Posts Tagged ‘The North Face’

Review- The North Face Storm Stow Jacket

Review – The North Face Storm Stow Jacket

The North Face Storm Stow Jacket – this beauty is a super  lightweight and 100% waterproof specialist offering from TNF which is just so small when packed into its own sleeve with a super smart little draw cord concept and light and comfortable to wear all day if necessary.

It feels light when u pick it up and features a panel or two of bright colouring so you can be spotted out there without making you look like a beacon of light in the rainswept landscape.

The pack size of it and the 2 ply material making it so light weight means in disappears into ones running bag nicely and you don’t feel aggrieved at having to carry it as a matter of course “just in case” .

I have probably run around 200km in it so far over the last few weeks.

Its been tested on the Fellsman in awful weather and in a host of other mountain runs around Snowdonia recently and is seriously a great bit of kit-It doesn’t rustle, its got a near waterproof zip on it, has a great snug hood design that keeps in on your head even in the strongest winds and doesn’t restrict head movement and vision or hearing for that matter.

The jacket doesn’t flap and rattle in strong winds which means you can still hear what your mates are saying even when fully tucked up inside it, and it doesn’t suffer from that usual disorienting sensation you get when your hood is up.. I ran for hours with the hood up during the Fellsman and can attest to the comfort and waterproof nature of it for sure.

The drawstring elastic on the back of the hood is really easy to cinch up to adjust to whatever head covering you are wearing..

As it is so light however it will be interesting to see how long it lasts under heavy usage, but its worth the potential sacrifice of some durability for the portability of it. I will feed back on the jacket over the next few months but so far under lots of use ( loads of rubbish weather in N wales currently) it still looks and functions as new.

Very impressed so far and this bit of kit is going to accompany me through the season, used as a waterproof and just as a windproof layer out in the Alps for those long days out when weight and function is a premium and my legs need to be carrying as little as possible…

Verdict:- 9/10

Kit for Work and running Rowanduz

Its been a hot month and a lot of my clothing has ben used for crossover running and working out in the hills, The North Face Trail Guides have taken a good beating, they are over a year old now, and my Adidas Adizero Adios have finally given up the ghost due to excesive trail running in what are in fact a pure road shoe (used them loads in Cambodia).

I am saving whats left of my Adidas Adizero XT4’s for the alps but seriously need a new pair of shoes….

The North Face Stretch trousers, Better Than Naked Shorts, Adidas and The North Face tops – short sleeve that I got from V12 have been great and actually I really did benefit from the wicking nature of both TNF stuff and Adidas. I could wear the t’s throughout the day, then don my shorts and run in the tops as they would dry so quickly. Good airflow and comfortable fit, plus hard wearing are the impressions I get from these garments, all great.

Loads of tarmac km’s lots of ascent and descent, fresh air, salads, work work and more work, and I feel super healthy now and pysched for the Alps trip with Helen … New adventures always…

Good work and plenty of exercise in Rowanduz. Next stop Home.

I am due back in Wales on the 11th after a fine hard working month up in Rowanduz, in Eastern Kurdistan on the edge of the Zagros mountains, with distant views of Iranian and Turkish peaks. Its a magic place to be honest and such a great place to work.

Admittedly the options to run wild over the mountains are out due to work commitments and HSE rules, but just running around the Pank Holiday resort where I was embedded for a month was stunning due to quality tarmac and great views. Work has also involved a lot of hiking into the hills and 2 out of 4 weeks I have managed 3700 m of ascent, one week 85 km  and another week 106 km, squeezed in to late afternoon tarmac sessions, marching in the hills to check out work teams, and occasionally running on dirt roads at the end of the day with a vehicle following me on the way back to camp… I am sure the photo’s posted give a bit of an idea of the potential here – tha place is ripe for new routing, now ridge running, trail runs, gorge exploring and kayaking, with road biking and mountain biking options a plenty.

an amazing place full of fantastically hospitable people, Kurdistan is an adventure waiting to happen

The Story of my Dalesway attempt

Early Morning in Cumbria somewhere on the Dalesway. A beautiful day in great countryside

Early morning, breakfast time?

