Archive for the ‘Walking’ Category

Little did we know . . .

Friday, November 20th, 2020
The Hut

The March meet was at a new hut for the club, the Peter Llowarch Memorial Hut near Capel Curig. Due to a combination of injury, prior engagement, and looking at the weather forecast, attendance was the lowest we've had for some time, with only 5 making the journey.

The first difficulty was finding the hut, which involved parking by a farm and walking down a track. We arrived in 3 separate groups, and each one managed to walk down the same wrong track and try to gain entry to the wrong building! When we eventually found the right place, it turned out to be one of the more rustic places we've stayed, with no electricity, no lighting apart from candles, and just a small wood-fired stove for heat. But at least we had gas for the cooker!

As is normal for our Welsh meets, the weather was a bit rubbish. But that didn't stop Joe heading off for a trot round the first part of the Snowdon Horseshoe, starting with Lliwedd, over a surprisingly busy Snowdon, before descending from the dolmen at the col before Crib Goch.

Ann and Becky sensibly opted for a low-level walk around the Crafnant Valley. And Carmen and I went for an extended run, starting straight up the side of Moel Siabod into the mist and rain, before descending to Capel, up and over the hill to the Crafnant, and back over the pass to the hut.

That evening, the hut began to grow on us, as the stove warmed up the small central room and the cooker made a vague impression of heat in the big kitchen. As usual, we all ate far too much!

On Sunday the forecast was similarly poor so Joe went home. The rest of us risked heading for a coastal walk near Little Orme, and we rewarded by sunshine and a mostly dry day, though bitterly cold in the strong wind. We passed a monument which we thought must commemorate some Victorian battle, but which turned out to have been built a few years ago by a local hotel. On over the top of Little Orme. And to finish, we found the local seal colony at Angel Bay.

All in all, a successful meet. The hut was basic, and you wouldn't want many more than 5 staying there in cold weather, but as a summer venue it could be pretty good, with lots of space outside and views over the surrounding hills. And if we'd known then what we know now it would have been a sell-out!

Roll on 2021…

Richard Payne Meet 2020

Tuesday, April 7th, 2020

Almost the last meet til….well, who knows? I'm writing this in the middle of the Covid 19 lock down and suddenly the opportunity to get rained on in Scottish woods feels like something I'd fight werewolves for. So anyway, there we were up in Scotland from February 13th to 15th on the inaugural Richard Payne Meet, renamed to commemorate club member Richard Payne who was tragically killed by an avalanche in the himalayas in the spring of 2019. I think we all felt a little odd on this meet, because at the same time as we were having fun in the hills, we were remembering Richard, who loved the winter meets. Anyway, this is how it went:

As is pretty standard with Scottish winter meets, it coincided with a juicy storm which limited our plans a bit.

However a couple of club members managed to sneak in an extra day at the start…..over to Rob….

"Mike and I headed up early, we had all sorts of options but in the end only got away a day early.
We booked into the same hut (as any club member can do) and arrived about 10 but were not alone. The morning brought
some discussion about where to go but it turns out we
both parked in the snowbowl car park on the ski road and headed into Lurchers CRAG, the path should be easy but fresh
power made it hard work, we avoid the Charlamain Gap and were treated to a close up view of rescue helicopter practising.
It took forever to get to the bottom of the crag as we foolishly didn't drop low enough and had to traverse a huge boulder field.

We eventually found a few lines that looked ok but time was getting on, the lads from the hut were gearing up at the
better-looking line. We debated waiting but took the parallel line following variable ice till rope stretch called a halt.
Mike led through in blazing sunshine and blue skies, we were overheating!  We topped out and past the other team soloing out of
the gully and headed back, into the could and some compass work took us back (down a would-be skiable but potential avalanche slope)
to the van, hut and company.

