Category Archives: pictures & trips

Not the TGO Challenge route

Loch Chiarain early morning, TGO Challenge 2012

Here’s a quick summary of my route next week:

Monday: Ft William to Loch Eilde Mor 26.1km
Tuesday: Corrour Lodge 23.7km
Wednesday: Loch Ericht 16.0km
Thursday: Saunich 15.8km
Friday: Stronphadruig Lodge 26.4km
Saturday: Glen Feshie 24.2km
Sunday: Aviemore 27.0km

Weather forecast at the moment looks like it’s going cool rather than cold and showery. Looks like ideal walking weather.

I’ve been sorting out gear and will do a quick summary in a couple of days.

 

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Lakes Daunder 2018 part 2

Although it was a clear night, the temperature, according my thermometer didn’t get below 9c in the tent. An early start was demanded by Obergruppenführer Sloman, so just to be sure that I would be ready by eight o’clock, I was up by 5.45. There were no clouds in the sky and it looked like it was going to be another glorious day.

Amazingly, we were all ready almost on time. We climbed Water Crag, a mighty 305m high, although it felt rather more. Yet again we were greeted by glorious views all around.  After a short wait to allow everyone to catch up, it was on to Rough Crag and a group photo opportunity.

(photo courtesy of Alan Sloman)

From here it was downhill all the way for our proposed lunch stop at the Woolpack Inn. We ambled down some country lanes and then diverted to have a look at Stanley Force. What an amazing hidden gem! From the top there’s a spectacular sheer cliff from which to view the waterfall. Then there’s a wonderful path down into a ravine, very reminiscent of a Chinese landscape with rhododendrons and wooden bridges. I’m afraid my photos don’t do justice (partly because the camera was on the wrong setting, whoops!).

Alan was the only member of our party who had decided not to visit the waterfall and we were supposed to meet him at the car park. However, the path had changed and we ended up on the north bank of the Esk. In true Daunder spirit, we decided to carry on without him.

It was a lovely walk along the Esk, some of which I’d done before. We arrived at the Woolpack for lunch just before it got busy. Who should be standing on the doorstep but Alan holding a pint of beer. Over lunch, four of us decided to revive another Daunder tradition: the schism. I suggested that the original route looked a bit dull and the camp spot at Sampson’s Stones might be a bit iffy. The alternative was to walk up the Esk via Throstle Garth and Scar Lathing to a lovely spot to camp in the bend of the Esk opposite Sampson’s Stones. This was enthusiastically embraced by some, so I explained to our leader, Phil, that we were ditching his lovingly planned route. Phil, Alan and Any decided they would stick to the original plan.

It’s impossible to capture in words what a wonderful walk this is, so I’ll just give you a load of pictures. If you’ve never done it, you really must. It’s one of the best walks in the Lakes.

By the time we reached Throstle Garth, there were some high clouds forming, suggesting the weather was on the change. We eschewed a lovely place to camp below Scar Lathing, and pushed on to the spot where I had camped before.

It is a spectacular place to camp. For some reason, I didn’t take many photos. About half an hour after we arrived, our schism started to be healed. First Andy appeared with tales of how rough and pathless his route had been. Then Phil and Alan were spotted picking their way down the slope. Soon our happy(!) band were reunited. All the time the cloud was thickening. Just after I turned in for the night, the thunder and lightning started. Fortunately, it skirted our camp spot but not before there was a very heavy rain/hail shower. There were a few rumbles of thunder during the rest of the night, but nothing serious.

The next day, amazingly, we were all packed in good time. The weather looked threatening, but stayed dry as we walked up the Esk towards Esk Hause. There were some remarkable ripples in the clouds.

Ascending the slope to the gully, Andy decided to veer off left to climb the evocatively named Knotts of Tongue. While Andy took a direct route that involved some scrambling, I branched left to avoid the rocks, then spotted David behind me and decided to wait for him. As we ascended the weather deteriorated and the rain and mist came in. We knew Judith was behind us so, like the gentlemen we are, we waited for her.

At the top there was a strong wind and driving rain, but when we rounded Great End it abated somewhat. I managed to take a couple of pictures at Sprinkling Tarn, but from there on my camera stayed in its plastic bag. It was windy and wet as we picked our way down to Sty Head and then into Wasdale. By this time Judith was some way behind, but she’s an experience backpacker so we weren’t worried. Carefully we wended our way down to the Wasdale Head Inn, where Andy was waiting for us. Judith followed a little later.

