Wales Adventures, Reflections: Kat & Katie Hiking
[Music] Katie: "Oh Kat we're so colour coordinated" Kat: "Does it matter?" Katie: "It's lovely." Kat: "Okay that's good." Katie: "It's like you've been living for a week in my environment and you've turned into moss as well." Kat: "I've been indoctrinated" Kat: "Okay" Katie: " Welcome everyone to our final day on which we are not walking." Kat: "Yes. We did have a plan for the final day" Katie: "We did." Kat: "And we were kind of excited to do it. We checked the weather..." Katie: "Well, we were going to go up the mountain and mountain walking requires favourable weather and the weather forecast was rain all day poor visibility at the top of the mountain and gale force winds so..." Kat: "White out conditions in places." Katie: "Yeah, it was not good." Kat: "So yeah. And we we both also kind
of secretly admitted that at the end of yesterday, which was much longer than we expected, that we were actually quite relieved at the prospect of not climbing a mountain on the final day." Katie: "Yeah, I would have been up for it but also I wasn't completely gutted that we couldn't do it because it leaves us something to do next time." Kat: "Yep, and it's given us more time to kind of relax today and kind of process everything." Katie: "Yeah reflect on the experience that we've had. We've had an amazing week it feels like...what am I trying to say? We've only walked for 6 days but it feels like we've been walking forever and I don't mean that in a bad way! I mean just our days have been so full of incredible experiences." Kat: "Yes, it really has been sort of a case of each day we've been astonished by new stuff um and we were very... Katie has done one long walk like this before." Katie: "Yes."
Kat: "I never had. Well, I did do a 5-day sort of jungle walk over probably 20 years ago or something like that so not for a very long time and we were both intrigued to see how we would find it in terms of our stamina." Katie: "Yeah it's quite out of the ordinary in terms of our normal exercise routine, so it was an experiment to see see how we went." Kat: "Yeah, and I think we were both pleasantly surprised that we were able to do it without any terrible injuries or..." Katie: "Yes no injuries, no overwhelming exhaustion. We were definitely tired but there was no day when I got up and thought Oh no I really don't want to do this today." Kat: "Yeah, and on days where we were slightly achy, just getting
up and starting walking again usually sort sorted us out so..." Katie: "Yeah, and the more we did it actually, the more the week went on the easier I found it. I wasn't becoming more achy and sore but actually less." Kat: "Yeah. Before we started we'd wondered whether we would find the second day the most challenging. It was definitely the first day." Katie: "It was the first day, my goodness" Kat: "And after that we kind of settled into it." Katie: "Yeah" Kat: "So what should we start with?" Katie: "Should we start with the lows to get
them out of the way?" Kat: Yeah, I've already kind of hinted what both of us, I think, have the same low" Katie: "I think we do ,I think we do. Do you want to start with yours? Kat: "Okay yeah. The end of the first day while the day itself had been amazing and we ended at Llanthony abbey?" Katie: "Priory" Kat: "Yeah, which was absolutely stunning. The day was... well every day was longer than we expected, but that day ended with a a slight hiccup. We had no kind of signal, we were struggling to quite find our bearings we resorted to... Katie resorted to the paper OS map to try and get us through the final bit.