So, here we go and sorry for the delay.

Firstly I have a link to a series of photographs that Gareth Aston took during my efforts which capture the thing really well, and also he ha s a short video link which I include here too. It was an awesome day and loads of fun…..

The photographs

The Video

HAving arrived home from work in Uganda in the best and hottest weather in around 7 years I was truly excited and looking forward to a long day out on the Dalesway. I was also wondering whether my training  was going to be sufficient. The longest run I had done since December ( 38km just before I caught malaria) was around 30km , including a 4hr 20 return trip up Fanzipan in N. Vietnam (3143m). All the other training had been based on higher intensityu shorter runsd on a daily basis at work asd that is all trhat I can manage generally due to time constraints….

So it was with some trepidation that I committed myself mentally to the Dalesway mission, as onb my last big run – The Lleyn Peninsula (125km) I had trained more traditionally with a number of long back to back days out on trhe trails and hills….

So July 19th saw me heading up to rendezvous with Big GAz in a quality car park on the outskirts of Windermere on another scorching day in the middle of our heat wave, beautiful weather….

Waiting for Gareth to arrive I wandered into town to Bowness and walked the first few kilometres of the route out of town to make sure that at least during the start of the run I didnt get lost – Its highly frustrating to set off then 5 minutes later back track or start searching for the route…..

On The way to Sedbergh, TNF Ultra Guides on feet, feeling good

Sedbergh Viaduct and feeling pretty good. 50km in and The North Face Ultra Guide shoes feeling great

(Luckily for the most part the route is pretty well signed although around Dent dale the route through the fields by the river is a bit misleading at around 60km into the run….)

Nervously fiddling with my kit and preparing fluids etc, Gareth arrived armed with maps, cameras, lots of encouragement, and after a good feast in Windermere it weas off for a good nights kip ( although short)…..

All too soon the alarm rings at 0300hrs and I am dragging myself out of bed to get some muesli and fruit juice down and a good strong coffee before last minute preparations and heading down to the start of the run, which I decided needed to be right by the boats on Lake windermere with a toe in the water………

A clear sky with the dawn just beginning to cast a frissant of warm light across the scene, the day already warm, Gareth began to get some camera footage and I prepare for off.

Its impossible to delay any longer and I am bursting with energy and enthusiasm so off I jolly well, very steady at first as I don’t want to regret a fast start later in the day.. The mantra is start slow and build up.. Keep the heart rate down and just keep moving until you are warmed up..

The trails are bone dry, the first part of the route is steep up and down, through beautiful classic English Lakes scenery, and the dawn is enlivened by the poresence of plentiful rabbits, the odd Hare , Weasels, stoats and Foxes here and there. I love the mornings in the UK when there is a peace and tranquility pervasding everything and even the aniumals seem to be calm, watching me pass in the semi darkness…. I am feeling great and roll into Staveley then down the riverside to Burneside, feeling in high spirits and well committed to the day ahead.

The route finding is OK for me but I see Gareth now and again ahead of me trying to intersect with my route to ressupply fluids etc whcich is proiving tricky due to my progress, the complicated path route and the short sections where I actuially cross a country lane here and there. We eventually meet after the first couple of hours, just as mybottles need filling, and its great to have a chin wag , restock and get route info from Gaz, as I plough  onwards….

Full daylight and now we continue in a similar fashion for the next few hours, humidity and heat building , but a little cloud cover to reduce the suns impact..I am drinking loads of rehydration and feeding pretty regulalry but I am a bit out of practice of eating on the go and its a bit of an effort….

By this time I am chafing at the top of my legs pretty badly due to sweating and salt and by the time I reach Sedbergh at around 50km, I am in need of Vaseline to control the chafe… Not a pleasant sensation. I should have applied vaseline first before I started to chafe zones , to exclude salt and sweat, because once it starts its a bit too late and the salt crystals are already in the skin……As the day wore on, allied to my tired legs the application of vaseline increased exponentially to manage the soreness……

Landmarks on the route begin to pass now – The West Coast Mainline, The M6 motorway, Sedbergh, then a stiff climb over a spur into Dentdale. A short wrong turn in Sedbergh had me ploughing along the tarmac before I doubled back to the river – some of these signs are easily missed….

