New Forest Film Project 2019

As some of you may know, over Easter Evan and I set of on an almost 50 mile hike around the New Forest National Park with the aim of making a little film for the New Forest Film Festival.

Armed with a couple of smartphones we recorded nearly 4 hours of footage, which we then beat and moulded into the 10 minute run time limit required in the submission guidelines.

Last week we were delighted to find out that we had made it the semi final stage of the competition in 2 categories, “International Documentary” and “Zero Budget”. We’re really pleased with this, it’s our first film and first submission so it’s given us heart that someone else liked our little story and maybe we’re on the right track.

So without further ado, We proudly present our first film, hope you enjoy it.

Finding our Way

Batteries not Included

One of the things I hate carrying but always carry extras of “just in case” are batteries. And while they can be recycled, usually they end up in bin in a trail town and we can get through quite a few.
My camera needs AA as does my GPS device, ah but my head torch needs AAA and the kids headtorches need those funny flat ones that are like the hearing aid batteries but a bit bigger. Oh, and I need a USB battery pack for the phone. And Hazels phone. And AA batteries for her camera too.

(more…)

Yorkshire Sculpture Park 2017

It’s not always strenuous hikes and long trails. Sometimes we like to find other things to do while out and about. This was the case last year when, with time between a visit to the Peak District and a family occasion in Doncaster, we headed up for a day at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park.

A place where Mum can get inspired, the kids can be kids, and Dad can go hiking

We had camped the night before and were feeling a little dishevelled when we arrived at the park. We negotiated the toilets and as it had just started to rain a little we had look around the indoor galleries which were pretty impressive. Some of the stuff went straight over my head but Hazel was really enjoying herself and there was even an area for the kids to contribute some works of art of their own. 

Kids will be Kids

We headed outside, through what I would describe as a well kept sculpture garden, just with far cooler sculptures than I usually see in gardens through the course of a day at work, and out into the larger park, complete with a lake, parkland, woods and livestock. Now things got interesting. While we had a map we didn’t use it to navigate, we just wondered down paths and between hedges and in circles, all the while being surprised and excited by what came around the next corner. By the end of the day we had probably covered 4 or 5 miles and that counts as hiking to me.

The biggest highlight for me was simply how these massive installations just looked at home in the countryside.  The army of sculpted figures in an open space felt like that was where they were meant to be, as did the giant head amongst the trees across the lake, even the massive rabbit headed lady didn’t look out of place and I suppose that’s the point of it right? Right? Just making sure! 

I’ve just been on the website and they’ve got an exhibition of Norman Ackroyd images called The Furthest Lands until February 2019 so we might try and organise another trip in the new year.

Located in West Bretton, near Wakefield, and it’s basically a 500 acre art gallery with loads of contemporary sculptures spread throughout its park and woodland. 

It is home to pieces by Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth.
(My far more cultured wife tells me these are important creators).

Its extremely child friendly, accessible and cheap, you only pay for parking AND you get the added bonus of a half decent hike if you explore for a whole day.

Review: Alpkit Numo Sleep Mat

I bought this product with whatever money I had left after the kids had been fed, clothed and sheltered.
The opinions expressed in the post are my own.

Here’s an idea. Plan a hiking trip with your family. The kids are small and can’t carry much but that’s ok because Mum and Dad can carry most of their stuff. We won’t go far, just around 100 miles on the West Highland Way. That will be a perfect first hike. Great. Until you grab your pack and realise its just far too heavy to carry for even 2 or 3 of the proposed 96 miles. So you start culling stuff. That extra fleece can go, how much underwear do I really need. Those 2 self inflating sleep pads that weigh nearly a kilogram each are probably overkill, and what difference do those thin foam ones make anyway.

IMG_0117
Our Massive Packs for the WHW.

It’s the first night in the tent, in Scotland, in very early April. We’re wishing we had carried the sleeping mats. The kids have got one of the foam ones each and are surprisingly cosy but Hazel and I are freezing. I emptied my pack and slept on the empty rucksack. Turns out those mats make a huge difference so we picked up 2 more foam pads before hitting the trail and we were much less cold.

