outdoors adventure

"PAL-entines" trip: A long weekend walking in Snowdonia

It was approaching Valentines day and as I have never ever actually received a valentines card I decided waiting by the front door letter box would probably be a waste of my time. So it didn’t take much persuasion when two friends, Erin and Meg (who I met in the Pyrenees with Love Her Wild UK) proposed we bumbled off to Snowdonia for a long weekend…. aka our PAL-entines retreat!

Lake Ogwen and Tryfan, February 2019

Lake Ogwen and Tryfan, February 2019

We stayed at The Rocks Hostel in Capel Curig. We went off season so I think it was about £20 / night. It was super luxurious. The rooms, beds, kitchen and lounge areas were great and really comfy! I loved the decor and snuggly blankets you were given for in your little hostel dorm bed pod. It was really nice knowing that we were going back to somewhere so cosy after a day on the hills!

Armed with all our winter gear - ice axes, crampons, helmets, rope, boots we were ready for anything February in Snowdonia can through at us! I carried my kit up to Snowdonia in my Snugpak Kitmonster (70L) which had loads of pockets for all my bits and bobs, plus comfy enough to use as a bag pack when lugging all my gear off and on trains. I used my day pack for walking and will write a blog post on what I pack in that soon!

However, despite our preparedness and hopefulness for snow, we were blasted by summer weather and ended up walking in t-shirts. All the gear, no idea. So sadly winter passed without getting out into the snow. 2019/20 BRING IT ON!

First day, Meg and I walked up the Carneddau range to the top of Pen Yr Ole Wen (978m) and the round the ridge to Carnedd Dafydd (1044m). We parked in a lay-by just off to A5, the route started at Til y Llyn Ogwen, a group of cottages at the very Easterly point of Llyn Ogwen. Initially the route is a bit of a slog up a national trust pathway, ending where we then went past the lake, Ffynnon Loer that I dived in last year. The walk was really pretty. Then you get a good fun with a bit of scramble up onto the ridge. The scramble wasn’t too challenging, I’d call it more walking with a few rocky bits to clamber up, but you do need to be able to route pick. Although if you use a keen eye you can spot where crampons have scratched the rock in the past!

Ffynnon Loer - I dived in that lake for Mission High Water, 2018!

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Scramble up Pen Yr Ole Wen

Late afternoon sunshine on the Carnedd Dafydd view of Tryfan and Snowdonia with Meg missioning off downhill whilst I faff about taking pics! Haha…

Late afternoon sunshine on the Carnedd Dafydd view of Tryfan and Snowdonia with Meg missioning off downhill whilst I faff about taking pics! Haha…

The second day was probably the best day I’ve had outdoors in a long, long time… my first ever scramble up Tryfan. What a fantastic day!!! Problem solving, route picking and shimmying over (in places some rather exposed) rocks was brilliant. At the top are two big rocks called Adam and Eve. Traditionally you should jump from Adam to Eve, however, in light of the strong wind I decided it would be a little safer to avoid. Maybe my nerves got the better of me for that one - but next time! The eeeby jeebys were a little too much!! We were so lucky with the sunshine as you can see.

Having a break half way up Tryfan to enjoy the view

Final scramble on Tryfan up to the summit point

Final scramble on Tryfan up to the summit point

Striking a pose on a nice slab en route up Tryfan

Striking a pose on a nice slab en route up Tryfan

Lunch and coffee time at the top by the infamous Adam and Eve rocks!

The view from the top of Tryfan over to Y Garn and Elidr Fawr

Stunning views to the East from Adam and Eve as well! I couldn’t believe how lucky we were with the weather! Tryfan, Feb 2019

Stunning views to the East from Adam and Eve as well! I couldn’t believe how lucky we were with the weather! Tryfan, Feb 2019

BONKERS!

BONKERS!

