Tag Archives: mountains

New Austrian mountain fitness holiday for women, by women

Take your pick of mountain biking or an alpine e-bike tour

Take your pick of mountain biking or an alpine e-bike tour

So the summer’s over. Just about. And the thought that autumn and winter will soon be upon us is becoming an annoyingly real reality. Having had your lovely relaxing holiday, you’re now back to routine, back to the grind. If you’re anything like me, that means you want to go on holiday even more right now. But you’ve done just about all the lounging by the poolside you can do, so what would you think of a fitness and adventure holiday in the beautiful Austrian Alps? Tempting…?

Whether you’ve signed up for the Snowdonia Marathon or been inspired by Glasgow’s Commonwealth Games, this new Austrian alpine escape looks a great way to get motivated and conditioned, ready for your next challenge.

Your hosts for the duration of your mountain fitness holiday

Your hosts for the duration of your mountain fitness holiday

This new four day Mountain Ladies of Lungau fitness escape, run by St. Martin Chalets, is packed with activity. You’ll have a chance to contour the peaks, valleys and trails of Austria’s newest UNESCO Biosphere Reserve alongside some particularly fit locals.

Staying in one of St. Martin Chalets’ beautifully authentic Austrian chalets, in the Southern Alpine region of Lungau, each day you’ll be joined by St. Martin’s Power Princesses. They’ll encourage, guide and motivate you during a mix of alpine sporting endeavours, including trail running, summit walks, mountain biking and rock climbing.

It's not all serious, your hosts are up for a bit of fun too!

It’s not all serious, your hosts are up for a bit of fun too!

All five ladies live for the outdoors and boast plenty of credentials, from trained mountain guides, skiing instructors and UNESCO Biosphere Rangers to accomplished mountaineers, climbers, ski racers and cyclists. No need to be intimidated though… They’re up for plenty of fun too so you can take it as hard or as gentle as you like each day.

Here’s what it’s all about…

Who’s it for? They’ve obviously had a lot of interest from female guests and groups but they actively encourage male guests to pit their skills and fitness against the Power Princesses too!

Who are these ladies? All five ladies have different skills and talents to offer — you can meet them by visiting St. Martin Chalets’ website and scrolling down to ‘THE LADIES AND THE ITINERARY’.

Your home for the holiday, St. Martin Chalets

Your home for the holiday, St. Martin Chalets

Where is it? St. Martin Chalets is located 1.5hrs directly south of Salzburg Airport within the Lungau UNESCO Biosphere, Austria’s largest and newest Biosphere Reserve.

How long is it? This trip lasts four days and three nights, but there is no set departure date, which means longer/bespoke stays are also available. The new itinerary is available until the end of October 2014 and is subject to availability. After this, the next booking slot is between May – October 2015.

How much is it? Prices start at €450 (roughly £360) per person based on six people sharing. This includes chalet accommodation, return airport shuttle transfer, all activities and guiding, plus equipment hire (bikes, rucksacks, helmets, climbing harnesses and poles), use of private gym and sauna, daily chalet breakfast, a stocked fridge and a traditional Austrian chalet supper, plus dinner in a local castle. Not included in the price are flights, meals and car hire, except where stated.

Where can I fly from? Flights depart from London and the UK for Salzburg Airport, from as little as £45 each way.

Where can I get more information? Check out the St. Martin Chalets website — it has plenty of additional information.

A great spot to relax after a tiring day in the mountains

A great spot to relax after a tiring day in the mountains

So, what would I get up to on the fitness break?

Day 1

  • Fly into Salzburg before grabbing the airport shuttle to St. Martin Chalets
  • You’ll then get to know the girls over a few cold Austrian beers and a traditional Austrian ‘Jause’, which is a fantastic dish packed full of delicious cuts of cured meats and local produce (vege version available too). What better way to kick off your stay?! And depending on flight times this can be either before or after your run (see next point)
  • 17:00: Acclimatising 5km trail run along amazing trails and through beautiful mountainscapes
  • 19:00: Evening walk into downtown St. Michael for some more authentic Austrian food that’ll really hit the spot (the Austrians sure can cook!)
Explore Austria’s largest and newest Biosphere Reserve