 

This year I treated myself to a new sleep pad. I was tired of carrying the weight of the self inflating one and the foam ones were just a little bulky so I thought I’d try an inflatable one. After a while trying to decide which to go for, I went for the Numo from Alpkit. It was reasonably priced and so much smaller and lighter than the ones we had. It was cheaper than similar options from other manufacturers and I felt a nice warm feeling inside by supporting a smaller UK company besides, I’d previously bought a top and a crash pad from them and was very happy with the speedy service and the hand written thank you note that was in the package.

It came out of the box, even smaller than expected and weighed next to nothing in my hand. I immediately went to the Gear Store (or the cupboard under stairs as Hazel calls it), grabbed the old one for comparison and bounced into the living room to excitedly show off the size difference to anyone who was there. Evan said it was cool but no-one else seemed interested.

Time to blow it up. The info said you could inflate with 12 breaths and it wasn’t many more before I’m lying down on it in the kitchen. It was nice and comfy and surprisingly non-slidy and as soon Hazel had tried it out (again on the kitchen floor) I was back on the computer ordering one for her.

Lils Birthday - 17
Wild camp with Lil on Brook Down. Numo hidden under sleeping bags.

So we’ve used them for all this years camping trip since our snowy Glyndwrs Way hike where they would have been useful. They’ve performed really well in the tent and under a tarp both with and without a groundsheet. I would be extra careful if you don’t have a groundsheet because I’d imagine a gorse or bramble thorn would lead to a harder nights sleep but so far no punctures and we’ve been wild camping more this year than we have been to camp sites.

There are a couple of huge outcomes for us after buying these mats. The first is the weight and bulk savings, and while I’m sure you could get a lighter mat, I reckon you’ll struggle to get one at this price point and made from the same tough material. The second is that we actually sleep well on them so we’re better rested to wrangle 3 kids along the trail

The only drawback is that the kids want one each now I’m happy to get them one because they’ll last them for a couple of years at least, I’m not sure if I can fit 5 of them in our little blue tent.

 

Review: SIGG Water Bottles & Flasks.

*I bought this product with my own money.
The post contains an affiliate link so if you choose to purchase this product from that provider, we will see a small kickback if you use the link provided.
We have also included direct links to the manufacturer if you prefer to order direct.
Rob.

 

IMG_0848It seems it’s really hard to review a water bottle. I’ve been sat here for ages, typing a bit, deleting, starting over. How do you review a bottle. It holds water. Done. What I think I’ll do is try to tell you why I like these particular bottles so much. And if that helps you in the decision making process, I’ve done alright.

  1. They feel solid. These are the metal ones and feel really durable. We’ve bought cheaper alternatives before and once they’ve been dropped a couple of times they split. These bad boys have already been dropped numerous times and wear their scars beautifully. Also the lids fit well while on cheaper ones there’s always a fear that the seal will go or the lid will get cross-threaded, not on these.
  2. The Hot and Cold bottle does exactly what its supposed to do. The heat retention is amazing. I take one with me for work everyday and because I work so, so hard, I can make 300ml of black coffee last all day. And it’s still hot, not warm but hot. In fact, after making my coffee at 7 am, it’s just about cooled down enough by lunchtime. The instructions say to warm the flask before filling but unless you like your coffee at the temperature of a thermo-nuclear war you may want to skip that step.
  3. sigg-trinkflasche-colour-your-day-black-touch-orange-06-l-8536-90They look good! For once I’m not the guy on the trail or at the climbing gym with a scrunchy plastic water bottle. People have even commented on the coolness of my SIGG bottles (the black & orange one especially) and believe me as I near 40, cool matters!
  4. And this is probably the biggest factor. I use them. Maybe it’s my subconscious justifying the extra money spent on these bottles but I’ve always got one nearby, so I drink more water, which I’m told is good.
  5. As we’re yet another blog taking on single-use plastics with our Zero Waste Hiking plans, I need to mention this. Any reusable water bottle, even the cheap ones are better than their single use alternatives but by spending a little more cash on a simple item, we look after it better. The chance of it getting left behind is reduced as is the risk of dropping off a ledge, and while these seem to last longer than others, if you do lose a lid, SIGG actually sell spare parts!