After about half an hour the rest of the pack arrived. After some food and liquid refreshment, it was time for me to go back to my camper van and for the rest to drive home. Judith saved me a little walk by kindly giving me a lift back to the campsite. A great time was had by all (I think). Thanks to Phil for organising a great weekend.

Lakes Daunder 2018 part 1

This was my third pre-TGO Challenge Daunder. I’m not actually on the TGO Challenge this year because my wife has been too ill to allow me to be away for a fortnight. However, I will be doing a demi-Challenge for seven days from Ft William to Aviemore, coinciding with the actual Challenge, meeting with at least three Challengers (Alan, Phil and Andy) for part of the way.

This little trip was to test out the muscles and gear for the main event. Compared with last year’s Daunder, which had a cast of thousands, this year it was restricted to only seven. Goodness knows why they invited me, but I’m glad they did as we had a great time and some fabulous weather.

The route (41.4km, 1,824m ascent, 2.5 days) click to enlarge

Unlike the others who stayed at the campsite opposite the Wasdale Head Inn, I took my camper van and stayed at the National Trust campsite at the northern end of Wastwater. I love using my camper van, so any excuse! I’ve now got everything off to a fine art and it’s a brilliant way to have a base camp.

The day dawned dank, grey and claggy but by the time the rest of the motley crew arrived, the cloud was burning off, promising a fine day.

I’ve never walked up Illgill Head. I’m I’ve glad I rectified that; the views were magnificent.

Andy and I were much faster than the others, so we powered on to Whin Rigg where we decided to have an early lunch and see if the others would catch us up.

Just as we were about to make a move, David arrived. Apparently the others were way behind, so we decided to push on.  Rather than take our orignal route we decided to take in Irton Pike. Although this entailed a slightly boggy approach to the woods, the views were worth the effort.

The photos don’t really do justice. One of the joys of the minor peaks in the Lakes is that they give views which are sometimes better than the higher fells. Out to sea, there was fog bank, while to the south there was the contrast the green of Miterdale and the drab brown of Ulpha Fell in the distance.

After a steep descent from Irton Pike there was a delightful stretch in some woodland, before a short road walk to Eskdale Green and a quick visit to the local store for a can of fizzy drink and a banana.

Next stop was the George IV Inn, where we decided we had better stop to wait for the others to catch up. So far, the weather had been lovely with sunshine and every so often a cooling breeze. Just as we were wondering if something had gone wrong, the others arrived. However, we had already had a decent rest, so we decided to leave them to rehydrate and we walked on with the intention of nicking the best camping spots.

After a bit of a navigation faff due to the start of the path not matching the 1;50,000 map, we located the way up Brantrake. It was a bit stony at first and then developed into a beautifully graded zig-zag up the valley side.

When I scouted or intended camp spot below Water Crag on Google satellite, I was a bit dubious about the ground conditions. In the end, they weren’t as bad as I thought. I pinched some flat ground in an abandoned sheep fold while the others spread out on some tussocky grass. Mates!

(to be continued)

 

 

Patterdale Potter Feb 2018

I had been trying to get up to the Lake District for a while this year but every time I got near to going, the weather forecast turned bad. However, at the last weekend of February showed some promise: settled sunny weather but cold. Fortunately having a camper van makes cold weather less testing than camping. Originally I was going to stay at Braithwaite but the site was full for the first two days so I went to Sykeside Campsite in Patterdale instead. I was actually rather lucky as nearly all the pitches were taken.

There was quite a lot of snow high up on the fells and the subzero temperatures suggested it would be pretty icy, so I decided to keep below the snow line if possible, although that limited my options. I decided to visit Place Fell on the first day, as I’ve never been up there and it had the attraction of the return walk along south-eastern shore of Ullswater. For Sunday, I thought it might be pleasant to have Sunday lunch in Deepdale.

I was going to stay for Monday too but the weather forecast wasn’t too good and there was snow forecast for the Tuesday when I had planned to go home. So I decided discretion was the better part of valour and so went home on Monday. In the event, that proved to be a very wise decision!

Here’s some pictures and a short commentary on the two walks:

Saturday: Place Fell (19.4km)

A nice sunny start. Place Fell appears to have very little snow.

Pleasant walk along the track skirting Brothers Water and on to Bridgend.

Above Bridgend and looking towards Fairfield, there’s plenty of snow on the tops.

The path up to Boredale was pretty easy but there were a few snow and ice patches on the way up to Place Fell. Looking across to the Helvellyn ridge, again there was a fair amount of snow on the tops. Given I didn’t have crampons or an ice axe, staying below the snow was a good decision.

