So, what do you do when the cloud is so low that for even two reasonably experienced hill walkers, the prospect of climbing a mountain is just a step too far? You make the focus of the day about treating the mind as well as the body....
On the second day of our trip to North Wales to focus on upping our skills for our ML Assessments we were greeted to a wall of cloud and rain. It was pretty damn miserable. The plan had been to climb Cadair Idris, doing some off path navigation and steep group practice along the way. However, after a hair raising day the day before, personally I wasn't overly keen on trudging up a mountain with zero visibility. When I climb up on to Cadair Idris for the first time then I'm sorry, I want to be rewarded with a view. I know, I know, ML training says that you need to ensure you get days on the hills in all weather, but this was a step too far.
So, what were we to do? We had made it as far as the Minffordd Path car park and we were in a quandary. In the end we decided to spend the day focusing on what a colleague in the Mountain Rescue calls the 'green shit' and the 'grey shit'. Also known as the flora, fauna and geology. Along the way the plan was to embed more navigation skills at low levels, nail pacing on the flat and on inclines and generally have a great time ensuring that our minds got a healthy dose of serotonin.
It was a very, wet day. However it was warm, the company was great (don't tell my husband I said that, not sure I could cope with his ego!), and we saw an abundance of wildlife despite the rain. The reserve is home to a broad range of species including blanket bog, upland heath, broad leaved woodland and a variety of grassland types. Dwarf shrub heath is plentiful with Heather, Bilberry and Cross-leaved Heath common. Purple Moor-grass, Sheep’s Fescue and Common Bent are widespread in the grasslands. The crags and screes sustain clumps of bright green Parsley Fern. Mammals include Otter, Brown Hare, Water Vole and Lesser Horseshoe Bat. Breeding upland birds include Wheatear and Ring Ouzel (summer visitors), Peregrine, Raven, Skylark and Meadow Pipit.
There is a superb visitor centre at the base of the Minfforrdd Path as well as a rather beautiful spot where we sat and ate our lunch after some upland navigation. All in all, when you head somewhere with a plan in mind don't be afraid to change the plan, its not a failure if you don't climb the hill that was planned, it a triumph to discover something new.
It is always worth remembering that a good day out on the hills does not always have to involve a summit, it can be about spending quality time with yourself and others. For me the outdoors is my therapist chair, and this day was just magic.