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Trails & Inspiration

Hiking the Cambrian Way with Impala on Trail

Experience the adventure of hiking the Cambrian Way AKA. The Dragon's Back with Impala on Trail.

In 10 individual hikes, he recounts his journey and experience of 'Slaying the Dragon', whilst putting the new Salomon Elixir to the ultimate test.

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Pictured: Salomon Elixir GORE-TEX Hiking Shoes

1. Time to Slay a Dragon

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After an awesome evening sacrificing twigs to a fire to celebrate the solstice and appease the trail gods, it was time to make my way to Cardiff and kick off the Cambrian Way or the Dragons Back as the cool kids like to call it.

Five trains later, I landed in the city and the first port of call was to feast like a beast, get hydrated and grab some cash. So I inhaled 3 x Maccy D's double cheese burgers, 1l of fizzy water and a soda. Then I pulled out 250 adventure tokens as I thought  that would be more than enough to cover the trip.

I headed to the castle which is right in the centre of the city. It was beautiful, but very busy, which freaked me out a bit so I hit start on the watch and set off on my way.

At first the trail followed the river Taff before passing through some built-up areas. I grabbed some water and sports drinks from a wee shop and bumped into a dude taking his snake for a walk! Then climbed up into the woods where I put on some tunes and cruised into the sunset.

Once it got too dark to see without my headtorch, I found a suitable bush to throw out my sleeping bag and call it a day. Ready to do it all again tomorrow, it feels good to be back on the trail.

VISIT KOMOOT TO VIEW AND DOWNLOAD THE ROUTE MAP

Daily stats: 14 miles with around 1400ft of gain, so super-chilled start.

Salomon Elixir thoughts..

So far so good, no hotspots or issues with my feet, they stride nice and really like the cushion/r camber (rocker on the sole) which provides enough bounce to the ounce.

2. Naughty, Naughty

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Woke up naturally at 5am, chucked everything in my pack, then hit the trail for a nice mellow descent to town where I scored a coffee, some pasties and 2 iced lattes.

Was barely there 5 mins before Sean Ellison turned up to work his wizardry and capture some flicks and vids for a movie dropping on YouTube soon. We had a right laugh then parted ways whilst he stalked me from the sky (drone footage)

I dropped into another small village before climbing out back onto the hill. The weather was perfect, overcast with a light breeze which made the miles flow. Before I knew it, I’d hit Pontypool and there was a gas station right on route so I picked up a meal deal and the greatest American candies (lifesavers sour).

Whilst inhaling my butty, the trail began to climb but I managed to keep munching. Once up there it was pretty chill - good trail and sweet views. I asked a couple of ladies if they would mind snapping a pic of me at the trig, which they did, as well as a gazillion pick of their pooches. A fair trade I thought.

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Got to Abergavenny after a quad popping descent and grabbed a Greggs and a sports drink. Then climbed up this part of the trail just off to the west of Offas Dyke, so was nice to get a different perspective of an area I have been to a few times.

Made it to Sugarloaf Mountain, which is definitely the best named hill so far, then dropped into a sweet valley with a stream, washed my pits n bits then made the call to pitch n ditch. Due to cloud cover I decide to sling the tarp up and so glad that I did, as the weather took a turn for the worse and it got a bit wet n wild.. but I stayed happy and dry.

VISIT KOMOOT TO VIEW AND DOWNLOAD THE ROUTE MAP

Daily stats:

Scored a naughty 40 miles with 9000ft of elevation gain.

Salomon Elixir update…

So far so good and still no feet issues. Normally after a big day I get that trail pound feeling on my pads, but not today so there's definitely some kinda magic involved AKA Energy foam.

3. Racing the Sun

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Woke up at 4am to rain. Normally when I'm up it's go time but I decided to catch some more zzz's and woke up to no rain.

Straight away it was a climb back on to the tops, so slipped in my ear buds and boogied on up. Once I got up there it was straight up pea soup and blowing a hooley, but I just kept cruising.

After taking a short break, the soup lifted to reveal my surroundings and I appreciated it so much, I instantly felt a boost of energy.

When I reached the summit of Pen Cerrig-calch I started seeing a lot of people which meant that civilization was near.

Whenever I get close to town I always ask the locals where I can score the biggest and cheapest feast. Everyone I met was recommending the same place for breakfast, but when I arrived there they'd stopped serving. I panicked and ordered a jacket potato with tuna, which didn't quite hit the spot, so I hit the bakery, inhaled some more Cals then climbed out of town.

