Archaeology of North Wales – Mountain Leader CPD

Saturday 19th September

I arrived at Cefn Cae campsite in Rowen at 6.50, it only took 2 hours and 20 mins to get there. I had just enough time and light to get the tent up and my dinner cooked. I had a Look What We Found meal with rice cooked up in my Jetboil. The campsite cost £13 for the night and was a newly certificated Caravan and Camping Club site, it was very clean and well looked after. They operate an honesty system for buying quite an extensive range of supplies and I didn’t have to pay extra for a shower.

After dark, I read my book for a while. The stars were amazing and I could see the Milky Way.

Moon on Tay y Fan
Moon on Tal y Fan

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Dawn on Tal y Fan
Dawn on Tal y Fan

Sunday 20th September

I’ve never really managed to sleep properly in a tent but this wasn’t too bad. I was warm enough especially with my little blanket. It was cold in the night and there was a heavy dew when I gave up sleep about 5.30. I had a cup of tea and then 2 cups of coffee and my breakfast of granola and yoghurt. I got to see the red dawn on Tal y Fan which was wonderful.

I packed up and drove up to Caer Rhun Roman fort (Canovium). There’s not a right lot to see, don’t be misled by the photo on the website, but the church is nice although it wasn’t open.

Then I met up with the group in the lay-by down the road. Jane Kenney is a senior archaeologist from the Gwynedd Archaeological Trust. The workshop is part of the CPD made available to members of the Mountain Training Association. The requirement is for 5 CPD points over 5 years and this is my second point since gaining the ML.

10 of us in the group. We got into 3 cars and drove up to a small car park some way above Rowen. We set off and the first thing to look at was the Roman road.

We then looked at long huts (rectangular), cairns with cists, hut circles, standing stones, a burnt mound and then a very good stone circle where we stopped for lunch. Jane was very good at getting us to look more closely at the structures and how to interpret them. She also didn’t try to give us all the answers as there is a lot that is not known and subjective but she clearly has a great breadth of knowledge. We then moved on past a reservoir and up to a slate quarry which is hidden away. Then it was time to head back passing 2 very prominent burial chambers, back onto the Roman road again and another stone circle just near the car park.

Fabulous, informative day with an expert. And a bargain to boot!

Last year’s walk.

We got back to lay-by around 5.15 and I got home at 7.45.

Burial chamber
Maen y bardd burial chamber
Church at Caerhun, sitting on the Roman fort
Church at Caerhun, sitting on the Roman fort
I think this is a green man
I think this is a green man
Big standing stone
Big standing stone
And another, not quite so huge
And another, not quite so huge
A cist
A cist
Very cheeky pony
Very cheeky pony
Stone circle
Stone circle
Another big standing stone
Another big standing stone
A peat house for storing peat
A peat house for storing peat
Burial chamber, marked on map as such
Burial chamber, marked on map as such
Burial chamber but not prominently marked on map
Maen y bardd burial chamber
Please visit Map and Compass and learn how to interpret a map and use a compass with me and my navigation partner, Cath.

MAPandCOMPASS

West Wales July 2015

Saturday 4th July

Chris and I waited for the clouds to blow away. We eventually drove off from Borth and got to Mwnt where it was at least not raining and the sun popped in every now and then. We’d had some falafel and hummous on the way to keep us going.

On arrival at the campsite, we tried to pay up but no-one was in so we got Chris’s tent up. It’s very spacious and well constructed by Vango. By then time was marching on so we went into Cardigan to the Grosvenor for chicken Caesar for me and Chris had fish with ratatouille. Both meals were very nice and we washed them down with Doom Bar beer.

After dinner, we drove up the coast a little and stopped to watch the sun go down along with some keen photographers who set up their tripods and did a lot of fiddling. This will be me one day.

Then it was back to the campsite and I set up my tarp and bivvy combo. Well now I’ve really looked at the pictures I can see I didn’t get this right at all. The idea with the tarp is that you use your walking poles as the poles (to reduce weight). This part went ok and I managed to stay dry all night as did my book and my shoes even though there was a lot of rain. But I didn’t get the tarp taut enough and it needed guy ropes. It didn’t come with guy ropes which is a serious error on the part of the manufacturer Rab as it ‘s not a cheap item so really they are being tight fisted here. All the photos of the Element Solo in action show it being used with guy ropes so I’ve got some on order now. The tarp acts as a flysheet and then I get myself and my sleeping bag and my mat into the bivvy bag which is a waterproof bag.

I drank rum and read some more of The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters, good book but it will end in tears, I haven’t yet finished it. It was amazing feeling all sleepy under the stars and seeing the moon through the end of the tarp. It was less good hearing a thumping base which it turned out was about 3 miles away.

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Sunset in Cardigan
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The mwnt at about 11pm
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Boat in the bay
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Chris in the enormous palatial tent

Sunday 5th July

I woke up early and went up the Mwnt to see the views, someone was making sand patterns on the beach. I also looked in the church which was peaceful. Got back to the campsite just in time to brew up and then the heavens opened again. We sat it out and then packed up the wet gear. First breakfast of fruit and granola in the car. We paid up which was when we found out about the distant noisy party.