So thats 5 reasons we love our SIGG bottles and once our children’s plastic bottles for school get lost/broken/chewed we’ll be in the market for a few more.

View the range of SIGG products on Amazon UK*

Going Plastic Free on the Trail

I’ve given Rob a challenge. While I have the monumental task of making our household free from single use plastics, at a manageable budget, I want our hiking trips to be just as ethical. So he’s in charge of that!

His first reaction was that it will be easy, by the time we pay the extra for plastic free alternatives, there won’t be any money left for long hiking trips. However, we’ve made a solid start at home and he’s starting to plan how to get rid of single use plastics before our next trip.

Just Up The Trail, saving the world, one cereal bar at a time!!!

The biggest worry is food, because our usual staples of noodles and pasta snacks are usually wrapped in plastic as are our go to snacks of jelly beans, cereal bars and beef jerky. We may need to get creative. We may need to bake. We may need a dehydrator. We will need a bigger pack. And while tupperware is the easy option for storage/packing, its just not that great in a backpack so solutions for that will be necessary. We could use foil, or wax paper but won’t that get squashed/torn/wet? Research definitely needed.

Other than food packaging I can’t think, off the top of my head, of much else where we rely on single use plastic. We do have those silicon pop up bowls and plastic cutlery but those have already lasted 3 or 4 years and when they die I’ll try to get a replacement from another material. The kids have plastic water bottles but we already intend to replace them with metal bottles like Rob’s SIGG when the time comes and I can’t remember the last time we bought bottled water, anyway that’s why we have the filter.

So if anyone has any tips on packaging hiking food in non-plastics, any plastic free snacks or if you want to share some delicious recipes with us, leave them in the comments below.

I’ll check back in on the plastic free mission between now and our next big hike, which will probably be at Easter, and let you know how we’re getting on.

 

Review: Mountain Hardwear Lamina 0 Sleeping Bag.

So here’s a story. Last Christmas my dear old Mum gave me this sleeping bag. Brilliant, a nice warm sleeping bag for late autumn/early spring, just what I needed. Turned out she had bought it for my brother who didn’t like it, and so she gave it to me instead. Again brilliant, it would be perfect for our Easter trip on Glyndwrs Way,  and if a little heavy, it would be warmer than the one I already had.

View this post on Instagram

Trying out the new sleeping bag (thanks Mum)

A post shared by Rob Jones (@justupthetrail) on

At some point before we go backpacking, Mum decides she would like to join us for a couple of days on the trail. No problem. Whats that? She needs a warmer sleeping bag? Well being a dutiful son I suggest she use the one she gave me for Christmas and I’d make do, and when she leaves the trail, she can take my old one home and I’ll continue on with this one.

Snowy Tent

Now if you’ve read our trip report from Glyndwrs Way you’ll know just how cold it got and how we called the trip off after a couple of days because of the weather. I never got to try the new sleeping bag but on a positive note, the kids didn’t have to dig out Nana’s frozen corpse when the snow came.

Once Spring arrived properly I put this bag away until just last week, when I thought I might like a little extra comfort on our Round the Island hike, after all at the end of October we could get ALL the weather. It was quite a bit heavier than my alternative but it packed down nicely into the same size dry bag and to be honest, once I started hiking I didn’t really notice the difference.

The first night of the hike was quite chilly, around 5°C, so while setting up bed for the night I got out my spare fleece, puffy jacket and woolly hat and used them as a pillow and handy extra layers. I didn’t use them although I did get a little cold in the early hours. The second night we were a little further inland and it felt a little warmer and I was more than warm enough but the 3rd night we camped on the cliff tops right next to the sea and it was freezing out. I did climb into the bag with a fleece on and was glad of it for a start but woke up sweaty about midnight so I lost that extra layer and slept soundly for the rest of the night. The last night of the hike we spent “camped” in my Mother in Laws basement which was pretty luxurious and I used the bag as a duvet so I could stick a leg out easy enough to cool down.