A nice pice of wiggly tarmac and an easy roll past Gaz with more fluids and snacks for support had me following the river up Dent dale, where I must have wasted a lot of time, as the mapped Dalesway route seems to some what illogically zig zag about the fields whereas there is a greast path along the river, and I couldn’t decide which was which and whether I was going to end up in the wrong location , so again , leg energy was expended, and wrong turns were taken and retraced. Its actually all part of the day and I am philosophical – there is a long way to go yet….

I  can by now feel the first strings of my endurance  starting to unravel but this is nothing new… On my Lleyn circuit I was suffering from about this point onwards….Nothing to be alarmed about, just keep  eating and drinking…..

Looking crap as I rolled into the bottom of the climb over Cam Head and the Pennine Bridleway over into wharfedale, I refuelled below Dent Viaduct and before the hour long climb.. A steep tarmac road and then dirt track over the summit. Again Gaz was there to feed and encourage me, also keeping an eye on my condition.. It was hot and sweaty but on I go after a good break again ( Brie and Bacon Sandwich in bits over a few km was helping, nice one Gaz…

A change of shoes just beacause I can and psychologically it gives me something to look forward to about half way, feet are looking very shrivelled… New shoes, new day , new energy ( maybe ?!…..) is what I hope for….

Just about this point however I began to struggle to take on fluids and couldn’t face eating , and pressed on hoping the feeling would pass. I was feeling good over the summit although tired but just couldnt take on board anything to my stomach.. I was starting to come apart…..

At around 75km in and close to  Oughtershaw I am sick but then feel more refreshed and after refuelling at the first tarmac road crossing for a while I head for Buckden via Langstrothdale and  Hubberholme. Some of this feels good and some bad, it is almost easier to run more quickly than plod at times…

The Dalesway takes its toll, as does my lack of distance training....

Battered!! Struggling to keep it together but managed some hot pasta soup.Spot on!

By the time I hit Kettlewell  and despite Gaz’ ministrations of food and liquids plus plenty ginger tea I am in a mess, bnut I have to continue. Its only 5.5 miles to Grassington with a climb up onto the plateau above the wharfe valley. The weather is beautiful and it inspires me to move forward ( Luckily after I set off, Gareth took the main road to Grassington and my phone was flat, other wise I would have called him or flagged him down and got into the van!!!)

By now its pure survival and relentless forward progress as I surmount the steep track ( surprisingly OK) and climb over the endless styles and clatter through the numberless gates… The trail goes on forever in a world of pain and chafe, energy levels a bit critical and finally I can see Grassington in the distance. I am glad I have pressed on, I am over 100km in ……

As I begin to weave and stagger, I realise its all over for me if I want to stay healthy…. One thing I think I can do now is decide when enough is enough…

I weave into Grassington, and I realise that its time to stop…. Gaz has also become concerned as i look terrible…. Only 30 km to go but I can’t manage it….Cest la vie…. What a trip.. and what a meat and potato pie I am handed by Gaz, mmmmm superb… the best one I have ever tasted….

I collapse on the road and take off my shoes…. Well pleased at how far I have come based on my training … A fine adventure and a great journey even if I didnt get to the destination….( I am writing this with a couple of weeks reflection and I can’t avoid the feeling that just maybe I could have pressed on, after all it was only another 30km, but based on sense, I am glad for the sake of continuing to be healthy and now recovered fully from the trip that I pulled the plug. Did my mental ability run out or was I actually physically unable.. I think the two are tied together and the food/stomach issues I had porecipitated the ignominious end to the day…

Time to plan for the next adventure and tweak my training a bit more… Masybe I need to focus on some shorter adventures until I can get some back to back long days in for training?……

Tales of Trails in Cederberg

So after all the talk about were to stay and all the fun I had with Helen and Cori, its time to get down to the trail running and exploring I got upto for the last few days on my own.