We parked in the National Trust car park and visited the kiosk on the path to the beach, hot chocolate and freshly baked Welsh cakes for breakfast no. 2.

Just about missed the next downpour and then off to Llanerchaeron to make further good use of our National Trust memberships. Lunch first, Chris had a ploughman’s and I had a frittata. Yum yum!

We went round the walled gardens and met a nice cat. Then back to Borth where Chris made my supper of pasta and veg and sauce. Yum, yum yum!

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The tarp with bivvy bag
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Bring me my dinner!
Chris with a nice friendly pussy!
Chris with a nice friendly pussy!
To the garden
To the garden
A water lily for Claude Monet (Carol in that hat)
A water lily for Claude Monet (Carol in that hat)
Apple trees espaliered
Apple trees espaliered
Flowers for Chris
Flowers for Chris
Not sure I have the time to do this
Not sure I have the time to do this
The mwnt at Mwnt
The mwnt at Mwnt
On the beach
On the beach
Looking north from Mwnt
Looking north from Mwnt
Our campsite
Our campsite
Cardigan island
Cardigan island
Sunset at Borth
Sunset at Borth

 

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

MAPandCOMPASS

Long Lakeland Weekend

Friday 19th June
After I’d done half a day of work and Carol simultaneously had done dialysis, we set off for the Duddon Valley and arrived at our designated parking spot in gloomy grey weather but not actually raining.
We walked the half mile to Devoke Water and found that a large school party had already taken up camping residence ahead of us. We hadn’t anticipated this so we retreated around the corner from them and set up below a small rocky hill but still overlooking the lake.
Just as we were getting settled and comfortable the first bunch of teenagers ascended the hill and larked about noisily for ages. They eventually descended and we breathed a sigh of relief. So much for a quiet wild camp to relax in. I cooked up our dinner in my Jetboil (excellent fast cooker), we had chilli con carne and rice.
Then the next bunch of noisy teenagers went up the hill. This was too much so Carol went and asked their minders to deal with them which they did, they actually went down as Carol went off to remonstrance. However this was all a bit stressful and not what either of us wanted. The noise was carrying very clearly as it was a still evening. The first time I went to Devoke Water as a reccy for wild camping, it was lashing down, the second time we both checked it out and it was blowing a gale so very noisy on both those occasions.
At last we were able to get snug in the tent, I drank a mini flask of rum.
Neither of us slept very well, C kept sliding down the tent, she also had restless legs. Not a good mixture! It rained on and off most of the night.

Devoke Water
Devoke Water
Southern fells
Southern fells

The tent

Saturday 20th June

We got up, brewed up (one tea, one filter coffee) and packed up during an interval without rain. Back at the car we drove away from the teachers and parked up on the moor near some large black cows. I made porridge for Carol (instant pot) and brewed up some more hot drinks. Carol has now decided that perhaps wild camping and rotten kidneys don’t really go together so well. However this means that I have to become brave enough to do it on my own, we’ll see…

Into Broughton in Furness to look at the Clocktower Gallery, the bakery and the greengrocers (sells bunches of wild mushrooms, fresh figs and fresh herbs). The rain had just about stopped.

We drove a short distance along the A595 to Broadgate where we parked up. Then a nice trot up a quiet lane to Sunkenkirk stone circle also known as Swinside. We had a picnic on the way in the warm sun, lovely. The stone circle is fairly intact but only accessible on foot as it’s on permitted land on Swinside farm, thus very few visitors. We were the only ones there and we met only one other party on the track.

Then back to the car and off to find our B&B. Wheelgate is in Little Arrow just after Torver on the road to Coniston. Met by Steve and Linda. We were in Derwent which was roomy and quiet despite being near the main road. After we’d got in, scrubbed up and generally stopped looking like tramps, we set off for Broughton Mills and the Blacksmith’s Arms. This was a great find, lovely uneven flagstone floor and black timbers. Also good food and a wonderful local draught lager. Carol had chicken and I had a pea and parmesan risotto. Both meals were great. Recommended!

On moor road near Torver
On moor road near Torver
On moor road
On moor road
Moor road
Moor road

Back at Wheelgate, in the honesty bar, I had a measure of Bowmore. Yum.

Slept very well in comfy bed.

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Sunkenkirk/Swinside stone circle
Sunkenkirk/Swinside stone circle

Sunday 21st June, the longest day

Big breakfasts for both of us. Carol had everything and I had a bit less.

We set off fairly promptly for a jam packed day. First to Corney to look at a tiny little church which has the sea one way and a big fell the other. We looked over and could see the peaks on the Isle of Man.

Then to Ravenglass to see the Roman bath house. It was a bit too open air so I decided not to bother and there wasn’t anywhere to put my towel apart from a niche but Carol said the niche was for a statue and not for my towel.