Turns out the best day of the trip by miles and a nice route about II/III (LEFT BRANCH) in places but a long walk in,
and don't forget your helmet, going back to the car just delays things! "

Back to the main meet…..On Friday the main problem was high winds so Rob, Mike, Peter and Aoife decided to go walking from the ski centre, however the road was closed so they walked through the forest past Glenmore Lodge, had lunch in Ryvoan Bothy then over Meall a Buchaille. Dave Liz Carmen and Simon drove round to Lecht to find some shelter from the winds and walked up a corbett…Carn Ealasaid. Simon claims they even found a bit of sunshine in between light rain and steady wind. As for me, I decided to wander round the Rothiemurchus Forest to Loch Eillean getting lost/practising my nav and was completely oblivious of the wind down in the trees, whilst others went biking/walking

Friday night brought the usual completely excessive group meal, then on Saturday morning we got up to find the weather had really turned foul, with persistent driving rain and wind. Liz Simon and Carmen headed up another hill, apparently this one was a Graham (no, me neither) called Carn Glas-Choir, sheltering in an estate hut when the wind got too unfriendly. Mike, Sarah and Rob walked through the Rothiemurchus Forest to Loch an Eilean and back, then shopped in aviemore for shiny things. Meanwhile me, Pete E, Ann , Dave Jayne and Ana headed out the other direction into the soggy forest and even had a very wet picnic in the woods until we eventually decided enough was enough and retired to the Insh Watersports bar where we also lured Karl and things eventually ended in singing.

On Sunday those sufficiently dedicated went out for a morning run along the River Feshie and reported fresh snow and sunshine. (Callum, Sarah, Pete W and Aiofe). David Carmen and Simon headed back via Drumochter planning to climb a couple of Corbetts but changed plans a bit due to heavy snow, they eventually managed to thrash a path up to the Sow of Atholl and at 803m were only just able to stand upright on the summit plateau.

So although the weather was pretty challenging, we made the most of it, had some enjoyable if weatherbeaten days and the usual huge sociable meals and banter in the evening. Just as well if you consider what was waiting just a month or two away…..here's hoping it won't be too long before we can get out again. Here's a few photos from the meet….

A very wet forest picnic!

A few

Navigation practice in a snowy forest
Found the loch!
The River Feshie
Meall a Buchaille
Somewhere over the rainbow
Above 2 pics: Rob and Mike Shaws Early Doors Adventure

January Blues (skies)

Sunday, March 1st, 2020

Our last pre-Brexit meet was to the Climbers Club hut Grange, Borrowdale in North Lakes. A fine hut we have stayed at before and a good turn out for a walking weekend with haggis supper. We were joined by a couple of CC members which made for a feast of fun on Sat night.

Sat was clear and dry but very cold with a chilly wind, climbing would technically have been possible but freezing cold belays would not have been fun. There was practically no snow anywhere so winter climbing was out, so most people opted for some walking.

Dave W had a day pass for Sat and joined Mike and I and went scrambling and for a wander around Combe Ghyll looking at maps and bumps. We started up Intake Ridge a broken and occasionally serious route before heading to Glamamara. On return, we dropped down the climbers' descent past Raven Crag and across to Doves Nest crag where we messed in caves about for a while before heading home.

Simon, Carmen, Liz and Dave D headed out on a long walk via Castle Crag and Dale head around Newlands valley and Ard Crags – Wainwright ticking at its finest. Peri was on her own walking and naving on the Maiden Moor ridge to Dale Head. Joe went for a run somewhere and Charles wandered around somewhere!

Sunday was a glorious day and everyone did some part or variant on the Coldedale Horseshoe apart from Charles who went to Glaramara. We went in at least 3 teams, with Simon, Carmen and Joe doing the largest. Rob and Mike explored the mines but we all had great weather apart from the very tops which were in clag, and required a bit of compass work.

AS it was dark we mostly got away early after some cleaning, except for the straggler returning.

Simons Pictures: https://www.facebook.com/simon.caldwell.5/media_set?set=a.2980255068664928&type=3

Every season except winter

Saturday, January 11th, 2020

This year we had the biggest New Year meet turn out for years, filling Blackrock Cottage and with people camping in vans and even staying at the ski centre up the road. So it shouldn't have been surprising that we also had some of the worst weather, with a massive thaw stripping pretty much all the remaining snow, and heavy rain and strong winds putting the high summits out of bounds.

Of course we didn't let this stop us getting out! Corbetts were climbed near Glen Orchy (Beinn Udlaidh was not in, unless you're into climbing unfrozen waterfalls in spate). Others did the Corbett above the Kings House before retiring to the bar. Trade at the newly rebuilt hotel certainly benefited from the bad weather, though private functions made it residents-only for the last few days. I don't think most of us will hurry back, it's lost all its old character and now feels (and looks) more like a motorway service station.

