Last night’s ascent of Pen y Fan was easily my best to date. A few colleagues and I had been kicking around the idea of an after work climb for the last couple of years but, as is often the case, great ideas tend to fizzle out unless someone grabs them by the horns and makes something happen. For us that kick up the backsides was an email last week, a welcome reprieve from the usual dross which fills my inbox. Weather forecasts were checked, rendezvous points chosen and before we knew it six in the evening had arrived and we were about to set foot on the lower slopes of Pen y Fan. Even after a few meters of climbing I instinctively knew that we had absolutely nailed this one. Conditions were perfect, warm with a light breeze, whilst overhead barely a cloud marred the sky. All around us Heather bloomed and best of all? We had the place virtually to ourselves. Stopping for a moment just to listen brought only the sounds of distant Meadow Pipts and the bleating of Sheep. Try the same thing on a typical weekend and the results would be far less pleasing on the ear I can assure you of that. Breathtaking doesn’t really do the experience justice but it was probably the most relaxing and joyful climb I’ve yet completed. With great company and plenty of laughs we ate up the miles in no time, arriving at the summit just before sunset. That our timing was near perfect came as no real surprise on an evening where we could seemingly do no wrong.
Watching the sun set from atop a tall peak has long been on my bucket list and my own words from that moment sum my feelings up best: “Why the hell haven’t we done this before?!” From seeing the last rays slip from the top of Cribyn to the deep shadows which picked out every undulation of the surrounding hills, there was a near endless parade of views to memorise, sounds and smells to file away and moments to savour. When a passing walker remarked that he’d forget what it felt like as soon as he got to the bottom I didn’t quite know what he meant. I do now. Capturing such experiences whether it be on camera or in the mind is simply not possible. They are of the moment, something to be felt at first hand and something that unless you were there would be impossible to explain in any meaningful terms to another. All I can really say is go and try it for yourself. Instead of doing that extra hour of overtime kick back, head for the hills and enrich your life for the better. I’ll certainly be doing a lot more of that from now on.