Archive for May 2012

Nether Wasdale Gathering – Day 2 and 3 Wast Water Wandering   4 comments

After the Pillar day out I felt obliged to spend some quality time with kids and friends in the campsite – or more correctly the weather looked crap and I couldn’t be bothered with a long walk. The campsite is a great place to spend some quiet time. It’s not crowded, the facilities are excellent and the views across the fields to Buckbarrow in particular are majestic. There are a few photos below of the kids at play, the campsite and the moon on the first night to give a flavour as my “rest day” was less than photogenic (for the moment – that would change).

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L swings in the moonlight

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Moonlight

TYG, HMB and GM went for a fell run and for a time the weather looked pretty awful and it even sleeted at campsite level. We let the kids play (they don’t seem to notice the poor weather) and we chatted over several brews.

After lunch the weather looked a little brighter so we agreed that some kids would walk to Wast Water (they all seemed keen to see it) while the rest would set off later, drive there and walk back, collecting the cars later. Inspired move.

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ED gazing at Wast Water

As the afternoon moved on the sun came out, first fleetingly and then in full bloom by the time we reached the lake shore.

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Classic Wasdale

I’ve never stopped at this particular spot before and whilst it’s a little crowded the situation and views are superb and the kids have rocks to climb on and a stream to play in. Rather than head back the adults sunned themselves on the rocks while the kids played. This is what childcare is about.

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Simple pleasures

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Lazy pleasures

It was still a couple of miles back to the campsite and there was tea to be cooked so most of us headed back.

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Walking the lake shore

The walk along the lake shore was cracking with the classic views across to the Wasdale screes and up the valley towards Great Gable and Kirk Fell. The walk was enhanced by watching some scuba divers emerge from the dark but exceptionally clear water.

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More classic Wasdale

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S poses for the camera

As you leave the lake behind there are a choice of routes across the fields back to the campsite all enchanting in their own way. I’m not sure whether it’s just been the clarity of the light in the last couple of years or the time of year but the fields seem to be the greenest I’ve ever seen. I haven’t touched up these photos so hopefully you can see what I mean.

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Green green grass

We passed goats, pigs, small tarns and green lanes before you emerge onto the wide open fields above the campsite with stupendous views right across Wasdale. Buckbarrow is the one that catches my eye and from both below and on it (we climbed it last year) it’s one of my favourite Lakeland summits.

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Buckbarrow

We headed back to the campsite to cook tea and enjoy the now cloudless but ever cooling evening that delivered another frosty cold night.

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Chapel Stile campsite

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Evening sunshine

The final day was windy and threatening and it seemed a race against time to get my huge family tent taken down before it got wet. A race we won I’m pleased to say. A few of us decided to go for a short walk across the fields before the long drive home but the threat of heavy rain was always in the air so we headed back after an hour, said our fond farewells and headed home.

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Wasdale mud

Another cracking weekend with our little posse and the weather was pretty kind to us in the end. In fact the worst of the weather was while I was unpacking the car when I got home – a right soaking

I’ll leave this weekend with my musical ensemble and for no better reason than he’s my favourite comedian here is the first of several dead-pan one liners that will be decorating my blog from the weird and wonderful Steven Wright:

“Everywhere is walking distance if you have the time.”

or

“I bought some batteries… but they weren’t included… so I had to buy them again…”

Nether Wasdale Gathering – Day 1, Pillar   6 comments

It was that time of year, time for the annual May Day gathering of the old Manchester University Class of 86/78 etc and accompanying families. The Tartan was washed, old stories dusted down and rehearsed and we were ready to go. After last years epic weekend it was a done deal that we were to return to Chapel Stile in Nether Wasdale. As lovely a “proper” campsite as you can get and as it’s slightly away from the main walking areas, reasonably quiet and unspoilt. To be honest I wasn’t looking forward to it as much as usual. The weather the previous few weeks had been so appalling that I wasn’t really enthused with the idea of spending a weekend cooped up in a tent with some grumpy kids (and a grumpy Jane). I need not have worried, whilst it was unseasonably cold at night with frosts there was plenty of sunshine on hand and little rain. The kids as always disappeared off to play and I barely saw them all weekend. Gave me a chance for some proper Lake District walking.

I’d seen a blog post recently about the High Level Traverse on Pillar – I’d not been up that way for several years so I thought it was time for a revisit

8.1 miles, 3,900 feet of ascent

After a leisurely breakfast and extended period of faffing about we were ready to set off. We convinced ED that he should join us although having been out of action for the past few months with a damaged Achilles he wan’t suer he could keep up. In the end he was in fine shape and only a daft and unnecessary steep descent caused him any grief. The eponymous Uncle Fester also joined us together with GM and S to make a happy gang of 5 setting of at the early hour of 11:30

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Kirk Fell & Great Gable

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Mosedale Beck

We parked up just south of the Wasdale Head and enjoyed the first stroll along the river under blue skies but a keen and cold wind. Me and GM decided it was time to air the winter whites of our legs which makes the weather look somewhat warmer than in fact it was. Still it was great to feel the sun after weeks of rain and we lapped up the delights of Mosedale in the morning – sorry, afternoon – warmth.