We found ourselves on what wasn't a path." Katie: "It wasn't the path. Now looking back at what we did being able to see it on the app, we were a long way off the actual path which explains why it was as impassable as it was." Kat: "It was probably a cow path through some incredibly muddy churned up ground, incredibly wet going up to our, you know, shins sometimes in mud." Katie: "It was so boggy and covered in
brambles as well, fighting our way through." Kat: "Yeah, it was lots of brambles, very narrow trying to squeeze through bits. My feet were being held by the mud and the brambles were hanging onto my clothes. I was trying to fight through with my poles and that went on for a while." Kat: "It was so slow and we were so tired, and it was like... every other day after that we knew that the app had lied to us about the distance. This was the first day so we..." Kat: "We were just finding that out" Katie: "We were past the point where we thought the walk should be over. The walk was supposed to be 14.5 miles which was already going to be
one of the longest days we were going to do, and I think we'd well surpassed 15 miles already by this point and still were 2 or 3 miles from our end point, and we were exhausted. And for me I was feeling really guilty and upset at that point, like oh my goodness, I dragged Katriona on this walk that, I don't know if she's having a nice time, she's never going to want to walk with me again after this. It wasn't fun, that bit." Kat: "I mean, those things happen on most walks, you know. Something will happen like that. You'll go slightly off course and you'll be annoyed." Katie: "We do have a saying in my house that it's not a walk with Katie unless you find yourself in a bog at some point, so it's part of the experience." Kat: "And is that your low lowest point too?" Katie: "It is, of the walk. My second lowest point was obviously seeing the car be towed away halfway through through the week."
Katie: "That was very unfortunate, but in a way I think that takes me into our high points as well because one of the high points of the week has been learning that however hard you plan, something unexpected is always going to come up. And I thought it was going to be the weather this week and we certainly had to contend with the weather but, unexpected car circumstances as well, so I think it's a low point that we couldn't do things quite as we planned to, but it's a high point that we were able to make the best out of a difficult situation and have an incredible week anyway." Kat: "Yes, definitely" Kat: "And so what was your high point then?" Katie: "Oh I've got three. I wrote them down so I didn't get overwhelmed because there were so many." Kat: "Yeah, it's very hard to pick." Katie: "So my first highlight was the ancient woodland that we went through on the first day, just because it was magical. There was this moment when we were bending down staring at mushrooms, as we've done every day I think, and we stood up to see that this mist had just rolled in through the woods and it was so beautiful. It felt really magical and mysterious, especially because that part of the
walk we'd been in quite a busy car park. It was a Sunday morning and lots of people were turning up. There were joggers and people with their dogs, and they all disappeared and went off up the mountain and we had chosen this side path instead, the less popular route, and I didn't know what we were going to find there, but the woods were beautiful, so that was definitely a highlight." Katie: "What's your first highlight?" Kat: "I think another woodland one, the mushroom woods that we found." Katie: "The mushroom woods!" Kat: "Which, I had never seen any of those fairy tale shiny red mushrooms before in my life, I don't think, and I spotted some into the... we were going through along the side of some pine forest and I spotted one. I was very excited because I thought it might be a fly agaric and
Katie said it's not, but it's still amazing, and I think they're called the sickener?" Katie: "They are called the sickener. They're a highly poisonous mushroom, but nonetheless beautiful." Kat: "Yes, they were fairy tale looking, and we excitedly ran into the trees to take pictures and then just had the fun experience that the more we looked and turned around, the more we saw. They were just covering the forest floor, it was absolutely stunning." Katie: "That was amazing. We lost an hour of our day in those woods and I don't regret any of it." Kat: "Yeah. It was really exciting." Katie: "It was really special."
