Good evening. Happy Monday! How has your week been? I hope you’ve had a good one, with some fun mixed in with all those regular commitments we all find ourselves with.
My working week last week was pretty okay, with my evenings spent writing blog posts and watching the Olympics. But while the week was spent sitting at my computer, my weekend was about the outdoors. I got up super early on Saturday morning (a 5.30am alarm call is early for me at the weekend) with the intention of having a little solo adventure at a very popular spot over in Wales, and then spent Sunday at a beautiful country park with family.
Still hooked on the Olympics
Did you see the BMX freestyle final? Oh – my – goodness. How brave are they?! Loved it, had me right on the edge of my seat.
I honestly can’t get enough. My whole day is filled to the brim with stories of determination and commitment and endurance – it’s wonderful. There’s so much inspiration to go after personal goals. And while I was not successful getting my bike ready to ride straight away (read Weekly Blog Episode 79), I’ve found my mindset shift just a little bit, feeding off the joys and thrills of Tokyo 2020.
This Olympiad, I don’t think it’s only the individual stories and personal inspiration, though. I mean, after the last 18 months, and everything the pandemic has meant, it’s incredibly heartening to see people from all over the world come together for something positive – being their best in their chosen sport. I know it’s not quite been the same, but there is certainly something special about it all.
We’ve got a bit less than week or so left now, so I’m making the most of it. And then we get to do it all again when the Paralympics starts on 24 August.
Waterfalls in the Brecon Beacons
A walk that’s been on my bucket list for a while is the Four Falls Trail over in the Brecon Beacons. Thanks to some encouragement from a friend, I drove over on Saturday morning to tick this one off my long to-hike list.
The Four Falls Trail is a 5.5-ish mile hike taking in four large waterfalls and a bunch of smaller ones near the village of Ystradfellte inside the Brecon Beacons National Park. The four waterfalls are Sgwd Clun-Gwyn, Sgwd Isaf Clun-Gwyn, Sgwd Y Pannwr and the most famous (because you can walk behind it), Sgwd Yr Eira. I parked at the Cwm Porth car park, which cost £5 for the day and has toilets and a visitor’s centre.
It was utterly wonderful. Honestly. Possibly one of my favourite hikes this year. The rain stopped as I arrived, the waterfalls were full and flowing aggressively, the scenery was lush and green. The falls were noisy, the rocks gnarly, and the nature is incredibly stunning. The whole walk, even the accessible path at the top, has a soundtrack of rushing water.
It’s a popular and busy trail, so I got up early and was walking before 8.30am, which was definitely the right choice as when I was on my way back along the main trail to the car park at 10.45am or so, I passed at least 60 or 70 people starting their loop. It’s wonderful to see lots of people enjoy the outdoors, but as someone who enjoys solitude when hiking, I choose to arrive early (ish on this occasion) and beat the crowds. I can imagine some of the steeper sections of this hike get rather difficult and frustrating when busy.
The walk is reasonably challenging (if you take the green trail which allows you to follow close to the river), but doable by most with decent fitness, and is well worth the effort. I was pleased for my study and grippy walking boots – it’s a bit scrambly in places and there a lot of steps to descent and ascent (170 each way to the biggest falls).
I took a whole bunch of mediocre photos and a few videos with my thoughts on the way around, which I’ve saved as a highlight over on my Instagram stories if you want to go and see something of the hike. And there will be a blog post here soon, too, just as soon as I’ve written it up.
Family Day Out at Coombe Abbey
Like most people who don’t live around the corner from their family, we’ve not seen our nearest and dearest much over the last year, certainly not as much as we are used to. My sister and her family are on holiday this week a little bit nearer to us than normal, so we took the opportunity to meet up on Sunday for a picnic, walk and a catch up.
A quick Google of nice places to meet near Coventry gave us Coombe Abbey Country Park, a 500-acre Capability Brown designed park with gardens, woodland, lakeside walks, and wildlife. It was a great place to meet, the grounds are really beautiful, I can definitely see why there were people here having wedding and birthday celebrations.
There are cafes, play parks, a deer park, a wildflower meadow, and plenty of long and winding paths to meander along. It was quite busy close to the main car park, but once we walked over the bridge where all the swans and ducks had congregated, and up to the top pond, there were far fewer people.
I particularly liked walking through the tall and stately Redwoods, my favourite tree, and seeing my niece and nephew enjoy running through the woods and peering deep into the ponds. A Sunday afternoon very well spent indeed, I’m sure we’ll be back at Coombe Abbey sometime – maybe for the GoApe course there, I do like a bit of monkeying around!
The Best Place to Sleep Outside in the UK?
I receive a whole load of random emails from journalists and PR agencies talking about research they’ve done in the hope that I might share it on here. I normally ignore them; Splodz Blogz isn’t a news blog or magazine full of this kind of stuff, but occasionally there will be something in there I do find interesting. My Weekly Blog is a good place to share it, I reckon.
TheDozyOwl.co.uk (the deal with these things is that you share the company that commissioned the research…) wanted to find the best spots in the UK for outdoor sleeping this summer. Taking into account climate, light pollution and noise pollution, they scored towns around the UK to come up with the list of best and worst places to go camping…
Apparently, the county of Herefordshire and the Malvern Hills are among the best locations for a great night’s sleep outdoors. Right on my doorstep… I’d best find me a place to go camping.
Taking top spot is Maldon in Essex. Low noise pollution levels means you’ll hear little to no train or traffic noise if you choose to camp out in this area. It also doesn’t rain much either, which is why the area received a high score for climate, too.
Blackpool, famous for its illuminations, is the worst area to sleep outdoors according to this analysis of climate, light, and noise pollution levels. Despite being the attraction, those lights make it difficult to see the night sky, which is why the area has a low score for light pollution. This area also received a low score for average wind speed.
I was particularly interested in the climate scores. Swale boasts the highest average climate score; meaning that the temperature, wind, and rainfall in the area won’t stop you from enjoying a night under the stars.
Whereas South Somerset has the highest average rainfall, so although skies will be clear, you’ll most likely need your waterproofs. And Mid and East Suffolk are the windiest locations – so be sure to pitch your tent in the right direction.
I don’t know if I agree with the list, because I have my favourite places to go camping in the UK, as you probably do as well. So why not tell me about your top one or two locations to go camping in the comment below, maybe we can make our own list? If you’re intrigued, you can read the full report.
As always, I would really love to hear from you in the comments below. What have been the highlights of your week? Let me know what your favourite thing about the last seven days has been. And don’t forget to get your One Hour Outside today… whatever day you happen to be reading this on!
Buy Me a Cuppa?
If you fancy supporting me and my mini adventures, you can “buy me a coffee” (or a tea, naturally). If you enjoyed this post and would like to support what I’m doing, please head over to Ko-fi to find out more.