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OUR TOP 9 WINTER ADVENTURES

By Cotswold Outdoor
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Winter has well and truly set in. The temperature has plummeted and you find yourself reaching for your hat, scarf and gloves when heading out the door, whilst cranking the heating up in your car as you set off, but that’s no reason to hibernate until spring. With the right kit to keep you warm, there’s an entire winter wonderland out there waiting for you to go and explore.

For a little inspiration, here’s a selection of our staff’s winter adventure plans, from 5-9 micro adventures straight from the office to multi-day ski touring in Norway.

SKIING, LES ARCS, FRENCH TARENTAISE VALLEY

Julie McKenna, Group Business Analyst

I am going to be spending 6 months exploring the many routes of Les Arcs and La Plagne, located in the French Tarentaise Valley. I will be staying in Arcs 2000, the highest of the resorts offering the best snow, with quick access to the top of the slopes.

With 200km of descent, over 100 runs and easy access to other resorts, Les Arcs is the perfect location to build both my on and off-piste skills. With the amazing moguls, steep blacks and open expanses of un-touched off-piste, I will easily find ways to fill my days. However, if I do find some spare time I would love to learn to snow board, back to the beginner slopes it is for me!

MULTI-DAY SKI TOURING, LYNGEN ALPS, NORWAY

Jonathon Morgan, Extended Range Manager

This year we’re heading to Norway to stay with friends who live in Kandersteg in the heart of the Swiss Alps. Keeping up with them is going to be tough so I’ll need to pack in lots of night trail runs in the British drizzle before I go to get my fitness levels up to scratch!

Ski touring combines all my favourite aspects of outdoor activities. On the ascents, you’re essentially mountaineering, zig zagging up the skin tracks to spectacular mountain summits, seeking out amazing descents and linking lots of perfect powder turns. But you’re always prepared in case you need to practice avalanche and crevasse rescue techniques!

WILD CAMPING, SKIDDAW MOUNTAIN, LAKE DISTRICT

Megan Bennett, Partnerships Administration Executive

Our next adventure is imminent. We have found a breathtaking location in Dodd Woods below Skiddaw Mountain in the Lake District where we will spend two nights in a teepee…something of a luxury as we’re used to a bivi bag, tarp and moss for a mattress.

Over the course of the weekend we plan to hike up Angle Tarn for some breathtaking views and a spot of filming for the bushcraft channel, explore the woods and fells to look for unusual plants and fungi to ID (my version of a treasure hunt) and most importantly enjoy the wonderful peace that you can only find in the outdoors.

ICE SKATING, NETHERLANDS

Ayla Paul, Salisbury Store Manager

This winter I really want to go ice skating again back home in the Netherlands. Not all winters have been cold enough to go back and skate, but I am hoping this winter will be! I learnt how to skate on natural ice when I was just a child, behind a wooden chair, on the local ponds and lakes.

The feeling of skating on natural ice is magical. Knowing that you’re skating with the water just below you is strange, but the ease of getting around on the ice (with some sharpened skates!) is like nothing else. I am very much looking forward to exploring more frozen lakes in the Netherlands this winter.

INTER SKILLS COURSE, CAIRNGORMS, SCOTTISH HIGHLANDS

Jack Williams, Sales Assistant, Solihull Store

Come January, along with a friend, I am heading to the depths of the Cairngorms for a winter skills course with the Cairngorm Adventure Guides. We’ll be getting stuck into the mountains of the Scottish Highlands, learning about weather forecasts, avalanches, moving in snow and the use of ice axes and crampons.

We’ll spend two days soaking up all we can and obtaining the skills we need to take on our own miniature expedition into the mountains over the following days. There are 18 Munros in the Cairngorms, over 3,000 feet in height; plenty to keep us busy exploring and putting our new winter skills to the test.

5-9 MICROADVENTURE, COTSWOLDS

Elme Marais & Megan Loats, Social Media Executive

Having never heard of a micro-adventure, we jumped at the chance of seeing what it was all about, and agreed to head out on a 5 to 9 micro-adventure. Introduced by Alastair Humphreys, a professional adventurer, who encourages people to make the most of the 16 free hours between leaving work at 5pm and returning the next morning at 9am.

We setup camp on Minchinhampton Common, stopping at the local chippy to pick up dinner. Bivi bags laid out and sleeping mats inflated, we tucked into our fish and chips in complete darkness.

Getting outdoors and sleeping under the stars was a brilliant way to escape the working week, even if only for one night. However, if I can offer one word of advice, do not camp on a common; free roaming cows and scattered cow pats make for a disturbed night’s sleep!

WALKING, LORD HEREFORD’S KNOB, WALES

Amy Williams, Assistant Buyer

My most recent mini adventure was heading back to the homeland that is Wales to walk Lord Herefords Knob. I miss the longer summer evenings so I’m making the most of any winter weekend adventures.

The weather was pretty grim with thick fog and drizzle so our navigation skills were tested. There’s nothing worse than getting to the top of the ridge and not being able to see much further than a foot in front of you.

Luckily the thought of a ham, cheese and pickle sandwich half way kept me going. After a quick re-fuel and the obligatory summit selfie the fog began to lift slightly so we were able to appreciate the views below the ridge.

However, come rain or shine, with the right kit there’s no better feeling than being in the outdoors with a group of friends. Especially when there’s a cold beverage waiting for you in the local pub at the end!

Simon Carter, Clothing Allocator

In November I undertook my Mountain Leader assessment. Over the duration of the assessment I travelled to Loughrigg Fell, South of Grasmere to conduct micro navigation, Red Screes, North of Ambleside to cover party management through steep terrain and emergency rope work and finally, from Elterwater I journeyed around the Langdale Fells, West of Ambleside to undertake the expedition assessment including ongoing good and poor visibility navigation.

Overall the course was very tough both mentally and physically, however for anyone with the relevant experience and thinking of taking groups out then it is something I would highly recommend.

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience, and have already started planning the next one, with the addition of a few more explorers seeking a little midweek adventure.

CLYWYDIAN FELL RACE, NORTH WALES

Stuart Bruce, Chester Store Manager

After a year of mainly road running events, with a few easy trails thrown in, my thoughts turn to winter and some trail and fell running races. First and foremost of these is the Clwydian fell race, a 15km race with 3,000ft of ascent, over the Clwydian hills in North Wales, including the summit of Moel Famau.

I’ve done a reasonable amount of running and biking in the area, and whilst not the highest of elevation, the climbs can be relentless in their nature, but the feeling of unencumbered freedom when you reach the top of the climb and are able to run along the ridge trails across the skyline has just got to be one of the most satisfying feelings. As has a warming cup of tea when you get back to the finish!