Blog

Malham 19 May 2018

When Charles and Di got married in 1981 I was 23 and walked up what must have been my first mountain, Pen y Ghent, from Horton in Ribblesdale. Two things I remember about that day – my Greek American friend M, stayed back to watch the wedding on a portable TV brought up from Cardiff just for the wedding, and someone wanted a steak sandwich, which most days in 1981 would have been quite a challenge in the Yorkshire Dales but because of the wedding was amazingly an easy find. These were the days when avocado was a colour for bathroom fittings. We’d moved on from buying olive oil in a chemist but opening hours and food choices were nothing like today.

I drove up to Malham and parked near the tarn. I did a 15km circular walk avoiding the cove and all the busy places. At first there were quite a lot of people but I soon got away from them and had the place pretty much to myself.

Passed Victoria and Jubilee caves. Didn’t go in because I reckon the interesting bones of elephants, rhinoceroses and bears discovered by the Victorians are long gone and I don’t much like caves.

It was warm and sunny and great weather for walking.

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Pillar 1st April 2018

This trip had been a long time coming. In 2010 Chris and I had a Lakeland Adventure around Ennerdale Water where we wild camped then stayed in Ennerdale YH and finished up in the Castle Inn on Bassenthwaite Lake for a proper treat. We discussed climbing Pillar and how we would do it.

In 2014, we returned to Ennerdale and walked to Black Sail YH and then Chris got sick. It was very sudden and very clear that we were not going to climb Pillar that day. So we changed our plans and did some other things. She was such a tough woman that she did go up Catbells the next day albeit very very slowly but she was so determined to do it. That was the last mountain she climbed.

I went to Wasdale in 2015 and tried to ascend from the other side. I hadn’t allowed enough time and my boot lace disintegrated and although I had a good walk that day, Pillar was just a stretch too far.

Easter 2018: I booked a break on Derwent Water. I set it up so that I had a choice of 3 possible days to walk and I would just take the best of the 3 from the weather forecasts. The first day had very limited visibility on the tops, day 2 was looking good and day 3 looking very pants. I opted for the Sunday.

I drove round from Portinscale where I was staying to Wasdale Head, an hour’s drive. Parked up with no problems near the campsite. And then just walked. You have to go quite a long way in what feels like and is completely the wrong direction but that’s so as to avoid things like the screes. So it’s up to the Black Sail Pass and then basically back along and up and up, including a sort of knarly, knobbly knot which was hands on and fun. It’s a good long walk and always another bit to do but after 3 hours I got to the top and just the top plateau was snow covered, I knew it was a plateau but with the name Pillar you are expecting something else! There is Pillar Rock which is a climbing challenge and why the place is called Pillar. Fantastic 360 views of the sea, Ennerdale Water and Sellafield!

The last of Chris’s ashes are now scattered on the top of the mountain she didn’t reach in life.

I had planned to do a circuit but it looked a lot more snowy ahead so I returned via the same route because I was on my own.

Derwent Water
Derwent Water
Pillar
Ennerdale Water from Pillar
Please visit Map and Compass and learn how to interpret a map and use a compass with me and my navigation partner, Cath.

MAPandCOMPASS

High Seat 31st March 2018

It was very much still winter on this Wainwright fell. I started from Ashness Bridge and plodded my way up the side of Ashness Gill. It was cold but I was able to see for the first half of the ascent and then visibility went down to about 10m. I got to the top of the fell where it was less than that!

Back down and it was nice to come out of the cloud and snow and to look across to where I was staying at Derwent Bank on Derwent Water. A good warm up walk to get me back in the swing of it.

I stayed in an HF Holidays house, it’s the UK’s only cooperative holiday company and it was excellent. So good that I became a member after one night, the room was good and the food was great.

Derwent Water from Derwent Bank
Derwent Water
Derwent Water
Summit of High Seat
Please visit Map and Compass and learn how to interpret a map and use a compass with me and my navigation partner, Cath.

MAPandCOMPASS

Rocca Sparviera 22/02/18

Last day. Mountain drive up some more interesting roads with either no barrier or such a small one that it seems pointless. To Col de Lobe then Rocca Sparviera mediaeval village and chapel. Saw lots of wolf droppings also those of wild boar. The wolf had been eating the boar as some droppings were mainly boar hair. Golden eagle. We wore the ice grippers for a bit. It had been hot when we did this walk last year, this time started off in 3 layers and increased to 5. We walked about 15km.

Back down to the bar in Lantosque for St. Thomas beer. Then home to pack up.

Dinner chez Liz and Mel. Chili popcorn, tomato and mozzarella type cheese called burrata and basil, couscous with veg and meatballs in sauce, cheeses, chocolate and ginger mousse. All excellent.

Holiday is courtesy of Liz and Mel of Spacebetween.

From the fire of 2003

First cowslips
Wolf tracks
Rocca Sparviera
Bathtime

La Colmiane and Rimplas 21/02/18

We collected Suzanne and David and the bread from St. Martin. Drove to La Colmiane and parked a short way from the centre. It was amazingly cold, Mel reckoned -10 with wind chill. We walked for a good way until we reached the remains of an avalanche and then turned back as it was not safe to continue.

We had our usual fine lunch of salads and bread and tomatoes.

Back to the van and on to Rimplas. There is a Maginot line fort here. Up above the village quite a way. Bridget and I had walked this path last year. Back down and to Serena cafe in La Colmiane for the very seriously good hot chocolate.

Dinner: cheese straws, soufflé, butter beans in tomato sauce with salad and bread, tiramisu.

Holiday is courtesy of Liz and Mel of Spacebetween.

Le Boreon and Refuge de Cougorde 20/02/18

We picked up David and Suzanne in St. Martin. Up to Le Boreon. Onto snow shoes and then up and up for 500m of ascent.

The refuge was open this time so we sat inside to eat our lunch. Salads, nuts, bread, ham, cheese. All lovely. We got drinks but my hot chocolate was horrible. The coffees also looked a bit lumpy.

A lovely day with good weather. Back down to St. Martin. Into the Pirate cafe! Nice hot chocolate and a biere de Conte, also very good, nearly as nice as my home made lager!

Bought biscuits for my friends at work, Julie don’t tell the boys!

Dinner: beetroot with feta cheese, celeriac soup, very hot noodles, we all went red, had to open the door, blue cheese and fab home made oatcakes, so good I’ll be having a go, they were quite thick and very tasty.

Holiday is courtesy of Liz and Mel of Spacebetween.

La Cougourde

Henk, Margreet, David, Suzanne, Mel, Mike, Bridget
David and Suzanne
Margreet and Henk

Roya 19/02/18

Slept badly, too hot. We’re turning the heaters down. Breakfast and then out by 9. To St. Martin then Valdeblore then the Tinee valley. Up a scary road to Roya, the sort of road you don’t want to meet anything coming down. So we met the snow plough. Luckily just at a slightly wider section. Mel is also a very good driver.

Started off from Roya village at 1500m on snow shoes but soon took them off and put on Pogu ice grippers, these were perfect for the conditions. Walked up through the forest.

Beautiful walk in the sun. Snow mostly nice and firm. I managed to lose a walking pole to the mountain.

Lunch of bread, pasta salad, olives at about 1850m.

Returned the same way. Stopped at La Colmiane for beers and hot chocolates.

Thick fog and graupel.

Dinner: sort of samosa things with balsamic sauce, big roasted cheese, tagliatelle with creamy walnut sauce, pastries with honey and nuts. Liz is a fabulous cook.

Holiday is courtesy of Liz and Mel of Spacebetween.

Bridget or as I like to call her Brigitte
Henk leading the way