3-Day Escape: From Manchester to the Mountains
For those of us who live within the city limits, every weekend is a chance to break away from the concrete and cell towers, and recharge in the wild. So we loved this story from the U.K. about a 3-day backpacking trip via train (rad!) to North Wales from Manchester city center in England in our KEEN Venture hikers. Here are a few of our favorite excerpts and moments. Be sure to read the whole story to be inspired to plan your own quick escapes this summer at Sidetracked Magazine.
There’s something calming, soporific almost, about the rhythm of a train clacking along the tracks. Were it not for the view out to sea drawing my attention I could have lost myself in daydreams for hours. I’ve always loved train travel – loved that it seems to make the journey part of the adventure in a way that driving never does. Maybe it’s because my eyes aren’t glued to the road, and I’m free to look around. This is what I am hoping for throughout this journey: simply time to enjoy where I am, without worrying too much about the route or final destination.
Next stop: Llanfairfechan.
Tom is wearing men's Venture waterproof hiking shoes in Dark Cheddar/Raven.
The thrill of going someplace new
Earlier, my day began with a map, a coffee, and endless opportunities. My finger traced along the red dashes of footpaths, as lightly and quickly as a chough, darting between potential locations. Now there’s a reassuring weight to my rucksack, which is stuffed with all the food, clothing and shelter that I’ll need for three days and two nights in the hills. Blinking in the spring sunlight, I pull out a map and remind myself of my idea. This loose plan will see me travel almost due south, taking in waterfalls, bothies, and the muscular Carneddau mountain range before hitching back to a train station.
Living out of a rucksack
I may be bearing the physical weight of carrying my life for the next few days, but my heart feels lighter. Time stretches out in front of me; I have no deadlines, no need to hurry. Even better, the end of my trip feels far enough away that I don’t even contemplate it. My focus is able to rest solely on being in the here and now.
A wild mountain pony greets us. Purest white, with a mane like the falls I just passed, she stands calmly as I approach – strong and squat, yet strangely elegant. The Carneddau mountain ponies have lived wild in the hills for centuries. They are susceptible to the worst of the winter weather, with only the strongest surviving through to spring. My equine companion keeps me company for a little longer, climbing above me and leading the way in front for a few hundred meters before boring of my slow progress along the heavy, tussocked ground.
The comfort of camp
I strip off soggy layers and climb into my sleeping bag to warm up. The roar of my gas stove drowns out the creaks and groans of the trees above me, and I relish my oasis of calm while cupping my mug in both hands. It is only 4.00pm, but I am settled for the evening, happy again to feel part of nature without feeling the need to continue fighting through it. I close my eyes for a few seconds. Fine windblown rain sounds like static against tent fabric.
Scrambling to those views
There is a deadline for the first time on this trip. I still have most of a day to use up, though, and I’m determined to get high and reach the summits that have framed my walk so far. Tryfan is a tactile mountain. As soon as I start climbing, my hands are in contact with it as much as my feet. It is a climb in its truest sense. The easiest way up the North Ridge is graded as an easy scramble, but while I have so far sought the path of least resistance on my journey, here I find joy in choosing the more difficult lines.
There is air beneath my feet, and I become absorbed in puzzle-solving; each time I am left literally grasping for a solution, a handhold presents itself and upward progress continues.
Though I left Manchester only 72 hours before, I feel recharged, reawakened, and reconnected to the wildness that sits just out of reach of my everyday life.
Finding a wild place to reset
I don’t pause at the summit. Instead I carry on over to find a little solitude just beyond. Lying with my back against sun-warmed rock, I’m reluctant to continue; I scan the horizon, yearning to stay high, to link into the Glyderau, to remain immersed here that bit longer. The mountain ponies I shared my first afternoon with now elicit a tinge of jealousy. I don’t want to be a visitor here; I want to continue wandering as freely as they do. Though I left Manchester only 72 hours before, I feel recharged, reawakened, and reconnected to the wildness that sits just out of reach of my everyday life.
To see and read more about Tom's three-day adventure to the Welch mountains of Snowdonia, check out the full article at Sidetracked.com. And for a versatile hiker designed for quick scrambles to escape the city, be sure to explore our new Venture collection for men.