The path up to Pen Y Fan
One of the most common and feared phrases I hear throughout December is…..
“……You’ve still gotta go out in this weather!!”
My philosophy is, as an outdoor worker, you have to adapt and just get used to working in the outdoors in the worst types of weather.
When it’s summer-time and I’m at the beach, applying the sun tan lotion and jumping into the cool blue seas……. well, let’s face, it my job is pretty amazing.
But, within the change of a season, I have had to go canoeing and kick lumps of ice off the front of my boat or, (and this is a favourite), after a particularly cold gorge walk, I’ve had to pour hot squash from my flask gently over my feet to get the feeling back into them.
After six years in this job, I’m used to the highs and the lows, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Most days, I love my job and feel very blessed to be in this amazing role.
The motivation for this post is that, during this month, we took a group of young people for a walk up to Pen-y-Fan in Brecon. A photograph that was taken en route proves that I still have to go outdoors in all weathers.
Pen-y-Fan is the highest peak in South Wales, and is 886 metres above sea level. What I find great about this walk, is that it’s accessible for so many different people. On so many different routes to the top, you get to meet people of different ages and abilities. This is a lovely way of meeting and chatting to other outdoor people.
It’s also wonderful, as getting to the top is so achievable for our young people. We take it slowly, with plenty of rest stops, but we also get such an amazing response when we get to the top. Lots of tired but smiling faces. It’s such a great confidence-building activity.
So, if I could, I’d like to paint a picture of how my day started. On went my walking boots, which, after many outings, fitted my feet like a glove. Also went on the thermal under-garments, jumper, coat, hat and gloves…. that was the ferocious weather that I was going into.
With hot flasks of sweet tea and my favourite banana loaf, we made our way onto the route that starts off at the Pont ar Daf car park. By walking through the woods, you pass through the kissing gate and walk over the wooden footbridge over a small river.
You’re on your way to the top if you stick on this path. It’s a good solid path that can be taken at steady pace. It does take a bit of effort, but I think that’s probably the reason why most people are there.
This path will take you first to Corn Du. Don’t be mistaken, as this isn’t Pen-y-Fan proper, and you’re not at the top yet.
The weather en route often gets colder, windier and much foggier. On this occasion, the weather changed in a heartbeat. By the time we got to Corn Du, we made the sensible and proper decision not to continue, because the weather was getting so bad.
The fact that we had to shout to each other to be heard kind-of influenced our thought process!! Before we started our descent, however, both I and my partner in “work-crime” wanted to take a photo just to say what we had endured. I think this image speaks for itself in describing the coldness and general winter-weather conditions that we found ourselves in.
I forget how many layers I have on in this picture, and I think my eyes are slightly closed because of the wind slapping me in the face. It really was a cold one, that day.
So, yes, lot’s of people say “I would love to have your job”………. But mostly only in the summer time!!! I still have to go out in rather nasty weather, but I do enjoy it.
That first cup of sweet tea after being out in a storm, really tastes so good. Getting home and putting on fluffy socks and curling up on sofa feels heavenly.
I guess you have to reap the benefits and rewards wherever you can. For me, the sense of achievement in overcoming adverse odds, and also seeing the triumph in other peoples eyes in these circumstances, is a real motivator.
When all the cold-slog is done and dusted, I always think how lucky I am to be able to do what I do. I guess that my message is that you can, too.
I’m not super-fit. I just set myself little challenges and goals, and I do a “Yay” if I crack them. Little steps, and gentle stages, that’s the way to go.
My job often seems like I’m living the dream but, trust me, if I can hack it, you can, too !!