April's here... At last. Do you think now we can turn the thermostats down and enjoy the longer daytime hours under a little bit of sunshine? Surely. But come rain, sleet or snow, Summit or Nothing have continued to embrace the elements and get outdoors no matter what the weather brings. And what a three months we have enjoyed too.
When we saw the new year in on our Wet and Windy Dartmoor Wild Camp, we promised to bring you all more content, more blogs, more wild camping, more visits to Britains other National Parks and more mountains. Well, we did have a stab at bringing you all of that, although I must admit that we have faltered at the regular blogging. Nath still has a 7000-word blog to send across that he has been sat on since Christmas, I have written some more of our Hiking Routes, but we fail to blog regularly and after each of our outings. Well, what can I say? I'm busy editing videos.
So what have we done? Where have you been? Have you not subscribed to our YouTube channel? Well go and do it now! Quick! Quick! But in the meantime, let's reflect upon exactly where we have been and what we have done in what I call the Summit or Nothing Quarterly Hiking Summary, or you may like to call a Summit or Nothing Newsletter. Any way. Where to start?
Start as you mean to go on, eh, boys? Wild camping on the Brecon Beacons! The bold, the brave, the adventures of Summit or Nothing are about to step up a gear, and what better way than to head to the snowy mountaintops of the Brecon Beacons for a hike and wild camp on the summit of Fan Brycheiniog of the Black Mountains.
This was surely about to set a president for the years adventures, right? Well, we did give it a try, rising at 5 am and traveling all the way to the Brecon Beacons from Cornwall, on somewhat of a whim, I guess, only to get absolutely hammered by the weather (not mentioned in any forecast). We had no water, found no water source, and under the torrential rain and gale force winds, we were aware that we were not going to camp. And then the added realisation that we had not really allowed ourselves the daylight hours to make it up and back before nightfall meant that the safe thing to do was to turn around and head back to the car. This was where the use of the phrase 'Its the way of the hill!' was born.
The day started off on the wrong foot to
be honest, (besides the abysmal service station breakfast en route) when Trev couldn't cross the river at the carpark and spent half an hour or so marching up and
down trying to find a safe crossing, only to realise on our way down that a little way up there was a bridge. Of course, there was. There's always a bridge, right? In fact, if we had just gone
up the way that we came down, then maybe we would have had plenty of time to hit the summit!
So, we spent more hours in the car than on the hill that day, but at least we tried.
January also saw me return to the South West Coast Path for some more solo hiking one week taking a seven-mile circular walk around Boscastle at the beginning of the month and then taking a long stroll from Bude to Milook and back (ten-miles). This was where I decided that conquering the three peaks of Britain and ticking off the 365 square miles of Dartmoor wasn't enough. Now I was adamant that I am also going to take in the 630 miles of the South West Coast Path too, so my coastal hiking steps up a notch from here. Upon returning, I purchased a magazine in the local supermarket, a little publication known as Country Walking magazine.
January also marked another milestone with regards to our YouTube channel - when we reached 700 subscribers on the 19th! Wow - 700 subs. Thanks, guys! Oh, and I got recognised in a builder's merchants when a stranger came up to me and asked: "Shouldn't you be on Dartmoor?"
Nath's newest toy is his new camera! A NIKON D5300 which he got to test out on a beautiful day out to Dartmoor's Gidleigh area. This was a great day and harked back to the beginnings of our Summit or Nothing adventures, an easy going Tor bagging stroll through the idyllic landscape of Dartmoor. No tents, no stress, just us and the views. This pleasurable 7 mile circular walk took in the sights of Kestor Rock, Gidleigh Tor and Scorhill Stone Circle to name but a few, and gave me another opportunity to tell another Dartmoor Legend.
The sun stayed out for us, the rain stayed away, and apart from one mishap where we ended up in the treacherous Dartmoor bog, it was a fairly uneventful day.
