Sue and Martin in Mallorca 2019

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

Thursday 18 February 2010

Wednesday 17 February 2010 – A Great British Ridge Walk – Number 18 – The Little Dale Horseshoe by Scope End to Hindscarth and the Littledale Edge to Robinson descending via High Snab Bank

Near the summit of Hindscarth - a gang of six

Graham and I drove up to the Lakes on a brilliantly sunny morning.  So sunny in fact that I missed the turn to Portinscale, as a result of which we found ourselves at the wrong end of a single track road that was being resurfaced.  We should of let Bruno drive as he is probably better at it than me, but sadly he wasn’t available, having already been pressed into service by a Pie Man.

Anyway, we strolled down to the appointed rendezvous at Chapel Bridge in Newlands where we were pleased to find that the Pie Man and Bruno had acquainted themselves with Gayle and Mick, whom they had never met before.

“We recognised the dog!” quipped Gayle.

(I suppose the Pie Man does look like just any other old hobo – there were a few of those around today.)

Graham and I therefore arrived late, somewhat uncharacteristically, and were informed by Bruno:

“You will, of course, have your pay docked or you can make up the time on Christmas Day, whufwhufwhuf” – Just a little Canine Toilet humour, I suppose…

And so, in blazing sunshine and slowly melting frost we embarked on the Little Dale Horseshoe, or, as its known in Bill Birkett’s Book “Great British Ridge Walks” – The Little Dale Horseshoe by Scope End to Hindscarth and the Littledale Edge to Robinson descending via High Snab Bank (draw breath…)

Which is what we all did.

Graham, drawing breath above Scope End, with Skiddaw behind

I have to report that the fell top conditions today were nothing less than superb – easy underfoot with a thin cover of new, specially fluffy snow, blue skies, light winds, big views. Big, big white views.

Bruno led the way magnificently.  “Come on, come on” he barked in his most clipped sergeant major’s voice, as he hauled his lumbering charge (The Pie Man) up the steep ascent to Scope End.

Bruno leads the way

It was a lovely winter’s day, so we were all happy to amble on at a fairly pedestrian rate, stopping frequently to admire the views north towards snow-capped Skiddaw and Blencathra.  As a result we failed to shake off Bruno’s faltering charge, who continued to heave his way up the hill, muttering darkly something about ‘Beta Blockers’, ‘The Cardiac Nurse’, ‘Penking Out’ and ‘The Stairway to Heaven’.

“I’d be quicker if I ate fewer pies” he confirmed.  “But it wouldn’t fit the image” barked Bruno.

Here, the Happy Band, having ascended to about 700 metres, approaches the summit of Hindscarth.

Near the summit of Hindscarth

The views from Littledale Edge were magnificent, with the gleaming snow laden roofs of Honister Mountain resort shining brightly before a backdrop of Great End and the Scafells.

The view to Honister Mountain Resort, with Great End and the Scafell range behind

To the south the twin summits of Kirk Fell flanked a spectacular new glacier – named by Bruno - “Wuf Mer de Glace de Kirk Fell Wuf” – I think that’s what he called it, anyway, his voice was muffled by the lumps of snow that kept winging in from the direction of Mick.

From Littledale Edge, a view of the 'Mer de Glace de Kirk Fell'

By and by we enjoyed a second lunch stop on the summit of Robinson.  After all, there were shortbread and brownies to be demolished.  Mike said he had 10kg of pies.  Bruno said “He ate them for breakfast!”  S’pose it was just as well they weren’t produced.

We enjoyed a second lunch on the summit of Robinson

And so, we descended by High Snab Bank – the icy/slippery rock steps providing some excitement and entertainment, especially for Mike, who was planning a rocky landing, but managed, in the end to slither off in a fairly undignified skittering and dithering semi-frantic series of lurches and scrapes.

(The slide show reveals more.)

Dissecting the mysteries of NimrodAfterwards, we repaired to the Coledale Inn at Braithwaite for a short period of reflection and recuperation and, maybe the odd sniftah.

This was a superb walk – thanks to everyone who came for joining in the fun.

Other versions of this walk will shortly be appearing can now be found on Gayle’s blog and on Mick’s blog (WOW!) and have also been posted to The Pie Man’s blog.  Are four versions enough, or should we get Bruno and Graham to write their versions?!

The Pie Man’s prediction that ‘the accounts will all be different this time’ is not quite accurate, as I have stolen some of his carefully crafted content.

You should of known this would appen. Innit?

We did 11.5 km and 800 metres of uphill. See map. We went clockwise. Bruno went clockwise and anti-clockwise and described various inner circles too… we know a song about this..