We finished the trip off on our third and final day with some wandering around Ogwen and a dip in the sea!!! It was freezing but utterly hilarious!!! I feel so alive when I wild swim, probably because I am so cold. It was bleak, grey and I got a lot of weird looks stripping down to my swimming cossie on the beach! I can imagine its glorious in summer. Perhaps not on the day we went in - the weather had turned from blue skies to grey drizzle… Never mind!

The day out on Tryfan made me want to carry on scrambling and exploring new places. I cant wait to go on another adventure with the girls soon! I also want to head back to Snowdonia and go for a mission up Crib Goch - although I might wait a bit till the crowds die down over the summer months. Bring it on!!!!!!

All up at the top of Tryfan in front of Adam and Eve - mid-shelter from the wind!

Summer 2018 Round-up…

Finally, after an outrageously hectic time things have calmed down… ‘slightly’ so I guess it’s time to get back to tapping away on my laptop and letting people know what’s been cracka-lackin!..

May = Mission High Water

WE DID IT! Rachael and I completed our challenge (although not within the 24 hour deadline). We raised over £3000 for charity and became the first women to successfully complete the challenge. WOAH. Find out more about it here. Or watch our video here!

team support.jpg
scotland entry.jpg

June = Back to PhD work and jointly organising a Himalayan research workshop for Bristol Glaciology Centre

The workshop was the epitome of “Global Challenges” - firstly, organising it was itself a ‘global challenge’ with delegates travelling from all over the world - USA and pretty much every country the Himalayas and other mountain regions span! Meeting academics from these countries opened my eyes to what research and in particular what I as a researcher in the UK, can do. It was a good few days and I look forward to collaborating with the network of Himalayan academics in the future.

Workshop poster!

Workshop poster!

The workshop attendees all outside the Planetarium

The workshop attendees all outside the Planetarium

Chotta Shigri glacier, Himachal Pradesh, India

Chotta Shigri glacier, Himachal Pradesh, India

July - PhD work - Extractions, extractions, extractions…

Beans glorious beans growing

Beans glorious beans growing

Root nodules of leguminous plants

Root nodules of leguminous plants

Himalayan alpine plants on glacial forefield - how do they work?

Himalayan alpine plants on glacial forefield - how do they work?

I started growing crops again to continue with my agricultural research, plus did a lot of analysis in the lab!

I have become really interested in understanding the natural plant system on the proglacial landscape and using this knowledge to adapt my crop work back in the UK. The alpine plants pictured are from the Himalayas. I have started thinking about legumes and how their N-fixing capabilities are more similar to species that live in these nutrient limited environments. Exciting stuff!

August - Fieldwork prep

I am off back to India in a few weeks so its time to really get stuck in planning.

Unsurprisingly I don’t have many pics of the vast spreadsheets, travel plans and washing of plastic bottles for samples!!….



September - Back to India! - More about this soon!


WOWWWEEE!!!!

Chandra Taal Lake, Himachal Pradesh, India. Sept 2018


October - Walking around Malta and Gozo with Harry - Post in-coming

Cafe chic Harry

Cafe chic Harry

What a fantastic trip with my best friend!!!

I also tried out my film camera properly for the first time!

Malta farm

Malta farm

Seaside , Malta

Seaside , Malta

WOAH! That takes me up to winter, when the months get dark, time passes slowly and I spent it curled up in a pub by the fire drinking beer, eating cheese for snacks and mash potato and gravy based meals.

Speak to you all soon! - It won’t be so long I promise!!!

New Year, New Challenges!

Hello!

I hope you're having a lovely time over winter festivities - the end of the year has arrived so I thought I would jump on the blogpost band wagon. So here goes... a smorgasbord of my New Years resolutions, goals and past highlights. 

Top of Ben Nevis, 2017

Top of Ben Nevis, 2017

2017 Highlights

WDHOF Scholar! 

WDHOF Scholar! 

