Wild Family Fun

Tales of living, working and enjoying life in the outdoors


March 12, 2017

Tips for Happy Hill-Walking

A friend recently asked me if it was possible for anyone to walk the path to the top of Pen-Y-Fan.

She thought it was mainly for committed outdoor walkers, or people with lots of hill-walking experience. I explained that anyone can access the walk and, in fact, I see many people of differing abilities walking Pen-Y-Fan. However, there are some quite simple, yet essential things to consider, that will help to make your walk safer and more enjoyable.

Leading from our conversation, I thought I’d post some things that I hope will help to make a day-walking experience easier, and a bit kinder to any children on the walk.

Tip 1:

Check the weather report.

The Met office website is really simple to access and understand, yet a comprehensive source of information. I always check the night before any trip, as well as on the morning of my walk. The weather can change quite suddenly, and you may need to adapt in order to be properly prepared. If you want a good view at the top, wait for the weather to be clear. There’s nothing worse than getting all the way to the top, and find that everything is shrouded in thick mist or fog! It also helps when deciding upon the correct clothes to wear for the day and, if the children are coming on the walk with you, good weather helps to make the whole experience more fun and engaging.

Tip 2:

Always have breakfast!

It sounds like such a silly, common sense thing to advise but, on any normal day, you might usually be able to get away with just grabbing a quick breakfast bar, or missing breakfast altogether. Not if you want to have the energy to fulfil a happy days’ walking! By having breakfast, you’re giving your body the best possible start to get you up that mountain. Without that start-up boost, it won’t be long before your energy levels start to drop and pretty soon after, you’ll feel like giving up before you’ve even properly started.

Tip 3:

Have a good pair of walking boots, or really sturdy footwear.

You don’t have to buy a very expensive pair of boots, as many outdoor shops have a wide selection, and at a range of reasonable prices. They can also give advice if you ask before buying. However, if you do buy a new pair, make sure you wear them before your walk to help them become supple, as I’ve seen many people get blisters because they’ve walked in stiff, brand new boots. Another good tip is to wear a thicker pair of socks. I wear a thin liner sock, and then a thicker walking sock over this. It helps to reduce blisters and makes for a more comfortable walk, but it really is down to personal choice. I’ve also seen many walkers trudging up the path of Pen-Y-Fan with completely inappropriate shoes and I really feel their pain. But if you take care of your feet, they’ll take care of you.

Tip 4:

Take a rucksack and wear the straps on each shoulder.

I often see lots of people struggling up hills and mountains with handbags, carrier bags etc, and it looks as if it’s such an awkward pain. Again, you don’t have to spend a lot. Most children have a good school rucksack these days, and that’s all you need. You then have something decent to adequately carry your lunch, a spare jumper, bottle of water and maybe a hat and gloves depending on the time of year. I do tend to carry a small first aid kit, but that’s completely up to you. However, things like wet wipes and some hidden sweets or chocolates can make the day more comfortable, especially if you have children with you. Wearing one strap slung over a single shoulder promotes a lop-sided, slouching walk, which can become irritating and tiring. On a prolonged walk, you should wear both straps over your shoulders, as it helps with a more comfortable “even walk”.

Tip 5:

Plan your route.

Proper planning prevents poor performance. You really ought to know where you’re going, how long the walk should take, and if it is suitable for the ability of your group. You want to enjoy yourself, so if this is a new experience for you, or if you want an easy, relaxing walk, don’t choose somewhere that takes all day or, for example, is continually up steep hills, as descending can be just as taxing as going up! A little light research can reap real rewards, as a good walk will make you want to go again, and each time possibly try something harder. It really is meant to be enjoyable and fun.

Tip 6:

Go with friends!

This will make the day much more enjoyable, and you’ll have massive motivation to get to the top. You’ll help each other, share lunch, chat on the way and find it a lot happier and easier having friendly, familiar faces by your side.

Tip 7:

Take it a pace that everyone is happy with.

If you’ve planned the whole day for the walk, take the whole day. I love taking the time to enjoy the environment, pacing myself to incorporate a few necessary rest breaks, and chat to any fellow walkers. I  can then complete any walk without looking like a red tomato, and completely out of energy. Also, it may take a few reserves of determination and energy leftover, just to return from a good walk.

Tip 8:

Never underestimate the importance of a hat, gloves, a waterproof coat and spare jumper.

Sometimes, I’ve left Cardiff when the sun is shining and the weather’s quite hot. By the time I’ve driven to Brecon, the sky is overcast and the cold has set in. Again, this is where checking the weather is essential, but Mother Nature seems to just love throwing a “curve-ball” now and then! Mountain summits can have completely different weather ststems from that at the bottom. Often, when you reach the top, the wind is quite invigoratingly strong, and you’ll be so happy that you packed a warm hat, gloves and a spare jumper. Equally, don’t forget that in warmer weather, you’ll need a sun hat, sun tan lotion and plenty of  bottled water for hydration.

