Archive for May 2017

Storm Clouds over Dartmoor   12 comments

IMG_2626

My Birthday treat was a weekend away in Cornwall for some fine dining, walking and wave based fun in Cornwall. A heavy cold put paid to entering the water so plans were amended slightly but we kicked off as before (for TBF’s birthday weekend) with a fine lunch at the Cafe on the Green in Widecombe in the Moor and a walk on Dartmoor. Thanks to the writings of the excellent blog over at Treks and Tors I have an endless list of very fine walks on Dartmoor to experience and this one was based on one of the more recent posts. Its a great blog and well worth checking out.

IMG_2603

The forecast had looked promising with mention of sunshine and “isolated” showers. From up on Dartmoor they were a lot more than isolated! We had a Tor-tour planned and first was Rippon Tor. The views across to Haytor, Dartmoors most famous tor derw us onwards

IMG_2604

IMG_2605

IMG_2609

IMG_2612

First we passed over Saddle Tor, appropriately populated with wild ponies

IMG_2616

All the while the storm clouds gathered, thunder rumbled and lightning flashed

IMG_2622

Haytor was always a favourite spot when I was a kid. We spent many family holidays up at Westward Ho! (only place name in the UK with an exclamation mark) and often came down to Dartmoor for a day out. I always insisted we come up here so I could climb to the top

IMG_2624

I love granite tors with their weathered shapes and weird formations

IMG_2625

Haytor looked especially dramatic today backed by dark storm clouds. I rekindled childhood memories by climbing to the top but decided not to linger, feeling rather like a lightning rod on the exposed summit

IMG_2629

As we passed Haytor quarry in bright sunlight the dark clouds provided an amazing contrast

IMG_2635

IMG_2636

The clouds all around were bubbling and boiling and we seemed to be just yards from a soaking

IMG_2637

IMG_2638

We found a fine sheltered spot on Smallacombe Rocks for a cuppa and a slice of cake. We didn’t hang around as our luck was running out and spots of rain were in the air

IMG_2643

We walked over one of Dartmoors numerous and very quaint clapper bridges over the Becka Brook

IMG_2645a

And then up towards and past Greator rocks.

IMG_2645b

IMG_2645d

As we passed into Holwell Lawn we came across one of the most stunning displays of bluebells I’ve ever seen

IMG_2645e

IMG_2645g

All across open hillside they carpeted the floor in a swathe of purple-blue. Its rare to be able to catch the real sense of colour in a photo. They never seem to be as dense through a lens as they are to the naked eye

IMG_2645i

Here, that task was easy

IMG_2645j

IMG_2650

IMG_2651

We pressed on for more tors over at Bonehill Rocks

IMG_2652a

IMG_2652c

Leaving them behind we set off for our final tor, Top Tor

IMG_2652d

We got a proper soaking in a heavy rain and hail shower that dusted the hills we’d walked on earlier in drifts of white while thunder rumbled and crackled around us. Short-lived, and sunny spells returned for the top and while we finished our fine 6.5 mile back to the car

IMG_2652e

My second Dartmoor walk in the past year and its wonderful, packed with interesting stuff and a huge variety of landscapes. It deserves a full weekend or holiday all its own or a wild camp to appreciate its austere charms

Haytor

Satisfied and in need of a little luxury, we headed off to the Althea Library for our weekend stay, with same wonderful room and warm welcome as before

IMG_2654

IMG_2653

I took a brief stroll around Padstow before our evening out to clear my head (I had a bit of dizzy spell when I arrived) and to enjoy Padstow without the the crowds when it reverts to a peaceful fishing village rather than a tourist fleshpot

IMG_2658

IMG_2659

IMG_2661

Ending the day with a fine curry at The Journeyman restaurant was the perfect finale to a fine first day of my Birthday treat 🙂

Sneaky Birthday Stroll   10 comments

IMG_2596

Last year on my Birthday we managed a brief walk on Ysgyryd Fawr in a Thunderstorm. This year the weather was much kinder (although no champagne) and I managed to skive a few hours away from my work e-mail for a quick skip up Bryn Arw. It started cloudy but quickly developed into a glorious warm summers day

IMG_2587

IMG_2588

IMG_2589

IMG_2590

IMG_2591

IMG_2592

No finer way to spend your lunch hour on your birthday

IMG_2593

IMG_2594

IMG_2595

IMG_2597

IMG_2598

The colours of the trees and the wild flowers, especially the bluebells under a clear blue sky were mesmerising

IMG_2599

IMG_2600

Over all too soon before back to work drudgery, but great memories nonetheless.

