Sue and Martin in Mallorca 2019

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

Saturday 11 July 2020

1 January 1988 - New Year's Day on Scafell Pikes

There's only one picture with this posting, the reason for which may soon become evident, but if Dave or Nick have any, I'm happy to add them.

1988 has until now been absent from these pages, but I'm remedying that with a few memories from all that time ago, starting with what was a traditional start to the year for me for a period of many years. A good walk.

Here's the verbatim diary entry, which surprisingly doesn't mention Dave's clothing, which has been superseded by a more spacious 'lunch shelter'.
New Year's Day up Scafell Pikes

After a late night with the Binns / Hills / Price / Perry squad plus Alan and Christine, and lots of Balderdash / Bastard activities, Martin crawled reluctantly from his pit at 7:45 and was out of the house by 8 am.

There was an unusually long delay at 296 Burton Road, where Dave had lost his door key.

Laurie was up!

This semi somnolent trio then sped (if travelling in Martin's Sierra can be so described) up to Seathwaite for the 10:30 rendezvous per his Christmas cards.

Only the Gray Nick was there. We arrived at 10:20 to be greeted by him, and then we adopted a time-consuming donning of boots and waterproofs whilst still in the car. (It was throwing it down outside.) Laurie made a futile attempt to waterproof his boots.

Eventually we braved the elements and set off into the stair rods. Boots soon leaked and Laurie's waterproof trousers proved inadequate. We plodded up to Sty Head, overtaking another two parties, and then traversed the cloud enshrouded Corridor Route.

The col with Lingmell proved to be a draughty place, but a walker sploshing his way down had told us it was now much calmer on top.

There were a number of soggy groups near the summit, where gloves were for the first time needed. The stair rods had become horizontal, but it was just possible to balance on top of the trig point.

Some photos were taken (see above), and lunch was quickly (very quickly by Dave) noshed and coffee (except Dave) sloshed down.

Martin made his usual navigational error on leaving the summit, but on production of a compass this was soon corrected, and the little group sloshed off in the direction of Great End. The wind was now behind us, which judging by the expressions of those travelling in the other direction, was A Good Thing.

The slippery rocks were negotiated without injury, and Esk Hause was soon approached. Here the cloud cleared a little and the way down to the Sprinkling Tarn path was clear.

An interesting river crossing brought us beside Ruddy Gill, for the final descent back to Seathwaite. This path had recently been repaired to counter erosion damage, and the descent was quite hard work on the slippery stones.

As the gloom decreased, the stair rods became vertical again (the rain was relentless all day) and the white water on the hillsides assumed a dominance over other features of the landscape. The view to Seathwaite and on to Borrowdale was 'atmospheric'.

Nick commented usefully that Seathwaite has the highest annual rainfall recorded in Britain. There was no tea for sale at the farm (3:30), so we quickly removed wet things (Martin and Nick), or those wet things that could be removed (Dave and Laurie), and failed to negotiate the dog dirt (Martin).

The convoy to a Little Chef near Windermere then commenced, but Nick - the nattily dressed hiker in his dad's Rover, soon disappeared. A futile wait / search ensued. This culminated in Martin flashing to distraction a motor which turned out to be a Volvo.

Chef's grills and sundry pancakes later, and a drive in the rain back to Manchester by 7:30 brought a close to the day's activities, except for a phone call from Nick, who had disappeared due to failure to stow his boots and waterproofs before departure from Seathwaite. (Meanwhile, in the Little Chef, there had been reminiscences of Bob Laker's similar exploits with a brief case that he 'stowed' on the roof of his car!)

For the sake of completeness, here's the route we took - 14 km with 1000 metres ascent:

Friday 10 July 2020

TGO Challenge - Wild Camps (No 19: 12 May 2009)

This was a remote, heathery, pitch after a sociable night with other Challengers at Gairlochy campsite, and a good walk up Glen Spean and over the summit of Beinn Teallach.
This spot was near Tom Mor, at NN369873, around 620 metres.
My chef chose to enjoy a brief snooze before assuming her duties.
The following morning the sun hit the tent early. Here's a view from the east, with Loch Sguadaig in the background. It looks like a perfect day, but our walk over the Creag Meagaidh summits proved to be something of a battle against a bitter easterly wind.

