GYM & TONEIC

Scaling Snowden

Me, Heath and Oliie

On Saturday 18 February I scaled Snowden and made it to the summit in under 2 hours! 1hr 45 to be precise… impressive for a newbie, novice mountaineer (wannabe winging it!). Snowden had been on my bucket list for a long while… I took on the challenge with my other half, Heath, who’s climbed it a number of times, and his beloved dog, Ollie, who’s also completed a number of climbs alongside his master and bestest bud – look at the love in the pic above; man’s best friend, my man… and me!

We didn’t really prep and plan in much detail, Heath picked the route we walked (Snowdon Ranger Path), we picked a weekend we were both free and went for it, whatever the weather! Luckily the weather wasn’t so bad the weekend we picked… when I say wasn’t so bad, I mean it wasn’t torrential rain or snow. It was however blowing a gail, with 32mph winds whipping at us from all directions, and virtually zero visibility once we were up in the clouds, you could barely see 50 feet in front!

We parked and set off from the Snowdon Ranger Youth Hostel, with only one other couple in sight. I was a little nervous before we set off, with no idea how tough the climb would be, and seeing that we were pretty much the only ones on our route didn’t help matters… The higher we climbed the colder, windier and mistier it got, not being able to see how steep we were climbing and how close we were getting to cliff edges made me a nervous wreck. I almost lost my head a couple of times, convinced we would get blown off a cliff… and when the other couple passed us as we were having a very brief picnic stop (trying to shelter from the wind behind a boulder) and the woman said ‘are you writing your last will and testament’, that was it, I was ready for throwing in the towel and turning back!

Masked mountaineers
Masked mountaineers

Heath reassured me that we weren’t the only ones walking up and that once we got nearer to the top we’d see loads of people, so we pressed on… head down, mind over matter, concentrating on staying upright and putting one foot in front of the other. Sure enough, as we got closer to the summit we saw civilisation, it was like Piccadilly Circus up there! We walked at snail’s pace, queueing to climb to the very top and couldn’t see a thing… we / I made it though – wahoo! In a decent time (for my first time) too. We stayed up at the top for no more than 5 minutes, it was cold and you couldn’t see a thing… the cafe was closed, so a much needed coffee to warm the cockles was out of the question and conditions were too bad for the train to run, so we had no other option but to start our descent, which we completed just as quick, we practically ran down!

All smiles at the summit
All smiles at the summit

I didn’t appreciate the climb as much as I would’ve done had we been able to take in the stunning scenery and scale of the challenge from the summit. However, I’m glad I’ve done it and ticked off one of my to do’s, and I’ll definitely return and scale to the summit again some time over summer. I know I’ve made this sound more of a chore than a challenge, but it’s an awesome achievement and I did enjoy it, despite my tale of treacherous conditions.

Life’s a climb, but the view is great!

Here’s what you can see at the summit of Snowden on a clear day.
Here’s what you can see at the summit of Snowden on a clear day.

Taking on a challenge in tricky conditions makes it all the more satisfying upon successful completion!

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Life is best at the beach

St Ives in the sun!

Oh I do love to be beside the seaside. It’s my happy place, a place for relaxation, rest and tranquillity, a place I hope to live one day!

Last week I spent a fab few days down in Cornwall, somewhere I hadn’t been since I was little. I went down to meet my other half, Heath (Ted), who’d spent the previous week walking the South West Coast Way. He walked over 150 miles from Minehead to Padstow, Bear Grylls style… carrying his life on his back, camping out in the wild, trekking up and down costal cliffs, just one man and his dog! An impressive feat not for the faint hearted… luckily for me he was more than ready for a little of life’s luxuries when I came to meet him. I have to say I’m somewhat jealous(ish) of his seaside stroll (expedition – his reference), as he looks like he’s been to the Caribbean for a month the colour of him! Spending all that time outdoors, away from the stresses of everyday life, completely incommunicado, sunshine and stunning sea views – sounds like bliss! I might get involved with part 2 of the ‘expedition’ next year…

The first night we stopped in Padstow, in a really nice B&B a stone’s throw from the centre. I didn’t arrive until late on after driving to what felt like the ends of the earth… we checked in, threw on dressie clobber and headed out for dinner. I was seriously spoilt with an amazing meal at Rick Stein’s seafood restaurant as a belated Birthday treat, we hadn’t booked a table we just called in on the off chance of availability and managed to bag a spot by the bar, result! G&T’s were flowing, Tarquin’s Cornish gin to be precise (very nice), and the food was deliciously divine – if you’re in that neck of the woods and get chance to go, go!

