Tag Archives: Hiking

Hiking in Snowdonia

I just went on my first UK hiking weekend!

Given how much I enjoy being outdoors and exploring when I’m on holiday, it’s a bit ridiculous that I haven’t done it before. I’ve trekked in the Himalayas and been on walks/hikes in several other countries (Bolivia, Peru and Brazil in the last year alone), but not in the country I’ve lived in all my life.

Ok, so maybe it wasn’t literally my first hike in the UK – I was able to dust off some old walking boots that haven’t left the country (the cobwebs testify to their dormancy over the last decade or more) – but I’m pretty sure it’s the first time I’ve climbed to the top of anything in the UK.

I’ve thought about this quite a bit; the fact that it’s so common to take for granted what’s on your doorstep. I’ve noticed it all over the world, particularly with Australians, and I’ve joked about falling into the same trap when it comes to what the UK has to offer.

So I’m very grateful to my cousin Claire for inviting me to go to Snowdonia for the weekend, so I could start to put that right. She’s preparing to do the Inca trail to Machu Picchu with my Uncle Jim in October, so this was part of their training. We were also joined by another cousin, Jo, and Claire’s friend, Michelle.

The weather played a huge part in our weekend and the two days were extremely different. On Saturday we were hiking to Cadair Idris, but we hadn’t gone far when visibility started to get worse, which meant we basically spent the rest of the hike in the clouds. At the point we decided to turn back, rain was falling, the wind-chill had picked up and visibility was only about 10-20 metres as we “looked” over a cliff edge (we were supposed to bear right to get to the summit, but we weren’t to know). It wasn’t extreme weather, by any means, but bad enough to sap some of the enjoyment out of it.

Sunday, on the other hand, was perfect! Well, almost perfect! We were climbing Snowdon and the day started with a cloudless sky. It stayed bright for most of the day, apart from at the summit which became shrouded in cloud just as we were approaching. It was a good day for photos, as each part of my photo wish-list was catered for (blue sky, water and elevation) – I’ll add a couple, but you can see more of my photos HERE.

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The walking itself was good fun and everyone did really well – especially my uncle, who noticed a huge improvement since his previous hike up Snowdon just a few weeks earlier. You can see some more details of the hikes on Strava:

Saturday at Cadair Idris on Strava

Sunday at Snowdon on Strava

My biggest challenge was actually getting to Snowdonia and back from Cambridge, but I was very fortunate to be picked up and driven door to door – 8 hours each way. My friend Matt did the Cambridge to Manchester journey and my uncle did the rest – a huge thank you to both of you as well.

I wasn’t overly keen on the prospect of camping and in the end we didn’t need to. On Friday night, the five of us squeezed into a 3-man “pod” at Hendre Hall. Since we arrived late and left early the next morning, it did the job and made for a cosy night’s sleep. Saturday night we were in a bunkhouse, which had a very handy “drying room” for all our wet clothes.

I’m sure this weekend will be the first of many, so a big thank you to Claire, Jim, Jo and Michelle for making it such a good trip.

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Peru, Week Two

This blog is a little bit back to front, chronologically, but as my weekend exploits dominate this post, I’ll start there. 

Sightseeing

On Friday I met up with Paula and Emmanuelle (she’s volunteering in another local project) at lunchtime and we each bought a Boleto Turistico that’s valid for ten days and 14 sites. 

We booked on to a guided tour for that afternoon, which started at Qorikancha (an extra S/15) in the town centre and then took us by bus to four other sites: Saqsayhuaman, Q’enqo, Puka Pukara and Tambomachay. 

View from Qorikancha on to Jardin Sagrado and Av El Sol

Our guide, Carlos, explaining that Cusco is the centre of the world

Shapes in the night sky

View from Q’enqo over a cloudy Cusco

Sunset from Puka Pukara

 

On Saturday I joined Emmanuelle, a keen hiker, on a trip to Tipón. After the 40 minute public bus journey from Cusco to Choquepata, most people get a bus or taxi up to Tipón itself, but we decided to walk up to the entrance to the Parque Arqueológico. Once there, we took our time exploring the site, as opposed to the organised tour groups who had to rush around. 

The view as we walked up to Tipón


On Sunday, I met up with Emmanuelle again and we made an early start as we set off for Pisac at 7am. We were at the entrance to this Parque Arqueológico for 8:15am and barely saw another person on the hike until 11am. It was a beautiful walk in the Sacred Valley and made me think I should do this sort of thing more often. 

This little guy joined us for nearly four hours


Once we got back to the town, we had lunch in Pisac’s famous market and then found a bar to try the local speciality, chicha morada, before heading home for a well earned rest.

Arariwa

Unfortunately, there isn’t much to say about my volunteering at Arariwa in Cusco yet. Paula and I haven’t really got started and it’s hard to see how it’s going to change much – even though we’re here for nine and three months respectively. 

Still, on Monday we were invited to a talk about food and healthy eating for the office staff (most of whom I hadn’t seen before). It lasted for two hours (a good challenge for my Spanish ear) and it seems like it’s the third talk of six – so I know what to expect on the next few Monday mornings.

On Wednesday I took the opportunity to go with Paula and Rosario to visit a potential new client. Nothing really happened but it was good to be out of the office for the first time and interesting to see where he lived.
Paula and I spoke to Mila – who’s helping to coordinate our volunteering project – about our first couple of weeks and we’ve arranged a meeting with el jefe for next week. Fingers crossed it helps!

Spanish classes

This week I had three 2-hour classes: on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday. I really like the classes here – they’re varied, challenging and the teachers are both good (Maria and Laura alternate by the week). 

For the linguists out there, I’ve been working on three different forms of the past tense as well as direct/indirect object pronouns.

Other

I ran to and from Mila’s office for Wednesday’s meeting and it was a little traumatic because I was chased by a group of dogs for about 100m! I’d seen them before and they ignored me, but this time a little one didn’t like the look of me and got excited, then all the others joined in. 

On Saturday, I joined about 15 guys (including some from Arariwa) at 7:30am for their weekly 5-a-side football game. We started with two teams of 5, which increased as more people arrived until we had enough for three teams of 5; then the winning team stayed on the pitch, while the losing team replaced was replaced by the resting team.

A lot of the players were, how should I say, past their prime (my 40 year old colleague was calling them papi), but there was some reasonable talent on display. My team finished unbeaten (and therefore didn’t have a break), even though I consciously didn’t break into a sprint during the 90 minutes (I figure my 20 year head start was enough of an advantage).