On the worst weather day an intrepid few of us did a walk over a couple of small hills on Rannoch Moor (hard to stand up in the wind even at under 500m) and back along the West Highland Way to the hut. Others went to Fort William for the local Park Run, followed by woodland walks and mountain bike trails.

Jayne led a big group in a circuit of Buachaille Etive Beag, staying low to avoid summit storms. Some fun and games were had trying and mostly failing to cross the normally narrow stream – the exception being Pete and Aiofe, who were rewarded by having to cross back again a mile or so upstream. We almost managed to stay dry until the last stretch back to the Kings House. Meanwhile others cycled down the road to Kinlochleven and back over the Devil's Staircase to the hotel.

More rain on the Monday morning led most people to the Ice Factor climbing wall, Warwick taking the opportunity for a run over the Devils Staircase. Carmen and I risked the forecast of an afternoon improvement and were rewarded by sunshine and views in the last hour before sunset.

Finally, on New Years Eve, those of us who remained were granted an exceptional day's weather – cool and clear with blue skies and light winds, fantastic conditions despite the near complete absence of snow. Peter and Ann took the train from the coast to Bridge of Orchy and cycled back through down the glen.

Carmen and I did a long walk from Ballachulish up the remote Corbett of Fraodhaidh. Pete led the others up Creise and Meall a' Bhuiridh, the two Munros behind the hut, taking in a fine scramble on the way.

The usual New Year's eve festivities followed, combined with a birthday cake for Noemi, and with far too much food courtesy of Karl who we unwisely left to do the shopping! We even all managed to stay up beyond midnight, partly because the forecast was back to wet and windy so there was no incentive for an early start. In the event it wasn't too bad, but the previous day could hardly have been bettered, and we all headed home.

A load more photos here

Coniston Coppermines

Wednesday, December 18th, 2019
The hut from over the valley

This Autumn has been exceptionally wet and there was no let up all weekend for the December Coniston Coppermines meet. It was fully booked with 16 sleeping in the hut and Peri in her van.

Wet walkers

There was poor visibility, very wet underfoot, strong winds and clothing was tested to its limits with constant driving rain. But it didn’t stop a large group walking up Coniston Old Man then onto Wetherlam.

Raven Crag scramble

Simon and Carmen squeezed in a scramble on Goat Crag before heading onto Coniston Old Man too and managed to get a quick picture before the clouds immersed them again.

Caption competition

Russ, Pete B and Donal went off mountain biking and Mike and Louise went road biking up Wrynose Pass. With such a wet weekend every possible hook, door, nail, and rack was used to hang wet gear as the drying room was minuscule but thankfully we had 2 log stoves for drying gear and keeping us all cosy.

As usual there was plenty of food with 4 courses and extra delicious cakes made by Alan. Jayne’s fancy swirls on the casserole ended up as rocks but plates were soon emptied and everyone make space for Peri’s mince pies giving us a festive theme for the last weekend meet of 2019.

Summer Langdale

Thursday, August 29th, 2019

The club's July meet was in Langdale at the Robertson Lamb Hut. Currently undergoing some renovations this huts in a great location for lots of accessible climbing, scrambling and walking and should be even better when the renovations are completed.

The walkers in the party Andrew and Karen, Pete and Oifie, Donal and Dave D all headed out in good time on Saturday morning to complete their various excursions.


With lots of rain overnight most of the climbers opted for a later start on Saturday, eventually we all headed for Scout crags. Simon and Carmen headed straight for the upper crags and ticked a handful of the routes on there. The rest of the group made the most of the lower crags, Peri, Jayne and even Anni climbed Cubs Groove and Cub’s Crack, .Ana, Adam, Jamie and myself ticked off Cubs Arete, Cubs Crack and The Slab.

In the afternoon the four of us headed to White Ghyll and left the others to do some abseil practice. Quite a few of the routes still looked pretty damp but we managed to climb The Slabs Route 1 and 2 and Haste Not which has an awesome traverse, not hard but exposed and pretty exciting. Some of the guys headed to the Pub for a quick one then we settled down to another legendary YAC meal.

Sunday was forecast to be dry, which it was but quite windy. Pete, Aoife, Jayne and Anni opted for a walk and scramble on Bowfell via the climbers traverse and easy slabs to the top. Then on to crinkle crags where they encountered near whiteout conditions in the low cloud and had to put their navigation practice to good use.

