14 BRITISH SUMMITS IN ’14

My goal was to reach the summit of 14 British mountains in 2014. To make the most of the beautiful landscape this part of the World has to offer and to challenge myself to get out there! (and to continue my quest of become a badass mountaineer!)

 

I did it! Heres my mountains:

1. Pen y Fan

Elevation: 886m

Pen Y Fan on a cold and wet Easter Sunday. Parking at Cwm Gwdi, waterproofs on, we started the steep path towards the looming clouds. It wasn’t long until we were covered and the visibility became very poor. As we continued the climb, the wind was howling towards us making every step a challenge just to keep our balance, only being able to see a couple of yards ahead, the thick white mist made it impossible to see how far we had gone or how far we had to go!

Exposed to a harsh battering of wind we knew we had reached a ridge, following the stoney path and a small clamber over larger rocks we continued on.

It was a great feeling to reach the summit as at times we were unsure if we would find it! The fierce wind and low cloud made for a refreshing hike and a good excuse to indulge in the picnic waiting in the car. The views were completely non existent so we’ll have to go back to see where we were!

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2. Snowdon

Elevation: 1,085m

Driving up to Snowdonia from Bristol on my day off, we reached the start of the Watkins path with the weather on our side. The walk starts through woodland before coming out onto the hill side. It’s not long before you reach beautiful waterfalls flowing crystal clear mountain water down the valley. Continuing along the path, it winds around the green landscape with sheep grazing with their lambs either side. It was a clear and sunny day and the summit was in sight, tiny little figures could be seen taking in the views. The path starts to properly climb heading up to the ridge and once on the ridge, a scramble makes up the last part of the climb. As it always does each time I summit Snowdon, a cloud came crawling over and stole the views from me, lucky the ridge had provided some spectacular sights just below. Some kendal mint cake and a post card sent and we began our decent.

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3. Waun Fach

Elevation: 811m

Waun Fach was a sunny day of rolling green hills and grazing sheep. The sun beamed down on us and the hill had a peaceful stillness as we climbed towards the summit. There was no track so we followed the soft grassy ridge upwards. You don’t need to gain much height before incredible views can be seen across the landscape. Along the way ponies were grazing in between the sheep and birds were soaring above. When we reached the summit it was quite underwhelming, a concrete boulder is the only indication you have reached the top and the views on the way up are more impressive. All in all a lovely gentle walk.

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4. Schiehallion

Elevation: 1,083m

My first summit north of the border and Scotland delivered with some beauty weather and a great walk up Schiehallion with some varied terrain. Heather and rocks gave a texture to the green hills and small patches of snow were dotted here and there. A path leads you zig zagging upwards and at the top of the mountain all tracks are lost to a boulder field reaching up to the summit. 360 degree views stretching into the distance are a great reward and we even had a visit from a Ptarmigan!

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5. Helvellyn

Elevation: 950m

As part of a two day training event with Berghaus I reached Helvellyn summit with a group of my colleagues. It was a beautiful hot summers day with hardly any wind as we walked up the valley. Reaching Red Tarn we stopped for a refuel before taking on Striding Edge. The ridge provided spectacular views across the valleys and nearby lakes. The conditions were perfect and we could see for miles. The ridge felt quite exposed at times which gave a hit of adrenaline as we headed towards the final climb to the summit. We took the Swirral edge on the way down and looped back to the valley path.

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6. Cairngorm

Elevation: 1245m

An early start on Sunday morning to take on Cairngorm before heading back to Bristol after an adventure filled weekend of mountain biking, canoeing and wild swimming. The morning air was still and we had the hill to ourselves, the views across the hills and lochs were stunning before we climbed up into the white cover of cloud. On the way up we crossed paths with a mountain hare and a couple of Ptarmigans. The path to the summit faced us with an icy wind and poor visibility, following the stone piles we find the summit. On the way down we grabbed a hot chocolate from the cafe at the top.

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7.Tryfan

Elevation: 918m

Leaving Bristol at 3am we headed over to Wales and reached Snowdonia around 7am. After tea from the flask and a home made bacon sandwich we started our ascent up Tryfan. From the road we took the left side of the mountain and followed a path through wet field and rocks. Not long into the hike we started upwards, reaching a scree path which took us up to a ridge and the start of the distinctive boulders which pile up to the summit. The early morning came with a silence and we had the entire mountain to ourselves. The conditions were perfect and we could see for miles but I did feel extra exposed at the top, the most scared I’d been on a mountain so far. We reached Adam and Eve after a brave walk with some super drops, there was no way I was making the leap of faith, I wasn’t even able to stand on the rocks. Our friend Sanchez was straight up and made the leap with ease (although afterwards he did tell me he was beyond scared!), next up was my husband who looked nervous and kept mentioning the crazy drop the other side of him, I couldn’t even watch and nestled myself in between some boulders, I heard a thud and was suddenly filled with fear, looking up I saw Jacob wincing beneath the famous rocks, he had jumped and fallen back in between them after loosing his footing. He was in an immense amount of pain and Sanchez and I looked at each other, all of a sudden feeling very alone on a very big mountain. After about 5 minutes shock took over Jacobs feelings and he was standing, and I suggested we try and make our decent, all I could think of was getting off these boulders and at least to a more sheltered part of the mountain. As we got going Jacob was OK to slowly make his way all the way back to the car taking the west side down.

A trip to A and E later and no broken bones, bad bruising of the lower back.

