Walking... Keeping it Safe, Fun, and Enjoyable.!


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A Fat Bloke Called Chris...

Well I'm err...a bit fat, and I love being in the mountains! I started walking a few summers ago, and the mountains really got hold of me. I love being up there, it really does let you clear your head and put the whole world into perspective. The views I have been privileged to witness are just breathtaking and I will never forget a single one of them.



Walking... Keeping it Safe, Fun, and Enjoyable.!

Walking is a really fun passtime, and I wholeheartedly recommend you try it! You'll see some truly breathtaking places, meet really friendly people and you'll get fitter too!

People of all levels of age / fitness can go walking it's simply a matter of starting with something not too strenuous and seeing how you get on.

However before you set of for a days walking there are some things that I would strongly advise...

Firstly, always,..ALWAYS...,did I mention ALWAYS?
Let someone know where you are going and when you expect to be back. If possible leave a copy of the route you intend to take with someone and put rough timings on it too. That way if you were not to return in a timely manner someone is aware of it and has a rough idea of where people can start to look for you should you be in trouble.

Next get a pair of good walking boots..! Try them on! If possible (it may not be) wear them at every opportunity before actually heading into the hills. You'll want supple comfortable boots, blisters hurt! Waterproof boots will also be a huge bonus!

If you are heading into the countryside for the day, check the weather forecast, and dress accordingly. Layers are better than a thick jumper as you can regulate your temperature better by adding and removing a few. Waterproof outers are also a good investment... Something light that breathes but is waterproof will keep you warm when the wind picks up and its wet!

Have a map...have a compass... and most importantly learn how to use both. It's a lot simpler than most people realise but it is one of the best skills you can have if you lose your bearings. GPS units are handy too, but are prone to signal loss, and DEAD batteries can make them USELESS when you need them most!

Also get a whistle...get a REALLY loud whistle! In the countryside 6 blows on a whistle is the internationally recognised distress call, anyone who hears 6 blows on a whistle will come to help and summon any other aid you may need. So just blow 6 times, wait a couple of minutes, and repeat until aid comes. If anyone hearing you also has a whistle they may respond with 3 whistle blows.

Take food and most importantly WATER. I never go walking without at least 2L of water with me. Sip often and you'll really feel the benefits..and no you wont be running to the loo every 100yds dont worry. Your walking will have you losing water fast if you dont top up!

Take a mobile phone, just in case you need to contact anyone. (Though be aware that you may or may not have signal)

Finally it's not a race......
Take it in your own time...and stop often to really ENJOY the view!


Idwal Slabs : The "Ordinary" Route

"Come climbing" he said...

Lets get one thing out there from the start.  Yes, I USED to climb...when I was 15..!!!!  I was thin, and supple, and even dare I say it relatively lythe back then.  Now I am NONE of those things...  I am broken, and fat, and my children call me Homer (After the Simpsons, not the legendary hero....)

So WHY did I allow my friend Mark Jenkins (not all my friends are called Mark I promise!!) to talk me into this foolish escapade?  Because I'm a man thats why...and any card carrying male simply can not accept that we have to grow up at any point.  We're all grown up, but in reality men are basically just boys with more debt!

In any case Mark is a climber, and he teaches too, so "What could possibly go wrong?"...  He promised me a gentle reunion with climbing...  "It's practically only just above a scramble really" were his words.

The date was set, and against my better judgement I actually found myself really looking forward to this.  It was a weekend with Osian, so he decided he'd like to try his hand too!  In the car we went and met Mark at Ogwen Cottage.  

We got to the bottom of the pitch at around 09:45 ish and there was just one group ahead of us.  Mark checked us both into our gear and can I just say Mark...You have a really nice way of explaining the process.  Osian was all set to go ahead of me and I was the fat bloke bringing up the rear.

Mark set off up the route, and not long later we heard the cry of "On Belay"...so I unclipped Mark and we waited just a couple more minutes before we heard "Okay to climb" coming down the rock, and Osian started carefully heading up.













I have to say Osian listened really well, and followed all of Marks instructions each step of the way.  He chose his holds carefully and was not in any rush, ........proud dad here.

After two more belays, we topped of Ordinary route, and ate lunch with THIS view!!!!!