Explore Austria’s largest and newest Biosphere Reserve

Day 2

  • 08:00: Chalet breakfast (DIY fresh rolls delivered and fridge re-filled daily)
  • Then take your pick from these activities…
    • 09:30: Three to four hours of mountain biking (e-bike optional) at altitudes between 1,000m and 1,900m. The super fit guides will lead you through the ups and downs of Lungau’s beautiful scenery. The girls are all keen mountain bikers, but if you’re looking for something a little more extreme, Isabella is a fearless speed junkie and is known by the locals as Lungau’s downhill lady!
    • 10:00: Climbing (rock or wall depending on weather). Don’t worry, the five ladies know some excellent lines for people of all abilities. Nina is probably their best climber (well she’s the youngest, so she should be). Climbing three times a week, both on the climbing wall and the real thing, she’s super strong.
  • 16:00: Evening trail run ca. 10km through the hills. This option is only if you’re really up for it! Living in the mountains keeps you lean and fit and there’s nothing like ending the day with a good jog. Plus it means you can eat cakes and pastries without feeling guilty — yay! Kerstin is the ‘gazelle’ of the team, and with perfect calves, she’ll motivate you to keep going!
  • 19:00: Catered chalet supper. Here’s a little secret… They’ve done a deal with the owners of the only Michelin Star restaurant in the region. Lucky you! They provide your chalet catering, and don’t worry, you’ll get served up mountain-sized portions of delicious local dishes. It’s pretty darned good!
The beautiful Castle Moosham lies just 4km from St. Martin Chalets

The beautiful Castle Moosham lies just 4km from St. Martin Chalets

Day 3

  • 06:00: Breakfast roll delivery (pack your rucksacks with sarnies)
  • 08:00: Summit climb — reach the heavens at 2,700m above sea level. Depending on how fast you are, two of the girls will whip you into shape over a five to six hour mountain hike over Alpine terrain. They’ll even hold your hand when it gets a bit precarious!
  • Lunch on the mountain
  • 17:00: Free time — use of gym and sauna
  • 19:00: Supper in the medieval castle, Burg Mauterndorf

Day 4

  • 07:30: Chalet breakfast before airport shuttle departs (depends on flight times)

All images courtesy of www.holidaystoaustria.com

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Interview: Adventurer Ed Farrelly

Ed Farrelly, Khan Tengri expedition, 2012

In the back of a Russian heli after leaving Khan Tengri base camp at the end of expedition, 2012 (c) Ed Farrelly

I can’t tell you how long I’ve been waiting for this opportunity, but finally I’ve had the awesome privilege of interviewing 21-year-old adventurer and mountaineer Ed Farrelly! Why is he so awesome? Well in 2012 Ed ranked 6th in a list of the 20 most seasoned adventurers, explorers and expedition leaders in Men’s Fitness magazine. And currently, you’ll find he’s training for his next adventure — a solo expedition to climb Khan Tengri on the Kazak/Kyrgyz/China border this summer.

But adventuring is not all this young man does. He’s also studying for a politics and development degree at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. In awe yet? Well let’s get on with it then… I’ve left this interview unedited, as his answers were pretty raw and real. So, enjoy!

What’s your very earliest memory of adventuring?

Well a relative took me up Tryfan when I was six, and as far as I’m concerned, from then on I was hooked. It’s actually quite funny, because a couple of weeks back Tryfan topped the polls in a survey done by Trail magazine, as the most loved peak in the UK! I reckon most will agree that it doesn’t take much to catch the adventure bug. I have also always had a personality that can never do things by halves, which I think plays a part in why it spiralled so much from there.

Who’s been your inspiration to get where you are today?

I don’t really have one single inspiration, it’s been more a sort of collection. I admire people like Bear Grylls who have been able to very successfully turn a passion into a career, but I also draw on guys like Messner, who had skill that was out of this world and without whom the sport would not have progressed. I’m a mere mortal in comparison to those lads.

Ed Farrelly, Amphu Lapcha Pass, Nepal, 2010

Amphu Lapcha Pass, Nepal (2010), two days after Ed had become the youngest person to summit Baruntse (7,129m)  (c) Ed Farrelly

What’s your next adventure and how are you preparing for it? What are you most and least looking forward to?

