The Road goes ever on and on; Down from the door where it began;
Now far ahead the Road has gone; And I must follow, if I can;
Pursuing it with eager feet; Until it joins some larger way;
Where many paths and errands met; And whither then? I cannot say.

[JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings]

Monday, 13 August 2007

A First Trip To The Brecon Beacons (Part 1)

On a work-day, I get out of bed between 6am and five past. I shower, vaguely do something with my hair, faff about which suit to wear, throw a not inconsiderable amount of food in a bag and leave the house by 6.30am. A twenty five minute turn around time.

Somehow, when we’re going for a walk we can never manage anything so timely. On Friday I was once again in despair over our ability to faff as, even with the bags all packed and ready to go, it still took us an hour and a half between getting up and leaving the house (not so bad when you consider that our record this year stands at 3 hours).

Off to the BBNP we drove, arriving at the recommended parking spot late in the morning, after a trip to a local Visitor Centre to procure a map.

In a rush of blood to the head before we left the car I figured that as the weather forecast had predicted no rain and as the woman who served us in the Visitor Centre confirmed the forecast for no rain, I would not take my waterproof trousers.

It almost goes without saying that within half an hour of leaving the car, the sky had clouded over and it had started to drizzle.

By the time we stopped for lunch at the ‘alternative camping spot’, the drizzle had turned into that style of rain that gets you really wet. I was ruing my decision on the trousers (that is ‘ruing’ in a whinging sort of way, causing Husband to give me a one minute timeslot to get all of my whinging out of the way in one go; had anyone been passing during that minute they would perhaps have thought me a little mad (and as it turned out the rain didn’t get bad enough to warrant using the trousers anyway)).

It was early afternoon when we arrived at the ‘primary camping spot’, with the intention of just checking it out before taking a walk up to the ridge with the intention of taking a circular walk.

Alas, the cloud was down and the rain was still persisting. Visibility at the camp spot wasn’t great and up on the ridge was awful. With no views to be seen, pursuing the circular walk would have achieved only a bit of exercise, so back down to the camp spot we headed.

With a few hours to kill before it was a respectable time to pitch the tent, it seemed like an ideal opportunity to test out the Bushbuddy – and fortunately I’d picked up some sticks early in the walk as it turned out that there was no wood available where we were.

Taking Podcast Bob’s tip that tampons make a very good firelighting material, it only took us a couple of attempts to get it going and we soon had water boiled for tea.

It was 5pm when (with the rain coming down anew) we decided that as we’d seen only one other person out walking all day, and in that the pitching spot was reasonably secluded, we wouldn’t be offending anyone if we pitched the tent at the early hour and took shelter.

A couple of hours later, the rain had stopped and the sky was clearing nicely. Tea was just being heated when Husband spotted someone up on a ridge opposite. The sole figure seemed to be heading in our direction and given the time of day and the total lack of people around, it seemed quite likely that it was one of the expected people.

Ten minutes or so later, another figure appeared on the ridge.

A guessing game of who they may be ensued, which was curtailed when both arrived from different directions at the same time. One turned out to be Litehiker, the other was Alan Sloman

It was pitch dark when a light was seen approaching a couple of hours or so later. The light turned out to be two lights and a while later into camp arrived Ali and Lay

Another couple of hours were then pleasantly spent chatting away, sipping on Alan’s most plentiful whisky supply and watching the occasional interesting light flying across the sky. Never before have I seen a shooting star, never mind a meteor shower. On Friday night I was treated to both in addition to the most amazing display of stars.

Eventually, my icy feet sent me scurrying off to the warmth of my sleeping bag for the night and soon silence fell as the others did likewise.

To be continued…


  1. "Taking Podcast Bob’s tip that tampons make a very good firelighting material....."
    you've got to wonder how he ever arrived at that conclusion
    Lesson learnt on this trip then? Grab the good wildcamp spots before the other buggers do?

  2. >you've got to wonder how he ever arrived at that conclusion

    Funnily enough, as we were sitting there trying to make fire with a fluffed up tampon we were having the very discussion about how in the world Bob found came across that top tip!

  3. In the dim & distant past I seem to recollect Ray Mears using one on a telly programme?

    But the same question still remains...