Onwards to Eskdale where we had our lunch by the side of the road. We then started up the Hardknott pass and came to a pub where an old chap waved us to stop. He needed a lift up the pass as his car had 2 blow outs and was in a passing place on the pass with his wife and one friend in it. He’d left another friend at the pub but wanted to take sandwiches and supplies up to the two women in the car who were waiting for the breakdown vehicle. We took him up to his car which was beyond where we were planning to park ours at Hardknott fort. So I did a 3 point turn on the Hardknott pass (Carol stayed relatively calm during this procedure) and took the car back to our park spot. For anyone who has not driven the Hardknott and/or Wrynose pass/es, it/they are not for the faint hearted. Many moments where you cannot actually see where to point the car because of the extreme drops. We then walked back up past our new pals and up to the top of the pass to find the “pile of stones”. Then we tackled Hardknott fell. Carol did this very well. I was slightly anxious as Wainwright had intimated that it had an indistinct ridge, that it was hard to get back down and made mention of a scree slope. Well it wasn’t and didn’t have any of those things. This is my 71st Wainwright so I’ve very nearly done one third of the 214. As we got back to the road, it started to rain heavily so we togged up. Back down the road, our pals had gone so I’m glad they were rescued, they were in the midst of clearing an elderly relation’s house and their 2 friends had come over for the weekend to give them some down time and then they’d had the breakdown so it had all been a bit tough for them.

Before heading for home, we had a quick look at the fort and trotted round the outside. Also looked at the bath house. This one has cold, medium and hot rooms plus a round sauna. Again, I decided not to as it was a bit nippy and we had to get back for our supper.

We went back to Eskdale Green and up over the moor passing where we had parked for Devoke Water. Managed to get back in good time for some non Roman showering. Steve and Linda provide complimentary sherry for guests so I had a very good dry one, lovely.

Then just down the road to the Wilson’s Arms in Torver. This was ok but Carol wasn’t really needing a huge meal and there wasn’t much she fancied. She ended up with a small portion of gammon with lots of grilled things but even so it still looked like an enormous portion. Thankfully it came at a smaller price. I had risotto balls. So yes risotto two nights running but I like risotto and these were very good. Beer was called Barngate Cracker. Ok but not as nice as that draught lager which I foolishly didn’t make a note of.

Aberlour from the honesty bar, such a fab idea, also a great little room with beaten copper topped tables. Still light at 10.50, wow!

From Hardknott looking east
From Hardknott looking east
Weather coming in fast
Weather coming in fast
On top of Hardknott fell
On top of Hardknott fell
Ravenglass Roman bath house
Ravenglass Roman bath house
View to fells from Corney church
View to fells from Corney church
Church at Corney
Church at Corney

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Roman sauna at Hardknott fort
Roman sauna at Hardknott fort
On top of Hardknott fell
On top of Hardknott fell, new hat. I lost the not very old one when out working.

Monday 22nd June

Carol enjoyed another large breakfast but I just had muesli with fresh fruit and yoghurt and a poached egg on toast. We packed up and headed off after a nice chat with Laurie, a fellow guest from Essex. Wheelgate is a great B&B and we are both hoping to go back there. They also have a single room in the main house plus a single in a separate building at the back.

We looked into the Deli attached to the Wilson’s Arms but it seemed to have reduced its stock since I last went in about a year ago so we didn’t linger. Into Coniston for a quick look round and then back home via the Windermere ferry. Back by 2.30 to get all the gear sorted and Carol on the machine.

On the ferry
On the ferry
Mining wagon
Mining wagon
On Windermere looking south
On Windermere looking south
Looking north
Looking north

 

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

MAPandCOMPASS

Long Welsh Weekend September 2013

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All alone at Dol Einion
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I didn’t put these in my dinner
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The old road
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Tal y Llyn

Friday 20th September
It took me just over 3 hours to reach Dol Einion camp site which is right at the foot of Cadair Idris. The path up the mountain leads out of the field.
When I got to the site there was no one around so I put the tent up in about 5 mins. I found Marian and gave her £8 plus £2 so I could leave the car on the site the following day.
I walked along the old road to Tal y Llyn which goes alongside Llyn Mwyngil. There were a lot of gates and I looked at some gravestones next to a church marked private. It was definitely warmer than the rest of the week but it was cloudy and dull and I felt a bit gloomy.
Back at the camp another vehicle had arrived so just me and them.
The site was flat but needed a tidy up and the loos and shower needed ripping out and starting again. Thank goodness for anti bacterial gel.
I cooked my supper before it got dark, Simon Rimmer lentil tikka masala. Hot spicy and actually not bad for dried food. I was testing it as dry food is so much lighter to carry when wild camping. It took 20 mins to cook and the pan was hard to wash out in the cold water sink in the field so not ideal. I had some cheese and pitta bread with it. I ate in the car because there were midges, I was camped next to the river that comes off the mountain plus the grass was long and damp. The anti midge spray did at least work.
Marian, the site owner told me the 16C church I tried to go in was sold off by Church of Wales and the villagers were upset. Even the churchyard which is still in use was sold off. The National Park didn’t help and the council awarded retrospective planning permission. Marian runs a heritage centre in the tiny chapel next door to the camp site and she does talks. I missed the last one today.
I got a minuscule phone signal at just a certain angle in just a certain spot on the car seat so had little text chat with C who I was missing.

Saturday 21st September
I was cold at first in the tent but threw everything off by the morning. I actually slept quite well for me in a tent.
Got up at 7.30 and had breakfast of muesli, yoghurt and jam (a Rachel’s corner pot) also some horrible old fruit tea and some old instant coffee which was not much better.
I waited for the low cloud and mist and drizzle to go but decided to head up anyway. I packed up everything except the tent in the hope it would be dry upon my return.
I set off at 9.45, straight away it’s a stiff climb up steps. I started to leap frog with a group of 5 Londoners and we did this most of the day. They were ok although I did try to leave them behind! Sometimes they were a little bit faster than me and it was nice to see the slow girl of the party ahead of me in the gloom. The mist kept up all the way to the top. I never saw the lake all day. At the top another path joins in and a very old lady thought I was in her party so we had a mad conversation with neither of us understanding what the other was on about although I did think she would get it when I said I was on my own and not in her group. There is a shelter at the top with a roof. It is the old tea shop from Victorian times when poor ponies dragged up the customers. Today it was soggy and crowded so I opted for soggy outside to eat my lunch and was rewarded with the sun burning off the cloud and showing me the cloud inversions and the route ahead.
I went off along big grassy bit to Mynydd Moel. Had a quick chat with the man from London and set off down the fence. Stopped for another chat with 2 men in jeans. Probably poofs. One of London girls was gay. We are everywhere! Then down, down through sun and cloud and back to the tent by 3.30.
The tent was nearly dry so I shoved it in the car and headed off to Dolgellau then Blaenau Festiniog through lots of low cloud. But after the mountain it was sun again all way to Betws y Coed and along to Capel Curig then a short bit of the A5.
Gwern Gof Isaf camp site is on the left just before Tryfan. It is cleaner and cheaper and more busy but I found a spot away from the rest. £5 for night.
I bought 2 shower tokens so 10 mins for £1.
After getting the tent up I went for my shower. The shower room is mixed gender so I took some outer layers off and reckoned that when the tokens went in I would still have some control as in an on off switch of some sort. The token machines were outside the cubicles and I wasn’t in the mood to be naked in front of 2 boys and a girl, so I had to rush in, take the rest of my kit off with the shower running. Luckily I had taken my clean clothes in a large strong plastic bag so it was ok but a bit annoying to have to choose between public nudity and wet clothes. Still it was a nice hot shower and I felt much better after it. I must remember flip flops next time!
Then back to tent to cook up Look What We Found meatballs and pasta. I did these as boil in the bag to reduce washing up.
I sat in the car to eat my supper. Then watched the flaming sun go down behind Tryfan and watched the clouds from inside the tent until it was dark. I treated myself to hot chocolate with rum, yum yum!! It was very windy so I put more pegs in.

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Roche moutonee, caused by glacial action on the bedrock
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Sun just appearing on summit of Cadair Idris
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Blazing fire behind farmhouse
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Mynydd Moel
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Back towards Cadair Idris
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Mynydd Moel onwards
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Llyn Cau tantalisingly out of sight
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River from Llyn Cau all the way to my camp site and Tal y Llyn
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Alpine
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Gwern Gof Isaf camp site
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Tryfan

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Sunday 22nd September
Not a good night. I’d been thinking of late that my shoulder injury was better but I couldn’t sleep on either one of my shoulders without it hurting and I was too tired to get up for painkillers. I went to sleep at 9.30 which is incredibly early for me and sort of slept on and off rolling around until 6.45.
It was windy overnight even lifting the floor of the tent at one point but I kept it in place and didn’t blow away!
Had my breakfast watching the sun rise in the lovely calm and warm with another river trickling past.
I packed up and struck camp. This always seems to take a while despite high levels of organisation. I guess having the car as an extra room inevitably means more clutter and more to keep in the right place.
10 mins to Capel Curig to Siabod cafe where the facilities were a bit better than the camp site although at least the site 2 had soap if not light in the loo. Site 1 had light but no soap and a big pong.
After accosting a range of men I found Paul Poole and a small group: Gary, Kirk, Viv and Bill. They had done refresher navigation the day before.
Paul showed us lots of books which I liked and most of which I’ve got. Then we set off towards Llanberis. We parked up opposite the big quarry and headed up with ropes and helmets. We practised anchor selection – tapping, kicking, checking for movement. Practised tying simple knots. Flaking the rope. Care of the rope. Indirect belay. I eventually got the hang of this by the end of the day. Anchor Belay Climber. ABC. Direct belay. Threading. Ascending using belays. Descending using belays. Descending using abseil to get self down only. Classic abseil. South African abseil. Confidence roping.
Still feel I need to practise all this a lot more but definitely felt more confident about it all than before.
It was a great day and I learnt a lot. Paul does modular assessments for ML as in 2 weekends, one a 3 day which is only a day off work. Not sure how much more I need to do in my log book but he will advise on this.
Off to Pen y Gwryd hotel. Nice old fashioned hotel. No keys for the locks, it operates on trust and has done for 75 years! I sat in the residents’ lounge supping a large glass of beer to celebrate having done a mini abseil and loved doing it. I was joined by David and later Gloria. The gong was banged and we had a good time talking so they invited me to join them to eat and gave me some wine.
I had melon with Parma ham, ok but in my heart of hearts I think this is an odd combination. I just ate it separately. Chicken, leek, mushroom with pastry rounds, new spuds, creamed celeriac and green beans. Lemon crusty sponge with jam.
In lounge again with John, Pam and Frank for coffee as well as Gloria and David.
Late to bed at 10.30. It was lovely to be in bed but I had to take all the heavy covers off.

