Sue and Martin above Zermatt - 2018

Sue and Martin above Zermatt - 2018

Wednesday, 24 April 2019

20 to 22 April 2019 – A Trip to Scotland

This posting is by way of a pictorial overview of last weekend’s ‘Parcel Delivery Trip’ in preparation for the TGO Challenge in May, as mobile postings only work with a maximum of five images.

If you click on any one of the pictures, you can scroll through good resolution versions without being subjected to my commentary.

Starting with a parkrun in Penrith on Saturday morning got the trip going efficiently on a quiet motorway. Some 378 runners and walkers took part in the regular 5 km event. I had a good run (results here) then met with Mike P for half an hour or so, taking delivery of a package destined for a B&B in Blair Atholl.

Polly’s boot was full, but she wasn’t heavily laden as:

1. Our fairly southerly Challenge route doesn’t fit with the routes of other local Challengers, and
2. Certain individuals had failed to get their acts together.

After dropping off my first parcel at some dubious looking accommodation in Bridge of Orchy, I headed up through Glencoe and on to a fine welcome from Ali and Adrian in Newtonmore, the destination for several more packages.

En route, and as usual, I paused in front of Buachaille Etive Mor. The poor air quality and lack of a good zoom lens led to this very average depiction of the mountain that greets those entering Glencoe.

A bit closer, the hills above Glencoe Mountain Resort still hold enough snow for a few metres of skiing…?

Overnight rain didn’t clear the air, so on Sunday morning, after dropping the Blair Atholl parcel off, my cross country route to Bridge of Gaur offered only hazy views towards Schiehallion.

After a pleasant interlude with Eddie and Heather, whose fine accommodation on the Challenge will make up for any Bridge of Orchy deficiencies, the drive beside Loch Rannock was a pleasure. Here’s Schiehallion from another angle.

It’s a pleasant view up Loch Rannoch from Kinloch Rannoch, where the next two pictures were taken in opposite directions from the same spot. The bird life and red squirrel life beside Loch Rannoch was nothing short of ‘rampant’, and that adjective could also be applied to the loch side campers.

More country lanes saw me through Strathtay, with a package dropped off at what looks like a nice B&B (Dundarave), then on to the Clova Hotel, recipients of my final package. Clova Hotel, at the head of a long valley, is the antithesis of a run down hotel. Today it was smart and vibrant, welcoming all comers. It’s pictured in the distance below. I hope we get this sort of weather on the Challenge!

Polly’s load, apart from a bag of boots and the survival kit that goes everywhere, was now dissipated.

I’d booked into a Travelodge in Dundee by 4 pm, allowing plenty of time for a walk into the town centre. Desperate Dan was marching along in roughly the same place as last time I was here.

The Caird Hall and town square were looking splendid on the warm afternoon sunshine.

Unfortunately I didn’t have time to go into the new V&A museum. That’s a pleasure for the future, but the new museum building, next to the dock in which the magnificent vessel ‘Discovery’ lies, is a truly magnificent structure.

Dundee is a city on the ‘Up’, and visitors arriving by rail can’t help but admire the new station.

Strolling back up a hill to my lodgings, I passed a small park bordered by and containing a series of brightly coloured mosaic squares.

An earlyish start on Monday got me to a small lay-by at the head of Glen Ogle by about 8.30. The sun was shining on another hazy day. About 50 metres from the start of my walk I crossed a bridge over the disused railway line that now houses a fine cycleway.

My path was supposedly alongside a wood. The remains of it can be seen on the last but one picture. The wood has been felled, and not yet replanted.

Beyond the vague path beside the debris from the wood was a tussocky wilderness, with no particular objective visible. Hard going for a while. Despite it being Easter Monday, there wasn’t another soul on this hill.

As I rose steadily, the view across Lochan Lairig Cheile to Killin and the Tarmachan ridge slowly improved.

Eventually the northern ridge of Creag Mac Ranaich provided easier ground for the final stroll to the twin summits of that mountain. Those summits can both be seen in the picture below.

Not knowing which summit was the higher, I strolled over to the far top, which I now discover is one metre lower than the first, 809 metre, summit that can be seen across an unseen void in the next picture.

Looking the other way, there was a good view of Meall an t-Seallaidh, which we climbed last September on Cary’s final Munro weekend.

Back at the main summit, another view towards Killin, this time with snow streaked Meall Ghaordaidh on the left of the picture (click on it for a better image).

I then wandered down to a minor protuberance, at 772 metres, shown on the right of the next picture.

From here, a good view down Glen Kendrum to Ben Vorlich and Stuc a’Chroin – Cary’s final Munros, and (below that) back up to the summits visited on today’s walk.

A straightforward walk down, with care needed over some rough and steep sections, brought me to this view of the felled forest and the lay-by in the distance where Polly was patiently waiting before continuing on this round trip of over 900 miles.

Here’s my route – 8 km with 500 metres ascent, taking three hours, with the second picture showing it in a wider context.

I got to Bacup by soon after 5 pm. Jessica kindly shared her Easter egg with everyone, after Kate had supplied some tasty spaghetti bolognaise.