Katie: "My next high point was actually the steam train. I really really loved the steam train. I'd kind of chucked that into the plan as a last minute wild card, thinking it might be a fun surprise and it would be a convenient way to cover some of the distance that we needed to cover, but we did the walk at the end of September so I didn't know if the trains would even be running at that time because it's obviously a very tourist friendly attraction, so it was just lucky. The trains are not running every day so it was very fortunate that our walk coincided with the day that the train was running, and the weather was nice, and we got the good seats that we did right by the window. It was it was magical how that day came together." Kat: "Yeah, I think there's always an extra layer of excitement when you've had this uncertainty of really wanting something to come together but you're not sure until the last minute if it's going to work out, and we had that with the train. We got to the little station..." Katie: "It was so cute!" Kat: "...which was just some tracks in the grass with sheep grazing, and we just sat there and then we could hear the the steam train and the distance we knew it was coming, and the final bit of uncertainty was just whether there would be any available seats, and it was surprisingly full but there were seats for us to go back on the train and that was lovely. That was really exciting for me too because it was my first
time on a steam train, and it was a very cute one." Katie: "Yeah it was lovely. Very very magical." Kat: "Yep." Katie: "Do you have another high?" Kat: "I think maybe the wild swim as well." Katie: "Yeah! I've got a wild swim as my high point as well." Kat: "Yeah. Katie had one more than me, I just did the one, but it's not something I've done very
much of up to this point, I know it's a passion of Katie's." Katie: "I'm a little bit obsessed" Kat: "...so I wasn't entirely sure. On one of the earlier walks we'd stood in a stream that was icy, and so I was a little uncertain about how I would feel once we got to an actual swim spot, but we got to a really amazing one, and there were some lovely people there who encouraged us to get in in a very welcoming way and we swam with them for a little bit. It was very cold but it was worth it 100%, and it was just a lovely experience and it woke me right up to do the final push of that walk." Katie: "Yeah that one really came at the right moment in the day didn't it. We were both feeling a little bit tired
and exhausted and yeah, something about getting in the cold water really makes you feel amazing. I think I have to put the second waterfall swim in as my high point because that was just so magical. I had that huge waterfall all to myself, apart from a dog who jumped in and swam with me at one point, it was just me, and I couldn't believe the force of the water coming down from that waterfall, it was kind of blowing my hair and my glasses were covered in spray, and I loved it. I absolutely loved it."
Kat: "It a very very high waterfall, very powerful." Katie: "27 metres high." Kat: "Yeah, it was dramatic. That's the one that I chickened out of, because I was already kind of cold and muddy and didn't feel like it." Katie: "Well and also there was the promise of another swim for our final day, which sadly didn't come together because we're not walking today because it's not safe but I'm glad you got to swim once. I would have
been gutted for you if you hadn't been able to swim at all." Kat: "Yeah it was great, and hopefully we'll do some more in the future." Katie: "Definitely. Shall we move on to our things that we've learned...?" Katie: "Because we are going to do this again right? Kat: "Yeah. I mean I think we've already touched on the fact that we were pleased to learn that we were capable of walking multi-days..." Katie: "Yep definitely." Kat: "...not having done it for quite some years." Katie: "Yeah my last one was 10 years ago, and I've done... I would say I've done walks of a similar length recently but actually I haven't. The longest walks I've done recently have been up
to 12 miles and we ended up doing 17 on some days so it was a significant jump up." Kat: "Yep. We've both been doing practice walks. My first one of the year was 10 miles and I was exhausted at the end of that, so I feel very proud of what we've just managed to do. I was quite pleased with how my new bits and pieces that I'd bought in terms of equipment worked out. My rain coat was brilliant."
Kat: "My sandals were a revelation." Katie: "Your sandals were a lifesaver." Kat: "Yeah, I've always been a walking boot person and we'd both agreed that we needed at least one pair of backup shoes in case of getting absolutely soaked, and my boots did get absolutely soaked on day one. They leaked, well the right one leaked very badly." Katie: "See aforementioned cow bog." Kat: "Yup. But I had a pair of hiking sandals They are made for hiking, they're not just kind of flip flops. If anyone's interested they're
Teva Hurricane sandals, and they've been really really good. I've been wearing them with waterproof socks which are amazing. I'd never tried those before, and they've managed to keep my under-socks dry. I've worn them every day since the boot soaking incident." Katie: "And have you found them okay... I guess my worry about wearing sandals would be there wouldn't be much ankle support, that's the thing I like about wearing boots, I like having the tightness around my ankles." Kat: "I do like that
as well with boots. I haven't had any sort of ankle wobbles or anything." Katie: "No and we've been doing some pretty rough terrain." Kat: "Pretty rocky, so yeah I'm just really surprised. I didn't expect that I would love them so much. They were also really handy for the swimming, and we also did a river crossing well river... a stream crossing at one point and I was able to just go walk in in my sandals which was really nice" Katie: "Meanwhile I had to take my boots off and tiptoe across barefoot which, I was jealous of the sandals at that point for sure." Kat: "So that's good, that's very good to know. And I'd always thought in the past
Oh they're only really suitable for warm climate hiking, but in fact with the waterproof socks they were fine for Wales which is saying something." Katie: "It is. I mean, I guess you wouldn't want them in the depths of winter when it's freezing." Kat: "Not in the highlands of Scotland on a mountaintop in the snow, but they were very good for this." Katie: "For this season they were great." Kat: "And the other advantage is that if you're getting blisters, they kind of... your toes have much more room to move."