Ever since the birth of our second son, Coen, we haven't seen any snow whatsoever in our part of the South West, so my wife (Don-Don) and myself thought that now our youngest, Elise - was old enough to appreciate it, it would be the perfect time to take the children on their first trip on a plane, and to the winter wonderland of the German Alps for an epic Family Holiday, so that they could see and play in snow for the first time. It was inevitable that on our return we would see snow in our area (not just once, but twice!!) Regardless, it was still worth it to see their faces as they first set foot into the snow, and besides, Daddy got to see some mountains.
In a week of mountains and cable cars, Garmisch-Partenkirchen became our home from home, and on our first full day we went up the hilariously named Mount Wank for some sledding up at 1780m's. Our teenage son, Jai, found the name hilarious, and every time he pronounced it as its vulgar British slang term, Coen would take pride in being able to correct his older brother by saying 'Its pronounced VANK!' One day he will look back at our family videos and the ball will finally drop, but for now, let's enjoy the innocence of childhood. We finished off that day by taking a family walk through a Frozen Gorge at Partnachklamm, an absolutely stunning location, especially at this time of year.
But the highlight of the week was the journey to the top of Germany's tallest mountain, Zugspitze. A train ride up through the mountains gut and another cable car to the tippy top, and we were up at 2962m in sub-zero temperatures, taking in the incredible panoramic views of the surrounding mountaintops peaking through the vast ocean of clouds. It was an amazing experience for all of us, and we hope that the kids will remember it for the rest of their lives.
Boom! Trev's well away with his South West Coast Path walking by now, and in February managed to get out on three occasions for four walks (I know it sounds like bad maths, but bear with me). First off taking a massive 12 mile walk, walking from Sandymouth to Welcombe Bay, which to be honest was one of the hardest days out I've put myself through. It may not sound a lot, twelve miles, but put into consideration that I also climbed the equivalent of climbing Ben Nevis on this small section of the coast path. To say I ached a little when I got home was an understatement.
The next time I got out I managed to bag two walks in one day, and filled in some gaps. There would be no having to walk back the way I came today, as my first walk from Milook to Crackington Haven (5-miles) had me parking at one end and meeting the family at the other. Then I managed to persuade the wife to drop me at Strangles (where I had finished one walk) so I could walk to Beanie Cliff (where I started another). Strangles to Beanie Cliff was just a short 3-mile walk but was still stunning none the less. Then, at the end of the month, with the company of a friend of mine, Dionis, we parked a car at either end and walked ten-miles from Tintagel to Port Isaac, the home of King Arthur to the home of Doc Martin.
Unfortunately, I also received some tragic news this month, a good friend of mine, and someone who I consider the Godfather of Summit or Nothing, Paul Watts had passed away. Paul was the one who whet my appetite for hiking, and mountains. I worked with him and he would talk about his adventures, and it was addictive. Before long I was out on the moors with Nath, preparing to follow in Paul's footsteps. He loved our videos, and would always give me hints and tips on where to go and what to carry, he gave me all of his old Trail Magazines, and although I hadn't worked with him for a while, we still kept in touch and would always talk hiking. It was my only regret that we never got out together, despite always talking about it. He was a true legend and will be missed by many, but I will always carry his memory as we get out and about! Without him, I am sure that Summit or Nothing wouldn't exist, so to him, I am truly grateful.
This was also a month of some great achievements too. Do you remember that I mentioned buying a copy of Country Walking magazine? Well, I subscribed and also sent an email telling them a bit about myself, my new found love of walking and my hiking with Nath as Summit or Nothing, and I attached a load of photos to boot. Imagine my elation when I received my first edition in the post and upon opening it found a full A4 sized page full of Summit Or Nothing. Not only had my letter been published and Summit or Nothing got a massive shout out, but I also won letter of the month and won a pair of Berghaus Hillmaster II boots worth £160.
Oh, and at some point in this month, we also passed the 800 subscriber milestone, and whilst visiting a motor spares shop, the chap behind the counter asked me "Are you the Dartmoor dude?" Dude! His word, not mine!
The first days of March were days that we will all remember, as it snowed. Everywhere. That's right, that white stuff that we never get, you know? That stuff that is so rare around here that we flew our kids across Europe to see some? Well, now there's an abundance of it, and as a result, people are making haphazardous journeys and clogging up roads. Well, Nath and I were due to go and do another wild camp on Dartmoor on this very weekend, but by the Saturday I couldn't even get out of our village, so we canceled the camp. By the Sunday, roads were accessible again and so we thought we would go for a day hike and picked Princetown as good a place to go hiking on Dartmoor as any.
What an area, what a day. Bright sunshine, blues skies, snow, rain, black clouds, bogs, ponies, quarry's, tors, you name it we saw it (as long as it was one of the things we just mentioned before). This 8-mile circular took us around some fantastic sights, and on a route that we had as good as plucked from a hat, it turned out to be a really fantastic day... until the heavens opened and we got wet. But, oh, well. That's the way of the hill I guess. Or was it a case of one tor too many?
We visited Dartmoor Prison and North Hessary Tor where Nath was adventurous in the snow and I... wasn't. We lucked out when we managed to see Foggintor quarry under ice and snow, and then over to Swelltor Quarry (also under snow and ice) before ducking over to Ingra and Leeden Tors to finish the day off. So, another two Dartmoor hikes so far this year and another 9 squares ticked off of the 365 map. Fantastic. After returning home that evening, we had received a message on our Summit or Nothing Facebook page, where one of our viewers asked "Did we see you on the road to Princetown today. So spotted again. Would you look at that.
I got back to the coast for some more South West Coast Path walks. One, another gap filler between Boscastle and Bossiney, made even more spectacular by the next bout of snow to cover this end of the country that is so unlikely to get snow that we flew our kids to Germany just to see some (sorry, have I mentioned that again? I'm not bitter, honest!) The walk may have been glorious, but boy was it trechourous underfoot, not the snow and ice so much as the mud, which had me over on more than one occasion, so I opted to turn it into a circular walk and came home via the roads. The next outing saw me once again hit the Coast Path with Dionis (Den-Den) where we walked between Port Isaac and Rock for a 12-mile walk this time, with more outstanding coastal beauty, turquoise seas and an abundance of seabirds to spot from start to finish. Again, we parked a car at either end so we didn't have to walk back. Whatever could go wrong, heh? Tune in to Summit or Nothing on to find out(30.03.18).
So after completing this walk, I have managed to complete the first 50 miles of the South West Coast Path, and have completed a single stretch between Welcombe and Rock. I can't wait to get out again.
And then, early in March, guess what? Another subscriber milestone - 900 subs hit! SO to any of you who have just joined us, thanks ever so much, and I hope you continue to enjoy our videos as much as we enjoy making them for you!
So that's the first quarter of our year at a glance. But what can you expect from us in the future. Well, we are still putting in plans to complete our first challenge - The Three Peaks. Having knocked Snowdon and Scafell Pike off of the list, we are left just with Ben Nevis, so stay tuned to see us nail that bad boy at some point in the summer. We also plan to do another trip up to Snowdonia soon, with another great mountain hike and hopefully a wild camp up there too.
As we fast approach 1000 subs, we have decided that we will partake in a 1000 subscribers Q&A, so if you want to get a question in you can either message us on Facebook, comment under this post or comment under the Q&A post that we will upload soon.
Then, to celebrate 8 years of marriage to my beautiful wife, Don-Don, I have managed to persuade her to join me on a twenty-mile stretch of the South West Coast Path (with posh B&B in between) between Minehead and Lynmouth, a part of the coast I have never actually seen, and some quality time together without the kids for once, so I am double excited about that!
Plus Nath and I have just been out onto Dartmoor for our second successful Wild Camp of the Year (sort of). An eventful outing that just fell out of the first quarter but I can assure you is going to be quite an adventure worth watching (as soon as I've edited it). Incidentally, its worth mentioning that we got spotted again whilst out on this hike, as we were filming our introduction we were tooted from a passing car and the occupants inside hollered "Summit or Nothiiiiing!!" as they passed. Amazing!
So thanks for reading, thanks for watching and hope that you will join us for more hiking related antics of Summit or Nothing!
You can read the next Quarterly Report here.