I often think back to my very first solo mountain day here in Snowdonia. April 2008. My daughter Gabby then only 3 years old (with me not much older), and I jumped into the car to go - get lost!.
Driving west along the A5 from our new and first welsh home, Llangollen - a postcard worthy town on the borders, we hit the Ogwen Valley. Immediately I knew I had found my true home - the mountains.
What I didn't know, fresh out of the city and a naive 22 years old was that before you head off into the mountains it would be a good idea to - tell someone.
Maybe take a mobile phone.
Maybe even take someone with a bit more experience!
Definitely don't think you are prepared because you have taken the small freebie compass/whistle gift that came with your new trainers.
Happy to report that now, 12 years of living, exploring and really getting to know my welsh home makes me far more experienced and not just a little mortified at my youthful blunder upon what I now know to be one of the most notorious, and consequentially my favourite mountain Tryfan!
Fear not - no children were hurt in the memories of this bloggers life...however that isn't to say that I didn't learn a valuable lesson that day and unknowingly set myself upon a path that leads me to where I am fortunate enough to be today.
So, despite 3 year old Gabby anxiously checking that we would not be going for walks alone for some time after our Toddler Traverse, I am pleased to say that the present day see's her often running or hiking with me and she is eager to follow in my now far more experienced footsteps.
In fact I often drag all 3 of my mini tribe out for walks, my youngest now ironically 3 has quite probably summited more mountains than most adults I know. It turns out my son Newlyn who is an 11 year old mountain goat at heart and then there is (still) Gabby who is heading to college to study P.E & Outdoor Education later this year. Proud mum alert!
As a single mum cajoling (bribing) my 3 to join me on mountain missions has often been the only way to make sure I could get out and train for my Mountain Leader Assessment, stay fit, keep my mental health levels up and spend much needed quality time with my favourite people.
Most of the time they thank me for it ... most of the time!
Interesting way to start a blog about my new start up business offering mountain guiding and adventure in Snowdonia I hear you say!
Well not really, truth is I believe everyone starts hiking with all the gear and no idea. Unless your lucky enough like my little crew (ahem, wink wink) to have someone guiding you from the get go. Growing up in the South of England the nearest thing we had to a mountain was Hengistbury Head and that is a whopping 36m above sea level ...yes I know!
Which is why the longer I have hiked, the further I have explored and the more familiar I have become with my mountain garden the more I understand the importance of staying within your comfort zone, or if your heading out of it do not go alone. I mean its fine if you live somewhere your happy getting lost in, confident that only a short time after your EPIC misadventure you will be home safe and sound, cuppa in hand, lesson learnt and ready to try again tomorrow or the next day...
and it is, the big BUT, how about those of you of are super busy, living and working away from these beautiful national parks with limited holiday but a thirst for excitement and wide open summit scenery? Or those of you completely and utterly new to the outdoors, not a clue where to start.
You maximise your time getting the most out of your short break away
Inside knowledge on parking, costs, busy times and routes
less trodden paths and crowd free views
safety - you can fully relax and enjoy your adventure
learning new skills and trade secrets for future solo ventures
inspiration for future visits
new friends - you cant spend hours hiking together in remote beauty spots without forming a connection that will only add to the experience
Not lightly I refer again to the traumatic time I had with my 3 year old toddler Gabby, did I mention already we had to Free Solo a 15m crag to escape? No...well we did, hence the nightmare situation with my luckily now teenager.
I often think back to that day and wish I had used my common sense and waited for someone with the experience like I have now to guide me up. The whole day would have been a magical memory instead of a funny, also slightly disturbing, anecdote like it is.
Hind Sight is a beautiful thing
So, where do we go from here?
We go hiking and we explore some stunning places together. We work out what you want from your Snowdonia Adventures and we make it happen ...
We make some memories!
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