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Once famous for Cheese – now famous for Challenges!

What have a sleeping giant Wild Boar, a mystical standing stone and menacing hills shrouded in a swirling ethereal mist got in common? Game of Thrones perhaps? Why no! – we’re merely Waxing lyrical about features of interest that our army of walking warriors enjoyed as they braved the elements to walk, jog and even run the Caerphilly Challenge Series ‘Wild Boar’ 2014.

A fantastic Saturday in May saw the running (by some) of the third Challenge, a not for profit community event part funded by Ramblers Cymru’s ‘Lets Walk Cymru’ and organised by a partnership of the Aneurin Bevan University Health Board, Caerphilly County Borough Council and many others.

Caerphilly Image 2

Welcoming a record number of all-comers with our ethos of challenges for people of any ability, routes ranging from 1, 5, 9 and 14 miles, up to a boot-bustin’ 22 mile yomp through some of Caerphilly’s wild and rugged Rhymney (pronounced Rum-nee, we’re in Wales y’know) terrain were on offer, along with some amazing support and goodies thanks to our friends at Nikwax!

Keen outdoor enthusiasts from all over the UK – not only South Wales, but also the Midlands, West Country and Ireland – rocked-up at the very un-Saturday time of 6.00 am, to be greeted by enthusiastic staff and free massages (not from our really enthusiastic staff by the way, from experts of course…) set to a soundtrack of foot-stomping, walking-themed, bangin’ tunes! Could there be a better motivation for our bleary-eyed, hardy Challengees nervously anticipating their various challenges ahead?

Caerphilly Challenge WalkingWell, maybe the promise of an energy boosting cream tea, winning a box of Nikwax delights and a further free massage at the finish!

The relentless weather proved to be no deterrent to our intrepid ‘Boarers’, with the first 14 miler returning in 2.5 hours. However ‘’shower-proof’ was no deterrent to relentless weather either, as some of our more soggy strollers found out!  If ever there was a reason to invest in supporter Nikwax’s products, then this was proof – no pun intended of course ; -)

Thankfully the goody bags that went home with our booted ‘Boar-bashers’  included a fantastic complimentary wash of TX.Direct, whetting (and waxing) the appetite for next year’s event.

Bringing us Cheesily to that very subject… 

Saturday May 9th 2015 is set to see the Caerphilly Challenge Series return to its spiritual home, Twmbarlwm (pronounced tum-bar-lum, another free Welsh lesson for you guys). Whether its a 1 mile stroll along the Monmouthshire Brecon Canal or tackling the challenge of the 22 mile Twmbarlwm Trek, yet again we will be throwing down a walking, jogging or running Challenge to suit you – no matter how fit you are!

A £10 entry fee, with £8 early bird and further £2 off for under 18’s – checkout the website for updates on when to enter:

www.caerphillychallengeseries.co.uk 

So come on Nikwax fans, are you ready to ‘Take on the Trek’ in 2015?

This Guest Blog was written by Gavin Jones, Caerphilly County Borough Council.

 

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Hannah and Chico: Welsh Vacation

The latest blog from Hannah and her trusted friend, Chico:

I last sent a message at the very beginning of last July’s heat wave, when the rains of June were still fresh. The walk around Wales took another four and a half months; Chico the donkey and I finally arrived back in Aberystwyth in mid-November, having completed the full 1000-mile circumnavigation of the country.

We were very lucky. The adventure was dreamed up in 2012 during the wettest summer on record, and the organising all happened during last spring’s interminable coldness, when we all wondered whether the trees would ever get the chance to sprout leaves. I’d like to say it took faith, but actually I just tried not to think about it.

Here comes the rain…

After the heat wave which blazed right through July and half of August, we slow little travellers walked right on through a very mild September and October. There was rain, but never for more than a day, which meant that we always dried off before the next shower.

November got tougher – the rain started falling with vigour, and it doesn’t take long to become quite mouldy and wretched. My shoelaces, less than a month old, rotted and snapped. Food supplies got wet, bread in particular soaking up the leaks. Usually I’d manage to find a phone box to refold my map in, but occasionally there was nothing. Those maps – north Pembrokeshire and south Ceredigion – are still wrinkled and rubbed, with place names ominously missing forever, like whole villages might have been washed into the gutter along with us.

Chico, a hater of rain through and through, from his desert-dwelling genes to his unsuitably fuzzy, oil-less hair, had got so dependent on me that he’d often opt to stand in the rain where he could see me rather than take shelter. We were a sorry bunch.

And yet I wouldn’t have changed it for anything. I was living outside, and rain is part of outside (and Nikwax helps!) I was walking around Wales, and rain is definitely part of this green isle. But most of all, the rain was a fine reminder to be flexible, and attempt to be relaxed with uncertainty.

Power alarms

Climate change seems to be behind the extremes of weather, and that is scary. For the span of human history we have been creatures at the mercy of the elements, and now we are the ones with the power – it doesn’t sit easily.

I think privileged humankind are suspended between feeling powerful and feeling powerless. Collectively people suddenly have the power to change the weather, but individually it’s hard not to see my shorter shower, diligent recycling or energy-saving light bulb as a tiny squeak of desperation in the roar of threatened existence.

Individually we have the power to change how we live. So what to do? Do what you can, of course. Mend and reuse, buy less and recycle, ally yourself to brands and companies that you know care. Make changes that enrich your life, not ones that feel like sacrifice.

And make friends with uncertainty. During the heat wave I had friends who flew to the Philippines, to Croatia and to Spain, for guaranteed sun on their understandably precious summer holidays. Meanwhile I basked and burned, day after day, in fantastic Welsh sunshine – absolutely not guaranteed and somehow all the more wonderful for it. When the rain began there were still all sorts of sensory treasures – the smells and sounds of storms, wild winds that Chico and I leaned into on Strumble Head, occasional rainbows, and fierce hailstorms on the tent at 3am.

Make friends with uncertainty. Adventure stems from it, a donkey as a companion guarantees it! You need a resilient and resourceful attitude to cope with it, and that’s a thing well worth cultivating. And it looks to be the way the world is going.

And then? Get out there, whatever the weather.

 

See more Seaside donkey activity here: www.seasidedonkey.co.uk Like Hannah and Chico on Facebook here: www.facebook.com/seasidedonkey … and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/hannahengelkamp Hannah is currently working on the book and the film of the adventure, following a successful Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign. You can pre-order the book and film at www.seasidedonkey.co.uk/shop, or sign up to the newsletter to be kept informed of progress!