Happy Birthday to me! (from 2 weeks ago) 🙂

Posted May 26, 2017 by surfnslide in Black Mountains, Local Walks, Wales, Walking

Tagged with ,

The Shorter Side of Wasdale   6 comments

P5011585

Last day always involves a good deal of packing. My trailer despite flipping open/closed quickly still takes a couple of hours to unpack and stow everything, empty water containers and the like. The windy weather helped out by taking my awning down for me the previous morning and bending my poles into interesting new shapes which was nice

P5011582

It was after lunch before all was done, leaving time for a short leisurely stroll to Wast Water. The kids decided to stay back and play footy. Like the day before there was plenty of blue sky and sunshine and it was nice to catch up with everyone without worrying about covering long distances or the kids happiness

P5011583

The lake-shore path at the SW end is the best way to experience the classic Wasdale view of Wast Water, Yewbarrow, Great Gable and Lingmell

P5011586

As well as the Wasdale Screes on the opposite shore (great to look at, awful to walk over)

P5011587

P5011588

We sat on the grassy bank and chatted for a while, even daring to paddle in the chilly lake waters

P5011589

Alas we all had very long drives home so the walk was short yet perfectly formed. In fact a decent day until EWO drew a dark cloud over us all during a discussion about backpacking next Easter. I have no idea where this wording came from or what he was thinking but he said, and I quote ” how many more backpacking trips have you got left in you?” Both me and ED were stunned and momentarily lost for words until we told him we had a limitless supply. I intend to live forever for no other reason that to be an annoyance to every one who knows me for an eternity. Needless to say once we recovered our composure we saw the funny side and began what is likely to be an endless mickey take. Every conversation we ever have now, about anything will conclude with a “I don’t know how many (insert wording as needed) I have left”. Me and ED have a already started and it will probably appear as a regular guest phrase in most of my blog posts

P5011590

An entire weekend up here without significant rain is almost unheard of. Probably just as well we were there for this one because……

I don’t know how many more of these weekends I have left in me 🙂

The past 4 post photos all collected into a single slideshow with an awesome, Brian Cox endorsed tune for your pleasure

The Smaller Side of Wasdale   6 comments

P4301579

I’ve often looked across the Church Stile campsite and thought that I ought to climb Irton Pike as it looked a suitably rocky and a well positioned view point. Well at least I would have thought that had it actually been Irton Pike I was looking at and not Latterbarrow that sits in front. Still the idea was sound and after another endless faff trying to get everyone together we set off

P4301574

Through woods and fields filled with bluebells

P4301575

P4301576

And through the pastures below the wooded peak of Latterbarrow. There was some vague navigational muppetry and everyone seemed convinced there would be no path around the base of Irton Pike and we’d have walk down to the road at Santon Bridge and back up. I had faith and indeed there was a splendid path that traversed around the slopes to the very steep path to the summit

P4301577

And a very fine and extremely windy summit it was. Expansive if hazy views and after a bit of searching we found a sheltered spot for a lazy lunch. Another chapter for the “Small Hills with Disproportionately Good Views” book I’m writing – well sort of writing.