Katie: "Your toes are free. Speaking of blisters that brings me onto some of the things I've learned. I've learned some blister management skills this week because, I have to be honest, we have both had blisters to deal with this week, and one of the things I've learned is that you can walk a long way with blisters so long as you're caring ing for them properly." Kat: "Yes." Katie: "I'd always thought oh no if I get a blister that's it, I'm not going to be able to carry on, but Kat did lots of research into foot care before we started and came armed with equipment to manage them, and my feet have mostly been fine - a little bit of discomfort, but nothing that made walking unpleasant which has been great." Kat: "No.I was sort of worried at the start of how painful it was going to be, but as you said if you just you're quite careful how you take care of them, and the reason I did all that research was just from previous hiking experience." Katie: "Yeah you've had bad blister experience as well haven't you." Kat: "I've had bad ones, yeah." Kat: "So yeah, we're glad we found out about that." Katie: "Yeah. What's on next on my list of things I've learned?"
Katie: "The OS Maps app lies about distance really badly. So I, as you know, I planned a completely alternate route to The Beacons Way which is what we were originally going to walk, and there were definitely some days this week where we could have walked parts of The Beacons Way. We had some really nice weather that would have been suitable for mountains, and there were moments where I thought oh no, are we wasting the opportunity? We could be going up mountains at this point, but I really liked the fact that we did a straight line walk as much as we could, and I created that route just sitting with my iPad trying to find a way through on my OS Maps app - which I love. It's a brilliant app, but I was going by the distance estimates that the app gave me, and my rough aim was to make our days around 12 miles and never more than 15, and what we ended up doing were days that were never less than 13 and some up to 17 which is more than I would have chosen for us to do." Kat: "Yeah." Katie: "It turned out to be within our capacity but it might not have done, and that might, you know that day one might have finished us off, so that was a frustration. But now that I know that, when I use
the app in future I know what sort of percentage extra time and distance to add on." Kay: "Yes, and we also now know how much time to add on in terms of our pace when we're filming." Katie: "Yes we've got a good idea of what our average miles per hour is when you need to stop, drop everything and run and photograph mushrooms for an hour, which is going to be really useful information for our next adventure." Kat: "Yeah. Also in terms of... there were a couple of pieces of kit that I brought with me that I didn't end up using: waterproof gloves and my baseball hat I didn't use at all, but they would have been in certain situations they would have been really helpful, so I'm glad I had them." Katie: "Yeah it's tricky
isn't it, because obviously we saw a lot of different weathers this week, but we could have had quite different weather and you have to have you have to be prepared for all of those things because, as you know, any number of seasons can happen all in one day." Kat: "And we've both loved our walking poles, hiking poles." Katie: "Oh my goodness, hiking poles have been a revelation." Kat: "We've been on some treacherous paths this week." Katie: "Yeah, I mean obviously the intended use for hiking poles is to support your joints when you're hiking, so they take the load off your hips and your knees, and people say that they're best for use on continuous flat terrain or slight incline where you can really get a stride going, and I love them for that, but I also really love them for having two extra balance points when you're wading across a river with your bare feet, for example." Kat: "Yeah, and climbing over fallen trees and we've had incredibly slippery, muddy, rocky paths with drops to one side, and having the poles is is so reassuring that you can, you know, catch yourself. I also found it, for the boggy areas I found it great for just testing the ground a little bit without just plunging my my feet, not really knowing what I was getting into." Katie: "Yeah they've been
