Snowdonia May 2013

Sun May 26th

Started my day by achieving my 5km run which took me 35 minutes without stopping. It was hard but I’m pleased with this as I started from nothing run wise. I’m now going to keep it up and go for 10km. Today was only the 2nd time I’ve run that it was actually warm since I began 8 weeks ago.

A leisurely drive across to Idwal Cottage YH stopping at Tesco to buy some things I had forgotten like tea and coffee. I managed to forget quite a few things because I didn’t print out my list. Fatal. I’m in the same room as last year which is above the front door. Very compact but has wash basin.
Walked up to Llyn Idwal just as the sun was setting behind Y Garn. Cool wind as it disappeared but still shining on Tryfan.
Back for supper of pasta and veg in sauce that I made last night at home.
Chatted with Saskia the warden. Rampart beer.

West face of Tryfan
West face of Tryfan
Llyn Idwal and Pen yr Ole Wen
Llyn Idwal and Pen yr Ole Wen

Mon May 27th

Torrential downpour day. Angela turned up just after 9. We talked about Tryfan, about Bristly Ridge and about the Glyderau but decided that as we could barely see the bottom of any of these, that we would go shopping.
Managed to mooch around in Betws all day with 2 visits to the hotel with free wifi. One for coffee and bara brith, and back again for afternoon hot drinks.
Did buy a few things but either on sale or with big discounts thanks to BMC and MTA cards (20%).
To Tyn-y-Coed in Capel Curig for dinner. A had steak and I had chicken in leek and bacon cream sauce with mashed spud and frozen peas. Good.
Back to YH, chatted with Saskia.

In Idwal Cottage YH
In Idwal Cottage YH
Countryside code
Countryside code

Tues May 28th

A dry and almost fine day of weather in the morning. Angela arrived at Idwal Cottage just after 9. She said “how about Tryfan?” and I agreed. We parked a little way down the road and set off up the north face. The route is up. A gave me some scrambling tips. We worked our way keeping 3 points of contact very steadily and carefully round walls and buttresses and resting on plateaux. We managed to miss The Cannon completely. We veered around to the east a fair way and came across a party of roped up children. Probably we should have gone up more directly at this point but we stayed east above the Heather Terrace. We worked very well together each looking out for the other and each going ahead as needed. We had to make some considered decisions on which route to take which we did slowly and very carefully on a couple of more exposed sections. One was where we had to cross a sloping green wet slab but not of huge width which extended over the air. This was followed by a lofty section where A had to take a slightly different route from me to get her little legs over. Some of the things we kept saying were “That’s looks a bit interesting” and “Shall we try it and if it’s no good we can always come back”! This helped no end! Lastly we came out onto a path where we worked out a route up the grass but there was a gully which we reckoned was passable so we went up it over some big steps to the top. As I got to the top of it, people were walking over the rocks over our heads. We then had to turn and step up to move out of the gully. We got a nice man to spot and talk A up this bit. He had come up with 3 small kids who were behind us all the way up but who magically reached the summit before us. Then we were out and the top was in sight. Photos with Adam and Eve and lunch. The mist came and we descended the south side to Bwlch Tryfan, Llyn Bochlyd and Ogwen where a new visitor centre is being built. Used the old loos and back to the cars.

Stopped to drink beer at the Pen y Gwryd Hotel which I’ve wanted to go to for a long time and we looked at all the boots of those who climbed Everest in 1953, also the autographs of many famous climbers on the ceiling. It’s a nice old pub/hotel, smells of woodsmoke and has lots of wood panelling and you can stay there for £50 a night but they only serve dinner to residents.

We checked in at Bryn Gwynant YH, made the beds, showers. The showers and loos have all been done up and are quite bearable. I hated them the last time when Chris and I stayed here. They’ve also been doing a lot of work on the Victorian garden.
I had cheese, leek and mushroom pie and A had lasagne at the Tanronnen Inn in Beddgelert. Beer and wine to celebrate our achievement.

Angela descending from Llyn Bochlwyd
Angela descending from Llyn Bochlwyd
Boots worn by the team that climbed Everest in 1953 but not the actual boots used on Everest
Boots worn by the team that climbed Everest in 1953 but not the actual boots used on Everest
Getting high on Tryfan's north face
Getting high on Tryfan’s north face
Quartz knobbly bits
Quartz knobbly bits
The gully we came up
The gully we came up
Eve and Adam or Angela and Jak
Eve and Adam or Angela and Jak
Llyn Bochlwyd, Llyn Idwal and Llyn Ogwen
Llyn Bochlwyd, Llyn Idwal and Llyn Ogwen
Angela scrambling down
Angela scrambling down
Big ball of quartz
Big ball of quartz
Llyn Bochlwyd behind
Llyn Bochlwyd behind
Angela and Tryfan's south face
Angela and Tryfan’s south face
Enormous lump of quartz
Enormous lump of quartz

Weds May 29th

We heard that there was an 3.6 earthquake in Snowdonia overnight but I thought it was just Angela turning in the bunk bed above! Actually we both slept through it.
Went to the Caffi Gwynant down the road and had granola and yoghurt for me, cooked breakfast for A. Very nice cafe indeed.
Eventually drove off and parked up in Beddgelert. Set off crossing the railway line to go up Moel Hebog. We climbed up with a few scrambly bits but none on the scale of Tryfan. Reached the top and had lunch. Set off for Moel yr Ogof by following the wall down. This crossed a river and then it was a shortish ascent through Owain Glyndwr’s cave (ogof) to the shoulder which gave us a vista in most directions.
As we started to descend so as to go up the next lump the weather came in so we elected to not do this next summit and instead follow the fence down. We did this and it was steep but doable. We were just moving over a fence when we met up with a woman and child who also wished to get through the forest that was facing us. We plunged into the trees which were not very high but extremely thick and eventually managed to meet Tarmac meaning we were on the right path. We followed the stream down with our companions who were Ann (45) and Tom (6). Tom told us this when he decided we should all be introduced!
We reached where we had started the walk by returning along the path by the railway although there was a moment of confusion as new paths had been built.
Stopped at the Saracen’s Head pub for chicken pasta for me and Thai green curry for A.
Back to YH for shower, beer, wine and gassing. Also chatted to Kay. Heard an owl hooting in the night.

Bluebells at the bottom of Moel Hebog
Bluebells at the bottom of Moel Hebog
More quartz knobs
More quartz knobs
Angela on summit of Moel Hebog
Angela on summit of Moel Hebog
Someone ate a chunk out of this trig point
Someone ate a chunk out of this trig point
Huge pillow of cloud
Huge pillow of cloud
I think this is flow banding
I think this is flow banding
Angela emerging from the forest with her eyes shut!
Angela emerging from the forest with her eyes shut!
Moel Hebog in the mist
Moel Hebog in the mist

Thurs May 30th

A packed up her things and we got to Caffi Gwynant shortly after 9. Same breakfasts. Off to start of Watkin path with the rope. We practised knots and belaying. A is good at this and I was fairly hopeless. First knot rope and tie to self by following route of rope then knot rope and lasso round anchor, having checked it is secure then knot rope and tie round person. The next bit I can neither describe nor do but we did manage to belay a bit and were able to brake and easily take the weight of the other.
A set off for home and once she had gone I set off again up the Watkin path. Upon reaching the ford where a new weir is being built which will hydro electrically power all the NT properties in Wales, I veered left and followed an old mining railway track. Left that behind to ascend to the bwlch where I ate my lunch of banana and pecan bread from the cafe. A shortish climb following the wall to reach Yr Aran. I only saw half a dozen people on that hill. It was pretty windy but ok, not as bad as when Chris and I did Grizedale Pike. Did a small bit of scrambling. So windy I didn’t linger and was down quite quickly. 3 hours up and 2 down but a Quality Mountain Day (QMD). I took a bearing so as to get the peak at the right point because no path on the map. There was one on the ground which was on my bearing. On the return I did some short cuts off piste.
Back to the YH. Cooked up rice and peas and chilli con carne with cheese. Walked around the grounds as the sun lowered over Yr Wyddfa.
Rampart beer.