  • March: New York - Beneath the Sea and WDHOF meet up following being awarded a WDHOF Diver Medic training grant. What an inspirational week across the pond! I met so many amazing people. If you get the chance to visit - go for it!! 
     
  • June: Scotland - Ben Nevis via CMD arete. Probably the best day out I have ever ever had! The views were just stunning, plus I was with the greatest adventure partner of all time, my sister Beth.  
     
  • July/August: Patagonia, Chile - Despite rain that never stopped and some moments of pure, dark, cold misery I had a great time. I think some of us enjoy the whole personal grim hardship of the outdoors, my friends say I am mad. I was really lucky to make some vvvvvvv good friends here, digging trenches to divert flood water from tents to making naan breads and snapping many sporks (sorry). I'd do it all again. 
     
  • September: Himalayas, India - Corr! This short and sweet trip = as amazing as it was difficult. The mountains are infectious and I can't wait to go back! 
     
  • November: Awarded £12000 Leverhulme Bursary for PhD! Yippee!! 
     
  • December: Bristol - Somehow I can now run for 30 minutes without stopping. Having spent the last two years swimming for fitness, after finally getting my 1km time down to below 15 mins I decided it was time to try something else. I popped my trainers on and started pounding the trails. The joy upon finally hitting 30 minutes was GLORIOUS. My bendy knees have been fine, but to avoid future injury... I probably need a new strap-em-down-zero-jiggle sports bra. 
Camp Steffen, Patagonia Chile

Camp Steffen, Patagonia Chile

Resolution

I can't quite believe where I am standing now. The new year, 2018, marks five years from when I was ill. I have always been fairly 'relentless', focused on work and my goals. Over the last year I have achieved things I once didn't think possible, but in the process have lost touch with many of the people who helped me get here. Finding balance between work, personal goals, friends and family is what I need to improve upon. This year I want to give my friends a great big bucket load of TLC, rather than just a virtual hug over text or the phone. You helped me get here, so now let's enjoy it! So my New Years resolution is to do just that - see my friends and family more. Surprise everyone!! You thought you'd escaped me... 

Ben Nevis CMD arete route 

Ben Nevis CMD arete route 

2018 Goals

Writing these out always makes me a feel a little sick. "Stop talking, just do it" and all that jazz. So here goes... 

PhD Science-ing.... in the GroDome

PhD Science-ing.... in the GroDome

1. Climb more mountains - I am kicking off the year with a trip to the Pyrenees with the Love Her Wild and 360 Expeditions lot. Who knows there may be a big summit trip later on in the year.... 

2. Mission High Water - Rach and I will be doing this bonkers scuba-mountain 24 hour challenge in May. I will get it done 'come hell or high water' and raise a load'a cash monies for Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance. 

3. Run 10km - I'm going to see if I can do something that five years ago would have made me laugh and spark up another cig at the mere thought of running. Run a whole ten thousand metres non-stop... apparently some people even enjoy these runs. We'll see about that... 

4. Long Distance Trail - Somewhere, somehow I will get one done. Time to get the diary out and get planning. 

5. PhD - I AM STILL DOING SCIENCE. Now rolling into year two the available time for faffing about has dwindled. Heads down writing and lab work ahead. 

6. Drawing - I haven't had the time to draw much this last year - I have dug out my pencils ready for the new year! If I can complete one a month that would be perfecto. This is probably the hardest of all!! 

There you have it - 2018 will have a bit more friend lovin' combined with my usual relentless personal goals and some enforced monthly chill time. Looks like a good recipe. I can't wait to turn the calendar over and begin. If it is anything like the year just passed, I will be extremely fortunate. I wish you all best wishes, good health and a very, very Happy New Year.

Lots of Love, Sarah x

High Willhays, Dartmoor Dec 2017 

High Willhays, Dartmoor Dec 2017 

The family (minus Anna), Dartmoor, High Willhays Dec 2017

The family (minus Anna), Dartmoor, High Willhays Dec 2017