Dragons Back Circular - Black Mountains
The Dragons Back walk starts in the small village of Pengenffordd within the Brecon Beacons National Park. It boasts fantastic views of the surrounding country side and the beautiful Black Mountains.
Dave's website Mudandroutes.com is a hub for other bloggers, community and charitable organisations to freely publicise their routes nationally. This has not only opened up quality walking routes but inspired a new generation of walkers and bloggers in their own right.
How does it feel to have been chosen as a #GetOutside champion?
It’s a real honour to be chosen as part of this and really exciting to be getting outside even more this year.
What does being a #GetOutside champion mean to you?
It’s the opportunity to inspire others to #GetOutside via posting on social media, mudandroutes.com and collaborations with other champions and the OS. It also means there are no excuses to not #GetOutside myself!
What are the benefits to you of being outside? What do you most enjoy about being outside?
These are the same! The benefits are I can increase fitness, feel better and more chilled. It helps me relax and switch off from the 9-5 that I have to squeeze in somewhere!
I also love being able to photograph what I see, especially at night, depending on the weather of course!
What’s your favourite terrain to get out in? (Mountain / coast / woodland etc)
Mountains, preferably non-boggy! Though I also love coastal trails for walks and running, and diverse deciduous woodland, but that’s in short supply.
What’s your best memory of being outside?
Too many! It would have to be any one of the many wild camp sunsets/rises.
What’s your worst?
A planned overnight stay on Foel Grach, in winter. It was the worst night’s non-sleep I’ve ever had. It started cold, then the ceiling thawed and dripped all night. It was made worse when we thought of pitching the tent in the shelter, but that was as we were ready to leave.
What’s the most unusual thing to have happened to you outside?
Possibly setting up a wild camping cinema, complete with projector, for my daughter.
What do you like about Great Britain?
Its diversity. It’s a small place, but so diverse in every way. From the landscape, people and culture to the beer!
Where is your favourite place in Great Britain to be outside?
Snowdonia, but I wish Scotland was closer!
What are your favourite outdoor pursuits?
Hillwalking, trail running, wild camping. Stargazing and night photography as well, usually at a site that requires walking to.
In one line, how would you describe the feeling being outside gives you?
A great deal of freedom, a counterbalance to the 9-5 - and recovery time!
When you’re outside – how do you change as a person?
I’m definitely more chilled and relaxed.
Why should people #GetOutside more often?
It improves fitness, and there are numerous health benefits.
What would you say to someone who never goes outside to get them outside?
Check out the #GetOutside hashtag, and get inspired. Otherwise, it depends on why they never go outside. It could be a fitness issue or down to a bad experience being dragged out as a teenager.
Or I’d just go for outright bribery with the mention of a café or pub afterwards.
Why as a nation are we not getting outside as much as we could?
Not only do we have busy lifestyles, but maybe we’ve become a nation of spectators rather than participants?
Perhaps it hasn’t had as high a profile as football, Olympics and other sports. It was not part of the school PE curriculum for many in the past, though this has at least improved recently.
What are the most important things a person should do or take when they #GetOutside?
Take: Has to be a paper map and compass, and knowing how to use it. GPS devices are excellent bits of kit, and I use the OS App on my phone extensively, but only as a backup to using the paper map.
Do: Respect the outdoors. There are far too many examples on Snowdon of people who treat it as both a toilet and a dustbin, as well as those who leave campfire traces when out wild camping.
What tips or pieces of advice would give to someone who wants to get more out of being outside?
Start off slowly – there are plenty of options to give you a quick fix without needing either superhuman fitness, elite skills or a significant outlay on kit.
When it comes to fitness, nobody expects to be able to get from nothing to running a marathon, and it’s the same for the outdoors. Start off with something realistic, and enjoy it - rather than going straight for Snowdon or similar and hating every minute of it! There are loads of easy routes you can do, with a few excellent walks in Snowdonia for instance providing breath-taking views for relatively little effort.
If you’re lacking the skills – join a club, find some mates who do that activity, people are usually keen to share their knowledge. Go on a course to build skills.
Short of money? You can get kitted out reasonably cheaply for walking and running: The outlay isn’t a lot if you shop around. My two main jackets are eBay jobs costing £70ish each – while new ones cost £200-300.
Before you became a #GetOutside Champion, describe your relationship with Ordnance Survey.
Other than owning about half their Explorer Maps, mainly some sharing on twitter etc.
What music do you listen to when you get outside / does music inspire you?
It’s normally not safe for me to listen to music – I run a lot at night, and I need to be able to listen. If walking, then never, though wild camping is a different matter. I do like music on occasion when running on safe tracks, but the mix can be eclectic. From Iron Maiden to Mano Chao (running to Latin in the Welsh rain is strange, to say the least) and William Shatner’s version of Disco 2000 picks up to make it a good song to end a run on!
What are your backpack essentials?
There are the usual essentials that must be in your pack. However, on top of those I’d add a windproof top and a personal water filter. That’s not to mention the luxury items that make a wild camp special (“Wild Glamping”) – such as a coffee grinder.
What’s your favourite food when you’re outside?
The boring answer is a huge doorstep sandwich, totally utilitarian and 100% effective. The jelly baby however, should be considered a running and hill superfood!
When camping it’s always a curry - though that’s only the first night!