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

Snowdonia April 2012

April 9th to 13th


Set off a bit late and had to return to collect my phone charging lead. Eventually got going and stopped at Morrisons in Oldham for diesel and a few supplies. Stopped at the services for a coffee and landed in Llanberis about 2 pm. It was so very wet that I decided to drive to Betws y Coed but it was so busy there I went on up to Dolwyddelan and walked across the bridge and back. Still very wet so back to Betws where the rain stopped for a bit. A quick spurt into Rock Bottom to buy cards, a book and some boot proofer.
Then it was time for the YH so I drove round to Idwal Cottage which is one of the very first four YHs that were set up and is next to Lynn Ogwen nestled into the mountains. It’s a four star hostel and does seem nice. No meals are provided here so it’s all self cookers which is how the YHA used to describe us. The warden is Damian and I’ve arranged to give him my route plan each day.
I then self cooked  chicken curry and rice and peas which was nice and have chatted to a couple, he American, she Portuguese and a family from Cornwall mum dad and two teenage girls.
No signal so rang home on pay phone.
It’s gone very quiet in the sitting room!
Dolwyddelan in the rain


Last night turned into a farce. Sarah the Portuguese and somewhat sulky madam it has to be said although perhaps just very tired and Michael the American skipped off so I gave S 15 mins and went to room 6.  I was just brushing my teeth when Michael came in. We worked out I had been allocated the wrong key and room as his card had a little m for man on it. I suggested he could go in with S if he wanted but we decided to stick with the status quo as S was already asleep and neither M nor I wanted to remake beds. M skipped into bed v quick and I went and changed in the loo. If you don’t move when sitting on loo the light goes out so you have to wave.
I don’t think either M or I slept very well.
Today I let Damian know what had happened and it turned out I needed to be in the right room as tonight room 6 is full of men! He was most apologetic but I said M and I thought it was funny and how the YH originators would be turning in their bunks!
D said he would move my things to room 7. M was quite nice but had a beard which is not my fave thing! Of course my actual friends with beards are different (just in case Nigel reading this).
Breakfast of coffee muesli and yoghurt. Gave route to D and set off.
Start of walk up Pen yr Ole Wen is very steep involving clambering up big outcrop and so it continued. The book I have just read said this is one of hardest ascents in Snowdon land! And it was. Wish I had read that bit before I started out. It’s 1 in 2 most of the way. Lots of scrambly bits and hard to keep on path. I reached the snow and kept on for a while but it got slippery and after a few slides and some hailstones and having strayed off the path a bit I decided to return. I got to 820m which was still not bad. After I’d got past the snow section tracking my own footsteps in proper Ray Mears style, I stopped for lunch in a rocky hollow looking over to Cwm Idwal and the Glyders. Finding the path on the way down was easy apart from some sections where I had to go down on my bum. It made me realise I had not actually used the path for a lot of the ascent which had made it harder.
Nearing the end I came across a group of people being assessed for ML using a confidence rope. They were from Bedfordshire and I wished them well.
Back to the YH by 3 and D said I could go in so had benefit of early shower.
Self cooked a dinner of mutton stew, rice and peas. Very nice. Drank a bottle of beer working my way through the range from Conwy brewery. Read books in the peaceful sitting room and went to bed about 10. Big sneezes and feel v snuffly.  No more bedroom farce as I now have a girls’ dormitory and 4 bunks to myself.
Llyn Ogwen
Helicopter over on Tryfan
Weather coming
Down to Llyn Ogwen
Across to Llyn Ogwen with Llyn Bochlyd behind left and Llyn Idwal behind right
Bridges over outflow of Llyn Ogwen


Slept much better although  wake feeling  like I have a cold. Take 2 paracetamols. Usual breakfast but the kitchen is organised chaos with the females of the party of 11 who arrived last evening making a regimented set of packed lunches. I sort of hate them but I’m a bit grizzly today. I manage a loathing of grandfather who boils both kettles at once until I ask him if he needs both. Perhaps he did as so many of them. Also loathe big man who just does nothing but get in the way.
I can only cope with self cooking if don’t talk to anyone as easy to be distracted with so many people moving about.
I drive to Bethesda on the old single track road and get paracetamols, Welsh whisky, a newspaper and a box of tissues in Spar.
Back at the hostel I give Damian my route plan and he will move my bag into 3rd and last room of my stay. This is a single room.
I set off to Llyn Idwal so named because Idwal was pushed in by his step brother and drowned. The brother inhabits the Twll Du or Devil’s Kitchen. I take the right hand path and meet a fellow hosteller who has been up and down the kitchen in 2 hours. It takes me 2 hours to get to Llyn Cwn (dog lake) at the top of the kitchen! The steps are giant sized and near the top it starts to hail, the devil is serving up a very chilly meal. I meet a man and boy. Man is wearing a leather biker jacket and jeans. I remember wearing the same in Blackpool during a torrential downpour. We then went to Flamingoes club and my jacket was so heavy when I took it off and it dripped into pools on the floor. At the lake I have a short break and then turn right.  The hail comes hard and fast but I am dry, it’s just noisy. Up to Y Garn for lunch. Chat to man and 2 sons who are doing huge long walk. Poor boys. Then to  family of mum,  dad and 2 boys who are doing my route in reverse. Dad is wearing a lot of money! Haglofs and Arcteryx.
I find the path down which is steep at first but once that’s over it’s an easy and pleasant walk down and the sun comes out.
Back at the YH at 3.30 for a shower and my new single room which is small and has a divan bed in it! Damian has kindly made up my bed again.
I read the paper and realise that I have not much idea of what is going on in the world. This is mainly because of Terry Wogan. When he retired from breakfast on Radio 2 I started listening to Today on Radio 4 but this just made me cross and I need something nice to listen to on my drive to work. So I forked out for a digital radio and this is great I now have Radio 4 Extra in the morning but the downside is no 2 min snippets of news so any that does drift my way is usually a surprise. Suspect it’s actually fine not to clutter head up. There’s enough going on in our lives anyway.
Suddenly remembered I’d not checked back in with Damian. He is very helpful and suggesting good routes for me.
Had the kitchen to myself mostly which was nice. Tonight beef and veg casserole with carrots and pasta. I am eating camping food so the mains are Look What We Found meals then pasta and rice in ready cooked in pouches plus extra veg is tinned. All working out well for me. I wanted food that would be easy and not stress me out in the communal kitchen madness.
For me using my own cutlery etc. works well too as don’t have to think about other people’s hygiene or rather their total lack of it.
Tonight will have a Celebration beer.
I went to bed early as the head cold is gripping me.
YH Idwal Cottage
Gate leading to Tryfan and the Glyders
Llyn Idwal and Cwm Idwal
Part of the Devil’s Kitchen
Across to another big mountain
East ridge of Y Garn
Big ‘un, will check to see what it is
I just liked the clouds
Army helicopter


