I never planned to be writing a follow-along blog series for my trip, but after thinking on it, I think it would be useful to do just that. I’m going to write a little article every other day. So that should be about 8-10 by the time my trip comes to a close. Spoiler: this initial “Trip” post is more about me and less on the pretty photos, you’ve been warned. I'm calling it my 'Great Escape' because its the first big adventure I've taken myself on.
What will it include and why?
The content is going to be comprised of some day-to-day from my trip (interesting things I saw or found), photographs, some writing excerpts and generally my reaction, experience and thoughts on my trip so far. This is first post might be much longer than the ones to follow.
On the day, which was mostly spent travelling into wales, I was thinking a lot about my reasons for coming on the trip. I have committed to the trip without fully considering all the angles. I think that’s good and bad; it’s about time I did something ‘big’ for myself, but obviously as I’ve never travelled in the past it’s a new experience for me and there is a lot to discover.
At the basic level, I don’t even know if I like travelling for long periods of time. So wisely I downgraded my “month-to-two-month” trip to a 3 week adventure with the possibility of a second trip out at a later date. This is cheaper and saves me having a heart-attack/early midlife crisis if I get overwhelmed.
What do I actually want to gain from my travelling?
I want to be free to make mistakes. Above all my trip is essentially an experiment. And I need to think of it as such. It’s a test of how it suits me to be away from my ‘base’ for long periods of time. It’s a test as to how much I really enjoy hiking, motorbiking and photography (combined). It’s a test as to how beneficial a change in routine will be for me. It’s a test of how well I can keep up with photography, writing and my 365 project whilst being on the move, which in itself is a bit of a lesson for future nomadic living and working. Overall it’s like three weeks in a fitting room trying on the future and how I think I want to live it.
I want a break and need a rest. That is what I had told myself before, and I think that's true. Oddly it also means a break from myself (which isn’t really possible?). I’m always very focused on what jobs need to be done, and when I’m not doing these tasks I tend to get stuck in worry mode, even when I’ve decided to have a rest day, I still find myself unable to settle. I’m often unable to decide between different activities (do I watch a show or watch a film, should I read or should I play a game?). The indecision can become quite paralysing.
I want to escape my typical routine and the usual options. I generally expect myself to be able to do everything each day (go a big hike, see friends, then design and read about photography, edit my photos and do some writing). My dad always says I try and do too much in too little time and generally I don’t absorb this information, although on the surface I accept it. I enjoy all the above past times, but I think I need to relax my productivity muscle and learn to accept and let more things go.
I want to catch up. Catch up on all the reading I would like to do (books, newsletters etc). Catch up on my photography editing. Catch up with myself and work out what my next steps are. So this will involve resting enough to feel like I have caught up.
I want it to be okay to spend my days doing what I’d like, and avoid (if possible) the pressure to have a particularly epic time and doing all the amazing things I think most people think most people would do. Which probably means there might be some days where I ride out but don’t actually hike (back to the break thing you know).
On to the trip
Day 1 was a bit of a blur of different motorways and merging motorways. But it was fun riding and the sun was out. I liked getting used to the hang of my panniers being fully laden. Riding out into Shropshire was pretty fun as I skirted the city of Hereford, on the way I passed through a place called ‘Winter’s Cross’ which I thought sounded like a cool fantasy setting, and another place called ‘Much birch’ which brought to mind the shiba inu meme “Much birch. Wow. Such tree…” No photo but hopefully that is one of the last of my rookie traveller errors; always take the photo!
After catching up at my Airbnb, I was looking for a smallish local walk. I fantasised with the coast but it kind of seemed like too much riding in all fairness. I then stumbled across a small hill called Garth mountain nearby which seemed to good to be true; since my motorbike is named ‘Garth’ after author Garth Nix I thought it was a little adventure that had to happen. It was worth it; I got to break in my walking boots for the trip and get a little lost in a forest. Followed by a nice lunch in a cool little pub, and a fun ride home along this super narrow windy road (these tend to be my favourites, more technical).
I’d seen the forecast looked to be giving out rain from 12 onwards, so I wanted to be off super early to walk up Pen-Y-fan. It seems like a ‘must do’ if you’re heading into the beacons. I made it there in good time, setting off at about 7:15 and getting there just before 8. The weather was good and the car park was already a little full, with vendors ready to go. By the time I got back to the car park at about 12 it would be a circus. I cant imagine what it would be like on a really sunny day in summer. I did however get a genuine 99 ice cream for £1, which I thought was a bargain (even had a flake).
The walk up was steady and quite steep, but essentially pretty easy. I’ve definitely had tougher walks up lesser peaks. It’s very lush however (so there’s a lot of green, and its grassy), I was blessed with good weather and good views. I first went to Pen-y-fan, and then after a little sit down, I backtracked and visited Corn du. I saw this older couple with a cute corgi with very short legs (but I missed an op to take a photo sadly). At the bottom of both mountains, there is a tarn, so I walked down the side to visit it, passing a memorial obelisk on the way. I’ve got a big fascination with water, I particularly love sun-bathing by the edge of lakes as the rippling sound is lovely to listen to. I spent about an hour just lounging against a semi-comfortable rock and that is my idea of heaven. At one point I saw the ripples eddy and spin in circles, and this movement rushed towards me and over the grass and finally over myself(it literally came right for me). It was a really cool sensation, and in the waves on the tarn I could visualise each gust of wind in a way I can’t recall noticing anywhere else.
I knew from the forecast that rain was due at 12, so I got myself sorted and sped off to Brecon for some food. I was able to find a place to park for free (yay), and explored the town. I didn't realise it had a canal until I saw a nearby pub had a 'bikers welcome' sign. And when I googled their menu, it made mention of the canal basin being a biker meetup point. It was a Sunday but the weather must have kept them away. I then went to grab some food, did some writing, and then headed back to Pontypridd for some chill out time (a.k.a Ru Paul's drag race).
That's all for today folks. If I'm sticking to schedule there should be another post tomorrow.
Hope you're having a dope week,