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The trail passed an awesome crag and cave which was used as a weapon stash in the 1800s. I had a quick scout around but I was in need of some water so I didn't hang about.

Finally I found some water, freshened up and rehydrated, then stumbled upon a wild pony and its bambino. Looking into the distance I spied Pen Y Fan.

I thought how awesome it would be to get there for sunset. There were a fair few climbs in between but I slayed um and hit the summit at the perfect time. The sky was dancing and everyone up there was beaming from ear to ear, including me. It was a moment I'll never forget.

I dropped down and spotted some woods next to the trail so I ducked in, chucked out my gear and called it a night.

VISIT KOMOOT TO VIEW AND DOWNLOAD THE ROUTE MAP

Daily stats: Tickled over 40 miles with 9000 ft of elevation gain.

Salomon Elixir update…

Had no feet issues and still comfy, although my feet felt a bit warm and clammy around midday, but after a 5 min air out all was kushy again.

4. Roast Rage

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Awoke in a panic thinking it was raining, as I didn't pitch my tarp. It's all about being quick but once my tired brain came round I realised it was just pine needles falling on my polycro groundsheet.

It took a while to get my legs moving, the hills really took some graft but after a while I found the flow.

I made it onto Fan Hir and my god it was a beautiful ridgeline. Got chatting to a DofE assessor who was out hunting children and she told me the weather was coming in, so got a wiggle on. Before long I’d dropped into the lowlands and had to battle through nipple-high nettles, but through suffering comes enlightenment. To be honest I was just itchy.

Had a few more bumps to go over before making it to the small village of Myddfai where there was a community cafe, so I popped in on the quest for a Sunday roast. Unfortunately that wasn't an option, but places like this are well worth supporting, so I scored a butty n soda and charged up a bit, before pushing to the next town with full roast rage.

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When I arrived in Llandovery, can you guess where I went first? Straight t'pub…but alas no food! Luckily the next one did, but no Sunday roast, so I settled for a burger n soda, juiced up my electronics, then headed to the shop to stock up on snacks. Only to find it was shut, so I asked a local if there was anywhere that might be open at 7pm on a Sunday evening. They weren't sure if it would still be open but pointed me in the right direction and praise the lord it was!

With a pack full of snacks and a belly full of real food it was a 5 mile walk down the road until I found a great wooded camp spot just 1 mile away from the RV point where I'd arranged to meet Sean Ellison in the morning for more video wizardry.

VISIT KOMOOT TO VIEW AND DOWNLOAD THE ROUTE MAP

Daily stats: 40 miles but had some side quest in town. Plus, 8400ft of elevation gain.

Salomon Elixir update…

I hate road walking as it normally hurts my feet, but not in these bad boys.

5. Bothy Bonanza

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Woke up in a beautiful woodland, quickly dropped my tarp and cruised down to the road to meet Sean to get some more Gucci shots. He showed me a snippet of what he's already created and it blew me away, can't wait to see the full film. We had a good laugh but then parted ways.

The trail then followed a road before heading up a beautiful valley which had some overgrown sections of bracken. The higher I got, the less visible the trail became and I ended up doing some route finding through tussocks which was a good test for the shoe’s Active Chassis stabilisation technology. Unfortunately, I stomped through a bog and it breached the top of my shoes…wet feet!

The trail then flowed through some woodland before hitting Strata Florida. It was then what felt like a lengthy road walk, so I stopped to switch my socks, rinse them and hang them on my pack to try and get the bog filth out and allow them to dry.

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After I left the road I hit the halfway point then climbed to Teifi pools, picked up a 4x4 track which then climbed up to a small house. I wasn't sure if it was a house or bothy, but tried it anyway and it turned out to be the latter. I was buzzing as I love a good bothy, but unfortunately it was too early to stay. It even had a flushing toilet!!!

From the bothy I climbed up into some beautiful but exposed remote country. Rolling hills and not a trail in sight, it was truly stunning. The wind picked up and felt some droplets of rain but it stayed at bay.

I decided to call it a day early at 8pm, as I got the feeling some bad weather was coming in and only 6 miles out of my next resupply which I needed to hit.

VISIT KOMOOT TO VIEW AND DOWNLOAD THE ROUTE MAP

Daily stats: Just over 30 miles with 5000ft of elevation gain.

Salomon Elixir update…

The moment I have been dreading finally happened - water got into the shoe via the top and I got wet feet, but managed to get them dry again.