Woke up at 7 trying to decide whether or not to walk because being full of cold. In the end took Damian’s suggestion which was for a less high circuit than the Glyders.
I set off at 10 and got to Llyn Bochlyd before 11. Then it’s a short and stunning ascent to the Bwlch or col. At this point it would have been straightforward to climb up to Tryfan but I decided not to as this was not the plan. I continued to sneeze my way round Tryfan, heading towards the N.
I climbed up and got onto the Heather Terrace. This is not at all like the quiet suburban terrace that it made me think of.  Well it was quiet.  it’s a path that winds round the base of the flanks of the rock giant of Tryfan. My walk was more interesting rock wise now that I’ve been learning about the geology and I could actually identify volcanic tuff, an odd name. The Heather Terrace is well named, at times it’s very lofty and you know you are high but it’s not too airy and not exposed as Tryfan provides good shelter.
I lunched on the Terrace, this sounds ridiculous now. I lunched perched at a great height overlooking Cwm Tryfan. For Kate – every day I have had garlic pitta filled with salami, Emmenthal cheese, spring onion and cherry tomatoes. And fruit and a thick slice of malt loaf.
I kept going along the terrace which was hard work requiring much concentration. Some climbers dangled but I only met one other walker who overtook me.
Took various photos of rocks as these have now more interest as I’ve been reading about geology. I think I’ve more hope of observing the rocks than birds that disappear before I’ve even focussed on them or small yellow plants and mosses and lichen that all look much the same.
I carried on gently mostly dropping down until Tryfan spits you out of a chute. I cut across the flattish bit to the road surprising some goats.
Then instead of going straight back along the road I crossed over and up behind a farm to go the whole length of Llyn Ogwen on the far side. It was a bit boggy but ok with care. I passed an old WW2 pill box and was a bit surprised that it was there as would be hard for the Nazis to reach it, there must have been an expectation that they would come that far but I wonder what they would have been aiming for? I saw another one on the Llanberis Pass too, memo must ask Mr Mel Jones about these. Then back to Idwal Cottage. There was a car parked next to mine filled with chavs and I didn’t like the look of them and hoped they weren’t hostellers although I was also trying to be open minded, I tried but failed. It was 4 pm so I went in the YH with the key code and watched the chavs from my window and they then drove off. I’m sure I stopped them before they were up to no good, and probably no good with my car.
Shower this time in the middle one which only has the pinprick setting on the head, no place for gel and not vv hot. The other showers were better and have place for gel etc. the showers and loos all have lights which go off if you don’t move which is a little distracting.
Tip for hostelliing stay in a base, go out early and come back early then you get first showers and first use of kitchen.
My friends, the family from Cornwall came in and we had some laughs. They are very nice and dad gave me a walk to do. The youngest one has an infected ingrowing toenail so can’t walk.
Dinner of pasta, beef bolognese and sweet corn.
Got D to give me a stamp to paste in my YH booklet and am now drinking Conwy Celebration beer as it was a great mountain day with no wet stuff and sunny.
I used GNSS on my iPhone with Memory Map to record the route. Surprisingly efficient.
My skin is dry and have splits on fingers. Need NuSkin.
Great not to drive and rely on feet, this has been excellent base.
Bruce said lots of things that made sense to me and my life for a good 10 years or so but then he lost me for about the last 10 years and the last 3 or 4 albums. Drivel and Dust being the nadir.  Wrecking Ball is back with me. I know this because I can hear the songs in my head although have not heard them all week plus he’s making sense again for me. Travelling over Rocky Ground in more than one way.  Hot  Damn! Looking forward to playing the album in the car.
I have now learnt more about the Girl Guide movement than I ever wanted to. Enough to drive me to drink. Had half litre of Jennings Lakes beer too.
Llyn Bochlyd
Back to Y Garn
I think this is some Pitts Head Tuff with a quartzite banding
Towards the sea
Back to Llyn Bochlyd
At the top of the Tryfan col
Across to some of the Carneddau, I think
Blue ridge mountains of Wales
Across huge Cwm Tryfan
Climbers on Tryfan
And another one
The A5
This is flow-banding
Heading down
A dear baby goatlet, running away!
Catching some rays
Llyn Ogwen
Tryfan, sadly photo not level
Cwm Ogwen
Pill box


Got up early and said goodbye to family from Cornwall. Finally exchanged names. They are Sarah, Steven, Danny and Lauren. They have been referring to me as the little lady. Little I can understand as they are all very tall. Thankfully they omitted the word old. As for the last bit they must be visually challenged.
Damian not in reception and am sorry not to thank him and say goodbye. Send my wishes to him via Jeroen who is standing in.
Steve takes photo of the little old lady.
Cold streaming today and feel crap with it.
Set off for Beddgelert and go to see his grave. Buy some cards to torment Chris with. I went in the church and a man was hoovering in there. He said something to me and I had to ask him to repeat it several times on account of the deafness. He said it was ok for me to come in and I’m afraid in my best snottiness I said “I should think it is, it’s a church.” That really was my mother speaking….
I went to a recommended ice cream cafe Cafe Glandwr on grounds they probably would do nice coffee if Italians. Cafe is nice and I am right.
Catch sight of steam train at station but decide not to travel on it.
Then set off for home stopping for lunch on the way. Arrived home about 4.30. Damian later sent me an email, he’s a very nice guy and really helped to make my walks interesting.
Outside Idwal Cottage
Paraglider at Beddgelert
Beddgelert church
All lies here!
Poor poor Gelert!
All aboard!

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

Scotland October 2011

Friday 7th October

We set off a little later than planned. Weather is fine all the way. We stop at Lancaster services for me to get a lentil and beetroot salad for lunch and also my first espresso in 3 weeks which is lovely then Tebay as I want some soy sauce bur they don’t have any. Then Allandale Water for lunch. C doesn’t like it there as cars are playing radios and it’s not warm enough to go and sit out by the lake.
On to Glasgow which I manage to get through easily going out on the A82. We stop for Carol to get money and me the soy sauce just parking on the road next to bank and deli. Then out of the city along Loch Lomond. We take a road off the main drag and immediately into loveliness so pull up and brew using our “mobile beverages ” box! Then off again along the wiggly road where there is loads of litter.
Through Crianlarich and onto Tyndrum where we find our B&B – Glengarry House right on the road. After checking in with Ellen and Andy we chat to fellow guests for ages in the conservatory over banana cake and tea.
Then we are on a mission to find dinner. C has found a cafe on the web but when we go in it’s just a chippy with eating in a tent flapping in the cold and wet wind. We drive up and down the village 4 times but there are only 4 places to eat one of which is closed. This leaves us with the hotel and Paddy’s Rock n Roll Diner. The diner is quiet and the food is cheap all set to muted rock with a larger than life size Elvis at a table. C has fish and chips and I have a veggie burger with chips n slaw washed down with not very nice 80 shilling beer.
Back to huge bed and good comfy sleep.
A mobile beverage leaving lots of room for turning
Blimey, what’s that sticking out of your head?

Saturday 8th October

We wake just before 7 and have a hearty breakfast – posh muesli, bacon, sausage, poached egg and beans, all good quality.
After a bit more chat we head off into the rain and gloom crossing Rannoch Moor and through the pass of Glencoe to reach Fort William. I fill up the car and we get some final supplies in Morrisons. Then off again past lots of big mountains and lochs stopping to look at Eilean Donan castle. We take a little turn off the road and stop looking at a loch through the rain smeared windscreen. I eat my lamb and damson pie from Tebay and worry about C who eats nothing.
We plough on and the A road gets smaller and smaller. The last places for shops is Lochcarron. We find out when the butcher is open and the bistro which we are planning for our wedding anniversary but the woman who runs it is flying off to Majorca and it will be shut evenings.
The last leg is the Pass of the Cattle, or Bealach na Ba. This has had a huge build up as it’s the highest longest road in the UK (beating Cragg Vale’s claim?). The pass is quite scary and a definite no in snow fog dark etc. But we get round the hairpins with ease. My passenger is a bit quiet.
After the summit at 628m we drop down to Applecross and 3 miles later we are in Culduie at no. 2, a total of 470 miles since leaving home. We quickly unload and get the house warmed up and set up. It’s in a great spot with views to Raasay and Rona and Skye beyond. We take a short walk to the jetty and return to bake flapjack and make the fire in one of the 2 sitting rooms. C manages to smoke us out so we abandon that sitting room and transfer to the other one which is lighter and warmer and less gloomy. I make an omelette and we consider our walk options over a few glasses of wine.
Eilean Donan castle

Sunday 9th October

A leisurely start after a good long sleep. We trot round the nearest point to what is called a coral beach which is white sand with big chunks in it. It’s made of calcified seaweed but looks like chunks of shell. Only a short walk but I am well knackered so we return to base for lunch. Then a drive to the southernmost point of the peninsula which is sheltered and has some people doing something with fishing net but not quite sure what. Then back along the road to the north of the peninsula. It feels like an island because it is so remote and hard to get to. The northerly west side is bleak but has great views across to Rona Raasay and the Cuilin on Skye. Raasay has a small but perfectly formed mountain that just has to be an extinct volcano. Flat top to cone reaching like the hand of god (Bruce). Only 450m with a path so makes me want to climb it.
We have no TV, no digital radio, no mobile and no Internet which is mostly brilliant but I would like to get the weather and look up a few bits and bobs.

Back to the ranch for hot chocolate and then I bake bread (packet mix), and produce a Thai green chicken curry with rice and broccoli yum yum yum!

Dun Caan on Raasay

Monday 10th October

I wake in the night to the sound of a bellowing stag. He is a noisy old bugger. After breakfast we head for Applecross village stopping to watch a gang of seals on a rocky outcrop in the sea flapping their flippers and sunning themselves. We actually have sun today so a quick visit to the peninsula shop which is tiny and stocks everything from engine oil to oatcakes. Then we visit the village info centre in Applecross – this has some nice gifts, some outdoor gear and a PC for weather forecasts. The girl pulls up a selection of sites via a very slow broadband connection on a high spec computer and the overall picture is showers today, showers and wind tomorrow and better on Weds before returning to more solid rain.
On to the heritage centre but it’s shut and charges £2 to look at some old rocks and a coracle. Then Clachan chapel which smells very musty and is extremely Spartan with hard chairs all in neat rows. Peaceful though. There is an ancient Celtic cross on a tall leaning stone, this is part of the old chapel set up by Maelrubbha whose name means red monk and Clachan is the sanctuary.
We park the car on the beach and have a lovely river and woodland walk. I pull up some of the spreading invasive rhododendron but not enough to make much difference although clearly efforts are being made to control it. It only showers on us a little as we picnic near the river. Through the wood to Applecross house and into the Potting Shed for tea and another coffee for me. Nice now I don’t have to have it.
Back to the village to look in the Coal Shed gallery where I spot a singular card I want to buy. A woman comes in the shop and quickly buys something and I take no notice of her at all not even looking at her. I turn to pick up and buy the card of a cheeky looking stag and it has gone. Pipped at the post. Bugger.
Back home for hot chocolate and flapjack and more rain.