Thursday 9 July 2020

22 June to 4 July 1970 - A Trip to Scotland

Having posted an entry for the 'Suilven' day - the highlight of this trip - I've decided that having processed the rest of the images, I may as well make them public. I'm sure Conrad will appreciate them.
The header image, if you can read it (click on it), is what amounted, together with a few captions, to my diary of this trip, so I'm certainly spared the effort of transcribing a diary!
On 23 June we travelled from Glasgow - probably from Robin's parents' house, as I think the car we used was Robin's father's vehicle. We set up camp some way north of Ullapool, in the Inverpolly Nature Reserve, in the Aird of Coigach area. [By Loch Lurgainn, below Stac Pollaidh, according to Neil, and that makes sense.] Ben Mor Coigach is the mountain behind Jim and Cathy's luxury accommodation. I think I used a Blacks Good Companion tent.
On 24 June, we climbed Stac Pollaidh, possibly directly from our camping spot.
In those days we used Walter Poucher's 'The Scottish Peaks' 1965 edition as our guide book, if any. He refers to a picture of the 'Lobster's Claw' pinnacle taken in 1948, and claims to have been unable to find it subsequently. Despite the mist, I'd like to think we did find it, though a small boulder on the top of the right hand part of the claw seems to have been eroded between 1948 and 1970, possibly due to winter frosts.
On 25 June we travelled to Durness, where Jim completed his journey by tricycle.
We visited Smoo cave [where Neil reckons we played football out of the rain], and Sango Bay. I have no record of a campsite. Perhaps we stayed in the Youth Hostel.
On 26 June, we took the ferry across the Kyle of Durness, then the minibus to Cape Wrath. I think this ferry may now have been superseded.
Lunch was taken at Cape Wrath, with surf crashing on the rocks below.
After returning to Durness, we travelled via the Kylesku ferry and the scenic back roads to Inverkirkaig, just beyond Lochinver.
En route, we paused at a viewpoint where Canisp and Suilven were displayed before us. (The Standard Vanguard Estate car was something of an improvement over Howard's Austin A40 Devon Estate car that we'd used on an earlier trip.)
Some year's later, the view remains the same but the car has moved on... and that was 15 years ago.
On 28 June, after our day up Suilven, we drove via Ullapool to the remote location of Slaggan Bay. This included the first of many pauses in journeys for me at the Corrieshalloch Gorge, where the car park always seems to be full of chaffinches ready to mop up any crumbs - there were quite a few of those on this occasion by the look of it!
Here's our camp at Slaggan, I think the tents are almost visible in the picture of the bay below.
From here, on 29 June, we took a stroll to Greenstone Point, and we watched otters frolicking in Slaggan Bay.
I'm not normally a 'Poser', but I do remember setting up this self-timed picture. It may have been in my 'Zorki 4' camera period.
On 30 June we had a day out to An Teallach, which we got part way up before Jim's ambition to become a Waterworks Engineer took precedence over any mountain climbing objective.
1 July saw us heading down to Glencoe, via Inverness, and of course via the Ballachulish Ferry, there being no bridge in those days. We stayed at the Red Squirrel site, as on future visits.
We ambled around on 2 July, here beside the River Coe, with the intimidating ridge of Aonach Eagach unavailable due to a cloak of cloud. [Neil adds: We, Neil, Martin, Robin, hired a small yacht on Loch Leven for an hour or so.]
We drove to Glasgow on 3 July, and then on 4 July I must have got a lift to Brampton, where in a call to my parents I discovered that I'd failed my biochemistry finals.
Never mind. I got the train home to Guisborough, and after a few months as a fork lift truck driver at the Blackett Hutton steel foundry, I (re-)learnt the metabolic pathways that provided the certificate which gained me a position as an Articled Clerk (£70 a month - wow!) with the firm of accountants where I spent the rest of my working career.
Later: here are three more pictures, perhaps taken by me, but supplied by Jim:
At the Inverpolly campsite
Neil 'climbing'
At the Red Squirrel campsite in Glencoe
Even later, here are some more pictures, provided this time by Robin. Thanks Robin.
 Cape Wrath
 Dam building at Slaggan
 Falls of Kirkaig
 Neil on Rubha Mor
 Smoo Cave

Wednesday 8 July 2020

Saturday 27 June 1970 - Suilven

I apologise on at least three counts:
1. The dilatory nature of this report, 2. the lack of colour (I may have some colour slides somewhere, but probably not), and 3. the poor quality of the scanned pictures (albeit much improved thanks to Photoshop, as the silk paper on which they were printed leaves lots of small white dots and other imperfections when scanned).
I'm pleased to report that all my companions on this trip are alive and well, and I thank Anne Butler for putting me in touch with Robin. The other members of the party were Neil, Jim and Cath. I hope you all enjoy this short report, and the Dropbox file for the entire trip, via a separate link. I'll probably do a further posting with just one or two images from each day.
Note that you can click on any of the pictures to view a slideshow.
We started from the camping spot (I'm not sure whether the term 'site' applies [see below, I think it does apply]) at Inverkirkaig*, soon rising above the tents and the coast, as viewed above. After a little over 3 km we reached the Falls of Kirkaig.
Soon after that we got our first view towards our objective. It looked very high. I hadn't been up it before. Nor, I think, had the others.
The path doubled back to get around Fionn Loch, which provided a pleasing foreground for the mountain.
It's not a short walk in.
Time for a brew, before the steep ascent to Bealach Mor, which at about 560 metres lies between the mountain's two summits.
Having reached the col, we set about ascending the lower of the summits, Meall Meadhonach (723 metres), resting here before the final scramble to the top. [I'll leave it to Neil to describe his feelings!]
The next picture on my film (films offered a finite number of pictures in those days, and in order to avoid running out of film, careful rationing of pictures was necessary) shows Robin on the top of the higher summit, Caisteal Liath (731 metres).
Looking back to Meall Meadhonach, you get an impression of the excitement offered by this mountain, despite its modest height.
Back at or near the col, another brew stop. That primus is still somewhere amongst my camping gear, I think.
It started to rain. Stac Pollaidh was just about visible through the mist.
We descended to the north, very steeply at first, returning to camp via Lochinver, where I suspect we succumbed to 'ample refreshments'.
The circuit we took is shown below. It's about 30 km, with around 1500 metres of ascent. A longish day out. This trip formed a template in my mind, and all my subsequent ascents of Suilven (so far as I can recall - none is recent) have been by this same route, usually with me leaving my companions in the pub in Lochinver whilst I jogged back to Inverkirkaig to collect the car!
I hope that Jim and Cath, Robin, and Neil all enjoy these reminiscences, and feel free to provide additional comments (and corrections?) based on your own memories.
* Neil comments: The lady owner charged 1/- (shilling). When we asked was that 1/- each she said "No, just a shilling." [Wow, what a memory!]