Overall, this sleeping bag was great. It was a little on the small side for my larger frame and I’m not sure it would have been very comfortable if I hadn’t lost 2 stone over the summer, however it was easy to get in and out of, the zips worked and didn’t snag every time I used them. I didn’t notice the extra weight once I got hiking and I know if I had taken my other bag I would have been wearing all my spare clothes to stay warm, especially when we camped closer to the coast.

So it’s a great bag for late Autumn/Early Spring and a great gift. If I was choosing for myself I might get something slightly bigger so it’s not quite so tight, or I could lose some more weight! Oh and remember it kept my Mum alive in a Welsh snowstorm, which is kind of a positive.

Almost Off Road.

For most of our first day on the Isle of Wight Coastal Path we had to share the route with some of the busier roads on the island. Now admittedly these roads aren’t major carriageways but having to shout to each other over the incessant burble of traffic isn’t fun. We hike to spend uninterrupted time in each others company, sometimes chatting about nothing, sometimes plotting our futures and sometimes just enjoying the silence. So imagine our relief when, between Whippingham and Wootton we find the first stretch of trail where traffic can’t go and we didn’t have to share.

 

Children! Know Your Limits.

I was just reading another blog about hiking with kids and they mentioned the importance of  “Knowing your children’s limits.” Now my first reaction was “Well, obviously” but then I thought about it a little.

Every time I plan a trip, it’s at the top of my considerations.

  • How far can they hike in a day.
  • How much can they carry in their packs.
  • How much food do we need to carry to keep them happy/full/not crying/on a sugar high
  • Can they cope with the weather and trail conditions
  • How far is it to the trailhead, do we need to stop on the way?

And many other considerations I can’t remember. I suppose its everything you would think about for yourself but your making that decision for someone else, much smaller than you.

So every time we hit the trail, I’ve gone through this process of asking myself these questions and at times they can cause some anxiety, am I doing the right thing? What if we haven’t enough food? or do the kids really want to hike 10 miles today?

The problem is, it’s all wasted time and effort. Every time I thought I knew my kids limits, they’ve surpassed them and more. If you would like some examples please read on;

October 2015. The kids are 4, 6 and 8 and we hike up Snowdon for the first time. It takes us 9 hours up the PYG track and down the Miners. There is no carrying, no crying and nothing but good spirits and excitement. The furthest they’ve walked before today is 3/4s of a mile around the rather flat Gratham Water. Tomorrow they’ll hike the Mynffordd Track up Cadair Idris and our family love affair with the mountains begin.

cropped-cropped-west-highland-way-116111.jpgApril 2017. The West Highland Way. I plan the trip to last 12 Days, each one spent hiking for approximately 8 miles. The kids will carry as little as possible, maybe their water bottles, a few snacks, a teddy and their waterproofs in the unlikely event they aren’t wearing them.
We complete the trail in 9 1/2 days, including an almost 13 miler on the penultimate day. The kids carry their own sleeping bags, as well as the stuff I had planned on and Ev carries a full 25l rucksack over 100 miles by the time you add on travel days. Isaac is 5 and hiked every single step.

snow

Easter 2018. Glyndwrs Way. I plan for good, if a little damp trail conditions, cool temperatures and the potential for sunshine, warming days but potentially cold overnight. We aim for 12 miles a day to complete the trail in the time we have.
What we get is a corridor of ankle deep mud, persistent drizzle and a cold wind. We can’t find any rhythm to our hiking due to the constant slipping and sliding. We manage 10 miles on day one and nearly 15 on day two. We wake up on the next morning covered by 3 feet of snow. The kids are excited to press on. We lose the trail in zero visibility. We are cold and wet, the tent is soaked from the previous night and there is no where to get dry. The forecast is for more rain and snow overnight. I make the decision to call it off. Now the children cry, they want to keep going. In the hardest hiking conditions I have ever encountered, they are loving it.

October 2018. Isle of Wight Coastal Path. We have 9 days to do 68 miles (on paper) We travel light. We can pick up food most days. The kids carry all their own stuff (except tent and stove which we all share). We finish the trail in 5 days covering 78 miles (according to the GPS), averaging 15 a day but including two 18 mile sections. The kids are amazing, even on the never ending road walking of day 1.

