Martin in Gatineau Park

Martin in Gatineau Park

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Friday 15 to Sunday 17 August 2014 – A Weekend in Borrowdale

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A ‘gang of six’, pictured above L-R: Hazel, Andrew, Kate, Alastair, Sue and me, had the pleasure of a visit to Borrowdale Youth Hostel.

After pottering up the M6, we found Friday evening in Keswick to be very pleasant.

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Behind the Moot Hall, an excellent fish and chip shop satisfied all our needs, before we adjourned to the Youth Hostel, which is between Rosthwaite and Seatoller. It proved to be friendly and well run, and although it was very busy everyone seemed to have enough space. Self cooking facilities were perhaps a little cramped, but the hostel catering that we took advantage of was very good.

Saturday - Hazel and I went for a walk from Honister Hause whilst the others tried the Honister slate mines Via Ferrata.

Waterproofs were soon required as we marched to the summit of Black Star on Honister Crag (633 metres). From there it was an easy passage to Fleetwith Pike (648 metres), where Hazel is pictured with Haystacks and Pillar leaning on her right shoulder. “Much quicker than the Via Ferrata route” we agreed.

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The slopes were purple with the Ling variety of heather - that's Kirk Fell in the background behind Haystacks.

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The mist cleared from Pillar as we descended past the disused quarry between Fleetwith Pike and Haystacks to the top of Warnscale Beck, where we enjoyed good views towards Buttermere and Crummock Water.

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We continued on to Grey Knotts (697 metres) in deteriorating weather, before descending to Honister Hause for lunch in the Mines café. The others were expected back at 11.30 but as a result of one of the group suffering from vertigo they were 45 minutes later than estimated, so Hazel and I could have gone up Brandreth as well…

Our route - 9 km with 550 metres ascent, took about 3 hours.

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Meanwhile, Sue, Al, Andrew and Kate had enrolled for the Via Ferrata. Kate was raring to go.

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Yellow Mountain Saxifrage grows here.

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There were gullies, rock traverses and numerous stempled ascents.

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Scary cliffs preceded a wire bridge. (Not good for the lady with vertigo!)

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An iron platform was followed by a large blue net that is clearly visible from the road far below.

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There were lots of information boards, which feature in the slide show (see link at foot of posting), and there is more on the history of Honister, where it is believed that the first slate was probably mined in the Roman era (although it is quite possible that it began in a more haphazard way in prehistoric times), here.

We all met for lunch back at Honister Hause, where a lone Baguley locomotive sits outside. This is a diesel loco, built to look like a steam one and judged by aficionados to be ‘fake’. There is doubt as to whether it ever worked in the slate mine, one correspondent believing it to have arrived from the Butlin's Camp Railway in Filey where he thinks it ran from 1953 to 1975.

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Driving down to Gatesgarth, we stopped to look up to Fleetwith Pike and spot the helmets of the punters on the Via Ferrata, and the large blue net.

The six of us decided to walk around Buttermere, soon reaching Comb Beck in the rain, with High Stile hidden by mist.

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A good path through the woods led to a beach where Kate and Andrew fought over the possession of a small island, whilst the rest of us tried to skim stones on the lake.

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At the village end of the lake the rain thickened and Andrew built an impressive stack of slates from which he nearly fell into the lake.

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Back at Gatesgarth...

"We are on holiday in the middle of summer. You will eat your ice creams."

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Here’s our route, starting from Gatesgarth - 7 km with 150 metres ascent, taking rather less than 2 hours.

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That left plenty of time for R & R and a few games back at the ‘open all day’ youth hostel, which also has a café/bar that is open to the public.

Sundaythe rainy morning of 17 August found us heading along the chain aided path from the hostel to Folly Bridge.

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Folly Bridge (no picture – it was raining heavily and my waterproof camera was at home), cost £25 to build and is a Grade II listed building. Next to the bridge is an inscribed stone with the text as shown below.

This Bridge was built at the Expence of John Braithwaite of Seatoller in the Year of our Lord 1781 By Thomas Hayton and Richard Bowness
I count this folly you have done
As you have neither Wife nor Son
Daughter I have God give her grace
And Heaven for her Resting place

It was raining hard as we tramped over the bridge and across the field to the row of cottages called Mountain View.

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A circular walk over five minor summits in the direction of Glaramara was planned.

Combe Gill looked full as we ascended briskly in the direction of Thornythwaite Fell.

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Shortbread (CCS) was issued in the rain in an attempt to maintain spirits, and despite the heavy rain where we were, there were occasional flashes of sunshine as we looked back towards Derwent Water. Castle Crag is visible, just off centre.

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A necklace of streams graced the slopes of Glaramara.

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We continued bravely on and upwards and yesterday's Via Ferrata team were impressed when they looked across to the near sheer face of Fleetwith Pike to which they had been fastened.

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We’d had enough by the time we got up to about 550 metres, as we were being drenched by violent rain egged on by a 50mph wind. A quick look at the GPS revealed that we’d almost reached our first target, so four of us crawled up to the 574 metre summit that lay just next to the path on the long undulating ridge.

I whipped out the camera to record the unpleasantness of Thornythwaite Fell on a summer’s day.

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The Really Foul Weather drew a unanimous decision. We turned tail and returned quickly to Borrowdale, where the river levels had risen significantly.

The weather wasn't really conducive to photography, or walking, so we went to a tea shop in Grange for lunch, then we went home.

Here's our 'there and back' route - 8 km, 500 metres ascent, 2.5 hours.

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Despite the weather, this was a really excellent trip, in the best of company, and highly enjoyable throughout. Thanks go to our good friends for inviting us along.

There’s a slide show (58 pictures) here.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

HMP3 in the Pyrenees

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I’m receiving occasional messages from TGO Challenger Humphrey Weightman, who is enjoying himself in the Pyrenees. He should currently be in the vicinity of Pic de Crabère (2629 metres), where hopefully he will be greeted by views like this one. I lingered, as you can see, here at length with Graham, Pierre and Yolaine on 19 July last year.

Happy Days…

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

A Family on Holiday (again)

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Date: 15 August 2014

Place: Center Parcs (Sherwood Forest)

Holidaymakers (L to R): Martin, Kate, Jessica (Jessie-Moo), Oscar, Jacob, Simon and Sue

My diary records:

Drove to Center Parcs after the rush hour on Monday morning, 11 August, arriving around 1.00pm.

Spent the next four days enjoying the facilities from our dog friendly chalet with its own sauna (which the dog didn’t use).

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We didn’t go for a pedal on the lake this time, but we did play on the beach.

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Lots of games were contested. I managed to lose at table tennis, American pool, ten pin bowling, whist, tennis and much more.

Some of us went for a bike ride in the pool - that was quite interesting, and we enjoyed the rapids and the slides. Jacob took his own bike and used it to complete the junior nature trail.

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He also found lots of playgrounds.

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Bugs and owls featured highly on his itinerary…

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…as did breakfast.

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Meanwhile, Jessica, known on this trip as ‘Jessie-Moo’, didn’t need any toys as she was perfectly happy to play with whatever came to hand – in this case a box of nappies.

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“She’ll eat anything” said Kate, whose favourite food at the same age was a mouthful of sand. Jessie-Moo found this slice of lemon a tasty (if a bit sharp) challenge.

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She persisted until all but the peel had been eaten – she wouldn’t let go. Other food was made available to her but was largely rejected during the ‘lemon challenge’.

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Happy Days….