice to just how cold and windy it was, enough to blow one our team clean off her feet a few times.


Whilst the sun disappeared for the rest of the day, the cloud base was high and it stayed dry, which is a much as you can ask for on day planned a long way in advance.


I had inform my new comrades that a key objective of any hike is make regular and lengthy stops to brew up and eat lots of food. They seemed quite keen on the idea despite the chilly wind, especially when I produced home-made cake that TBF had lovingly prepared.


We reached the top of Pen y Fan – together with a few dozen other people and posed for a team photo for me on south Wales highest peak.


Despite blisters and foot problems (this is quite a tough walk by south Wales standards) they agreed to continue the summit bagging and we took in Cribyn as well.


And another couple of happy looking group shots.


Including one with yours truly in it, demonstrating an odd pose and leg angle that says very clearly why I try and avoid being photographed in the first place.


After another brew and scoff stop I convinced them that we could bag one more summit. The fact that my work colleagues share a distinctly smutty sense of humour and that the summit was called Fan y Big had nothing to do with it.

One last summit photo on the rock outcrop on the summit. They look happy that I’ve dragged them out on a bitterly cold day to wander about in the hills when they could have been home watching TV and doing domestic chores.


And then it was time to head down across grassy slopes and bog and return to the real world.


I normally walk either on my own or with the family down here so walks can be a little repetitive. I really enjoyed this day immensely for a variety of reasons. It was great to share my passion for both hiking (or should I say mountaineering) and for the Brecon Beacons with new companions. It was equally good to see them really enjoying the day as much as I was (well they said they did anyway) and I have to admit I enjoyed showing off a bit. They have all been out in the mountains before but never as regular thing and seemed to relish the challenge and chance to enjoy the outdoors. This is what keeps me sane through the drudgery of modern life and I really hope they went home with the same feeling of spirits lifted. We certainly laughed a lot on this hike as we always do at work. We are close knit bunch and my working life would likely be intolerable if they weren’t around to make me smile and keep me grounded.

I really hope we can do this more often and hopefully persuade some of my other work friends to join us. Who can’t love a hike!


12 responses to ““They’re Friends from Work”

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  1. Foot and blister problems? Where were the blisters? The mind boggles.
    Isn’t it odd how certain summits are such honeypots? Pen Y Fan and Snowdon are extreme cases. Round here, the Three Peaks are probably the biggest draws in terms of crowds. In the Lakes, people seem to spread out a bit more, although there are some obvious draws – Striding Edge, Scafell Pike, Cat Bells, Coniston Old Man spring to mind. Orrest Head is immensely popular, though perhaps with a different clientele. I sometimes wonder whether Wainwright might actually have done us all a bit of a favour by popularising the idea of climbing all the fells rather than just a select few. The places he didn’t list – Green Crag and all the tops South-West of there, and Little Stand spring to mind – are certainly noticeably quieter than those he did list.


    • Not all foot problems are blisters you pedant! The popularity is all down to social media. People don’t have to go and see places any more they have to SEEN to be seeing places. I suppose I fell into the same trap by planning a route that took in “South Wales Highest Mountain” but at least I went somewhere else and the route I planned is far from the easiest and is high quality. Hill lists I look at differently. I don’t have any real desire to complete lists these days but they do get you to investigate places you may not have otherwise considered. My recent focus on Marilyns has led me to discover some really great spots I would never have been to without the list


      • Guilty as charged. Hasn’t Pen-y-Fan always been the major draw in the Brecons? It’s the only hill there I can remember climbing myself.
        I’m completely with you on hill lists, tarn lists, streams, churches, edges, etc etc – anything which gets you out looking for something new offers potential for pleasant surprises and so is a Good Thing as fas as I’m concerned – just so long as it isn’t taken too seriously. The again, I’m not one for taking anything too seriously!


        • The Beacons covers the three main hill groups (Black Mountain, Black Mountains and the Beacons themselves) Pen y Fan and the surrounding ridges are the only part that are busy and really only the drab and boring route up from Storey Arms that sees crowds. I guess the ‘highest in South Wales” will always attract the selfie generation. If we get chance to do Snowdon in August you will get to see what a truly overcrowded summit really looks like!
          On the hill lists I’df hate to become a completist. The Munros is probably the closest I’ll get but I will never finish as there are too many that I really can’t be bothered to climb in exchange for many repeat visits to superb mountains I’ve done before.


  2. A great mountain day out there, but oh god, the number of people in that photo. Mind you, at least it was very, very much worse at Easter, I assume you saw the stories of two-mile long lines of parked cars.
    The foot and blister problems are presumably the result of never (or very rarely) walking far on wild terrain, from the photos they don’t appear to be wearing stupidly heavy stiff boots.
    By chance I was just yesterday trying to design a backpack in the Brecons. Without a map I can’t make out your route: starting at Talybont it does not compute, I guess you drove around to the Neuadd reservoirs.


    • I saw some very bad images of blocked roads in Wasdale, pathetic behaviour and I’m guessing the usual suspects were mobbed with people – the selfie generation. We went up the lesser known Harter Fell and saw only a handful of people on a glorious sunny Easter Sunday.
      The Brecons is a hard one to backpack through, decent sites away from crowds are hard to find as is water. The valley between the Pen y Fan and Cribyn north ridges is good and there is perfect pitch about half way up Cribyn from Pen y Fan near the edge. Also the south facing edges near Carn Pica and the broad ridge to the south of the Talybont Reservoir would work (all ideas not yet fulfilled). When I camp wild I tend to head to the Black Mountain as its much quieter


  3. Nice post. I remember when I first started hill-walking 40 plus years ago it was seen as a really weird thing to do but I had thought it was much more socially acceptable now- trendy in fact as a sport. Always good to see your work colleagues in a new setting, away from the office.


    Blue Sky Scotland
    • My work colleagues are a good bunch and it was great to see them enjoying the same things I do. There are loads of people, at work who are into the fitness bug, running, cycling triathlons and the like but not many who enjoy the mountains.


  4. What a fantastic day out with your colleagues. I hope there weren’t too many tight calf muscles to put them off a return hike.
    Your photography does show how cold and bleak it was, but isn’t it a great feeling at the end of the day!


    • There were blisters and painful feet and lots of stiff legs but we all had a great time. The madness continues with the UK weather. We had the warmest Easter on record a week later and mores now the weekend just gone!


  5. Please don’t have a hot July!


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