Also, the stability is great as normally I am like bambi on ice when hiking off-trail, but I didn't fall once.

6. Wet n Wild

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Was most surprised to wake up to a dry tarp as it really felt like it was going to hammer down. I packed up and boogied 6 miles into Devil's Bridge.

When I got there the shop I was hoping to use to resupply my stock turned out to be a posh chocolate shop, so I bought 100g of their finest chocolate and a black coffee as a pre-breakfast appetizer. Then it was over the road to the Two Hoots cafe.

What a beautiful place this was too. I ordered the Cambrian breakfast which was massive and even had a healthy slab of blood sausage. The staff were super friendly, full of positive vibes and we had a right laugh. I jokingly said I'd quit the trail to work there and they said YES!! I also packed out a ham n cheese baguette to scoff on the hill.

After leaving Devil's Bridge the trail followed the train track and over some bumps to Ponterwyd where there was a gas station. It had been raining constantly, so I bought a coffee, more snacks and a bottle of Mountain Dew.

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Then it was up into the pea soup, heavy rain and pretty darn strong winds. To make it even more fun the trail was very faint, so I ended up just hiking cross-country through tussocks and deep heather. It was pretty hard going but just kept repeating my mantra 'Suck it up, Buttercup'.

After what felt like forever, the Cambrian Way linked up with the Glyndŵr's Way, a National Trail which means it's well-benched and blazed. So banged the earbuds in and cruised by this point. I’d dropped in elevation and the weather was much more favourable.

That didn't last long. As I climbed, the wind picked up, and some heavy showers passed through but visibility was good. I passed through a pine wood and thought I'd capitalise on the opportunity so I pitched up as sheltered spots have been few and far between.

VISIT KOMOOT TO VIEW AND DOWNLOAD THE ROUTE MAP

Daily stats: Just over 33 miles with 10,000ft of elevation gain.

Salomon Elixir update…

Zero ankle tweaks which is surprising with all the bushwhacking. They also wetted out due to rain running down my legs and the brush, but changed socks and had zero foot issues.

7. The Sun Will Shine Again

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Woke up at 5am to crazy rain pinging on top of my tarp, so curled up and went back to sleep till 7. Proper struggled to get me arse into gear but braved the weather and hit the trail for 8.

It was raining all morning with thick clag, hit some real overgrown sections and kept losing the trail and there was a lot of bog stomping and heather bashing but I kept on going. Stopped a couple of times to swap socks, lube up my feet with vaseline (stop water damage) and inhale Hobnobs.

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Early in the afternoon, I dropped down to Mallwyd, where there was a gas station, so scored a soda and chocolate bar, but no coffee or hot food. As I left I could smell sweet home cooking in the air. Followed my snout to a pub and invested in a hot beef n onion butty n chips.

By the time I left the pub the rain had eased, but unfortunately the clag and wind hadn't. As I climbed up it started to ease and was rewarded with some sweet views. Around 6ish I passed some pine woods and very nearly called it a day but boy am I glad that I didn't…

I dropped out of the hills to climb up Gau Graig. I absolutely beasted the climb and at the top was treated to the most stunning views. It was pure magic. I followed the ridge and was absolutely buzzing. I could even see the ocean which was grand. I pitched up with the last of the light and finally called it a day.

VISIT KOMOOT TO VIEW AND DOWNLOAD THE ROUTE MAP

Daily stats: Over 30 miles with 9000ft of elevation gain.

Salomon Elixir update…

Had my first slip today on a very steep wet muddy trail, but being that's my first one the Contragrip is definitely working its magic.

8. Savour Every Step

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Got up early and cruised into Barmouth via a really cool railway bridge.

Once I arrived, I hit up the Co-op for supplies then grabbed a quick breakfast at a greasy spoon.

Then it was straight up the hill and ended up stuck in a line behind a bunch of school kids on an outdoor education adventure - they looked miserable as hell!

Once up on’t tops I stayed pretty high with some punchy climbs. Around lunchtime I began to feel the burn of prickly heat so I hopped in a tarn and had a good scrub, then chilled while the sun dried me out.

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From this point something strange happened and every step felt like maximum effort. I was fully spanked but could see big black clouds in the distance and knew tomorrow was going to be wet and wild so wanted to get low and sheltered.

I had to have some stern words with myself and realised how lucky I was to feel like this in such a beautiful place when so many people aren’t able to experience this. This gave me the strength to keep going and even though I kept scouting spots to ditch, I didn't. Finally, I was rewarded with a beautiful sheltered camping pitch.

