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!

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.!