On summit of Yr Aran with Yr Wyddfa behind
On summit of Yr Aran with Yr Wyddfa behind
Angela belaying, I don't know what she be laying!
Angela belaying, I don’t know what she be laying!
Anchored to the anchor
Anchored to the anchor
Yr Aran
Yr Aran
Small scramble on Yr Aran
Small scramble on Yr Aran
Path was once a mine railway track, wooden sleepers slowly rotting
Path was once a mine railway track, wooden sleepers slowly rotting
Route of old railway track
Route of old railway track
Upright slates in Wales as well as Wycoller
Upright slates in Wales as well as Wycoller
Simply red
Simply red
Over the castell
Over the castell
Llyn Gwynant in the evening sun
Llyn Gwynant in the evening sun
Snowdon in the evening sun
Snowdon in the evening sun
Llyn Gwynant
Llyn Gwynant

Fri May 31st

I was woken at 11.40 by loud music so got up to investigate. The warden with the very large ears said he’d just turned it off (when he heard me coming). I was quite grumpy with him as there is a 10.30 curfew and I’ve made it clear I’m not happy on my feedback form.
A and I had heard what can only be described as repetitive flushing and concluded that someone had been troubled in the loo. The symptom continues so it must be something else.

I was still feeling quite grumpy after waking up this morning so I got packed up and was in Caffi Gwynant nice and early for my last breakfast which I ate outside in the sun. I drove across the river and up a little lane and parked the car up.

I’d picked a peak and a route that I fancied, some of which I’d done on ML training after the night navigation trip. The terrain is very bumpy and the contour interpretation is quite tricky so I knew it would be good practice for me. It was quite slow going and I wanted to get home not too late so I decided not to go up Moel Meirch after all but just to get to a wall on the map. I did this by taking a high route weaving my way up. This all went well. Heard a cuckoo very near to me. I could see the river below and decided to return along it knowing I would have to cross it at least twice. I slipped on a rock and dented my pride but not my camera which stayed bone dry in the Aquapac bag. My foot also stayed dry in Goretex. I did all my other crossings without incident but still managed to put the same foot into a bog over ankle height but the Goretex really works well. Got back to the car without any further wettings after 2 and half hours out with the map and not a soul in sight.

Into Beddgelert to buy fudge for Carol and stopped in a layby to eat my sandwich and then drove home, finally getting a mobile signal somewhere after Betws-y-Coed. Vodafone really crap in Snowdonia. Home before 6.

Afon Llynedno
Afon Llynedno
Towards Llyn Dinas
Towards Llyn Dinas
Expensive train setting off
Expensive train setting off

 

Please visit Map and Compass and learn how to interpret a map with me and my navigation partner, Cath.

Contours only navigation course May 25th 2013

This was an excellent day’s training. Such a contrast from the very poor training I was on for work this week.

I arrived at Barber Booth in good time. I can now get to the Peak District in under an hour and a half by using the M67, so much easier and quicker than the crow’s route.

There were 8 of us and Pete Hawkins, from the Silva Navigation School. There were 2 Marks, 2 Johns, Dom, Ken, and I think Steve, and me. We set off straight away to walk up to the access land using the OS 1:25,000 map. Once we were on the maps which only showed contours the oddest thing was not knowing the names of the places. Pete did tell us from time to time, but it was hard to remember and I don’t know that area very well.

The pattern for the day was in pairs to locate spots that Pete gave us, these were spot heights, ring contours, little nicks in the contour line. We went up Broadlee Bank Tor via the spur, across below Grindslow Knoll, then into a maze of groughs above Crowden Tower where we stopped for lunch. We stayed mostly off the beaten tracks so this was a lovely sheltered and sunny spot. Then off again into the warren of groughs and hags. The hags are the bits that stick up and the groughs are the chasms. This section was hard going across the black wet peaty bits. We made our way to Pym Chair and then across and down a steep but springy heather section to Crowden Brook, back to the farm where there is camping and also tea and cake.

I’ve had to look at the OS map to get all the names right and it seems so cluttered and actually makes it harder. I’m going to get some more Harvey maps as although they have a lot of information on them, they are not so messy.

A thoroughly good day which has increased my confidence no end.

Pete in green with legs!
Pete in green with legs!
Pym Chair
Pym Chair

P1010881 P1010882Please visit Map and Compass and learn how to interpret a map with me and my navigation partner, Cath.

