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Fabulous February: Capel Curig, Roaches and Eskdale

It’s been a real mixed bag of weather for February walks.  Only one was an official Rando’ Girls walk with Sarah and her friend Amar in the Roaches: what was was supposed to be a nice easy explore around the fascinating gritstone turned out to be a short, sharp walk in horizontal snow.  Keeping it short kept it mostly Fun Type 1 with some Type 2 thrown in to make it worth while!  Located in Shropshire on the edge of the Peak District, the Roaches have been loved by climbers since the early 1900’s.  On more clement days, its fascinating to watch the climbers as you walk along the foot of the cliffs.  Mindful of the snow, we parked at in the valley bottom before following the river Dane and Black Brook steadily climbing through Gradbach wood.  Leaving the woods, we walked along open moorland crossing the road to Roach End.  The Magic Tent (my orange shelter) was pulled out for lunch and we sat inside munching boiled eggs and drinking hot Ribena, warm and dry out the weather.  Fed and watered, we walked up through the snow and wind to the trig point.  We called this a success and turn back to retrace our steps to the car.  8km, 3 3/4 hours, 385m ascent/decent.

Just a few weeks before (technically in January, but I’m ignoring that) in Capel Curig, Viv, Nick and I were treated to glorious skies over Snowdonia as we finished a walk that started in snizzle (snowy drizzle). After a slow start in the excellent Moel Siabod cafe, we headed out through forest to avoid the worst of the rain.  We lunched on a deserted forest track before finding the lovely isolated Llyn (lake) Bodgynydd before heading back past Crimpiau through hills with a glorious mountain-y feel to them.  16km, 5 1/2 hours, 558m ascent/decent.

The last weekend of February was another non-Rando Girls weekend back in Eskdale in the southern Lake District which has a very special place in my heart.  The weather was due to be epically awful, so a short stroll on the Saturday was planned and an anticipated soggy Sunday walk too.  Saturday we set out towards the river Esk, which was in spate (sudden flood) and after some changes of route from flooded paths we had a suitably awe-inspiring, but safe walk.  Sunday we were up and out to avoid the rain.  High winds kept us from the fell tops but Eskdale moor is a beautiful place with great views of Illgill Head, Eskdale Fell and Kirk Fell (if they hadn’t been in the clouds).  An unexpected cuppa at Burnmoor followed an invite from the Burnmoor Lodge club, which is undergoing restoration.  Having walked past it and wondered who owned it its great to see it is loved and has a great group trying to get it to a basic but usable state.  I’ll be adding that to places to stay!  Keeping low we followed the river Mite along it’s valley, stopping for lunch before heading up over Brat’s Moss.  Site of ancient habitation, there are stone circles and cairns it was especially atmospheric in the strong winds.  A steady stomp brought us down to Boot and back to civilisation and a pint at the Woolpack inn.  13km, 6 1/3 hours, 734m ascent/decent.

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Hill and Moorland Leader training

Late on the 17th of January, I headed back to the hut in Llanberis for my Hill and Moorland leader training.  I was super nervous; a combination having no idea of how my skill level would compare to others and desperately wanting to do well made my poor head churn for the whole drive over from Cheshire.  I’ve faced tough courses before through work but this was different: this time it was for something I really, really wanted to be good at…

Walk

Training – eek!

The weekend of the 14th January was spent in the club hut part way up the tourist path on Snowdon.  Sadly there was little snow to play in but the friendship and food and general joy of being around inspirational YesTribe people spurred me into starting a video diary of my adventures and training.  Enjoy!

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walking under the awe-inspiring clogwyn du’r arddu

Video diary of my thoughts on my Hill and Moorland Leader training

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Soft boiled eggs

I don’t like running.  Correction, I don’t like training runs.  Consequently, when I ran the Thunder Run for the third time a couple of weekends ago I had done very little training, not great when its a 24 hour relay race round a hilly 10km trail.  I was the token slow runner on the team, managing 3 laps of 1hr13, 1hr14 and 1hr28.  The last was the dawn lap starting at 4am which is actually my favourite: starting in the dark with a head torch and finishing in the misty dawn under a pink sky.  I’ll be honest, the first lap was awful.  Running under a full sun in high humidity; I was so hot my skin was tingling and I had to keep willing myself forward repeating the mantra “it’ll be over quicker if you keep running, it’ll be over quicker if you keep running”. I got cross and a bit weepy and then told myself off for being silly and that perhaps, in retrospect, a bit more training would have helped.

 

Now that the Thunder Run is over, I’m having a bit of a think about what’s next.  First up, I have found a personal trainer, Jo.  Part of my problem is I get so confused with conflicting recommendations I have read on how I should or shouldn’t train I end up making an excuse and not doing anything.  Which I realise is a rubbish excuse.  I’ve thrown myself upon the mercy (or not) of Jo to tell me what to do, when to do it and how much.  So far it’s working, simply knowing Jo will check up on me is making me go out and just do something.  So, what next?  I need to be honest with myself, I like going for a run but training hard for running just doesn’t fill me with enthusiasm.  When I look at the sports I love: climbing, hill walking and dancing, they all as much about mental and technical skills as they are about pure fitness.  The obvious alternative to running is cycling.  I’m lucky, I live close to good trails and quiet roads, I’m an engineer so bike maintenance appeals as well. Inspired by the film The Way, about the Camino de Santiago, I planned to walk the 500 miles in the Pyrenees however I’m unlikely to get the leave from work: but maybe I could cycle it in a fortnight.  A plan forms…

In the Tough Girl Podcast on the 12th April 2016, Parys Edwards talks about being the egg not the potato: it’s the same boiling water that makes the egg hard that makes the potato soft.  The Thunder Run was a boiling water moment for me, though I don’t feel very tough yet I think I’m almost soft-boiled.  And in my world there’s no better way to start the day than with a nice dippy-egg.

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And so it begins

“Tribe this is such a supportive and awesome group and I know many of you blog about your challenges – Please do share your blog page links below.  We want to support you and get inspired by what you’re doing!!!”

“Haven’t got one… Maybe I should start one!”

And that, folks, is why I am here.  A short comment on the Tough Girl Tribe Facebook group started this blog and we’ll see where it goes.  I’ll admit I was sat in my favourite pub in Eskdale in a comfortable post-pizza and beer haze when it seemed like a good idea, when you forget the million-and-one other things you started but haven’t quite gotten round to completing.

So, in the spirit of Rando’ Girls, I decided tIMG_4796he best way to think it through was go for a walk.  It was raining hard and 10 o’clock at night but going to bed still stuffed from tea didn’t appeal so I pulled on my waterproofs, grabbed my head torch and headed out.  Decisions like this need to be made in a memorable place so the foot of the Hardknott pass was the destination.   At the phone box and last collection of road signs warning drivers of what was coming, I decided to turn Rando’ Girls from a Whatsapp group for organising adventures with two friends, into more of a Thing.  Then I ran back to the pub.