Carol made me a bacon sandwich for dinner and I’m now washing it down with a glass of wine whilst playing with a very complicated washer drier machine. It probably isn’t that bad but reading the manual made it seem so. I’m sure the wine helped me to work it out…

This just has to be a volcano (and it is)


Tuesday 11th October

Wake up late on our 3rd wedding anniversary, we exchange small gifts – yummy choc marzipan for me and heather soap for C. We give each other nearly identical cards of the Bealach na Ba pass.
Small breakfasts as we are a bit behind. Off up the north coast long way round, this is very pretty and has its own dramatic sections but it does take an hour longer. Through Lochcarron which C is convinced has shops. It doesn’t, just the best Spar in Scotland so they tell us. Stop at Strathcarron which we also thought had shops but it doesn’t apart from a post office with much nicer cards than the ones we’ve sent! I only sent 2 so no curses please!
Back to Lochcarron bistro for our anniversary lunch. C has huge homemade burger and I have chicken with tarragon sauce and herby mashed potato. Good food and nice place. Into the best ever Spar for a few more oatcakes.
We drive along the loch shore and park near Strome castle which is well ruined. Someone blew it up a few hundred years ago.
Walk along the road through Leacanashie to Ardaneaskan. It’s an old pine forest with steep drops to Loch Carron. On the other side of the loch trains run next to the shore. We walk round to a beach which is part of Loch Ruraig and then up into the forest. Think we see an eagle, at least an enormous bird with a huge wing span. Then back down to Leacanashie and fast along the road to the car. We have to hurry because the light is going and we have to drive 18 miles back to Applecross half of them across the Bealach. The light on loch and sea is glorious. We climb steadily surprising a stag poking his head up and then a doe ambles across the road in front of us. This is an annoying move for me as it forces me into first gear but the ascent is fine. As we drop back down we see several more red deer. The Bealach na Ba passes between Meall Gorm and Sghurr a Chaoraachain. The car says it is 4.5C up there.

Home to chicken curry leftovers for me and bread and cheese for C.

Impossible to resist
Strome Castle

Wednesday 12th October

It’s a beautiful sunny day and we are up reasonably early and up the hill back to Bealach na Ba. I park up at the viewpoint and ours is the only car there. By the time we’ve got out of the car the parking space is nearly full. It’s cold in the wind and height so we wrap up warm in full winter layers. We walk up the good path to the mobile phone tower and get the most fantastic views to Skye and way beyond, the other way to Torridon – just mountains interspersed with lochs as far as the eye can see. Truly heavenly. C likes this type of mountaineering which means most of the work done by the car and just the last 750 m on foot!
I then drive down the Bealach which I had been dreading but actually is fine. Take it nice and easy on the hairpins and the barriered section and all the rest is a breeze. It’s the altitude plus the exposure that makes it seem hard. I remind myself that 40 years ago this was the only way to get in and out of Applecross. However once in a day is enough for me!
Once down we head for Shieldaig, a tiny village on the edge of loch Shieldaig. Park up and walk around the promontory. We stop for lunch, sandwiches with the latest bread batch and circuit the headland. This takes a while and the going is rough in places including a helpful arrow pointing up on a sheer wall. After a bit of a scramble we carry on round passing houses whose only access is our rocky boggy narrow path or the sea. It’s very warm and we are soon down to our shirtsleeves so winter and summer all in one day. C gets bad ankle pains due to leggings and sock putting pressure on her ankle bone so she hobbles back the last section. She rests on a bench while I get the car to taxi her back.
We take the long road round admiring the stunning light on sea and mountain.
Then to the Applecross Inn where I had chicken and Provencal veg with linguine and creme fraiche and C had haddock, chips and peas. Huge portions and very tasty.

It’s still quite mild and we can see a long way even in the dark.

From the cottage
On Sghurr a Chaorachain
On Sghurr a Chaorachain
On Sghurr a Chaorachain
On Sghurr a Chaorachain
On Sghurr a Chaorachain
On Sghurr a Chaorachain
I’m told these are easy to photograph
From Shieldaig
From Shieldaig
From Shieldaig
From Shieldaig
From Shieldaig
From the cottage

Thursday 13th October

Up late. C cooks my breakfast of bacon, egg, toms and I do the mushrooms in garlic with tamari.
Plan is for car tour to take account of C’s ankle. In Applecross we see a pale buzzard very close. We take the long route to Torridon and find it has a loo, a YH, a campsite and a shop. We drink coffee looking over the loch. Torridon very blighted with rhododendron which is strangling the trees.
Then we park up on the road near Loch Clair for picnic lunch. This is another single track A road with passing places. On to Kinlochewe which has a loo, a hotel, a garage and a rather run down but well supplied shop. C v excited with the retail opportunities today is offering. The woman running the shop is perturbed because the fish man has driven past and she needs to feed 20 on Saturday because Evan who used to be in the Wolfe Tones is coming. At least I thought that’s what she said. But it turns out there is a band called the Wolf Stones. I’ve had a cold sore in my nose and sniffles all week so have been congested which means I’ve been extra deaf. Evasio Radice was said to have hung out with Wolfe Tone during the time he taught at Trinity College Dublin, this is absolute cobblers because Evasio was 4 when Wolfe Tone died.
Then we head back and stop so we can walk on an estate track which is better for C’s ankle. Lovely walk by Loch Clair.
Then home the long way round as I’m not in the mood for Bealach thrills. We think we spot a deer.
Back to pasta bolognese cooked by me to a secret recipe handed down by my mama. No I am lying, I just did it the way I like to do it.

Another day of no rain, we have been so lucky with the weather especially as the forecast before we left home was awful.

From the cottage
Sleepy cattle
Every picture tells a story
From Loch Clair
From Loch Clair
From Loch Clair
From Loch Clair

Friday 14th October

The cottage is an old croft in the island style so it has 2 dormers. This one has a single story extension to the side and this is the sitting room we ended up using. The one we didn’t use except for all our kit is always much colder than the rest of the cottage. The main cottage is internally clad with pale painted tongue and groove which makes me feel like it’s a boat.
We have a lazy morning in then just drive to Applecross village seeing the seals on the way and walk a good length of the Applecross river along a well made track. C is in my shoes so the ankle stays ok. Picnic on the path. Weather is cloudy and v mild but doesn’t rain on us.
Back home we pack up ahead of the long journey tomorrow. I bake some more bread and read some more.
Off to the Potting Shed for dinner. C is concerned that it will be awful. She is worried that the lack of cars in the car park means it’s no good. We are led in through the walled garden by a string of fairy lights. The proper dark and green canopy makes it feel almost Mediterranean especially as it is so mild and not raining. Very magical.
I have venison rillettes with Cumberland sauce for starter. A rillette is a kind of rissole. This is really nice. Followed by poached salmon and cous cous also excellent.
C has black pudding starter followed by hummous starter which both went down a treat! Pudding is apple bramble crumble, try saying that after a few glasses. Top marks for presentation at the Potting Shed. Do not confuse with the Coal Shed the gift shop here. C says it is great. I try some of hers and it is yummy. I’m too full for my own pudding.
C agrees that this was a good choice to come here after all!

The meal is accompanied by non stop Cat Stevens which drives me to a form of mania. I had not considered torture by Cat Stevens before but I can assure you it works.

One for Chris
I loved the skies
Sky and Skye

Saturday 15th October

At New Lanark youth hostel. It’s been a very long day.
Up at 7 and away at 9.30. We take the long slow way off the peninsula because of huge wind and driving rain and very thick mist at sea level so all will be much worse on the Bealach. I think I said before it’s quite enough fun in good conditions! As we go past the end of the road coming down from it and look up it’s in big fog so I feel it was the right decision.
It rains all the way to Glasgow. We stop for coffee at a nice 4 * hotel in Invergarry. Then for lunch off the road near the Commando memorial at Spean Bridge. Then for a few supplies and diesel at Morrisons in Fort William. Then at Crianlarich for chocolate and sweets Then in a lay by at the end of Loch Lomond for air and leg stretching. We walked round the car 6 times. It did wake me up.
We don’t stop at the services on the motorway and this is a mistake as we both need the loo. There are 11 garden centres between the motorway and Lanark a distance of 12 miles. We try Morrisons in Lanark but they don’t have any loos so we have to hold on until we get to New Lanark YH but then rush in and use all the loos on the ground floor. This done we check in and arrange ourselves.
Picnic supper using our picnic plates. There are about 8 others only one of whom could be described as youth and 2 of whom are geriatric.
Short walk in rain to show C Robert Owen’s house and the big water turbine all lit up and shining wet.

