May Day Weekend – Irton Pike   8 comments

Something a little more relaxed and easy paced after the exertions of the previous day in the high mountains. Irton Pike was a popular spot a couple of years ago so we decided to repeat that – after another leisurely morning of indecision.

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The walk across the pastures at Flass is one of my favourite spots.

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The view across the huge green meadow studded with trees is wonderful.

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Another bright and dry day albeit with less sunshine than the previous day.

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Latterbarrow Crag always looks impressive but its on private land with plenty of warning signs to keep out. One day I’ll trespass up there….

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After the steep climb to Irton Fell we bade farewell to keener members of the group off to Illgill Head and Mitredale while we tured and headed down down the ridge towards Irton Pike.

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Its a very impressive, small, rocky and steep sided peak with expansive views out to the coast.

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As is our want we stopped for a long while for brews, lunch and in some cases a snooze.

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We took a long way back via the pub in Santon Bridge for a cheeky pint and back along the River Irt although I don’t seem to have taken any photos after Irton Pike. Trust me it was fine walk, beer and evening back at the campsite with more camp fire fun.

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May Day Weekend – Lingmell   14 comments

Most of our happy band had arrived and we woke to a glorious morning of clear blue skies. Warm enough – just – to cook breakfast outside. What could be better.

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After quite a momentous amount of faffing about we were ready to head to hills. We agreed that a repeat of the walk up into the Scafell range by following the path along Piers Gill was in order. Most of the gang had done this last year when we missed the weekend and I’ve never done that route. No-one seemed to mind doing it again.

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The views in Wasdale as parked up and began the walk were sublime. Classic views to Kirk Fell and Great Gable and back down Wasdale towards Wast Water.

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Despite the sunshine there was a keen gusting wind and it was pretty cold. However the forecast was primarily dry and I’ll always settle for cold and dry over warm and wet. The Pony Path route towards Styhead has become a real favourite of mine. A grass trod with lots of interesting stream crossings and scenery. Infinitely preferable to long main drag that flanks Great Gable that the masses seem to take. I’ve walked up this path a few times recently and rarely seen anyone on it.

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We made brief lunch stop just before the main climb before tackling the hard work of the day.

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It’s a steep route that follows the line of the deep and dark ravine of Piers Gill. As you climb, the rock scenery becomes ever more impressive.

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About 2/3 the way up there is a short and quite steep scramble. Nothing too difficult with plenty of holds but worth bearing in mind if you follow this route and find rock work to be a little daunting.

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TBF poses with the impressive bulk of Great Gable behind.

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The path from here to where it joins the Corridor Route is just superb. The cliffs of Lingmell tower above and there are numerous spots where you peer over the edge into Piers Gill.

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Looking ahead the dramatic corries and peaks of the Scafell Pike range come into focus.

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Most people up here are heading for Scafell Pike and you could see the crowds on the top and surrounding paths. Our target was the smaller and quieter Lingmell.

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As we climbed the dramatic crags of Scafell really caught the eye as well as dark and dramatic views out over Wast Water to the coast.

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If we all look a bit chilly sat on the top that may be because it was perishingly cold and a little snowy at this point.

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A cracking little summit though, superb viewpoint for Englands highest range and Great Gable and we had it to ourselves.

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DB Jr doing what DBs do best, scrambling around in dangerous places giving me unsettling moments.

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You can probably tell from the photos that Great Gable is the real eye catching peak from this walk.

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No walk up here would be complete with following the Corridor Route. Its a magnificent path through some wild and rocky terrain but apart from one short scramble a well made and very easy path.

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A couple of photos from my phone in a sunnier interval to give a flavour of what you can expect if you tackle it.

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Time for another stop (a good route deserves time to appreciate it)

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We managed to pick out Napes Needle across the valley on Great Gable and some people stood at the bottom in blue jackets. Not sure if they were just admiring it or planning to climb it.

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As we turned to head back down the sun came out in glorious abundance. Another sit down on the grass was in order. Mostly to rest and sunbathe. For me and the DBs a chance to behave like kids and fill each others pockets and packs with rocks.

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The views back from the last stretch to the car were wonderful in the evening light. Great Gable.

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And Kirk Fell.

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Superb day of great walking in great company.

What better way to finish off than a BBQ and a roaring fire.

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It was a bit chilly for sitting outside but everyone had a fun time. The campsite hire out fire pits made from old washing machine tubs. Nothing better for kids and adults who pretend to be kids than playing with fire on a campsite.