An enjoyable trip, despite quite a lot of driving.

PS I hope someone appreciates this (though of course it's mainly for my own record), as 'Blogger' has been particularly obtuse this morning in its unwillingness to accept anything drafted in Open Live Writer. And it used to be so easy... Any experts in switching to Wordpress out there? I'll pay good money!

Monday, 22 April 2019

Creagh Mac Rànaich, and an Easter egg

After breakfasting on some of the pile of provisions sourced last night, I enjoyed a scenic drive to Lochearnhead, then up to the head of Glen Ogle.

There's a small layby near a bridge over the disused railway that now serves as an excellent cycle track. Boots were donned - just as well, as despite the dry weather it was squidgy in places, and tussocky. I headed over the bridge and up beside a felled forest. Slow going due to the pathless, tussocky terrain, but only 4 km to the summit. On the way up there were good views to Lochan Lairig Cheile, with the hills beyond Killin melting into the distance. (Top picture.)

The northern ridge offered a pleasant approach to the 809 metre summit. In fact there were two summits. Not knowing which was higher, I went to both of them, the rare 'selfie' being taken from the furthest (but I suspect lower) top.

Views were cloudless but very hazy. The third picture is looking back to the summit ridge from an outlying protuberance of 772 metres which I visited on the way down.

There was nobody else on this hill on this Easter Monday. All I saw on the 8 km, 3 hour excursion with over 500 metres ascent, were a mountain hare, grouse, and numerous small birds like wheatears and stonechats.

There followed a five hour drive to Bacup, including rather longer than desired on the M6 in Lancashire. More the fool me for attempting to travel on a Bank Holiday.

Anyway, I got there in time for a plate of spag bol, and a share of the family egg.

And that's it for this trip...

Sunday, 21 April 2019

Parcel Delivery Trip: Mission Accomplished

The sun returned today. After a leisurely start from TGO Challenge HQ in Newtonmore, M&M's package was delivered to a friendly B&B in Blair Atholl.

Most of the rest of the day was spent on 200 miles of quiet country lanes, starting with those to Bridge of Gaur, with red squirrels running atop fences alongside the car, and numerous campers enjoying the hot weather beside Loch Rannoch.

A happy hour was spent with Eddie and Heather, in 'The Middle of Nowhere'. What a contrast with our Bridge of Orchy accommodation, where our room at the West Highland Sleeper (if the business survives that long) may not be the best, but was the only reasonably priced room available...

I left Eddie and Heather to set up an Easter Egg Hunt and barbeque, and drove slowly, past Schiehallion (featured in the top picture taken beside Loch Rannoch), to Dundarave, in Strathtay. It took less than an hour and a half. In May it will take us three days. Today I paused by Loch Rannoch and observed a wide variety of bird life whilst taking a call from seven year old Jacob, euphoric in his pleasure at having got a PB of 10.05 in this morning's 2km parkrun at Burnley. "I'd have been faster if I hadn't fallen over" he observed. Well done, Jacob.

Parcel duly deposited, I moved on to Glen Clova, where the hotel bears only minimal resemblance to the one I first visited about 40 years ago.

"It bears very little resemblance to the place I started working at three years ago" observed the friendly member of staff who relieved me of my last re-supply parcel. She was well aware of the Challenge, and more than happy to greet Challengers and store parcels, despite the up market ambiance of the place. She agreed that it was a shame for Challengers that the bunkhouse had been converted into steadings (hotel rooms outside the main building), but apparently the bunkhouse was unused for much of the year. Times change - in these more affluent times guests tend to want good en-suite rooms rather than the basic facilities of the past.

The second picture shows the Clova Hotel at the head of Glen Clova, and its backdrop of mountains.

The car boot was now devoid of parcels. Time to make my way to a Travelodge in Dundee. Great value here - a spacious double room, with all facilities, for £22.

The last couple of pictures were taken during a 6 km stroll around town on the warm summer's day. The Desperate Dan statue featured on these pages a couple of years ago, when the recently opened V&A museum was under construction.

I'd planned a restaurant, but couldn't resist the pull of a supermarket, where the components of a fine salad were sourced. Luckily, I found a spork in my luggage - eating using just fingers and a credit card would have been a bit messy!

Saturday, 20 April 2019

TGO Challenge Parcel Service

Up to Penrith in time for the nine o'clock parkrun, after which Mike P left a parcel with me. We enjoyed a chat, then I headed up to Bridge of Orchy to deposit a parcel.

Buachaille Etive Mòr, like all the hills passed on today's journey, was grey under a thick haze. However, it was t-shirt weather, so I shouldn't complain.

Well,  perhaps I should, as by the time my 400 mile journey ended in Newtonmore at 6pm it was raining! Sue confirmed that the weather in Birmingham was still bright and sunny...

Ali, Adrian and their daughter Ellen were in residence. We enjoyed a very pleasant evening talking about all things 'Challenge' (well, tents), in between mouthfuls.

Thanks for having me, and thanks for the excellent meal.

