6TH TRAINING HIKE – BRECON BEACONS – 1ST OCTOBER 2012
I must be getting used to the 3:45am wake up calls as it was easier to drag myself out of bed this time. I awoke to another cold, dark and drizzly morning. After a quick breakfast I drove the 3.5 hours to meet Paul and Hercules in Brecon town and followed him for 5 miles down a very narrow country track to a field next to a stream where we parked our cars. It was very rural and we had to open and close cattle gates to get there. A very pleasant farmer stopped his tractor next to us and we had a cheery conversation with him before setting off for our first climb.
We started off in wet weather gear as there was a continuous light rain falling and it did not look like easing up at all. The first part of the walk took us alongside the stream and then we began a gradual climb up the hill. Paul does a lot of his hill racing here and knows the area well. The rain stopped briefly and there were fantastic views as we began the climb but very quickly we were into the low cloud and could not see much at all.
There was hardly any wind at the bottom of the hills but as we climbed it started to blow at around 30mph and then rose to about 40mph for most of the day. At one point the wind was gusting at over 50mph and the heavy rain stung our eyes and made it difficult to walk but thankfully this did not last for too long.
This time instead of doing lots of little climbs and descents we did two big climbs and spent the rest of the time walking the ridges. The cloud base rose in the afternoon and we were able to get glimpses of the scenery. The sun came out for about 30 seconds and it was amazing what a difference it made, we could actually feel its heat before it disappeared for the rest of the day.
Lunch was eaten next to a very picturesque reservoir during one of the short lulls in the rain.
The 2nd big climb was up Jacob’s ladder which we had done before on our 3rd training hike in July. It was surprisingly much easier this time around so I guess I must be getting fitter. Having said that I still would not be able to run up the slope the way Paul does during his races.
As we started our final descent the wind suddenly picked up and there was a very noticeable temperature drop which made walking uncomfortable. I was glad that this had happened on the final leg of the hike. A short while later as we descended further the wind and rain faded and we had a pleasant walk back down to the cars.
We had to climb over or through holes in several barbed wire fences and the final obstacle was a river which we had to cross to get to the cars. It was relatively shallow and I managed to cross it without getting wet feet and even Hercules made it though without having to be carried over.
On the way back I stopped off at Cheltenham where my good friends Carol & Anthony fed and watered me very well before I continued on my way home. Needless to say the sun came out and the clouds disappeared within 15 minutes of me leaving the Brecons.
We walked around 20km and climbed a cumulative total of around 1400m on the day. Once again the downhill sections were painful on the knees but I now feel that I am ready for the big hill in two weeks time.
My thanks again to Paul for helping me train over these last few months, and of course to Hercules who protected us continuously from all the deadly and dangerous sheep on the hillsides.