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Moon over Tryfan
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Towards Pen y Pass
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Fiddling with ropes
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Instructor
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So happy!
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Small abseil but huge leap for me
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Welsh mountain goat
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Llyn Pen y Gwryd

Monday 23rd September
I awoke early, went to the loo, bumped into Gloria and couldn’t get back to sleep.
My morning tea arrived.
Breakfast at 8.30 summoned by the gong.
I had juice, sausage, poached egg and tomato with toast and coffee.
Said farewells to friends of night before.
Paid up and off to Llanberis. Went to V12 shop, I don’t know what that means and bought a Black Diamond rucksack that fits well. My last purchase doesn’t so I will sell it, it was designed for a longer back.
I had a coffee there and chatted with the staff. One of them does slack line walking and showed me a film of him doing this on Tryfan.
Then I went off above Betws and did a short forest walk, not very exciting but good nav practice as most of the forest tracks are not on the map.
Then home.

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Ye olde tub at PYG
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Private lake at PYG, one for Chris to swim in
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Alpine bar at PYG
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Edwardian bath, shower and thunder box, all original fittings
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Genuine Edwardian shower

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

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

 

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Bowscale Tarn and Bowscale Fell 300411

Got up early and over to Tod by 8 to collect Chris. Left promptly, stopping at Lancaster services to stock up at M&S. A quick coffee and off to Mungisdale. Parked up, did huge amount of pfaffing and set off for the tarn. Quite windy but sunny and dry. Lunched on tuna nicoise, very nice, and watched a very foolish person going up the side of the tarn on a very difficult route where there isn’t really a path. They seemed to manage it though. We also watched a couple of other people take the route we were planning to do which looks much steeper from the bottom than when you are on it.
A little while later, we tackled it, it’s a short sharp way to the top and was fine except for being very windy which was a bit unnerving. However before long, we had reached the top and it was then a fairly short step up to the top of the fell. We came down on the other side which kept us out of the wind a bit and landed us right in the village next to the pub.
After a mix up with a cyclist taking Chris’ beer, we headed back along the road to the pub. On the way there was a national garden open so we popped in and had a lovely time, with me not knowing any plant names and Chris knowing quite a few. Mr had put various quirky sculptures round the garden so it was a bit like a treasure hunt. He clearly had an obsession about wood piles which was fine with me.
Finally got back to the car, drove round to the Bradley’s farm at Low Cock How and put up our tents in the garden on a nice flat bit of grass that wasn’t too dry so a bit springy.
Then we cooked up chicken green Thai curry and rice for dinner and ate this in the campers’ kitchen which suffered from an attack of hair, possibly dog or even horse.
A quick trip to the Shepherd’s Rest Hotel for beer, this turned out to be the wrong pub and we should really have gone to the Fox and Hounds as the Shepherds doesn’t review well. Our beer was fine. 
Totally knackered so back to the camp for tea with Chris’ special rum. 
We both did more sleeping than waking so perhaps not too bad a night really for camping.

At the tarn
Before the ascent
Bowscale Tarn
The tarn
Riding the wind

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Floutern Tarn 18-19 September

