A hike through the Brecon Beacons with JT Expeditions

Searching for a little adventure inspiration? I joined the awesome Jake Thompsett of JT Expeditions for an expedition training hike through the beautiful hills of the Brecon Beacons and asked him for his five top pieces of advice for multi-day hiking.

A hike through the Brecon Beacons with JT Expeditions - how to go multi day hiking top tips

A hike through the Brecon Beacons with JT Expeditions - how to go multi day hiking top tips

I’ll never get tired of the rolling beauty of the Brecon Beacons, and it was a privilege to explore the national park with someone who knows these hills like the back of his hand. Jake Thompsett is a bit of an adventure powerhouse – mountain leader, trail runner and Merrell ambassador (and very patient cycling buddy on our ride up the Gospel Pass). He organises epic expeditions all around the world, including an amazing self-supported hike through Iceland later this summer, and helps would-be adventurers learn to hike safely in wild places right here in the Welsh hills. I joined him for a walk into the beautiful Black Mountains.

A hike through the Brecon Beacons with JT Expeditions - how to go multi day hiking top tips

On a drizzly Friday night we camped in the fields of the Dan y Ogof caves and Jake showed us exactly how to pack our rucksacks, magically making a tent, sleeping bag, mat and two day’s food fit perfectly together in his bag, like a game of Tetris. My usual approach is to chuck everything in and hope for the best, but taking time sorting my kit properly and fitting my rucksack well made a massive difference to the weight distribution on my back. Good start.

A hike through the Brecon Beacons with JT Expeditions - how to go multi day hiking top tips

We set off up in to the hills and meandered our way up onto the ridge, stopping for a cup of coffee with an epic view over tarns and green valleys, and then hiked along the lip of the glassy black water of Lyn y Fan Fach. The endless rolling landscape was broken only by the occassional wild pony (and a pungent dead badger). 20 kilometres of trail later and we were setting up tents in the heart of the hills near the Beacon’s red kite feeding station, the birds circling above us, as Jake cooked up a feast of couscous and curry as the sun set. Yum.

A hike through the Brecon Beacons with JT Expeditions - how to go multi day hiking top tips

There’s nothing better than waking up and unzipping your tent to a view of hills waiting to be conquered. It was beautifully balmy as we chowed down on porridge (Jake’s secret is to add white chocolate. Best. Thing. Ever) and set off, attempted to save a lost lamb on the way. Back up on the ridge Jake schooled me in reading contour lines as we wended our way back down the valley, and then proved himself to be both an unflappable leader and a really good friend by cleaning and dressing my disgusting, blistered, not-washed-in-days feet. Hero.

And it’s not a proper hike unless you end up in the pub, of course – I don’t think a cold pint of cider in the sunshine has ever tasted so good.

A hike through the Brecon Beacons with JT Expeditions - how to go multi day hiking top tips

JAKE’S TOP FIPS FOR MULTI-DAY HIKING

 

1. Get your admin and ‘systems’ sorted: organising everything makes life a lot easier when you’re out for a couple of days. Be organised – make sure your gear will be waterproof by storing in separate dry sacks, arrange your gear properly in your tent with your sleeping gear tucked inside and anything you need for cooking in the porch.

2. Take time to plan and prep your food: A multi day hike is so much more fun when you’re eating well. Choose foods that have plenty of flavour – this can really help with morale of you’ve had a hard day in the hills! When choosing food try and find ones that fit into these categories:
– Have a high nutrition to low weight ratio
– Are non perishable (won’t rot or get crushed in your bag)
– Are easy to cook, such as boil in a bag food. Here’s an article I wrote on making your own.
– Taste good!

3. Go lightweight: Not having to carry loads of heavy weight gear makes a multi day hike a whole lot more enjoyable. You don’t have to go crazy and start cutting your toothbrush in half but be smart and taking minimal layers. For example, pack an insulated jacket instead of several fleeces. Spending a bit more on good quality and light gear is definitely worth it.

4. Look after your feet: You’re useless in the hills if your feet are blistered up so make sure you choose the right boots, deal with any potential or current blisters as soon as they occur and air your feet out in the evening and overnight.

5. Stay hydrated and fuelled at all times: If you let yourself get dehydrated or don’t eat enough and drop into your reserves then hiking will be much harder than they have to be. Keep sipping away at water, and keep snacking so that you are ‘drip feeding’ your body. Guzzling water in one go will just make you wee a lot, and eating one big lunch will make you lethargic and feeling sick.

A hike through the Brecon Beacons with JT Expeditions - how to go multi day hiking top tips

FIND YOUR OWN ADVENTURE

 

Join Jake for The Land of Fire and Ice this summer, an incredible nine-day expedition across Iceland including four days of self supported trekking along the incredible Laugavegur Trail. It’s the challenge you’ve been searching for.

Jake offers bespoke international expeditions and UK-based training and treks in epic places including the Brecon Beacons and Snowdonia.

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