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Way back in time before the onset of adulthood I enjoyed countless days heading into the hills of Yorkshire with nothing more than a squashed sandwich & youthful sense for adventure! Despite long past youthful and work commitments keeping me in the city, the sense of adventure and love for the outdoors never left me. After digging my boots out and returning to the hills I attended a number of courses to improve my hill knowledge and skill base, during one of these courses it was suggested I join the Mountain Leader Training scheme and was delighted go on to gain the MOUNTAIN LEADER Award in April 2012. As well as spending time on the hills and mountains of the UK I have also enjoyed trips to the Nepalese Himalaya, Swiss & French Alps, Mallorca’s Tramuntana, Andorran & French Pyrenees, Morocco’s High Atlas, Tanzania’s Mt Meru & Kilimanjaro, Argentinian & Chilean Patagonia and winter expeditions to Norway’s Hardangervidda. Since gaining the ML I have also gained the SINGLE PITCH AWARD, INTERNATIONAL MOUNTAIN LEADER AWARD and the WINTER MOUNTAIN LEADER AWARD. I am now enjoying working in a freelance role whilst trying to get out climbing as much as possible.

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Big Bad Bob's Brecon Beacons Birthday Boot Bashing.

Earlier this week it was my good friend Bob's birthday which gave us an excuse to meet up for a couple of days in the Brecon Beacons.
I met Bob just over a year ago on a trip to the High Atlas of Morocco and was also lucky enough to meet up with him again last October to share a memorable trip to Patagonia.

 'Lord Bob of Putney', to give him his proper title, originally hails from the dark satanic smog filled streets of Salford (on t'wrong side o'ills)  but moved to London some years ago to be close to his beloved Arsenal Football Club. Bob gained the title Lord for his heroics in the Napoleonic wars, helping to defeat the diminutive power mad Frenchie at Waterloo. For Bob's role in this famous victory he was given vast swathes of London where he built a family home on stilts so he could watch the Zebra, gazelle and wilder beast graze majestically on his lawns when he was not 'down the Arsenal'.

 Being a life long 'Gunner' Bob was the obvious choice to take command of the big guns during the North Africa campaign of the Second World War where his input was decisive and helped Field Marshal Montgomery turn the tide of the war. Being a modest man and already having a 'Lordship' Bob shunned the lime light and let 'Monty' take the credit for getting 'zee krauts on zee hop', though his famous catch phrase does live on in the memory of many North Africans where the mention of his name will have waitresses scampering down to the medina in Marrakech will the call of 'nuts please, some nuts for the table!'.
 (Lord) Bob is also credited as being the inventor of the pencil with an eraser at one end incorporated in the design for which countless children were admitted to hospital to have the rubber removed from their ear. He was the inspiration for The Beatles 'Sergeant Pepper' album after describing the vivid dreams he experienced when guiding countless teams to summit Everest (i've seen the ice axe he used!) to an overawed Elvis Presley and, it turns out, John Lennon who was 'ear wigging' whilst waiting in line to get an autograph  from (Lord) Bob. Recent years have seen (Lord) Bob select his projects carefully so he can spend more time with his beloved Arsenal where he is head coach.


Meeting (Lord) Bob in Brecon on the Sunday evening we looked at maps and weather reports before hatching a plan to walk up the famous Pen Y Fan before heading East to take in Cribyn, and Fan y Big before dropping down to pick the vehicle up in the village of Pencilli.

Setting off after our kit 'faff' we made our way South along 'Cefn Cwm Llwch and were soon making our way to the summit of Pen y Fan, meeting the snow line and bitingly chilly winds at around 700m.
North Face Of Pen Y Fan with steep drops covered in snow, nice!
(Lord) Bob makes for the summit.

Myself and (Lord) on Pen Y Fan

After the compulsory summit 'selfie' (Lord) Bob kindly checked my bearing and we set off through the low cloud to descend then rise steeply up to 'Gribbin' then onto 'Fan y Big' meeting a school group on the way. We didn't get the opportunity to go on mountain trips whilst at school, I suppose it would have been a long way in the horse drawn carriages....
He's not camera shy isn't (Lord) Bob!

No complaints as to the weather.
 From Fan y Big we hand railed along the path following the rim of 'Craig Cwareli' before descending 'Gist Wen' and into muddy farmland before reaching Pencelli.
 Overall we completed the slightly over 16km route in just under six hours, including snack stops and photograph opportunities. Neither of us had been to the Brecon Beacons before and we both stated how much we had enjoyed the route and the landscape, (Lord) Bob also stating the area would fit rather well into his property portfolio!

 Tuesday - and unfortunately I awoke to find my constitution in a somewhat delicate state. With this in mind I studied the weather forecasts and put forward the idea it would be a bit of a struggle attempting anything more than a low level stroll. We were to meet up with our friend and local lad Dan Bryan so decided to make use of his local knowledge. 
 I had also met Dan on the same Morocco trip where I had met (Lord) Bob. He is a qualified Mountain Leader and is also a member of the local Mountain Rescue team, we had met up many times during the summer as I am teaching him to climb.
Team orange 'Tango'
 With the rain unrelenting, strong winds and a forecasted -15C wind chill on the tops Dan suggested a low level walk to the Sgwd-yr-Eira (the Snow Waterfalls), I happily agreed.
 Leaving Penderyn, fully waterproofed against the constant rain, Dan led us along the sodden track until we reached the descent towards the waterfall. I have to admit, even as a native of Yorkshire (God's own country), this was an impressive waterfall and on top of that it was possible to walk behind the falling water.

Suitably impressed, and with waterproofs tested to the maximum, we retuned walking back behind the waterfall and retraced out tracks to Penderyn.

Summary - it was good to meet up with (Lord) Bob again and for us both to enjoy our first visit to the Brecon Beacons, the National Park may not have the height and ruggedness of some of the other National Parks but is a very interesting and beautiful landscape which is easily accessible to many people.

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