Saturday 5th October
At approximately 6am the following morning Nic arrived in the lounge
where I was already awake, washed, dressed and ready for the day's
Nic and I decided between us that it was time to wake the team
and the alarm call was to be ABBA blasting out at full volume. This
had the desired effect, bearing in mind that the team did not get
to bed until 1.30am and therefore only had a maximum of 5 hours
After breakfast Neil and I said a few words and then it was time
to get lunch made and head for the hills.
The team all piled into the minibus and with Neil at the wheel
we set off towards Pen-y-Fen. At about 9am the minibus pulled into
the Storey Arms carpark which is at the foot of the hill.
After a brief warm up session it was my turn to give the team a
new challenge, each team member was given a go in my 'Off Road'
Wheelchair so that they could experience the difference between
walking up a hill and pushing a chair up a hill.
Now it was time to take on Pen-y-Fen. The first problem the team
encountered was a locked gate that needed to be climbed. Me, my
wheelchair and team needed to be the other side so that the acsent
could begin. With a great deal of help from the team I climbed over
At first Pen-y-Fen was a 20 degree muddy slope with the odd hole,
grassy patch and rock here and there.
Neil took up his position at the rear of the wheelchair with two
others on each side of the front and with me pushing it up the hill.
The purpose of three additional people was to act as safety, brakes
and where required offer lifting assistance.
The going was hard and slow because the ground got steeper and
more and more difficult to cross. The rocky path, loose rocks and
uneven ground were a test for me, the wheelchair and the team.
In addition to physical tests I was testing my trust in the team.
In a nutshell everything went without a hitch even through sections
of the path to the summit were too much for the 'Off Road Wheelchair'.
Where this happened I would drag myself across the ground showing
no regard for comfort!
As the morning progressed it became apparent that I would not make
the summit so the team was split into two groups each of which to
make their way to the summit of Pen-y-Fen while I sat on top of
the first ridge looking at the world that lay below me.
Lunchtime. This was tucked away without too much of a problem!
Now, as the old saying goes "What goes up must come down".
So I got back into my wheelchair and with a great deal of assistance
from the team I started to make my way down the hill. After a short
while the hill was too steep and I took the decision to drag myself
down the majority of the way back to the start point.
However, Neil and by this time the team was joined by Ruth and
Nic felt that a better way down could be tried. I got back into
my chair and at an angle of about 45 degrees lent back on the back
wheels with Neil on the back, Jamie acting as brake man and two
others acting as our wing men. We discovered that we could move
down the hill at a considerable pace. The plan worked.
However, this method of transportation was very un-familiar I felt
very unsure that is was the way forward. The biggest thing I had
to overcome was the feeling of letting some else take control, this
was very new ground for me as I am always in control.
Just when we all thought the day's trials were over the team had
to climb back over the gate as negotiated on the way up, now somewhat
tired the team made their way over the gate and across the road
to the waiting tea van. Then it was back to the cottage for a shower
That evening, having cleaned up, the team took a stroll, as if
we hadn't walked enough during the day, to the local hotel for a
bite to eat and a glass or two of something nice and alcoholic.
After dinner the team made their way back to the cottage for team
building games, which were great fun and a most enjoyable way to
finish the evening.