Martin in Gatineau Park

Martin in Gatineau Park

Friday, 5 March 2010

Tuesday 2 March 2010 – A Great British Ridge Walk – Number 12 – The Greenburn Horseshoe

Graham lurches out of the Three Shires Inn

The plush Rover swished up the M6 in plenty of time for Graham and me to enjoy a coffee break en route and further refreshments at the Three Shires Inn in Little Langdale.

The final stage of the journey was over freshly laid ice and snow, which provided an excellent excuse for the late arrival of the Pie Man and his chauffeur, Bruno.  At first we thought he had parked in Ambleside and walked in, but he disappeared back down the road for a while and returned with the car, a job that Graham and I really thought should have been entrusted to the chauffeur.

By 10.30 we were enjoying another virtually cloudless day, as we tramped down to Slater’s Bridge, with our snow capped destination glowing in the distance in the bright sunlight, as the sun vapourised the frost at our feet.

Mike and Bruno lurch down the path to Slater's Bridge

Once we worked out that we should leave the path above Greenburn Beck, the gradient changed abruptly.  In these conditions the chauffeur’s duties mutated to porterage obligations as he dragged his splendidly buffed charge up the hill.

Mike on Birk Fell, showing off his new buff, with the Langdales behind

Meanwhile, Graham, oldest and fittest by far of the trio of TGO Challengers out walking today, lurked contentedly on the summit of Birk Fell, surveying the route ahead, thus described by Bill Birkett: “the ascent of the Little Langdale Edge of Wetherlam steepens at the top and involves a few small rocky steps – possibly Scrambling Grade 0.25 if tackled head-on.”

Wetherlam, from the top of Birk Fell

We didn’t necessarily take the ‘head-on’ option, preferring to keep our crampons on snow rather than rock and proceed along a sporting line up the steep slope.

Crampon Man on the ascent of Wetherlam

A ‘friend’ from Kirkby Lonsdale appeared on the summit of Wetherlam and kindly took this photo of us, with our avalanche rescue dog (Bruno’s high altitude role once he has discharged his porterage duties) distracted by the fine view towards Crinkle Crags.

On Wetherlam's summit - 762 metres

Before us lay Swirl How, at 802 metres our high point of the day, accessed by way of an arctic plateau before going down to some avalanche ready slopes before ascending our final 200 metres to the sunny summit.

The route to Swirl How

Earlier, in the shade of Birk Fell, Mike had endured painfully cold hands (Sue really does sympathise), but we were all nicely warmed up by the time we reached the summit of Swirl How.  The sun definitely had considerably more warmth than two weeks earlier, and a single layer (albeit a flashy Embers merino wool shirt) kept me lovely and warm for most of the day.

Martin summits Swirl How - 802 metres

Despite having been stabbed by a crampon, our avalanche rescue dog continued to enjoy his relentless search for bodies in the snow.

An avalanche rescue dog

Shortly before the summit of Great Carrs, we paused by the memorial to eight airmen who lost their lives on 22 October 1944 when a Halifax bomber that crashed at this spot.  There were fine views across to the Scafells, and Bowfell had a magnificent Alpine air to it from this direction.

The sad remains of the demise of a wartime Halifax

The sun hovered above high cloud over Grey Friar as we descended to the balmier climes of Wet Side Edge, a cool easterly now having taken control of the thermostat.

Descending from Great Carrs

Back at Slater’s Bridge I made a determined effort to locate my first (under code name ‘Phreerunner’) geocache.  It was hidden in a lunch box and receives frequent visits, containing inter alia a notebook bulging with comments, just like those found on Alpine mountain summits.

Phreerunner's first Geocache

It was 5.40pm by the time we got back to the cars, still in good daylight – the days are lengthening nicely just now; spring is in the air, despite the snow.  We’d been in no hurry, and other walkers following this route could realistically expect to knock up to three hours off our ‘pensioners amble’ sort of pace.

The hills were quiet today – we probably encountered about a dozen folk, mostly well kitted out with axe and crampons at the ready, though those without such aids seemed equally happy on this calm, sunny day.

The Watermill at Ings provided sustenance, at a price, on our journey home.

Here’s our route – 13 km, 985 metres ascent, in just over 7 hours.