P4301578

P4301580

On the way down, ED and TBH played the ” just looking at some art in the village hall” card. We introduced the kids to the delights of a pub drink (just lemonade!) while we waited. And waited. And waited. Seems they had no idea we were outside the pub they walked right past and were trying to catch us up. Yeah, right! Choosing to spend some quality time together by dumping their kids on us more like

P4301581

Luckily all the kids were in fine form, cheerful and enjoying the walk, a pleasure to be with in fact and we had a laugh as we enjoyed the long riverside stroll by the Irt back to the campsite, all taking a chance to poke fun at ED and TBH in their absence. That’ll teach ’em

Irton Pike

Cracking walk, nothing serious but almost 8 miles and good company equals good memories

The quieter side of Wasdale   12 comments

P4291570

With a mild hangover (spot the pun from the previous post) we spent the usual eternity agreeing where to go for a walk. Not fancying using the car or the crowds no doubt attracted to the honeypots higher up the valley, we hit the heights of Buckbarrow and Seatallan. Hills of contrast, one rocky, one grassy. A nice combination that see’s very few footprints if my experience is anything to go by

P4291557

Over the fields and a steep climb alongside the tautological Gill Beck.

P4291558

Buckbarrow is splendid summit if you can call it that. In reality, just the rocky end of the grassier Seatallan but littered with small rocky outcrops. I’ve climbed it several times in the past few years and its become one of my favourite places.

P4291559

DB Senior who apparently wasn’t all that keen on a walk had a whale of time scrambling up some pretty tough little routes. Always adds to the pleasure for me to see one of the younger members of the gang enjoying the mountains same way I used to. I feel like I’m passing on the baton as I get older (more of this in a couple of posts time!)

P4291560

It was an overcast day but a few glints of sunlight kept us bright and the clouds were off the summits making for pretty fine views

P4291561

We stopped for a very long lunch after a long stretch where we walked for almost one hour! We compared stoves (my Jetboil won of course), talked nonsense with a little politics thrown in and laughed at great deal

P4291564

P4291563

Time to move on as OGS was getting restless. I compared middle aged ailments and injuries as we strolled to the broad grassy summit of Seatallan. The views from here are unusual in that you see hills and valleys you wouldn’t normally see or know of. Here we have Haycock and Caw Fell above the wonderfully name River Bleng. Looked a fine spot for quiet wild camp some time

P4291567

P4291568

We could see the Isle of Man although its summits seemed to be in cloud

P4291569

The main Scafell Pike range looked impressively dark and forbidding

P4291571

The descent towards Middle Fell was impressively steep and I declined the offer of an ascent of Middle Fell in return for a very wet, soggy and leg grazing traverse around Greendale Tarn.

P4291572

The rest of the day was whiled away with the steep descent along Greendale Gill and the return across the fields to the campsite for a chilly BBQ in the ever increasing wind

P4291573

Quite a long walk in the end at 8 miles and a very one enjoyable one as well. Nothing to challenge the brain so the focus is just on enjoying being out with good company both young, old and very old (sorry OGS!)

Seatallan

Memories are made of this   10 comments

P4281538

May Day Weekend. Nether Wasdale. Camping. Cold. Snow. Rain That’s how things have worked the past few years. Most people would get the message and stay home. Me? I took a day off work and drove 6 hours to spend a late evening setting up the camper on my own until darkness fell and it was bed time. This did give a bonus day’s walking by myself. Skies looked gloomy but with some promise. I headed to Wasdale before the weekend crowds with a route to rekindle some old memories

P4281534

I took the same route as last year when had a fantastic day on Scafell Pike with the kids. Following the path along Lingmell Beck was as good as last time if not better. As I climbed the sun came out and abundant patches of blue sky appeared

P4281535

P4281536

P4281537

P4281539

Its an easy grassy path to Sty Head and a sheer delight to climb with the spectacular view back to Wasdale

P4281540

Arriving at Styhead Tarn I drifted back in time to my very first wild camp here in – I think – 1987. It was another May Day weekend and there was snow on the ground. Me and ED pitched up on rather stony ground, with a rather smug looking EWO claiming his pitch was better with the immortal phrase “the pegs go in nice an easy here”. Me and ED wandered over jumped on the ground round his tent and watched it roll like a wave on the sea. He moved. Any campsite we stay on generates a “pegs go in easy” remark to remind him. Happy days

P4281542

P4281543

I pushed on to reach Sprinkling Tarn, one of the finest anywhere in the UK. I’ve never camped here but I really should do. Stunning spot

P4281546

P4281547

Up past the Ruddy Gill ravine to Esk Hause. Another memory of when me and ED (he features heavily in these memories) sheltered here on a foul day and decided that was enough of summits and headed down the Esk valley. It was our first view of this magnificent valley and its deep pools and waterfalls and would become a favourite spot for wild camping and swimming over the years

P4281548

I lunched on top of Great End with superb view down Borrowdale to Derwent Water, Skiddaw and Blencathra. I was feeling pretty pleased with myself.

