Sue and Martin in Mallorca 2019

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

Saturday 23 May 2020

'Wet Muker' - 22 and 23 March 1986

This wet weekend with John and Dave  now seems remarkable to me by virtue of the number of pictures taken. Mercifully, my diary entry was not as verbose as usual.

22/23 March 1986
Wet Muker

8 am start almost on time to pick up Dave. Trundle up motorway and across to Muker via Sedbergh to meet JM at 10:10. He was cold after a 6:30 am start and arrival at Muker at 9:30.
The rain stopped and we had a pleasant walk to Gunnerside by the river.
We passed the Farmers Arms in Muker.
Wind very strong and whipped up spray. John reminisced about his Munros and told us he had had to transfer his records to a hard disk (haha)*.
Got to the Kings Head soon after 12, but it didn't open for a while. Had lunch on a wet bench then went into the pub to dry out. Structural changes have not enhanced it. (We regularly visited this pub in those days.)
Up Gunnerside Gill. Lots of disused lead mine workings. Pleasant woodland path at the start, but something has stripped the bark from many of the trees, making sad ugly scars. The rain came down. Hard.
We headed across the Gill (interesting) to North Hush, then west into the gale towards Keld.
Then down to Muker by the Swale. Welcome tent refuge from the very unpleasant wet. Good meal except that I mislaid my caviar, then down to the Farmer's Arms for more Theakstons and an Austrian planning session.

Lots of sleet and rain and wind made the outside world uninviting. Lay in until 10:30 and then up and away by 11:15.
Drove to Healaugh then walked to the pub at Low Row, via footpaths and by the river. Unpleasantly wet. Spent a long time in the pub and after debate laid out on steak and kidney pie.
This path along a wall near Low Row will be familiar to those who have walked Wainwright's Coast to Coast route.
Back via Barney Beck. Lots more damaged trees and lots of dead rabbits. Hungry rabbits eat bark? (It had been an exceptionally hard winter.)
Surrender Bridge.
Good old Dartmouth Performance Clothing waterproof. I had that for many years.

Cold and uneventful, but at least a day out. Return via Darlington. (To drop off JM at his flat.)

The following day heavy snow in the Dales would have blocked our way back. The following weekend, a cold wet Easter was celebrated by the commencement of decorating of our house at 27 South Drive. (Not so much a start of decorating, more a start of stripping.)

* transcribed verbatim - how times change!

Here are our routes. 18 km with 600 metres ascent on Saturday; 11 km with 250 metres ascent on Sunday. Click on the image.

Friday 22 May 2020

Life on the Mountains - Terry Abraham

I first met Terry about ten years ago. Like me, he was an 'early' outdoors blogger. He had embarked on a risky new career as a film maker, and was spending a lot of time wild camping. It was Terry who persuaded me to buy the Terra Nova Solar Competition 2 tent that accompanied me across the Pyrenees in both 2013 and 2015. He's moved on and probably doesn't remember me now.
Terry's new career has resulted in three films - Scafell Pike, Blencathra and Helvellyn. The story of Terry's early days, and his life culminating in an adventure into film making, is told on these beautifully illustrated pages. For me, stuck in Lockdown, this book has been a tonic to be appreciated whilst sitting in the sun in the garden with a cuppa, when I would really rather be in the hills that form the subject matter for Terry's films.
The book has been lovingly published by Jake Island Ltd, a small business based near Ambleside. It is available here:

Thursday 21 May 2020

TGO Challenge - Wild Camps (No 1: 11 May 2007)

I should have been finishing this year's TGO Challenge today (21 May). Ah well!
Various folk have been following 'virtual' routes over the past couple of weeks, mainly using the medium of Facebook, a product that I don't get on with. However, I've enjoyed monitoring Judith's progress via her Wordpress blog, which I find much easier to follow.
My own 'projects' have moved on to the thought of producing some TGOC PhotoBox books, starting with my first Challenge in 2007. So to make life easy on the blogging front, I've decided, on days when I've nothing 'better', to post pictures of some of my wild camps on the Challenge, together with any relevant peripheral comments. Readers will also have to put up with more digitised reports from the distant past.
11 May 2007 marked Day 1 of my TGO Challenge era. I set off alone from Strathcarron, after getting someone to take the following picture. 
The only Challenger I saw that day was Alan Kay, an experienced Challenger on his 12th crossing.
I reached Bealach Bhearnais, my planned destination for the day, at 3:30, so after setting up camp and enjoying a brew I had plenty of time to nip up the nearby Corbett of Beinn Tarsuinn, having already come over the other nearby Corbett - Sgurr na Feartaig. Sadly, both summits were engulfed in mist.
As you can see from the 'camp' picture above, I had company - in the form of a couple of Munro baggers, not Challengers.

