Mountain Leader refresher

Friday 25th April

Drove to the Pen y Gwryd hotel arriving just after 9pm. I unpacked and went to the residents’ bar for a couple of halves of beer. I met 3 brothers and their father and some others who were staying.

Saturday 26th April

I had the full Welsh breakfast and got to Capel Curig on time to meet up with Paul (trainer), Chris, Adam and Branwen at the cafe.

Walked out behind Moel Siabod cafe and basically did hours of intense navigation practice on quite lumpy and bumpy terrain with lots of little knobbles and nipples! The Clogwyn and Crimpiau area.

I found at one point that my compass wasn’t working properly which could have been because of the big iron stanchion I was next to but on further testing it was affected by my magnifier.

So I know now to keep my magnifier well away from the compass. I’ve also tested all my jewellery against the compass and my necklaces are ok but some of my bracelets are a bit suspect so I won’t wear them when I’m out with the compass.

This was a very active day running up and down hills and I felt pretty tired at the end of it but also reasonably confident that I do know what I’m doing and am not too bad at interpreting contours.

I went to Cobden’s hotel for my supper and had a risotto which was a bit greasy but tasty and inexpensive. I was later told this was not the best place to eat and it’s true the place is a bit neglected but my meal was actually quite ok and I didn’t suffer after eating it. There were lots of photos of Dylan Thomas and although I’ve looked, I haven’t worked out why.

Back at Pen y Gwryd, I met up with the 3 brothers and their lifelong friend and their dad and had a nice time drinking beer with them (these brothers were just here for the weekend, and not the brothers who run the hotel) and also with a lawyer called Nigel from London.

My wash basin can be hidden behind discreet curtain!
My wash basin can be hidden behind discreet curtain!
Wally the MR bear looking towards Snowdon
Wally the MR bear looking towards Snowdon
On the nav day
On the nav day

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Tryfan the stegosaurus
Tryfan the stegosaurus

Sunday 27th April

Back to the cafe to meet Paul, also Chris, Tim, Dan, Ken and Branwen. We set off to the Ogwen cottage, parking up on the road, and walked up to Llyn Idwal with helmets and ropes. We practised indirect belays, direct belays and the 3 types of descent methods – angel wings, traditional abseil and South African abseil. I felt much more confident about doing all of these and Paul reminded me that there is no need to rush anything on the assessment.

We then did some confidence roping and tried this across different sorts of terrain. This was useful as this is something I can imagine doing if a member of the party was injured or needed help.

We then went back down. Branwen and I went to Idwal Cottage for refreshments and I used the new facilities before heading off home. I got home in 2 hours and 20 minutes which was great as it took me nearly 3 hours to get there so am definitely sticking with the A55 as far as possible route for the future.

Practise, practise, practise now!

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

Practising on steep ground
Practising on steep ground
This was the rock we went up and down
This was the rock we went up and down
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Lakes in April 2014

Tuesday 22nd April
I picked Chris up from Todmorden and we set off smartly, stopping at Lancaster services for supplies from M&S and coffees, Tebay services for more supplies, Penrith for diesel and Keswick for an anorak and a head torch for Chris to add to her collection. We ate our M&S salads in the car park. She had butternut squash and I had a beetroot and mint one, they were very tasty. 

We parked in Bowness Knot car park and then walked the 7 miles to Black Sail youth hostel which really does feel remote as that’s the only way to get there although the YHA does have a Land Rover which trundles up and down with duvet covers and bottles of beer. We were in a room on the left of the main room with 4 bunk beds in it. Chris very kindly took the top bunk as I was worried that if it was hot, the heat would rise which would probably melt me as I’m currently having thermostat problems. We made up our beds. There was one other occupant. We made our dinner of boiled mixed veg, rice and LWIF meatballs. C didn’t feel so well so I had some of hers too then yummy Simnel cake I had made.  We drank Jennings’ Cocker Hoop and Snecklifter. I liked the Cocker Hoop better. Early to bed.
Old YHA Land Rover at Black Sail
Old YHA Land Rover at Black Sail
Ennerdale Water
Ennerdale Water
On the road to Black Sail
On the road to Black Sail
Wednesday 23rd April
C snored and I sneezed but the woman we shared with from Birmingham was very forgiving or at least too polite to say we had kept her awake. I haven’t really slept for 3 weeks since my internal thermostat decided to go on the blink and give me the experience of random hot sweats at any time. The only good thing is that they don’t last very long but I do long to sleep through an entire night without either sneezing or sweating.
We had breakfast of yoghurt jam and granola pots. We tidied up and set off for Pillar. It soon became clear that Chris really wasn’t going to be able to go very far uphill so we changed our plans and walked a little further towards the head of the valley and then back to Bowness Knot along the south side of the river. This was a lovely walk going through different types of woodland. On the way we had pork pies for our lunch. We had planned to walk up Pillar and across to Steeple and down to Ennerdale YH but the walk we did do was still very pretty with the river burbling away.
Back at the car we went for a drive round to Wasdale and stopped at the Wasdale Head Inn for a pot of tea and shared a piece of cake.
Then drove back across the moor road to Ennerdale Bridge and stopped at the Fox and Hounds for supper. C had Cumberland sausage and mash and veg and gravy and I had sea bass and chips and veg and homemade tartare sauce. Washed down with Jennings beer on tap. The food was ok but not totally top notch. My fish was overdone.
We then drove back to Ennerdale YH for the night. I had asked by email if we could park here for last night while we walked to Black Sail but got a reply that we couldn’t. I then found that the woman from Birmingham had done so and she hadn’t even been staying there, Ggrrr! When I get time I will write a letter. However this reminded me that they never replied when the man in charge of Bryn Gwynant broke the noise curfew he was supposed to be implementing by playing rock music so loud it woke me up. Anyway it was lovely to shower and drink Moretti beer.
I watched the manager reverse the brand new YHA Land Rover in the dark towards the gate posts. Probably best to learn how to do this in the daylight IMHO!! I think it was unscathed but looked a close shave.
Early morning at Black Sail
Early morning at Black Sail
Chris at Black Sail
Chris at Black Sail
Head of the valley
Head of the valley
It was this big!
It was this big!
Mad woman on bridge
Mad woman on bridge
The heron
The heron
Ennerdale Water
Ennerdale Water
Wasdale in the gloom
Wasdale in the gloom
Thursday 24th April
We had a leisurely yoghurt breakfast again and then set off to drive across the mountain Whinlatter Pass to Keswick’s west side. We parked up and walked up Catbells. Chris found this hard work but I’m very grateful to her that she stuck with it and helped me reach my 61st Wainwright.  After all her efforts, we went into Keswick and had some food in the Square Orange cafe. C had a ciabatta and I had 2 tapas, a sort of omelette and some fresh tomato on bruschetta. Very delicious and a nice relaxing cafe.
Then we drove home.
Please visit Map and Compass and learn how to interpret a map with me and my navigation partner, Cath.
Mountain Rescue bears Ted and Wally on Catbells
Mountain Rescue bears Ted and Wally on Catbells
Towards Skiddaw from Catbells
Towards Skiddaw from Catbells
Chris with Derwent Water after exertions on Catbells
Chris with Derwent Water after exertions on Catbells