Category Archives: pictures & trips

The Cambrian Way (well almost)

For the last two years I’ve had the focus of doing the TGO Challenge for my backpacking year. This year I was vetoed from going again because my wife didn’t want me to be away for two weeks at a time. Over the past couple of months, I’ve been thinking what to do this year.

The Cambrian Way has been on my mind for about three years, but doing it in one go entails too much time. It might well be beyond my physical capabilities as it is probably the toughest long distance walk in the UK, stretching for 291 miles with nearly 24,000m of total ascent.

I started to look at doing it in sections. Tony Drake’s guidebook divides it into three sections: Southern (Cardiff to Llandovery) 108 miles, Central (Llandovery to Dinas Mawddwy) 78 miles, Northern (Dinas Mawddwy to Conwy) 88 miles.

The trouble with trails is they feel like straight jackets, so I started playing around with the route. I didn’t fancy Cardiff to Abergavenny that much, so I decided I would start at Abergavenny (good rail link). Next I decided that I’d skip the Black Mountains and go from Abergavenny to Crickhowell to pick up the Cambrian Way proper there. This gives me a nice introduction of around five days to Llandovery over the Brecon Beacons. Llandovery is a good break point as it has a railway station.

I think I will extend the Central section to Barmouth rather than stop at Dinas Mawddwy. This makes the section about 100 miles. While I’ve mapped it, I’ve not divided it up into days, but expect it to take about 7/8 days. Barmouth is a convenient break point as it has a railway station. It also makes the next section a convenient block.

The Northern section from Barmouth to Conwy is about 68 miles, but is the toughest in terms of terrain and ascent. My rough plan at the moment is to do this in six days, but possibly to add an extra “slack” day. I shall save this for the last of the three sections, probably in August.

If I get the urge to complete the whole Cambrian Way and nothing but the Cambrian Way, then I might do the Cardiff and Black Mountains section in September. I’m not really a box ticker at heart, so I’m not that bothered. On the other hand it would be nice to complete the whole walk.

One significant advantage of doing the Cambrian Way in stages is that it gives me some flexibility in timing. I had pencilled in a couple of trips to Scotland but travel takes more planning. Unfortunately my mother is seriously ill, so I need to be sensitive to what is happening with her.

At the moment my tentative plan is Abergavenny to Llandovery in June, Llandovery to Barmouth in July and Barmouth to Conwy in August. I’m also hoping to camp all the way. I need to do some more detailed planning, particularly on the central section, which looks logistically challenging (8 days food?). I’ll do some more posts later in the year to let you know how I’m getting on.

Deepdale and back part 2

I knew from the forecast that the weather would turn nasty overnight and into the morning. At about two o’clock in the morning it started to rain. Fairly soon it turned into “hose pipe” rain, heavy and concentrated. The wind appeared to have flipped round from coming up the valley to down the valley.

Despite the conditions, the Tramplite shelter seemed to be coping well. The A frame made it very solid and the valances at the front meant there was no problem with water being blown under the flysheet.

As it got light I considered my options. My original plan had been to go over Place Fell then to Howtown, up Fusedale and over Wether Hill to Measand Beck. With the weather forecast, I adjusted this to a walk along Ullswater to Howtown and then Measand Beck.

If the morning was a washout, then I would have to take a different route. The easiest option was to walk back to Hartsop then up over the Knott to Kidsty Pike and down to Riggindale to camp, which would be a reasonable afternoon’s walk. So I waited to see how the morning would pan out.

At about ten o’clock, the rain stopped. I started to think about packing but half an hour later it absolutely chucked it down. Not only that the wind picked up and swirled around. It was some of the worst weather I’d ever camped in. Fortunately, the Tramplite held firm. I was also lucky that I’d camped on a slight rise as the ground outside the porch started to get waterlogged.

IMG_1640Camp at Deepdale

At midday, the storm blew itself out and I was able to start packing. Deepdale Beck had been transformed into a raging torrent and the waterfalls from Link Cove were white ribbons on the hillside.

IMG_1641Greenhow End

There was still a bit of drizzle in the air, so I packed away my camera and used my iPhone to take pictures. Not surprisingly the path back down Deepdale was sodden.

IMG_1645Deepdale

Yet again I encountered the cows and calves and had to make a detour around them. By the time I reached the end of Deepdale, the weather had brightened a bit. I retraced my steps back towards Hartsop but at the waterfall below Lingy Crag, I took the path that contours above Hartsop through some woods.

IMG_1656Woods above Hartsop

This is a really good path to Hayeswater Gill, giving some pleasant views of Brothers Water and Pasture Beck. As I approached the Waterworks hut at the end of the path, it started to rain, so I stopped to put on my waterproofs.

IMG_1660Hayeswater Gill

The slog up The Knott was a bit sweaty in full waterproofs. As I climbed higher I left the shelter of the valley and the wind reasserted itself. Contouring around The Knott to the Straights of Riggindale, there was a good view with the lush green of Patterdale contrasting with the sombre colours of the hillsides and the glowering sky.

IMG_1667The green “jewel” of Patterdale

 The path to Kidsty Pike was easy. I could see some sunny patches near Haweswater, but Riggindale and Long Stile were dark and gloomy.

IMG_1670Long Stile

The path down from Kidsty Pike over Kidsty Howes is very eroded in places. I guess this is from the many people following Wainwright’s Coast to Coast walk. I took special care descending some of the slippery rocky sections. By now, the eastern end of Riggindale was bathed in pleasant sunshine.

