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Our great BNW Spring challenge is completed.  What a mammoth effort from everyone.  What an achievement.  What a day! 

The weather forecast was for mist, drizzle and fog.  I had been looking at it all week willing it to improve but the Met Office wouldn’t budge.  However, as is often the way the day turned out so much better.  Although low cloud enveloped the Gold Route earlybirds, it had lifted by mid-morning.  We didn’t see the sun but we had dry weather and some fantastic views.  What a relief!

As for the format of the day itself the organisation was very slick.  There were separate registration areas depending on your route and a checkpoint card and number for each of us.  Mountain rescue were there to encourage and give confidence that we were in good hands and stamp our cards along the way.  We had to note the relevant number at a checkpoint at the top of each peak and a few more in between.  

There are no straightforward paths up the mountains and no waymarked paths with nice big signposts saying ‘this way’.  But there were many other walkers plus our excellent navigators from Cardiff and Newport Outdoor Groups – Steve, Ian, Liz, Brian and Adrian.  They did a brilliant job leading our Bronze and Silver route walkers on a safe and steady path across Sugar Loaf and Blorenge.  Those of us tackling the 20 mile Gold route were doing it the hard way, relying on maps and compasses and grateful for the navigation course we’d completed several weeks previously. 

Climbing peaks like these in South Wales was utterly magnificent.  It was difficult at times, not just the distance but the ascents were seriously steep in places and the descents muddy and tricky.  It required great effort and determination.  Those of us that took part (over fifty of us) have been walking all winter – upping our mileage, going out in all conditions including rain, sleet and snow and preparing for this moment.  So congratulations and well done to all of our inspirational Nordic walkers who completed the South Wales Three Peaks challenge:

Bronze Challenge (10 miles and Sugar Loaf): Jo, Liz, Sally, Lesley, Michaela, Alan, Mina, Phillipa, Liz, Lindy, Helen, Joy, Lorna, Ann, Colin, Zoe, Trish, Sarah, Ros, Kate, Jo, Anne, Rosemary, Carmen, Jean, Anna, Karen, Marcus, Isobel, Sue, Amy, Jo, Marilyn, Bob, Judith, Sue, Chris, Kate.

Silver Challenge (15 miles plus Blorenge & Sugar Loaf): Ayshea, Carolyn, Jane, Jane, Ashley, Suzanne, Clare, Caroline, Sally, Nick, Sue.

Gold Challenge (20 miles plus, Blorenge, Sugar Loaf & Skirrid): Mel, Heather, Victoria, Rob, Issie, Olga, Vicky.

We’d also like to say a huge thank you to all the volunteers who were involved with this challenge. Their genuine congratulations invoked a joyful delight and the certificate of achievement given to every finisher at the end felt well and truly earned.

I want to close with these two Facebook posts from a couple of our walkers.  First a Dr Seuss rhyme Zoe saw after the event:

“You’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting,
So…get on your way!”

Plus this comment from Jo (accompanying a photo of her certificate and glass of wine) which about sums up our day:

‘Feeling ridiculously pleased with myself.  11 miles and a mountain and it was FUN!  I need no excuse for a drink but I think I’ve actually earned this one.  Thank you Bristol Nordic Walking for helping me on my way to getting fitter.”

And that’s what our club is all about – having fun, getting fitter, exploring new places and occasionally climbing a mountain.

Click here to see photos from this amazing day.