Tuesday 7 July 2020


The whistle of the marmot is a frequently heard sound in the Alps and Pyrenees. Depending on where you are, the animals can be either very shy, or very cheeky. I'll leave you to guess the nature of this specimen, pictured above Zermatt on 6 September 2018.

Monday 6 July 2020

Monday 6 July 2020 - Around Appleton

After four weeks of walks from Graeme's house in Wilmslow, we decided to venture further today. I chose what I think will be one of the best walks from Jen Darling's 'Pub Walks in Cheshire' - third edition, when it is eventually published.
Jen will be pleased to hear that the London Bridge pub is well and truly open, as indicated by the signage in the following picture, by which my companions for today - Graeme, Bridget and Sue, lined up before setting of on our 10 km stroll.
Outside the pub, is the rounded flight of steps where people boarded passenger boats to Manchester when the fare was one penny a mile. The service finished in 1918, but it was apparently the last of its nature in England. The boat used - the Duchess Countess, had an S-shaped knife on her bow which was used to slice ruthlessly through any obstructions.
Our first kilometre was along the Bridgewater Canal towpath, where Salad Burnet currently graces the verges.
These swans and their seven offspring scooted across the canal towards us, but soon lost interest when we told them we weren't prepared to share our chocolate brownies.
After leaving the canal, our route headed south across three sections of the Lumb Brook Valley. First, the Millennium Green, created in 2000 and intended to be kept forever for the benefit of local residents and the wider community.
The 'Green' ends at a roadway with a cycle path, across which the narrow paths of The Dingle (pictured top, and below) provide a contrast to the Green's open spaces. A buzzard swished through the woodland above the brook.
After crossing another roadway, we entered the Ford's Rough section of the valley. I didn't take any pictures of the new housing estate that is springing up here. The path is fenced off from the housing, and passes an oak tree mentioned in Jen's description of the route. However, I didn't spot the pool that was another landmark mentioned by her.
On reaching Cann Lane, a right turn leads past Brook House. I think it's this property's distinctive tall chimneys that are pictured below.
Pewterspear Lane is soon reached. I'm trying to find details as to the origin of that name, currently without success. The entire area is rich with history from many different eras, with St Elphin's dating as a place of worship from 650AD. The current church was opened in 1867 and has the third highest spire of any parish church in England. It's visible from quite a few points along this walk.
Our path skirted several fields around Hillside Farm, with cereal crops flourishing and Scentless Mayweed adding a bit of colour (albeit white) to the verges.
By the time we reached 'Bellfields' we were ready to enjoy the contents of our flasks by the sandstone pillar that marks the spot where Oliver Cromwell's horse was killed in a skirmish in 1648, and to share the brownies. Here's what I've previously written about Bellfields:
'Bellfields', the house in the background, was built around 1750 by a retired naval commander, Admiral Hoare, who fitted it out in a nautical manner and addressed his servants as if from the quarter deck. The next occupant was also a colourful character. Count Vittoria Alfieri got into trouble over a duel with a Legioner in 1771. This was an unsavoury matter, as was Alfieri's general conduct. He soon vanished from the area and was last seen living with the Countess of Albany, wife of Prince Charles Edward. 
Pleasant paths overlooking Warrington and the hills of the South Pennines, led past a partridge/chicken/duck farm. Free ranging, they looked happy enough.
The path then rose above a huge cemetery to reach a splendid lychgate, through which St Elphin's spire is clearly visible.
From here, it's downhill all the way, on a path between houses that is known as the Rabbit Run, where before the housing encroached, rabbits enjoyed the run of the once grassy slopes.
Here's our 10 km route. It can easily be shortened or extended.
I've looked for previous reports on this walk. Graeme didn't admit to having been here before, but judging by this report on our slightly extended version of the walk - undertaken on 31 May 2019 - he has definitely been here!
There are more photos and a bit of information in this report on a recce walk for Jen on 28 December 2018.
Well, with thanks to the rain for holding off, and to my companions for the morning, that was a most enjoyable and satisfying interlude. Lockdown is slowly easing...