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Mosedale, Scafell behind

As we approached Black Sail pass the path crosses the stream and makes an ideal first lunch stop. I took out my little Jetboil for a brew while ED assembled his portable range cooker. I didn’t know gas burners came that big! As always lunch was an epic affair – we just don’t believe in a basic fuel stop. Out of the wind it was warm so make the most I say.

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Lunch over time to move on

As always there were hills – well, hill to be climbed. Nice thing about Black Sail pass is the ascent is gradual with no steep slopes so you can plod upwards, chat and take in the views. On reaching the pass the views north and west were stunning, across to the Buttermere Fells and Ennerdale and Skiddaw and around to Hellvellyn.

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High Stile from Black Sail

From here a broad ridge climbs steadily to the summit of Pillar but we had a different objective. After climbing a short distance up the ridge a cairn marks the spot where the famous Pillar High Level Traverse leads off. A stunning narrow path that weaves amongst the northern crags of the mountain.

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Start of the high level traverse

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UF, Great Gable behind

The first few hundred yards are pretty eroded but it’s passable with care and eventually becomes a glorious easy walk amongst stupendous rock scenery. We did at one point lose the path that involved a greasy slimy down scramble for those too lazy to re-trace steps with the downside of a soggy bottom balanced by finding a nice icicle to play with (cue the usual SnS comment that Bruce Willis once killed someone with an icicle in a Die Hard movie)

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“…..and then he stabbed him like this”

The path continues to the prominent Robinson’s Cairn where the hardy are treated to one of Lakelands treasure views – Pillar Rock. Set in amongst dramatic crags it’s a fabulous place, almost feels manufactured for perfection.

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Pillar Rock from Robinsons Cairn

The sun was out and we were out of the wind, only one thing to do.

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” Lunch II – this time they mean business!”

I brewed up while ED launched the Space Shuttle and we settled down for another long stop. We were slighty bewildered by a couple of walkers deep in conversation who walked pretty much right through us almost treading on my sandwiches without so much as a “Hi” – where does this rate in hill etiquette I wonder. Onward and upward, we left our new friends behind with a slightly OTT cheery ta-ta (their turn to look slightly bewildered) and heading into the magnificent rock amphitheatre that holds Pillar rock.

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ED & UF on the traverse to Pillar Rock

The path traverses a broad rocky ledge that gives a real mountaineering flavour without ever being difficult, to reach the narrow neck between the rock and the crags behind.

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The ledge

GM gave us all some sport by climbing the little fore-peak of Pisgah while we tried to spot the famous Slab and Notch route to the top without success.

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GM showing off

From here its a steep walk/scramble to the top with some superb situations and views emerging dramatically on the vast summit plateau with a spread of grass large enough play a footy match on (your turn to fetch the ball).

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GM nearing the summit

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S on the skyline

The views were magnificent with the Isle of Man holding centre stage like a battleship ready for war in the Irish Sea.

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S poses on the summit

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Isle of Man

We didn’t linger as it was busy – Pillar is one of Lakelands finest and unsurprisingly popular – and as it was 4:30pm (we’d promised to be back by 4pm) we though we’d better head off. The day finished with a pleasant stroll along Pillars west ridge and an unecessary descent of some ludicrously steep grass to cut off the corner as alluded to earlier. The walk back along Mosedale in the evening sun was enchanting as we picked out wild camping spots.

Back to the campsite for that peculiarly British occupation of BBQ outdoors even though it’s freezing cold as we’ve bloody well brought the stuff so were going to enjoy it – right!

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“In the summer-time, when the weathers fine……”

You can read ED’s account of the day here and there are more Wasdale adventures to follow in the next post. For now enjoy the musical photo ensemble

Overlooked – Llandeilo Hill and Aberedw   10 comments

Time to play blog catch-up again! This one is from several weeks back. Sitting in the current heat wave planning a sunny afternoon around the BBQ its kind of hard to recall that this walk was in the middle of the spell of horrendous wet weather in April. I had the day to myself while Jane took the kids to a party and although it was sunny when I got up by the time I was ready to go the storm clouds were gathering.

I was heading for a large group of hills tucked away to the north of the Brecons and Black Mountains. I’d noticed them on the map and seen a few references to them on the blogs I read but as they are all less than 2000 feet they get little attention in guidebooks and the like. It looks like there are several days worth of walking but for today I’d chosen a walk around Aberedw onto Llandeilo Hill and back along the river.