I suppose what I’m getting at is that whatever challenge we give them, they rise to it. They never cease to amaze me and while there is some sense in “knowing their limits”, surely it’s better to be constantly surprised by their determination, capability and adaptability and embrace it wholeheartedly.  After all, they are the biggest adventure.

Review: Xero Shoes Terraflex

I bought this product with whatever money I had left after the kids had been fed, clothed and sheltered.
The opinions expressed in the post are my own.
*There are affiliate links in this post which will earn us a small commission if purchase these shoes.

Back in the summer I was in the market for some new trail shoes. I like to hike in trail runners rather than a heavier boot, especially in the summer, and while some of our American hiker friends don’t bother buying “waterproof” shoes, I’ve always looked for something that will keep the water out.  To be honest, when you have size 13 feet, the choice of shoe in my budget is rather limited, there’s plenty of choice in the budget range and a bit more in the high end but little around the £60 – £100 mark which for me is a real investment. I ended up with a choice between 2 well known brands but I’ve had well known brands let me down plenty of times in the past.

A couple of days later I stumbled upon a Facebook post from Xero Shoes which pricked my interest. Barefoot/Minimalist trail runners might work for a hiking shoe. But they’re over in the states and won’t have my size. Not only did they have a UK online store but they also carried my size, and in my budget. I made a decision. If I’m risking £80 of my hard earned cash on shoes, I’d rather give it to this smaller company thats doing things a little different than another global behemoth. Two days after ordering they were on my feet.

First impressions were great, really comfy, good fit and looked great. Having read a little about going to minimalist footwear I knew I shouldn’t go out and hike around the Isle of Wight first time. So I started with a few shorter hikes, an overnight hiking trip with my daughter and other than a little extra soreness in my calfs, they were really good and coped with the lowland, Isle of Wight terrain.

Time for a test. We hiked a 20 odd mile loop in the Brecon Beacons including a climb up Pen y Fan and again they performed really, really well. And when the rain came and my feet got wet, they dried out in no time. Another benefit, which may be from the shoes or could be from some weight loss was a lack of the usual knee pain I suffer from while coming down a mountain. I’m no scientist but something was improved.

Over the rest of the summer they have become my shoe of choice for everything except work and so when we decided on our last big trip of the year, I was always going to wear them for hiking around this little island. So how did these shoes cope on a 78 mile hike on mixed terrain at the end of October.


Xero Shoes

TerraFlex Trail Running and Hiking Shoe

XeroShoes UK


Overall they were great and any downsides can be placed on the trail itself. At the end of the first day, the soles of my feet were in agony but they had just hiked 17 miles on tarmac and my wife’s feet were just as sore in here well padded boots.  A little calf soreness the next day which went away after the first mile or so and the shoes felt great on every terrain except tarmac, which wasn’t a major issue again until the last day.  The soles of my feet were sore for the day after finishing but by the second morning they were fine, and there was never the thought of blisters on the whole hike.

I’m glad I took the risk with these shoes and while they may take some getting used to if moving from traditional hiking boots, I’ll definitely be continuing my foray into barefoot hiking. I may try out the Daylite Hiker next season, they look really cool but only have womens sizes on the UK store at the moment.  Now If only they’d do a minimalist work boot!

Round the Island; Not a Trip Report

So while this isn’t quite a trip report of our hike around the Isle of Wight, which will come in the next couple of weeks once we’ve sorted the 1300ish photos, I do feel I want to write something about the hike which we finished less than 48 hours ago. (Today is Friday, we finished Wednesday evening, and this should be up Monday).

Lets call it a highlights package!

Day One – Gurnard to St Helens. 17 and a bit miles.

Ryde Seafront

Highlights – The section from Ryde to St Helens. Our first real experience at night hiking. Isaacs reaction to reaching St Helens, which he recognised, even in the dark, from a recent school trip. £6 Camping.

Lowlights – “Tarmac-geddon”. Apart from maybe the last mile and a half, the whole day was on tarmac or alongside a road, and after leaving East Cowes we hardly saw the coast until Ryde esplanade.

Hazels Round the Island - 110Day Two – St Helens to Shanklin. 13 ish miles.

