For one moment, put aside the mind-crunching names they give to these things and remember that Dr Andy Beaumont is spending a year doing something wonderful for his health, his peace of mind and for the ME Association.
He’s mountain-walking in Wales and fully expecting to climb every peak over 2,000 ft in the Principality by this time next year. He’s done 18 so far – with just another 172 to go.
Andy, just retired as a marine scientist at Bangor University in north Wales, is working his way through the Rhinogs at the moment. They’re a range of boulder-strewn and heather-clad mountains just below the Lleyn Peninsula. It’s hard sedimentary rock known as the Harlech dome, the weather-beaten remains of a taller range which once stretched all the way from Snowdon in the north to Cader Idris in the south.
In the Welsh, they’re known as the Rhinogydd – or are they the Rhinogau? Dialectical purists spend forever arguing the toss… best move on.
“I came to north Wales from the south east of England in the late ’60s to work at what when then called the University College of North Wales and I’ve stayed put ever since. One of the things that attracted me to the place was the mountains”, said Andy, who has already ascended all the Welsh peaks over 3,000 ft high.
He’s taken on the challenge for the MEA because his wife, Dr Kate Hoare, has the illness. She’s given him leave of absence to follow his dream. Instead of post-retirement Andy at a loose end round the house at Llanfairpg, she’s making the most of the peace and quiet while he’s out for the day.
Andy, a 66-year-old veteran marathon runner who has completed the Snowdon Marathon which is rated as one of the toughest in the world, added: “Mountain walking is something I really enjoy and I’ve already noticed my fitness levels improving since I took this on.”
Some days, while scrambling over the rocks on his walk on the lesser-known peaks, he sees very few other people There’s peace and quiet up there, too. And fabulous views when the mists haven’t closed in.
The legs, the joints and the lungs are holding up just fine. “I’ve noticed it becoming easier with every one I do”.
There’s a little niggle of a doubt about a foot injury he sustained some years ago, which became arthritic. But, for the moment, that too is not grumbling much.
Andy is using Nuttalls’ inventory of the Welsh peaks as his guide to those which go up to 2,000 ft.
In an email telling us about his plans, Andy wrote: “They are called the Welsh HEWITTs (Hills in England Wales and Ireland over Two Thousand feet), but because a definitive guide to the Wales and England summits was published by John and Anne Nuttall in 1989, they are also often called the ‘NUTTALLs’. It can all get very anorak-ish because the tops of mountains can have several mini-summits and depending on the drop between them they may or may not be classified as a summit!
“I’m going by the Nuttalls definition and this gives 190 summits. Of course, having lived in North Wales for 40 years, I’ve climbed all the famous 13 peaks over 3,000ft in Snowdonia several times, and many of those above 2,000ft. However, these earlier climbs will not count for my challenge.”
Andy will be keeping readers of our quarterly ME Essential magazine in touch with developments in future issues.
If you would like to cheer Andy on by tipping a few quid into his fundraising page, please visit his online page at: