Archive for the ‘Extended trips’ Category

A quiet August Bank Holiday

Tuesday, September 5th, 2017

A combination of family commitments, double bookings, iffy weather forecast, and 6 hour drive, meant that there ended up being just the two of us on this year's August camping meet to Pembroke. And we'd thought about cancelling as well! But were very glad we stuck with it as we had a cracking time, extending the weekend by a couple of days to make the drive worthwhile.

The campsite at Bosherston was heaving when we arrived, but the crags mostly varied between quiet and deserted despite what turned out to be 5 days of good weather.

On the first day we had the crag entirely to ourselves. After a few  routes at Fisherman's Point waiting for the tide to drop (over graded, over starred, but pleasant enough), we then switched to Rusty Point for some top quality slab and corner climbing at HS/VS. An attempt at following the old guidebook description for Sea Tube led to Carmen leading a new route (of the must-have-been-climbed-before variety), before we abbed back down and led the proper route (wriggling up a smooth blowhole, looked outrageous at VDiff but turned out to be soft for the grade). We finished the day with South West Ridge (Severe).

On Sunday we headed for Stennis Head where we expected to meet the crowds. But although we saw a few other climbers, we were mostly on our own again. I led the first pitch of Maelstrom Chimney as an approach pitch to Stennis Arete (HS), which means missing out the lower part of the arete proper, but gives two 3-star pitches – highly recommended! This was followed by Stennis Chimney (S), which isn't really a chimney but is another 3 star pitch.

We then moved to Huntsman's Leap, where we found all the crowds! But they were mostly climbing harder stuff, so we abbed in to Myola (HS), where we had to wait for a while for another pair to climb out – the only queuing of the trip! The initial section to reach the cave is very traditional and quite bold, but the rest is well protected – just as well as it's tough for the grade.

On Monday we headed for Mother Carey's Kitchen, where again we expected crowds, but again found none, just a handful of teams early on. Our first route was approached by abbing down the wrong line after a miscommunication with some guys at the top, followed by an "interesting" (and rapid) boulder hop in between waves. The Cracks was given Severe in our guide, after Carmen had a minor epic leading it we discovered that it's since been upgraded to VS!

Failing to learn from this we abbed back down for Threadneedle Stret, another "Severe" that's now VS. A giggle of a route, up a slightly overhanging wet chimney at the back of the cave (finishing with some don't-think-about-it bridging up mud conglomerate). Pitch two then takes an outrageously exposed traverse, thankfully on massive flake holds. The final pitch is supposed to climb a crack further right of The Cracks, but after finding 4c moves to reach the bottom of it and seeing no gear for the next offwidth, I traversed back to finish up The Cracks. Still get the tick though as that's the line described by Rockfax ūüôā

The next day started with light drizzle, so we opted for a non-climbing day, with a nice walk round the local lily ponds and were rewarded with not one but two sightings of a kingfisher. After lunch it cleared up, so we headed for Mowing Word and the classic Diedre Sud, which had been on my to-do list since our only previous visit to Pembroke some 16 years earlier. Well worth the wait, even if it was overgraded at HS. We briefly considered another route as there was time, but opted for the pub instead.

The sunshine returned for our final day, so we headed for Giltar Slabs as it was on our way home. And again, we found it deserted. Some lovely slab climbing, mostly of the relaxing type, but with one VDiff turning out to be VS 4c (has since been upgraded)!

We enjoyed ourselves so much that when we got back we invested in a new set of guidebooks – so we're not waiting another 16 years before our next visit ūüôā

A load more photos here

Winter adventure talks series 2017

Wednesday, March 15th, 2017

In the winter months of 2017, the club ran a monthly ‚Äėadventure talks‚Äô social evening at the Falcon tap pub in Micklegate, York. The idea being that we have a couple of short talks by members or visiting speakers about a trip they‚Äôve been on, and get a chance to have a drink with friends, meet new members and find out more about what people have been up to, hopefully getting inspired for the coming year at the same time!

We’ve had some great talks this year, starting in January when Dave told us about his trekking and mountaineering trip through Peru and Bolivia, and Peter described his adventures horse riding and trekking in Kyrgyzstan.

February took us to New England with Carmen and Simon to see the fall colours and of course do some walking and climbing, and then over to Northern Sweden with Donal for a multi day hut-to-hut walk along the Kungsleden or ‚ÄėKing‚Äôs trail‚Äô.

Finally, in March we got on our bikes with Chris who competed in the transcontinental cycle race from Belgium to Istanbul (everyone was exhausted just listening!), and then Rob gave an introduction to lightweight backpacking (with props!) along the Haute Route Pyrenees.