I was staying in Algeria at one of the cottages – Peerboom (Means Pear Tree in Afrikaans) in the narrow valley that makes up the Algeria section of the Cederberg, and is administered by Cape Nature. Its a deep steep sided valley at around 500m altitude, with peaks either side of around 1600m. Its the first part of the park you enter when appproaching from Citrusdal , and as you drop into the valley you can see Southwards towards the Uitkyk Pass, where the valley climbs up to a plateau valley at 1000 metres before heading off further into the wilderness area.

I took plenty of photos during the runs so here we go:-

Whilst here I had 3 full days of great trail running that involved the following:-

Day 1 –  40 km 7.5 hours 2500m ascent Sneeuberg peak 2000m ( it would have been 44km but a couple of  guys passed me and offered a lift – they were mountain bikers themselves and were interested to see where I was from. I couldn’t resist the lift as by this time I was boiling and wantedd to have plenty of gas in my legs for the next couple of days)

Helen and I stayed here for a few days mountain biking , running and horse riding

An Oasis of green in the midst of the rocky landscape, a cool place to stay with a lake for a swim too!! I approached Sneeuberg from the far side on my run, but this valley behind Kromsrivier has some great tracks too

A run from Peerboom up a parallel valley ( Klein Uitkyk ) then a long traverse towards Sneeuberg Peak , a climb to the summit then a descent more directly to the gravel road beyond the Uitkyk pass, returning along the gravel towards Peerboom.

Early in the run a steep valley climb with some triffids to fight through here and there, leads to great views and a levelling out in Fynbos vegetation, before a fantstic valley traverse

Looking down Klein Uitkyk on the Duweisgat trail -on the way to Sneeuberg.Technical trails and a steep climb in the early morning. Running in my Salomons today, probably not the best choice due to technical nature of trails but plenty of cushioning

I set off ful of trepidation as one can really feel the wild and emptiness around one and there is always the possibility of bumping into snakes and other wild animals …. I had chosen a longer route than necessary as I liked the look of the Klein UitKyk and the Duweisgat area on the map, with its tight contours and remote look.  I had my Black Diamond Ultra Distance Poles with me too to help with the climbs  (I have definitely found that they are great for steep power marching and definitely seem to help with reduction of soreness in the quads the day after too). I was constantly aware that the day was going to be a scorcher – 30 plus and kept my eye on water sources to supplement my supply. The water from the streams tastes so good and I was lucky that on this particular day there were plenty of them throughout the trip. Hitting the top of the first pass the route levelled for a km or two then dropped significantly into the top of a super steep and remote valley which looked like a scene from a Conan Doyle novel “The Land That Time Forgot”. My first concern was that I would have to drop right into this to get to Sneeuberg, but a map inspection reassured me that I still couldn’t see the peak…

The land that time forgot? So remote and trails just clinging to the side of the valley. no one around, just rock dassies and the odd Grysbok and lizardd

5 miles into Sneeuberg run and no sign of the mountain yet. Looking down into Duweisgat after ascending Klein Duweisgat

The trail is carved vertiginously into the side of this valley and generally contours round to the left until another steep climb leads to a col and a further plateau covered in myriad rock formations and a less technical trail across some flats towards the Sneeuberg hut… The hut is in fact a shed with hay in it so not wuite like an alpine hut, but it has a great little stream nearby and fantastic views of Sneeuberg and the surroundings, and is about 2.5 miles from the summit.

The Track levelled off for a while, and plenty of streams to fill my Salomon flexi bottle thingy and back pack. Hut just around the corner

A beautiful plateau, with Sneeuberg in the distance my objective. Very technical trails leading up the mountain with climbing at the top, It was somewhere around here that I disturbed a Black Spitting Cobra - one advantage of running poles is that they strike the ground ahead of you and seem to alert snakes to ones presence before you stumble onto them...

