Almost Spring in the Banwy valley

Fri 6th March

Carol did dialysis. Got married (our upgrade backdated to our civil partnership in 2008). Went shopping.
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Married again!
Married again!
Halifax Registry Office
Halifax Registry Office
Sat 7th March
Drove to new holiday cottage in Llangadfan. The cottage is part of an old farm now owned by working artists (Shani Rhys James and Stephen West) (http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shani_Rhys_James) We are in the calf shed. It’s clean and well equipped and remote enough. Short walk along the lane by the river. Omelette for supper. Watched the last half hour of a really bad movie with Angelina Jolie in it.
Sun 8th March
Lovely lie in and lazy start to day. Drove a few kilometres up the hill to park in the forest. Went along forestry tracks to find the Lookout Tower. I went to highest spot of forest but no lookout tower anywhere in sight. Beef casserole and baked potatoes and Cavolo Nero at home. Watched Gosford Park but both dropped off at different points. Annoying murder mystery that is not clear as to who dun it. Carol says the point is that it isn’t a murder mystery.
From the outside looking in?!!
From the outside looking in?!!
Forestry trail
Forestry trail

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Serious mating in progress
Mon 9th March
Giant rabbit and a robin outside the door. V. Beatrix Potter.
Melverley wooden Jacobean church. Lovely but intensely cold. Welshpool for a small bit of shopping.
Delivered Carol to holiday dialysis. You can’t just turn up. First of all she has to send in blood samples in advance. Then she has to book the sessions. She basically gets the slots the local patients don’t want.
I drove back towards Criggion passing several old MOD buildings http://www.bbc.co.uk/shropshire/content/articles/2005/04/09/20th_century_criggion_masts_feature.shtml to park near the hideous scar of a giant quarry that has torn most of the hillside away. Walked up Breidden Hill 300m to Rodney’s pillar (Admiral). It only rained a bit on the way back down. It was so windy at the top that I couldn’t walk round the pillar and had to wedge myself against the trig point to take a photo.
Picked Carol up. Whilst waiting a fellow renal patient asked me if I was her mother (because we look alike)!
We watched a couple of episodes of the Twilight Zone.
Top secret MOD radio station, Criggion
Top secret MOD radio station, Criggion
Vast quarry at Criggion
Vast quarry at Criggion
Rodney's wotsit
Rodney’s wotsit
Melverley church
Melverley church
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River at Melverley. Terribly cold there.
Tues 10th March
Drove into mountains via Lake Vyrnwy. Nice dry day with some sun. Walked from Llanymawddwy along a good track. Carol managed a bit further and higher than when we were here last year.
Back to cottage and out to Just 3 Drops bistro in Llanfair Caereinion for a large meal. We both ate too much. Peroni on draught, I’d never had that before and it was a proper treat! I had pate selection and toast followed by fettuccine in creamy sauce with chicken, mushrooms and Parmesan. Carol had goats cheese log followed by beef and chorizo cassette with mashed potato, dumpling and petit pois. She also had chocolate ganache and a cup of tea. I had a fruit tea and 2 chocolate truffles. We were so full we couldn’t move. Greedy old gits!
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Ha ha!
Ha ha!
No idea what was going on here
No idea what was going on here
The rivers meet
The rivers meet
In the stream
In the stream

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Garage at Pont Llogel
Garage at Pont Llogel
Weds 11th March
Oswestry for shopping and market. Then to Welshpool for Carol’s dialysis. I went off to climb one of the other of the 3 volcanic peaks. Moel y Golfa. Climbed up through woodland very steeply. A little bit of hands on scrambling to reach the top. Romany monument at top to father and son Romany Chell, not sure if this means a Romany leader or if it is contraction of Romanichal. Down along the spur on the other side nearly to the bottom then contoured back along past several farms. Back up into the wood and round to where I started.
Picked Carol up. Back to cottage and watched Airplane. Very sophisticated holiday viewing schedule!
The Romany monument
The Romany monument
MOD establishment with strange dead ring around it.
MOD establishment with strange dead ring around it.
Uriah Burton, Romany Chell
Uriah Burton, Romany Chell
Ernest Burton, Romany Chell
Ernest Burton, Romany Chell
This is a small quarry.
This is a small quarry.
Thurs 12th March
Lazy start to day. Drove to Pont Llogel and walked along the river Vyrnwy to Dolanog and back. This was along the Ann Griffiths Way. We thought we had completed this walk last summer but actually we only did half of it then, so this does now finish it off. River badly polluted by strands of agricultural plastic festooning the trees overhanging the river for the entire length we walked. I’ve reported this to Powys Council and to Keep Wales Tidy. Weather forecast had lied and the rain came on heavily just as we got back to the car.
I bought some non self service diesel and that felt like a treat.
C had fun with the washer and dryer.
Chicken and veg pasta with purple sprouting broccoli.
More Twilight Zone.
Derelict hall at Dolanog
Derelict hall at Dolanog

