Much Better Adventures’ friend and all-round legend Mike Wilson went to suss out our Via Ferrata and Hiking trip in the Western Carpathians, Romania, which The Independent calls "the next adventure capital". He came back with a bunch of photos, a few stories to tell and a newfound love for pig fat scrambled eggs. Here are just a few of his best bits…
After waking up and bags packed into the car we headed off to the Western Carpathians. The first stop was for breakfast which was a short hike up a hill and over this amazing meadow with beautiful blue skies. I have never seen so many colourful wildflowers and there was even a couple of classic Romanian haystacks on the way.
And this is the breakfast – homemade cheese, freshly boiled milk, homemade bread and butter, a meat selection and the most amazing scrambled eggs and pig fat. Yes, pig fat! I was unsure about this at first but it tastes great. The fat has been smoked and tastes just like having bits of bacon in your eggs!
On day three, after the crystal caves, we parked up and took a walk along a train track. Trains usually come every half hour, unfortunately, during our short walk we didn’t see any, but the view ahead of our next challenge – via ferrata – was our main focus anyway.
It’s straight up from here. I asked at the bottom how vertical the route is and the answer was it's 90% vertical! The route is amazing with plenty of rest spots on precarious ledges to take in the amazing views of the valley and even time for a few selfies.
The lifelines. The first rule of via ferrata, keep at least one line in contact with the via ferrata at all times. This seems like such an obvious thing to say when you’re climbing up a vertical cliff face but its surprising how quickly you get comfortable and have to double check you’re clipped in.
Hanging out at the last rest spot at the top, the instructor leaning out over the edge to keep an eye on the back of the group and any other climbers below. The helmets are essential – although this is a well-worn route there is still a risk of falling rocks!
As you hike through the woods, you start to hear the rushing water get louder and louder. Eventually, you get your first glimpse of this, a 100ft high cave. We followed the water down and had to hold on to some rusty old railings and steps to help us down. Once you get closer you quickly realise that the river just disappears into the cave and out of sight.
The view from above the cliffs surrounding the caves. Trees as far as the atmosphere was incredible, the low rising clouds made it seem as if the trees were smoking. It was a very rewarding view after climbing up out of one of the largest sinkholes we had explored.
The peat bog. An eerie opening in the dense forest. Damp peat squelches underfoot and you just need to watch out for the pools of collected water. Any of the trees that have managed to grow on the peat are either really small or have died, making it a very creepy place – it would be amazing to watch the stars here on a clear night.