Wine in plastic cups to finish off.

No. 2

Sunday 16th October

Slept well on nice firm beds. C in bottom bunk and me in separate bed. The YH (which I
visited in April with Chris) now supply towels as well as squirty soap. This is Scottish YHA which also have much higher standards of cleanliness than the
ones I’ve been to in England and Wales.
We are up early and have a quick breakfast of cereal and toast. I chat with the New Zealander manager, Scott who is very nice man and then we pack the car and take quick walk to the Falls of the
Clyde and the hydro electric power station built in 1927 and still going strong. The falls are
in full spate. Lovely walk and it only rains just as we return to the car.
Off to Tebay for lunch stop and shopping.

Then home before 5pm after 1237 miles and having increased my knowledge of every loo between the Highlands and home.

Corra Linn hydro electric power station
BIG pipes
The Falls of the Clyde
New Lanark

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


Isle of Jura 21st to 29th May 2011


Friday 20 May

A good sleep and up before 7. Left home but without a jacket I meant to take. Picked up Chris who had woken v early and has a sore mouth. Managed to get off in good time with a fully loaded up car. Chris takes the wheel and receives instruction on speed and gears and revs! Once I lent Chris my car and told her it wouldn’t go faster than 60 so she didn’t but she is wise to my tricks these days!
We stop at Lancaster services and spend about an hour on coffee and M&S. I drive as C has sore mouth and is a bit run down as well as to change over. Stop just into Scotland for lunch at services sit outside by lake, only just warm enough and 3 ducks arrive so I give them each a bean but then swan turns up and hisses at us. I carry on driving up to Glasgow, weather sunny and showery. Traffic terrible on Glasgow inner motorway so we come off and go through Dumbarton. Reach Loch Lomond, switch over and C gets us to Loch Fyne. Stop at shop but not loads of stock.
Inveraray just the same. Sleepy town. We go to coop and find youth hostel which is long low old barracks of a shed. We have ground floor bunks room for 2. My turn for the top. All v clean with slight underlying damp smell in the washroom. Beds are already made up. Chris cooks up pasta, veg and sauce with cheese on top. We have tuna nicoise on the side.  Our dinner is by far the nicest and accompanied by lovely bottle of Sauvignon. Fellow hostellers include cheeky chappie Martin looks like David Jason short and v broad on top, his pal Richard looks like John Laurie – tall thin Scot wearing shorts and raggedy jumper both well into 70s. And 2 Americans from Georgia. We help with oven lighting. Then off to the George for a 60 shilling beer which cost about that. First bar loud and not nice. Lounge bar better and listen to Peter Jagger trying to make himself heard singing and guitaring. But terrible songs for his nice voice. Raining heavily as we leave but still light at 10.30. Climb with difficulty into bunk as hard to grip with feet on the round rungs.
Bridge at Inveraray
Saturday 21 May
Woke early and breakfasted early. Out before 9 hoping for coffee at Inveraray woollen mill but no show. We looked at the pier and wandered onto sad closed old boat which was no longer trading as a museum. At £5 a head no surprise. The deli was open for coffee and although nice food in the deli the coffee was not. Got some more supplies. Then off to Lochgilphead for big well stocked Coop and even more supplies. Also things for Chris’ sore mouth. Good coffee drunk in car in rain. On a bit more but in good time so stopped for a bit of diesel in Tarbet plus 20p wee. Chris got some more gloves. Then to Kennacraig quickly got tickets and loaded onto RORO (Roll On Roll Off, not one we had to row, row) boat. 2 hour easy trip only a bit of rolling. Bar full of hard drinkers. Chris shared her lunch of leftovers and bread and cheese with me cos for some mysterious reason she had taken my lunch out of the lunch bag! As we Rolled Off we asked for the ferry to Jura and there it was adjacent to the CalMac. Us and 4 other cars whizzed over to Feolin in 5 minutes. We drove around the south east tip to Craighouse saying I don’t remember this, in fact still saying this the next day. The cottage is near the centre of the village, it’s a left paw semi. Little garden behind big hedge. It overlooks Small Isles Bay. Summer house. Cottage nice and well equipped although some oddities. We find we have left a bag with garlic carrots red pepper rhubarb and weirdly both our boxes of eggs and 2 packets of energy bars at the youth hostel. Chris tackles the kitchen and I make the beds up. There are 2 bedrooms but 1 is bunks. After a while we set out for the village in the rain. Walk down pier and jetty. Look at Antlers resto and go to hotel for rubbishy beer. Back home I make courgette and broccoli risotto with spring onions which we eat with greens with lemon. Chris bakes bread. We drink gin beer and whisky, not all at once and not even all for both. Bath very hot and cold water only available via the shower! Then sleep like a baby.
From Craighouse

Sunday 22 May
Leisurely start with breakfast of muesli yoghurt toast. I may soon stop saying this as there is very little variation in what I eat for breakfast. This is the point at which we realise all the food that is missing that we’ve left at the hostel. Each thinking the other has got it but still can’t quite work out how our veg and eggs have all got together. Make sandwiches and drive up to Knockrome. Drive down to the School House which now has nice new track. House looks very nicely done up now and not the derelict old ruin we stayed in for a fortnight 21 years ago. Then there was no track and we just had to walk across the bog with our suitcases. We park up and head to the sea and lots of seals are basking on rocks and splashing in sea. Difficult walk on bog rocks with seaweed all stinky. Come to swan on nest and skirt round her then big black bull and cows with babies so more avoidance. I cower behind C!  Oyster catchers. Get away from waterside as going too hard. Onto track past farm and across to houses where old man and dog Pilot gave us tea before. His huge Victorian pile sadly unoccupied and starting to rot. Lunch behind barn out of wind. C then charges up the rocks towards the split in the cliffs of which there is some half baked tale of leaping across. Then we head back. There is a 4×4 on the track ahead and a small white dog is ejected from the driver side just as we walk up, Juran dog exercising method. C talks to dog and I tell it to get down. Its lady owner surprised to see us. We return to car collecting firewood. Look in at Corran Sands which C has marked up for a swim in her wet suit. Back at house C makes good fire and very good lamb sausages coriander mash carrots and broccoli followed by creme caramel. I make first batch of flapjack to actually stick together firmly but oven too hot fierce and high so need chisel to get at it. Sit in summer house and watch sea at 10.30. Bordeaux then bed.

Across Lowlandman’s Bay
Across Lowlandman’s Bay
The Paps, actually just 2 as the one on the right is not
Across the gap in the cliff
The Paps of Jura
Across Lowlandman’s Bay

Monday 23 May
Woke at 7. Read in bed and then roused ourselves to get up and out. First stop was the shop to stock up on some of our lost supplies. Bread arrives in the afternoon but not today as no ferries are running because of the stormy weather. We get some eggs, frozen peas, soup and garlic and some postcards. Then over the road to the Antlers Bistro, disappointed that despite the advert, it seems not to be run by 2 poofs. Coffee and cake but not that nice, not horrid just not lovely. I ask about the School House and we find that Victoria (not Vic anymore) has married a much older Juran man and had 2 kids, sold up and gone to live in Limousin. Also that the old man has just had a heart attack. At least now we can stop imagining that every passing car is driven by Vic who in my head has totally changed her appearance and become unrecognisable.  Return to the cottage and pack up lunch of rye bread and flapjack and crisps. Head out in car maybe to walk across to Loch Tarbert at the narrowest part of the island depending on what it/we feel/s like. Drive past Lagg and great sea vistas up towards Tarbert and come to tree across the road. There is car behind it so I check no-one hurt and no-one is in car so that’s ok but see another fallen tree is sandwiching the car. C turns our car round and first we pick up Richard who has appeared out of the woods and is very wet and has lost Martin. Then I run down to approaching Land Rover and explain what has happened and he says he will chainsaw the tree. Next we leave a note on Martin’s car to say we have picked up Richard and back we go to Craighouse, shoving him out to return to their caravan at Keils. We get in to find a power cut at 2pm which is still in place as I write at 10pm. Back to the shop to buy coal and fire lighters but no bread as they are keeping the freezers tight shut. We read a bit and then go out for air to walk up to Keils and the cemetery, passing the caravan so we know that madman Martin has got back ok as the 2 old fools had parted company in terrible weather on hills. We meet Annie who directs us twice to the cemetery and tells us she has put her long drawers back on! Despite the informality she fusses over us and tells us not to fall in the burn. She is a nice old lady and I like her. We manage not to fall in and look round the cemetery which is very old and has some really old stones including what I think is a Templar one. It is on a raised section of land tucked away at the base of the hill with a fine sea view. We wander back and see the man from the shop who is standing in his doorway reading, so we know the light is not back on. He says his son has left us some kindling but he must be really dopey as he has left the bag next to the money we left out for him! On return I keep trying to find my new gloves but they have run away. I am annoyed at the recent run of lost things as never normally lose anything. Thankfully we have the gas burner so dinner is meze of hummus olives and stuffed vine leaves and oatcakes for starters followed by leftovers soup with extra onion and cannelini beans herbs and spring onions which is very delicious and with cheese on top. Carol very clever has rung Scottish Hydro but all they are saying is that it’s too windy to climb the pole to fix it. Must be a big pole as the whole of Jura and Islay are without electricity. We are fine as have the coal fire, candles and head lamps and the gas burner. It won’t be so much fun if it continues tomorrow.

Fallen tree
On a mission
Oldy headstone
Another one
From ye ancient cemetery

Tuesday 24 May
I woke at 7 to find the electric had returned during the night. So I celebrated by getting all the washing up done, then a thorough Hoover and a nice long shower. Chris was still sleeping through all this, sort of. We had bacon for breakfast and made up sandwiches. Then a walk to the shop for a few more supplies, a spot of recycling although why they can’t put the glass with all the other types I don’t know. I logged on at the Antlers. We set off and passed Mrs Cameron’s funeral and parked up at the misnamed Evan’s Walk, misnamed because Evans only had one leg and travelled on horseback. Martin and Richard were doing the same hill as us and after we had taken photos of an American couple and they of us, I found I had left the map at the cottage so we went back and saw the piper for Mrs Cameron. Also saw some baby swans. Set off again with map for the long bog trudge. Went up to Loch na Cloiche and then headed west up the mountain of Corra Bheinn. Fairly straightforward climb but a lot of wind and squalls. I got to the top thinking Chris was right behind me only to find she wasn’t. Just as I started to worry her head appeared. The view is fantastic you can see all round the island with the sea on both sides and Loch Tarbert and lochans high up, but terribly windy so we ate our sandwiches, I put on a Compeed and off we went back down taking a more direct route to meet a path that would take us to the car. We reached a fast flowing river and it took a while to get us both across safely as the rocks were slippery. Chris had already excelled herself by sitting in the bog and now her feet got a bit more wet. Soon we were back at the car and Martin and Richard’s car was still parked up so hope they got back too. We’d been out for 6 hours. Drove back past a load of Shelduck ducklets. Back to cottage, Chris cooked up tuna casserole and I had a shower, I did bread while she had a bath. We ate all the casserole and drank all the Chablis. I then made flapjack and while it cooked we went to the pub for coffee and Jura whisky on the fiver we had found. We also got details of the RSPB reserve on Islay for tomorrow from the Antlers’ free wifi. More whisky – Caol Ila and bed.

Ready for Corra Bheinn
Towards Loch Tarbert
Bog woman
Is it raining?
Big bugger we did not attempt

Wednesday 25 May
After breakfast of boiled egg and home made bread we packed our lunches and set off to Feolin to the ferry to Port Askaig. A quick hop over and we were on Islay. It’s mainly quite flat with big expanses of flat with nothing in them but wet and bog. We stopped at a RSPB reserve and drank machine hot chocolate. Went on a bit further and parked by the sea and had a look at some horses in a shed who had lots of lovely hay. There were remains of several concrete bunkers and gun emplacements. By the shore the waves were huge. Back in the car for our sandwiches and my first truly successful flapjack. We went on a bit more to the Kilchoman distillery and its visitor centre. This was lovely, a new distillery on a farm selling nice things. We had good coffee and I tasted 2 whiskies. Then to Bowmore which seemed almost exactly the same apart from a new square and tourist info. centre. We heard some folk music (Islay whisky festival) and watched a handful of bearded old men get pissed in the cold wind. Had a great shopping spree. The lady in the soap shop said the storm was the worst in the 10 years she’d been there. She said it made her plants black and our windows are now very dirty with volcanic dust. There was talk in the town of the switch to digital TV and the new ferry arriving today! After buying up the town and draining it of whisky we got some more diesel at an eye watering 1.55p per litre, nearly as bad as the 30 year old Laphraoig at a mere £750 per bottle. Then back onto the little boat to return to Feolin. The water was very rocky on the Sound and we saw dolphins playing and swooping. The little boat rocked about a lot and I worried we would not be able to get off it but the rolling off platform was still so didn’t need to fret. Dinner of Thai green chicken curry and trifle. Now very full.

Chris told me about the Rapture people on the trip up and this barmy story has continued to amuse. I expect the storm was part of it all and we have been punished for being gay.
Cows on the beach
Thursday 26 May
We had decided last night that we would change plans and leave the island a day early. We were just fed up with all the rain and bog. Despite this we woke early and set out early having packed lunches and breakfasted. We drove up the road as far as you can go which is just past the turn to Inverlussa at Lealt. We saw Martin and Richard getting out of their car at the point where the road ceases to be an A road at Ardlussa. This is a fab big house and one of the 4 or 5 estates for stalking that divide Jura. The road continues for another couple of miles although its condition is fairly poor for quite a long time even when it’s A status. We parked up and then set off on foot. Arrived at Barnhill after an hour and a half. We didn’t bother to go and poke around this time. It would appear to be occupied now. Next stop was Kinuachdrach which is the most northerly house on the island and definitely occupied. Their generator was whirring away. There is no electricity after Ardlussa although one house had made the most of wind and sun with an array of solar panels in the garden. Kinuachdrach had 3 Land Rovers but were not keen for anyone else to use the track which is fair enough. At the house which the map says is a bunkhouse we turned off left to do the last 2 miles to Corryvreckan, on a small path through a lot of bog. I worried about this as Chris says she hates bog and there was a lot of it. We eventually got to the whirlpool but it was quite calm compared with previous visit. The sign where we parked the car said to allow 3 hours each way but we had already taken 4 hours by the time we’d eaten lunch in a slightly more sheltered bit of bog. As we started back the rain came on for the rest of the day. Chris’ waterproofs yesterday had made me giggle uncontrollably as her legs were foaming with soap bubbles in great profusion! We made fast progress back to Kinuachdrach in 45 minutes and saw the only 2 people for the day, 2 lads who looked very fit. They were on very expensive bicycles with very expensive locks. Another short hop and we were back at Eric Blair’s house. Got back to the car at 5.20 so our return trip took under 3 hours. Feet sore after 14 miles on hard surfaces. Headed back with a call in to Inverlussa but the lady who brings out tea and cakes seemed not to be open today. Got back to Craighouse at 6.30, raced in, C made hot chocolate in the microwave and jumped in the bath, she had got cold with being so wet. I showered and then we were in the Antlers on time having glugged back a big glass of bubbly as they don’t have a licence and charge corkage.  I had samosas and C had haddock chowder, then both had steak and we shared a creme brûlée made with Baileys which I would have liked more made without. Graham said the other named man at the Antlers was leaving so we didn’t press him. Nice meal, back at cottage struggling to get fire blazing. Caol Ila is lovely. We have decided to stick with original plan and pootle around tomorrow. We saw several deer, some in groups and one very fine chap on his own. Also heard a cuckoo which C thinks may be a hoopoe and saw a siskin or it could have been a greenfinch but we think it was a siskin.
Deer through windscreen
House where Eric wrote 1984 (Barnhill)
Ships that pass in the day
My feet hurt
Mine too
Friday 27 May
Walked to the village all 100m away. Recycled. Shop for stamps. Distillery for cards oh and some more whisky. Village hall for craft fair – nicer cards. Chris had made bread so we made up lunches and drove off to Knockrome and parked up nearly at Ardfenal. Wandered about the bay in at An Dunan looking for otters. None of them today but a party of seals came to see us and some dolphins although I barely saw them thanks to my drizzle coated specs. Sandwiches on the point then up to see cormorants. Also a very old cairn on the area where the old fort is. Walked back and it really rained on us so glad to return to delicious hot chocolate and hot buttered toasted malt loaf. Spent the evening packing up, eating lovely pasta bake of mixed vegetables and cheese, drinking wine and whisky. Did some crosswords and went to bed late. Chris died her hair during this too. Wrote a letter to the caretaker suggesting that they do what the job title says. Will also make suggestions to the cottage company.
Saturday 28 May
Got up at 6.30 after not enough sleep. Finished off packing up and left the house cleaner than we got it except we didn’t do the floors again. Chris restrained herself from burning the dried grasses which were part of the decoration! Set off for Feolin and saw some of the fell runners getting ready to attempt the 7 fells including the three Paps in just over 3 hours. They must not actually see the view in that time, just the bog beneath their feet and I don’t know how you can run very fast in bog. There were no otters at Feolin, both sad not to see otters or wild goats who now live on the west side of the island. Smooth crossings both to Port Askaig and to Kennacraig. We only had a small muesli breakfast at the cottage so had decided to treat ourselves to a second breakfast on the boat, both hoping for croissant, but we ended up with “hot” rolls with 2 fillings. C had bacon and sausage and I had sausage and beans. I don’t know what possessed me to opt for sausage as I normally won’t eat them if don’t know where they’ve come from. Anyway it was a poor choice and we were squashed at a table with some old gits we didn’t like so we ate up and got good coffee and went on deck. Took lots of photos of the elusive Paps as we left them behind. It was a really lovely day and warm in the sun, a right bugger after all the bloody rain. It’s just a shower, meaning a thorough cloudburst drenching. I managed to get drenched in 30 seconds while packing the car first thing, as that’s how long it took to get my anorak on. After arrival at Kennacraig we next stopped at Inveraray to look in the Christmas shop but it was a bit mad in there and pricey, both put me off. Then stopped at Loch Fyne to get supplies for lunch and saw some friendly people from the boat, whose cousins we had photoed and who we had photoed before the walk to up Corra Bheinn. Then we went all the way to New Lanark only getting a tiny bit lost in Glasgow because the navigator wasn’t concentrating. The driver was very calm about this and luckily we saw a sign which put us right. The road from the motorway to New Lanark is notable for a vast quantity of garden centres and nurseries, we must have passed 6. Got to Lanark, GPS said one thing and we didn’t do it so went to Morrisons, got some more beer and then found youth hostel in New Lanark which is fab preservation place where Robert Owen was manager. Hostel is old millworkers’ dwellings and run by New Zealander. Very clean and we get big room with tiny window about a foot square next to the floor. But room has its own loo and shower so is most luxurious. Mad time making dinner with lots of people. I chat to man who has had terrible time with his eye and it sounded like they had taken it out, given it a scrub round and shoved it back in. I told him I had to eat my dinner. We had sweet corn for starter and then cauli and broccoli in carbonara sauce with extra cheese and bacon. It was a bit on the heavy side but the manager seemed to like the smell so we let him lick the spoon. I washed up but must admit to struggling with communal kitchen use as some people don’t rinse and some (us included) don’t use the right chopping boards and some don’t use the right sinks for things. I have decided to take my own crocks and pots next time, well so long as am in a car. Drank some beer and then wandered round the mills all to ourselves and up nature walk along the Clyde, lots wild flowers, and chances of creatures but all quiet tonight. Fab view of falls and 1929 hydroelectric power station. Back for more beer.
View from the cottage
Seaview cottage
Impersonating an otter
Paps, what Paps?
Water wheel at New Lanark
The Falls of the Clyde
Sunday 30 May