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Managed to take photo without a dangling piece of plastic festooning the branch
Managed to take photo without a dangling piece of plastic festooning the branch
Fri 13th March
My birthday. Went across to Borth to see Chris in her new flat. Chris and Carol gave me a tarp which I’m hoping to use on my Pyrenean trip later this year. The idea is so that I don’t have to sleep like a sardine with complete strangers. We went out to Ffarmers and had spicy bean burger (me), beef burger (Chris) and fish and chips (Carol). All very yummy. I had almond slice with ice cream and have now forgotten what the others ate. This was my 3rd visit and continues to be a good place to eat. Back to Borth and along to Ynaslas to look at the estuary and the mountains. Drove back via Cadair Idris and a quite exciting long road down to the Brigands’ Inn and back to the cottage.
Sundown at Borth
Sundown at Borth

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Sat 14th March
Packed up. Said goodbye to Shani and Steve. Went back via the little lanes to Llanfyllin. Home in good time for Carol to get unpacked and onto dialysis machine. This is where we stayed: http://dolpebyll.co.uk/
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Winter Navigation training, 27th February to 2nd March, 2015

Fri 27th February
A nice if lengthy journey up to Aviemore. I used a split tickets site: http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/split-cheap-train-tickets/ and knocked about £80 off the cost. The drawback outgoing was this:
Taxi to station
Sowerby bridge to Hebden Bridge
Hebden to Preston long wait
Preston to Edinburgh Haymarket
Edinburgh to Aviemore
Split ticket had me changing at Burnley Manchester Road too but the ticket man and I agreed this was pointless which cut my trains from 5 to 4 and waiting at Preston was infinitely preferable to Burnley Manc Rd which has nothing to recommend it.
Great scenery and lots of snow. Almost Orient Express at times. Not the passengers though.
I stepped out of Aviemore station to a bitter wind. So quickly popped into Tesco and then bimbled around an outdoor shop while waiting for the minibus pickup to Glenmore Lodge. I chatted to Carson a young man from the USA who was going to do a winter skills weekend. Another man came and told us that he’d spent a week at the Lodge and that the food was plentiful but not haute cuisine. He went away and the minibus arrived. Hundreds of people and bags got out and Carson and I got in.
I paid a single supplement for a room to myself. My sleep is very poor these days and I would hate to be disrupting someone else as well as me.
The room was enormous and had beds from the Olympic village. So I may have slept on Bolt’s bed!
I picked up my gear from stores – shovel, ice axe, avalanche probe, avalanche transceiver, helmet, crampons.
To the bar for a veggie curry with rice and poppadoms. Not bad at all. Washed down with a half of Cairngorm brewery Trade Winds.
To bed.
Drumochda from the train
Drumochter from the train
Olympic beds
Olympic beds
Sat 28th February
Got up early and walked down the road to the reindeer centre but the reindeer were not at home.
Back to breakfast. All self service so I toasted my bread and buttered it then put beans on. Orange juice.  Collected lunch. More civilised than PYB where everyone throws themselves at the packed lunches before getting their breakfasts.
To lecture theatre for welcome from Nigel.
To Ryvoan room to meet others on course and our instructor Kirsty. Billy, Steve, John, Mary, Pat. Mary and Pat are both experts in Gaelic, pronounced Gallic, so I may have learnt a couple of words.
3 of us have summer ML and 3 are beginners. Kirsty did a fantastic job of managing a mixed group.
Spent the morning doing all the basics. We measured our paces along the flat and uphill on the same stretches I used on my very first nav course back in 2008.
We practised using the avalanche transceivers and probes, impressive bit of kit.
We used a 1:5,000 map which was surprisingly hard when so used to bigger scale. Looked at aspect of slope. Very useful.
Back to Lodge for late lunch.
Out in minibus to lower ski car park with the 1:50,000 map. We went past the reindeer and back through the forest. Felt much more comfortable with this map.
Back to the Lodge quite late so we missed tea and cake.
Wet kit in driying room. Shower and yet another rucksack repack. Dinner of lentils and pasta. Choc meringue pudding. All very good and tasty. Maybe not quite haute cuisine but very nice. I sat with Billy and Steve.
We were joined by another man called Neil who is a guide and instructor etc. out of Chamonix. Mentioned my trip up Mont Blanc and the Gouter hut. Also our guide then Stephane Benoist. Turns out they are pals. Steph has since lost many fingers and toes on Annapurna and had to move to different activities. I asked Neil to remember me to Steph and tell him I now have ML! Saw Neil later and he had just received message from Steph after not actually hearing from him for some time. How strange. Steph did remember me and sent me nice wishes. Am impressed that he did remember. He is a holder of the Piolet d’Or for climbing a not previously done face of Nuptse. I was sorry to hear about his injuries as he is a very nice man with young children, he does look like he’s really been through it on this site: http://www.altissima.org/en/stephane-benoist-ampute-apres-son-ascension-en-face-sud-de-lannapurna-6269.html My account of our Mont Blanc trip is also on this blog – entries for October 2009.
To the lecture room where Nigel gave us a most amusing talk on winter nav. I may be inspired to do some orienteering especially as I know where there is some near us.
2 halves of beer with Billy and Steve and Pat’s husband Ian who had been out ice climbing.
To bed.
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Sea King coming in to land at Glenmore Lodge.
Sea King coming in to land at Glenmore Lodge.