From the hut some steady contouring then a very technical, steep and narrow trail leads up to the Southern end of the summit ridge, where some rocky running leads onto large rock steps and some definite scrambling and easy rock climbing moves to progress, with tricky route finding as one gets close to the summit. I spent a lot of time seeking out the best way up, and also had to concentrate as the higher one goes the tricker the climbing becomes and also more exposed, narrow ledges and awkward bridging gave me a cramp at one point.  20 metres below the summit cairn I called it a day ( see caption below) and decidedd to head down…

Hot and remote and a long way back yet. 20 metres from the top. An exposed section of about 10 metres on round pockety slab  above a big drop did not look so appealing and as I wasn't sure whether this was the right direction or not I decided against it...12 miles down 13 to go

Little Pup and Sugar Loaf in distance, looking back towards where I stayed with Helen ( Kromsrivier valley). The last 20 metres above me was an awkward rock slab with scoops and I was not sure if this was the right way to go, after weaving my way around for 20 minutes route finding. Still the ledge I was on now had a great view and it was time for a boiled egg and then the descent....

The descent was technical again and steady, a lot of pole use for stability and a lot of triffid wrestling. Once I hit the travers path back to the Sneeuberg hut I picked up speed and form and turned right down hill at the hut, on the trail that led more directy to the road through from Algeria to Dwarsrivier. I figured a faster descent for 9 km and a steady return on the gravel road would be better in the heat of the af ternoon than  a return on my route, and a bit of variation is always a good thing. No point running the same trail twice unless you have to… The descent was a killer – even though it was a cart track it was a festival of loose rounded rocks and sharp boulders, steep in places and boiling hot down to the road at Oike Boom, , and then in the distance loomed the steady climb back to Uitkyk Pass, which I launched into after another hit of cold water soaking in the river conveniently next to the road track junction!! Another 4.5 km on the road and foruitously a couple of South African mountain bikers passed and were inquisitive enough to say hello , then offer a lift back to Peerboom, so how could I say no!! 40km  after setting off I was back and the cold water pool next  to the house beckoned, to help the legs recover and soothe my mild sun stroke . Ginger sliced into hot water and lots of rehydration salts helped sort me out and then a other hit of Braai and vegetable stew for dinner to fortify myself for tomorrows adventures…..

Food of champions, cooked over wood embers under a starry sky

Braai'ing and wholesome vegetable stew frenzies characterised the time in Cederberg, eat al fresco. This is at Algeria, Peerboom house, but we did the same in kromsrivier. A great way to eat. Not forgetting a nice bottle of S.A Pinotage or Shiraz and some rehydration.....

Day 2 – 25 km Climbing up to Die Gat then a traverse behind the middleberg mountain, then descending to Algeria and a run up along the Uitkyk trail back to my house ( This was planned to be a 10km run, just a climb up to Die Gat, but the terrain was so amazing , I just couldn’t resist exploring further and further, and also a short wrong turn added a couple of of spectacular km to the trip)

Heading out on y second days runnign up Die Gat to head round the back of Middleberg, planning on a short one

Techy tracks climbing up zig zag style in dense vegetation amidst myriad rock scenery, climbing would be great in Cederberg too. Sweltering morning but my legs felt great. Poles helped again on these climbs.

A steep climb up from my abode was all I planned for at the start, and the path was a great stepped technical roccky trail, with loads of Fynbos overhanging it too ( return of the triffids…) Had my TNF Hayasa’s on today as they are firmer on this kind of terrain and my feet feel better with a bit more feedback after a day in the Salomon Crossmax Missions. The Hayasa’s fit like a glove and feel light and fast in this stuff..

17km in on my planned 10km run, the scenery was so fantastic I just had to keep seeing what was round the next corner...

Took a wrong turn before this and started heading off into the middle of no where. This view was just after I passed a rare group of people out for a hike, confirming that the hut lay ahead and I was indeed heading the right way

Once up on the top of Die Gat, I got carried away seeing what was around the next bend, and then 17km into my run and one wrong turn corrected later, a spot of lunch on a rock, and I was nearly at the Middleberg hut nestled in a corner of a high valley above Algeria.