Muesli yoghurt toast boiled egg. Got YH card stamped. Out to see 2 baby peregrine falcons and their mother on perilous rocky ledge through a powerful telescope. Nice man told us all about them. Went up to top of falls and watched machine clear out leaves and debris from the water being diverted to the turbine below. Back to New Lanark for coffee and cake before going into the various bits of heritage experience. Some of this was really naff and some of it was very interesting. If you go, don’t bother with Annie McLeod’s ride but do go to the roof garden, the mill workers’ houses and Robert Owen’s house. The overall place is lovely and wasn’t madly full of people, it’s clean and is in fab setting on the steep banks of the Clyde. The falls are spectacklier. We eventually set off stopping on the way for an M&S snack and then at Tebay for more yummy things to take home and eat.

We were both fed up it was such a wet week. So here’s to a future dry trip.
Door to Falls walk


1929 hydro electric power station, still in use today


Smaller volume of water in Falls
Do not walk across this bridge
In the roof garden
 Please visit Map and Compass and learn how to interpret a map with me and my navigation partner, Cath.

Snowdonia 14-17 October

Thursday 14th
After struggling to leave work thanks to a meeting last thing, Chris and I left my house at 7.00 p.m. Chris came well supplied with snacks. I’d been hungry whilst waiting for her to arrive and so had eaten all my sandwiches before she got to me. She ate potato, broccoli and bacon as I drove. Fairly uneventful journey, apart from when we stopped at a local services on the big A road that runs along the top of Wales whose number I have forgotten. We drove in and it was a completely dark deserted Little Chef which was a bit spooky.
A 3 hour drive brought us to Bryn Gwynant youth hostel which is on the edge of Llyn Gwynant. The YH is an old Victorian house overlooking the lake but of course we couldn’t see this in the dark. It was full of teenagers but despite having some misgivings about this, they were in fact very well behaved and no bother at all. The YH is a bit knackered and has quite manky old doors. The guy on reception didn’t seem to be expecting us but he did have our room sorted so I think he was just being a bit dopey. We got some bottles of beer and went to our room. For all our nights we had booked rooms for just us as C and I find it hard to sleep with strangers! So far this year, we have had Mrs Guinea Pig at Boggle Hole and the 2 mad women at Ennerdale.
The room was about a quarter of what had once been a much bigger room. It was roomy enough and had a wash basin and a window that opened although not very far in case we were thinking of jumping out. It had a large cupboard and 1 easyish chair. It was my turn for the top bunk as I think C had had top bunk at both our previous hostels. I didn’t sleep very well in it as I kept being mindful of the need not to jump out. As for actually getting out for a pee in the middle of the night, this seemed really hard and I didn’t want to tread on Chris’ head.

Friday 15th
Our previous experiences had decided us both to bring butter, C also brought nice coffee. This hostel had butter and nice rolls as well as some cheese and ham for breakfast although these were a bit naff. Chris made up some coffee and we both had some of the cooked breakfast as well as juice and cereal and yoghurt.
Then we headed off after a bit of serious bag rearranging (pfaffing to some fellow travellers!) to Beddgelert which was all of 3 miles down the road. Stopped for a short wander round, bought a couple of things to take home and then promptly drove off in the wrong direction. After rectifying this, we then saw a Gelert outdoor shop and had to stop. I got a neat and light 2 person shelter as the one I have is huge and I never take it out because of that. Chris got another buff! Chris was most taken with the story of Gelert. Gelert was a dog who saved a baby from being eaten by a wolf and then got slain for his pains.
Once we were on the right road, we were soon at Cwellyn and parked up near the forestry track which went through Beddgelert forest, maybe where all this dog action had taken place.
We set off and it started to rain almost immediately neccesitating the first of many clothing changes. The forestry track petered out as a view of Llyn Cwellyn appeared and we could work out where our next hostel was. Then up through the trees and along a bit to the edge of the forest. Here we had our lunch, and got through quite a lot of Chris’ supplies, salads and crunchy energy bars.
It was then a short steep climb up to a first minor peak. We had good views mostly but the cloud did keep going and covering things up. The next section along the ridge it stayed clear all the way and the vista opened up to give us a huge bowl leading into the lake.
We continued up and into the cloud, before long the cairn and shelter loomed out of the mist. A short break to congratulate ourselves and then back down the ridge. We took a compass bearing to get back onto the path as it would be easy to go wrong in the mist and all the sides of the shelter look the same. Our mountain was Mynydd Mawr which tops out at nearly 700m and so a good warm up for the Big One.
The mist cleared as we descended. The short steep bit was quite hard going on descent but once that was done, it was a fast walk back to the car.
We drove round to the Snowdon Ranger Youth Hostel on the other side of the lake. This is a 3* hostel compared with 2* of the night before. C and I both joined the YHA as we seem to be doing this quite a bit and the hostels are in the mountains so very handy. Our room here was a bit smaller so I pointed out the Rules to C about keeping the bed area tidy. She opined that this did not matter as it was not a dormitory. I spent many happy hours moving my things from one place to another. We had showers and then whizzed off back to the village of Cwellyn and the inn for our dinner.
Whilst C was having fun with a mad system of exchanging her credit card for a plastic key (I still have no idea why), I was making friends with a group of 4 people on a nearby table. Then C came along and our dinner arrived and we started eating. The waitress brought a tray with our new pals’ dinners and bashed it into one of the men’s heads, this started a chain reaction as he knocked beer all over the others. They had to assert themselves to get the beer replaced and it took a while for the staff to come and clean it all up. Then the other man was given a piece of brown plastic which he was informed was crackling. He disagreed and asked to see the chef, he couldn’t bite into it nor even break it. The chef argued with him and all along the man who was quite rightly complaining was also a chef.
Our food was fine although pricey for what it was, burger for C and lamb casserole for me so we supped up and said goodbye to our pals and said we’d see them up the mountain as they were doing a route which meant it was likely that we would.
We went back and straight to bed after a bit of crossword. We were both roasted alive in the night as the room had no window that would open, only a Vent Axia thing that let in a teaspoon of air.

