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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

On top of Cheshire

Walking with; Nobody

The forecast for this week showed Tuesday as being the only rain free day, so bearing that in mind I decided to have a crack at Shining Tor which had long been on my list of "I'll get round to doing that one day........"hills. At 559m it is the highest point in Cheshire and affords great views of Shutlingsloe and the Cheshire plains. I set off from Tegg's Nose on The Gritstone Trail, bypassing the noisy dogs of the Windyway Kennels and Animal Sanctuary and was soon into that familiar Cheshire countryside problem of mud and barbed wire. The farmers of Cheshire seem pathologically fond of both barbed wire and churning up footpaths as much as possible, but my new Berghaus boots are made of stern stuff and I plodded onwards through the mud eventually making my way to the Berristal Road where I watched a nuthatch, a suitably festive Robin and a flock of Long Tailed Tits making the most of a well stocked bird feeder. Given that I've been unable to attract as much as a Sparrow to mine so far this winter I was rather envious and as I followed the road up to the isolated farm at Snipe House.
I carried on to Lamaload Reservoir and followed the track around it initially through Pine forest before climbing a little and following the shoreline round to the carpark and lonely looking abandoned building from where I watched a few Tufted Ducks on the water. Carrying on to Andrew's Edge the gradient increased and the ground underfoot became increasingly sodden, but with the fortitude of Bunyan's pilgrim I slogged onwards and reached the ridge to be rewarded with a flagged path that led me to the Shining Tor Trig point and a great spot for a gammon roll with a view to Shutlingsloe looking more Alpine than ever today! Regretting I didn't have time to pop into "The Cat and Fiddle" for a fireside pint I followed the permissive path down to Torgate Farm and through fields of inquisitive sheep before following Charity Lane back to bottom of Buxton Old Road and meandering my way back to Tegg's Nose.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Borrowdale......and snow!

Walking with; Nobody

Wainwright is allegedly described Borrowdale as "the loveliest square mile in the Lake District", it is also the wettest in terms of annual rainfall with the hamlet of Seathwaite taking the honours and receiving around 3.15 metres of rain a year! So, I couldn't really be surprised as I pulled into the carpark at Rosthwaite that the cloud was low and the rain starting to fall. I took the path across the fields towards the Youth Hostel where I was staying for the night before following the banks of the fast flowing Derwent towards the ominously named "Jaws of Borrowdale". It got wetter. By the time I started the ascent of Castle Crag,(the smallest Wainwright and the only one under 1000 feet), picking my way through the leafless skeletons of the trees the rain was bouncing off my hood, off the branches and even the Robins were looking for shelter in the Holly. Small it maybe, but Castle Crags is steep and by the time I had made my way through the slate workings and up the wiggles to the War Memorial on the summit I was breathing hard. There was still enough of a view to make the effort worthwhile. Ahead through the cloud lay the village of Grange and Derwentwater and below me Borrowdale lay bisected by the Derwent.
I descended onto a section of the Allerdale Ramble, a 54 mile route running from Seathwaite to the coast at Grune Point and followed it's gentle route until I reached the tumbling waters of Tongue Gill where I headed uphill through the ruins of Rigghead Quarry, atmospherically spooky as the light levels dropped, and onto the plateau of High Scawdell. In front of me Dale Head was blanketed in snow and looked magnificent. High Scawdell was covered in a scruffy layer of light snow which crunched underfoot as I made my way across to the partially frozen Launchy Tarn before the vertiginous descent down Scaleclose Gill back to the Allerdale Ramble which I followed down into Seatoller before retracing my steps back to Rosthwaite and The Scafell Hotel where a pint in front of an open fire helped to dry out my gear! Bed for the night was at the Borrowdale Youth Hostel, where I made the most ofanother fire and another pint or two!
   It was minus three when I left the hostel full of porridge and a full English, but the sky was blue and there was not a cloud in sight. Wasdale Head always feels remote, but although Seathwaite has many nearer geographical neighbours it really feels extremely remote and must be a rough place to Winter.The path leads away from the hamlet with Base Brown and Glaramara towering on either side and both tops were well dusted with snow. Crossing Grains Gill at Stockley Bridge which afforded excellent views of Taylorgill Force, the icy path looped round Greenhow Knott before following Styhead Gill up to the eponymous tarn. The snow on Green and Great Gables looked beautiful in the sunshine but until the tarn was reached there wasn't much underfoot and with almost nobody else around and the sun warm if weak, it was a grand spot for a coffee and flapjack! Leaving Styhead I continued on through deepening snow up to Sprinkling Tarn and then onwards to the foot of Allen Crags. I'd considered heading over to Glaramara but the snow was getting ever deeper (I was passed by a couple pushing on further up complete with skis) and so after snapping a few more Scott of the Antarctic style photos of footprints in virgin snow, I dropped back down to the summit of Seathwaite Fell for lunch and to drink in the views.
Snow makes everything seem more adventurous, turns a walk into a trek, makes you feel as if you are pushing the boundaries and makes an amazing landscape, yet more amazing. It envelops the countryside in silence and yesterday there was nowhere else I'd rather have been!

