It’s here – our BNW Spring Challenge!  The perfect way for you to keep motivated this winter and get fit. Ros, Marcus, Clair, Sarah (our Bath instructor) and I are all taking part – so there’s no excuse.  Don’t worry if you’ve not walked with us for a while – we’ll put on free technique refresher workshops to get you back into it.

The date:  Saturday 24th March 2018

The challenge:  Sugar Loaf Mountain will be our main goal. You can add one or two extra peaks if you want more of a challenge.

The distance:  10 miles, 15 or 20 miles.

The place:  Abergavenny, South Wales

The cost:  £12 entrance fee plus £22 if you want to walk with one of our mountain guides.

The event:  The South Wales Three Peaks Challenge is organised by the Cardiff Outdoor Group in conjunction with Longtown Mountain Rescue Team.  The event has been going for over fifty years so it’s tried and tested.  There are different challenge levels depending on your fitness, confidence, and skills.  Hundreds of people take part, both trail runners and walkers, so there will be a real buzz on the day.  I am doing the full Three Peaks Challenge along with Sarah, whilst Ros, Clair and Marcus are entering the 10 mile Sugar Loaf challenge.  We may try an organise a guide for the 15 mile route if there’s enough interest. Here’s a bit more information:

The 10 mile Sugar Loaf Challenge
The 10 mile Sugar Loaf Challenge is a circular walk, with one obvious climb.  It starts and finishes in Abergavenny and is an opportunity to explore this beautiful part of the world which is right on our doorstep. 

The walk up to the peak of Sugar Loaf mountain is well within the average capabilites as it’s not too steep and there are good paths all the way to the top. There are also plenty of places to stop and take photographs of that breathtaking view. If you’d like to read what people who have climbed Sugar Loaf say about this mountain and its climb, click here.

To do this walk by yourself the organisers require you to confirm you have the requisite map and compass skills (even though it’d be very hard to get lost as there are so many other people doing it as well).  But we know that most of you would not want to do this so we have teamed up with mountain guides to take all that stress away. The guides will look after us and the navigation, ensuring that we take the easiest route up and down Sugar Loaf.  All we have to worry about is getting fit for the event and we’re organising a fitness programme to ensure you’re up for your challenge.  Our plan is to take two, possibly three groups if there’s enough demand (maximum of ten in each group):

  • Ros’s group – For those who would love to do this challenge but are anxious about their general speed and/or ability on hills, and may have concerns about their knees coming downhill. 
  • Clair and Marcus’s group – For those who are reasonably confident about their fitness and coming down hills. You probably do our Blaise and Ashton Court walks already.
  • If we have enough interest then we will find another guide and Clair and Marcus can head up a group each. 

Fancy a bigger challenge?
The Three Peaks event offers other routes besides the 10 mile Sugar Loaf mountain challenge:

  • A 15 mile two peak circular route (Sugar Loaf and Blorenge) – the Silver Route
  • A 20 mile three peak circular route (Sugar Loaf, Blorenge and Skirrid) – the Gold Route
  • A tough 17 mile three peak linear route (Bal Mawr, Pen Cerrig Calch and Sugar Loaf) – the Platinum Route.

All these require good fitness and knowledge of how to read a map and use a compass.  We will organise a guide for the 15 mile route if there is enough interest.  Sarah and I are doing the Gold Route and we would love it if you joined us.  To help you prepare for of these more challenging routes, as well as putting together a fitness training programme, we have organised the following:

1.     Navigation skills workshop – with a local mountain guide.  Date: Saturday 20th January 11-2pm Ashton Court (lower car park).  Cost: £15

2.     10 mile training walk over Sugar Loaf – with local mountain guide.  Date: Sunday 25th February.  Cost £22

The training walk will give us a chance to pre-walk one of the peaks before the event itself so that we are familiar with part of the route.  It will also boost your confidence and take away any nervousness about what to expect.  There’s also a handy pub lunch stop at the end if you wish.  The walk will start at 9.30am and be day-long.  You can book the workshop and training walk online now. You will need to make your own way to Abergavenny but we can look at car sharing nearer the time.

Refresher workshops
We’d love you to join us on this challenge even if you’ve not walked with us for a while.  To help get you back into the Nordic walking swing we will run free technique refresher workshops.  Email us if you’re interested.

Make a weekend of it
There are some nice places to stay in Abergavenny so rather than rushing home after the event why not stay the night.  Ros and I have booked into the Kings Head (we are trying to negotiate preferential rates for all Bristol Nordic Walkers).  It was recommended to us by some of our walkers who have stayed there previously and they have a superb Indian and Nepalese restaurant too.  So we will be heading there for some food in the evening and it’d be great if you joined us.  Other places to stay include the Angel Hotel, the Abergavenny Hotel and the Premier Inn is a 6 minute drive away. 

Turn it into a sponsored challenge
This could be a great opportunity to raise sponsorship for a charity you support and the event organisers welcome this. They just ask you to confirm with them beforehand which charity you are supporting.

How to book

  1. Go to The Three Peaks website and choose your distance.  The 10 mile Sugar Loaf Challenge is the Bronze Route.  You will need to confirm you have map reading and compass navigation skills, although the organisers appreciate that this isn’t relevant if you’re walking in one of our guided groups.  There is also a required equipment list.
  2. To join one of our 10 mile guided groups please book online in the same way as you would for a longer walk.  Make sure you book onto the correct group – Ros’s group is for less confident walkers and Clair and Marcus’s group is for those who are comfortable with going up and down hills and their ability to walk 10 miles. There is a ‘I would like to do this Challenge too!’.  Only put your name down for this if your preferred group is full.   Everything has been logged under ‘longer walks/events’ -  24th March 2018.
  3. If you would like to walk the 15 mile route with a guide please also sign up online. Again you'll find it under longer walks/events, 24th March 2018.  We will organise a guide if there's enough demand.
  4. If you would like to stay the night please book directly with your preferred accommodation. The Kings Head is where the instructors are staying but the Angel Hotel and the Abergavenny hotel are just a short walk away.
  5. If you would like to join us for some food at the Kings Head in the evening please let us know and we’ll organise a table and probably a fixed price set menu.

Interested but have questions?
Come to our information evening in the Kings Arms 7.15pm Tuesday 21st November 2017.  Steve Bees, one of our mountain guides who knows both the routes and the event well, will be there to give more information and answer any questions.

So that’s it.  An opportunity to put an extra bounce in your Nordic walking step this winter and kick start 2018 in a fabulously energetic way.  It’ll be fun training together plus you’ll feel a huge sense of achievement once you’ve completed this challenge. You can see how much fitter you become and this is a way of proving to yourself just what you are capable of.

To coin a phrase ‘Just do it!’.