Sue and Martin in Mallorca 2019

Sue and Martin in Mallorca 2019
On the Archduke's Path in Mallorca

Friday 13 March 2009

An Evening Walk, This Day in 2006, and The Week Ahead


This day in 2006....Happy Days are here again!

That's really because I don't have any images from Wednesday evening, when Andrew joined Sue and I for one of our 'Pitch Black' strolls.

Actually, it was pretty light - there was a full moon after all - and we enjoyed the stroll down the Macclesfield Canal from High Lane to Marple, then back to the Bull's Head via the Middlewood Way.

A good 10km in less than 2 hours, back in time for a welcome pint and a puzzled look at the football on TV, with an Italian commentary.

I'm very short of time now so have to be brief - we are just off to enjoy a TGO Challenge session at the Snake Inn, then I'm in Torridon until next Saturday, so there will be very little by way of imagery on these pages for the next week, possibly very little at all!

Ciau for now

Thursday 12 March 2009

Friday 6 to Sunday 8 March 2009 - Julie's 40th Birthday Weekend in the Lake District (Part 3 - a Lakeland Gem)


The cloud was right down, and we needed a short day.  A quick look at the map revealed Aira Force as a suitable destination.  The line of the path from Priest's Crag back to the Force looked particularly appealing.

So it was that after a most sociable Saturday evening Sue and I said our goodbyes and set off to Aira Force with Andrew.  The clouds soon lifted and we got a good view across to St Sunday Crag.


The path down to the Force on our line of approach was under repair, so we crossed above the raging torrent.


A pleasant path saw us to Alcat Row, past idyllic lakeland cottages, and down a quiet lane to Lowthwaite.

Sleety showers bombarded us from time to time.


The snow looked pristine on this narrow winding lane.


Well, almost pristine...


This road section was not at all unpleasant, the local robins being particularly chatty.

Below Priest's Crag an obvious path wound ahead into the distance.  After a few initial damp bits it matured into the delightful trail that I had been hoping for.  As we wandered on through Swinburn's Park, it was clear that we were the only people here today - we disturbed quite a few red deer, and watched them as we paused for lunch in the sun below a huge budding tree.


Further on we joined a more walked and recently maintained path, but we only saw a handful of people all day...

...though there was evidence of previous visitors!


The final section around the south side of Gowbarrow Park was a magnificent stroll.  It's such a pleasure to discover a new path of such high quality in every respect, such as this one.



We reached a superb viewpoint before ambling back down to the car park (nearby layby in our case) at Aira Force.  This confirmed the wisdom of our decision to stay low today, as we looked up to the cloud laden hills of central Lakeland.


...and admired the sunlight on Ullswater.


Today's route, which I highly recommend for an easy half day's stroll, is outlined below - 15km with 590 metres ascent - allow 4 hours including breaks.


Friday 6 to Sunday 8 March 2009 - Julie's 40th Birthday Weekend in the Lake District (Part 2)


Helvellyn Youth Hostel is a suitable venue for a large group.  Julie has Lots of Friends, and we were all satisfactorily housed in the hostel's many rooms.  Andrew hit the jackpot though - his minor nocturnal nasal murmurs having gained sufficient legend to warrant him a rare single room, whilst the rest of us were billeted in groups of 2, 4 or 6.

Breakfast was sufficient, if dull and tasteless (apart from the baked beans) and singularly lacking in bacon.  This is the downside of manned hostels as opposed to 'RentaHostel', where the pleasures of self-catering can be an indulgence.

Julie had planned a walk - distributed to all by email - but an injury prevented her attendance on her own birthday walk!

So we milled about for a while...


It was probably a good idea for the 54 of us to set off in small groups, as you can possibly detect potential pace discrepancies from the above image.

Rain had been forecast, but it started fine, if cloudy, and we drifted off towards Glenridding Common and a selection of routes up Helvellyn.  The view back down the valley was fairly benign.


As we climbed up towards Whiteside Bank the switchback track slowly rose above the snow line and sported chilly views across to Helvellyn, whose summit remained obdurately in cloud.


Approaching the 830 metre col the weather looked ominous, but here it was calm and sunny, so we lingered a while with Pam and Paul, whilst Andrew insisted he was not fit enough for Helvellyn and would return via Raise and Sticks Pass or beyond.


The four of us, Sue, Pam, Paul and me, continued on up to the summit via the easy Lower Man ridge, on which we met Graham and Tove, with crampon clad Dave and GS in tow, having shed Keith and Carol, who had not fancied the steepness of their Swirral Edge route.