To view the full album please click on the link below;

Friday, November 30, 2012

A Canalside amble

Walking with; Nobody

A combination of family weddings and man flu have meant not much in the way of walking lately and, on the rare occasion I've been free, not a great deal of energy to climb tall, pointy things. The beauty of walking however is, of course, you can do it anywhere, and there is a lot of pleasure to be gained from doing little more than strolling along a canal tow path and drinking in the beautiful Autumn colours of the Cheshire countryside!
Setting off from Hawk Green I was soon on the banks of the Peak Forest canal communing with the ducks and the geese and keeping pace with the odd long boat puttering by trailing wood smoke! Overhead there were two gaggles of one hundred plus Canada Geese heading South honking away as they went and the hedgerows were alive with Robins and Finches. The canal which opened in 1796 was once a major industrial route used to transport limestone from Dove Holes but today seems to be the habitat of Cheshire set dog walkers! I passed the Higgins Clough swing bridge before the path swung away from the canal and into Disley. Disley has two of the "golden" post boxes to represent the husband and wife Paralympian gold medalists who live in the village, Sarah and Barney Storey.
I headed into Lyme Park for a bit of lunch and to make the most of the beautiful Autumn colours under the bluest of skies before continuing on through increasingly muddy fields towards the Macclesfield canal, putting up a magnificent male pheasant on the way.
There was nothing spectacular about today's walk, but neither did there need to be. I can't wait to head back to the Lakes next week (man flu permitting!) but it won't be long before a pleasant amble along a canal will be on my agenda again!

To see the full album please click on the link below;!/media/set/?set=oa.300191240099788&type=1

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Tryfan and the Glyders

Walking with; Al

A last warm up walk before heading off on my Mountain Leader Training course and what a cracking day it proved to be. Tryfan is one of those iconic mountains that really look the part, the Matterhornesque summit of the type that kids sketch when asked to draw a mountain. Tryfan is the fifteenth highest mountain in Wales at 915 metres and is topped by the twin rocks of Adam and Eve, neither Al nor I nor any of the other sumiteers whilst we were there attempted the leap between these two biblically named pillars and I tip my hat in salute to those of you brave enough to have done this.
We set off from Llyn Idwal and soon began the climb/scramble up the North face. Whilst there is theoretically a path it wasn't long before we had given up following it and as we picked our way through the rocks and gulleys it was easy to see how in poor visibility it could prove to be tricky. We found the Cannon Stone and posed for an obligatory photo although the rock is now worn smooth and there isn't a lot of grip left, so instead of noble "yonder, the Ogwen valley" shots, mine looks like a drowning man clinging to a life raft! We continued to pick our way through gullies, scree slopes and up the odd body contorting scramble until we reached the top, Adam and Eve and some spectacular 360 degree views to enjoy with a coffee and flapjack!
Looking across to Glyder Fach the unpromising scree slopes threatened an arduous, strength sapping ascent, but as we dropped into Bwlch Tryfan a fellow walker suggested Bristly Ridge as a more interesting route. Wow!! One of the highlights of this busy year in the hills and mountains. describes Bristly Ridge as "an absolute classic scramble, the best Grade 1 in Wales without any doubt", and who am I to disagree........It was a truly exhilirating half hour or so, nerve racking, exciting, challenging and fun and I emerged onto the wind blasted summit of Glyder Fach grinning like an overdosed adrenalin addict. The name Glyder is believed to be derived from the Welsh word gludair meaning heap of stones and the exposed summit is strewn with rocks not least the Cantilever Stone (another essential photo stop) and the spectacular formation of Castell Y Gwynt or the Castle of the Winds, both these features were used in the Disney film "Dragonslayer" and certainly the place has a fantastical feel to it. Circumventing the Castle we headed onto Glyder Fawr, our highest peak of the day which our map told us was an agonising 999 metres, however in late 2010 it was resurveyed and is now believed to top out at 1000.8 metres! Either way it is the fifth highest peak in Wales and whilst not as pretty as it's sister still affords incredible views across to Angelsey.
Our descent from here was hard on the knees, skidding down the scree towards Llyn Y Cwn and then taking The Devil's Kitchen path down towards Llyn Idwal. By the time we got to the bottom the clouds were scudding across the top of Tryfan and it was fantastic to be able to trace our whole route behind us. Definitely one of the best days our of the year so far!!!!