Highlights – Through the Duver and across the causeway at St Helens. The climb up Culver and resulting ice cream. Late lunch on the beach. Playing the Penny Arcades on Sandown Pier (Kids Vote for that one).

Lowlights – The Penny Arcades on Sandown Pier (Dads). More tarmac. Few wild camp opportunities so had to use another campsite.

Day Three – Shanklin to Somewhere along the South Coast – 14 ish miles.

Hazels Round the Island - 263Highlights –  The landslip from Luccombe to Bonchurch, the Sea wall to Ventnor. The Cliff tops to St Lawrence, Steephill Cove, finding new beaches, the views from above Blackgang, Wild Camping on the cliffs beyond Chale, the whole day really.

Lowlights –  None, best day on the trail.

Day 4 – Chale – Totland -Around 17 miles

Hazels Round the Island - 371Highlights – Trail all except last mile. Expansive views.Ice Cream at Totland. Climb up Tennyson Down and along to Needles. Spotting a fox about 3 feet away from us and having a staring contest with it.

Lowlights – Views of Needles obscured by the Old Battery which requires entry fee and was closed anyway. Once again someone commoditising our natural landmarks!

 

 

Day 5 – Totland to Home – 18 and a half miles.Hazels Round the Island - 554

Highlights – Second breakfast in Yarmouth, Bouldnor Forest and Hampstead. Thorness Bay and the last 1/2 mile to Gurnard Beach where we were practically jogging to catch the sunset from our local beach.

Lowlights – Some very dodgy road walking through Shalfleet and around Porchfield. Running out of trail.

We had a really good time on the trail and would definitely repeat some of it again, probably Shanklin round to Yarmouth, but you can keep East Cowes to Ryde, I’m never hiking that section again. #Tarmac-geddon.

I’ll do a full trip report in the next couple of weeks so keep your eyes peeled, click the follow button or find us on social places @justupthetrail

Cheers

Rob

Image

First Time for Everything

These 3 were so excited to be climbing their first ever mountain and I can’t find the words to tell you how happy I was, just to be in the mountains with the kids at long last. It didn’t matter if we made it to the summit or not (we did) we just wanted to expose the children to the adventure of it all. 3 Years ago but it feels like a lot longer and just yesterday at the same time.

 

Pen y Fan 2018

After almost a day in the car and a 12 month delay, we had reached the base of our objective. Pen Y Fan. We had tried to climb this peak in the Brecon Beacons the previous year and were met with torrential rain and gales so we ran away to find some waterfalls instead. This time, in the midst of a glorious summer, we had to be luckier with the weather, right?

We planned a rather ambitious route rather than a straight up and down from the nearest car park, after all it was a long way to come for one mountain. So for us it was to be 4 named summits, forests, a reservoir, a historic town and a canal tow path over 2 or 3 days and around 28 miles.

Traffic had hindered our journey and the drive which should take 3 and a bit hours, resulted in a 7 hour car ride. We managed to get to Talybont on Usk around 3 pm and decided to crack on, get up into the woods and find a spot near the reservoir to camp. Once along the tow path and up through some hedgerow lined trail, we joined the Taff Trail which would lead us around the reservoir. We made good progress for the next couple of hours along the wide, flat gravelled trail which I’m guessing is focussed on cyclists, dodging a couple of vans throwing up dust as they serviced the bunkhouse accommodating some Naval Cadets (who kindly refilled our bottles).

Happy Hiking Kids

If you know our kids, however, there’s only so much wide, flat trail they can take before getting a little weary so we made a decision to leave the Taff Trail at the first opportunity, following a little track down the hillside to the back of the reservoir and onto the road for a mile or so where we found a lovely spot to have a little supper and a paddle in the stream.

We pressed on, along the road and picked up the Beacons Way on the south east side of the mountain. We started climbing steadily as the sun was dipping below the mountain, and the kids, Isaac especially, were getting thoroughly tired out. Considering they were up and about to catch a ferry at 6.30am and they were now on the side of a mountain at gone 10 at night, they had done really well. Fortunately we found a really good, flat spot to throw the tarp for the night, and while the long grass was a bit scratchy and tickley, it was fine for us.