Many thanks to all the speakers for giving their time to put a talk together and present it, and to all those members who came along to support, hopefully have some fun and learn about somewhere new. Looking forward to more adventure talks next year!

Christmas & New Year Meet 2016

Sunday, January 15th, 2017

P1070868The advance team set off Crianlarich on Boxing day Рwith the others arriving on the 28th.  Conditions meant it was very much a walking or cycling trip, with the usual excess of food.

27/12/16 РSimon and I went off to do Beinn Mhanach and Beinn Mhanach РBeinn a'Chuirn summit  as we had not visited the munro top previously.  Recent rain and snow melt meant that water was reasonably deep in the numerous fords required to reach the hills.   Annie and Pete E overtook us (on their bikes) as they were heading up the same P1040625valley but intending to cycle around the loch.  We were surprised to see them cycling back towards us only 30 mins later!  Annie's bike had a terminal break Рdoh!

 

28/12/16 РWith a bust bike Annie was P1040641now limited to walking.  We all went to do the Tarmachan ridge.  S & I had not done it since 02 and hoped to have views this time Рbut didn't.  But it was quite fun doing the whole ridge anyway Рstill snow on the ground Рbit P1070781icy in places.

29/12/16 РKarl, Rob, Gav, Esther & Jamie went up Beinn a'Chroin & An Caisteal.  Annie came Corbett bagging with S and me РCreagan na Beinne.  We were pleasantly surprised to find ourselves out of the cloud whilst traversing the summit ridge.  Rather windy-so were glad we found an isolated small crag to give us a bit of shelter for a late lunch.  Pete E P1070796with a functional bike enjoyed the cycle around the loch (abandoned route from 27th).

30/12/16 РSeriously wet and windy.  Esther & Jamie got dropped off at Bridge of Orchy and cycled back to the hut; Gav walked along part of the West highland way.  We dropped Rob off Рso he could do Ben Challum.  Annie, Pete and Karl went touristing to Aberfeldy and shopping.  S and I did an easy Corbett tick РMeall nan Subh Рtaking in all the various summit cairns.

31/12/16 РEven wetter and still windy.  Esther & Jamie sensibly headed home.  Karl, Rob & Gav did Meall Ghaordaidh and seemed to enjoy it despite the weather.   S & I went and did Meall Odhar (a Graham) Рdownsizing in hills!  A group of kayakers looked like they were having fun in the rapidly flowing river.

1/1/17 РS, me, Annie & Pete did Stob Binnein (taking in a couple of extra summits) and Ben More.  Don't walk through the forest at the start Рpath is blocked by fallen trees etc Рthere is a vehicle track on P1040709the other side of the river (for hydro-scheme).  Great day out Рmade interesting by the strong winds Рand cloud free summits.  Karl, Rob & Gav  did Meal nan Tarmachan summit Рbut abandoned the full traverse due to the wind Рand enjoyed a pub visit instead.

P1040711

P1040745P1040696

2/1/17  The others headed straight home after cleaning the hut.  S & I stopped off to do Beinn nan Imirean on the way back -a Corbett we had failed to get to the summit of 2 years earlier.  No problems this time Рbut no view from the summit.

Compleat at last

Saturday, June 18th, 2016

Finished!Just 6 Munros left to do as we headed to Scotland for our annual week's trip. The plan was to finish them over the Bank Holiday the following weekend, when the club was staying at Glen Affric, as 5 of the 6 comprised the Cluanie Horseshoe, which is best done from the north. This needed good luck with the weather though, it would be thoroughly miserably doing a long hill day in the rain.

The 6th was Ben More on Mull, so we spent a few days there. What a great place! We had the benefit of a high pressure system just west of Scotland, so while England and Wales shivered in the rain, we had wall-to-wall sunshine. As well as walking up Ben More and its adjacent Graham Beinn Fhada, we had a trip to Staffa (Fingal's Cave) and the Treshnish Islands (puffins galore!), and also did a spot of cragging. Not world-class climbing, but the wonderful location automatically added a star to everything. And the campsite at Fidden is brilliant.

Mullach Fraoch-choireAfter watching some dolphins swim by in Tobermory harbour we took the ferry back to the mainland for a long drive out through Ardnamurchan (we really need a club trip there!) and Ardgour. We decided to spend the night at Invergarry so we could do a quick ascent of Carn Ghluasaid, the outlying Munro of the Cluanie group. This meant that the 4 remaining summits  formed a more reasonable day's objective without a long there-and-back detour.

So all that remained was to drive to Glen Affric (about 10 miles as the crow flies, but 2 hours by road) to meet up with the club.

Low cloud greeted us on Saturday morning. But we remained optimistic that the weather would improve to give the forecast sunshine.

Charles set off first, intending to add a Corbett to the round. Carmen and I, along with Rob and Annie, followed 90 minutes later to do all 4 Munros. The others (Simon, Debra, Peter and Karl) planned to do the final two, meeting us at the summit of our 3rd.

And things mostly worked.

BubblyThe cloud burnt off to give a sunny day. After a couple of diversions for some Munro Tops we somehow arrived at the top of A' Chraileag within minutes of the others. All that was missing was Charles, whose ambitions were stronger than his legs, and eventually descended after a Corbett, 2 Munros, and a few Tops.

Our final Munro was Mullach Fraoch-choire ("Hill of the heathery corrie"), and what a fine hill it was, shapely and with some fun scrambling up the south ridge. As we arrived at the summit, Simon and Karl produced a couple of bottle of fizz from their rucksacks and we all celebrated in style.

Om nom nomA brilliant end to a long campaign (27 years for me, a rather more sprightly 16 for Carmen), made extra special by the weather, the location, the company, and of course the bubbly!

So what's next? Well I've got 38 Tops left to do. There are lots of Munro-free islands we haven't been to, Rum being top of the list. We've started the Corbetts (probably about 50 or 60 done). And the next day we added another 3 Munros to our 2nd round…

Some more of Simon Fox's photos here

Ours will follow if and when there's time…

Christmas/New Year Meet

Tuesday, January 19th, 2016

This year we stayed at the Raeburn hut. A great hut which we hadn't stayed in for a few years.

It offered a sheltered location from the driving wind and rain which occurred at times. Whilst no hills are on the door step, there are lots of hills, climbing and mountain biking available within a short drive (and a distillery).

Attendees (for varying length of stays between 2-8 days) Simon C, Carmen, Simon F, Debra, Annie, Peter E, Peri, Mike S, Stuart M, Peter W and Sarah W.P1000539

27th December – gave us the best day of the week. Plenty of fresh snow, blue sky and light winds until later in the day. With the best forecast for the next few days Simon and I chose a long walk to Creag Mhor (a Corbett behind Bynack More) which took 5 hrs to the summit. We would never have made it without snow shoes! Meanwhile Simon F, Debra and Peri went munro bagging with a cycle up Glen Tilt to approach an ascent of Carn A' Chlamain. The evening was rounded off nicely with Peri's poached pears and Welsh cakes (which she had prepared the night before just to keep Simon F happy).

P100056428th December – Annie, Pete E, Simon and I headed up another Corbett ‚Äď The Fara. Annie cheated and hitched a lift to the start of the walk. It would have been good to do the whole ridge ‚Äď but not in the very strong winds we battled against on top today. Peri enjoyed an exploratory cycle ride from the hut (especially enjoying the downhill sections). Debra cycled whilst Simon F ran around Loch Laggan (about 14 miles) and took him over his target of 1000 miles run in 2015 – so he was reasonably happy yet again.

29th December ‚Äď Pete E, Annie, Mike, Simon and myself cycled up Glen Garry. While the others carried on cycling to Kinloch Rannoch and back, Simon and I dumped the bikes for a quick ascent of the Corbett Beinn P1030946Mholach. Simon and Debra went bird watching/walking around Rothiemurchus forest ‚Äď finding that the birds only seem to reside in the car park.¬† Peri headed back to York to check the extent of the flooding.

30th December ‚Äď S & D decided they would head off back to the Dales.¬† As forecast it was very wet and very windy so the rest of us were content with a trip to the Dalwhinnie distillery (unfortunately no tours available ‚Äď but we were given a free small dram), food shopping in Aviemore followed by a stop in the Laggan cafe (the old store has now re-opened as a cafe and with a few basic shopping supplies) – a nice cafe with a proper fire and much more relaxed than Aviemore.P1000579

31st ‚Äď After several failed attempts in the past Peter E and Annie enjoyed an ascent of Meall a'Bhuachaille (a Corbett behind Glen More lodge). Simon and I went up Meall na h-Aisre (a Monadhliath¬†Corbett) from Garva Bridge. We extended the walk as conditions were really good in the morning/early afternoon. New supplies of YAC¬†folk arrived in the evening and we stuffed ourselves with soup, haggis and cheese. Given the good conditions forecast for the 1st we were all in bed soon after midnight and were up fairly early the following day.

1st РStuart, Peter and Sarah W, Simon C and myself went to do the classic horseshoe of Creag Meaghaidh. We remained mainly P1000631out of the cloud (with just one session of walking around in circles in the clag) with only a strong wind to contend with. Stuart and Simon entertained themselves sledging down a snow slope (repeatedly) and Sarah fell through a cornice (not over the edge thankfully). With Annie suffering from blisters and a lack of enthusiasm for cycling, Peter and Annie went up a Munro by the A9. Back at the hut Simon proved himself to be the undisputed board game champion (well Connect 4 and Scrabble).

2nd ‚Äď After a slow start deciding what to do in the wind and rain – Simon and I went for a cycle around Rothiemurchus forest, with Pete and Annie opting for walking around the forest. Stuart met some people in a bothy and they joined him in¬†his walk¬†near the ski centre. ¬†Peter and Sara W went Munro-bagging with ascents of Stob Coire Sgriodain and Chno Dearg in the cloud.

Overall a good trip and we did quite well considering the weather. Surprisingly  we failed to make much of a dent on Annie' s drink cabinet (apart from the gin).

Some more photos here

August Bank Holiday in Scotland

Wednesday, November 25th, 2015

Savage SlitThis year's August meet saw a return to Glen Feshie, where we stayed last New Year. A full complement of 10 decided to brave the midges and the weather, and were rewarded by another good weekend.

On Saturday the weather forecast was for sun and showers. Having done all the nearby Munros and optimistic that we might be able to climb during the dry interludes, Simon and I headed off for a classic rock tick – Savage Slit (S) in Coire an Lochain. As Scottish walk-ins go it is not that far –¬†we set off into rainbow skies and passed a herd of reindeer. However, as we got closer things got cloudier and wetter. The showers became pretty much persistent rain –¬†but it was light rain at least.

Pygmy RidgeAfter a fair bit of dithering we decided to attempt the route (dripping wet). The book said it goes in almost all conditions which is true, it was a bit unnerving given the wetness but the good protection helped. A great line and route, probably even more spectacular in the dry, fully deserving its classic status despite not being able to feel our fingers or toes. Some of the other harder lines look great –¬†but we were not tempted to try in the rain –¬†will have to wait. Given the weather we headed straight back and made an early start on dinner for once.

Skiing near Hells LumMeanwhile the bikers cycled up Glen Feshie and (almost) to the summit of Carn Ban Mor – a big hill with much pushing! Mike was the only one to clear all the drainage ditches and bars on the descent. No tea stop (shock horror) but normal service was resumed with pints of Caillie at the Watersports Centre.

Michael and David went for a walk along Glen Feshie and then up Allt Garbhlach to Carn Ban Mor and along the tops in the clag to Sgor Gaoith and Sgoran Dubh Mor, descending via Meall Tionail. A good day despite strong winds and a total lack of views.

Afterthought AreteSunday was due to be similar, but with less rain. Simon and I thought about Talisman (the other Classic Rock route in the area), but the idea of a 4 hour walk in with the chance of rain when we got there didn't appeal! Instead we headed for Coire an t’Sneachda and did Pygmy Ridge (Moderate). We'd intended soloing or moving together, but in the end pitched the whole thing, in 5 excellent pitches. This was followed by a walk over to Stag Rocks (above Loch Avon) to do Afterthought Arête (an 8 pitch Moderate) where we got views of a couple of skiers taking advantage of the late snow patches! The weather improved in the late afternoon so we headed back over Cairn Gorm summit and an adjacent Top with stops to watch the hares on the way up, and a snow bunting posing for photos on the summit.

Cairn Gorm HareMeanwhile the bikers did a lower level route to Rothiemurchus and Loch Einich from the hut with fantastic cakes courtesy of the Inshraich Garden Centre, while Mike headed to Wolftrax at Laggan to put his new mountain bike to the test.

David and Michael walked up some of the hills west of the A9 –¬†up to Cnoc an Tiumpain, along A'Bhuidheanaich and on to Meall a' Chocaire with a descent via Raitts Burn to Balavil.

Snow BuntingOn Bank Holiday Monday the weather did its usual trick. David, Mike and Michael went to the Cairngorm ski resort with the intention of ascending Cairngorm should there be any visibility. There wasn't, so they gave up and went home.

The bikers went to Nethy Bridge and Boat of Garten from Loch Morlich, a very fast ride, followed by more cracking cakes at Loch Morlich Vistor Centre.

Although the weekend was now over, a few people stayed in Scotland for a bit longer0.

The bikers stayed at the hut, and on Tuesday cycled Burma Road from Aviemore. A brutal first 3 miles up hill took an hour, down on other side 10 minutes. This was the most scenic ride of the trip, despite torrential rain from Carrbridge all the way back to Aviemore. Tea stop at Carrbridge Kitchen –¬†soup then cakes, Tradewinds in the Bridge Inn, Aviemore. Om nom nom.

A VS at NeistMeanwhile, on Monday, Simon and I headed over to Dunvegan on Skye and a bimble around the castle gardens. This was followed by climbing at Neist on Tuesday, we were dodging the showers but managed to get a few routes done on the sea-cliffs this time.

Round of Coire a' GhreadaidhWe then headed to Glen Brittle with the aim of finishing the last Munros on Skye that Simon had done before but I hadn't. On Wednesday we bagged the three Munros around the head of Coire a' Ghreadaidh, luckily the winds in the glen were much stronger than those on the tops and we managed to scramble all the way along the narrow ridge.

Collie's LedgeAs we were staying put for a few days we put our big tent up ‚Äď which almost flew (with us attached) towards the sea. Don‚Äôt try to put up a tent with door partially open facing into the wind –¬†d'oh! We then spent the next couple of days ticking off my final Munros on Skye in less than favourable conditions. Sgurr Alasdair via the great stone shoot (never again!) on Friday, then Sgurr Dubh Mhor on Friday, when Simon's inspired navigation led us into Coire Lagan again instead of Coir' a' Ghrunnda! But luckily the delay meant we got to our objective during the only hour of the day when it wasn't raining.

Inaccessible PinnacleIt was looking like the In Pin would have to wait for another trip as winds were very strong on the ridge and rain pretty relentless (I scrambled in gloves all week). However, on the final day, contrary to the forecast the weather was good, with sun and light wind. So we headed off for the In Pin, we over took a couple on the approach and we were the only two teams on the Pinnacle. A great route and fantastic setting –¬†easy but incredibly exposed. Glad we waited for the better conditions!

Skye done –¬†tick – just Mull, Loch Fyne, 1 in Knoydart and 5 in Glen Affric to go!

A few more photos from the Cairngorms here

A trip to Garbh Choire

Friday, January 2nd, 2015

It must have been 25 years since I first saw pictures of Squareface and Mitre Ridge in Classic Rock, and for all that time I'd dreamed of climbing them. Dreams started to become plans in the last 10 years, but those plans were continually thwarted by the weather. Until last year, when the start of our annual week's trip to Scotland coincided with 3 days of forecast good conditions.

We drove up to Braemar on Friday afternoon, May 30th, arriving at Invercauld just after 6, and decided we had time to cycle as far as the Fairy Glen that evening. Good tracks through the forest were followed by rough tracks up the glen, until we were approaching the Fairy Glen. Carmen had had enough biking by then, and suggested that we dump the bikes there for the weekend and walk the rest of the way. "Bang!" agreed my rear tyre as the inner tube exploded.

A lovely camping spot, relatively midgeless, and with a cuckoo for company in some nearby trees Рa good spot to linger. But we had a long day ahead, so were early to bed and up before 6 the next morning, on our way by 7. After walking another 8 miles or more, we set up camp on the top of the Beinn a' Bhuird plateau. Following an unusually snowy winter, our intended camping spot in a hollow was under several feet of snow,  so we were forced a bit higher to just below the 1150m contour. Luckily the winds were light as it could have been pretty exposed in bad weather.

Tent duly in place, we headed for the foot of Mitre Ridge. The normal descent was under snow so we picked a way down loose ground by the stream and made our way over the the ridge towards¬†our intended route –¬† Cumming-Crofton Route (Severe).

The next problem was getting to the start. All approaches to the crag were under deep hard snow, and our route turned out to be the only one that could feasibly be reached at all. But even this involved descending into a bergschrund, chimneying out again higher up, and then making a tricky stride back onto the rock.

I led the first pitch, as it was a chimney with a bit of a reputation Рbut it turned out to be miles easier than expected. The next pitch was Carmen's, and was both bolder and harder than the S 4a grade suggested, with some tenuous smearing some way out from the last protection. I led the next 2 pitches in one long run out (very traditional mountaineering, with some grass, mud, and loose rock), and Carmen finished off with Bell's Variation Рeasy but hugely exposed. I then took the final flatter section over the pinnacles.

A magnificent route, and well worth the trip by itself. But we weren't finished yet!

It was only 3.30, so it was now time for¬†Squareface (VDiff). And yet¬†again, the main¬†obstacle was getting there. The normal descent route was a snow-filled gully, so after some investigation we decided on a long descending traverse from the right. This worked fine until we had to cross the aforementioned gully to reach the route. I crossed OK, but Carmen was on her way when a large lump of ice arrived from above – fortunately with no worse result than a bruised shoulder. Later on we watched as a huge¬†rock fell down across the traverse line we'd followed…

I quickly climbed the first pitch РCarmen was safe from the gully, but we wanted to put as much distance between us and the fall line as possible! Carmen led the next. Curiously, the guidebook doesn't follow the obvious crack line, but crosses it and climbs the wall to the right Рprevious editions take the crack so maybe it's a mistake. I finished with the best of the pitches, up an exposed flake and across an even more exposed wall to the top. Another superb route, though we both preferred Cumming-Crofton.

All that remained was to brave the snow that lay between us and safety, then it was back to the tent for a well-earned meal. To compete the day we walked up to the summit of Beinn a' Bhuird, half a mile away across the plateau.

Next day the forecast was for a fine start, with rain arriving later in the day. Although we were both tempted by Angel's Edgeway, a VS up the edge of the Squareface slab, we couldn't face risky the approach again, so decided on a quick ascent of an obscure 1-star Diff on the other side of the corrie – Pinnacle Ridge on Stob an t-Sluichd.

Although the upper part was clearly visible on the descent, Pinnacle Ridge took an age to find Рthe guidebook was very vague and working out which buttress to start on required 2 false starts. But eventually after 50m of nondescript scrambling, the ridge narrowed and formed a couple of pitches of nice exposed climbing. I think I took a more direct line on the last pitch, which was more like VDiff or Severe. A good route Рnot in itself worth the long trek to get there, but a good quick (if you can find the start!) option if you're there for one of the other more famous climbs.

It was now 12.30, and all that remained was the long walk back out, followed by a long cycle (for Carmen)/bike push (for me) back to the car. A few minutes after we'd stowed the gear in the car, it started to rain.

It would be perfectly feasible to do the two Classic Rock routes in a weekend without bikes. Walk to Fairy Glen and pitch camp either Friday evening or early Saturday. Leave the tents there, walk to Garbh Choire, do the routes, and walk back to camp on Saturday and a leisurely walk out on Sunday. Or as one team did, walk from camp, climb Mitre Ridge, and back to Fairy Glen on Saturday, then walk back in again and climb Squareface on Sunday, before heading out.

But I'd recommend doing something similar to what we did. Or add an extra day or two if you get the weather – make the most of a very special place.

We'll certainly be back.


More photos here

Route maps: Friday, Saturday, and Sunday

Fat Lad

Monday, November 17th, 2014

I (Pete E) have recently returned from a road cycling tour of the north of Ireland.

350 miles visiting every county in the north of Ireland using a variety of Sustrans routes.

The journey started with the overnight ferry from Birkenhead to Belfast.

Saturday, 5.30am alarm call to vacate cabin by 6.00am.

Rode from ferry terminal to Belfast along side of River Lagan.

Cafe stop for breakfast ‚Äď Oscars Champagne Cafe, Chichester Road, Belfast

Then to Europa Bus Station to catch bus to Enniskillen.

Would I be able to get my bike on the bus/coach, I could not get a straight answer when I asked the question in Britain. It turns out I would be able to if there was still space in the boot after other passengers had put there suitcases in, there was room but only just, especially when we changed to a smaller bus in Dungannon.

Got to Enniskillen and started first proper riding via Boho and a cave to Derrygonelly in County Fermanagh. I was the only person spending the night at Tir Navar Field Studies Centre which also acts as a Youth Hostel.

Sunday, to Omagh, via Enniskillen, the north of Ireland is a bit like Spain in that not all roads are on maps and I became directionally challenged in Enniskillen with a new bypass.

Last four miles of forty-nine uphill to B & B.

Very nice B & B, Golden Hill Guest House, Tattykeel Road.

Superb Lamb Shank for tea.

Monday, after breakfast back down hill to Omagh.

Teastop at Cafe Horizon in Alley Theatre, Strabane, fellow diners thought I was very brave cycling round the province on my own.

Then onward to (London)Derry via the Republic of Ireland (Donegal) and a near collision when a car cut me up in Lifford. Superb traffic free riding by side of River Foyle to Derry.

Stayed at Hostel Connect in Derry, my dormitory was called Rock and Roll other dormitories were called after more recent musical trends such as Hip Hop.

Excellent Burritos at Guapo, Strand Road, Derry.

Declined a tour of the areas of the city associated with the troubles, but did walk all round the city walls and saw some of the sights.

Tuesday, to Coleraine on the north coast by a very long straight down hill to Downhill, the fastest I have ever been on a bike.