To view the full album please click on the link below;!/media/set/?set=oa.292351124217133&type=1

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Mountain Leader Training

Off on my Mountain Leader Training on Saturday morning with Thornbridge Outdoors. Five days in the Peak District and an overnight expedition in Snowdonia! Should be an interesting and challenging couple of days!

Well that's training completed and it was a challenge but brilliant in spite of the worst weather that The Peak District and Snowdonia could throw at us, including eight hours of solid rain on the Kinder Plateau and snow, hail and a torrential deluge on our overnight expedition on Snowdon!!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Some photos from walking trips in the past!

Given that I haven't been able to get out over the last two weeks I have fallen back on some reminiscing on walks completed in the times!

In Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

At the end of the Coast to Coast walk!

On top of Half Dome, Yosemite, California

On the Col Di Bos in the Italian Dolomites

Watendlath Beck Falls

On top of Snowdon during our Three Peaks Challenge

Cathedral Cove, Coromadel, New Zealand on a wet and wild day!

A walk in the French countryside near Duras

Campsite as Joshua Tree National Park ahead of Mammoth Peak hike

Jungle trekking in Fiji, near Pacific Harbour

Blue skies on top of Kinder Scout

Exploring The Pinnacles, Cervantes, Western Australia

Cooling down in Yanchep

Climber's window in St Olaf's Church, Wasdale Head

Wild campsite above Eel Tarn

Bryce Canyon from the Rim walk

Relaxing at Mariposa Grove

Finding some shade on the Half Dome trek

Walking near Gunung Brinchang in the Cameron Highlands, Malaysia

On Carlton Moor during my C2C

Taking on liquid at The Bluebell Inn, Ingleby Cross

Coast to Coast done!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Fairfield Horseshoe

Walking with; Nobody

After a night at Elterwater YHA (great staff and breakfast) I headed over to Ambleside and parked up before following the A591 along to Rydal. The path climbed out of the village and past Rydal Mount, the historic home of Lakeland poet William Wordsworth. The walk up to Nab Scar zig zagged across the hillside but as I gained height the views across to Windermere began to open out and I knew I was going to be in for a cracking day. The route essentially follows a long ridge that sits high above the valleys on either side and from Nab Scar the path took me along to Heron Pike. At this stage the sun was still shining and though Fairfield itself remained in the cloud the rest of the horseshoe opened up in glorious sunshine. The views took in Rydal Beck,Windermere, Rydal Water, Grasmere (where Wordsworth is buried) and endless miles of rolling hills, tarns and rivers, not to mention the incredible dry stone walls on the slopes of Low and High Pike on the opposite side. The last few weeks have proved to me that the Lake District is the equal of anywhere in the world, I have sat and gazed at spectacular vistas in Yosemite, the Dolomites, the Sourhern Alps and the Pyrenees but when the Lakes gets it right, it can hold a candle to any of them.
I pressed onwards onto Great Rigg and as I descended ahead of the last slog onto Fairfield's cloud hidden summit the rain hit. It was the kind of wind driven rain that stings the cheeks and the gusts blowing across the ridge made for a wearying final few hundred metres. The summit was completely enveloped in cloud and could be quite disorientating without a compass, none the less I made the top and sought a little shelter from the wind behind a pile of rocks where I met a Scottish lady doing much the same thing! Heading East off the summit and ontowards Dove Crag the clouds cleared a little. The rest of the route follows an incredible dry stone wall for at least three miles, this helps with navigation but also acts as a reminder of the long standing nature of farming in the area that has shaped the landscape we see from this spectacular route. There were equally impressive examples on the steep solpes of Red Screes as the rocky path continued downhill through various peat bogs on it's long, slow way back to Ambleside. Eventually you emerge on the campus of the University of Cumbria before popping out almost opposite the excellent "The Golden Rule" pub for a well earned pint of Robinson's Double Hop.
This route truly is a lakeland classic and combines sensational views with a satisfying amount of challenge. It also includes eight Wainwrights so is a good one for peak baggers/collectors!

