Total Pageviews

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Pony Path up Cader Idris

Walking with; Al

Cader Idris is reputed to be the second most popular mountain in Wales and at 893m it is a decent hike and one of the top twenty Welsh peaks heightwise. The name means "The Chair of Idris" and whilst there is some debate as to whom exactly Idris is, the accepted wisdom is that it refers to Idris the Giant, a 6th Century Welsh Warrior/Poet?King and semi-mythological figure. There are many associated myths and legends attached to the mountain including the belief that anyone spending the night on it will wake as either a madman or a poet. Cader is noted for it's typical glacial features including Llyn Cau, a classic glacial lake nestled below the summit. We had decided to take The Pony Path, probably the most popular route up, but with the weather already starting to close in it seemed to be a prudent choice.
The path starts by Ty Nant, a formidable and impressive stone farmhouse, and leads up alongside a stream through woodland and, at this time of year, many foxgloves. There are some magnificent Sweet Chestnut and we put up a Redstart as we left the trees and began the long zig zagging ascent up the flank of the mountain. The path moves from grass to rock and the climb is steady, but the sensational views down the valley provide ample excuse for "view stops". After a while the path reaches the ridge and then curves around and we followed a line of cairns up to a great viewpoint of Llyn Cau, well below us now and visible for only a short while before the cloud came in and masked it from our view. The cloud was already low and the final walk and scramble along the narrow ridge to the summit lacked views but felt like a decent achievement none-the-less. There is a shelter/bothy just below the summit and we shared lunch there with a very bold and handsome Herring Gull who scavenged for any crumbs that we dropped and generally kept a beady eye on us. We followed the same route down eventually emerging from the cloud into steady, persistent rain of the type that soaks you right through. The views on a clear day would be magnificent but it was a satisfying summit and as I had ascended it 25 years ago as a child, it was also a nostalgic peak to be climbing as probably the last one before my operation next week.
To view the full album please click on the link below;

A Wasdale Weekender

Walking with; Greg

Working on Saturdays and Sundays mean my weekends are now Mondays and Tuesdays and with an operation looming at the tail end of next week I was determined to make the most of my last week of freedom and full health. I'd decided to try a wild camp on the Monday night and then meet Greg on Tuesday for an ascent of Scafell Pike as a prelude to his attempt on the Three Peaks in a couple of weeks time (
I parked up at the Wasdale Head carpark after the fantastic drive along the shores of Wastwater, England's deepest lake. With the sun shining and barely any clouds in the sky it was easy to see why ITV viewers voted Wastwater "Britain's Favourite view". Walking away from the lake I turned in the opposite direction to the group heading towards England's highest mountain and climbed the bridleway above Wasdale Head Hall and soon hit the boggy moorland between Illgill Head and Hard Rigg. Ahead of me sat Burnmoor Tarn with the forboding (and reputedly haunted) lodge standing sentinel above it. The Lodge was built for hunting by Lord Leconfield in the latter half of the Nineteenth century and it looks pretty dilapidated and forboding nowadays! Whilst it looked like a reasonable spot for a wild camp I thought it might be a bit busy so after lunch at the foot of Hardrigg Gill, watching swallows dipping and swooping over the moor, I headed up behind the Lodge onto Boat How for some fantastic views back towards the Scafell Massif, down Miterdale and across to Eel Tarn. Deciding Eel Tarn looked like a decent camping spot I struck off across the marsh and tussock grass which made for slow progress before fording Whillan Beck and making slow, sweaty progress up to the Tarn. The name is apparently nothing to do with what might dwell in the waters but rather a bastardisation of "Evil Tarn" which apparently comes from the ancient Norse name. There were Black Headed Gulls nesting near the shore and Canada Geese and goslings on the water, not to mention Skylarks and numerous Bog Bean plants poking up above the surface. It is sandwiched between the beautifully named, Peelplace Noddle and Great Barrow which I eventually decided would be where I pitched my Vango Banshee for the night.
After brewing up and cooking tea on my trangia, I spent a very pleasant evening sitting in the sunshine reading my book (Last Orders by Graham Swift-recommended) and enjoying the views down to Eskdale and across to Harter Fell.
In spite of the beautifully sunny evening, about 4am I was woken up by the pitter patter of rain that rapidly increased in tempo and volume. I pulled my sleeping bag up over my head and hoped it would go away, but a couple of hours later I was taking down my tent in the rain with views of very little but cloud and a few disgruntled sheep! I headed down into Eskdale and followed the road which ran alongside the Eskdale-Ravenglass Railway, through the picturesque hamlet of Boot before reaching Eskdale Green where Greg was going to pick me up. A few delays here and there gave me time to peruse the village shop and the display of local history in St.Bega's church including the remarkable photos of Mary Fair. By the time Greg arrived the sky was blue and the clouds were scudding into the distance and the world felt like a good place to be! We crossed Lingmell Gill and began the climb, sweating and puffing our way up Brown Tongue and through the Hollow Stones under the stern gaze of Scafell Pike and the marginally smaller Scafell. There was a lot of traffic on the path but we eventually made the summit and were rewarded with a cooling breeze and 360 degree views taking in Buttermere, Styhead Tarn and Great Gable and away on the coast the hulking shape of Sellafield loomed large. The descent was quicker with more wonderful views of Wastwater, a buzzard circling overhead and as we got towards the bottom some welcome shade and splashes of cooling water from Lingmell Beck. Job done and "Good Luck" to all the 3 Peakers in two weeks time!
To see the full album please click on the link below;!/media/set/?set=oa.238573972928182&type=1