I’m heading off on the #solo2014 expedition to climb Khan Tengri on the Kazak – Kyrgyz – China border in summer 2014. It’s basically an attempt to become the youngest Briton to solo a mountain over 7,000m.

My prep so far has mainly revolved around running. I’m in the process of building myself up to a base fitness level from where I can then begin exercising a little more strategically. I run about 25 miles a week I guess.

I’m looking forward to the same thing I always do, seeing the mountain come into view for the first time and thinking, “Wow, what the hell am I doing here?!” The mental challenge is what it’s all about.

Why do you choose to work on your own sometimes? What do you love and hate about it?

I don’t always work alone. Indeed all of my big adventures so far have been as part of a team. For me, this is a new challenge and a very different one from previous. Operating solo is very mentally straining. I have no one to fall back on and every decision I make is my own. Ultimately if something goes wrong, the chances of help are far slimmer. In that respect, it’s very much a double edged sword, the rewards are bigger but so are the potential consequences. Either way, what I can be sure of, is that experiences in the past have shaped the way I view mountaineering and make me sure that I’m doing this for the right reasons. Whether summit or fail, it’s already a success.

What’s been the craziest/scariest thing you’ve done in your life so far?

Hmmm… That’s a really tough one, there have been quite a few strange experiences I’ve ended up in. I guess the No.1 that sticks out was Aconcagua in 2011. Tragically one of my team mates passed away on the mountain and I ended up in hospital with frostbite. It was a life changing experience to be a part of, and has completely shaped what I’ve done since. No one ever thinks they will end up as part of something like that, it’s unreal. Coming out of it I asked myself endlessly why I did a sport that was potentially fatal and it took me a long time to answer.

Do you still want to be doing this when you’re 70? 

I want to continue doing what inspires me and never settling for second best. Whether my body permits it, I guess that could involve climbing or maybe it’s just getting out of bed in the morning and taking the dog for a walk. Everyone has their limits. I strongly believe it’s more about pushing that than anything else. I think legacy is also really important. In the same way that we are inspired by those that come before us, we also have a responsibility to inspire the next generations.

Ed Farrelly, Amphu Lapcha, Nepal, 2010

Nepal in 2010 on the Amphu Lapcha – one of Ed’s favourite shots (c) Ed Farrelly

What advice would you offer females who aspire to do the stuff you do? Do they face different challenges to men?

I think it’s actually quite simple. If you have a long term goal, begin by coming up with an idea that will take you closer towards that, plan it and then execute it. If you take things one step at a time, it’s amazing how far you’ll get. Also in the process of execution you might well decide that your long term goal was wrong and change it. Adventure is all about trial and error and is very much an evolving concept, centred around the individual (it’s not wrong to change your mind).

I actually think that when it comes to adventuring, women and men face pretty much the same challenges. Mountaineering like most sports is meritocratic — people are judged on their performance. Also I think mentally women can be just as strong, if not stronger than men, and in that respect adventure sports can often advantage them. The obvious obstacle that does exist is in travelling, there are many parts of the globe where I know it is not safe for women to go it alone, so I guess in that respect there is work to be done!

Have you worked with any inspiring women in your life as an adventurer?

I saw a talk by Rebecca Stephens MBE a few years back, which really impressed me. Again, I thought it was great to see how someone could use their skills from past experiences and translate them into becoming a very successful adventurer. She had a plan and executed it.

If you weren’t an adventurer, what would you be? 

I would probably be a conventional sportsman. I need something physical and mentally challenging to focus on, otherwise I feel like there’s something missing. I guess that would be the next best thing to adventuring. Although it would still be no comparison!

Ed is sponsored by Rab, Adidas Eyewear, Edelrid and Scarpa. If you wantto find out more about this adventurous lad, check out his website (www.edfarrelly.com) or follow him on Twitter (@edfarrelly).

Have access laws ruined our hillsides?

Footpath in Glyders, Snowdonia, Wales (c) Margaux Smale

Access laws have meant an increase in footpaths like this one in the Glyders, Snowdonia (c) Margaux Smale

Acting editor of The Great Outdoors magazine reflects on how access laws, Benny Rothman and the British Mountaineering Council have been instrumental in the evolution of hillwalking.