Fan Y Big Wildcamping

Actually fine doesn’t really cut it. That was the most perfect night for wildcamping ever. Think about it, make a list of every thing you want for a wild sleep out. On a mountain, flat spot to sleep on, warm, dry, clear sky and stars, no dew and a super moon! Oh and Mars visible to the South (ish). We all fell asleep stargazing and by the morning we had all wriggled out of the tarp and were just sleeping in the grass, cowboy style. Perfect.

We woke up with the sun (about 4.30ish) and slowly packed everything away before starting to climb what turned out to be probably the steepest section of the trail (or it was morning legs) before stopping for a porridgey breakfast and some coffee. With our bellies full we started making our way to our first summit, Fan Y Big, going slightly wrong for a bit and recovering soon enough but now the early morning sunshine was disappearing behind a wall of unforecasted grey.

Tagging the top of Fan Y Big and dropping down into a bit of a saddle we decided to bypass Cribyn because of the impending downpour and to be honest, a cup of coffee felt much better than another fairly steep climb. We picked up the trail which took us around the back of Cribyn, dodging some ponies, and onto the climb of Pen Y Fan itself. Half way up this section we were buzzed by the helicopter practicing its landing on Cribyn before flying right by us, banking steeply and giving the kids a wave.

DSCF0258

The kids really enjoyed this little section and before we knew it we on top of Pen Y Fan, albeit 12pm already, and looking at Corn Du for our 3rd summit of the hike. Then the clouds burst and visibility reduced to next to nothing so we decided to get out of Dodge and off the mountain. It was the lightning that made our minds up really. We dropped off the northern trail leading off the summit and headed downwards through the rain, which by now was persistent and would be for the rest of the day, and headed for Brecon.

Basically we decided to cut off an eight mile section of our planned route, back on the Taff Trail, and see what the weather decided to do. It would have been an uncomfortable night for the kids in the tarp, on wet ground and persistent rain so on arrival in Brecon, Hazel found them some hot chocolate and I jumped onto a bus back to the car. When I came back to pick them up they were soaking wet in the play park, but very very happy.

Ok, I know we didn’t do what we had planned but we still climbed 2 mountains, slept under the stars and a super moon and hiked some 21 miles in just over 24 hours and if that’s not an adventure, I don’t know what is!!

Meet the Family.

Please allow me to introduce the stars of this little blog, the kids.

Evan 

IMG_1452Ev is the eldest of the bunch, he’s 11 as I write this and we can’t believe where the time has gone. He’s a steady hiker, although he much prefers hiking in the afternoons and is generally most concerned with the availability of snacks. He also enjoys scrambling around on boulders and has started rock climbing at a local sports centre. Most importantly, he is great company on trail and carries a fair amount of stuff for us. He’s like a little pack pony, so much so his trail name should be “El Burro”. You can watch the little hiking film we made together in the New Forest here.

Lil

IMG_1395Meet Lil, she’s 9, and while she’s sandwiched between the two boys she really holds her own. She is a great hiker, a bold climber and is fearless on the slackline. She’ll try anything in search of adventure and will always be the wettest or muddiest child as soon as possible. Later this year Lil and I and will be trying out hammock camping for the first time  and we really can’t wait. You can read her own account of her birthday hike here

Isaac
IMG_1824

Here’s Isaac, he’s 7 and being the youngest his hiking resume sounds the most impressive. He climbed Snowdon and Cadair Idris at 4, Moel Siabod at 4 and 3/4s and hiked the entirety of the West Highland Way at 5 and a half. He’s a real trooper on the trail and will often be far ahead of the rest of us, looking for scrambly bits! He’s also another one that’s fearless on the climbing wall and wants to climb in the Olympics when he’s bigger!

Mum and Dad or Hazel and Rob if you’d prefer!

IMG_0212We have made our home on the Isle of Wight and while we’re a little far from the mountains, we have found plenty of adventures on the island. We’re the proud parents of 3 adventurous and hardy little people. Whatever challenge we have undertaken, they have risen to meet it and we are  firm believers that kids are more capable and adaptable than they are ever given credit for. We look forward to many, many more adventures with these three and hope to share them with you.