No one else was wearing crampons today; the snow was very soft and in places quite slushy.  Arriving at the summit at midday, after our leisurely 2½ hour stroll, it was a bit breezy.  In fact, on the way up Pam (2nd from right below) had been blown over, to be saved by Sue's walking pole, which had now assumed the shape of a banana.

There were four people striding towards the summit from the opposite direction, so Sue's picture is of Chris, Alys, Johnny, Rupert, Paul, Pam and me.  The Ghosts of Helvellyn were pottering about nearby.


By now it was somewhat inclement, so cameras were stashed for the rest of the day.  The four of us battled on over Nethermost Pike and Dollywaggon Pike in pretty grim conditions, to descend to just above Grizedale Tarn by 1pm.  Lunch time.  Weird Darren, had he been here, may have produced a stove.  We had convenient flasks.  "Shall we shelter?" I asked.  "Oooh, that would be good" came the reply, in unison.  So we lunched 'indoors' in the calm and warmth, with sleety rain lashing down outside, of a rarely used little blue shelter I carry for such occasions.

After 20 minutes or so the condensation within the shelter produces its own showery microclimate, but those minutes are really valuable, so it was a refreshed and fortified quartet who set off down Grizedale for the long walk back to the hostel.

The weather did improve as we descended, but the rain persisted and actually worsened after we arrived back at base at 4pm.

Here's our (well, Julie's planned route which only the four of us out of her 54 guests managed to complete!) route - 18km, 1100 metres ascent, taking us around 6½ hours, including over 30 minutes of breaks, on not the easiest of days.


Wednesday 11 March 2009

Friday 6 to Sunday 8 March 2009 - Julie's 40th Birthday Weekend in the Lake District (Part 1)


A start from home after lunch saw Sue and me up at Beetham by 3pm for a short walk to Holme and back.

In surprisingly sunny weather - despite dire warnings from a local - we set off in good humour towards Pye's Bridge Farm.0601pyesfarm The local farmer had done his best to foil us by ploughing up the footpath, which once past the small building after leaving the A6 heads up the ploughed field to the right of a telegraph pole and on to a stile in the middle of a hedge.

Predictions of mud were happily exaggerated, and we cheerfully passed these two denizens of the soft turf.0602lambsApproaching the west coast main line railway we passed a small pond with a flock of lapwings, ducks and swans in residence.

A huge osprey hovered frighteningly above us....0603buzzard

It's a sunlit buzzard, but it looked very big and nearly fooled us.

The village of Holme was reached through more fields, but as it was 4pm and we had some distance to travel we regrettably passed by the Smithy Inn.0604smithy After negotiating a minor displacement (you may just spot it on the route shown below), we resolved Sue's hypoglycaemia by a visit to the Post Office, and though my cholesterol levels won't have benefited from a Mars bar, I decided one was necessary to avoid the risk of Sue's condition...

A tree creeper flitted up a slender tree trunk and the hedgerows were lined with Lesser Celandine.0605celandineThe path to Fell End Farm was rather muddy, but we squeezed the wrong side of a gatepost to avoid the ankle deep slurry.

Sue found a small furry friend.0606shetland
Beyond the farm, woodland paths leading back towards Beetham sported piles of moss covered logs. 0607logs
Emerging from the wood, we strolled through fields beside Beetham Hall, with its ancient ramparts, and snow clad High Street behind, in the gathering murk.0608beethamhall
Here's our route - 8km with 100 metres of ascent, taking somewhat less than two hours. 0609route
Our journey continued up to Helvellyn Youth Hostel and the assembled throng of Julie's 54 guests, before we strolled down to the Travellers Rest with Andrew for welcome sustenance.

TGO Challenge training in the Vorarlberg - The Movie

I've had another skirmish with Windows Movie Maker....

Not entirely successful or satisfactory, I have to say.  I find the timeline hard to work with and I failed completely to work out how to apply a soundtrack.

It may have been better to add titles to the clips rather than insert them between the images, but never mind.

It'll take you all of 6 minutes to view this experiment, but I won't tell you how long it took me to reduce it to that from 8 minutes.  You may have to speed read some of the captions.

Would a simple upload to Flickr or similar have been better?
The jury's out...

Monday 9 March 2009

A Crooked, Twisted Tree

This one's just to keep the ball rolling whilst I find time to compose a Vorarlberg video.

In particular it's for Mark, at Beating the Bounds. I know he's an admirer of these trees, and I've been waiting for a while to spot such a magnificently twisted specimen. If it were a person it would surely be condemned to solitary confinement in an Alcatraz-like prison.