10.7 Miles, 2,000 feet of ascent

As I drove west the weather was appalling, dark clouds and heavy rain and little sign of an improvement. I figured if didn’t change I could just do a short explore of crags of Aberedw Rocks and head down early. As I reached Aberedw and parked up the rain stopped and there was some semblance of brightness. As it turned out my general good luck with the weather of late stayed with me and I only had one light shower all day with all the dark stormy stuff hugging the higher mountains.

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Looking NE from Aberedw Rocks

The walk up to the crags is supposed to take you past Llewellyns cave but I never found it. Once up on the top its a wide open common heathland landscape with several tiers of slate edges and small tarns, really quite charming and a great place for a summer evening stroll.

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Aberedw Rocks

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Llandeilo Hill

Today it was cold and windy with masses of dark brooding storm clouds all around but I was in a clear spot. There didn’t seem to anyone about so it felt as if I had the whole area to myself which is always nice.

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Stormy Weather

The walk along Llandeilo Hill was on a green path at a steady angle that makes for superb easy strolling and I could just eat up the miles taking in the expansive views of these hills. There seemed to be hills and valleys everywhere and more routes than you could shake a stick at. It’s my favourite past-time while out walking, looking at possible routes, dragging the map out, checking the possible paths and access.

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Tarn on Llandeilo Hill

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Across the Aberedw Valley

The time just flew by as I strode onwards to Cradle Rocks. It was tempting just to carry on but I needed some lunch and whilst it was still bright it was cold and windy. I decided to head on the long traversing, gently downhill, path towards the road.

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Traversing descent path

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Looking towards Gilwern and Gwaunceste Hills

I eventually found a sheltered spot for a brew of tea and some lunch which unfortunately coincided with the only heavy shower of the day – with a bit of hail mixed in. I hurried to pack up and get moving and as I’m sure you’ve guessed, within seconds the rain/hail stopped and the sun came out!

My map showed a right of way pretty much all along the valley floor on the north bank. It wasn’t signed from the road and true to form there was no sign of a path or any stiles to cross the many fences although the few hundred sheep that followed me across the first field seemed confident in my route finding abilities. It was a pleasant amble across the fields and barbed wire but I always felt I was one wrong move from an angry farmers gun.

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Aberedw valley

I reached the small chapel at road junction and decided to use the road for the next section. As I wandered down the road (not much of a hardship as there wasn’t any traffic) I could see the path on the other side well-marked and with stiles over all the walls and fences. Frustrated I noted a bridge over the river a couple of miles along where I could cross and pick up the last stretch of path back to Aberedw. En-route the road passes through a broad grassy area by the river which is perfect for a summer picnic.

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Picnic spot by the river

When I reached the spot where the bridge was supposed to be some kind person had built a rather nice house over the access road and demolished it! I had no choice but to finish the rest of walk along the road back into Aberedw. Just my luck to walk the section with no trace of a path and miss out the section that was well-marked.

Still it was a great day and a fine first visit to these little known hills and ultimately quite a long walk. A little care is required in picking a route but well worth the effort, the views are expansive the walking on the tops at least is easy and rewarding. Enjoy my usual musical photo extravaganza

Coppet Hill   2 comments

Oh dear, a long way behind with my blog again. Lots to catch up on with a little trip into the little known hills west of Builth Wells, a trip to Wasdale and an ascent of Pillar and cracking birthday weekend in Snowdonia. While I get around to editing some slide shows and writing up the thrills and spills here’s a few photos, words and a little Flickr slide show of a recent family trip up Coppet Hill near Goodrich.

It’s a stunning little hill perched above a massive meander in the river Wye between Goodrich and Symonds Yat. The latter is a busy tourist fleshpot but this hill is mercifully quiet and unspoilt with expansive views over the Herefordshire countryside.

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Coppet Hill and Herefordshire countryside

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Kerne Bridge

It’s a fine place for a family stroll across the open ridge and down through woods which we hoped would be carpeted with bluebells but it was just a little early. You descend sharply down to the sharp-point of the meander before returning along the fields at the bottom of the hill.

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On the banks of the Wye

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Across the meadows

The last time I’d been here with D on a summer walk the Wye was high and chocolate-brown. This time it looked as if you could almost wade across. This was to prove the calm before the storms as over the next week the river rose to bursting point in the latter half of April and has only just returned to normal.

We managed to find a sheltered spot in the grass for a customary brew, watching the kayakers on the river (must get round to a canoe trip with the kids on my local river sometime) before heading home.

