What, just eight?!!! Good lord…well let’s call this the first eight then. These walks were particularly full of stunningness, an epiphany or too and a smidge of adventure…
The Annapurna Circuit, Nepal
I fancied a big walk, and this delivered in ways I hadn’t imagined! The seeds of More to… appeared on this three week trek, just walking each day and camping at night (with a slightly ludicrous degree of luxury provided by our Sherpas). The most inspiring scenery, people and peace I had encountered and a turning point for me.
Llanthony Priory, Black Mountains
Many of you will know this one…. I have been gently taking groups around this little circuit for 10 years now. The ascent is still a stunner in all kinds of unexpected ways. And the moment where Llanthony comes into view makes me smile every time.
The Nantlle Ridge and Snowdon
This was a wonderful mountain epic, guiding with my Mountain Mentor and outrageous friend Bob. The Nantlle ridge is a bristly number south of Snowdon, with six peaks and amazing views, plus some slightly tricky sections. We trotted along that, and got to the base of Snowdon at about 3pm on a summer’s day, then shinned up and over Snowdon to be picked up at Pen-y-pass. A Fabulous mountain day, concluded with a lot of food and quite a few drinks.
The Knoydart Peninsula, Highlands
My first solo wildcamping trip, taking the ferry from Mallaig to the Knoydart Peninsula and walking back through the valleys and passes. Memorable for utter freedom, exhilaration, a great deal of rain and the joy of handling everything with absolute confidence.
This little know summit lies in the edges of the Cadair Idris range in Snowdonia. It’s one I’m particularly fond of, although I still haven’t actually stood on the official summit yet, as it has moved! I had a very excited scamper up there last August, bog hopping, gazing at the wonderful Big Hills and relishing the first trip to Snowdonia for a couple of years.
Newlands Corner, Guildford
Back to the local Surrey Hills, scenic location for our monthly More to… taster walks. For several years myself and a walking friend have enjoyed a night walk and midnight picnic around Newlands on New Years Eve, ending with a bottle of champagne and watching everyone’s fireworks. Magic, daft, and a lovely way to celebrate!
The Cwfry Arete, Cadair Idris
Another Bob induced epic, this time because I said I wanted to discover what a Grade III scramble was like (*). No photos, as I was rather focused on calmly climbing up the precipitous ridge. A Grade III scramble does not actually count as a walk (it’s effectively the easiest grade of climb, and a rope may be needed for protection on trickier moves). I recall quite a few leg trembles. But boy, was that a great feeling at the top!!!
(*) For those of you that know the cake scale I use for grading walks, this would be about a 10 Caker!
Ewyas Valley, Black Mountains
This walk is magic every time. I’m also pretty sure it’s the walk I’ve done most often. Views of the highest degree of stunningness, waterfalls, following the stream to its source, more views, more magic – it’s my walk of choice so it most definitely takes a special place in this first eight Big Wow Walks.
Happy New Year! May you discover walks this year that bring you peace, excitement, insight and fulfillment – and maybe, all four at once.