Cardiff based International Mountain Leader Alan Ward is in lockdown in Cardiff whilst he should be providing mountain training in the Brecon Beacons National Park and have summitted the highest mountain on the Indonesian island of Sumatra in May. We asked him how he was occupying himself during these challenging times.
I returned home from Indonesia in February just as the Covid-19 pandemic was starting to change the world. People in airports were continuing to go about their normal lives and few were seen wearing masks. Four months later, who could possibly have predicted how we’d be now? June is the peak of my normally busy year from April onwards, I had to cancel a wide range of UK mountain training courses and an expedition to Sumatra to climb Mt Kerinci (3805m) with a small group from South Wales. Do airlines offer refunds – not in my experience and I seem to be accumulating travel vouchers from airlines, hotels and airport car parks…………
I’m a Type 2 Diabetic so have been in “Shielding” for so long now, I wonder if I’ll even remember how to get to the Brecon Beacons when all these restrictions are lifted. I read stories of how the police have stopped over 1,000 cars from trying to invade the Waterfalls Area in the south of the Brecon Beacons National Park and of scenic spots in England where the amounts of litter left have been appalling. Thankfully I and my family live in Cardiff where things seem to be more under control and the general public in compliance with Covid-19 guidelines.
My garden is looking better than it has done for years and I have to confess to now actually enjoying some gardening which I never thought I’d confess to. Being in “Shielding” I haven’t left my house in over ten weeks so how am I exercising? I have a long patio so have been doing a brisk 1km walk every day but changes in guidelines advise I can get off my property now and go for longer walks which I’ll start now. I work from home and my office has never been tidier!
I’m really hoping to be able to get back to work in September but most of my mountain training courses involve being within the 2m social distancing zones with trainees – I can’t teach navigation and mapwork skills from 2m away so, like many other outdoor professionals and many people in Wales, I’m wondering what the future holds.
Next February I’m supposed to be in the High Atlas Mountains of Morocco training local mountain guides and in March I’m supposed to be leading a trekking adventure in the Indian Himalayas of Ladakh at altitudes up to 4000m. I have dozens of clients on hold for mountain training and expedition first aid courses in the Brecon Beacons, Cambrian Mountains and Snowdonia and they are patiently waiting to see me.
I’ve been editing a large photographic library and selections of my worldwide travel can be seen on Facebook/Bigfoot Services Limited or in the Galleries section of my website (www.bigfootservices.co.uk) and these albums feature worldwide destinations and can help others planning similar trips to far off destinations.
So, for now all we can be doing is to stay safe by following current Covid-19 guidelines and plan for the future…………………………
Visit the Bigfoot Services Limited website (www.bigfootservices.co.uk) to view the range of Alan’s activities, future events, galleries, testimonials and how his Corporate Social Responsibility Policy helps to train mountain guides in the developing world where he donates his time free of charge to provide mountain training to those who have no access to this. You can also follow Alan on the following social media sites.
Following on from retirement, more time will be available for hill and mountain walking on a personal basis with friends.