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Afternoon tea

A fine walk on a cold spring day close to home, a little stocking filler between the adventure on Rum and the walks to follow

Posted May 14, 2012 by surfnslide in Local Walks, Walking, Wye Valley

Tagged with , ,

Homeward Bound – Rum, Easter 2012 Part 4   10 comments

It was time to head home after a cracking few days. We had an idea on the previous evening to set off early and climb some hills but we stayed in character and got up late. After packing up we intended to walk back along the track to Kinloch. GM suggested heading back over the Bealach Bairc Mheall but I wasn’t convinced about hauling the pack over the wild ground. However the weather looked to be improving so pretty much on a whim we changed direction and started heading up into Glen Harris towards Atlantic Corrie.

Return to Kinloch via Coire Dubh, 8 miles, 2,000 feet of ascent

It was a master-stroke of an idea. The going while a little squelchy was pretty easy with numerous sheep and deer tracks to follow.

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Glen Harris

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Trollaval

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Barkeval

Normally when hiking with GM all I get to see is him disappearing into the distance while I tag along at the back. Today the roles were reversed and I managed to get a burst of energy from god knows where and set a blistering pace, granola power perhaps. More likely it was the joy of the wild, dark and brooding corrie that lifted me. Atlantic Corrie is quite magnificent with Trollaval rising to the south, Barkeval to the north, summits still shrouded in cloud but with a hint of possibility of clearing to drive me on.

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Atlantic Corrie, Hallival, Askival

GM finally overtook me when I left one of my poles behind and had to go back for it. As we hit the bealach we were greeted with a sunny view across north Rum towards the Isle of Skye.

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Harris Bay

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Skye from the Bealach

We both grinned our satisfaction to the Sky(e) having made it to the Col in less than 2 hours. We now had plenty of time to climb one of summits and went for Barkeval as it would give us a view over Harris Bay if it cleared. We dumped the sacks and headed up. Always amazing the spring in your step you get when dropping a backpack to climb a summit. Almost feels like you could run up and we made short work to the top. We hung around in the mist waiting for it to clear. Just when we’d given up we were treated to a few glimpses of sunny coast and islands before it closed in again.

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GM on Barkeval summit

Satisfied with that we started to head down – we had a ferry to catch. As we descended the summit cleared properly and the views were breathtaking.

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Harris Bay

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Hallival, Askival

Shafts of sunlight lighting up some of dark summits of the ridge, framing the Isle of Muck, and clear sunny views across to Skye, Canna, the mainland and the Outer Hebrides. Again we felt extremely lucky that in such an unsettled spell of weather we’d been treated to such classic coastal views. Rum was laid out beneath us and a mighty fine island it is. The lower northern hills and bays need a visit and the shapely little peak of Fionchra caught the eye. We toyed with the idea of running up Hallival but thought we might be pushing our luck with the time. Instead we settled for a short descent into Coire Dubh for extended lunch stop in the sunshine.

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Skye and Loch Scresort

As we ate we watched the ferry on its first visit of the day before heading off to Canna and back to pick us up. With blue sky and sunshine lighting up the small isles it was just a fantastic way to be ending the trip. Coire Dubh itself is pretty special with an alpine style meadow just below the ridge.

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Coire Dubh

It’s very wet and boggy but if you could find a place to throw a tent up it would be an epic site to spend the night. The walk along the stream and down into the forest back to Kinloch was just a pleasure and despite my soggy feet I enjoyed every step.

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GM on the walk home

As we walked down it became clear that the mountains of Knoydart back on the mainland had a cap of snow which seemed surprising as it didn’t seem especially cold.

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Across to distant Knoydart

In fact as I waited for GM to catch up at Kinloch, I sat on the picnic table by the castle in shirtsleeves and sunhat such was the warmth. Reluctantly we headed off to catch the ferry in bright sunshine and it looked like we would escape from Rum without the need for a helicopter.

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Kinloch Castle

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Loch Scresort

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Waiting for my ship to come in

The ferry journey itself was pretty amazing with some stunning views back to Rum and across to Eigg that was hiding under a massive black cloud and the boat was drenched as it passed though the shower en-route to pick up the day-trippers on the island.

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Askival and Hallival

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Eigg

The views of An Sgurr as we headed on the final leg back to Mallaig were as good as I remembered from the last trip and as we steamed into port the views back to Rum, itself now thunderously dark were just magnificent.

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An Sgurr, Eigg

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Eigg and Rum

After an adventure like this the only fitting finale was fish and chips from the station chippy eaten on the wall of the car park overlooking the small isles we’d just come rom.

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Fish and Chips with a view

I’m not sure if it was the quality of the food, the view, or the fact I’d been living on dried food and pigeon loft scrapings for 3 days, but they were best fish and chips I’ve eaten in many a year. The perfect end to another Easter adventure.

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