To view the full album, please click on the link below;!/media/set/?id=718985691&tid=136991043086476&skipClustering=true&qn=556dfb3460222186986800a0059df563&success=17&failure=0&set=oa.281001475352098

Monday, October 8, 2012

A Langdale Round involving lots of Pikes and Stickles

Walking with; Nobody

Definition of PIKE

dialect English
: a mountain or hill having a peaked summit —used especially in place names

Origin of PIKE

Middle English, perhaps of Scandinavian origin; akin to Norwegian dialect pīk pointed mountain
First Known Use: 13th century

As I sat in Windermere Youth Hostel trying to drown out the din of a school group involved in noisily debating the merits of their quiz answers, I poured myself a glass of Jennings fine Cockerhoop beer and fell to reading, as one does in these situations, an ancient back edition of "TGO" or "Trail". A feature caught my eye on the differing names for mountains in the different parts of the UK and I read on intrigued by the world of Fells, Pikes and Tors. It hardened my resolve to visit Langdale the next morning and take in a round including both the Pikes of Blisco and Stickle!
   I parked at Blea Tarn and managed to time my setting off to perfectly coincide with a shower, but the views back to the Pike of Stickle were already spectacular. Striking off towards the Wrynose Pass the ground was sodden and water was running off the mountain but as I climbed the road I emerged out of cloud as I started to ascend the back of Blisco. The cloud inversion was spectacular, one of the best I've ever seen (up there with Alp D'Huez and the Queen Charlotte Track in NZ) and once I was through it the Pike of Blisco sat bathed in sunlight. The wind on the top was strong and chill so after a brief consultation with the map I left my fellow summmit baggers and descended to Red Tarn and then down, down and still further down in the shadow of Great Knott to the valley floor where my screaming knees were finally rested. I proceded into Mickleden and began the long, slow ascent up Stake Pass where I stopped for refuelling with a great view of Blisco across the valley. I continued on to Martcrag Moor, defined by Wainwright as demarcating the edge of the Central Fells and, today (and I suspect everyday), very heavy underfoot. As I tramped ever forward I was met with more rain and then a rainbow as I climbed up towards the Pike of Stickle. The rain had left the rock very greasy and a few would-be summiters were turning back but I slid and scrambled and as much by luck as judgement ended up alone on the top with views of my whole route so far and onto Windermere in the distance.
 Harrison Stickle awaited and then onwards downhill, with more creaking knees, to Stickle Tarn, sat in the magnificent shadow of Pavey Arc. The path down Stickle Ghyll showcased a pair of Raven and some beautiful, vibrant Rowan berries but was very slippery and I was glad to reach Langdale and the Dungeon Ghylls once more. Tempted as I was by a pint in either of the esteemed hotels I pressed on below Side Pike and back along the atmospheric shores of the tarn. Post walk refreshment had to wait until "The Britannia Inn" in Elterwater, but the wait was very well worth it!

To view the full photo album please click on the link below;!/media/set/?set=oa.279299808855598&type=1

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Lakelands Suggestions please

Hi folks, I am off to the Lakes for a couple of nights......forecast is pretty rotten but I am up for some serious walking. Looking for suggestions for the best walk in the Langdales? Also, a good walk out of Ambleside.....and finally, anything worth doing from Troutbeck or in that general neck of the woods? Any suggestions greatfully received. Thanks