IMG_1674Riggindale from Kidsty Howes

Once down to Riggindale Beck, I filled my Platypus water containers. My original intention had been to camp next to the wood on The Rigg, but the wind had dropped and I was concerned that there might be midges about. So I decided to camp in the open space near the  hut.

DSC00105Camp at Riggindale

Overnight there were a few rain showers. Fortunately, none were extended and in the morning I could pack outside the tent. All that remained was a short walk back to the car and to drive home. All in all a nice little trip, even if the weather wasn’t as good as last year.

Deepdale and back part 1

It’s been a very frustrating summer. My wife’s poor health has meant no opportunities to get out. However, I had to take out daughter back to university last week, so that opened up the chance to make a little side trip to the Lake District.

Because of uncertainties over timing, I decided to return to the eastern fells as it was easy to park the car safely and concoct a two-day/three-night trip. I wanted to return to Deepdale, so I planned to camp at the same places as September last year, but link them with a different route.

DSC00039Haweswater

I arrived at Haweswater late afternoon and the sun was shining. After parking the car, I hefted my pack and went to find a spot on the The Rigg to camp.

DSC00042Camp on The Rigg

I decided that it was such a nice evening that I’d camp in the same spot as last year.

DSC00047Haweswater

It was a very fine evening, with a fresh breeze to keep the insects at bay. After walking down to Riggindale Beck to collect some water, I rehydrated a meal. By the time I’d finished it was dusk, so I climbed into my sleeping bag and dozed off.

DSC00050Cloud over Riggindale

I woke at first light. The day dawned reasonably clear, although I knew the forecast was for a generally cloudy day with strong winds. I just failed to get a really good picture of the bright pink clouds over Riggindale illuminated by the rising sun :-( .

DSC00051Haweswater

After breakfast I set off back down towards the car park and dumped a couple of things in the car before taking the Gatescarth Pass path. For some reason, I’ve never used this path before, so it was nice to use a new route.

DSC00053Harter Fell and Gatescarth Pass

 It’s a pretty easy path up to the pass. By now the sky had clouded over and the wind strengthened appreciably as I climbed higher.

DSC00062Gatescarth Pass and the Laser Comp

At the top of the pass, I spied a tent in the distance. It was one of the worst pitched Laser Comps I’ve ever seen! Shocking!

DSC00071View from Harter Fell to High Street

From Gatesgarth Pass, the path turns westwards up the flank of Harter Fell. By this time the weather was brightening a bit, although the wind was still strong. There were some good views northwards to High Street and Haweswater.

DSC00072Nan Bield Pass and Mardale Ill Bell

From Harter Fell I descended to Nan Bield Pass and up to Mardale Ill Bell. Skirting the flank of High Street, I made a short cut across some moorland to the path that leads to Thornthwaite Beacon.

DSC00077Thornthwaite Beacon

Sheltering behind the Beacon was another walker. We had a quick chat, mainly about the weather. He said that the forecast was for heavy rain and high winds tomorrow but that it should clear by lunchtime.

DSC00078Descent to Threshthwaite Mouth

The descent from Thornthwaite to Threshthwaite Mouth was a lot rougher than I remembered. There were several walkers coming the other way, huffing and puffing up the steep path. At Thresthwaite Mouth the wind was being funnelled through the col and was ferocious.

DSC00080Pasture Beck

Some walkers were sheltering behind the dry stone wall where the path turns down to Pasture Beck. The way down Threshthwaite Cove was uneven and a bit slippery. I managed to stumble an graze a finger. A plaster stanched the trickle of blood. A little further down I took shelter behind a boulder to have a bite of lunch.

DSC00085Pasture Beck

Pasture Beck is a lovely walk. The top section is quite steep, giving way to some glacial humps (drumlins). The lower section opens out into a gentler valley with a good path. There are also a couple of good places to camp, which I filed away in the memory banks for future trips.

DSC00092Bridgend and Deepdale beyond

 At Hartsop, I took the track to Bridgend and crossed over the A592. I followed the lane to Deepdale Hall into Deepdale itself. I really like Deepdale. It’s not a very long valley but in the upper reaches it does have a feeling of remoteness amongst the crags of Hart Crag and Fairfield.

DSC00097Deepdale and Greenhow End

One unwelcome new feature of Deepdale, however, was a small herd of cows with calves. They were walking towards me on the path. Mindful of recent trampling incidents, I tracked up the slope away from the path through some bracken. Even so, they decided that I was interesting and started towards me. After I skirted round them they seemed to lose interest. Nonetheless, I wasn’t very impressed that cows and calves had been let loose on a well used path.

DSC00099Camp at Deepdale

After a kilometer or so, I left the track to find the spot where I had camped last year in one of the bends of Deepdale Beck. To my dismay, the idyllic spot of last year had been churned up by cattle and there was a profusion of cow pats. Fortunately, there was a small area clear of devastation and I pitched my Tramplite, tail into the strong and gusting wind.

DSC00102Cow pat city

I knew the weather forecast was poor for the next morning, so I made sure all the pegging points were secure. As it turned out, it was a wise thing to do. More about the ferocious weather in part 2.

Maeneira ultra slackpack

Recently I had to fetch our daughter from Manchester Uni. Rather than go there and back in a day, I decided to visit my beloved Maeneira to spend a lazy day. Ultra slackpack? Well it’s only fifteen minutes from the car park and I spent a whole day lazing around in the sunshine. I even had a visitation from some friendly Carneddau horses who let me stroke their noses. Here’s some pictures.

DSC02197 DSC02199 DSC02203 DSC02204 DSC02209 DSC02210