It really was this WET
Stir crazy

Carol and I set off early and arrived in Ennerdale after stopping for M&S treats and then to eat them. We both had sandwiches we’d made at home as well.
We parked the car and set off up the path to Floutern Tarn which we reached without event at 4.00 p.m. This time we found a flatter spot a bit higher up than previously. I quickly erected the tent and got the beds made up and then it started to rain. And then it continued to do so for the next 18 hours without cease.
At first it was ok because we had things to do, latrines to dig, organising our little space for maximum comfort and ease. We had a cup of tea and a little rest. We took some clothes off and then put a whole load more on as it went a bit nippy in the wind and the rain. It did not remind me of this song at the time: Drive All Night. Then it was time to cook the dinner. The tent has a good sized porch so we could cook without getting drenched. Starter of chick pea curry, followed by basmati rice and chilli con carne. C provided buttered brown bread. We finished it off with some chocolate. Then more hot drinks, whisky and sherry. We did a quiz, played some games, did the crossword. Hot food and drink make all the difference, whatever the weather.
We did of course have to leave the tent for the loo, yes in the dark and the rain, so misty I could barely see the walking pole marker post but mainly staying in a very confined space for such a long time is quite hard work. We did sleep but not brilliantly. The tent kept us warm and dry but you can’t really sit up in it very easily, it’s a good job we seemed to be not too bad at tentiquette. By morning I was going mad just to move my legs further than the tent door.
We woke at about 8.00 a.m. Some tea and coffee, and a rain check! Oh what a surprise still bloody raining and no sign of the tarn a mere 30m away.
We packed up everything possible from within. Then stepped out in all our gear and stowed away the tent. Soon got warm by walking back up the hill. The path is pretty distinct which is a good thing as there was very limited visibility. It was really a great relief to be walking about.
At the first gate you come to, we met a man and dog. We chatted and he told us that the farmer who owns the land including the tarn, has a penchant for waving his shotgun at “trespassers” – in inverted commas because the tarn is on Access Land i.e. we have a right to use it. This is the 3rd time I’ve camped there now, and I feel reluctant to go back. This farmer is known for his negative attitudes and the Ramblers have done Mass Trespasses on his land but to no avail.
We got back to the car and then guess what, it stopped raining! After a bit of pfaffing about, we got into the warm and dry and drove off to our next meal stop.
I felt I needed to get some pampering after 18 hours of rain, so we went to the hotel which said we could check in from 2.00 p.m. We arrived at half past and our room wasn’t ready so we had to wait for another half hour. After this annoying start, we got into the room which felt very hot. Turned all the radiators off, but this made no difference at all. So from one extreme to another. We opened all the windows but it just stayed hot. I even ended up sleeping outside the covers for most of the night, that’s how blooming tropical it was!
After all the rain we needed more water so had a shower/bath to clean up, went for a swim which was nice as the water was cool and then another shower/bath after the swim.
We pootled about a bit, read the paper etc. Got some ice in a bucket and dunked the wine in it.
Time for dinner, I had smoked salmon blinis and mushroom stroganoff. C had fillet of salmon and sticky toffee pudding. All very nicely done.
We returned to the sauna bedroom, drank all the wine and fell asleep.

Cloud carrying 18 hours of rain

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Skiddaw 290810

It was raining hard when I woke up, so anorak on and a smart walk to the “old loos, no queuing!” Back for breakfast of muesli and yoghurt, ok I very rarely eat anything else. Put all my clothes on as it was quite nippy and packed up the tent fast, by now it had stopped raining. I managed to strike camp in half an hour, considering that making camp takes me about 20 minutes, the main difference is that trying to squash things down requires me to lie full length and weight on them in a vain hope that they won’t pop up again the minute I let go. Oh this is starting to sound mucky…
I drove to the foot of Skiddaw to a free car park near Latrigg. The walk is a long old slog up a broad path that crosses grassy slopes. I’m starting to see what Wainwright meant about grassy slopes, they’re not that interesting in the scheme of things. There weren’t a lot of people around as it was still fairly early. I had believed the MWIS forecasts of -6 in the wind chill and whilst it was windy and chilly, I probably didn’t need all my layers to go uphill. AW mentioned that someone had “driven a motor car” up Skiddaw and for most of the way I could believe this, just one or two places where I would not have taken my car for sure, where it is less than a single track road in width and drops away steeply, also where tyres would be ripped to shreds by jagged rocks. (Blondie)
My feet were still very warm and I developed a blister so a short rest to apply Compeed. Then a final burst to get to the top, the views are magnificent and you really get the 360 degree feeling. It was bitterly cold in the wind so I stopped to join the only 2 other occupants of the wind break at midday, just over 2 hours to get there. One of these was a young teenager to whom I dispensed a further Compeed. Why can’t people learn to look after themselves, or perhaps his father could have taken some responsibility and carried a first aid kit? Rant over!
I quickly ate my lunch of bean tortilla. Suddenly the whole place seemed to be overrun with people, I don’t really know where they all came from! Time to move off. I set off for Skiddaw Little Man. The main track was now full of tourist walkers mostly looking like they wished they were doing anything else. Some were clearly very cold and suffering. Going up was a woman in a low slung wheelchair being hauled up by 6 men by rope and pushed up by 2 men. They looked like they could have done with chest and/or waist harnesses to do this job rather than just a loop of rope which would cut into whichever shoulder it was on.
I carried on up Little Man, AW recommends doing this on the way down so you don’t have to do so much climbing. Then it was down all the way and I was back at the car by 2.30. All in all I don’t think I’ll bother with Skiddaw again, the views are fab but it will always be windy and cold up there as there is no shelter from any land mass. There are plenty of other big fells that aren’t so full of day trippers too.

