Glebe Barn, Brecons

January 17-19
Attendees: Alan, Claire, Mark C, Tricia, Keyna, James, Bruce, Sarah W and Hannah, Dave W, Andy D, Simon, Marion, Maggie, Sarah R, Belinda, Sarah M, Trudi.
Photos: Claire, MarkC.
Report: Alan, MarkC.

The Walkers’ story

Traditionally the second week in January is the comfy sofa trip and this year we returned to the jackpot Glebe Barn ! 2 hours from Newbury , no less than 3 comfy sofas , sauna , fluffy towels/shampoo , great hills on the doorstep , pub next door and not a bunk bed in site !

Everyone duly arrived Friday evening and all was good except for the weather forecast for Saturday. Although a start time of 9.00am was agreed I think the combination of luxurious accommodation and the threat of heavy rain meant we didn’t leave ’til much later . A circular walk taking in Sugar Loaf was planned and excellently led by Bruce .

The rain just about held off until we started the walk up to the summit of Sugar Loaf and all was going well until Maggie wanted to instigate a retreat and head back to Glebe Barn back the way we had come . It was politely pointed out to her and the fellow mutineers that it was actually quicker to go over the top of a wet and windy Sugar Loaf and home to Glebe Barn on the circular route. This is what we did and got back to HQ in good time for saunas , beers and a general relaxed getting ready for Keyna’s 50th Australian Beach BBQ Party – yes we had a BBQ in the pouring rain expertly prepared by James with much help and support from Mark.

Sunday’s weather was much kinder to us and the runners joined the walkers for an ascent of Table Mountain and various ridge walks with superb views . We were all drawn back to Glebe Barn for last comforts , BBQ left overs and the much appreciated short drive back to Newbury !

Excellent start to the year

The Runners’ Story….

First, we’re not really runners, we just try to cover ground as fast as we can. On Saturday, we covered 23K in just under 4 hours. The “Fellrunner’s Rule” (much simpler than Naismith’s Rule) is 1m vertical ascent is equivalent to 10m on the level. Our 23km off-road had 1200m ascent, which is another 12K, so we did the equivalent of 35K on the flat. Then another 4K back along the road, which was a recovery walk (and because we were knackered).

We set off intrepidly in shorts. It was clear early on that the view would be non-existent, in total contrast to Sunday. On Saturday I debated following a wall (an easy feature), only to see on the Sunday it veered off left down the valley, and how stupid this would have been. Visibility was 100 feet, but Simon’s flash new compass kept us on track – most of the time we seemed to be running on “Blue 2” (he’ll explain that to anyone who asks).

The wind gusted, driving ice cold rain and hail into us. Sounds poetic, but when you’re wearing shorts, it is damned right painful – until your body takes over and very sensibly numbs you to all sensation in your legs. Technology has improved a lot. In modern boots, you don’t have to worry if your feet will get wet – you know they’ll stay dry. In modern trail shoes, you also don’t have to worry if your feet will get wet – you know damned well they’ll be wet through from the start, and stay that way. The standard runner’s solution to getting cold is to run harder. This worked for a while, but eventually we succumbed and donned waterproof leggings.

A wise man called Dave Nutt once told me what separates us from the apes is opposable thumbs and once your F****** hands freeze, you’re about as much use as a F****** monkey. At some point I lost a shoe in mud and rocks, and when I stopped to tie the laces, I realised I was a monkey.

We came down off the ridge a little early, but both satisfied with the day. On Monday it emerged Simon had broken his big toe, which probably explains why he wasn’t the usual 2 miles ahead of me all the time.

Bravado aside, the comforts of Glebe Barn were most welcome upon our return.

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