Have you ever had a crisis of confidence?

I have.  In fact, it happened to me last month.  As I trudged up the 4th peak of the Welsh 3000s challenge, I questioned my ability to finish what I’d started, in more ways than one.  I panicked that maybe I wasn’t good enough to complete the Welsh 3000s – a fast paced and gruelling journey in which you summit all 15 peaks in Snowdonia above 3000ft, in under 24 hours.  But, that was just the tip of the crisis iceberg.  The Welsh 3000s challenge for me was a training exercise, preparing me for an even bigger and more personal challenge lying ahead…

Some of you may already know that I’m training to complete a unique challenge in August.  The challenge involves stand up paddle boarding, cycling and hiking across Wales, from Cardiff to Holyhead.  I’m fundraising for the Search and Rescue Dogs in Wales, Keep Wales Tidy, and Mind for mental health.

I love Wales!

Training has been a hard battle to gain not only the physical ability to do this, but also the knowledge required to safely complete my journey.  Particularly with the paddle boarding element, where it’s been a steep learning curve to gain the knowledge needed to journey along the Bristol channel – the second most tidal region in the World!

A couple of months back, I completed a 48km day on my paddle board; paddling from Porthcawl to Penarth.  A massive tick in the confidence box.  But after the high of realising I can paddle long distance wore off, the confidence crushing demons crept in.  Could I cycle far enough to complete my challenge?  Had I neglected the cycling and hiking elements and focussed too heavily on the paddle boarding element?

Jellyfish encounters

So, 4 days later I headed out on my bike, and cycled 107.5km.  From Cardiff to the Rhigos mountain, to Merthyr, and back to Cardiff.  Again, a massive tick in the confidence box, and enough to pacify the demons for another few days.  I guess you probably know what’s coming next…

A few days down the line, the demons had forced their way back in, and were running rings around me.  Would I be able to hike 15 peaks after paddle boarding and cycling???  Compared to the other 2 elements of my challenge, hiking is where my experience lies.  I completed some pretty hard trails and challenges whilst part of the Officer Training Corps, and the mountains have always been where I’ve felt at home.  But, the demons weren’t having it.

Next thing I know, I’m sat in Pen-Y-Pass car park at 04:30am on a Saturday morning, with a group of people that I’d never met, but who I’d get to know over the proceeding 20 hours.

Pen-Y-Pass car park – The start of the Welsh 3000s challenge

We completed peaks 1-3 on the Snowdon range, and descended into Nantperis to our first checkpoint, and then onto the Glyderau range.  Peak 4, Elidar Fawr, is a non-technical climb.  No scrambling or technical ability required in comparison to some of the other peaks, just a long hard slog of ascent.  It was at this point that I began to question my ability to complete the challenge.  Not because peak 4 was going to defeat me, I knew I could push through that, but because my chimp brain was running ahead of me.

Our human brains have a nasty habit of catastrophising in stressful situations.  This wasn’t about peak 4 at all, this was my mind creating beliefs that if I was struggling at this point, I would never make it to the end of the Welsh 3000s.  And if I couldn’t do that, what chance do I have for my challenge in August?

Sunset view from peak 13

I gave myself so many talking’s to on the ascent of peak 4.  I got into the root of why I was there and what this was all about.  My Ultimate Wales challenge has been about more than just training for the final adventure.  I dreamt it up with the intention of giving my adventures a purpose.  It’s been a fundraising project with an ethos behind it – to inspire and encourage more people to get outdoors, move, adventure, and explore this beautiful country.  It’s been about encouraging people to take control of their own health, both mental and physical.  And it’s been about my own self progression.

15 peaks in 19.5 hours, a 50km continuous journey, 4000m (13,000ft) of ascent, scrambling, sweating, laughing, blisters, burning knees… and the Welsh 3000s was complete!  I crawled into my tent with another big fat tick in the confidence box, and the confidence crushing demons left out in the cold.