From Mynydd Mawr


From Mynydd Mawr


Lynn Gwynant from Bryn Gwynant Youth Hostel
Half way up Mynydd Mawr
First mountain done!

Saturday 16th

We woke not very refreshed as no air had come in the room which was very condensated. Time to fuel up for the big one. Fresh pastries for breakfast so I tucked in and had croissant, muesli and yoghurt and some beans on toast. C had cooked breakfast with a manky sausage. Butter was again supplied. Perhaps my complaints about the margarine at Boggle Hole and Ennerdale had been listened to?
We set off and parked up at Rhyd Ddu station in Cwellyn and then had to return to the hostel as I had forgotten to retrieve my boots from the drying room. Finally got going at 9.30. The start is quite gentle and doesn’t really climb much until you are past the quarries. Some men were training mountain rescue dogs on a hill which involved a lot of woofing for quite some time. They had passed us with their handsome beasts. (Men and dogs!)
We took regular breaks with things to aim for, usually walls. Part of the route tracks along quite a steep drop on the left side overlooking a series of small lakes. There is very little exposure on this section. The next part is fenced in and this makes you feel surprisingly safe as you course up a zigzag of path. Then the fence stops just as you do a quite exposed section on the left side. I was glad the wind was negligible as predicted. Just as I was getting used to this, then we were on the ridge itself, this was actually mostly ok and exciting as we got the view of the next side of the mountain and views of Crib Goch and the Watkin path.
We met our pals from the night before a bit further along the ridge. To add insult to injury, they had been told not to return to eat at the pub despite the fact they had spent loads of money. They were staying in the bunkhouse owned by the pub landlady and she had been very put out that there were only 4 of them, but still paying the full rate. Money grabbing git.
We carried on up and up, the last bit did seem very hard, and then we were into the mayhem of the visitor centre. I’m sure it is very well built out of local stone etc. and all very eco but it was absolutely hideous. Too many smelly people in one space and over priced not very nice food. We had a beef pasty each and looked at the usual tacky rubbish in the gift shop, waited ages for the loo and then went off. It was so horrible I didn’t even appreciate the view from the top. No matter as we had had lots of great views all the way up.
Chris was keen to take the train down as her knee was hurting but there was a longish wait for a train, no guarantee of a seat and an expensive taxi ride round to get back. We decided to walk it after all so took some painkillers and set off. It had taken 4 hours to get up and the walk back down only took 3 and a quarter as we went quite slowly. However for me, this was good as I was able to appreciate the mountain more fully instead of rushing it. I think Chris felt in the end that walking back down actually made it twice as much of a huge achievement. I was very proud of her for sticking with it.


We got back to the car at 6.00 p.m. Raced back to the hostel. Got showered and were out again in all our finery by 6.50 p.m.
Our reward for all this exertion was a surprise for Chris from me. She didn’t know where we were going until we actually got there. We arrived at Seiont Manor at 7.20 p.m. We had stayed here as my 40th birthday treat from Chris, a mere 12 years ago!
The meal was fab, we got cucumber and orange juice to start us off, C also had gin! Starters we both had smoked salmon which came wrapped around a fishy dill middle with bits of salad on the side. A sorbet of strawberry and Bombay Sapphire was next but I couldn’t taste any gin in it to speak of. For mains, C had sea bass with risotto and green beans and I had a fillet of steak with a sort of compacted beef casserole piled up on top of it, with gravy, sorry, sauce and some orange glazed carrots and green beans. Yum, yum, yum! For dessert, C had profiteroles and I went for Eton Mess which came with the meringue in the shape of a swan. Photo of this may not be very good as it was done on my phone so no flash. We finished with coffee and truffles. All very yummy and rightly deserved!

Going up


Back at the bottom! Wow!


All done

Half way up, this is all right



Are we down yet?


Sunday 17th
Another hot and stuffy night, this time Chris got the mattress off the top bunk and put it on the floor so she had a much better sleep.
Breakfast with more pastries. We were a bit late as had no need to rush out. We packed up and got our YHA membership cards, also a little book with the YH stamp. A quick step down to the lakeside which was stunningly lovely in the earlyish morning.
Drove out and stopped on the east side of Snowdon to admire the views, and line up some future walks! Short break at Capel Curig to check out the shop, then on to Betws-y-Coed for more shops and coffee and lunch in a hotel. Not bad!
Left Betsy to find the Fairy Glen. We parked on the road and saved a pound, weirdly no sign from the road to say there was parking available. 50p got us on to the path to the glen and a short walk down to the River Conwy. Very pretty spot and we scrambled on the rocks. C saw some jumping fish but not a fairy or even a pansy in sight.
Then back to the car and off for home. It took a while to get back as traffic was heavy and some roads were shut but we got to FV just after 6.30 p.m.
All in all a lovely weekend.
Llyn Cwellyn


Snowdon from the east


Fairy Glen


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Chris and Jak’s Lakeland Adventure Sunday 160510

Ennerdale Water

C and I both had a rotten night, too hot, too thirsty but I couldn’t face trying to locate my water bladder which was in my rucksack in the box under the bunk. Then our companions decided to rise early and took all their stuff out of the room and got dressed in the passage. They were doing the C2C and had masses of stuff to carry, huge cameras, books, make up. All I can say is they must be very strong. As they’d properly managed to wake us up by being so considerate we had a chat with them and they seemed a bit more friendly.

Two of the German men were in the room next door to us with the ok crim and the sick crim (self inflicted I suspect given the amount of beer he was drinking). The Germans had to have an extension cable going into the room for their breathing apparatus – they were also doing the C2C but with a Sherpa Van to carry their kit. The 2 women had moved the safety sign which had been put up so that people wouldn’t trip over the cable and helpfully propped it against the door into which the wire went. Sometimes I really do think some people have no sense at all.
C and I both felt very tired so we packed up and went down to breakfast at 7.30. I had muesli and yoghurt and we both had some cooked food, my veggie option not so good, in fact it had that old soapy taste of dried soup from the 70s. Also scrambled egg which I hadn’t asked for and which reminds me far too much of vomit. More toast, no marg for me, just couldn’t face it. We picked up some very nice flapjack and our packed lunches and headed out. The YH is convenient for getting food prepared but the quality is pants for the price. Also they say all their food is locally sourced, organic, fair trade but they are tied in to one supplier so this is bollocks. I’m now starting to think I don’t really want to stay in a YH again as I don’t sleep and the food quality is only ok. The packed lunch was ok but nothing to write home about. I checked out to see if we could camp at Black Sail for when we do our assault on Pillar but this is apparently not an option, so we’ll just have to carry our curries! Which were delicious in comparison with the YH!
We set off to circuit Ennerdale Water via the south side. This was a lovely walk and everyone else was coming the other way. Some people we saw twice. It looked like it might rain at one point but then it got really warm.
We stopped to eat our squashed sandwiches at the end of the lake near some swans. Then we trotted back around to Bowness Knot and the car.
A bit more pfaffing and moving of items from A to B and back again and it was time to head off to Bassenthwaite. We’d been out of mobile contact since Saturday morning when I’d very briefly got a signal but we still had to drive quite a way before a flurry of texts came whizzing in. It wasn’t very far to get to Bassenthwaite and the Castle Inn.
We checked in, sorted a table for dinner and then went up to our room, no our suite! I had forgotten we’d upgraded to a suite. Totally fab having an extra room. The bathroom was great, huge shower which I quickly took avail of. Then straight off for a swim, jacuzzi, steam room and sauna. Chris ordered a bucket of ice and we put the champagne in and had a little aperitif while getting ready for dinner.
Dinner was nice, quite plain but good that you could really taste the food. Chris had something fishy and I had unidentified vegetable soup. C went for sea bass and me for lamb shank. We washed it down with some large glasses of Sauvignon. Both selected creme brulee for dessert. A small child came to look at us so I put my napkin and did the “how much for the little girl?” bit from the Blues Brothers. After all that we just had to polish off the champagne and then both so knackered it was time for bed.