Monday, October 1, 2012

The Todmorden Centenary Way

Walking with; Nobody

The good folk of Yorkshire must have done something to upset the almighty given the almost Biblical deluge that they'd been on the end of over the last week, none-the-less that was where I headed last week with the express intention of getting a few miles in my legs. I stayed in the Mankinholes YHA, a cosy hostel set in a 16th Century manor house and a mere five minute walk from the excellent Top Brink Inn where photos of hardy looking Yorkshire farmers and horse brasses adorn the walls. Lumbutts, the neighbouring hamlet, has a magnificent Methodist chapel and John Wesley was once a regular visitor to the area where he preached to the locals.
The Todmorden Centenary Way is a 20 mile footpath created to commemorate the granting of Borough status to the area. With the walk in and out from Mankinholes and the occasional, ahem, detour, I reckon I ended the day with 23 miles under my belt which I think is probably my longest day of walking......there or thereabouts anyway! The walk up to Stoodley Pike set the tone for the rest of the day, muddy and wet underfoot and grey and squally overhead, yuck! I climbed up to Stoodley Pike and admired the view of cloud, cloud and a little more cloud! The monument on the Pike was completed in 1856 to commemorate the end of the Crimean War. It was designed by James Green and replaced a previous monument that was destroyed by lightening. It is certainly a spectacular spot and with the cloud and mist swirling around had a distinctly ghostly feel. I continued along The Pennine Way squelching through the puddles and moving in and out of cloud until I reached the vast expanse of Warland Reservoir where the rain set far, so good! Walking off the moor into Warland, I crossed the A6033 and past the Steanor Bottom Toll House before heading up the abandoned Calderbrook Road. The road had a kind of post-apocalyptic air to it as nature had taken hold and there were rabbits, squirrels and kestrels not to mention plenty of blackberries and wild roses.
The landscape round here is wild but man's stamp is very clear. Everywhere there is evidence of old mine workings, abandoned buildings, the inexorable column of electricity pylons and in the distance wind turbines slowly turning and dominating the landscape. None-the-less, the moorlands feel wild, exposed, barren and untamed and in 23 miles of walking I only met two other people, not something you could often say in the Lake District! I passed the Allescholes farms and headed up to the ruined farm at Ramsden at the South West end of Carberry Dam. The moors past here grew wilder and more mine workings and ruined buildings gave a real feeling of desolation. The wildlife clearly flourishes here and I saw Kestrels, Meadow Pippits and a flock of the very rare Twite, a real bonus! More moorland walking took me into Cornholme (the only place on the route with a pub as far as I could see) before another ascent led me over the Whirlaw Stones and opened up great views back across the valley to Stoodley Pike.
The last section of the walk took me down through Beech woodland and along the Rochdale canal before climbing through the woodland of Stoodley Glen and back to the villages of Harvelin Park and Stoodley. As I climbed back onto the Pennine Bridleway for the last mile back to Mankinholes the heavens opened for the last time and I arrived back at the hostel bedraggled, footsore but feeling very satisfied at the completion of a job well done.

To see the full photo album, please click on the link below;!/media/set/?set=oa.277191782399734&type=1

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Win Hill before work

Walking with; Nobody

Starting work at 4pm on a Saturday when your good lady is away taking in the sea air of Whitby and the blue skies and crisp air make for perfect rugby playing conditions is not a prospect to gladden the heart. It does, however, provide ample time for a pre-shift walk and on a perfect Autumnal Saturday it would have been criminally neglectful not to stretch my legs a little. Days like today are the ones you bank to keep you going on rain lashed, misty tramps up Black Hill in November, days that inspire and remind you just why it is that we get out there in the first place.
Win Hill has long been a favourite haunt of mine, back in my carless days when the Hope Valley rail line was my best way of accessing the Peak District, it was the first hill I climbed in this area. Like Mam Tor it provides real "bang for your buck", a short, if very steep, climb is rewarded with 360 degree views of a truly spectacular nature from the 462 metre summit. To the North is Ladybower Reservoir whilst the ridge running North West links it to Kinder Scout. The ridge is crossed by the old Roman road near the Hope Cross marker post.Legend has it that the name derives from a battle in 626 when a force of numerically inferior Northumbrians defeated the forces of Wessex and Mercia, though there is little evidence to substantiate this and it is probably best regarded as myth.
Leaving the Thirteenth century church of St Peter's I headed off down the Edale Road before ducking under the railway line and starting the climb to Twitchell's Farm. The slope rises steeply and by the time I passed the well situated holiday cottages I had fine views along the Great Ridge to the paragliders on Mam Tor and back to Winnat's Pass (newly famous from the Olympics!) The heather had nearly gone, but there were still patches of vivid purple as I climbed up to the "pimple", the distinctive summit of Win Hill which was crowded with bikers and hikers. The views were superb in all directions and a 30 second hop from the Trig Point provided a little more tranquility.
Rested and refreshed by the views over the reservoir I headed back along the ridge towards Lose Hill. The sun was shining, sky was blue and if I hadn't had to head off to work it would have been a beautiful day to carry on over Lose Hill and onto Mam Tor, still it wasn't to be and I picked one of the paths leading back down to Hope for a slice of Yorkshire Curd tart and a coffee at The Courtyard cafe before clocking in for the evening!