All the climbers headed for White Ghyll this time which turned out to be a good option with the low cloud and strong winds high up. Simon and Carmen climbed The Slabs this time, Peri and Dave D climbed Slip Not, Jamie and Adam did Hollin Groove while Ana and myself tackled Laugh Not. Great name, wasn’t much laughing from me just a lot of huffing and puffing. We abbed off then Ana led slip Knot which has an excellent first pitch, better than the second pitch I thought which is over too soon.

On the way down we spotted Carmen and Simon climbing the classic VD Route 1 on upper Scout Crag so decided to follow them up. Ana led both pitches on this one, the second pitch been the main event with some great climbing as you step round onto the arete. We were soon at the top then descended and headed for the hut just as the rain started and only half an hour later than planned, time to head back home.

Given the dodgy forecast can’t complain with pretty much two full days climbing, still need to get up to Gimmer at some point though.

Crafnant Valley – June Meet

Saturday, July 27th, 2019

Not sure what happened to everyone else, but only 5 of us made it to the meet in Wales. The hut is situated in a lovely location and weather was good on the Friday evening. Simon & I were surprised to arrive first but Donal, Peter E and Anne had travelled together taking a slight detour en route to the hut. We were able to spread out and have a couch or armchair each in the large lounge. Saturday saw Peter E and Donal heading off on mountain bikes to cycle the Marin trial. With nobody to climb with (and somewhat stormy looking skies at times) Simon was first out the hut for a run over Carnedd Llewellyn, out to Drum and back via Lyn Eigiau.

Meanwhile Anne (feeling under the weather) and me (with stitches freshly removed from knee) went for a bimble from the hut around the 2 reservoirs – Llyn Crafnant and Llyn Geirionydd, a late lunch stop by Llyn Crafnant and a coffee from the café. We checked out one of the sport/dry-tooling crags on the way back to the hut.

Nearly back at the hut we bumped into Simon returning from the his run. Donal was already back inside having suffered from hayfever on the ride. So only Peter E left to return – which he did a short while later complete with bleeding and deeply cut knee. He had fallen off shortly after Donal had departed. Anyway he was happy having completed the trail, been nursed and given free tea and cake by the café!

On Sunday, Simon & I drove off and went to RSPB Burton Mere on the way home for a bit of wandering and birding. The others went for a walk over the hill from the hut to Llyn Cowlyd reservoir which they enjoyed apart from the final re-ascent through the bracken where presumably Peter E picked up his collection of ticks.

Everyone loved the hut & location for a change. Will have to return to sample the climbing there sometime or test the mammoth fire.



A Cold Bank Holiday

Saturday, May 11th, 2019
On Beinn a Chaisteil, with Beinn Dorain behind

We were supposed to be spending the early May Bank Holiday weekend in the Arrochar Alps, climbing on the Cobbler, but the weather had other ideas.

Forecast temperatures on the crag were due to be a few degrees below zero, so a new plan was needed! For most, that plan involved staying at home. Rob and Mike climbed on Llanberis slate, but Carmen and I stuck with the original destination, and spent a few chilly days in the southern Highlands.

Beinn nam Fuaran

Saturday was cold but sunny, perfect walking weather, so we decided on the group of 5 Corbetts south east of the Bridge of Orchy. Not a hugely long day (around 15 miles), but being Corbetts there's a lot of ascent between each, the total for the day being over 2000m.

Eagle

The walk was excellent with some superb views, but the highlight of the day was a chance encounter with a golden eagle, feeding on a sheep carcass only 10m or so below us. It soon caught sight of us of course, and was off, but I've never been this close to a wild eagle before, and am never likely to be again.

Mill Bay

Sunday's forecast was for the best weather was near the coast. So we drove for 2 hours towards Knapdale on the northern end of the Mull of Kintyre, for some esoteric cragging at Mill Bay. Good rather than great climbing, and freezing cold despite being only 10m above sea level, but in a superb setting. Well worth a visit if in the area.

Snowtastic

The next day the plan was to climb Meall an Fhudair, another Corbett across the valley. The summit area is a complex mix of knolls and lochans, so we wanted a clear day for it. As we sat in the car at the campsite, the rain was coming down steadily and the cloud lowering so we almost bailed, but luckily it had stopped by the time we parked the car.


