Newsletter December 2020

It seems hard to believe at the moment that skies will be blue and blossom will be frothing while we are all hunkering down but by the month of May, it will be happening.

I’m growing to love getting out on the mountain bike – it’s a wonderful way to get into the hills and choosing your routes means that it absolutely doesn’t have to be steep and terrifying. The Women Beginning Mountain Biking (May 15th & 16th) is booking up and if you’re remotely interested please don’t say “… but I think I’ll be at the back”! We all say this and anyone who has been on the Beginning Fell Running course will have heard me expand on why, as women, we do this. There are three of us working the weekend and we are most certainly catering to support a spread of ability. The Saturday will be about riding to gain confidence and technique and the Sunday will be an all-day ride. I was riding out with Clare, our main guide, a few weeks ago and I learned lots and laughed loads. Hope you’ll feel inspired to join us. And … just so you know, if you book on anything and it can’t go ahead you’ll always be offered your choice of a full refund or a rescheduled date.

As well as offering our ‘best selling’  Beginning Fell Running For Women in the Brecon Beacons next year (April 17th & 24th with more dates to come) we are also taking the course north to the Lake District (July 10th) and into the homeland of fell running. I lived in the Lakes for many years and the fell running scene there was a way of life for me.  It feels good to be going back and being able to offer it there so that people don’t have to travel as far.

I’ve borrowed two Shetland ponies for the winter as part of the management of the new land. Very lucky to have a patch that’s already beautifully diverse and supports so many birds, stoats, rabbits and birds of prey as well as a myriad of wildflowers in the summer. But, it’s been news to me that wildness also needs a kind of ‘management’ to replicate what would naturally happen in the wild and, if the land doesn’t get lightly grazed over winter, the depth and growth of the grassy sward will prevent flowers from growing. Nutkin and Merlin are beyond cute and spend all day munching. It’s actually very restful just to go and listen to them and watch

Our Travel Writing Weekend (October 16 & 17) is now live for booking. We’re running these from the gorgeous venue of Llwyn Celyn and are very lucky to have someone as experienced and personable as Mike Carter to take the weekend. I do think that we need to pull ourselves to reflection and creativity as well as action in life – here’s a chance to do so.

A few of the winter days over the last two months have been lovely – there was an amazing cloud inversion on one foggy Sunday which I caught at the end of the day by accident just needing a walk up the hill. I also took a day to plant trees on another sunny day.
My favourite newly planted trees are three Scots Pines high up on a ridge with ideas of them being landmark green notes in a landscape – although I do realise, that won’t probably be in my lifetime. There’s a beautiful poem called Planting A Sequoia by Dana Gioia about trees symbolically lasting beyond our lifetime – worth a read.

What have you missed the most? Someone asked me that the other day. It’s hard to pin it down isn’t it? In everyday life, I really missed swimming when the pool was closed (and is about to be again) as it’s a winter ‘staple’ for me and somehow oils me from within. I’ve had some delightful days ‘off’ when the sun has shone but probably what I’ve missed the most is travel as I’ve barely left the homestead and my home landscape for a year. I love where I live but I also love Alpine mountains and I’ve missed these. I feel like I’ve been eating the same ‘metaphoric meal’ now for a year – and like all of us, the masked-up world and not bumping into people spontaneously or seeing friends makes for a very strange time. I had to go to IKEA in Cardiff the other day and, as I sat in the car park eating my sandwich looking at the old gasworks and having a cuppa from my flask before my appointment, I thought how this now actually constituted a day out! Things will change and getting out in nature, zwifting in the garage when it’s raining with the doors wide open and planting trees have all helped. I see from a recent report that there’s been a large increase in women running, cycling and walking during the pandemic – long may it last.

There are more exciting plans afoot for trips and events in 2021 and I will keep you all up to date with these. Soon we’ll be watching the daylight return. Until then, Season’s Greetings and all very warm wishes.

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