Stone fish delicious dish
Delicious stonefish dish
Ted trying to steal my tart...
Ted trying to steal my apple tart…
Padstow port
Padstow port

Day 2… We got up and headed down to the port for a mooch around Padstein (Rick really does own most of the port), before heading to St Ives. The weather was cloudy and overcast unfortunately, but that didn’t dampen seaside spirits. We scoped out St Ives centre, had an obligatory Cornish pasty for lunch and just as the heavens opened found a quirky little gin bar to take shelter, and sampled a few new gins whilst looking for somewhere to stay the night. We hadn’t pre-booked anywhere, we were winging the trip, winging it worked as we found a cool converted gypsy caravan to stay in on Air B&B for the two nights we were there, situated about 10 minutes drive away from St Ives centre. Before heading up to our gypsy retreat we had lush seaside style tapas at Porthmeour Beach Café in one of their outdoor booths, cosied up in blankets overlooking the bay. The rain didn’t subside that night, it turned into a monsoon / typhoon / I thought the world was ending style thunder storm. The scariest night of my life spent in a little wooden caravan that I was convinced was going to be hit by lightening and blow us into obliteration! Heath on the other hand slept like a log, completely unfazed and unaware the world was ending around us, despite me waking him every hour on the hour whimpering and whining about needing to go to the loo, but being too scared to move.

Our gypsy retreat
Our gypsy retreat

Day 3… We survived the storm and woke up to clear blue skies and sunshine, and headed straight for the beach. We spent the morning relaxing and sunning ourselves (me looking like Casper the ghost next to my bronzed up boyfriend) watching the world go by on the waterfront, eating lots… freshly caught and cooked mackerels, crepes and creamy Cornish ice cream. We ate dinner at another nice restaurant that evening, The Loft Restaurant & Sun Terrace, soaking up the last of the sun, and later enjoyed fizz by the fire back at base – a perfect way to end a blissful day!

Crystal clear waters at Kynance Cove
Crystal clear waters at Kynance Cove

Day 4… We packed up and left our gypsy life behind to head to Kynance Cove for the day, a National Trust site on the Lizard peninsula. Although overcast and cloudy, the cove was/is seriously stunning; you could be on the great ocean road, white sands and turquoise sea. It was brisk and breezy but that didn’t stop us exploring the coves and braving a dip in the sea, we were pretty much the only ones in the sea… and I was the only woman nuts enough to strip off and brave it in my briefs… yes I stripped off in broad daylight, stone cold sober, minus a swimsuit – you only live once 😉

My hunk in trunks ~ there's no photographic evidence of ugly Betty in briefs!
My hunk in trunks ~ there’s no photographic evidence of ugly Betty in briefs!

After a picnic and brew to warm us up we were back on the road, the end of our mini seaside jolly and start of the mammoth drive back up North… I forgot how stunning the Cornish coast is, you don’t have to jump on a plane to be beside the sea and sands. The weather may be hit and miss in the UK, but it’s what you make of it and you who you share it with that counts. I won’t be leaving it so long before I visit again, and I’m going to make a conscious effort to visit more of the UK’s coastline and beachy resorts!

You, me & the sea

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Bank Holiday Hike

Bear Grylls and Ray Mears Malham adventure

How many weeks ago was bank holiday… procrastinating Pete over here has been meaning to write this since then! I did write a blog about what to wear when exercising (or more like what not to wear) post hike, I felt compelled to write that! But I never got round to writing about the actual walk itself, so here goes…

The hike was going to be up Mount Snowden, but the weather was hit and miss over in Wales that weekend, so Snowden is still on my bucket list for now! My friend Nicola (Botty, the one that doesn’t drink enough water) joined me in the fresh-aired fun. Completely out of character for us both to be getting high on endorphins, as opposed to alcoholic beverages on a bank holiday, a sign we’re becoming ‘sensible adults’, that can’t hack 3 day hangovers anymore.