 Our route - 11.5 km with 800 metres ascent in a very leisurely 6 hours

A slide show will appear soon is here, and the next walk in this series will be on Tuesday 2 March (or Wednesday 3 March if the forecast is better) – it’s Route 12 – The Greenburn Horseshoe – starting 10 am in Little Langdale Village – NY 316 034. It’ll take about 7 hours and includes Wetherlam and Swirl How.

PS Welcome “The Odyssee”!

In the meantime there’s the ‘Altrincham Circular’ – 30 km from Timperley Metro Station – 9.00am on Saturday 20 February…

Tuesday 16 February 2010

A Short Trip to Loch Lomond


We wouldn’t have made it without the efforts of the ground crew at Philadelphia airport last Tuesday night (was that really a week ago!), so they deserve a mention.

I’d already spent eight hours at the airport (planned, that’s life) by the time we were called to board US734 to Manchester, at 8.45pm.  It was on time.

“You are lucky, it’s just started to snow”, joked the ground staff.

The snow quickly became a blizzard, and the Airbus A330 trundled off to be de-iced.  I’d never seen this process before, so watched from the window, when the snow permitted.

A brown liquid was sprayed powerfully over the wings.  It cleared the snow.  But unfortunately by the time the fuselage was reached the snow had settled thickly again at the end of the wing.

“You can see what is happening” announced the pilot.  We weren’t going anywhere.

Time passed.

“We are going to try again” – it was the pilot on the tannoy.  This time there was a little more success, until the process stopped, abruptly.

“The runways are all closed” observed the pilot.

Snow ploughs could be seen in the distance.  Lots of them.  Very active.  But the snow was thicker now, and forecast to last into the following day.  Even the locals were resigned to spending an uncomfortable night at the airport before going home…

“The roads will be a nightmare tonight, and the airport will be shut tomorrow.  We are going nowhere soon”, was the gloomy prognosis.

It surprised everyone when the captain announced that the ground staff were to attempt de-icing for the third time.

With an even stronger jet, and green liquid this time, the de-icing held its own against the blizzard, and after agonising minutes on the runway whilst snow seemed to be building on the wings, we finally made a desperate but successful bid for the freedom of the air.  I think everyone was most impressed with the efforts that had got us there, and not at all bothered about being a few hours late.

The following day’s flights had been cancelled by the time we reached Manchester.

After an hour at home to recover (or was that to pack for the next trip?) the journey to Balloch was benign by comparison, though the delayed flight meant that we had to enjoy a lovely sunset from a traffic jam in Glasgow rather than from the shores of Loch Lomond.

Thursday dawned clear and bright.  The snow capped summit of Ben Lomond gleamed at us from the window of the apartment that we were sharing with Dave, Maggie and Ellie.

It was irresistible, but only Ellie and I were fit enough to attempt the ascent, so by 11am we had driven round to Rowardennan and were striding up the icy ‘tourist’ path, whilst Sue and the others were enjoying a more sedate experience near the shores of the loch.

Loch Lomond view

There had been a hard frost, as explained by these ferns.

Frosted Ferns

The edge of the loch was framed by ice, though the warm sun had melted most of that by the time Sue took this picture.

Loch Lomond Mallards

Meanwhile, Ellie and I could look back to the southern shores and islands of Loch Lomond, with the high rise dwellings of the city of Glasgow clearly visible through the glaring sunlight beyond the loch.

A view to the south from the lower slopes of Ben Lomond

The path rises gently out of Rowardennan.  This may be one of the easiest Munro summits to attain, but it was entirely appropriate for this day out with my niece, who had never previously set foot on a Scottish mountain.

Ascending Ben Lomond

Way below the snow line we encountered a river of ice, soon after which crampons were donned.  We could have managed without, but they did make life easier, and I was keen to test my new 150gm ‘Yaktrax’, whilst Ellie was keen to wear any old crampons (mine, for example).  They both worked well, and we happily made it to the summit by 2pm.

It was sunny and still.  A lovely winter’s day.

On the summit of Ben Lomond

The summit ridge looks quite Alpine from some angles, but is very benign on a day like today.

An alpine vista from near the summit of Ben Lomond

The Ptarmigan Ridge looked easy enough, but Ellie had never used an ice axe and decided she would prefer to return by the tourist path we had used in ascent, so we made do with this fine view to the north western shores of Loch Lomond, with Ben Vane and Ven Vorlich in close attendance, providing the foreground for an array of peaks.

A view from the summit of Loch Lomond

A slide show, covering the entire short trip, will follow.