There were a few snow patches to cross to the top.

The small tarns were iced over.

At the top the views were extensive but perhaps not as clear as they might have been.Below the summit, I stopped for a bit of lunch, but it was too cold to sit for too long. I descended via Mortar Crag and Scalehow Beck. Parts of the path were sheet ice so I had to walk to one side on frozen grass for some sections.

Just before I reached the lake side path, I slipped on the icy grass. Fortunately I didn’t hurt myself.

The walk along Ullswater towards Patterdale was delightful, although I spent a fair amount of time overtaking groups of people out for a stroll

From Ullswater I walked along the eastern side of Patterdale through the woods and past the waterfall that comes down from Angle Tarn.

From there I walked to Hartsop and on to the campsite just as the shadows were lengthening. It was a fine walk in lovely weather despite the cold.

Sunday: Deepdale (13.2km)

It was seriously cold overnight. The temperature in my camper van was 1C in the early morning so it must have been very cold outside.

Like the previous day, once the sun was up, it was pleasant walking weather. I repeated the previous day’s route to Bridgend, then turned west into Deepdale. The frozen ground made the path a lot easier as it’s normally quite boggy in places.

The crags below Fairfield wer covered in snow. Indeed the path up and over to Grisedale Tarn looked pretty challenging.

Before I reached the shadow at the end of the valley, I sat down in the lee of a hummock to have some lunch. By this time, there was a gusty and chilly breeze, so I was grateful for some shelter.

Although I was tempted to laze around for a while, even in the sun, it was quite cold, so I packed up a walked back to Bridgend.

Crossing over to the sunny eastern side of Patterdale, I repeated the previous day’s walk back to the campsite and into the warmth of my camper van.

2017 wild camps

Here’s a summary in pictures of my wild camps this year:

March

Langstrath

Rigg Beck

April

Borrowdale

May

Faddoch

Gleann Gniomhaidh

Loch Affric

Corrie Dho

Chalybeate Spring

Allt Mor

Glen Feshie

Linn of Dee

Ballochan

Hill of Roughbank

June

Wiley Gill

September

Taw Marsh

South Teign Head

Taw Marsh (again)

Brecon Beacons

Last week I spent a couple of days in the Brecon Beacons. It’s the first time I’ve been there. I took my camper van and based myself at Pencelli, which has an excellent campsite. The facilities were first class and I had a pleasant hard standing pitch with electric hookup.

I had intended to do a two-day backpacking trip with an overnight stop at Llyn Cwm Llwch but the weather on the first day was dire, with high winds and heavy rain, so I spent a lazy day in the camper van.

The next day, the weather was much improved, so I did a day walk, shortening my intended two-day plan slightly, shown below.

Distance: 27.9km, ascent: 1,255m

click to enlarge

From the campsite, I took the minor road to Llanfrynach.

On the outskirts of Llanfrynach, I took a footpath along the Nant Menasgin. This was unexpectedly beautiful, as hopefully the pictures below show.

For future reference, there were a number of decent spots for wild camping, well away from view. The next section was across some fields, with well signposted paths but inaccurately marked on the OS map. Then it was along some back roads.

The only incident of note was that the road passed through one farm-yard where there were four muzzled dogs (three collies and a small Doberman) which circled around me barking furiously and tried to “bounce” me. Fortunately, I’m used to dogs so I just walked on quickly ignoring them and they lost interest as I got beyond the farm buildings. Considering the road is part of the Three Rivers Ride bridleway used by horses and cyclists, I was surprised that the farmer had allowed loose dogs on the road.

Just after the road turned north, I left it to follow a footpath over fields to Plas-y-gaer. I then turned south-west following a sunken lane to below Allt Ddu, where I decided to stop for an early lunch, sheltered by some convenient gorse bushes.  After lunch I climbed on a good path on the western side of Allt Ddu and then on to Cefyn Cwm Llwch, the ridge that leads up to Pen-y-Fan.

Once on the ridge, I was exposed to a strong wind, so I swapped my windproof for my Paramo Velez smock. The clouds were clipping the top of Pen-y-Fan, making it look brooding and forbidding. However, the track up is very straightforward and presented no difficulties.

Unfortunately the low cloud base meant no views from the summit of Pen-y-Fan.  However, on the descent, I was below the clouds and was able to take some decent photos of Cribyn and surrounds.

From Cribyn, I could look back to Pen-y-Fan and Corn Du, which were now clear of clouds.

