The rain in Spain falls mostly on the plain….so I visited the mountains of the North….mistake

Ummm well it turns out that statement is from “My Fair Lady” and is rubbish, the rain in Spain actually falls in the mountains of the North…which of course is where my walking adventure took me.  Damn and blast.

A little sun on the hills above Sabero, a village with old fashioned traditions and great tapas…

Back in her own village Mar took on the persona of a diva, not sure whether it was Julie Andrews or Meryl Streep but a diva she was.

The hills are alive…or I remember Africa….

Sabero is great, a town where you can still hear the toot toot of the knife-sharpening man, or the tra-la-la of the baker, or even the whoop whoop whoop of the Nunan just given another plate-full of tapas…yum.

Possibly the most fattening dish on the planet. Black pudding, pork belly, chorizo and Fabada beans….Mar really!

But mostly we were here for the hills and in particular the Cares Gorge in the Picos des Europa – a fantastic 24k stride along a disused hydro maintenance track.  One mistake which certainly took our breath away but was close to taking my life as well!  Totally brilliant and I learnt what peligroso meant….yes…dangerous.  The gorge is a purported mile deep in places, wow.

We opted not to take the above route….wise, very wise…

Jaysus now that was not in the plan a wrong turn down a closed route with no one and nothing but rough shale and goats….ouch

Talking of goats I could not resist this little guy lurching about on the hill-tops above the gorge.

Easy tiger these hills are not for the feint hearted…

I have not even begun to mention the deeply historic but also deeply damp Covadonga, with an upgraded room and more fab restaurants the mellow mist just added to the atmosphere.  A visit is a must.

I could get religious….

I am not a long time fan of Spain and had no idea about the walking, the glorious food, the hospitality, the lush countryside (rain), I have a million more pictures and a million more memories and yet again say just do it,  jump on an Easy Jet or a Ryan Air the Euro is low and the travel is cheap but worth every cent and perhaps a little more.

The dam that drowned Riano but what a view

Another snap of me….well why not…


London was getting tiresome, mountain leaderene Annie needed a hill to climb..Snowdon again go on then…

Week-after-week of rain soaked rolling fields were having an impact, the gym was more attractive than a march, well something needed to be done.  The Spanish (Mar) The Brazilian (Alessandra) the Welsh (Mochyn Bach) had all pursuaded me it was to be Snowdon, not at all sure this ranked as a challenge but Nunan gave in.  One rule – I got to do the cooking and there was to be nothing vegetarian about it (sorry Alessandra).

View from the cottage – Mar had the fear

Cottage booked, Polo serviced (MG not suitable), shopping done, sat nav setup, we were off….250 miles later…sat nav confused, cottage not found, tummies feeling empty….15 miles of handbrake turns later we arrived.  (Note to self a postcode is not an address).

After a fine pub supper at Betws-y-Coed,  and some truly dreadful “live skiffle” music it was back to a toasty fire to get ready for the big climb.

It begins – a glorious people free climb but those clouds looked a bit serious.

The team had done a little training but realised that hopping and skipping along 10 mile home counties hikes was not quite the same as clambering up the pride of Wales in a rain storm.  (Best local weather check here).  Annie had a little more under her belt ready for the marathon walk in September, sponsor me…

A little time to shoot the breeze en route I took a few snaps with my new camera….sadly none were brilliant…in fact none were even average but I include them here anyway.

A budding Snowdon on Snowdon LOL

No views due to fog, so scenes from the summit include only Mar’s fingertips clutching on for dear life….a fear of heights became evident at the last five metres, bizarre (no empathy here).

“I never wanted to get to the top…..” Said after two hours twenty minutes climbing, good grief

But wait….not all was lost….Mochyn Bach, aka Amanda, told us that the pub used as the base for first 1953 Everest team was around the corner.  A pint of lager and a bit of history well come on then.  Pen-Y-Gwryd a really great little place full of history and atmosphere.  The staff were a little too European (i.e. not Welsh) but this place is really worth a stop.

Everest team’s relics ….these boots were made for climbing

The real deal, yes this was the kit they used in 1953

Snowdon really is a nice little hill for the uninitiated so don’t be scared and get yourself off to Wales for a bit of a scramble.