The zig zag path
Getting nearer
Bassenthwaite Lake
Skiddaw Little Man and Derwent Water
Funny little dog got in my photo

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Bleaberry Fell 280810

I’d prepped everything in advance with one of my packing lists so relaxed late departure from home. Stopped at Marks and Spencer, Lancaster which was heaving and bought an instant tuna salad lunch, and a 3 bean tortilla wrap for Sunday and 3 x 1.5 litre bottles of water, which despite packing list I had somehow managed to forget. Actually I was feeling a bit dozy and had even driven off down the wrong road in the village and had to turn back but at least that woke me up and told me I was not quite with it.
I found the turning to Burns’ Farm Camp Site very easily and it is just a mile off the A66. Linda was running around and decided she could fit me in but would have to charge me the full rate of £12 as I was only staying one night. As I had no idea what any other rate was this was fine. The field was very soggy and very full but I got a pitch that was flat if muddy. I put the tent up and made my bed, then ate my tuna lunch in the car.
I then drove down the back roads, didn’t stop at Castlerigg stone circle as it looked mega busy, and cut across the bottom end of Keswick to get onto the Borrowdale Road. Just a very short ride and I was at a National Trust car park on the left. Now that I’ve joined the Nat Trust, all my car parking in their parks is free, so far I have recouped nearly 1/3 of the membership fee by parking just 3 times. Well worth it just for this, as have only an occasional desire to be patronised by well meaning volunteers. OK, this is a bit harsh but I’ll definitely get the use by parking whereas I can’t guarantee to spend the year wandering around stately homos.
I walked up Cat Gill which was very pretty, it opens out above the woods and here I met a man with a Rhodesian Ridgeback dog. A very handsome beast and extremely well behaved. He was a nice man and told me his wife had died and he had got the dog for company. He was staying in a camper van at Castlerigg Hall camp site and had walked across. This is the camp site next to Castlerigg Farm camp site where I stayed last year.
I’m just relishing my flagrant use of Wikipedia links, which I have to spend all my time pooh poohing when I’m marking my students’ work, ha bloody ha!
Then I steered right across the bracken and crossed at the head of some falls, then over a stream and across to the head of Cat Gill. At this point, the map and the ground do not quite agree so I took a bearing and marched across the moor to meet the path. The path winds round a nice looking mound, then past a very well maintained sheep fold and bears left to ascend Bleaberry Fell. I mused as to what a bleaberry was but there was no berry of any description in sight.
I got to the top very quickly as the path is good, I wandered around a bit on the top to see how far the next fell was but decided not to try it as it was still threatening to rain a lot even though I managed to stay dry all through the walk.
I whizzed back down, this was a good warm up walk at around 500m of climbing. Drove back to the camp site, cooked up my dinner in the porch as it was starting to rain – bean and chorizo soup, pasta and tomato sauce. I washed up and then settled down in the tent. I was feeling a bit cold so got into my merino wool outfit and put all my other layers on and got into the sleeping bag. Before long, everything had to come off. Once I was comfy, I drank 2 cans of Greene King IPA and a miniature bottle of whisky whilst reading my book. Still on Daughters of Britannia, which I’ve been dipping into for ages.
My fellow campers were a bit noisy but everything stopped at 10.00, guess the rain helped here. I didn’t sleep very well, it was wet and windy all night.

Burns Farm camp site looking to Blencathra
Spooky bit in Cat Gill
Head of Cat Gill, not a cat to be seen either
Hole in my sky (I don’t even much like the Indigo Girls!)

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Hot camping

Saturday 7th August
Carol and I set off from home at 8.30 and drove to Lancaster services. We stocked up on supplies at M&S and had a caffeine hit.
Some time later we arrived at Ennerdale Water, having eaten a picnic just after Kirkland. With the benefit of hindsight from my previous trip in May with Chris, we parked up on the roadside next to the footpath, thus cutting out a slog up the road with heavy rucksacks. We set off promptly along the footpath which seemed even more overgrown just 3 months later. Thanks to my email to the council, the bush that had blocked the path entirely had been removed, entirely. However a bit further along, a huge branch had come down but it was easy to get past it so not sure another email is required, there are probably more important things that need sorting out.
C had not got the gaiters on and it was damp underfoot, so I went back to the car and all was fine. These were very necessary as what had been desperately dry in May was now quite the reverse. We plodded slowly and steadily and took about 2 hours to reach the tarn. It is such a beautiful spot and so easy to reach. We’d both been worried that someone else would have got a pitch there before us but we were in luck and we saw no-one after a small group right at the start of the walk.
First job was to dig the latrines, job done efficiently with the iPood trowel, only 99g. We got the tent up very quickly, and made it nice and cosy, this time karrimats, then self inflating mattresses then sleeping bags. C located various stones which we used for the stove, our cups etc. We had a cup of tea and a look at our surroundings. Floutern Tarn is such a good spot for doing the wild camping. We pretty much camped in the same spot that CH and I had done in May, we couldn’t find anything flatter so there was a small slope.
I started to cook the dinner, and the minute I did we were subject to a very heavy shower so I heated up the Bombay potatoes (starter) in the rain while C languished in the tent. I didn’t actually mind at all being ensconsed in my waterproofs. For the main course, I served chilli con carne with lime and coriander rice. This was great too and C provided some buttered bread. The rain had stopped so we sat out on the rocks to eat our dinner and admire the view.
After washing up, we looked at the view again and then got in the tent as we were getting bitten although the insect repelling fabric did work fairly well. I tied mine round my neck and the wee beasties stayed away from my head at least. We did some crosswords by headlamp and drank whisky and sherry. It was remarkably warm in the tent. When we did eventually go to bed, I found I was very hot and threw everything off, such a contrast with my previous experience in this same place. We slept quite well although the next mission is to find a way to stop the sleeping bags slipping off the blow up mats. We did also slide down the tent as we hadn’t found a totally flat spot. I don’t think there was one to find.