brilliant. I've become quite emotionally attached to them I think, and we went for a short walk with Jack this morning and obviously didn't have them and I felt kind of naked and lost, so I definitely really have liked my hiking poles a lot, they've been brilliant. We also got some rubber tips for them because they make quite a harsh sound if the ground is hard, and we did a few stretches on road so we added some rubber tips at that point to just make the sound a bit softer, that was really nice. That was Kat's idea." Kat: "Yeah I happened to read about that yeah, and even if you're on a really rocky path it can be quite annoying, so being able to put those on is great." Katie: "Yeah, and the other bit of
gear that I really appreciated was the zinc oxide tape, which was part of our blister foot care kit. I used it to cover some of my blisters at some point but I also used it when I jarred my knee. I looked up a little YouTube video on how to do a knee strap and I was able to make a little wrapper for my knee and it really, really helped support my knee, just on that final day with all the up and down I needed a bit of extra support and it was great to just have something in my rucksack that I could use like that, it was brilliant. I think the final thing I've learned in terms
of what our capacity is, is that it's really nice to build in rest days, and obviously we had our unexpected rest day when the car broke down but that came after 3 days of walking, and again today we're having an unexpected rest day after 3 days of walking and I think that might actually be the right rhythm for us. We obviously have been out for a walk today because my... Jack, where is Jack? Jack should be here! Jack is exhausted because he got taken out for a walk in the rain today which is not his favourite, but we did get to go on quite an exciting outing that we alluded to earlier in the week, but didn't have time for so do you want to chat a bit about that?" Kat: "Yeah. Even though it was quite rainy today, we did want to go out somewhere and Katie took me to... " Kat: "I forget what it's called..." Katie: "It's called Dan Yr Ogof, which is the national showcaves of Wales, so
if you skip back to days four and five where Kat and Jack and I were walking up the mountain, today we went inside that mountain, so we were walking underneath where we were walking up above a few days ago." Kat: "Yeah it was pretty incredible. It's been a long time since I've gone into a cave and I do love it. I love the sensory thing of the smell and the cold and the dampness, loads of stalactites and interesting formations. You got you get to go quite far inside the cave network." Katie: "Yeah those caves are massive, and the bit that's open to the public is just a tiny percentage of what there is there. It's... I wouldn't want to go any deeper, I'm not really interested in going into any holes that you have to squeeze through or anything like that, but being inside the mountain and feeling the sense of space that's in there and thinking about all the water that's moved through... it's an incredible place and I loved it. But it's
also dressed up a bit as a tourist attraction. For some reason there's a whole dinosaur park there as well, and I love dinosaurs so it was a very exciting outing." Kat: "It's very well done." Kat: "There's loads of them. I'm from London and I'm near quite near Crystal Palace where they have those hilarious dinosaurs from the Great Exhibition.." Katie: " Which I've never seen so I don't know what you're..." Kat: "They're from the Great Exhibition, something like that. I'm not good at history so I don't know the year but they were from before people fully were able to actually create accurate models of dinosaurs."