In case you didn’t know – Annie thinks Britain is beautiful

This will be a confused tale of multiple walks, starting with a stride out on the Purbecks of Dorset, up into Essex for a sharp trot around Audley End, a quick jaunt over to Haslemere (a very cute town), a few bike recces on the Pilgrim’s Way and a final leg stretcher in Knole, May had certainly delivered.

Torrential rain, hail, fog, floods and drought – it’s been a tough start to the year – but….it got a whole lot better…for a bit?

Wow – sunsets glowing ruby red, glades of grasshopper green, skies as blue as a Tory rosette (struggling now I know but better than referencing Maggie’s eyeshadow)…what a month.

Leaving the sea behind, the countryside is still a wow.

The Isle of Purbeck, green-upon-green with swathes of yellow, stunning.

Glorious blossom at Knole

Back up to Knole, blossom abundant and swaggering along trees and hedgerows.

Ummmm but not all good, Rufus had been a bit of a slacker, preferring to hang out with the young Alfie than do Home Counties walks, so Annie had resorted to stealing the gorgeous Lilia for the glorious Haslemere circular, check out this short version.

Haslemere deserved a short back and sides ey Lilia…

Audley End, a fine house indeed, but possibly not worth the £12.50 entry fee, just enjoy the views, daffodils, historic houses, cricket and cream teas…oh.. and check out the renowned (not really) Saffron Trail, yes Saffron Walden was the heart of the Saffron trade in Britain.

Audley End

As the wet weather threatens to return, good for the fish but not the Jubilee, the walks will continue, maybe not with Oakleys perched, but as I always say –

Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass but about learning to dance in the rain….so come on get out there, a fabulous year so far and I think its going to get even better.

Annie needed an adventure…the threat of sunshine and the Jurassic coast with Jilly Flower…let’s do it..

The merry month of May had turned out not to be any more merry than April….my motto might be..”life is not about waiting for the storm to pass but about learning to dance in the rain”….but enough….dancing in the rain is well cracked, I now want to limbo in the sun.OMG Rufus get your paws tidied the sun is out and the Purbecks are begging to be conquered.

Ahoy there sailor…water water everywhere but not a drop….

The ferry from Sandbanks takes a few minutes which is disappointing for some as there is a naturist beach just to the left….no pictures available!

Cycling, kayaking, walking…this Isle is buzzing with people doing, doing, doing… turn now.  Twenty minutes later Kelly, Annie and Jill were on track from The Square and Compass pub at Worth Matravers, famed for their ukele festival (no thanks).

The Jurassic coast, noted for fossils, dinosaur and more

With an England Hockey player and a PE Teacher, Kelly surely no more than 16 years old, as companions it was clear Annie was going to struggle to be King of the Hill today…..or was she…

England 0 – Annie 1 …. now for Kelly

The coastal sections are pretty hilly, luckily the night out on the tiles had not yet taken place so with clear heads and athletic bodies…..ummm well….the team made good progress.

Nunan looking like a reclusive film star who rates herself a bit too highly, Thompson looking a little…well tired LOL

Kayaks, sailboats and windsurfers were out in abundance, my picture seems to have missed all of them, next trip planned is deffo boats, last shot of the sea and inland it was..

Arriving at the obligatory  Clavells tea rooms at Kimmeridge Annie remembered her body was a temple, the athletes both had fully loaded cream teas…ok ok..I snuck a pint of cider.

Kimmeridge home of the monster cream tea..

A bit of blue sky thinking…

I suspect this would not have been as fab if the sun had not been shining but it was so a great little 15 mile circular.  Could not recommend this area more – go on – about three hours drive from London….amazing.

Annie wanted to get away from it all…..ummm perhaps Britain’s busiest mountain was not the right answer…

A week of sunny days spent indoors in London town forced my hand, a mountain adventure was needed, Hankey had a birthday weekend in Snowdonia planned, time to cadge a favour!  Great a Friday cruise up to North Wales, only 265 miles door-to-door and Annie was in the land of sheep and ummm sheep and yes even more sheep – all in good time for supper, lamb…


While the rest of the team larked about in sunshine on the beach at Harlech, 30 minutes from the Pengwern Hall Cottages, I decided that climbing slate in the pouring rain was a smart idea,  Blaenau Ffestiniog, it wasn’t, but was ever so slightly more interesting than a stroll around town…not a lot going on – do ya see?