Thursday, June 14, 2012

A stroll on the Middlewood Way

Walking with; Nobody

A good walk doesn't ALWAYS have to involve ascending something big, rocky and sticking out of the ground! A gentle ramble through the Cheshire countryside along an old railway line and, sticking to the theme of genteel transportation, back along the Macclesfield Canal can be just what the body needs on a lazy, sultry Tuesday morning.
The Middlewood Way is a self designated linear park running along the old railway line from Macclesfield and ending in Marple. The link below describes a little about the history of the railway I parked in High Lane and descended the slope onto the Way and was immediately struck by the profusion of wild flowers, they were everywhere. There were rambling Dog Roses, some beautiful Foxgloves and the path was lined by Clover, Common Vetch, Forget-me-not and Cranesbill. There were bees and bumble bees darting in and out of the flowers and Dunnocks, Wrens, Swallows and Swifts swooping and flitting overhead and in the undergrowth. There were masses of thick Bramble patches and the Elder were starting to flower as they are in my back garden (nearly time to start harvesting for some elderflower champagne I think!). The path was reasonably well used with dog walkers and cyclists but in-between times, there was almost perfect peace and some gorgeous views of rural, agricultural Cheshire. There were horses running around the Buttercup meadows and sheep and lambs grazing quietly next to a thatched farmhouse. I meandered along to Marple where I fortified myself with a cup of coffee or two before deciding on a return along the canal. The route skirted the immaculately manicured fairways of Davenport golf course and avoiding flying balls I emerged on the canal and watched a couple of narrow boats puttering by and a mother Mallard gather her fluffy brood under her wings and eye me with a mistrustful expression. The walking on the footpath was easy and pleasant and I found my way back to High Lane in no time at all.
This was not a challenging or spectacular walk but it was a beautiful one and one anybody could manage. It was a welcome reminder that almost anywhere can be spectacular if you approach it with the right attitude!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Kinder Scout and Redbrook followed by Castleton Garland Day

Walking with; Nobody

Ewan MacColl's Manchester Rambler claimed to have "sunbathed on Kinder and been burned to a cinder", but given that my last two trips up there had involved zero visibility and blizzard like conditions I had my doubts. None-the-less I can now confirm that it is eminently possible to be fried on and around Kinder!
I set off from Edale and headed out past "The Nag's Head" and the start/end of The Pennine Way towards Grindsbrook. I've ascended up Grindsbrook Clough before and it's a stern but cracking route, but today I decided to take the shorter but steeper path leading up to The Nab. It was a short, sharp shock but I quickly passed Heardman's Plantation and found myself scrambling up onto Ringing Roger for some stunning views across the Vale of Edale to Rushup Edge, Mam Tor, Win Hill and beyond. The air was incredibly clear and it made the Peak District appear genuinely mountainous. After a chat with a German backpacker who was after a bit of local knowledge I continued up to the edge and headed along above Grindsbrook Clough passing Nether and Upper Tor before reaching the head of the Clough. From here the path pretty much follows the edge until Crowden Clough where I left the handrail of the cliff and headed into the featurless, moorland interior. I clambered and scrambled through groughs and peat cuttings and bog before losing the path altogether, sweaty and hot I headed off on a bearing West until I picked up the dry bed of Redbrook and followed it along to the edge where I stopped for a shady lunch and, despite being harassed by hungry sheep, enjoyed stunning views over the Kinder Reservoir and down towards Hayfield. I had originally planned to carry on round to William Clough, but Redbrook appealed and I decided to descend to the Reservoir via the (initially) dried up stream bed. It was a great descent, hopping from boulder to boulder in the sun, before crossing the brook and following the waters through a beautifully preserved patch of woodland towards the reservoir.
Not far shy of the water, the features on the ground no longer matched the features on my OS map and using my finely honed instinct I detoured above Kinder Head and decided to strike up the slope below The Three Knolls to make my way back to The Pennine Way. I had thought very steep but short would be better than flat but much longer, however by the time I had sweated, slipped and slid my way to the top I was no longer convinced by the wisdom of that particular decision. None-the-less I had made it and continued on past the Trig point to descend via Jacob's Ladder back into the Vale of Edale. The last mile and a quarter passed through farmland before a shaded lane led me back into Edale, pink, sweaty and knackered but very content.
Having completed my walk I headed over to Castleton for a restorative pint and the Garland Day celebrations. Garland Day is celebrated on May 29th which is known as Oak Apple Day, a commemoration of Charles the Second regaining the English throne. The Garland King and his consort parade around the village (conveniently visiting each of the pubs) before the garland is hauled up onto the church tower. The link below gives a lot more detail on the history of the occasion.

To see the full album for this walk please click on the link below;!/media/set/?set=oa.225834857535427&type=1