Wycoller mists 18th May 2013

Cath and I both used our sat navs to get to Wycoller and had managed to end up in different car parks! My route went through Hebden across Keighley Moor to Oxenhope and then across to Wycoller past a couple of big reservoirs but most of the journey was in such low cloud that I didn’t see anything. I strolled down to the Visitor Centre and we decided to set off after a hot drink. We went to the cafe where I thought I’d seen Celia Imrie several years ago. We both had huge pieces of freshly baked and very good Bakewell tart. Yes it was. Our plan was to spec out one of Cath’s advanced walks for the book she is writing and to agree an outline for how we would teach navigation skills on a day walk.

We set off from Wycoller, passing the ruined hall, my last trip there had been to see the Midsommer Actors doing The Hound of the Baskervilles as a walkabout, very atmospheric location for the play. Wycoller is also where Chris saw a ghost on the bridge, not sure which one, I don’t think the ghost was any of those listed here.

The first part of our walk was very pleasant along leafy lanes, past fields with lambs and calves. Once we crossed the road onto the access land the cloud was on top of us and we could not see far at all. The idea with this walk was that people would have some handrails to use but would then go off piste for the advanced skills part. We came across the first hiccup when we had to climb a wooden fence. Whilst we felt ok about doing this as we were on access land, we didn’t think it would be ok to encourage walkers to do this in a book and we weren’t sure of the legalities of it or how one would get permission. We carried on over the clumps and bumps and bog, it didn’t rain much but everything felt damp because of being in the cloud. We practised a bit of timing, a bit of pacing, did a bit of walking on a bearing. We remembered to trust our tools and worked out that we had not gone far enough to reach our objective which was a footpath crossing the bog. Sadly this was a path that existed only in the cartographer’s mind and not in reality. Cath went off to see if she could find it and started to disappear so I went after her. We actually ended up where the path should be according to my GPS. So this was a mixture of using our maps and compasses plus the GPS for backup. I put the backup away as it had confirmed that we were where we thought we ought to be. As the terrain was hard going, we decided to head back to the road, stopping for a quick bite to eat in the bog as it was late for lunch by then.

We saw a couple of geese and a couple of grouse, well they were minding their own business and probably thought we were quite mad to be tramping about in the mist.

We got back to the road by walking on a bearing, again good practice as we both had the feeling that the direction was other than that indicated by our compasses, but because we trusted our tools we got to where we wanted to be. It really would have been very easy to walk round and round in circles without a compass in those conditions.

Cath had already decided that the moor we’d been on wasn’t a suitable addition for her book by this point as it had been a bit of a bog slog.

We thought we would take a footpath back to my car park and get off the road which was misty, narrow and a bit busy so we took a sign leading out of a disused pub’s car park and across a field with sheep in it. The path clearly went across a field boundary on the map but in reality this was a tall stone wall with a lot of barbed wire, we tried to get over but it was a bit too hard so we went back to the road and climbed over a fence with barbed wire to get out of the field, managing to make some holes in Cath’s map in the process.

Back along the road to the car and then down to the cafe for making notes and plans. This time we skipped the cakes!

I’m just glad that I was with Cath for all these adventures. I will be writing to Lancashire Council about the blocked footpath.

Fab single stone clapper bridge at Wycoller
Fab single stone clapper bridge at Wycoller
Distinctive lichen
Distinctive lichen
Footbridge at Wycoller
Footbridge at Wycoller
Wycoller clapper bridge
Wycoller clapper bridge
Fireplace Wycoller Hall
Fireplace Wycoller Hall

Please visit Map and Compass and learn how to interpret a map with me and my navigation partner, Cath.

Thieveley Pike 12th May 2013

This walk is in my new book Great Mountain Days in the Pennines. I like the title as I don’t really think of our local hills as mountains. More rain was forecast so I cut it back a bit before starting from the layby near Holme Chapel. I walked along the road a bit and passed an old ruined house called The Holme and then decided to do a short cut along a right of way with footpath across the fields. At the end of the field there was a very big timber operation going on with several tractors and saws. They seemed to be cutting up a huge tree of about a metre and a half in diameter. Although the official footpath went right through this lot, I sensibly decided to aim straight for the open gateway so as not to get in their way.

A hi viz man came towards me and suggested that as I was heading to the gate he would “let me off” for straying from the footpath. I said I was trying not to interfere with their wood cutting operations. What a bloody jobsworth. It was far more sensible to keep right away from the vehicles and chainsaws than to stick rigidly to the path and I had made a considered decision. I knew I wasn’t on access land and I knew where the path went but this seemed to be picky for no good reason.