Wednesday 20 May 2020

'September in Snowdonia' - 15 and 16 September 1984

More archive footage today. I'm sorely tempted to repeat this route when possible. Need a good weather forecast though.
15/16 September 1984
September in Snowdonia (Diary by Martin except where indicated)
Friday: John arrives at Oswald Road to cacophony, after initial quietness. Eventually adjourn to the Quadrant at 10:30. All children still up. Michael and Kate look like wasps. Pub very quiet. Gentle route from Blaenau Ffestiniog over Moelwyns and Cnicht is planned.
Saturday: Left Oswald Road after a brief breakfast. Collected petrol and Dave, and we were on the M56 by soon after 8 am.
Rain and low cloud by the time we reached Wales, but bright weather had been seen in the west. Good views with shafts of light against the black sky. Moel Siabod's slopes seem pleasantly lit from some distance, through the gloom.
Left at Betws-y-Coed and soon we are in the main car park at Blaenau Ffestiniog (pictured above).  
Got going leisurely, and Dave failed to buy a water container, having failed to find his old one in a recent extensive search of his possessions. He later realises that this failure is probably due to the fact that he threw away the said item in either Zermatt or Zurich.
Tea in a noisy cafe, then we set out past a puffing billy down a pleasant path in the wrong direction (by Afon Bowydd). Past a sewage works we turn right towards Blaenau again.  
Left at Pencefn Road and along the side of a very low (drought comes to Wales) Tanygrisiau Reservoir.
Stop for brew by disused quarry and Dave's new Epigas Propane mix rocket fuel works magically. He even used some hot water to clean his teeth. (There is no record of who acted as porter for Dave's water, given his lack of water bottle.)
A bumblebee tried to drink my tea and died.
Tested self-timer on camera and had second cups of tea.
Off to cross the railway and John is nearly mown down as 'Blanche' chuffs out of the tunnel. I failed to get a spectacular photo as I'd left the self-timer on!
We all admired Dave Scruby's Pentax (DSP) and its fancy complicated zoom lens. He got it out for the first time in public but missed a shot of the train.
Two hours took us to the summit of Moelwyn Bach (2334') after some interesting crags and mild scrambling. John objected to the grass.
The weather throughout is hot and sunny. Rather humid.
Shaley (slatey) descent to the col at Bwlch Stwlan and John goes to look for water. See the first people of the day. These hills are very quiet.
Virtually windless, but there is cloud on the higher peaks, so we admire today's choice of route.
On the way so far, the very pretty yellow and red of Gorse and Bell Heather. Also lots of Ling and Tormentil, plus Saxifrage (a small white one) and Milkwort. Carrion crows and Skylarks.
John arrives back exhausted from fetching the water. We'd better use it before we find some more. I wonder whether Dave needs to clean his teeth again.
The 600' climb up Moelwyn Mawr (2527')  was straightforward - path up the crag then grassy slope to the trig point. Met some people on the top. Brewed up but mine was destroyed by the vast number of small flies. Having also scalded myself, I was still thirsty and John's supplies had been abortively used.
Cloud level now almost down to us, so we hastened down before the anticipated rain.
Descended the northern ridge and followed a path to the ruins of a quarry at Bwlch Cwmorthin.
Continued north until an idyllic campsite presented itself at the waterfalls below Clogwyn Brith - 1700 ft.
The clouds had cleared and it was warm and still and sunny, with no flies. Magnificent conditions. Relaxed around the site, at which we arrived around 5:30. Brewed and cooked.
The sun went down. Meanwhile about 20 people descended from Cnicht and proceeded to camp/bivvi down at the ruined quarry.
Most clouds disappeared and condensation started (mapcase, camera, etc). Still quite warm.
My tea fell over but I caught it! Time to stop writing and concentrate on cooking - the crispy noodles need close attention. Meanwhile some very tasty crispy croutons, delight of Phileas Fogg and made in Consett*, were handed around. I finished my tea in the tent and didn't witness the delicacies consumed by the others, as they didn't enter the tent until around 7:30#. I suspect Dave had a sausage, whilst John had soup and a Vesta curry.
Just a brief note on how to get off Moelwyn Bach in the mist. (The path is vaguely cairned.) Head SE from the pile of stones for about 100 yards, then go down a slatey path on the gentle slope between the two sets of crags marked to the east of the pile of stones.
All in bed by 8:30, probably also asleep by then. Can still see the glow of the bivviers' camp fire in the ruined quarry below.
Lots of ladybirds in the campsite area.
Sunday (diary started by John)
Insomnia strikes at 7:25. Banfield brews for all (Ѷ as we mathematicians write - I can't find the correct symbol here!). Second brew (coffee) at 8:45.
The mist is clearing nicely. The bivviers below are milling around nicely. Scruby does not feel like a sausage (more like a beef burger). Ascent of Cnicht is planned.
Start for Cnicht at 9:45.
Above and below are views to Llyn Cwm-y-foel and the coast, from the ascent of Cnicht.
Reach top at 10:45. Pause for photos (Scruby and Banfield), second breakfast (Mansell) etc.
On the way down, we reach something which would be interesting when wet (a descent).
We reach the first pasture land (walls, grass, wire, sheep, etc) at 11:45. At Croesor 12:15. Brew stop at 12:20. There is not much wind today, but plenty of cloud around the ridge of Cnicht. Snowdon was visible from time to time, with the summit above a stratum of cloud.
(continued by Martin)
On down pleasant lane with no traffic, to Tan-y-bwlch Station. Waited to photograph Blanche again (successfully this time) then strolled through pleasant woods etc past Dduallt to Dduallt Station.
Waited for Blanche's return from Porthmadog and encountered first rain of the weekend. Brewed up in the rain. A delicious nectarious cup before the return to civilization.
Got on crowded train and peered through windows which were surprisingly free of steam. Our route across Tanygrisiau Reservoir was now completely under water, the level having risen by 1 to 2 feet overnight despite no rain!
Heavy traffic back to Manchester but John caught his 7 o'clock train despite not managing to finish his diary entry.
* Phileas Fogg was set up by some friends of our walking pal Paul Brunn (RIP), using grants available for new businesses in places where coal mines had closed. It was a very successful venture. They eventually sold out to United Biscuits.
# This was in the days before we all had individual one man tents (I did have a Karrimor Marathon tent), and my Vango Mk4 got lots of use. It was eventually replaced by a North Face VE25, another superb tent.
Campbells meat balls
Vesta products were a staple backpacking main course in those days. I favoured the chow mein with crispy noodles that needed a bit extra butter or oil for cooking.
Here's our route - 25 km with 1400 metres ascent.