Loaded up
Just before the cloud burst
Floutern Tarn and tent


Sunday 8th August
We woke up about 7ish, having slept surprisingly well. Looking out of the tent, I couldn’t see anything at all as we were in such thick mist. It had started to lift a bit by the first cup of tea/coffee. We breakfasted, C on Weetabix and me on muesli and yoghurt. Then to pack up. This does seem to take a long time and we didn’t get walking until 11.00 despite being a smoothly oiled machine.
We got back to the car quite quickly as our packs were much lighter and it’s down all the way. We then drove round to a car park near the western shore of Ennerdale Water and walked with our lunches to the beach to eat. This was very private but as the water was a lot higher, there was a lot less beach.
We strolled around a bit of the lake and then did a small diversion to get back to the car park. C was all for swimming in the lake and I was all for climbing up to the Pinnacles. We agreed to come back and do these things although these would be separate activities as there is no way I am swimming in the lake. Wild camping fine, wild swimming is not for me!
We got back in the car, drove up and around the top of the area along the A66 and then dropped down to Patterdale. Our B&B was Deepdale Hall and was set off the road. It’s a nice old farmhouse but we weren’t sure in the long run whether it really deserved its 4 stars. 3 stars yes. We got in and I had first dibs in the shower, lovely to get clean as I had managed to get really grubby! We both got ourselves presentable. I had to go and ask a man downstairs not to play his music as it was disturbing us. C had a good go on this one! He stopped immediately although he did seem a bit on the surly side. I worked out later he was the son of the household which consisted of father Chris aged 58, son Jimmy about 30 with wife Robyn and the twin girls. The man playing the music turned out to be Jimmy.
Time for dinner so we drove to the White Lion in Patterdale. We sat next to a couple from Nuneaton who entertained us whilst we waited for dinner. The man was an inveterate liar but this wasn’t totally terrible as he kept digging himself in. They’d both done the C2C several times. Pub grub, C had steak pie and chips and I had vegetable risotto and salad. Not much rice in the risotto and very greasy but quite filling.
Back to Deepdale and we settled in with some very strong wine that just appeared magically out of my suitcase. Nice to have a book to read, I managed to find where I’d stopped in Sarah Waters’ Little Stranger. Harder than it sounds, I’d got the book free as a download but it came in 2 x 3 or 4 hour files, so every time I  did anything else with the iPod like change a playlist, it meant I had to start again at the beginning. This was so annoying I’m surprised I managed to get through having half the book read to me. A treat then to have a real book to hold and turn the pages, also much quicker than being read to.

Bowness Knot
Ennerdale Water
Hot camp site


Monday 9th August
Got up at 7.15, had another lovely shower. Breakfast at 8.30, we both had the full English. Not bad and generous but a bit on the greasy side and I wasn’t over fussed on the sausages but admit I am very fussy about sausages and not even sure why I ordered it as don’t usually eat a huge breakfast. I also had melon and cereal and yoghurt. The coffee although real was too weak for me. I paid up and Mr Grumpy Bum still looked surly so we decided we wouldn’t be going back there. Shame, as the location is excellent.
We drove down the Kirkstone Pass to Ambleside, it was incredibly misty so didn’t see a lot. Parked up and went straight to a cafe for me to have my caffeine fix. Then into one or two outdoor gear shops. C bought postcards and stamps. I left my broken watchstrap at a jewellers to be replaced and Nigel said it would be half an hour. He lied and it was nearly an hour which meant we were late back for the car park but lucky as the car parking police were not around. I bought a present for a friend who has a birthday later in the month. C got a pasty for lunch from Greggs. It rained all the time we shopped and then stopped as we drove out to the Wrynose Pass. We tackled the Hard Knott pass too with a few intakes of breath from the passenger seat and my foot down on the very steep bits. Stopped at little car park and walked up to Hard Knott Roman Fort, we lunched on the north wall near the corner lookout. The fort is excellent but we missed the bath house as I’d forgotten to check in Wainwright who mentions it, before walking up. Our original plan had been to climb Hard Knott itself but although we stayed dry there was still a lot of mist coming and going.
We returned back up Hard Knott pass, seems a lot easier going West to East. There was a very irritating gold coloured open top Merc driven by a child with an older male passenger, blasting out loud music and who then got stuck going up Hard Knott so I waited until he had managed to get going again. Then he had stopped for no reason so we passed them and they were behind us. Then they turned round to go the other way. Then they came up behind us again so I pulled in for them to pass and that was the last of them. With luck they had a flat tyre some time soon as they were driving me nuts.
We got back to Ambleside at about 4.30 and then headed for home. Short stop at Lancaster services and home at 6.30. Great break.

Hard Knott Pass
View towards Boot
Hard Knott
Hard Knott Roman Fort

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