No Cafe stop that day, but stopped for provisions in Park and Foreglen.

B & B at Glenleary Farm near Coleraine, another excellent massive breakfast.

Wednesday, a rest day only thirty miles or so riding, met some cyclists from Bann Wheelers in Lilley’s Cafe, Bushmills. Went to have a look at the nearby Giant's Causeway and was a bit underwhelmed by it. Don't know what the hoards of foreign tourists made of it.

North coast from Downhill to Giant's Causeway was most scenic part of the ride.

Spent the night on my own in a Youth Hostel for the second time, this occasion Bushmills.

Thursday, sixty-seven miles to Magherafelt by mid afternoon.

Tea stop Rose's Cafe Portglenone

Clearwater House B & B near Magherafelt, big Irish breakfast.

Fish and Chips in Jonty's Diner Magherafelt.

Friday, Magherafelt to Portadown, weather today the same as all the other days, cold and misty until mid-morning then unseasonally warm and dry.

Late tea stop at Gaynor's Restaurant, Church Lane, Portadown.

B & B, Redbrick near the infamous Drumcree Parish Church.

Saturday, Portadown to Belfast.

Tea stop, Oxford Island on the shore of Lough Neath.

Disaster after Lisburn, pedal crank came loose, no spanner to fix it. Got to Belfast, bike shop closed.

Spent night at Belfast Youth Hostel, which is very close to a very Protestant area of the city, a fortified Police Station just down the road.

Tea at Darcy's, if you are there before 7pm they charge £7.77 for a main course.

Up early Sunday for final cycle back to ferry terminal.

Sleep a lot of the journey back to Birkenhead.

Would I go again, not sure some of the scenery is quite samey. The Sustrans routes involve lots of turnings, some signs are missing or buried in hedges. Might try the far North West or the Mourn Mountains if I go again. Liked the out of town hostels and B&B's, not so much the city hostels.

Why Fat Lad?

(F)ermanagh
(A)rmagh
(T)yrone

((L)ondon)derry
(A)ntrim
(D)own

3 men in a knob

Friday, July 25th, 2014

With bad weather forecast for Saturday, we decided to have that as our travel day for the ferry over to Arran, so friday would be a day on the Cobbler. Karl decided to drive the Knob (named because Rob can't read reg plates) so he could try out the new roof tent.

The days's objective was the CR tick Recess Route which heads up to the obvious fang on the Cobbler. We reached the base of the route at 4pm, and with the wind picking up and a potential for rain we headed on up. Rob slung the first 2 pitches together, P1040097going from open slab to closed chimney complete with chock stones to bypass. I had the next 2 pitches up grooves and chimneys, again more huge chock stones but they can all be skirted round. All in all a very nice climb. There was a potential to continue up the amazing looking face behind, but as the wind had picked up and a few spots of rain had landed, we decided to call it a day and headed back down.

P1040102
Saturday to Tarbet. After an overnight camp in a layby and the roof tent christened, we headed in to Tarbet for a coffee before getting the ferry. P1040105Every part of this place is a real throwback from the 80s – the buildings, the decoration and music playing in the cafes. A quick shopping trip found Rob looking to upgrade his midge head net for a full midge jacket, but he decided not to buy when they didn't have the trousers to match. Just down the road in the middle of nowhere is a bus shelter with a jetty, which marks the ferry terminal. Karl cooks sausage and eggs.


The weather arrived when we reached Arran, so we cancelled the plan to climb tunes.P1040111and went to check the place out, and listen to some tunes. First stop was the local beer festival at Blackwater foot. Later in the day we stumbled on great spot to camp by the sea, then headed over for dinner at the pub, with a small choice in whisky afterwards.
bar

P1040120A Sunday early start, with a long walk in for the day of cragging begins with Karl cooking sausage and eggs. The plan for the day was 2 more CR ticks linking Sou'wester Slabs with Labyrinth, which turned out to be a day of 2 halves. Unfortunately Karl was having knee problems (not helped by Rob's poor route choice – ed) on the walk in so headed back early.

Sou'wester is an utter delight. Perfect granite climbing with cracks for P1040132hands and friction for feet. Laybacking up grooves, padding over slabs and crawling under overhangs. It was over way too soon. The link up mod round the hillside is not much to write home about, but it's a quick way to get to Labyrinth.


Think of all the things which make a route enjoyable – nice climbing,P1040154 clean solid rock, good protection, views of the scenery – Labyrinth has none of these. It was mainly a multi-pitch squirm through the bowels of the hillside up wet body-width cracks with the odd boulder chock stone – some of which move. There was one pitch of nice climbing, and to be honest the main chimney was pretty unique though I'm quite pleased I wasn't leading this. The rest was damp and dirty thrutching.