Friday, 19 April 2019

TGO Challenge Food Parcels

It’s that time of year. The TGO Challenge walk across Scotland will start in a few weeks. This year I’m doing an easy two week route with Sue, but without many places with shops that we could use to re-supply us. So this weekend I’m taking re-supply parcels to four places along the route where we have B&B accommodation. We’ll be wild camping in between these four points, unlike one year when we did the entire walk on a B&B basis, with Sue carrying a small bum bag due to a neck injury.

The spreadsheet (in view below) took a while to compose, and shopping was a bit of a pain. As usual, I returned home with too many of some items and not enough of others…

The provisions were then arranged in day by day piles on our dining room table. All rather messy, but it seemed to work.

The relevant piles were then bagged and boxed, all ready for delivery, together with boxes and camping gas for various others who are taking advantage of my package delivery service. The food boxed below is just for me and Sue; the carrier bag is full of what we are taking to our starting point in Oban.

Moral of story: don’t throw away your shoe boxes!

Now this all looks quite efficient, but previous experience indicates that some of the boxes may not actually contain everything that was on the spreadsheet, and in some instances the spreadsheet itself may be defective. We’ll have to take that as it comes…

Thursday, 18 April 2019

Monday 15 April 2019 – The Harlem Hot Stompers at Eagley Jazz Club

Bill Smith, second from right, drove all the way from Cornwall so that he could perform at this gig. He loves it. He’s nearly 80.

Today the band was joined by comparatively youthful John Spall, on clarinet. He performed a masterful version of Acker Bilk’s ‘Stranger on the Shore’. I think it’s that piece that first attracted me to jazz music, when I was 12 and we lived at Meads Cottage, Ryton. I don’t think my parents had the record, but the tune was played incessantly on the radio at that time. It has stood the test of time, like many jazz numbers.

It’s not the first time I’ve seen this band…

Monday 19 June 2017 – The Harlem Hot Stompers at Eagley Jazz Club

Monday 16 October 2017 – The Harlem Hot Stompers at Eagley Jazz Club

… two name but twice. Other reporting has been scant or non existent.

Where were you, Paul and Julie?

Wednesday, 17 April 2019

13 and 14 April 2019 – A Visit to the Lake District

Fairfield, with Hart Crag behind Sue
This posting is by way of a pictorial journey through last weekend’s activities. If you scroll down the posting you get low resolution images with commentary and captions, and if you click on any of the images you get a good resolution image, but no caption, and you can scroll through these images at the foot of the screen.
Lancaster parkrun starts in front of the Ashton Memorial (1909), built by Lord Ashton in memory of his second wife

Sue was chased home in just over 28 minutes on the hilly course in Williamson Park, by Alice, who is under 11 and doing her first parkrun

Here's the 5 km, two lap route

Then we headed up to Patterdale for a cuppa with Marian

Soon we were on the path beyond Side Farm

Lunch was taken in a sheltered spot on the ascent of Gale Crag

Looking back, we could see the distinctive twin summits of the Angletarn Pikes, with Place Fell to their left

First summit - Gale Crag - 512m

Sue marches along Hartsop above How

After reaching Fairfield, we headed towards Grisedale Hause, with views down to Grisedale Tarn

By 5 pm we had set up the Nallo and were looking forward to a relaxing night in the tent at Hause Moss (NY 350 115)

The short entry I posted earlier is here.

Sunday morning: we enjoyed a lie in, then made sure that all we left at Hause Moss was a patch of temporarily squashed moss

We soon braved some icy patches and reached Hause Gap, above Grisedale Tarn, with the zigzag path up to Dollywagon Pike in the distance

Others had a longer lie-in than we did

Looking back from the Dollywagon Pike path

On the summit of Dollywagon Pike, looking towards Helvellyn

There were lots of people making their way along Striding Edge, despite a strong wind

It was sheltered enough at the windbreak for us to enjoy a leisurely brew
Shortly before reaching the summit of Helvellyn, a runner jogged past us. We chatted to him at the top, impressed by his fitness. He then dashed off, saying that his young son would soon be coming from the other direction, and that he would have trouble keeping up. His son Noah had broken the Penrith parkrun course record the previous day - 15.33. Brilliant. I note that dad Derek, in his 50's came 4th in 17.44. Not that it's a race!

Meanwhile heads turned. Bear in mind that it was about minus 3C on the summit, with a strong wind that probably took it into the minus 20's, after taking account of wind chill.


Meanwhile, Sue was well wrapped up and enjoying her mug of tea

There were numerous friendly groups milling around near Helvellyn's summit

Swirral Edge - not our route down - -that's to the far left in this picture

Heading towards Lower Man and White Side in extreme wind

Looking back from Glenridding Common, with Swirral Edge on the left

We took a pleasant contouring path past Glenridding

A convoluted route passing near Lanty's Tarn saw us back down in Patterdale, and supping a pot of tea with Marian before
heading home for a good curry at Jitrada in Sale
My mobile posting for Sunday is here.

Saturday: 11km, 900 metres ascent. Sunday: 15km, 800 metres ascent. Red triangles represent the 10 Birkett summits (including 7 Wainwrights and 2 Marilyns) over which we passed