VISIT KOMOOT TO VIEW AND DOWNLOAD THE ROUTE MAP

Daily stats: A smidge over 27 miles and 9000ft of elevation gain.

Salomon Elixir update… 

They finally dried up and my feet are still blister free. I was also hiking on lots of rocky sections which can really pound my paws, but had no bad feelings like this today.

9. If In Doubt, Get Caffeinated

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Woke up at 5am to crazy wind and rain battering my tarp, so curled up and went back to sleep. When I reawoke, it was still mental, so started battling with my demons and coming up with why I should take a nero (short day normally stopping in accommodation)

I'd made up my mind and a nero it was, so packed up and boogied to the pub/hotel. The rain didn't stop all day and when I got there I saw a sign for coffee. I asked if it was cool to grab one and a sausage butty, they let me in, fed me and I began charging up. Whilst there I checked the price of a room and it was well out of my price range, plus by that point the caffeine had kicked in and I wanted to burn it off! So, I hit the trail once more.

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It was a steady climb up and just before the first summit of the day I crossed paths with Dan Klaiber who is currently on an End2End on steroids, 2450 miles in total!! Linking most of the finest long distance trails the UK has to offer. Unfortunately, the wind and rain was flippin mental, so we took shelter behind a rock and had a good chat, sharing info on what adventures we both had planned and some tales from the trail. I can't believe Dan is the only dirtbag I’ve seen on the Cambrian Way, crazy there ain't more!

I hit the first summit then dropped down via a very flooded trail to an old slate mine before climbing up to the summit of Cnicht where there was a stag party. We exchanged some laughs and jokes then down I headed into Beddgelert where I resupplied, scored a burger and tried to dry out a bit.

I left town and ended up pitching early as I planned to hit Snowdon for breakfast and sheltered spots will be few and far between.

I am so glad I got caffeinated and didn't take a nero!

VISIT KOMOOT TO VIEW AND DOWNLOAD THE ROUTE MAP

Daily stats: 23 miles and 11950ft of elevation gain.

Salomon Elixir update… 

Had one slip on a wet polished slab but I doubt that any sneaker would have held any grip on it. Still no paw issues.

10. Karma Farmin

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Got up at 5am and started the plod to the base of Snowdon. Luckily, the rain had lifted but the hills were still covered in thick clag.

I began the climb. The higher I got, the more the wind became an issue. The bwlch main ridge was pretty hairy but I bagged the trig for breakfast. I didn't hang around and began the descent which was just a constant stream of hikers going up. On the way down I saw 2 rangers doing a litter pick. I thanked them and they asked if I minded packing out a wet pillow they didn't want to take to the summit as they were already loaded with litter. They gave me a bag and I grabbed it.

I dropped it in the trash at Pen y Pass, scored a coffee n sausage butty before climbing up into the Glyders. The wind was gnarly and the raindrops felt like getting peppered with a BB gun. Up there I saw a hiker coming towards me. He was lost and wanted to know how to get down. He was heading the same way as me so guide mode was fully initiated. I loaded him up with Minstrels and we boogied down. Turns out he was a pastor from down south and we had a beautiful conversation about religion, faith and life. Pretty soon the clag lifted and we parted ways as he knew where he was and could see the trail.

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Scored another coffee at the Ogwen Centre, changed socks and lubed up my paws. Before climbing Pen Yr Ole Wen, I lost the trail, so ended up doing a direct scramble to the top. The clouds had gone but the wind was still in full force.

It was just then a plod along the ridge to Conway. The last few bumps sucked the energy from me, so I inhaled a pack of hobnobs. Before long I got a glimpse of the castle and I knew then that the Dragon was gonna be slayed!

Finally, I tagged the castle then booked a motel. I had a huge dirty burger and a bueno milkshake to celebrate.

VISIT KOMOOT TO VIEW AND DOWNLOAD THE ROUTE MAP

Daily stats: 35.6 miles and 17365ft of elevation gain.

Salomon Elixir update… 

Terrain was extremely rocky, polished and wet. Had 2 slips but feet felt surprisingly fresh after such a long journey (normally they'd be pulverised).

CHECK OUT THE FULL CAMBRIAN WAY SALOMON ELIXIR KOMOOT HIKING COLLECTION HERE

Thank you so much to @sportsshoes and @salomon for the opportunity to try out the Salomon Elixir and to hike the Cambrian Way.

SHOP ALL SALOMON ELIXIR HIKING SHOES HERE

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