Hillwalking has seen some major developments since communist activist Benny Rothman and his team trespassed Kinder Scout in a mission to bring walkers the freedom to roam, but acting editor of The Great Outdoors (TGO), Daniel Neilson, says the effects of increased hillwalking means our duty to protect the hills is greater than it has ever been.

Neilson has a long-standing passion for the great outdoors and with a background in adventure travel writing, the 36-year-old has seen first-hand the huge impact The Kinder Trespass has had on hillwalking, hillwalkers and the hills themselves across the UK.

Rothman’s trespass in 1932 may have caused a few unpleasant scuffles between those who simply wanted access to hills and those who owned the land, but it was the key moment in changing laws and opening up access to land in the UK.

“Hillwalking used to be quite a niche thing to do, but now it’s a mass market activity,” Neilson says. People certainly have become incredibly passionate about hillwalking. TGO’s loyal readership over the last 35 years is proof enough.

While we may have access to the mountains now, there are still a number of restrictions in England and Wales; wild camping being one of them. When it comes to access to wilderness, Scotland is one of the most progressive countries in the world says the Eastbourne-based editor.

 

Wild camping in Scotland (c) Margaux Smale

Wild camping is completely legal in Scotland (c) Margaux Smale

“Lots of people would like to see the same kind of freedom across the rest of the UK,” says Neilson. “In England and Wales you’re not supposed to wild camp without the landowner’s permission, although various National Parks, like Dartmoor accept it. In Snowdonia, if you arrive late and leave early and leave no trace, they won’t often know you’ve been there, and in the Lakes as long as you camp higher than the highest fence and away from the public highway you’re generally OK. But every time you’re supposed to get the land owner’s permission.”

A number of organisations have sprung up, working both to protect the mountains and to further promote the increasingly popular leisure pastime. Neilson identifies the Rambler’s Association, the National Parks Association and the British Mountaineering Council (BMC) as three such institutions.

However, the increasing footfall on UK hills and mountains, as well as the rise in charity challenges, such as the Three Peaks Challenge,  has resulted in increased path erosion; a concerning matter for dedicated hillwalkers.

“The problem of path erosion has caused National Parks and authorities, even charities to create quite solid walkways. Some don’t mind it, others absolutely loathe it. Over recent decades routes have become a lot more funnelled to go up certain mountains, like Scafell Pike and Snowdon,” Neilson says.

 

 

Hiking, path erosion, Scotland (c) Tom Doey

What do you think about the increase in solid footpaths like this one in Scotland? (c) Tom Doey

Cairns are also on the increase. “At the top of Scafell Pike they’re everywhere. Some people hate the fact they’re there and go and kick them down. When there’s one every 30 metres it does begin to feel like you’re on a highway,” Neilson admits.

But we can still help protect the hills we have been given the privilege of enjoying by following some basic guidelines. “The really obvious one is sticking to paths,” says Neilson. “People put those paths in for a reason and not sticking to them can lead to us losing lots of flora. It’s certainly happened in Snowdonia, paths seem to be getting ever wider.

“I’m also always amazed at how much litter I see. I think it’s just really simple things. Exploring other mountains and getting off the main trails is another way to increase your enjoyment, because you’re seeing something different and you’re not just following everyone else,” Neilson concludes.

If you're looking for more off-route walks, check out The Great Outdoors' Wild 
Walks and keep an eye out for my alternative route up Y Garn, Snowdonia in TGO's 
February issue out on 4 January 2014.

Training for a 100 kilometre walk

Karrimor boots by Margaux Smale (c)

You’re nearly there! Training for a long-distance walk can be challenging, but here are some tips and advice to help you finish with a smile.

Can you imagine anything better than 24 hours of pure uninterrupted bliss in the great outdoors? Did I mention it would involve walking 100 kilometres? There’s no denying it’s a long way, especially if all done in one go, but don’t knock it before you’ve given it some good consideration.

We all love being outside, appreciating the beauty of the natural world. But what if you want something a little more challenging than a gentle stroll along the Chilterns? Something more like an all day all night trek along Hadrian’s Wall Path or the coast of Cornwall.