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Youngster
Youngster

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Sun 1st March
Slept well. Packed up to vacate room. Suitcase to luggage room (great idea that PYB could do).
Breakfast of beans on toast and coffee and juice.
Ryvoan room for recap. We all decided to use the 1:40,000 map. K went through route planning taking account of avalanche risk.
Nigel drove us up to car park and we set off. We used timing and pacing according to what we wanted to practice.
We had a go at directing someone on a bearing testing how far they could hear as well.
Made a journey to Utsi’s hut during which it started to snow. Utsi brought the reindeer over here 50 years ago and the reindeer herdsman had to sleep near his flock. Neat little hut where we lunched. It’s in the bottom picture on this page: http://www.cairngormreindeer.co.uk/History.aspx?nid=8b35281c-d64f-4548-93cc-4814c175b692
Back out and up and around hill. Crossed some snow in which I got my foot stuck. Kirsty came and helped me out. Had I been on my own I would have got my pole off the rucksack and put it across the hole to lever myself out as well as scrape the snow out. (I had to think like this as mostly I don’t have anyone to come and do what Kirsty did) I was stuck surprisingly fast. Up around hill to a lochan where the wind was quite fierce. Then followed the deer fence to the path. This took us down across a bridge and back up to the Sugar Bowl car park where Nigel picked us up.
Back to the Lodge. Kit back to stores. Collect suitcase. Collect hot choc and cake. Debrief. Farewell.
Nice young man took me to Aviemore in the minibus  I was the only passenger so had no worry about getting him to take me to door of Ravenscraig Guest House.
Jonathan welcomed me. Room was fine. Put wet kit in drying room. Shower. Out to the Winking Owl to eat. Had butternut squash and lentils. Only ok. Cairngorm Highland IPA.  Music quite depressing so didn’t feel like staying.
Red grouse
Red grouse

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It's that way...
It’s that way…
We are a bit cold and wet
We are a bit cold and wet
All the gang
All the gang
He wasn't around
He wasn’t around
This is pine marten poo
This is pine marten poo

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Utsi's hut
Utsi’s hut

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It's still Christmas in Aviemore
It’s still Christmas in Aviemore

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Mon 2nd March
Pitlochry, the next stop of the train. I loved this. The trains home all went really easily. It was snowing as I left Aviemore and on my way home I got messages to say it was snowing there too. It was great that the travelling was all painless. I enjoyed my weekend but actually I’d paid to be stretched a bit more and expected to be out on the snow straightaway, but have fed this back to Glenmore Lodge. I’ve said they need to be very clear about what the pre-requisites are for courses. I’ll be back with Paul Poole Mountaineering for next time round if he and I are both free at the same time. The dates just didn’t quite match up for me this year.

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Dawn at Aviemore station
Dawn at Aviemore station

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Not likely at a railway station
Not likely at a railway station

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From the train
From the train