We had previously been reading about the leap of faith and one website stated ‘its called the leap of faith because when you make the leap there is no way you won’t make it’ ……

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8. Cadair Idris

Elevation: 893m

Sleeping alone on its slopes will either make you a mad man or a poet. Our adventure wasn’t an over night one so thats for another day. Cadair Idris is situated in the most beautiful of scenery and I will definitely be returning soon. Arriving around 2pm the afternoon sun was beaming over head with a few grey clouds looming.  Making our way up the steep pathway which lead us out of the forest and past a perfectly clear river we head towards the lake to make our ascent. The path takes you along the ridge of the mountain with a number of false summits before you reach the top. We were lucky enough to have clear skies again with the most incredible views in every direction. For our route back we continued on and made a loop taking us back to our starting point.

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9. Scafell Pike

Elevation: 978m

For our Scafell Pike hike we stayed in the Wasdale National trust campsite situated at the bottom of the mountain. A stunning spot, great facilities and the convenience of starting off from our tent. The path is very well sign posted as we took the Hollow Stones way which is used in many peoples 3 peaks challenge. The path climbs almost immediately and keeps its steep uphill for a good while. It fattens off with beautiful views and a split in the path towards the summit. Stopping for a spot of lunch just before the top we rested on large smooth rocks with the landscape continuing on endlessly. The summit wasn’t too busy for the lovely day it had turned out to be. A few photos on the flat top and we made our way back down.

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10. Y Foel Goch

Elevation: 805m

Heading across a boggy field past a scattering of sheep we were on our way to what would turn out to be a three summit day. The sun was shining and the hill was empty, the views across to the infamous Snowdon horseshoe was incredible and gave us even more of a reason to get higher. As we started to climb we crossed over an old stone wall and waded through heather before finding the miners path which took us to the vast flat top in between Y Foel Goch and Glyder Fach. From here we turned left and headed to the round peak, as we walked across the boggy grass the magnificent Tryfan dominated our view. Its mighty presence made me remember what a tiny speck we were on this magnificent landscape. After a short up hill we reached the summit before turning around and heading for Glyder Fach.

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11. Glyder Fach

A steep scree path took us up into the cloud, every now and again the wind would shift the white blanket and reveal the drop off the side of the ridge. Reaching loose stones and boulders the summit was in sight. We found the Cantilever and took the classic photos (of course!). The cloud didn’t let up and we continued on from the summit in search of its parent peak Glyder Fawr.

Elevation: 994m

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12. Glyder Fawr

Elevation: 1001m

With very little visibility and map and compass in hand we headed from Glyder Fach to Glyder Fawr. Dipping down slightly from the ridge line and then meeting it again we walked on, hoping the cloud might pass. Reaching the summit a gust gave as a sneak peak over towards Snowdon and some idea of where we had arrived. We sat on the summit stones for a little way, eating a crunchie and hoping for the same conditions we had on Y Foel Goch, we didn’t quite get it but you can’t have it all and it was a great feeling to have reached all three peaks. As we made our descent it was still a beautiful day and of course half way down I looked back to see a clear summit with not a cloud in sight!

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13. Cribyn (via the Pen y Fan horseshoe)

Elevation: 795m

The penultimate peak. We were blessed with clear skies and flushes of sunshine as we set out for the Craig fan Ddu ridge from the  Lower Neuadd Reservoir. After a steep climb to the top we followed the ridge edge taking in spectacular views across to the neighbouring peaks. We continued along the path passing Corn du and Pen y Fan, as we dipped into the sandals between the peaks the wind gushed across us. At the summit of Cribyn the views were at their best, stretching out for miles in every direction. We continued around the horseshoe to bring us back to our starting point.

Seeking out Cribyn provided a peaceful and relaxing hike with friends and a great opportunity to make the most of the late summer conditions.

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14. Ben Nevis

Elevation: 1344m

Leaving the highest mountain until last, Jacob and I were excited to take on ‘The Ben’. Driving up through the night from Bristol we arrived in Fort William at 3am Sunday morning and fell into our travel lodge bed. The journey had been made even longer by a 50 mile diversion due to a road closer so we were even more relieved to have finally made it. The morning came too soon for our tired eyes but a Scottish breakfast with its 1625 calories soon sorted us out and we made our way to the car park.

The hike began with a stone and dirt track rising up into the hillsides. After reaching Lochan Meall an t-Suidhe (a small loch) the path zig zagged up and became loose stone and scree. The weather treated us to wind and rain for a lot of the journey but would now and again let up to display the amazing views on offer. The summit was capped in a white blanket of cloud but the achievement of the mountain and completing the challenge conquered the mist. Once out of the cloud we literally ran some of the descent, gifted with a bust of new energy it felt amazing to dart down the stone path, heart racing and a huge smile on my face.

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Because of this challenge I have got out onto the hills more in these recent months than I have in years. I have shared laughs with family and friends along the way and returned to some of the most beautiful places in the UK. I have truly appreciated what the British wilderness has to offer and enjoyed ever minute of surrounding myself in it.

It is easy to put things off, to say you haven’t the time or you’ll do it later, thats what this challenge was really about. With 14 mountains to take on I couldn’t just put it off until next week, not get around to finding a campsite or just be too lazy. Completing this challenge proves we do have enough time in the day and if you want to do something, you should just do it. Find what makes you happy and just do it.

Also…

See this on Pinterest and the Berghaus Community Blog

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