Sure there will be some training and preparation involved, and you may find yourself doing something silly like singing Doe, a deer, a female deer to keep yourself awake in the darker hours of the walk, but you don’t have to be superman, or indeed Bear Grylls to conquer a challenge like this.

Sarah Liveing is a 52-year-old mother of three and recently completed her first 100km walk from London to Brighton. A keen adventurer, Liveing tries to walk 50-60 miles a week and has tackled a variety of challenges over the years, including climbing Kilimanjaro, jumping out of an aircraft and cycling from London to Paris. But she didn’t always used to be this fit.

Sarah Liveing walked her first 100km event this summer

Sarah Liveing walked her first 100km event this summer

“In January 2005 I weighed 18 stone and was very unhappy with how I looked, how I acted and what I was eating. I’d signed up to do the Breast Cancer MoonWalk in May 2005, and in preparation I began walking and changing the way I was eating. For the first time in my life I was able to get into my head space,” Liveing shares.

As exciting as an event like this can be, it is not to be taken lightly. Acting editor of The Great Outdoors magazine, Daniel Neilson, believes the key is to work on your endurance. You need to build yourself up to a stage where you can walk all day without any problems.

Adam Brockett, senior events manager for the British Heart Foundation’s London to Brighton Trek, says, “It takes months of training to be able to get to the finish, but it’s so worthwhile when they see the sun come up as they reach Brighton.”

The British Heart Foundation runs an annual London to Brighton Trek  (c) Chenderson

The British Heart Foundation runs an annual London to Brighton Trek (c) Chenderson

It certainly is a worthwhile challenge, and if you’re raising money for charity, even more so. “It’s great to raise money, and I do seriously think that the build up to the event with fundraising is very good for motivating people to train and get fit,” says Neilson.

During training is a good time to trial any new clothing or equipment Neilson says. “You don’t want to be trying anything new out on the day. Tiny problems with gear – even a buckle you find annoying – will be magnified tenfold in an endurance event. Even things like energy gels can have adverse effects when used for the first time.”

One of the biggest challenges on such an event is walking and navigating through the night, so training is essential. Neilson advises taking three or four evenings to walk somewhere familiar in the dark to get used to it.

Neilson advises getting some night walking practice in

Neilson advises getting some night walking practice in (c) Chenderson

The battle of the mind is another big challenge and you’ll be surprised at the amount of time you have to think. Try some of Neilson’s tricks to keep your mind occupied. Make up silly lists – like the best ever festival line-up or your own top ten movie names. If you’re alone, don’t be afraid to sing or talk to yourself – it often helps clarify your thoughts, especially if you’re lost. Audio books are another great distraction.

In the dark hours of the night, Liveing too had to find a way of distracting herself. “I started singing Doe, a Deer from The Sound of Music to give me a good pace and I counted 123, 123, 123 to get a good rhythm. My grandfather used this method to keep himself going as he walked from Poland to Paris in 1917, escaping the ravages of the first world war,” she says. “I’ve used it before and it always works.”

While you’re out, don’t forget to take advantage of your beautiful surroundings. Snap some pictures to capture your journey or take a bird, flower or tree book, so you can learn about the countryside you’re walking through.

Finally, when things look hard and your feet ache, remember you’re doing this because you enjoy it. But also be aware it shouldn’t be a route march, it should be a fun, informative and enlightening walk. Neilson tries to make sure he does a little history research before a walk. “The South Downs are absolutely covered in Tumuli – ancient farmsteads and burial grounds up to 3000 years old,” he says. “If that doesn’t make it a little more interesting, I don’t know what would!”

Exploring the Brecon Beacons this winter

A frosty day in the Brecon Beacons

A frosty day in the Brecon Beacons

You’re into walking. You’re not into walking. You think you should walk, but can’t be bothered. No-one can stop you from getting those hiking boots on. Whichever statement best describes you, there’s no denying the benefits of a bit of fresh air, some beautiful scenery and putting some space between you and that desk, television or computer.

Instead of using the tele for your weekend dose of escapism, walking in the mountains is a much more fulfilling and rewarding method of clearing your mind, forgetting about the strains of the week, as well as having the added benefit of clocking up some exercise hours.