The Welsh 3000s dream team

Next time you’re facing your peak 4, ask yourself why you are doing what you are doing.  That’s the way to get through a crisis of confidence.  You’ll touch on your core values, and remind yourself why the thing you are doing is important to you.  And if you’re ever facing the actual peak 4, turn around now, it’s flipping horrible! (But the view is well worth it!)

If you’ve enjoyed this post, I’d be eternally grateful if you could donate to my fundraising target.  Just £1 would make a huge difference in helping me to blow my target out of the water 🙂



Or, if you’d like to learn to paddle board, we still have spaces available on the next Intro to SUP fundraiser.  Get tickets here;


Winter SUP training in Cardiff

Cardiff Bay is the area of water created by the Cardiff Barrage, in the South of the city.  Supplied by two rivers, the Taff and the Ely, and blocked off from coastal tides by the barrage.  It’s a great area to explore by stand up paddle board (SUP), and a perfect place to start paddling for beginners.  It can also provide more sheltered areas than coastal locations – ideal for some winter SUP board training!

In early January, ready to kickstart 2018 with some Winter training, I packed my kit for a paddle boarding adventure in the bay.  Usually when I go on adventures I’m heading toward the coast, mountains, or lakes.  But within 15 minutes of leaving my house in Cardiff, I was sat outside Channel View leisure centre, eating a pot of porridge and waiting eagerly for the doors to open so I could pay my launch fee.  It costs £5 to launch from Channel View, and they give you a little pass to show anyone who might ask; I guess in case you get stopped by the harbour authority.


The water looked pretty calm, and there were several groups arriving with RIBs, or Rigid Inflatable Boats as it stands for (I can’t pretend I knew that – I’ve just googled “inflatable speed boats”)  They all knew each other, and I gathered that a day out on the water with boating friends was a regular thing for them.  Chatting to a few of these boat enthusiasts, I tried to sound like I knew exactly what I was doing.  But when I was assured by a skipper that there’d be plenty of helping hands on the water to rescue a damsel in distress if the weather turned, I realised that my cover may have been blown.

With no intention of ever needing to be rescued, but slightly reassured that should it go ‘tits up’ I wasn’t out there alone, I headed confidently down to the jetty.  Avoiding the swan poo, and the swans themselves for that matter, I paddled my way from the mouth of the river Taff, out toward the wider bay.

If I’m honest, I hadn’t decided how far I was going.  But, with one eye on the weather, and the other monitoring my energy levels, I headed across the water toward the barrage.  I’d always advise beginners to stay toward the edge, I’d also advise them to paddle at least in pairs.  But I’m not quite a beginner, and I also never take my own advice – so I went slap bang across the middle of the bay on my own – and it was awesome!

I turned just before getting to the barrage itself, and headed along the edge of the bay, back toward the mouth of the Taff.  The wind had picked up a little, and there was a bit more chop in the water.  I still managed to stop and get a few selfies with the GoPro, even though that meant floating back about 7 miles (slight exaggeration) whilst faffing with the camera.

I headed under the Cardiff Bay link road back toward Channel View, but I wasn’t done yet.  Leaving Channel View in the opposite direction takes you up the River Taff, and toward the Principality Stadium.  So, with plenty of energy still in the tank, that’s where I headed next.

I passed water taxis full of tourists travelling from Cardiff centre to the bay.  Paddling through two dark tunnels, I wondered how many rats could be swimming nearby!

I reached the Principality stadium before turning back down river.  The paddle back was leisurely, in fact there wasn’t that much paddling involved as I coasted down river.

I headed back to Channel View after what was a successful paddle session by all accounts, and only then did I realise how hungry I was!

If you want to see a snapshot of the action, check out my YouTube video…

If you’d like to try out paddle boarding, keep an eye on my website events page, Facebook, and Instagram for Introduction to SUP sessions which I’ll be hosting this spring, in association with South Wales SUP club.  If you are interested – pop me a message now via social media to register your interest.

If you have some SUP boarding experience, and would like to go out in Cardiff Bay, you can hire kit from Puravida Board Riders in Penarth – and please give me a shout if you’re looking for some company!