Katie: "Oh I see." Kat: "So they're somewhat fudged versions of imaginary dinosaurs, but they are beautifully presented in the middle of a sort of little lake with trees around. It's quite beautiful, but these ones there's way more dinosaurs. Some of them move..." Katie: "Yes that was a little bit unnerving for Jack at one point. I think he was fine with them up to the point where he came across one that was just
poking its head out the undergrowth and it started doing this and Jack was really quite frightened by that." Kat: "Yeah, it's beautifully planted with foliage around the dinosaurs and tree ferns and things, so it feels very sort of Jurassic in there." Katie: "Yeah that's the thing I love about it is they're just kind of... the dinosaurs are all set amongst the landscape. It's quite different from looking at dinosaurs in a museum or something." Kat: "Yeah." Katie: "It was a real treat to get to go there." Kat: "Yes. We weren't able to the other day, so it was great that we could today." Katie: "Yeah, icing on the birthday cake for me. Shall we move on to your firsts?" Kat: "Yes. So I mentioned earlier that this was my first
ever time on a steam train, but there were quite a lot of other firsts. As well as the most obvious big one, it's the first time I've walked nearly 100 miles, just over 90 which is pretty good." Katie: "Yeah, if we count the walk we did today we did I think 92 miles, which is pretty good in seven days." Kat: " So that was a big
first. I've been wanting to do it for ages and I'm really happy that it happened. I had my first Welsh cakes." Katie: "Oh yes, yep." Kat: "First steam train... It was actually my first time being rescued from a broken down car. I don't drive so I've never had that particular experience." Katie: "I'll be honest and say
I've never had that experience either. I've always had car breakdowns that have been fixable at the side of the road, not ones where your poor car has to be taken away in a pickup truck. That was very unfortunate, so that was the first for me too." Kat: "Yeah, we were lucky that we broke down in a place that was not too bad, and we were picked up by a lovely chap and driven... Katie: "It was very convenient wasn't it. It happened in the station car park so there was a cafe, there was a gift shop, it was all very convenient." Kat: "Apart from the slight anxiety of it, it wasn't too bad at all. That was a first an interesting first...and I think the red mushrooms are my only other, but that's a big one.
Yeah, that magical red mushroom forest was quite something. So yeah, I can't wait to see what what my next firsts might be." Katie: "Yeah, so you're willing to indulge in other hiking adventures then?" Kat: "Yes. We've left a lot on the table for next time." Katie: "We definitely have, including the entire Beacons Way, which was our original plan." Kat: "Yeah, but I think we were both really happy with how it turned out in terms of... We felt like if we had gone straight into The Beacons Way, two mountains on the first day..." Katie: "It might have finished us off." Kat: "We might have been a bit freaked out and worried about how we were going to manage and instead we had this beautiful sort of valleys and woodlands walk, which was a great practice run." Katie: "it really was"
Kat: "...for when we hopefully we'll do the mountains at some point." Katie: "And it also made me realise that there's so much more to this National Park than the mountains, you know. I think a lot of people come here because it has the biggest mountain in Wales... no, it doesn't have the biggest mountain in Wales. It's the biggest mountain in South Wales and the south of the UK, but I think people come here to go up the mountains and think that that's all there is to do, but to see all the incredible waterfalls and the beautiful woodlands and you know, we haven't been to the top of a single mountain and we've still had an incredibly full week of amazing experiences so...and plenty more in store for another time hopefully." Kat: "Yes, and thank you for all your route planning."
Katie: "Oh it's a pleasure. I'm such a map nerd. So yeah, that was the fun bit for me. I love the planning aspect and I could stare at Ordnance Survey maps for hours and hours, so that was no problem. Thank you to all of you lovely people for watching us, sticking with us through this wild adventure that we've been on. I hope you've enjoyed watching it. Kat: "Yes. I hope we've managed to capture kind of the
reality of what it was like and the ups and downs of it." Katie: "Yeah I think we certainly tried to not sugarcoat our experience in any way but show you the reality, fun bits and less fun bits of what we've been up to." Kat: "Yes." Katie: "But I've really enjoyed the experience of walking with you my lovely friend and of filming it and sharing it with people." Kat: "Yes thank you for watching." Katie: "Yeah thanks" [Music] Kat: "Do we want to mention what we did today with Jack...?" Katie: "Oh yeah we do" Kat: "In case we're going to show a little few little clips.." Katie: "How are we going to lead into
that without...because obviously we're going to have an awkward cut here" [Giggles] Kat: "Yes, ummmmm" Kat: "Shall I just ask you what we did?" Katie: "We could say...... uhhhhhhhhh ......" Katie: "Can I sip some of your water? My mouth's really dry." Kat: "Yes" Katie: "Thanks" [Music]