Snowdon Mountain Railway

No I didn't but what a magnificent feat of engineering from the Victorians

Saturday – yee ha – Snowdon here we come, slight detour due to a little over confidence in our sturdy route masters Hankey and Blythe, so up and over the mountains, stomach churning, Rufus you would not have been happy.

Glorious colours under the copper mine, next to the very chilled Miners route, 4 miles down or 4 miles up

Noting that according to Welsh legend Snowdon is the tomb of Rhita Gawr, a King killing ogre who made cloaks out of the Kings beards, I recommend you not buy the rather hairy looking jumpers and jackets that prevail in local shops.  Don’t worry King Arthur killed Rhita Gawr some time ago so your biggest mortal danger comes from nutters who run past you in their five finger Vibros, Lisa?  Outrageous.

Snowy route up to the top - lovely

What is it about snow and climbers / walkers / snow ballers / random kids…. Hankey how old are you now?

Direct hit...loving the beige trews...not

Snowdon has a number of routes, off piste and on, it was the Pyg up and the Miners down for us, neither of which would trouble a reasonable Saturday walker, note arrive early at the Pen y Pass car park or else you will get a two-mile jog or a sherpa bus trek on top of your march, Annie enjoyed the jog but then Annie is strange.

Annie pops in some sit-ups the pace was not quite up to scratch....titter

A little busy for a getaway stroll but only really messy at the peak

Apart from the usual trauma of the gal whose pants did not fit, the lady who couldn’t skim pebbles on the lake, the lass whose fitness was slightly in question and the birdy who wore socks instead of gloves it all went to plan.  Finished off with a pintilicious Welsh ale (aka Carlsberg) and a few Welsh cakes the team would absolutely recommend Snowdon and the cottage to everyone.  Go on do it.

Japanese whisky sloshed into summit cafe coffee - grand

Winter into Spring into Summer – biking, hiking and a whole lot more…

Early March and oh dear, Mr Fitness was back in town, Annie had the fear!  The forecast was sheet rain with a touch of frost – lets get the mountain bikes out then!  What.  Off to Bewl for a 13 Mile off roader.  Good grief are you sure?  Hee hee, Mothy took two monster tumbles due to his bike having the wrong tyres …. ya right…

Mud glorious mud

Moving into March the weather took a turn for the better, Mothy went back to Qatar so Annie had a leisurely 13.7 stride out on the Ridgeway, Daffodiltastic time of year.

Still missing the big hills, the call of the Lakes is getting stronger and stronger…..but then Harry the hound got in touch and invited Annie for a not to be missed walk around Guildford, ummm it all seemed rather familiar but the weather made up for the lack of contours.

Harry and his boots - stride out for Britain

OMG a boat being driven by a dog...

Yet another walk on the North Downs / South Downs – I am getting the downs… really is time to get away to somewhere else entirely.  Annie tried to escape by running up the sandy hills but was thwarted by a team of ten year olds sand bombing her.  Not good, not good at all.

Rufus is tired of the walks of the South East in spite of the glorious weather.  Watch this space for some tales of outstanding grit and graft on the bigger hills of the North.

London life a bit intense? 13.5 mile Wendover Circular and Rumsey’s Chocolaterie would sort that…

A week in Birmingham, multiple 5k ergos, a late night in London town and a dinner party in the ‘oaks…..time for a tramp in the Chilterns was no longer an option but a necessity, not least to support the communities that are about to be hit by HS2.  The stride was designed by Sharon so no online options but this link will offer a pretty good alternative Wendover Circular.

A view from the Ridgeway - stop HS2

Last time Annie and Rufus hit Tring younger brother Tim was busy browning up, awesome achievement even if it is not a sport that rocks your boat and posted here as a mere homage….

My brother, total committment sport - madness and perhaps not your scene but wow ...

Apparently not a team to worry too much about their bodies being temples, titter, a snack break, followed by a lunch break, followed by the famed Cafe’ in the Woods….hold on Rumsey’s was also on the plan?  Annie stuck to her apples and even Duncan snorted with disdain.

Crisps, sandwiches, cakes, chocolate....good Lord its only a few miles

Yet another walk with no shock-horror, hysteria, LOL, navigational trauma or anything other than glorious countryside.  I say it again and again but use online resources to get a walk if you are not great at plans and maps, but boots on, picnics made and Barbours buttoned is a must this Spring.

Just for the record – Rumsey’s was visited and guess what – it serves mulled wine!!

Mulled wine and chocolate cake, great combo

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