These are just a few tips that might help if you’re new to walking, especially if you’re keen to venture out into mountainous or even forestry areas. Over the years, I’ve followed and developed these simple tips when I prepare for a walk, and it’s always made my day safer and more enjoyable.

My last tip is to just have fun and enjoy yourself! Walking is a wonderful activity and can be tailored to suit everyone’s abilities. The health benefits are encouraging, too.

Regular walking strengthens your heart. It reduces your risk of heart disease and stroke. The Stroke Association estimates that a brisk, 30-minute walk every day helps to lower and control the high blood pressure that causes strokes, potentially reducing the risk by up to 27 percent.

So, what’s stopping you!

 

Take a moment

camping

 

This is one of the reasons I love camping.

I love getting up early and feeling the quiet beginnings of the morning.

With everybody still asleep, I enjoy the peace and the cold crisp air.

In that early hour I’m away from alarms, noise and the normal rush of a morning at home.

And nothing is better than a hot cup of coffee looking at this view.

For me it’s the best way to start a morning.

My Sunday Photo

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Here’s my little action-girl, waterproofs on, and walking underneath a waterfall.

It may not be the best quality of photograph but, when I saw it, I was reminded of how much I absolutely love my daughters’ spirit for adventure. She makes an adventure out of every day, and I love being a part of that.

I guess that’s why we always enjoy our outdoor adventures.

OneDad3Girls

365 Project Week 8

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39: A nice relaxing Sunday and I had to take this photo as proof. My daughter watching a movie and picking from a bowl of salad. Yes salad, my husband and I were amazed!

40: A brilliant start to the half term holidays. Lots of lovely outdoor fun with a full day of Forest Schools. Lots and lots of mud.

41: Another busy day and a walk to Skirrid yr Eira waterfalls in Brecon. A long but lovely walk without any moans and groans.

42: We took a group of children to Porthkerry park on Wednesday. Another great day in the forest and we all ended up to our knees in the stream splashing and having lots of fun.

43: A day of cooking at home. Lovely banana cakes and strawberry jelly ready for homemade trifles.

44: We met up with some friends today and all went for a walk to Caerphilly mountains. It’s a great place to explore and is right on our doorstep. Of course the girls found the muddy puddles and were straight in.

45: A morning game of Bingo with prizes as well. First to a line and then for a full house!

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky

Not Letting Winter Get in the Way

Recently, BritMums ran a photography project, (via Twitter and Instagram), to get families outdoors and enjoying themselves even though it’s Winter time.

The challenge was to take a photo a day, adding the hashtag Hibernot. This is a great word, as the weather currently really can put even the hardened outdoor lovers off from venturing outside.

I loved sharing my photographs on Instagram, and it was really worth the effort and meeting the challenge to push ourselves to make the effort, and get outside every day. It also showed me that you really can enjoy the outdoors in all and any weather, to a greater or lesser extent.

It really isn’t hard work. We made sure that we were wrapped up warm, we had a good set of waterproofs and (of course) a flask full of hot soup to keep the cold at bay!

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So, just because the Winter’s here, we shouldn’t hide away. Let’s try to embrace the challenge of Hibernot!

 Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall



Mud Mud Marvellous Mud - Outdoor Play Party

A Very Lucky Day in Work

I wanted to share an experience that I recently had in work.

My job involves providing adventurous activities for children and young people throughout the Cardiff area. Many of the children I work with sadly don’t have the opportunity to get outside of the city, and aren’t able to experience different environments. For me, outdoor fun, adventures and play is a very valuable and important part of childhood, so I’ve seen and been a part of some wonderful activities and experiences with the children I work with.

Especially this week…..

On Tuesday, I had a very exciting text saying there was snow in Brecon, and that we were going to take a group on the hunt for snow. I didn’t think that we’d see much, as Cardiff was very wet and nothing had settled in the night like the weatherman had promised.

I was very wrong…..

As we drove along the road to take us to Brecon, the view was white. Everything was covered in snow. Not just a dusting, it was thick, thick snow!

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Our first view from our mini bus

We parked opposite the Storey Arms outdoor centre, and the group got on their waterproofs, hats and gloves and everyone ran as quickly as they could to the nearby hill.

We all took turns in sledging, (thank you to my husband for my shiny new sledge!), and all you could hear were the screams and laughter from the group,(oh, and the staff!).

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I think the staff were having more fun….

However, the best and my most favourite part of the day was when a staff member explained to me that one of the new boys in our group was rarely allowed outside to play. This was a very new experience for him. We found out that, at the age of eleven, it was the first time he’d ever built a snowman. So, we just sat and watched him enjoying the snow, throwing snowballs and launching himself down the hill. Just behaving like an eleven year old should, having fun. He was simply playing. I was so grateful that I was able to share and experience this day with him. It’s such a positive element to my job and really does cancel out any of those other “rubbish” days.

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I wish I was allowed to share some photographs with you of the boys in the group, because everyone is so happy and it makes me smile when I look at them. Everyone has the biggest and best smiles on their faces, and it’s a privilege to be a part of it.