V Diff apparently. Don't be fooled…


P1040155We eventually topped out at 9pm with the setting sun just visible though the clouds, and still a long walk out. As we were now quite late back, Karl had done what any worried friend would have done and found out what time last orders was at the local pub kitchen. He secured us a take-away meal which Elvis would have been proud of – burgers chips and Arran beer, all round. This was kept warm in his sleeping bag until we arrived back at 11pm. Nice one!

P1040177Monday morning rolled in and we had to pack to get the ferry over to the mainland and head home. Karl cooked sausage and eggs. The route back took us on A-roads instead of the motorway, so we could stop off on route at the idyllic Clifton Crag near Dumfries for a few more pitches. The routes here are really nice, but we only had time for 2 – Jeune Ecole(S) & Dirl Chimney(VS) both were interesting climbing and worthy of their stars.

Back in York for 10, and me back in Malvern for 2:30am. Corking weekend..

More of Petes pix.

sun rock II – the ottoman empire strikes back

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

Sun rock 2 was a mash up of YAC folks and various friends who were all lured to climb on turkish rock at Geyikbayiri in Antalya in the far south of Turkey, where we had heard the rock was steep and unpolished, the routes were long and well bolted and the sun was likely to shine. All were true. We had also heard the grading was quite stiff, and egos were likely to get battered. This was also true.

The landscape was fantastic, a deep valley just over an hour from the airport, lined by a succession of vertical limestone cliffs honeycombed with spectacular caves and interspersed with lush green woodland. Above the valley was a range of impressive mountains, on days when the clouds hung round the peaks the effect was like a japanese painting.

thunder3 stormyday trebenna

above – Geyikbayiri landscapes

The local crags were so extensive it was possible to stay there all week without running out of routes at the grades we were looking for, so Ali, Rachel, Poppy, Peri, Andrea Graham and Dave S did that, while Simon Carmen Pete E and Dave D and Isabelle mixed it up a bit more, with a cultural visit to an ancient deserted city and to seaside climbing at Olympos seaside (verdict – water worn, rounded and stiffly graded) plus a couple of trad days.

TS3

above -Graham on Turkish Standard, 6b+, one of the classics of the crag

One of the trad days provided us with a fine epic. Simon Carmen Pete and Dave D decided to do a big day out on a big nearby peak. The rest of us frowned a little when at 6.30pm we got a text from S & C saying they had just reached the summit…. later in the evening we got another text explaining that Pete and dave had liked the mountain so much they would be staying there overnight. Pete had pulled off a rock,¬†¬†mashing up his ankle and been unable to finish in daylight, so they very sensibly decided to bivvy and complete the route next morning. S &C arrived back at midnight, then poor simon got up at the crack of dawn next day to collect the others. After a long day limping up the rest of the way¬†to the summit and down the other side¬†with a badly swollen ankle they arrived back ¬†30 minutes before the drive¬†to the airport.

returnednicelegs

above – the overnight bivvy party returns, and Petes battered legs (didnt get a pic of the ankle, probably just as well as it might put you off your food)

We stayed at a local guesthouse, Rasayan Organic. However another time we would definately stay at Jo-si-to campsite instead, which was five minutes walk from the crag and had a lovely welcoming atmosphere, plus nice bar and cafe,  a fire pit with benches round it and a slackline. We hung out there a lot, you could sit at the bar after climbing with a nice cold beer and watch people still on the routes, trying for the umpteenth time to work the hard moves over the cave roofs.

slackline

above – Dave S at josito demonstrating his mastery of slacklining

If only we could have said the same about the guesthouse…it was an attractive well furnished building with great views, but spoilt by the attitude of the owners who levied additional charges at every opportunity (you want coffee at breakfast? no-one in turkey drinks coffee, ¬†you will have to pay extra to buy the coffee and cafetiere! You want to use the kettle to make tea? Three euros per 7¬†uses!) . The high point was probably when Simon got up early on his rescue mission and Carmen was subsequently woken by the landlady shining a torch into their bedroom, presumably seized by the suspicion they were doing a runner.

On a much nicer note we also  paid a visit to a lovely fish restaurant based near the local trout farm, where we sat on low benches while the smiley owner brought out the freshest fish ever and piles of chips, aubergine salad and popcorn Рdefinately worth seeking out Рtake the turning below sector anabolic.

overall verdict – great place, would love to go back. Just book early enough to stay at Josito's!