Meall an Fhudair from
Beinn Damhain

We almost turned back on the initial ascent, as the cloud came down again and it start to rain, soon turning to snow. But again, before the decision point had been reached it cleared, and the rest of the day stayed dry and sunny. So much so that we added on an extra summit at the end, the rocky Graham of Beinn Damhain. Another good day, and a fine little hill for practising navigation, with great views over the Arrochar Alps, Loch Fyne, and the Ben Lui range.

All in all, a great weekend, and despite the bank holiday crowds on the West Highland Way and no doubt the nearby Munros, we only met 3 other pairs on the hills all weekend.

North Wales Nav weekend

Wednesday, May 1st, 2019

On the weekend of the 6th of April six YAC members headed to North Wales to attend a Navigation course at Plas y Brenin. We based ourselves at the Dolgam campsite near Capel which I would highly recommend, really nice clean site with great facilities.

Saturday dawned and for a change we were hoping for low cloud and poor visibility to make the most of the Nav course, the sky couldn't have been clearer. The sun was out and the temperature high, think we all regret the winter trousers and warm base layers, so much for the poor weather nav.
After Jane had put her Shepherd's skills to test rounding up an escaped lamb at the campsite we headed to the centre for the course.

Despite the clear conditions the course went well and I think we all got something from it and at least the nice weather made for a more pleasant relaxed day. It was the first time for most of us in the Plas y Brenin centre and we were all impressed, so much so we headed back there for an evening talk involving polar bears and canoes rounded off by dinner (that's two mains and two puds for Karl) and a few drinks in the bar.

Sunday morning was cloudy and cool so plans to climb were put on the back burner and we headed for a group ascent of Tryfan. After a minor incident where Karl narrowly escaped serious injury or death (Simon to the rescue) we arrived at the summit and the crowds.


The skies had cleared, the sun was up and it seemed even warmer than the Saturday.

From the summit we continued up Bristly ridge, the group showed great support and Jane was especially pleased to complete this classic scramble. We returned to the cars via the Y Gribin ridge with perfect clear conditions and some great views.

Great  weekend with crazy weather for that time of year.


Ogwen Valley – March 2019

Saturday, March 30th, 2019
MCNW Hut

Last weekend we had a trip to the MCNW hut in North Wales. Always keen to try a hut we haven't stayed in previously. It proved a bit of a squeeze but we all fitted in. We were rather lucky with a Spring like Saturday and a more wintry feeling air on Sunday – but dry both days.

On Saturday Dave W, Karl and Russ went for a link-up of classic scrambles – Idwal Staircase / Cneiffon Arete and Dolmen Ridge. "Great and popular (well one other person doing the same) link up. About 700m of quality grade 2/3 scrambling. Karl practised the black arts of moving together on Cneiffon arete which was good. Clearly time spent rigging masts has not been wasted".  Simon & I walked from the hut to the East face of Tryfan. The planned climb (Grooved arete) was already busy, as was the first pinnacle ridge – so revised plan saw us climbing the second (first) pinnacle ridge. Simon led the highly polished yellow slab pitch which is somewhat out of keeping with the rest of the route. We finished off by climbing The Wall and then descended to Little Tryfan to do a couple of long easy pitches before trudging back to the hut. Jayne, Donal, Noemi, Ana and Emily went for a walk and scramble on Tryfan, over the Glyders and down via the Devils kitchen.  Justine and Gav (Ordinary route) and Pete B and Adam (Hope and Lazarus) did a variety of routes on a not too busy Idwal slabs.  Peter E met up with his brother and son and walked in to climb Amphitheatre Buttress.  Unfortunately Peter's knee popped on the route and so he had a slow hobble back to the hut having been abandoned by his brother!  Sat night saw us eating far too much food for a change – all very tasty. 

Given the cooler conditions on Sunday only Gav, Adam and Pete B braved climbing on Carreg Mianog doing a couple of VS's and a new route courtesy of Gav.

Donal was heading off to do the Crib Lem spur scramble but low cloud and cold wind deterred him, but he still enjoyed the walk in.

The majority of the rest of us went for a walk from the hut, taking in Pen yr Helgi Du and Carnedd Llwelyn before descending to get out the bitter wind. Simon & I detoured on the way back to look for Simon's microspikes he lost in February. Needless to say we didn't find them! Meanwhile Justine stayed behind to nurse her cold and Pete his knee. We were all back in plenty of time to finish off the leftovers, before completing the clean up & departing. Another good weekend.