P4281550

P4281552

Then a few wisps of cloud drifted down that became a blanket within minutes. It was a gloomy procession across Broad Crag and Ill Crag to Scafell Pike summit. To cheer myself up I took my mind back through the dark ages again to a time me and ED snoozed up here on a glorious summer morning back in the late 80’s. We’d been camping in Eskdale and swimming in the river but it was way too hot so decided a summit bivvy was called for. We spent a wonderful if uncomfortable and sleepless night right next to the summit cairn on Bowfell watching the thunderstorms over the Pennines. We had the whole walk along to Scafell Pike to ourselves the next morning and celebrated with a snooze at the top. Still one of the very best weekends in the mountains I’ve ever had. Happy days.

No such sunshine this day and I headed down. My plan had been to relive one final memory by climbing Lingmell and visiting the spot where I’d camped on the summit with my dog Harry. The fog was so dense and cold that it seemed pointless so I just plodded down, my afternoon further spoiled by finding a pile of human excrement and accompanying toilet paper right on the path. I despair of the people who frequent the hills some times.

I only emerged from the cloud at around 1500 feet but at least the final views across Wast Water were good

P4281553

P4281554

The Gorse was also in full boom and scent

P4281556

A decent day of 9 miles and 3,500 feet of ascent

Scafell Pike

Back at the camp site (the ever wonderful Church Stile), all thoughts of cloud and damp were dissipated as the sun came out and I sat outside the tent with my shades on. I was joined by some of the gang and retired to the equally wonderful Strands Inn, a place of wonderful beer brewed on site and excellent food. With good company, good food and a pint (or several) of their Mild (still a Midlands boy at heart) I was very much in the holiday spirit and looking forward to the inevitable rain with a much happier frame of mind

 

Cycling with TJF   11 comments

P4231526

Having spent most of Easter either away or at work I hadn’t seen much of TJF so with the senior funster away I wanted us to spend some time together. She’s not big into hiking so I suggested a bike ride, expecting a negative response but she seemed quite keen. Having been introduced to the delights of the Brecon and Monmouthshire canal a few weeks ago I settled on that. Armed with a quality picnic we parked up at Llangynidr and set off

P4231512

Having described the route as “flat” TJF was a little miffed to find the first mile has several locks requiring you to actually have to pedal a bit! She survived the experience intact 🙂

P4231513

As before it was a lovely ride. Not as sunny as the forecast promised but good enough and we enjoyed a gentle ride, ducks under all the bridges and the feathered variety and their young on the water

P4231514

There is a tunnel on this section but alas for boats only

P4231515

We reached the pretty bridge where I’d paused on the previous trip and enjoyed a lavish picnic.

P4231516

TJS is looking pleased having just consumed a large slice of sugary lemon drizzle cake

P4231517

We took an amble down to the aquaduct over the River Usk to rest our weary butts (I’ve found cycling in the same position for more than 20 minutes is shall we say uncomfortable!)

P4231518

P4231520

P4231521

The views and the scene were very fine and I think TJS was enjoying being out in the sunshine

P4231522

P4231524

A day for staying down in the valleys as the Brecons looked a little gloomy

P4231525

P4231528

P4231529

Time to return back to the car the same way. Just as enjoyable but both our butts were glad to see a comfy car seat

P4231530

P4231533

Great to spend some quality time with TJF and she seemed keen to do more of the same. She is very much an adventure, water and cycling person while TJS is a hiking man. We have some holiday plans that suit both of them for this year, a bit of a departure from the norm for the family. More of that later in the year

%d bloggers like this: