#32: Drive to the mountains and hike on my own

Well, the sun may be setting on my ‘mid to late thirties’ but I still have the banter of a 12 year old. So when planning this challenge, the only mountain worth considering was ‘Fan y Big’ – the most snicker-worthy summit in South Wales.

It may be surprising to folk who have known me a while to find this on the list – I have after all climbed Kili 5 times and led more tours up the Inca trail than I can remember – but this challenge was more about rediscovering the ‘me’ of yore. In more recent years, I rarely do anything a) on my own, or b) more than 10 miles from our village. If I do venture further afield it is usually for an organised event involving a load of other people.

So I promise it was a legitimate challenge, and not just a jolly. (Although having said that it was quite jolly once I got going)

It took an absurd amount of time to find the right place, due to my lack of planning and poor decision making (though really I should learn to plan for those, as they characterise most of my endeavours!) Wrong turns, no cash, forgot lunch, bought another lunch, more wrong turns, repeated stops to consult map, wrong car park….

No matter! Having left home before 6.30am, the sun was high in the sky by the time I was ready to climb at 9.30. That is, until I rounded the final corner, and entered a dense cloud, covering the very peak I had travelled so far to find. This was a problem, as my navigational skills are of a level that rather require being able to see where I am going.

I parked, and tried not to look too conspicuously clueless in front of the 40 army recruits who were engaged in some impressive venture with very large backpacks.

I set off up a steep climb by a waterfall. And I soon popped out the top of the cloud, to find a glorious sunny day, and lush views in every direction.
wales ridge view

In the main the path was obvious, though one stretch was across open country, and at one point I left my hat marking a junction to be sure of finding the right way home.

The summit of Fan y Big was nothing very obvious, a few rocks in a pile. But it was open, and spacious, with glorious views all around, and the schedule permitted a half hour kip in the sunshine, which was rather lovely for early March.
(see here the Standard Mountaineering Pose (SMP))

I cannot pretend it was a massively risky or hazardous venture, but it was lush to be out, and a tremendously satisfying way to fill the hours while the kids are at school… I think it would be much improved by taking some chums, and having an orienteering course under my belt. Might have to add those to the next list!

But it was great to get out and do this stuff again; proper hikes are too few and far between for me these days!

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