Our route - 13 km, 985 metres ascent, in just over 7 hours

A slide show (45 images) for those with the time / inclination, is here.  The Pie Man’s report (more entertaining than this one – I didn’t copy it this time!) is here.

The next ‘Great British Ridge Walk’ will be ‘Moel Hebog by the North-East ridge and a traverse of the North Ridge over Moels yr Ogof and Lefn’, on Wednesday 10 March, starting from Beddgelert Car Park at 10 am.  It’s 12 km with 980 metres ascent.  If the weather is poor, or Sue decides to come, we may go up Moel Siabod, from SH 734 571 – Pont Cyfyng lane, or from Capel Curig.  So let me know if you plan to join us.

Then on Tuesday 16 March we will be tackling Skiddaw via Ullock Pike, descending by Birkett’s Edge.  This is 13 km with 1015 metres ascent, starting at 10 am from a small lay-by (if there’s room) at NY 237 311 by Orthwaite Road, a little above the junction with the A591 above Bassenthwaite village.

Monday, 1 March 2010

A Tale of Three Tilleys

Once upon a time I bought a Tilley hat.  It was a favourite piece of summer equipment and saw much use.

Many years later, and after not a little hair loss, I gave up full time employment and took a stroll across the Pyrenees.  The sun shone for most of the journey and the trusty Tilley hat saw more or less continuous deployment.

The brim separated from the rest of the hat.  It wore out.

One reason for purchasing such a hat is its ‘Lifetime Guarantee’.  I’d survived the journey home, so a while later I took the remnants of the old hat to Mr Field and Mrs Trek, who had a shop at that time across the road from work.

“It’s worn out” I was told.
”But what about the Lifetime Guarantee?”
”Have you a receipt?”
”No, it’s ancient.”
”Yes, it’s worn out.”
”But it has a Lifetime Guarantee!” 
[Humour him, he’s a good customer!]
”OK, we’ll send it back and see what happens.”
”Fine, I’m sure they’ll honour their obligation.”
”I wouldn’t count on that…” [gravely doubtful]…

…a few days later…
”Sir, your new hat has arrived!”

That was back in late 2004.  Now it hasn’t helped that I’ve not worked much since then, and I’ve subjected my friend – the new hat – pictured below – to a fair bit of use.

A five year old Tilley Hat

Sadly, this new hat had lasted only five years.  It was well and truly worn out (there were bigger holes around the back).

So a couple of weeks ago, as I passed through town, I ventured into Mr Brigham’s emporium, Mr Field and Mrs Trek having withdrawn from the rigours of retailing in the north of England.

“We would love to help, but we stock Royal Robbins”
fumbles with computer
”I see the nearest stockists of Tilley hats are Nevisport and Cotswold.”

I thanked them for their help and strolled a few metres to Mr Nevisport’s rather less opulent emporium.

“What’s that?”
”It’s a Tilley hat.  I think you’ll find it has a Lifetime Guarantee.”
”Tilly?”
”No, have you never heard of Tilley hats?”
”No.”  [blank look – was I from ‘Zog’?]
”I believe you are stockists, but never mind.”

On I trudged to Emperor Cotswold’s shiny new shop, on the same day that Alan defeated them with his questions about waterproof socks.
”It’s a Tilley hat”  I explained to the ground floor staff.
”Yes, we can see that; you need to go downstairs.”
I was by now a little weary, so downstairs I simply placed the old hat on the counter and waited for a response.
It came immediately.
”Good morning, come this way…ah..the old one is” (searches for labels) “a T3 size 7.  You are in luck.”  Hands me a new hat.
”Don’t you need to send it back?” 
“Yes, but it has a Lifetime Guarantee, and it’s worn out, so you are entitled to a new one.  We’ll get a credit from Tilley.  Enjoy your new hat.” 
“Thank you.”

So, thanks again to the helpful staff in Cotswold (luckily I am not a ‘Niche walker’), for their excellent service in providing me with this nice new hat.

My new Tilley Hat

I wonder how long this one will last.

I may never know…!

The Little Dale Horseshoe – A Slide Show

The view towards Keswick from High Snab Bank

‘Just in time’, he huffed, having just managed to upload a slide show from the last ‘Great British Ridge Walk’ before embarking on the next one!

There is about a roll of film involved this time, which due to recent advances in technology includes a short video (as usual, exposing my hopelessness at keeping up with said technology).