Monthly Archives: November 2012

Skiing in Scotland

Snow. It’s a wonderful thing isn’t it? It’s one of the few things that can make a whole office stop what they’re doing and run to the window to communally watch the small soft white flakes float majestically to the ground. Snow means Christmas and holidays are near, and for some that spells a skiing or snowboarding trip to some wonderful far flung country.

But… The thing is, it doesn’t have to be far flung. Scotland has recently been named one of the top 15 best value skiing destinations in Europe. And to be more specific, Cairngorm. In fact the place is already covered in snow and pretty chilly too, with the temperature over the next few days looking to drop to -4C.

Beginner or pro, Cairngorm Mountain has a lot to offer. And if you’re not into skiing or snowboarding, you can always do a spot of sledging, walking or climbing. Being one of the coldest and wildest places in Britain, the Cairngorms offer some of the best rock and winter climbing. And if you’re a keen photographer, I hear the Mountain Garden has some beautiful wild flowers.

Cairngorm earlier this year

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Introduction to climbing

I’m relatively new to climbing, but I already love the sport. It’s a great social activity and a fantastic work out. So if you’re thinking about taking up climbing, here are a few things to get you started.

If you live in the Cardiff area, Boulders is a brilliant place to try some indoor climbing. Is there a great place near you? I sometimes travel around and try out different places, so it would be great to hear about the places you love.

Guitars and mountains

Plas Y Brenin’s Big Acoustic Walk sounds like the perfect escape from a hectic lifestyle

I’ve always been one who enjoys being in the mountains, so my face lit up when I heard Plas Y Brenin was holding a musical walking weekend called The Big Acoustic Walk on 8-9 December.

The idea of spending a weekend walking in the mountains and evenings in a cosy pub listening to acoustic music sounds like the perfect escape from the hectic journalism masters I currently find myself on.

The weekend is designed to suit walkers and musicians of all abilities, allowing you to choose guided walks ranging from ‘very gentle’ to ‘highly challenging’. It’s a great place to catch up with friends and family and meet fellow mountain enthusiasts too.

the perfect escape 

I’ve always wanted to walk in Snowdonia. The closest I’ve been is Cadair Idris, at the bottom end of the park. That was awesome, but I’ve heard the further north you go the more beautiful it gets.

So the days will be spent walking in the mountains with Plas Y Brenin’s guides and instructors. I find it’s always great walking with people who know what they’re doing – you can learn so much.

Post walk will involve a hearty cuppa tea (or coffee) and some freshly baked cakes, followed with a warming meal and an open mic night in the bar. If you’re one for getting your guitar or ukulele out, this will be your opportunity to shine. Or if you’re like me, you’ll just sit back and enjoy.

I hear there are fantastic views of the Snowdon Horseshoe from the bar – the perfect end to an adventurous weekend. The bar boasts some lovely locally brewed ales and hearsay has it Brenin Beers is pretty good!

You can book via the website. Plas Y Brenin also runs a number of other brilliant courses, including the Scottish Introduction to Winter Climbing, Discover Mountain Biking and Adventure Sports Holidays.

Rapanui was jealous of these girls

I don’t know if you know Rapanui? If you don’t, you should! They’re an award-winning eco-fashion brand based on the Isle of Wight and they make pretty awesome clothes. And you guessed it, they’re ethical! They do socks and jumpers and footwear and the like – all really cool designs and fantastic quality.

And they’re that cool a brand that… They have a skate ramp in the office! Apparently the founders Rob & Mart Drake-Knight even find time in their lunch breaks to go fishing or for a quick dip in Sandown Bay.

Anyway, I was on their website and spotted this cool video of a couple of girls longboarding down a long winding road in the States. If only we had their weather!

I’d say you need a bit of guts to do that, but what a way to live!

Challenge 1: Bring some variety to your running routine

Running can be fun, but sometimes we need to vary our routine a little to help improve our fitness, work different muscles and keep it both interesting and challenging.

So if you’re used to getting your trainers on and pounding the pavement or trail for 15 minutes, half an hour or an hour, get ready for this week’s challenge.

We’re going to introduce some leg exercises to your running routine. Strong legs are really important for running (obviously!) and working on strengthening your legs also helps prevent injuries. Brilliant! Where do I begin I hear you ask.

Whether you run for 15 minutes or hours on end, breaking your run up to introduce some leg exercises can really help build your strength up. But please, only do what you’re comfortable with. You can intersperse the exercises with some light jogging to help relax the muscles, and the number of repetitions and exercises is completely up to you.

Here are a few different leg exercises you can do – all will work different muscles.

Calf raises 

Lunges 

Squats (these are just as effective without stairs)

Don’t forget to warm up before your work out and cool down afterwards. You’ll need to stretch after all those leg exercises.

Another great exercise for the legs is running up and down stairs, so if you come across some on your running route, why not give it a bash? See if you can build up the number of times you can run up and down the stairs over the coming weeks and months?

So, give it a go and let me know how you get on!