Blow the cobwebs away – post Christmas walk on Stanage Edge

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My eldest son, James, has decided to get back into walking. I was thinking of going on a backpack, but felt that probably the best bet would be a day walk to ease him back into walking.  As he was working over the weekend, we decide to go Monday (30th December).  The weather forecast did not look too promising, rain with gales up to 65mph, but easing by early to mid-afternoon.

Just in case it was worse, I didn’t want to travel too far and then have to turn back.  I also needed to collect some Montane Prism insulated trousers which were half price in a sale in Sheffield, so I decided on a round trip to Stanage Edge from Hathersage.  This would be a repeat of the trip I did in October 2011

It didn’t look too promising when we arrived at Oddfellows car park in Hathersage, it was raining quite hard and pretty breezy, but the walking to Stanage Edge from the town  centre through country lanes and farm tracks to the moors was relatively calm in comparison to what was to hit us later on.

James looks out of shelter at the stupid sheep

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Leaving the shelter of the wooded valley and up onto the moors, we were soon hit by the wind, fortunately this was from behind pushing us up the steep stretch of road to the car park at Stanage Edge.

We climbed quickly up the short steep pull from the car park and as we stood on top of the escarpment, the full force of the wind hit very nearly knocking us off our feet. We steadied ourselves and moved forward along the cliff edge. The wind was blowing straight over the edge, so in a way it was quite safe, because if you fell off the edge, you would be blown back up to land on your feet :)

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Our first goal was to make for a stone shelter I knew a little away from the trig point at High Neb. Despite having trekking poles to steady myself it was an amusing if somewhat tiring walk along the cliff path keeping my balance. Imagine if you would the dozens of little streams flowing off the edge being blasted back up by the wind. As we walked crab like at times, we were periodically blasted by jets of water.  I imagined one of those bad “Nintendo type games” where there were little trolls hiding in the rocks aiming Karcher power jet washers at us at every point along our route.

See the video below for details of the game!

Well James and I achieved maximum points, as we were not deflected from our goal and got to the stone shelter out of the wind for some lunch.

My son James

My son James

We sat, discussing why sheep are so stupid. I half expected to turf out a load from the shelter, but we found none. There they were outside in gale force winds lying in the heather. As one time owners of a small flock, we used to build them shelters to get them out of the worst of the weather and even when the temperature fell to minus 19C a few years back, you would never found them in there.

We packed up and headed back out into the maelstrom.  From High Neb the route descends Stanage Edge and makes for Bamford Moor. The only problem was we would have to do this facing directly into the wind, which unlike the weather forecast seemed to be getting strong. I don’t know the wind speed which will blow a man off his feet, but I think we were reaching it!

We decided to go back the way we came, past those trolls with their power washers and descended out of the worst of the wind. After scoring maximum points again – we were getting pretty good at this! we made our way back to Hathersage for a hot drink and poke around the outdoor shops. We certainly blew those cobwebs away!

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Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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A short backpack around the Scafell Massif

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It had been absolutely ages since I had ventured out on a backpacking trip. Realising that Terry Abraham was still out filming for his Scafell film, I texted him saying would he like to meet up around Sprinkling Tarn as I was going for a wander for a couple of days? A few texts back and forward and we arranged to meet late Sunday afternoon on the flanks of Great Gable. Terry had been out for nearly three weeks and was looking to go back on Monday to Keswick, stay overnight in town and catch the train back home.

I decided to take Monday and Tuesday off as well, and walk around the area, with no particularly route in mind, nothing serious, but some good winter wild camping thrown in.
I parked up at Seathwaite after a three-hour journey around 1.30 in the afternoon, with most of the walkers  starting to make their way back to their vehicles.  I had a two-hour walk up to the rough grid reference Terry had given me.

It was cool, overcast but with little or no breeze. The walk to Styhead via Stockley Bridge is one I have done quite a number of times and which I am sure many of you will know, so I didn’t take that route but the path which goes along the other side (right-hand) of Styhead Gill. It is a less obvious route, rougher going but joins the main path further up. Despite the cool weather, I sweated my way up the steep section after joining the path coming up from Stockley Bridge.

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Terry was waiting for me at the Rescue Post at Styhead, I recognised him in the distance straight away from his blue Rab Down jacket which seems to be permanently welded to his body. Terry had found a nice flat grass shelf to pitch his tent with great views of the Scafell Massif.
I set up my trusty Hilleberg Soulo tent catching up with Terry on how his filming is going, how is gear has been holding up, the usual stuff, as I  pegged out all the guys, which makes it a pretty bomber tent. I could have dispensed with all of these as the weather was benign, but of course you can never be sure what may come along!

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It was good to see Terry again and we spent the next few hours talking, cooking and sorting gear for the night. By eight we were sound asleep!
Waking up around 7 in the morning I fired up the stove and we spent a leisurely morning eating breakfast and brewing up a number of times until I decided I needed to get going. Terry had to catch a bus from Seatoller, so after packing up I said my good byes and left quite late around 11 in the morning. The morning was crystal clear after a cold night and I had spectacular views of snow coated fell tops.

Looking at Summit shelter on Scafell Pike

Looking at Summit shelter on Scafell Pike

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I decided to take the Corridor route, my favourite way to Scafell Pike, but with the late start I was heading to Lingmell from this path and see how I went from there.
The Corridor route was in the shade going up. I always enjoy this route with its twists and turns and odd bits of scrambling here and there. Just before the impressive Piers Gill, I encountered the first patches of snow and ice and decided to put on my Kahtoola microspikes and soon I was glad that I had them climbing the ice covered steep sections. I never felt anything but totally secure, a great product.

Lingmell from the Corridor route

Lingmell from the Corridor route

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Frozen tarn near Piers Gill

Frozen tarn near Piers Gill

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Piers Gill

Piers Gill

Further on I turned right up a short steep section to the snow-covered top of Lingmell with great views all the way round from Great End, Ill Craig, Scafell Pike, down to Wastwater and Wasdale and looking back to Seathwaite in another direction.
During my long lunch I took photos and watched through my binoculars a few walkers struggle up the icy slopes towards the summit shelter of Scafell Pike.

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Summit cairn on Lingmell

My lunch time friend

My lunch time friend

I decided against going to the summit of Scafell Pike, the late start meant that it would probably dark by the time I came down and the summit was now covered in cloud.

Making my way back down the Corridor route, I decided to camp where I had the night before.  Arriving back around half past three and then setting up camp. The evening was warmer and my winter sleeping bag was a bit too hot for the conditions.

I woke around 6 and made breakfast. The dawn eventually arrived along with a red sky, before it seemed to get darker as the cloud came down.

Red Sky in the morning

Red Sky in the morning

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The route back to Seathwaite was easy via Stockley Bridge with light drizzle but quite mild. Near to the car I had a long chat with the farmer at Seathwaite.  An interesting chap who feels that it is going to be extremely difficult for the next generation to make a living from this harsh and difficult  landscape. I am sure however, this has always been the case for hill farmers and lets hope he is wrong  for without them the mountains and hills could look very different.

He asked me if my car was the one that has been there for the last few days and warned me that parking there particularly overnight on a Saturday could mean a break in. He suggested that I could leave the car at the little camp site he has, for a fee of course but at least it would hopefully be safe. Back at the car, all was safe and sound, thankfully.

On the way back I took advantage of stopping off at Keswick and a look in the Outdoor stores. I resisted the temptation to get any more gear!

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Winter camping – keeping your feet warm

When you spend up to 16 hours in a tent camping in the winter, keeping warm and comfortable is an important aspect. Now you could spend the whole time encased in your winter rated down sleeping bag but I don’t know about you but I can’t stay horizontal for that long and I find that cooking for example not that easy while in my sleeping bag, so it is important for me to have a warm down jacket, fleece trousers and now warm comfortable down slippers.  It allows me to sit up, feet in the tent porch while cooking, reading or stretching my legs.  I came across, for a reasonable £19.99, a pair of down slippers from Nordisk. I took these on my two night trip to the Lakes (report to follow) on Sunday and Monday night just gone.

Nordisk 002The slippers (or hut shoes) as described by Nordisk are 160g in weight for a medium size, duck down filled, with a cosy fleece lined inner and nylon/polyester outer. They come in a variety of colours.  The underside is rigid, so if you need to nip out for the call of nature and it is not too wet outside, you won’t ruin them. There is a draw cord to keep the heat in and I found them warm and comfortable, even luxurious wearing them over the two nights.  They come with a carry bag and pack down small. It is the little things like this that makes winter camping more comfortable, (nice to wear around the house as well !).

The underside of the slipper is rigid

The underside of the slipper is rigid

Comes with a handy carry bag

Comes with a handy carry bag

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Golite to sell in Europe

Following from my blog post back last year, about the non availability of Golite in the UK. I recently received an interesting comment on that post  from Joerg Wertli who informs me that Golite will be opening an online store in Europe.  At present, as far as I know there is little or no stock with UK retailers and Golite won’t ship product from the USA other than to Canada.   There does seem to be some supplies via E-bay vendors, if you search.

The website is here    The site is not live yet but should be at the end of the month according to Joerg.  There is a UK web address as well but at present this sends you to the Swiss address.  You can sign up for an e mail update at the site and there is a link to their Facebook and Twitter.

Good news, Golite have some excellent products like their packs and the Shangri-la 3 tent, but their gear offering will be much wider than that according to Joerg’s comment.  Let you know if I hear more.

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Three month roundup

It has been just over 3 months since I posted anything on my blog and this is the first time that I felt like I have had the time.  I thought it was probably time to get back in the saddle so to speak and let family, friends and followers  know what I have been up to.  I can’t say that there has been much walking involved, but I did a small amount while on holiday and some canoeing on the River Wye, but the main activity has been work on our new house.

June

We completed on the purchase of our new house at the beginning of the month.  The house is located  near to the top of the Lincolnshire Wolds, an AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) . The house stands in open countryside and is half a mile outside the nearest village with some fine walks around the wolds tops and hidden valleys from right outside our property.

Much of June (and July and August) has been spent doing the place up including work on an outbuilding and the garden.   One major task has been removing six 1 tonne bags of ivy off an outbuilding roof !

The survey of the house came back good prior to buying the property but an incident has occured recently  which has rather taken us aback and will change our plans going forward – more about that later!

House is accessed via a small woodland drive

House is accessed via a small woodland drive

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Plenty of decorating to do!

Plenty of decorating to do!

A few photos showing the walk starting outside our house.

House is behind the small wood

House is behind the small wood

Extensive views of the surrounding countryside

Extensive views of the surrounding countryside

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Our dogs always enjoy the walk

Our dogs always enjoy the walk

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July

Mary and I took a bit of time off from the house and spent  a week  away visiting the Wye Valley for some canoeing and then stayed at a wonderful  camp site near Cardigan Bay. The weather was very hot each day, generally around 30C and in the evening we would walked to the beach at the bottom of the campsite, watch the sun go down over the sea and watch the dolphins jumping in and out of the water. Turned out to be one of the best places in Britain to watch dolphins – a truly magical place.

Taking a break on the Wye

View from our campsite

View from our campsite

Wonderful sunsets every night

Wonderful sunsets every night

Looking towards Cardigan Island

Looking towards Cardigan Island

walk along the coastal path

walk along the coastal path

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Just before we left on our trip, William our youngest son went off on a World Challenge trip with fellow sixth- former’s to Rwanda and Uganda. His team did remarkably well.  Ten of them raised around £5,500 between them and this was used to help rebuild a house for Rwandian genocide victims and kit out school children with new clothes. The funds were in addition to the money that William raised himself for flights, equipment and food.   After two weeks of work they had time to go on safari, treking and white water rafting on the Nile.

William helping the locals dig ditches

William helping the locals dig clay prior to making them into bricks

making clay bricks for the house

making clay bricks for the house

bricks drying in the sun

bricks drying in the sun

The community comes out to greet the Challengers!

The community comes out to greet the Challengers!

clothes were bought for the children

clothes were bought for the children

rafting on the Nile

rafting on the Nile

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August

More decorating, everything was going well on the house until we noticed cracking starting to appear on the inside and outside of the walls. I am pretty certain we have subsidence due to the very dry weather and the trees surround the property and this has now been confirmed by a structural engineer. Unfortunately it could be the best part of a year, before we can get the kitchen done, finish the decorating and build the extension we want – not good :( It looks however that this will be covered by insurance, but with a hefty excess being paid.

On the walking front, I intend to go out fairly soon, I still have a reasonable amount of holiday to take and  it will be good to test my new Rab Neo-shell Myriad jacket.  I purchased this for 20% off list price at Go-Outdoors. Not much rain to test it so far, but a comfortable and well designed jacket which I hope lives up to all the good comments I have been hearing and reading about.

Well, a quick roundup on what we have been up to the past few months.  I am turning my attention now to other blogs to catch up on my reading!  Posting some more soon.

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Trip Report – Lobstone Band & Bleaberry Fell

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The view from my tent door on Bleaberry Fell

Route:

Wednesday afternoon 15th May: Keswick – Cat Bells- Maiden Moor-High Spy – Lobstone Band ( 10.5 km or 6.5 miles)

Thursday 16th May: Dale Head-Rosthwaite-Berkett’s Leap-Watendlath-High Trove-High Seat-Bleaberry Fell ( 12 km or 7.5 miles)

Friday morning 17th May: Bleaberry Fell – Cat Gill – Keswick via path along Derwentwater. ( 5km or 3.25 miles)

I picked Terry Abraham up at Appleby Railway Station on a blustery cold Wednesday morning, the temperature in the car said just 3C degree. The weather forecast was not that great for the day, with possibly sleet or snow on the highest tops.   The plan was to walk together for Wednesday and Thursday and for Chris Townsend to join us on Thursday evening and Friday morning prior to us attending Keswick Mountain Festival.

We parked up in a quiet street North of the town centre and set off along the Cumbria Way to the where the path climbs up past Skelgill Bank to the summit of Cats Bell.

Walking along the ridge, the wind really whipped up and and chilled us as we climbed to the summit.  I wished I had put on my Cioch trousers rather than my Terra Pants, it was probably just above freezing and with strong winds quite a wind chill. Terry had ripped his over-trousers to shreds during filming of the Cairngorms in Winter, so when I stopped to put my Rab Drilliums, Terry had nothing to put on.  The wind really got up and it lashed down with hail as we made our way along Maiden Moor.

Looking back at Derwentwater

Looking back at Derwentwater

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Cat Bells

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Terry on Maiden Moor

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As often the case when the weather is bad and you head into the wind, you just get on with it and spend little time taking photos.  Eventually the hail abated so we paused to take a few shots of fells surrounding us. Reaching High Spy  we searched for a suitable place to camp for the night. We thought about a pitch near Dale Tarn, but decided against it dropping  down a bit to find a pitch a bit more sheltered.

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My Hilleberg Soulo

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Looking towards Great End

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Our camp

A good spot was found with excellent views of the Scafell Massif, along with the neighbouring tops of Great End and Great Gable.

Once my tent was up, it was water on for a brew and an evening meal. Terry came over with his hydration bladder full of sherry! and I had a mug full of the sweet liquid not really my tipple but it was warming in the chilly brezze.  It had been a long day and we both retired early.  After falling asleep early I woke sometime in the night to the sound of a gas stove going full blast, thought nothing of it, turned over and went to back to sleep. Terry told me in the morning that his legs were cold in the night probably from them being wet during the day so he decided to boil the sherry in his hydration bladder so he could use it as a hot water bottle – Strange chap :)

I was woken by the warmth of the early morning sun coming through the tent fabric. I lay there for a few minutes and poked my head out of the door to look at the sunny morning. Immediately the sun was obscured by a large bank of cloud racing up from the valley floor, goodbye sunny and warm weather, hello shivery cold cloudy weather. I fired the stove up and slipped back into my sleeping bag to warm up.

By the time we packed up, the sun was back out and we made our way near to Dale Head Tarn and then descended to Borrowdale.

Looking down at Borrowdale

Looking down at Borrowdale

Stopping at the Scafell Hotel at Rosthwaite for a pint on the way through we then carried on climbing the other side of the valley making for Watendlath Tarn, where there were some boats out fishing.

lakesmay13 026 lakesmay13 027After a few stops we reached High Tove, where turned left to walk along the top. This area is more like the Peak District rather than the Lake District and we were warned by Andy in George Fishers that it will be really boggy. Both Terry and I are quite frequent visitors to the Peaks and we thought that it was pretty tame in comparison. If you really want to see bogs go on Howden Edge!

Looking to the South we could see heavy rain moving towards us. I donned my waterproofs on as we walked the last few miles to Bleaberry Fell via High Seat.

Looking south from High Tove

Looking south from High Tove

Eventually we arrived at the summit cairn of Bleaberry Fell. I sat down and admired the view. I cannot think of many places where you can see so much from one vantage point. Below us Derwentwater and Bassenthwaite, out to the Galloway coast, in front of us Skidaw, Blencathra and the Dodds to the right. To left where we walked the day before and behind that the Scafell Massif and associated mountains.  Just fantastic views!

Terry text Chris to see where he was and after pitching our tents we waited for him to appear at the summit cairn.  We were looking through my binoculars for him when he  crept up behind us and gave a start.

Chris went off to set up his tent while Terry and I went to find him some water.  We spent awhile chatting away with a heavy shower of rain driving us into our tents.

After something to eat we emerged from our little shelters to a truly mavellous sunset.

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Terry and me at camp

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Rainbow over the Dodds

Chris Townsend & me ( photo - Terrybnd

Chris Townsend & me ( photo – Terrybnd)

More chatting for awhile and plenty of posing for photos with the sunset behind us and I was ready for bed. The wind was now blowing strongly from the North, never a warm direction, as I snuggled down into my sleeping bag. I was glad I packed my PHD winter bag.

Again the warmth of the sun woke me around six.  The view this morning no less spectacular than the night A leisurely morning, eating breakfast drinking cups of tea and talking about the usual stuff when backpackers meet.

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I took this opportunity to quiz Chris as the gear guru, on his recommendations and thoughts on some new gear that I was looking to buy to replace worn out stuff                        ( shhh…that’s what I am going to tell the wife anyway). The morning turned out to be sunny and warm. We took a leisurely pace down towards Cat Gill stopping on the way to remove outer garments because of the warmth of the sun.

Cat Gill

Cat Gill

Derwentwater

Derwentwater

The view from Cat Gill to Derwentwater is a very fine view, with pine trees lining the steep path down to the water’s edge.  A pleasant stroll along the beach, found us back at Keswick, where we arrived early to pitch our tents at Crow Park, where the Mountain Festival was to be held.

As most of my walking is solo, it made a pleasant change to walk and camp with others, something that I look forward to again.

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