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May Day Weekend – St Bees Head   18 comments

Our annual trip to the Lake District for May Day was upon us (we missed it last year but who’s counting). We headed up a day early (me and TBF) to make a longer weekend. Seemed a rash decision as it was grey, dreary and raining when we woke up on the Friday morning. Luckily it stopped just before lunch so rather than head to the hills we headed to the coast. First stop, Mawsons Cafe in Seascale for a sandwich and huge plate of waffles and ice cream. Then onwards to St Bees for a coastal walk (feeling rather bloated it has to be said.

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We’ve only ever been to the coast hereabouts on wet and dreary days so this made a nice change. In fact the weather had turned quite rapidly from rain to glorious sunshine.

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St Bees Head is well known to long distance walkers as the official start of the Coast to Coast walk and also home to some fine cliffs, hidden beaches and a seabird colony. It’s also home to an expensive car park by the beach. Note that in Seascale down the road the car park is free!

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The grass was green, the sky blue, the gorse flowering yellow and all was right with the world.

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It’s a splendid grassy romp along the cliff tops and on a Friday very quiet.

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Fleswick Beach is a couple of miles in and looked a wonderful place to explore.

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And just beyond is the colony of seabirds. I’m not an expert but they looked very similar to the Razorbills and Guilliemots that we’ve seen in Pembrokeshire so I’m assuming that’s what they were. The largest colony of cliff nesting seabirds in NW England said the sign. On reflection probably the only colony of cliff nesting seabirds in NW England. As far as I know there are no cliffs any further north before you hit Scotland and heading south you’d have to reach Somerset before the next band of cliffs (excluding Wales of course)

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Still it was an impressive, numerous, noisy and smelly colony and were pleased to be able to see it.

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We turned tail and headed back to the car. No time explore the beach as we were on a timetable to meet TJS off the train from Lancaster.

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The coast was just as enjoyable on the return.

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As we approached St Bees we received a message telling us he’d missed his train the hopeless git. No time to return to Fleswick Beach but we now had an extra hour to kill.

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We admired the views across St Bees beach and to the Lake District. Very different to see the mountains from this direction.

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And we did have time for a potter on the beach and a sit down on the sea wall.

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Not a bad day after such a dismal start and a superb bit of coast that is well worth seeking out. Its not all about mountains!

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The day was finished off with a pub meal and a few beers in the excellent Strands Inn at Nether Wasdale with our friends as they arrived. The mountains were calling for the next day.

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Return to High Vinnalls   7 comments

Short post and a few photos from a return visit to High Vinnalls near Ludlow

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My dad hasn’t been well and I went over with TJS to visit him while he was in hospital. He’s back at home now but waiting for a return for an operation to sort out some long standing problems.

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On the way home we met with TBF and her sister for a short walk. In truth it was a cloudy, cold and grey late afternoon with the threat of showers everywhere. We stayed dry but the walk was a brisk one and I didn’t take many photos.

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It was still great to get out on this very fine hill that my recent obsession with Marilyns helped me discover.

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Likely this one will become a regular favourite in years to come.

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A longer post with a lot more photos from my walk last year is here

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Easter Sun – Harter Fell and Birks Bridge   19 comments

I forgot to mention another day out on our Easter weekend. We decided the weather was good enough for a day out in the Lakes. After our swimming exploits we fancied another dip and walk.

We needed a small but interesting peak with a river swim. Dunnerdale and Harter Fell seemed to fit the bill.

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On a hot sunny Bank Holiday weekend the Lake District can be swarming with people. Dunnerdale is a stunning place but awkward to get to and off the radar so we found it relatively quiet by Lake District standards. Our route up Harter Fell was heading for the obvious outcrop of Maiden Castle in the photo below.

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We stopped off at Birks Bridge, our chosen swimming hole on the way and it looked excellent.

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We were excited for the swim later but first there was a mountain to climb to earn our right to a swim.

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The route up was brutally steep and mercifully quite short.

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We still needed a rest halfway up. It was a pretty hot and hazy day.

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Maiden Castle was fine rocky outcrop with some scrambling opportunities.

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It looks dramatic from most angles but in fact you can pretty much walk to the top around the back.

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From here to the summit is a scramblers delight. There are small rocky outcrops littering the slopes. A playground for budding and semi-retired rock athletes.

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Me and the DBs had enormous fun picking a route and finding some serious short challenges to test our skills.

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The summit itself is even better with several significant outcrops and superb views.

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We ate lunch, drank tea and played around on the rocks.

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Smiles and laughter were in abundance. Scrambling around on perfect warm rock under a blue sky is a pretty damn good feeling.

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I’m still surprised that this is my first ascent of this rocky peak, most likely the best known and largest of Lakelands major fells I’ve never climbed. I’m glad I saved it for such a superb day.

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Despite the fun we were all eager to head down and enjoy a different kind of fun.

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As we headed down the haze seemed to clear a little and the views were increasingly dramatic.

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Our happy group finishing the hike part of the day.

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And into the water!

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This early in the year I expected the water to be bitingly cold and the swim refreshing but short.

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In fact the water was no colder than in the height of last years heatwave and we spent a good hour playing, swimming, jumping and generally messing about.

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The river runs through a narrow and deep gorge with a waterfalls at the upstream section. We had enormous fun squirming our way up the waterfalls, some more ungainly than others!

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We sat on the sunny banks to warm up, thanking our luck to have such glorious hot weather at Easter. I’m pretty sure this is the earliest point in the year I’ve ever been wild swimming. Still seems surreal to have such hot weather 7 days after I shivered in winter cold in the Brecon Beacons.

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We headed home a very happy and contented bunch. Sadly TBH had a very bad case of dizziness that left her in pretty bad way hardly able to move or open her eyes the previous day. Whilst much improved on this day she decided to rest at home in the sunshine. Such a shame she wasn’t able to join us but it was great to her up and about and looking much better for a day in garden when we got home 🙂

An absolutely top notch day of scrambling and swimming in the sunshine.

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Easter Sun – Silverdale (and around) Antics   10 comments

More weather madness as a bitterly cold day in Brecon Beacons was followed a week later by record breaking hot weather at Easter. We’d timed this to perfection with another visit the the Hotel Silverdale and our top notch friends who seem to tolerate our repeated visits with very good grace.

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We packed in a lot over the four days around this rather beautiful and unspoilt corner of Lancashire.

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An early morning walk to the shop to stock up on provisions via the The Cove and The Lots.

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After lunch (or before maybe) a cycling trip to Trowbarrow Quarry.

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I’d rather foolishly committed to a mountain bike ride around the many bumps, jumps and drops in the quarry with the Dangerous Brothers. They’d been reminding me for weeks not to forget to bring my bike seemingly concerned that I would chicken out (which was my plan all along).

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I couldn’t let them down and did indeed have a go at most of the stuff they peer-pressured me into (although I decided not to try any of the jumps on the basis I’m far too heavy!)

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I admit it was enormous fun and other than one wobble on a very steep drop that had me bouncing through tree branches I survived unscathed. As you can see above they even convinced their dad to give it a go!

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Its a stunning spot on a clear sunny day and we all enjoyed a laze around as well as some more frantic two wheeled activity. I was actually a little disappointed that we never found time to head up there again.

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We also found time to play with a boomerang in the fields behind the house.

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Much harder than it looks actually.

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Only a couple of attempts came close to coming back to the thrower. Doesn’t matter as we had enormous fun trying.

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We took a walk up to Arnside Knott one morning. A fine small hill (England’s smallest Marilyn in case you were interested)

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A gloriously hot and sunny day that had us searching for the shade to keep cool.

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Superb views across the Kent estuary

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And back via Arnside Tower.

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An afternoon trip to sunbathe and swim at Levens Deer Park.

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The water was startlingly cold but refreshing. I think its the earliest in the year I’ve ever been fresh water swimming.

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The DBs of course were back in their element jumping of the banks (although as an honorary DB I joined in as well)

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The evening on the patio was a festival of BBQ meat (and some Vegan stuff for those that way inclined) and a roaring fire burning the remains of the kids old swings.

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And no trip here is complete without the classic walk around the coast to Arnside and back over Arnside Knott.

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Arnside, packed with visitors, no seats in the cafe so an alfresco and delicious hot pie on the pier was a more than adequate compensation.

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More views from Arnside Knott to finish off a superb weekend in the sunshine with good company, loads of activities and fine selection of food.

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Big thanks to the Silverdale massive for taking care of us and making it into a wonderful mini-holiday.

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“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)

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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And another couple of happy looking group shots.

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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.

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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.

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

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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!

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