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Chris and Jak’s Lakeland Adventure Saturday 150510

Woke up very early, listening to the birds and sheep. Chris continued to sleep for some time despite my best efforts to rouse her. I was big time hungry so had a preliminary breakfast of muesli and yoghurt. Then she woke up and we had a cup of delicious coffee, now whilst this was very nice, I could probably have coped with a double ration of coffee bags or disposable filters so will go for one of those options next time to save on the weight of the plastic cafetiere. For our shared breakfast we had rice and curry sauce and more coffee! This was a great way to warm up and start the day.
C washed up and we both pootled about, the sun came out and we started to feel nice and warm. We struck camp (why to strike?) and set off back up the slope with somewhat lighter packs. We ambled back to the car, waited whilst some lambs got enough bottle to get past us and back to their mother, then squeezing ourselves under the bush again.
At the car, we had a great pfaffing interlude, dumping all the camping kit and putting in some youth hostel necessities. A bite of lunch whilst sitting on a log and then we meandered our way along the track to High Gillerthwaite youth hostel to arrive about 4.00.
We wandered in to wait until the warden arrived at 5.00. At the back there was a bloke lolling about on the grass. I couldn’t understand much of what he said, I thought Geordie, C thought Brummie but the main thing we both got was that his walking partner was ill with stomach upset. We both thought he was talking about a woman but this partner turned out to be a very big man who looked like he’d just left gaol.
We booked in with Tony the manager who was very friendly, I complimented him on having put up a poster for gay walkers. We ordered our dinner and packed lunch for the next day.
The hostel is small but very well situated, with great views to Pillar. The other hostellers were the 2 crims, 2 not very friendly women, a bunch of Germans with breathing difficulties and some mountain men plus a very nice man we both liked called Stuart.
C and I made our beds and got clean again. The hostel has a good standard of furnishing and decor, better than Boggle Hole in that respect.
Then it was time for beer and dinner. Beer was local and mostly named after fells. We shared a bowl of cheesy nachos for a starter which was ok. I had veggie chilli and C had meat, it looked like I had a better deal as I got a lot of veg in mine.We both had baked potatoes which were let down by the margarine spread – yuck – no butter available.
More beer and then we went out, mainly to escape the crims, for a walk in the Black Sail hut direction. Lovely evening, beautiful clear streams. Then back for more beer. I thought it would help me sleep a bit more.
So tired C and I toddled off to our bunks quite early, C in the top, me below. The room was for 4 people and she and I had arrived first and picked the best beds for ourselves. At least this time I didn’t have a hot pipe running down the side of the bed, however that didn’t stop me from being roasted alive. Foolishly I had dropped off to sleep before opening the window, although I did turn all the radiators in the vicinity off. No sooner had I nearly dropped off than the 2 slightly unfriendly women turned up to whisper but they did get to bed quite quickly.

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Great Whernside 090510

Another late start, but much faster journey to get to the Dales. This time to Kettlewell, only an hour and a half and parked up for £3.50 (I know the car park fee is incredibly boring but I put it in so I have the right money the next time).
I really needed the navigation skills in the village as managed to set off very confidently up the wrong lane and had to retrace my footsteps to get to the other side of the stream. Once I’d done that it was a very obvious path all the way. I passed a small campsite which appealed to me as it looked very clean and neat and it had a sign with lots of NOs.
From there, a steady ascent across grassy fields along the top of the valley, quite steep drops to the side. Only a few well behaved sheep i.e. they ran away rather than at me, although I am now so wary of them.
The half way point was delightfully named Hag Dyke and was clearly showing as a building, this turned out to be a scout hut in a fantastic location, no neighbours anywhere in sight, overlooking the valley with only a track to reach it. It’s an old farm house and has solar panels and a wind turbine. Inside some scouting people were sitting enjoying a blazing fire. This took me by surprise as I thought they would be out scouting (for girls ha ha that is so bad)!
I climbed up a short steep section and stopped at the top to have my cheese and mustard sandwich. Then it was time for a good chunk of fairly flat ground with another steep section to reach the summit.
It got a bit cold and threatened to rain but held off for the whole walk. Great Whernside is 704m and Whernside is 736m which strikes me as a bit illogical but there you go.
At the top, 2 people were wild camping. They had quite a big tent so I felt a bit sorry for the bloke who was packing it up and looked like he would be carrying it.
Whizzed back down in half the time it took to get up. Had to go and look in the outdoor shop but managed to restrain myself from going mad.
This was the first outing for my new very light rucksack which is called Villain. It really is light and has a lot of bits and pieces to twiddle with and certainly did the job just fine.
Great walk, managed to walk away some of the blues of the last few days.

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Boggle Hole to Ravenscar 060410

Very alarming amounts of erosion

Chris arrived prompt on time but we didn’t quite set off at the crack of dawn, after coffee and chocolate, it was more like mid morning. Nice day but seemed to take forever to get there. We stopped on the way and had more coffee in a pub. By the time we got to the car park for Boggle Hole youth hostel, we were both starving. We checked in and made up our bunk beds. If only I had noticed the pipe running along the bed then! Lovely spot for the YH, just at the end of Boggle Hole cove. Got to beach and quickly had our sandwiches. Then off along the beach south to meet the Cleveland Way at the next cove. Walked to Ravenscar and found that the National Trust shop and visitor centre we had been expecting was shut. Instead walked on to the cafe on the square and had refreshments. We left a lot of mud on the floor. I bought a book for 50p (Daughters of Britannia, which I remembered hearing ages ago on Radio 4). Then we went back much faster with the wind behind us to the YH, mindful of dinner at 7.00. 10km (6.2m). Got back in plenty of time to freshen up and get a beer. Dinner was butternut squash soup which we both had, very nice and burger for C which was less good and veg curry for me which was lovely. So full couldn’t eat the ice cream and so cancelled our order. Then we had another beer and went out to the sea. Just as we crossed the footbridge, a creature ran by C, she bent to pat it thinking it was a dog, and saw it was actually a badger! I heard a scuttling and thought it was C pootling about, turned just in time to see it as it ran up the hill. Pretty fast mover. After all this we were quite tired and went to bed early as neither of us fancied chatting to the other hostellers much. We only had one other woman in our dorm and she seemed reasonably harmless, although she did have a G-Force towel G-Force. We were both quite hot and then I discovered that my bed pipe was very hot but was so tired couldn’t be bothered to move. We both had a fairly sleepless night, and so did the guinea pig woman.

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Some Dodds 300809

Where the old YH sign used to be
Castlerigg Stone Circle

Started off from home a bit later than usual as would have more time later in the day. Getting through the Windermere, Ambleside, Grasmere bottle neck was immense fun and made the journey seem never ending.

My original plan had been to pitch tent and then walk but it was so late I parked at Legburthwaite car park and got walking.

Up to Sticks Pass having lunch on the way with my back to the wind and rain and then left this time to reach Stybarrow Dodd. The tops were in total mist although it did clear enough for me to get an idea of what was where. The now properly waterproofed jacket did the job fine this time, as did the new waterproof gloves. Went across to Watson’s Dodd and then returned by the same route.
Got down in almost half the time it took to get up, despite the wet and grassy slopes. Wainwright hated grassy slopes. During his account of his walk up the Pennines during the outbreak of WW2, almost 70 years ago to the day, he describes his footwear in detail and it was not up to the job so I reckon he skidded around too much on the grass and didn’t like it. In that book, he comes over as a very selfish and grubby man. No change of clothes for his weeks of walking and only one handkerchief! My favourite episode is where he arrives at a farm which has been flooded and Mrs Farmer is busy trying to deal with a flood. Instead of pitching in or offering to help, he demands tea from her!
As well as some more physical fitness, all this solo walking is also giving me more mental stamina and confidence which is great. So some good has come out of the apparent lunacy!
Back to the car, passing the old Thirlmere youth hostel at Stanah, now a very sorry sight, neglected and left to rot. The YHA shut it in 2001.
Decided to go to Castlerigg Farm Campsite as opposed to Castlerigg Hall Campsite. These are literally next door to each other but the Hall has lots of facilities and the Farm has fewer and is cheaper plus it has a “no noise after 10.30” policy.
I put the tent up very quickly, the dry run in the sitting room proved useful. It actually stopped raining whilst I did this which was nice, although not strictly necessary as the tent pitches with the fly attached, fab.
Got settled in and cooked my supper, pasta with stir in sauce, excellent. I was so hungry. Pocket Rocket worked like a dream, heated water fast. Pots also efficient as well as light.
Got warmed up with Paramo gilet and got into sleeping bag. Also warm and comfy. Dark early so read my book and tried to sleep but foam sleeping mat just not enough for my bones. Then it rained and rained and blew and blew so finally dozed off sometime around 3.00. Woke at 7.00, very groggy.
Brewed up coffee and had breakfast. Now so wet that decided to cancel walk to Helvellyn. Felt a bit crap about giving up walk, that had been purpose of camping trip but rain was extreme.
Struck camp, throwing all wet stuff, i.e. nearly everything, straight into the boot. The tent had kept me warm and dry and did very well for its first outing. A good test for future wild camps. All gear had worked well.
Went to Castlerigg stone circle and wandered round it in the rain. Then went and took some photos of the youth hostel at Stanah. Into Keswick to wander round all the gear shops for an hour.
Set off for home. Yet another crawl most of the way. Bit disappointed but the mountain will still be there next week.

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