Steep techy and steppy descent ahead in the sweltering heat. A brilliant trail down and a great waterfall along the way, where I stopped with Helen and Cori the week before

Looking down the fine trail and ready to fly.....Legs feeling good but wary about battering them too much as I have another good day planned for tomorrow. I so can't get enough of this area and the trails , they are amazing

Time for a great stepped descent, North wales style down into the valley passed a great waterfall to top up the water supply as necessary, and a hot run up the valley bottom back to Peerboom and my house. The valley trail, if you catch the right trail is great, but I missed it a couple of times due to the triffids again and had to fight my way back online . Very hot finish, but once again the cold pool in the stream was awaiting and it was straight in there to soak the body back to a chilled and recovering state before more feeding Day 3 25 km Consisting of 2 runs. The first run was from Sandriff ( a 20 minute drive away to the South) where I ran steeply up to Wolfberg Cracks, through the cracks and acrosss to Wolfberg Arch and back.

A permit is required for this run as it lies on private land outside the Cape Nature area. The permit can be got from Dwarsrivier office, which also does wine tastings and has vine yards. The rose 2011 is an amazingly good wine that myself and Helen shared a bottle of on our last night before she left to work

Start of the third day involved a good hard climb upwards, and again the poles just seem to add a spring to my step and the legs felt remarkable perky too. All these climbs are so technical that even when descending yoou have to be super careful not to catch a toe and take a flyer.. These rocks are rough and will do some serious damage if you take a dive into them.

A brilliant climb/caving style ascent through the cracks leads to great views over the valley

Amazing colours and amazing views. The Wolfberg arch lies another 3 miles across the rocky plateau

More fine views!! The cliffs are a popular climbing area , although there was no one there when I was . Only a few visitors to the Cracks themselves

Can't get enough of the views and the sense of wilderness this place has. It is spectacularly vast, ancient, peaceful and airy

10 miles round trip to underneath the arch,through wolfberg cracks. Great place for lunch

Wolfberg Arch, after a great scramble and squeeze through the Wolfberg Cracks as part of the run

Looking back towards the Wolfberg Cracks, the sense of this vast place is fantastic. So empty of modernity and such ancient rocks. No traffic noise, nothing but wind and birds

The terrain racks to here is rolling gently and a fantastic mix of solid sandstone steps and dusty trails weaving in and around myriad boulders

Having completed this amazing run, and heading back to Peerboom for yhe customary immersion in the cold pool for 15 minutes , I couldnt resist a blast (stagger) up the UitKyk pass on the gravel road to descend a rather fine looking track I had spotted previously back to the house…….

A brief run down of where what and how we stayed in Cederberg

I am back at work now and just reflecting on what a great holiday I have just had with Helen and Cori, and ultimately on my own for a few days too.

Trail running wise, Cederberg has been brilliant and I will endeavour to impart a bit of useful information about how to get there and where to stay etc ( based on our own experiences of course) before giving a bit of a run down on the trails and terrain:-

The place is awesome, from Hot thermal springs and accommodation in old Victorian Spa houses to cottages in the middle of nowhere, it is an area maybe 3 times the size of Snowdonia with only a handful of gravel roads running through it and so empty of people….

Helen and I stayed here for a few days mountain biking , running and horse riding

An Oasis of green in the midst of the rocky landscape, a cool place to stay with a lake for a swim too!!

The landscape is made up of  mountainous ridges ancient heavily weathered sandstone it seems with amazing rock formations on a grand and a small scale- myriad shapes abound and make for a stunning landscape, as all the hills and mountains bristle with these shapes. Cast in between are Oasies of green and water where private farms are part of the reserve management team and provide accomodation and camping in great surroundings

We spent a total of around 2.5 weeks in the area and could have spent many more here, as  the scenery lures you on to see what is round each corner. The variety in the place is huge too, some areas remind me of Balochistan in Western Pakistan, or Omani jebels with grass on, and others look like limestone pavement areas in the Yorkshire dales (only grander).

