It’s as unedifying a spectacle as one is ever likely to witness: last Sunday at 5.30am, I was scrabbling around scantily clad in some Fred Flintstone boxer shorts, on a musty carpet in the Merthyr Tydfil Travelodge, picking up scattered Jelly Babies.

They had met their undignified end due to a bout of snoring initiated by my brother that I finally managed to block out at 3am. Having shouted at him and then tried to asphyxiate him with a pillow to no avail, the babies were to hand and they finally wove their magic after an orange one caught him straight in the left eye and left him floundering long enough for me to drop off the consciousness kerb. Having awoken with the prospect of an eight-hour hike across the Brecon Beacons, I realised had forgotten to pack breakfast, hence the scrabbling. Eating Jelly babies that taste of damp dog and with the odd human body hair matted to the torso is inadvisable, but needs must.

I had been talked into the trip. Having been to Merthyr many times mountain biking, the idea of hiking across the Brecons was not high on my bucket list. Most think of Wales as being a damp, soggy outpost, full of bright-cheeked locals. In truth, it is a damp, soggy outpost, full of bright cheeked locals.

I was expecting a nice leisurely stroll. Reality bit and the penny dropped once the walkie talkies and maps had been distributed and the first mountain rescue helicopter had taken a fly by. The first photo opportunity came a few miles in. Standing on a ledge in a force 10 gale and -4 temperatures, our hastily commandeered photographer, just as he snapped, asked if we knew that on the exact spot we stood, two hikers were killed by a random lightning bolt some time before. The truth of these escapades is that, on paper, they look like a fun day out for the alpha male of the family, but with lack of preparation you can be caught with your pants down and hypothermia as your new best friend.

Preparation is key. With waterproofs, base layers, breakfast bars and hydration bladder, spare phone chargers and someone who can read a map, risk is minimised but never extinguished, hence the sense of palpable achievement when arriving back at base car park as dusk fell. It is only then you realise the Sports Direct Gore-Tex boots are as waterproof as newspaper and blisters the size of your head are popping out to say guten Nachmittag. Food and drink taste better after such and endeavour and it is even sweeter in Wales, as it is not the tourist they enjoy fleecing.

The autopsy commences over the builder’s tea, with much discussion over why on earth a human being, despite hundreds of square miles of uninhabited wilderness, would stop and produce a huge stool sample 20 centimetres off the tourist track.

As for me: Did I hate it? Yes. Did I get cold and wet and miserable? Yes. Would I go again? Most definitely. To get away from it all without any semblance of humans, cars, technology and other daily distractions was a medicine that we all need to take to cure modern day ills. Next time I will make sure I look down a little more however, as you never know what unpleasant brownfield surprises you may walk into a little off the beaten track.

- Brett Ellis is a teacher who lives in London Colney