Rucking in Wales

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    • #83358
      DiznNC
      Participant

        I took a little trip recently and did a little hiking up Pen-Y-Fan. You may recall from Max’s description, this is a mountain in the Brecon Beacons, in Wales, where the Brit SF does it’s selection training. And lots of other units train there, as we shall see.

        The highlight of my trip was not the actual Fan Dance Race, but getting to ruck with the Royal Welsh Regiment (160th Infantry I believe). Now here’s the cool part. This is a national park. Think Yosemite, Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, etc. Regular army units do regular training here. Right along side civvys hiking through, and shepherds tending their flocks. And it’s no big deal. Really.

        OK now imagine for a minute if an army unit was seen humping through one of our national parks. Complete with belt kit, bergens, and rifles. Can you imagine the pants-wetting that would take place? I can just hear the howls of protest from all the progessives and their wards. Shit, I’d pay to see it.

        But anyways, back to Wales. Here I am, training for the Saturday race, humping with a platoon of Royal Welsh, and these guys are fully equipped with belt kit, bergens, and rifles, not to mention belt-feds, radios, and assorted other shit. It’s a timed TAB, up and down Pen-Y-Fan. We are tear-assing along, passing all sorts of day-hikers, sheep herders, even the odd pic-nickers. And no one gives you a second look. Oh, it’s the Lads, out for a stroll. Carry on. Not one Brit fainted from the sight of their evil SA-80’s and squad MG’s.

        After we made it back to the phone box, we got to talking a bit. The Captain instructor was getting several platoons ready for their commando course. Now the interesting thing is their barracks is right on the outskirts of town (Brecon) and they regularly train in the local area. Now how cool is that. Think about the similarity with our National Guard. I like the concept of de-centralized control and local Regiments housed within the areas they are raisied from. I don’t think we have seen anything like this since the Civil War, where state units were broken up, for fear of the public out-cry from whole units being virtually wiped out. I would like to see this concept re-visited.

        Now here is the whole point to this affair. While our douche bag in chief is making it legal for transgenders to serve in our military, the Brits are out rucking in the mountains. Oh the contrasts. How many of our line infantry units could take everybody and go run up a mountain in full kit? Yeah I know the Rangers, or DevGru, or CAG, etc. could smoke this shit. I’m talking about regular line infantry units. While we worry about social engineering, the Brits are doing the hard yards. It’s a fucking disgrace.

        Well at least two guys at MVT have done the “Fan Dance” now. It really kicked my ass. Took me 4:49 to get it done, with a 40 lb ruck. In the pouring rain. With a head cold from all the wind and rain. But hey, that’s just part of the package.

        If you are not doing something similar, get to it!

        Time to get ready for the Rifleman Challenge!

      • #83359
        hellokitty
        Participant

          @Diz
          That looks like a lot of fun and painful at the same time. How does the course compare to your training routes in NC? Or to MVT mountains? Just curious.

          HEAT 1(CTT) X 3
          HEAT 2 (CP) X1
          FOF X3
          OPFOR X2
          CLC X2
          RIFLEMAN

        • #83360
          wildbill
          Participant

            @DiznNC when we talked about this I thought it sounded like a real hoot and when you were posting your tales of rucking in mountains of western NC I was thinking he really is going to do it — way to go you ole fart! :good:

          • #83361
            DiznNC
            Participant

              It’s a real kick in the ass. Very comparable to the mountains in the Carolinas; same rocky/rutted trails. Just trade the heat for the wind and rain and you’re there. The WVA hills are mostly short and steep, in intervals, where the Welsh mountains are single, long slogs.

              The biggest difference from training was I either did hill repeats or endurance days; on race day you did both!

            • #83362
              hellokitty
              Participant

                Very cool Diz. You gonna wear your Fan Dance patch?

                HEAT 1(CTT) X 3
                HEAT 2 (CP) X1
                FOF X3
                OPFOR X2
                CLC X2
                RIFLEMAN

              • #83363
                trailman
                Participant

                  I googled that up. That is damn cool. :good:

                • #83364
                  DiznNC
                  Participant

                    Yeah I’m proud of that patch. A lot of work went into it. Thanks to Max as well for giving me intel on the course.

                    This is something I’d like to see in this country as well. A “Fan Dance USA” as it were. Perhaps in the hills of WVA? It would be a real ball-buster, as part of the Rifleman Challenge, or just on it’s own.

                    The idea being to cover say at least 10 miles with belt kit, Bergen and rifle, over difficult terrain, in the fastest time possible.

                    I can tell you this, my hat is off to Max, and the rest of the Brits who do this on a regular basis. I trained hard for 6 months, and it still kicked my ass.

                    There is just something about putting a load on, and going up the mountains, as fast as you can sustain, which really cuts through all the bullshit and lets you see what you’re really all about.