Much of the day before our hike was spent racking our brains and Googling best places to go, a big decider on location being our likelihood of getting lost (with us both being beyond crap at geography and map reading). It was my dad that suggested a trip to Malham, a familiar name/place but I couldn’t think why initially, then it dawned on me, we’d been there on a high school trip many moons ago…  After taking a look online at the stunning scenery, terrain and relatively simple routes (that two simpletons could navigate), we set off to cross the border, Yorkshire bound.

It took us just over an hour to get there from Ramsbottom, we found it no problems at all *high-five us*, the drive taking us through stunning Yorkshire scenery. None of which was familiar from our high school trip; clearly we were ignorant, careless teens that didn’t give a damn about the countryside way back when. We parked up, got our walking boots on and headed straight to the visitors centre to get a map and a talk over the route (to minimise all chances of calling mountain rescue). With our map in hand and route roughly sketched, we were told to follow the masses, the sun was shining down on Yorkshire and Malham was packed with plenty of visitors, and off we went on our merry way.

First stop, Janet’s Foss, a small and wonderful waterfall and pool, nestled in woodland along the footpath from Malham Village toward Gordale Scar.

First stop, we made it, no detours or deviations!
First stop, we made it, no detours or deviations!

Gordale Scar was our second landmark, a spectacular gorge with waterfalls cut into the towering limestone hillside, it’s true size and scale only fully appreciated once in the scar. We took the advice from the very nice chap that sketched our map in the visitors centre, and didn’t climb up the waterfall. He warned us of the dangers and the number of accidents that happen there year on year; we didn’t want to be the idiots making headline news that day… Although there were a few people that were climbing it, I know I keep banging on about clothing, but these people definitely weren’t dressed to climb cliffs, brave and reckless souls!

Gordale Scare
Gordale Scar
Scaling heights... braver than me!
Scaling heights… braver than me!
Crazy people climbing the waterfall - in inappropriate clothing!
Crazy people climbing the waterfall – in inappropriate clothing!

Our third and midway stop was Malham Tarn, a nature reserve area, owned by the National Trust. This was the longest section of our circular walk, the stunning scenery almost lost on us, with a near death experience… we had to cross a field full of crazy cows, that I swear were going to go for us, which Nicola found highly amusing (at first!). I hate cows and their murderous eyes, my heart was in my mouth and we were both getting ready to jump a stone wall to avoid them. Our fearful fate behind us, we had a quick rest stop at the Tarn, to take in the views of England’s highest freshwater lake, and treated ourselves to a 99 – we’d earned and burned it!

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Look at those eyes - killer!
Look at those eyes – killer!
Earned and burned!
Earned and burned!

Homebound, we headed back down towards Malham Cove, a huge curving amphitheatre shaped cliff formation of limestone rock. Which boasts impressive views down the dale towards Malham and beyond (if you can stomach getting close to the cliff edge that is!).

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That's as close to the cliff edge we dared to get...
That’s as close to the cliff edge we dared to get…

Four hours and 8.6 miles later, we made it back to Malham and headed straight to the pub! We’re Lancashire lasses, we know very well that’s how all outdoor expeditions should end… We had awesome pub grub at The Buck Inn, both of us opting for their famous Malham and Masham Pie – it was goood pie and the gravy…! With pie lining my stomach and a G&T in hand, I was happy as a pig in… mud! What a way to end of a great day.

Good job!
Good job!

If you’re seeking some fresh-aired fun, I can’t recommend Malham enough, simply stunning scenery that made trekking 8+ miles feel like a breeze. If you don’t fancy the hike, but want a trip out and bloody good pie, just go for that!

Find out more about Malham here.

Go Explore Outdoors

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