Juliette Bains: Terrifying Welsh wander left me longing for city life

A trip to the countryside taught me I'm definitely a city girl. PIC: PA

A trip to the countryside taught me I'm definitely a city girl. PIC: PA

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WITH THE wind howling around my ears, my fingernails digging into the hillside and my eyes squeezed shut, panic began to tighten its icy grip.

I made the mistake of opening one eye and glancing down, and immediately regretted it as I spotted that a tiny moss-covered rock underneath my flimsy Primark wellies was the only thing stopping me from plummeting hundreds of feet to a grisly demise.

In retrospect, my preparation for what I thought would be a relaxing trip to Wales had been less than ideal.

I’d always been more of a city break kind of person to be honest, but after being invited for a friend’s birthday, I jumped at the chance of getting out of town for a few days, imagining our 17-strong group would be holed up in a cosy cottage somewhere, drinking, playing games by the fire and eating till we burst.

I hadn’t taken into consideration, however, that there were a few keen walkers among the group, and that someone like me – who actively avoids most forms of exercise – would be expected to follow in their footsteps.

Even if those footsteps were 2,000ft up the side of a mountain.

If I’d have known this scenario would unfold, I might not have polished off that bottle of wine, quickly followed by a few jagerbombs, the night before.

And I might have thought twice about cancelling that gym membership. Maybe.

Alas, here I was, amongst the accomplished hikers and gym fanatics, when they suddenly decided to go off route and climb up their own steep path to the top.

Looking up from under the shadow of the beast we were about to scale, I was filled with dread, and was quickly left lagging behind.

And so it came to be that a pleasurable mid-afternoon amble in the Welsh countryside turned into a terrifying mountain hike, leaving me on the verge of a panic attack halfway up a hill the size of six Bridgewater Places (yes, I Googled it).

As I contemplated certain doom, I found myself longing for the streets of Leeds like never before.

I realised that all those people who moan about the city (you know who you are) need to get some perspective – Leeds may not be perfect but at least you’re not taking your life in your hands under the watchful eye of some sinister-looking sheep.

For someone more accustomed to spending Saturday afternoons in town, meeting a friend for lunch or chilling out on the sofa, it’s safe to say I was completely out of my comfort zone.

But as they say, the night is darkest just before the dawn and in this case it was my housemate who was my own personal ray of sunshine.

Where others left me to cope on my own, she took the time to gently encourage me to pull myself together and use my hands and feet to scramble up the steep slope to the top.

I made it, but not without someone pointing out that this ‘Girl About Town’ really was out of her depth in the countryside.

It was something I didn’t need to hear at the time, but which was wholly accurate.

Aside from the complete humiliation and embarrassment, and the pulled muscles in places I didn’t know I had muscles, in a way I’m glad it was a struggle.

The tortuous experience made me realise that not only does the friend in question have the patience of a saint, but my torment actually brought us closer together.

I always say how lucky we are to live in a city like Leeds, and that means more to me now than ever before.

From now on this ‘Girl About Town’ will be keeping her feet firmly on the ground.

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