                  • #83365
                    Brian from Georgia
                    Participant

                      That had to be an awesome experience.

                    • #83366
                      Corvette
                      Participant

                        Last time i was in UK.. Dartmoor…

                        How I started…

                        How I ended up..

                        win some, lose some..

                        Bergmann

                      • #83367
                        DiznNC
                        Participant

                          Yeah man it’s easy to get injured up there. Saw quite a few guys that got patched up by the staff. One guy next to me took a header and broke his nose. To make time you have to take some chances on the down hills.

                        • #83368
                          Corvette
                          Participant

                            Sadly my put down was a reaction to medication..

                            Bergmann

                          • #83369
                            Max
                            Keymaster

                              ‘Cept Dartmoor aint in Wales….. :wacko:

                              Fan Dance on selection is a beast. IIRC its on a Friday at the end of the first week. That week starts on the previous sunday with the 8 Mile CFT, which is run over the hills of Sennybridge and starts with a ‘run away’ by the DS (directing staff). You then get thrashed all week with a mix of DS led tabs over the hills to teach you what 4kmph as the crow flies looks like from checkpoint to checkpoint, and runs with carries and such up and down hills.

                              Fan Fance again starts off with a run away with an extremely fit DS hoofing it to the top of the Fan. That strings everyone out. Coming back up to the Fan on the way back, you go up some rock steps called ‘Jacobs Ladder.’ That was one step at a time legs burning all the way. I caught the DS again at the top of the Fan on the way back.

                              The ‘run away’ thing is all a mind game that gets people to quit. They go super fast for the first part but slow down and gather the squad so that they bring the pack in on time. If you finish with the pack you pass.

                              Selection is designed to fuck you up. You will end up injured in some way, and either way you end up in a place that is mental, beyond the physical. That is the point. I recall being amazed by these PT studs on the first part of the 5 weeek hills phase. I only had one gear, first gear, and i just kept on trucking. Later, on individual phases such as the Elan valley prior to test week, i recall passing these studs, heads hanging. Later, they would be gone. I had the advantage of being good at land nav, so i didnt waste energy getting lost in the hills. First gear worked for me.

                            • #83370
                              Corvette
                              Participant

                                ‘Cept Dartmoor aint in Wales….. :wacko:

                                Silence to you.. blah blah same difference.

                              • #83371
                                Daniel
                                Participant

                                  This is a real thing with at least two groups running organized events a couple of time per year, and it appears they sell out fast long before demand is satisfied. It would make a nice bucket list addition although, as Max pointed out, starting fresh and rested as a civilian is not quite like the real test.

                                  Hoping info links aren’t verbotten.

                                  Home

                                  The Fan Dance Series

                                • #83372
                                  Max
                                  Keymaster

                                    Short one: I gotta say, the fan is kind of a shithole. If you were to fly to the UK to do hills, South Wales would not be the destination. You would find North Wales mountains stunningly beautiful. Even better, the Lake District. Now, I know that Scotland is even ‘bigger and better’ but of course it is full of Scots B-) Also, where it is wild and wonderful, the Lake District has a wonderful charm somewhere between ragged peaks, chilled out pubs, and cute villages. My favorite place in the world. I used to hike there all the time. Stay somewhere around Grasmere. Do Scafell Pike, Helvellyn. Drive over Hardnott Pass (Roman Fort) and go up Wasdale, past Wast Water. You can almost imagine Hobbits up there. Coming down out of the mist on a Roman Fort or old Roman Road (‘High Street’) you could almost imagine coming across a cohort on the march.

                                  • #83373
                                    Max
                                    Keymaster

                                      Up Langdale from the pub. Up Rossett Gill, steep as fuck, till you come ovet the top at the tarn. Wonderful route up and along the ridge to Scafell Pike.

                                      Who wants the routes?

                                    • #83374
                                      Brushpopper
                                      Participant

                                        @Max It sure sounds like a pretty place!

                                      • #83375
                                        scoutsout
                                        Participant

                                          Hello, new poster here. I did some hiking (no pack, for pleasure therefore not rucking IMO) in Wales recently and visited the Royal Welsh Regimental museum at Brecon. What a gem if you have interest in the South African conflicts (Zulu War, Boer War.)I would agree with Max that North Wales is much more beautiful than the Beacons.

                                        • #83376
                                          Max
                                          Keymaster

                                            One of my great-grandfathers was in the Royal Welch. WW1. I recall as a boy my father taking me on a battlefield tour in France and seeing the still-huge ‘Red Dragon Crater’ where a German mine blew up a section of their trenchline. Never visited the museum though, remiss of me.

                                          • #83377
                                            scoutsout
                                            Participant

                                              Max,
                                              My forebearers were Welsh soldiers of an earlier era. I’m very impressed but what you’ve got going here. This really is high quality discussion as advertised. I will attending one of your courses ASAP.
                                              Andrew

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