22 not out

It's 24th December, so the question on everyone's lips is did Richard make it to the top of Moel Famau for the 22nd consecutive Christmas Eve today?

Oh ye of little faith:

Carolyn and her children atop Moel Famau

Carolyn and kids at the top

Actually, to be honest, I wanted to call it off on account of the heavy snow, but Carolyn and her three kids were pretty persuasive. I'm glad they were: the snow was fantastic.

More photos here.

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20 not out

20 not out

Toasting conspicuously absent friends.

It's Christmas Eve. That must mean I went up Moel Famau again, right?

Well, yes. But I very nearly didn't make it this year. I made the mistake of going for a practice walk with Irish Mick and his mate Geoff the day before (photos here). It was a great walk, but it reignited an old Achilles' tendon injury which I had been under the mistaken impression was finally healed (no pun intended). As a result, today's ascent wasn't so much a walk as a hobble. In the pouring rain. On my own.

But I had to do it because this year was the big two-oh: twenty consecutive Christmas Eve ascents of Moel Famau.

As I've said before, it's the closest thing I have to regular exercise.

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19 not out

Me and Irish MickIt's that time of year again: Christmas Eve—time for my annual ascent of Moel Famau. That's 19 years out of 19.

Stense and Carolyn both stood me up this year, so I had to make do with Irish Mick.

The weather was absolutely amazing: bloody freezing down in the car park, but with incredible views over to Snowdonia, marred only by the obligatory wind powerstation (which, I couldn't help observing, was becalmed).

Irish Mick on top of Moel Famau

We passed through a layer of low mist and up into sunshine, giving me one of the best cloud sea views I've seen for many years. Then, after a cup of tea and a photo opportunity, we headed back down into the woods and mist.

Here's to number 20.

More photos »

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18 not out

If it's Christmas Eve, it must be time for my annual ascent of Moel Famau. That makes it 18 years on the trot.

This year, I had six first-time companions: Carolyn, her partner Howard, their three sprogs, and their dog, Daisy. The weather was unseasonally clement, but extremely moist.

The last time I went up Moel Famau with Carolyn was in November 1991. We gabbed so much that we climbed over the wrong stile near the summit on our way down and got hopelessly lost in the woods. We were lost for hours, and didn't manage to get back to the car until well after nightfall.

So, of course, we told Carolyn's children the story of the time we got lost, and they thought it was really cool. So, of course, we then had to pretend that we had somehow got ourselves hopelessly lost again today. I think her son was quite taken with my suggestion that we might have to build a shelter and spend the night on the hill (although he wrinkled up his nose when I said we might have to eat Daisy).

But, when I pointed out that it was Christmas Eve, and Father Christmas wouldn't know where to deliver his presents if he was camped out in the woods, he decided that maybe it would be a good idea if we found the cars after all. Which we eventually did.

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17 not out

Stense and me on a hill

Me (right) and a fragrant scarlethead (left).

Today saw my seventeenth annual Christmas Eve ascent of Moel Famau in North Wales. This time, I was accompanied by my favourite scarlethead, the delightfully fragrant Stense.

Hitchin, if you're reading this, remember how back in 1986 I told you that I had seen a raven flying upside-down while grunting like a pig (the raven, that is)? Remember how you told me to stop being silly? Well, while I was on top of the hill this morning, I saw a couple more ravens doing exactly the same thing—and this time I had a witness. I hope you're not going to call Stense a liar too. That would make her a fragrant liar.

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