It was a really happy day, and a very special outdoor adventure for me!

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall



Mud Mud Marvellous Mud - Outdoor Play Party

365 Project Week 3

Week three of the 365 project. A very busy weekend with snow, indoor surfing and of course my daughters birthday celebrations….

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11: A Sunday bike ride, our first epic mountain bike as my daughter called it! A very cold day but it was really worth it, we had a great day biking.

12: A quick selfie waiting for my daughters kayak club to start. Normally I hate selfies {and photographs of me} but I love this one of me and my beautiful daughter.

13: I took part in a willow weaving course on Tuesday.  It was fantastic, and I learnt how to make baskets. It was so relaxing and I didn’t want it to end.

14: Snow day!! This was taken in Brecon just in front of Storey Arms. A brilliant day of sledging, snowball fights and hot chicken soup to warm our hands.

15: Thursday I was training to be able to teach indoor surfing at Cardiff’s White Water Centre. A full day where I had to learn how to spin, move left and right without hitting anyone, kneeling, perform tricks and the hardest one was having to stand up on a paddle board. I did it for about a minute and got very excited and fell not very gracefully to the floor.

16: It’s my daughter’s birthday weekend and she started her celebrations with a sleepover with some friends. A long night for Mum and Dad but lots of fun with cocktails {non-alcoholic of course!} and laughter and giggles long into the night.

17: A quick peek at the birthday cake. A wonderful friend makes the most amazing cakes, last year was the Tardis and this year my daughter will be having this scary but brilliant shark cake! I can’t wait for her to see it.

 

 

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky

My Sunday Photo

favroad

This may seem like an odd choice for My Sunday Photo, but I thought I’d give it a go.

Strangely, this is one of my favourite roads to travel on. It’s a road in Brecon, which goes through the most wonderful landscape. It’s the one and only road, so there are no houses, buildings and traffic lights. I normally see plenty of sheep and wild horses and, this week, I think we spotted a Kite circling in the clear blue sky.

A simple road in Brecon, but I love it. It’s peaceful and the views are breathtaking.

 I think we need to remember more of these little simple things in life.

365 Project Week 2

Here are my photographs of my second week in the 365 challenge

First week back to work after a lovely Christmas break, lots of lovely walks but as its January all the layers were on!

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4: A walk to the local shops is never just a five-minute walk with my daughter. We live near some lovely woods and have a little duck pond near our house so we always end up having a quick detour for an explore.

5: My first day back in work and every month we have to go through all our equipment {there is a lot!} and do the necessary health and safety checks. It’s the not so exciting part of my job.

6: Tuesdays are always Duke of Edinburgh evenings. This week we were getting ready for our first day walk which is coming up soon. Route cards at the ready!

7: A beautiful day of navigation in week. It was very, very cold but the views were amazing.I even captured a little rainbow in the distance.

8: This is normally the cave entrance at Porth yr Ogaf in Brecon. However after all the heavy rain fall through the evening, nobody was caving that day.

9: An afternoon to a local Forest to have an explore on Friday afternoon. A definite day for the Kelly Kettle for hot drinks to keep the cold away.

10: My daughter still enjoying her Christmas presents. A quiet time of colouring her new school bag in. A very clever present.

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky

We found snow!!!

We’ve just returned from an amazing walk up Pen Y Fan! The best part was that we had snow at the top of the mountain!

My daughter has been watching the news reports, praying that we might get some snow in Wales. As we drove around bend in the road to Storey Arms in Brecon, she let out a huge squeal as she could see snow on the top of Pen Y Fan!!

We met some friends who’d never walked up Pen Y Fan, so it was very special to be able to take them up, in these beautiful conditions.

spenyfan1

The start of our walk was slow and steady, but everyone was so in awe of the clear blue skies and beautiful walking conditions of the day.

As we got to Corn Ddu, (the first peak), the layers and extra jumpers went on as the wind picked up. The girls were still determined to reach the top.

After taking it slowly and steadily on the uphill path, (due to the ice), the girls had smiles when they saw the top of the mountain, and the crowds of people milling around waiting for their picture to be taken.

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After a brief stop for a lunch of the “ever popular” chicken noodle soup, we posed for our ” summit picture”.

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Over to Corn Ddu and down the rocky path, we started our descent with lots of happy chatter. We were all full of the Christmas feeling due to the weather, and the fact that we were, at last, out in the snow!!

It was a lovely day out, and it’s made the Christmas holidays a little bit more special for us.

spenyfan5

 

 

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Learning for Life



My Sunday Photo

spenyfan

Our view from Corn Ddu, looking along the ridge towards Pen Y Fan.

Our first snowy day!

OneDad3Girls

My Sunday Photo

waterfall

 Taken at Sgwd yr Eira waterfalls in the Brecon Beacons. This amazing waterfall is very special as you can walk behind the waterfalls to continue on your walk. We had to suit up head to toe in our waterproofs and we still got soaked!

A beautiful part of the country and makes me feel very lucky that I live in Wales.

 This was linked in with My Sunday Photo:

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