After Cribyn, I walked along Craig Cwm Cynwyn to the col before Fan y Big.  There were horses grazing on the path up to Fan y Big, so I decided that I didn’t want to disturb them and I took a short cut around to Craig Cwareli.

The views back to Pen-y-Fan were excellent with the sun and shadows, but difficult to capture in photos because of the strong wind. I wished I’d taken a tripod!

Once I’d descended to Gist Wen, I was a bit more sheltered. On the way down I encountered another group of ponies, some with foals. I gave them a wide berth to avoid disturbing them.

After crossing some fields, I was back on to a lane and then down to Pencelli. All in all, it was a very good introduction to the Brecon Beacons.

A strange weekend on Dartmoor

Last weekend I was on Dartmoor.It was my first opportunity to do a bit of walking and wild camping since early June.

I parked at Belstone and was soon on the moor. Although there had been some rain, it was starting to clear as I walked towards Taw Marsh. The ford over the River Taw was a bit higher than normal so I used my waders to cross. The great thing about Taw Marsh is there are plenty of places to camp.

I selected a nice spot just off the track to pitch my tent. The only drawback was that there were a lot of cows with calves grazing. I don’t mind cows but calves tend to be a bit inquisitive. Fortunately, the ones near me moved off around dusk.

The next day I was packed in good time. I followed the path up to Small Brook, skirting around more cows and their offspring. From Small Brook I cut up to a path and then cross-country up to the ridge leading to Hound Tor.

Instead of going up Wild Tor, I used a path skirting its slopes keeping clear of Gallaven Mire before crossing Walla Brook and climbing up Wattern Tor. As I crossed the brook, it  started to rain, so it was on with the waterproofs.

From Wattern Tor, I tramped along the wet path to the large cairn marked on the OS map. By this time, the rain had virtually stopped but there were heavy showers circling around.

From the cairn, I made my way down to a dry stone wall and stile and then along the path which leads to Teignhead Farm. I’m not sure why this path isn’t marked on the map as it’s very clear. It was very wet underfoot, and boggy in places.

It was nearing lunchtime by the time I reached the ruins of the farm. I crossed the clapper bridge and climbed to the edge of Fernworthy Forest. To the North, it looked like another heavy shower was approaching, so I sheltered in the trees to take lunch.

In the end, it didn’t rain much. The path to South Teign Head was extremely boggy and wet.

However, my destination wasn’t very far and soon I had arrived at my intended camping spot. This is a lovely secluded place, well sheltered from winds, but with a nice flat, if slightly sloping, spot to camp.

After putting up the tent, I collected some water. Just as I got inside, it started to rain. Perfect timing! It must have rained for about an hour or so. I spent a lazy afternoon and evening in the tent, luxuriating in my peaceful surroundings.

This is where it all went horribly wrong! About 11:30, I woke up to some distant voices. Then there was the sound of a generator. Bang on midnight, all hell let loose. There was the deafening sound of some electro dub rave music. When I say deafening, it was unbelievably loud. I remember reading on a forum about Fernworthy Reservoir being used as a site for illegal rave parties.

If I had taken a powerful head torch I would have packed up and gone somewhere else but I only had a Petzl E+Lite. The rest of the night was spent with one ear jammed against my pillow and a finger jammed in the other ear to try to block out the noise. As you can imagine, it was a pretty horrible night.

They were still going full blast when I got up for breakfast. It was quite surreal to be eating accompanied by deafening music. I packed as soon as I could and headed up towards the Grey Wethers to get away from the “music” as quickly as possible.

Evan at the stone circle, the music was loud! As I dropped down into the valley the noise abated. However, as I climbed Manga Hill on the other side, I could still hear it. It only finally disappeared when I was above Hew Down. What a night!

As I climbed up to Wattern Tor, the weather started to improve. However, I was half inclined to go home, as my trip had been thoroughly spoilt by the noise.

From Wattern Tor, I decided to go back to Taw Marsh via Metheral Hill. By this time, the weather was beginning to brighten.

It was bright sunshine by the time I was down at Taw Marsh and my mood was beginning to improve. After a quick bite to eat, I was back at the car in Belstone. After a chat with my wife, I decided to go back to the ford at Taw Marsh to camp and have a quiet afternoon to relax.

The only disadvantage of an early camp at the ford was that several families were out for a Sunday walk, but after the trauma of the previous night, it was nice to chill out for a while. Mercifully, I had a restful night. The next morning, I had a leisurely breakfast. I was visited by some cows and their calves, but they kept their distance. It was only a short distance back to the car and home.