Fresh water in pools and streams are unexpected in this dry looking place, but seem to pop up out of nowhere when least expected although I suspect these dry up as summer pushes on.  During my runs I drank many mountain streams big or small, as long as the water was flowing as the crystal cool water was tooood to pass up and in the heat I was draining my Salomon SLAB bag quickly. ( Although caution should be advised – I am not recommending this just in case I develop a case of worms later, but I was sure the waters were clean…)

How to get there:-

Well the area is a designated wilderness area 200km North of Cape Town, the terrain rising from around 600 metres up to 2000m in places and remote and unspoilt. The nearest town you would pass is Citrusdal, a strange place – a one road town with a good Spar Supermarket for provisions. Picketberg about 30km before this is also good for stocking up. Don’t rely on Citrusdal Tourism office for good information, they seemed a bit out of touch when we visited it.

The Cederberg website has plenty of info as has Cape Nature, and generally from all the tourist camps there are many trails accessible for bikes or walks / runs etc up into the hills. I also booked some accommodation through Cape Nature, who own cottages in and around Algeria, some with and some without electricity but all in great locations. There is also a

We had a car to get in and out , which gave us a lot of freedom, we stayed in a number of areas and didn’t waste time getting about. From the Baths, South of Citrusdal to Kromsrivier and Algeria in the middle of the park we got a good flavour of the place and really enjoyed our time there.

If you want direct access to the trails and reduce travelling time, then it is worth staying inside the area as outside the area the number of trails are limited due to private land issues and there is not the same history of paths and access that there is in the UK and Europe. I do recommend a trip to the Baths, such a cool place to chill out in hot springs under the sun or stars… either before or after a trip into the area.

Allow about 3 hours to drive into the Cedeberg Wilderness from Capetown, and maybe an extra hour to account for shopping on the way. Cost of accomodation ranged from around £19 pp per night for 3 of us in a self catering apartment at the Baths, to around £40 per night for 2 in a cottage in the reserve areas themselves – kromsrivier/ Algeria etc etc. The Algeria house cost about £44 per night but could accomodate 4 people comfortably..

The parks raise money through a permit system for using the paths and trails. Usually if you are staying one particular area, the trails / park fee is included for that particular area, but if you go to another zone you will have to pay, usually around £5 to £8 per day maximum to access trails . A bit different to the UK but it seems to work, as a lot of conservation management work goes on in the areas, for wildife and plants , and the area is a world heritage site….

Whilst in the area with Helen and Cori ( my wife and stepdaughter) we walked , looked at San rock art, saw great rock formations, cool waterfalls, rode mountain bikes and horses and generally had an awesome time.

I am looking forward to writing about the running bit next but wanted to put the place into context for any would be visitors because in my opinion the lonely planet is a bit hard to follow for the area and doesnt do it justice.

(By the way a 1:50 000 map can be purchased from the permit offices in the park  ( Algeria/ Kromsrivier / Dwarsrivier  or from Cape nature  in Clanwilliam..

The last few days here in Quionga

Great dirt tracks again and th ee light was awesome

Just North of camp, in Quionga, great track, if not a little sandy

Spot the warthogs - they appear to be getting used to me - loitering instead of sprinting away

Warthogs near the track, bit of wildlife action

A funny week of running, I have actually got a fair number of kilometres in, not as much as I would like ideally, but fitted them in around work. My weekly average is down to around 60 for the last few weeks, but they have been quality runs with some good pace (for me) injected into them. The warthogs have been seen a few times and also monkeys, the late afternoons have been blue skied and the one early morning run was great as the dawn crept into the sky and I managed  a quick 13 km before starting work.

I plan to head out into the car park shortly and do a 400 metre rep session, but not too inspired, one has to weave around somewhat and its 2100hrs already. Hopefully this late running will be  getting me used to something for the PBR attempt, even though there are no hills and my mileage is down..

My Hayasa‘s are definitely starting to disiintegrate but they will do for a while yet, and My Sportiva Raptors are hanging in there too, the sole on them is pretty robust and the uppers are in really good condition. They are lasting exceptionally well, but they are more of a solidly engineered trail shoe designed for mileage and have a stiffer and more isolated feel still. Good for tired feet…

A couple of days until I return to North Wales, and well looking forward to everything. Family, running, biking and the mountains, and maybe even a bit of Welsh sunshine? We shall see….

Snowdonia Weather