Holme Hall, Holme Chapel
Holme Hall, Holme Chapel
Dean Scout
Dean Scout
Rocks on Dean Scout
Rocks on Dean Scout

So thoroughly disgruntled, I headed on up through Buckley Wood and Thieveley Wood. When I got to an open spot to eat my lunch, the rain really came on. I plodded on up to the top of Thieveley Pike. This is on access land and you can get to the beacon which is a little way from the trig point but it was so wet and cold and windy that I decided to cut short my walk and return back the same way to my lunch spot and then take a different tack to avoid the wood cutters. I went through Fish Pond Plantation and down to the fish pond itself, only passed one man who was chopping bits of wood in the plantation. Very quickly back at the car.

Please visit Map and Compass and learn how to interpret a map with me and my navigation partner, Cath.

Gorple circuit May 6th 2013

Carol and I did a very similar route to one I did not long ago with Cath, except we made it a bit shorter today.

We walked on bits of the Pennine Way and the Pennine Bridleway, sometimes both at the same time. It was a lovely sunny day and I had to put the factor 50 on for the first time this year.

Started at the car park for the Walshaw Dean reservoirs, dropped down to Graining Water, crossed the 2 footbridges and then up to Gorple Cottages, then to Reap’s Cross still marked as “rems of” on the map but actually “restored by the people of this hillside” a few years ago.

That was the end of the good paths, from the cross it’s a hike across the very dry moor. All the bogs have dried up. We listened to curlews and peewits and wrens and managed to make a goose very cross. Then we came upon another pair of geese so we did a bit of a detour so as not to upset them too. This took us to Raistrick Greave which is a large ruin.

From there to the old scout hut. At this point we stopped for Carol to have her lunch, half of mine had gone at Reap’s Cross and half at Raistrick Greave. Whilst there I investigated a second footbridge and some steps leading up to a good path, none of which are marked on the map. It looks like they give access to a set of grouse butts.

From the scout hut we started back taking in Gorple Lower reservoir. A lovely day out in the sun.

Gorple Lower reservoir
Gorple Lower reservoir
Graining Water
Graining Water
From Raistrick Greave
From Raistrick Greave
Blackbird for Carol
Blackbird for Carol

P1010849 P1010853 P1010863 P1010866

 Please visit Map and Compass and learn how to interpret a map with me and my navigation partner, Cath.

Pennine Bridleway May 5th 2013

IMG_1294 IMG_1290 IMG_1291 IMG_1292 IMG_1293Chris and I did about 20k from her house. I only started measuring the distance when we’d already gone quite a way.
We went up to Mankinholes on the road and then along the bridleway which at that part is called London Road, decided not to go all the way to London today. It’s been refurbished and is now quite good to cycle on, less boggy but actually everywhere is very dry. We just followed the PB (blue markers) along packhorse roads and then dropped down to Callis Wood. Stopped for a late lunch by the river and then down through the wood to the canal. We took the canal back to Tod as far as Woodhouse Road, watched some men getting a barge through a lock. We had to carry the bikes up some extremely steep steps to get onto Woodhouse Road, they would be hard without a bike. Then up and up what used to be a lovely pretty lane and is now foully marred by the dumping of detritus. Up some more to the Shepherd’s Rest. Then down all the way back to Chris’ house for a welcome cup of tea.
I managed to get oil all over my clothes trying to get the bike back up on the car which was a struggle because it was at a bit of an angle. Then when I got home found I had a four inch scratch down my calf. No idea where that came from.
We were celebrating Karl Marx’ birthday: http://imperialsenate.wordpress.com/tag/karl-marx/

Please visit Map and Compass and learn how to interpret a map with me and my navigation partner, Cath.

Water board ways 4th May 2013

I did a quick walk from Spa Clough reservoir near Junction 22 of the M62. I’ve seen what looks like a good track every time I’ve driven home from J22 and now I’ve finally got to walk it. To be honest it’s not very exciting. There are various water board things to control the water and lots of inlets but that’s about it. The M62 is very near although mostly I hardly noticed it apart from when it was in actual sight. It was sunny and windy.

Booth Wood reservoir
Booth Wood reservoir

IMG_1280 IMG_1282 IMG_1285 IMG_1289Please visit Map and Compass and learn how to interpret a map with me and my navigation partner, Cath.