After a bite, we then had a nice fun scramble to the decision point....  do we go on and up to the next pitch or head down the side and back to the cars.

I have to say with sadness and regret...it was heading on for 15:30 ish and Osian had a train to catch so we did the "sensible thing" and started down the side which was also heaps of fun and then a nice walk off back to the cars.







MASSIVE thanks to Mark for a great day out that me and Osh really enjoyed.  Perfect choice of route to get an old fat bloke back into the habit, and introduce climbing to Osh who's never climbed outside before.

SNOWDON - THE RHYD DDU PATH





Well it's been a while since I updated this blog.... (so many things taking up my time) but it's time to set that straight now, and with a truly magnificent walk.... The Rhyd Ddu path to the summit of Snowdon.

This walk included Me, Liana, Adie and Ross....and we took plenty of time and plenty of water.  It was a hot day!

The walk is one of the longest routes to the summit of Snowdon, but is blessed with some of the most spectacular scenery along the way and finishes with the south ridge approach to the summit which gives you some amazing views.

We set off at a leisurely 09:30 and followed the well defined path.  The amazing views start almost immediately and just slowly grow and develop as you walk higher becoming truly spectacular.

Beautiful views looking ahead or back...


The path starts fairly flat with a slow incline that to be honest we hardly noticed.
The sun however was suddenly very intense when ever the gentle breeze died down and we quickly had to lose a couple of layers.

 Water break...


Looking forward we could see the "zig zags" of some switchbacks higher up the ridge line, so we knew it would get a bit steeper further along.

Looking back to the car, more lakes were creeping into the view!


Ross did some rock balancing...


Once we gained the ridge proper, the summit vista was just jaw droppingly good!!!!!

The top is in sight....


In this image you can see the route easily following the ridge line off to the right hand side then sweeping back towards the summit via the "South Ridge" approach which joins up with the "South ridge" and "Watkin" paths later on.

Liana looking back at me with the south ridge approach behind her...


After crossing the ridge which is just loads of fun and perhaps the best views of the walk...(sadly the images did not live up to the "real eye" view so I didn't upload them as they wouldn't do justice, and besides... you need some surprise wow factor when you do this walk!)  But heres a photo looking back at the ridge line...

The ridge we just came over...


From here it not much further to the top!!!

Looking forward....




Looking back....


At the top!....



The Devil in the Snow



This was my first "outing" in the Snow.  Equiped with all the usual gear plus some warm extras such as waterproof and very warm gloves, an extra set of thermal layers, and a waterproof outer set and gaiters.  Decent winter boots, a good hat, and of course crampons and a walking axe.  All of these things become important of course but with items such as the boots, crampons and axe...please take advice from experienced staff when buying and pay attention on how to use them safely and effectively.  Finally, PRACTICE self arrest techniques in safe areas when out walking.

The day started at 09:30hrs and once again it's my friend Mark who is daft enough to come out with me.  We set out from the car park on the roadside next to Llyn Ogwen.  All gear checked and packed, and we set off back along the road to the head of the footpath to Llyn Idwal.  The ground was still fairly solid, and despite the snow being still fairly good (especially in the sheltered and shady gullys) it was a balmy 6 degrees Celcius so the snow was not going to be here for many more days if the temp stayed warm!

As the path met the lake we met a nice guy with a dry suit on wading in the water next to the sheet ice on the Llyn.  He was taking some lovely shots under the ice and despite his drysuit he looked blue!  We headed off left and followed the path clockwise around the lake.  Up high to the left we could see some walkers making progress up a snow filled gully (I'll get it's name soon) and we continued around towards the bottom of the Devils Kitchen path.

Again we met up with a few other walkers all looking to enjoy the magnificent views and tackle the snow.  At the first "stream" there was a snow bridge, but it was uncertain whether it was safe to cross and a slip would have had us swept into pretty fast water and bouncing down to the bottom.  Not something bones and limbs would fare well from and best avoided.  We instead found a narrow section to cross slightly below the snow bridge, and Mark helped some other walkers across further up.

Mark doing his "explorer pose"...

A short trip on, and we came to the bottom of the snow field that would lead all the way up to the top of Devils Kitchen.  A choice was now ahead....follow the path or get out the axes and start on the more direct snow route.  The snow was in good condition despite the warm temperatures so we decided to go play in the snow.

Theres not many photos now as I was using my hands as you can probably guess....

The others took the path, and a little while later we rejoined where the path turned back and appeared above us again.  The walkers had made about the same time and so we we together again briefly, but we had bigger grins on our faces...that was too much fun!

Making steps was fairly easy, and although we had them with us, we did not need our crampons today.

The gully (I would say path but it was buried underneath us "somewhere") curved left around a beautiful section of ice covered rocks and the gradient changed getting quite a lot steeper now.  Footprints were becoming less frequent at this point.

The gully swings left here...


This was just the most fun part for me, following Mark up some completely undisturbed sections of the snow field.  Looking back (sorry no pic as I was busy!) the elevation became apparent as did the incline.  Llyn Idwal was suddenly a LONG way down.  A slip here could be,.. and probably would be VERY bad.

At the 3/4 point up this section, a large rock came into view and we decided it was time for a cuppa.  We headed for it and sat underneath it enjoying a sarnie and a brew while a couple of others waved and carried on.

Ahh...what a view for cuppa time...

Another walker enjoying the stunning scenery on his way up!

From here, we ascended again to the left and up over onto the top of the Devils Kitchen.  The last ten meters or so you could hear the "roar" and feel the "rumble" of the water rushing beneath the snow.  At the top we took a stroll to peep through the pillars of the Devils Kitchen....

The gates of hell...

Our second choice of the day was now upon us.  We could go down the way we came up...or we could choose a different route.  It was now 13:00hrs and we were aware of the light closing at around 16:00hrs..ish.  We did have head torches etc, but would prefer to get down before we needed them.

We decided it would be about as quick and would feel a more complete walk to crown Y Garn and take that path back down.  We took the direct route up Y Garn as the Ridge route was obscured and cornices make ridge walking dangerous.  At the top we unfortunately were not blessed with a view today, but another cuppa was MOST welcome!  Another group joined us at the top and we decided to stick loosely together for the descent.  I'm glad Mark found the branch off to the right as I wouldn't have spotted it...

The descent took a little while but was very enjoyable.  Near the bottom a slope with a good run off gave an opportunity to practice self arresting which was valuable and is something I aim to practice each time I walk in the snow.

Back to the car, and back to Mark's..... where his wife Julia (THANKS JULES!!!) made a fab meal, before Jules and Liana told me I stank to high heaven!

My axe had it's first outing today and BOY was I glad of it..!  A truly memorable day....Big thanks to Mark.!

Tryfan, The Glyders and Y Garn...



This is another "Horseshoe" walk and was a fantastic day out with my good friend Mark and my eldest son George.  12hrs of walking and scrambling that was just glorious on a warm clear day when the visibility was superb.  It was George's first real outing on this sort of walking/scrambling and I have to say I'm immensely proud of him.  He showed a really mature attitude to the mountains far beyond his years and he enjoyed it so much, after this day I would happily take him with me on any other trek.

The day started in a car park just off the road by the side of Llyn Ogwen at 07:30hrs.  All packed up with the usual gear, we set off along the road towards Tryfan and turn onto the path heading for the north ridge of Tryfan.  As usual it began to rise steadily and the legs soon get warm and for the most part on Tryfan you can "make your own way".

Mark further up and George just above me finding our own way up the north ridge....


A great point of interest on the ascent is "the Cannon" which is a rock that...well take a guess why it's called that.  It turned into a great spot for a quick snap, a banana break and a drink, before we carried on "generally up".  We haven't travelled far in terms of distance, but we have gained LOTS of height already as you can see below.

The Cannon...

There's generally good progress made, the only slightly tricky bits being a couple of gullys to cross but it's just great scrambling fun all the way.  About 09:40 now and we catch our first sight of "Adam and Eve" at the top!

Heroic posing here..
and in the background at the top...is that Adam...or is it Eve?

At the top just a few minutes after 10:00 ...and well it's just not right not to do the jump...

George first...


Then Fat Bloke dad...
...that was just too much fun!

I really did think this was to be the highlight of the day, but in fact this walk had even more in store for me later on!  Another banana and drink break and a look around before we start to descend passing the "south summit".  On the descent you get a great view of Llyn Bochlwydd otherwise known as "Australia Lake" can you see why?  In the far distance beyond Australia Lake is Llyn Idwal...




..and from then on it's onward towards "Bristly Ridge".

Bristly Ridge...


This ascent up onto Glyder Fach can be approached a number of ways.  From the scree slope to the left, the gully up the middle, and the rock face on the right.  As a rough guide it goes from easier through harder to bloomin well idiotic as you go left to right.  Mark's been before and recons we should take the gully.  I've since found out that it's proper name is "Sinister Gully" just wait till I see him next!  It's listed as a grade 2 scramble involving "some exposed and steep sections of climbing" and was a challenge for me and George in that the hardest bit is "seeing" the route up in terms of hand and footholds.  With encouragement and good advice we found our way up safely and it was just brilliant.  In terms of difficulty this was far more challenging than Crib Goch in the Snowdon HorseShoe for example and was definitley my "achievement" for the day to take home.

George about to head up Sinister Gully on Bristly Ridge...

A quick look back to the way we came down Tryfan...


After the gully there is also a section known as the Great Pinnacle Gap which needs a little bit of care but can be crossed safely.  It is more a test of nerve than technically difficult, but you must of course still give it plenty of respect.

Once we crowned the ridge, we were on top of Glyder Fach and it is an absolute luna landscape.  It's quite incredible.  Ahead of us we could see the mound of stones that contain the famous "Cantilever" which from the right angle does appear to be precariously balanced.  Again it would just have been wrong not to take the obligatory photograph.

Somewhere in here is the Cantilever stone...


George on the Cantilever...

Lunchtime now, and a 10min stop!  More water on board we ready ourselves as we pass the psychological half way mark in our heads...  Weve done most of the "up" now surely!  Ahead of us are the summit stones of Glyder Fach and then on to the Castel Y Gwynt (Castle of the Winds).  This truly impressive structure really does "whistle" as the wind passes through the enormous vertical shards of rock.  It reminded me and Mark of the castle from the film "Krull" when I was a lad.

Some other walkers and their dog! Crossing the summit stones...
...they came up from Pen Y Pass and headed straight back down again...


The Castle of the Winds...the Snowdon HorseShoe in the distance...

Passing through the Castle was good fun and it is a longer dop on the other side.  From then on it's a dirt track path leading across to Glyder Fawr.   A rock cairn shows the way ahead, and the landscape really does resemble the moon now...

"Houston...The Eagle has landed!"...




Just before the path heads down a very long section of scree towards Llyn Y Cwn, there is a collection of rocks known as the "Penguins"...

Then it's down the scree for us and at the bottom we stopped at the lake.  Boots and socks off, and feet in the water for ten mins of pure heaven.  That water is SO cold even in summer and then fresh socks, boots on, and off towards our last peak for today...Y Garn.  At this point, you can from the lake head right and descend down the "Devils Kitchen" path also if you like.  For us however, Y Garn was calling and the path is obvious and splits into a direct straight path and a route along the ridge to the right.  We took this second line and were rewarded with some lovely views down the valley for our efforts.  I was lagging behind the other two here as my right knee began to get a little "annoyed" with me and I took a couple of rest stops.

From the scree looking back to Tryfan...

The paths up Y Garn...She's calling us....
...we took the right hand fork...

Once at the top it was a well earned rest with perhaps the most magnificent view of the day!! 
Click HERE for a Panoramic Photo...then scroll down to the image "Y Garn"

If your browser resizes the image to fit your screen, just click on the image to view at full size.

A quick call to my wife to say we're still all safe and I haven't lost our son!  (I tend to lose stuff...)  Then we begin to descend.  Again more stunning views of where we have been today tempered only by my now very angry knee shouting at me with each step down...is it just me or is down harder than up?  No matter, it cant upset me today I'm just having an amazing day so I slow down and take my time...there there!  The knee's happier now.!

Beautiful Tryfan...

These guys were really good in waiting for "Fatso"...

Our car is down there somewhere...

Finally the path leads down to Cwm Idwal and then to the road.  Back at the car there was a flask of tea and a brufen waiting and memories of one of my best days in the mountains ever!

Huge thanks to Mark and George.