With the burst of colour on the verges and the first warmth of the sun eagerly awaited, the anaemia of Winter finally feels as if it is being shrugged off. With a new job and training to be a Pilates teacher, my Winter wanderings have been few and far between, but the desire to experience the unfamiliar and be out in nature still runs deep. I realise more and more the immense privilege of being outside for months on end whilst witnessing landscapes and nature unfold in front of me.
Over the Winter months the Ginger Ninja has been in her stables and I’ve sought other doorstep discoveries on foot. The first of which was a “bothy” in the mist filled Brecon Beacons. These remote little huts in the mountains have been the shelter for shepherds of old and walkers of new. They conjure up a nostalgia of a simple life of tending sheep which now belongs to a different era. Laura and I were prepared with sleeping bags, food and water, and we knew it was going to be a cold night. As we approached the hut we heard a couple of voices, only to find that our 6 ft squared hotel for the night was already occupied. Chris and Alan, had travelled up from Cirencester and were as surprised as we were to find that bothies are now rather sought after accommodation. I mean “accommodation” in the loosest sense of the word. It is a hut with a wood burning stove and the musings of other previous occupants. They’d brought coal and a bottle of wine. We brought the jokes. Note to self which one is more important for the next time.
The next mission was no warmer. The bulrushes and trees slowly emerged into view through the shallow light of dawn as the snowflakes floated down. Wearing as many layers as I could, my bivvy bag had provided just about enough cover for a dawn raid to watch the starling murmurations. On a previous trip at dusk to the Somerset levels I’d watched the battalions of birds arriving, performing their swirling air dance before diving into the marshes to gossip. This time however, like me, the army of birds had obviously woken up and decided it was too cold for morning acrobatics and headed straight off to their next destination.
I have yet to distil my myriad of photos and as time goes by the cycle odyssey takes on more of a surreal quality. Was that really me?! One of my main motivations (and why I love working for the Youth Adventure Trust) is to encourage children and young people (or any age for that matter) to take a small step out of the comfort zone. I will be speaking at a couple of events and schools and I’d be happy to do more, so get in touch if you’re interested.
A podcast about my trip…http://www.toughgirlchallenges.com/single-post/2017/01/24/Philippa-Cox