Only last week, the Telegraph reported that Britons were walking 80 miles less per year. There’s no need to go into the detrimental effects of less exercise. We all know we could be increasing our chances of diabetes, cancer and heart disease. So the question is why don’t we exercise more?

Of course we could walk or cycle to work, uni, or the shops, but it’s a little uninspiring, don’t you find? So where can you go walking without driving half a day to get there? Did you know that if you’re local to Cardiff, you’re only 42 miles from Pen y Fan, the highest peak in southern Britain, and 25 miles from Trefechan, where you can join the Taff Trail?

Another beautiful spot in the Brecon Beacons: Llyn y Fan Fach

Another beautiful spot in the Brecon Beacons: Llyn y Fan Fach

If you’re stuck for where to go, local mountain leader, Tom Doey recommends the Brecon Beacons’ website. “It has a fantastic interactive map,” he says, “which allows you to explore a variety of routes for walking, mountain biking, horse riding and cycling in the National Park. Each route explains how to get there, the level of difficulty, estimated time to complete, and even lists local amenities like pubs, public loos, cafés, and such.”

An advanced route

The Beacons Way is a 95 mile east to west walk across the National Park. This route starts in Skirrid near Abergavenny and takes you across the National Park to the village of Bethlehem; a very fitting place to end up at this time of year. As you can imagine, people travel from far and wide to get their Christmas cards marked with the village’s postmark.

The route is split across eight days, but you can join at any point. Day five is the longest distance at 14.73 miles, but you’ll be pleased to hear that day eight is the shortest at just 6.77 miles, while day four sees you tackling Pen y Fan (886m).

Easier routes

If shorter walks are your thing, then you may be interested in the Brecon Beacons’ audio trails. The National Park has a number of beautiful, shorter trails for which it has created MP3 tracks to accompany you en route.

Taster audio tracks:

The 1.86 mile Powder Trail is an enjoyable audio trail according to Ms Patricia Doree, Information Officer at the Brecon Beacons National Park. “It begins in Pontneddfechan and runs along a former tram road in the wooded, Afon Mellte river gorge. It’s a beautiful walk and passes the ruins of the former gunpowder works and the watermills that once powered the site,” she says.

Stay safe

As with any activity, it’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt, so Ms Doree offers some guidance on how to stay safe.

“The Brecon Beacons has some of the most beautiful mountain scenery in the country,” she says, “but the weather can change very suddenly, and in winter conditions can be particularly severe. It’s important to check the weather, mountain and severe weather forecasts on the MET Office before you go.

“And with it getting dark so early in December, it’s always handy to carry a torch. Take a flask of something warm and make sure you’ve got a good stock of high energy food, like chocolates or sweets.”

Gear up

The right gear always makes a world of difference, so I spoke to Jon Clarkson, Head of Product Development at Gelert, a UK-based ethical outdoor company, for some expert advice.

“With exposed conditions on the tops, it’s really important to dress for warmth. Wear waterproof clothing and carry extra layers, even if it feels like overkill when you begin,” he says.

In winter a warm base layer will keep you comfortable when exercising in the cold, so he recommends their Women’s Flex Short Sleeve Technical T-shirt, which is carefully designed to wick moisture away from your skin, keeping you warm and dry.

Gelert Women's SS Flex T-Shirt

Gelert Women’s SS Flex T-Shirt

“Getting wet can really put a dampener on a walk and could let in a winter sniffle. Our women’s Timor jacket has a double storm flap, adjustable hood and cuffs and taped seams to keep you thoroughly dry in adverse conditions and was awarded ‘Best Value Waterproof Jacket’ by Trail magazine.”

Gelert Timor Jacket

Gelert Timor Jacket

So instead of adding to this ever increasing statistic of people under exercising, grab those boots, pull on that jacket and get out there. I’ll be waiting for my Christmas card from Bethlehem!

Keep an eye on the blog over the next few weeks when I’ll be talking about more great mountain gear.

  • Interested in walking more? The Brecon Beacons Park Society runs guided walks throughout December
  • If you’re still not convinced you should go walking, Geocaching (a global treasure hunting game) is a brilliant excuse to get you out the house
  • If you love the Brecon Beacons, but want to try something other than walking, there are also a number of interesting events and activities going on during December

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.