Archive for the ‘MTB’ Category

Wet Grange

Thursday, December 1st, 2016

img_20161112_124514171A last minute cancellation of the hut in Newlands left us scrabbling around for a place to stay for novembers meet. Luckily the CC hut in Borrowdale was available and Rob made a quick booking to secure it. The hut is the Old School House and fantastically situated, and we managed to fill it in time.

img_20161112_123030802_hdrSat was pish weather so Karl, Russ, Paul, Dave D and Rob walked the 1/2 mile along the road to the campsite and over to Gate Gill and spent the next few hours getting a right soaking and having a laugh whilst not actually going very far. The mountain bikers (Jamie, Donal, Annie, Peter?) pushed their bikes somewhere around Borrowdale/Newlands and the walkers headed for opposite sides of the valley. Simon and Debra walked the ridge behind the hut from Catbells and Simon and Carmen went on a bog trotting expedition above Watendlath. Grahame ran half away across Cumbira alone on a mission. Peri went ice climbing and cake eating at Keswick wall/cafes.

Sat evening's feast was started in style by Paul with home made pate, followed by a Foxy Chili and the Inaugural Triffle-Off featuring three contrasting dishes. True to form Karl presented an adolescent dream of a trifle , with multiple layers and beverages, almost an engineering feat getting so much into a dish. Rob went all poncy with individual fruit laden pots but had a technical failure with the jelly, and Carmen cheated by actually making a proper nice trifle.

Sunday we tried to walk off the calories, Russ Karl and Rob went for a wee wander near Watendlath (a beautiful place), Paul & Jamie did the scramble behind the hut. A big team (Simon, C, Donal, Dave D, Annie) went to Seathwaite for some scrambling fun but greasy wet rock ut pay to that and a stroll around the Gillercombe area of Grey Knotts, Brandreth, Green Gable, Base Brown made for an acceptable day.

Quality meet, despite the weather and a good craic. Greta hut for a summer meet with all the climbing walkable and even some biking for those so afflicted.

Bryn Hafod Meet 2016

Tuesday, September 27th, 2016

10505245_1724819451076031_5260905827964329654_oSeptember saw YAC heading to a new location, Bryn Hafod near Dinas Mawddwy in mid-Wales on the southern edge of Snowdonia. This place really is a world away from the popular tourist spots of the northern part of the national park. The hills may be less craggy and imposing but the rolling slopes and tranquil green valleys combined with the absence of crowds create a beautiful, peaceful setting. The hut is located at the head of the valley a few hundred meters walk up a track from a small car park and shares the valley with only a couple of farms. Built by members of the Mountain Club (of Stafford), the hut consists of a large kitchen and living room downstairs, and a couple of dorms upstairs (one for members only) providing space for 18. As there were only 7 YACers present, we had bags of space, even with the handful of members who came and went over the course of the weekend.20160917_175502

The local crag (Craig Cywarch) has a reputation for being rather vegetated but the hut owners have recently been fairly active at cleaning things up and provided a handy list of cleaned (or otherwise climbable) routes. The ominously named "Doom" seemed to be top of everyone's ticklist so Simon and Carmen headed off to find this on Saturday morning, Pete B and I following along behind some time later (purely to avoid the queue of course, nothing to do with our inability to get up in the morning). On arrival at the crag (a short walk from the hut) Pete and I spotted S and C warming up on one of the recently cleaned VDiffs so decided to do the same and headed for Will o' the Wisp, a classic rock tick Pete had done before but couldn't remember much about. Apart from an ill advised scramble up a steep vegetated gully, we found the route fairly easily. It proved to be pretty good, with some fantastic positions and views down the valley, only spoiled slightly by me ignoring the guidebook description and traversing past the arete with steep juggy moves up a wall in a fantastic exposed position (apparently the best bit of the route), in favour of a steep vegetated corner, with minimal holds or gear. Oops! Simon and Carmen followed us up (the conventional way) after retreating from a wet slimy slab on the crux of P1 of Doom.20160917_131706

After lunch S and C went back to tick of the rest of the VDiffs where they started while Pete and I went in search of Buzzards Balcony, a 3* Severe at the far end of the crag. However, after 1.5hrs of bashing through bracken and brambles we decided it was a bit late to start another route and headed back to the hut to make a start on dinner (via a less direct/vegetated route!). Rather a shame as the routed looked to be in good nick.

The others (Pete E, Donal and Annie) had a good day out biking, despite the cafe on route being shut so had to survive on Donal and Annie's sandwiches, Pete's pies, cake purchased from a farm on route, and a cream tea at the cafe at the end of the route. Meagre rations indeed!

Sunday we awoke in the clag so settled for a pleasant walk around the Aran's, except S and C who ran a similar route in the opposite direction.

A good trip in a nice location but must get a bit more climbing in next 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 – The Fara. Annie cheated and hitched a lift to the start of the walk. It would have been good to do the whole ridge – 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 – 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 – 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 – 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 – 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 – 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 – Stuart, 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 – 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 – which almost flew (with us attached) towards the sea. Don’t 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

Dales MTB – Windy and wild!

Sunday, January 11th, 2015

Paul, Donal and I headed out to Masham today, eager to get out into the 'Great Outdoors' and work off some Christmas calories, despite the weather forecast. Light rain greeted us as we got out of the car, and we'd clocked the post ride cafe just opening on the square before we'd even set off.

As we headed west I was hopeful that things may not be as bad as I thought, the rain seemed to have stopped, and the sun was trying to get out – this would be short lived! After a warm up along the road, we battled through some traditional dales winter conditions as a few sheep fields reduced the track to a mud bath, and we emerged back onto the road pushing mud-clagged bikes uphill out of the farmyard.

I'd picked the ride as it gave most of the climbing on the road, and as it was also heading into the prevailing winds would be easier, and mean we had the wind behind us on the off-road return leg. As we started the 7km climb past Leighton Reservoir and up onto High Ash Head Moor, the full force of the forecast winds hit us. A sprinkling of rain / sleet ensured that my face got the full 'sand blasting' effect, and we had to use the full width of the road just to stay upright. By now wet feet and cold hands were numb, and you know the wind's strong when you have to pedal downhill….

As we turned onto the track to begin the return leg, the tailwind instantly made life much easier, even the short uphill sections were a breeze (sorry) and we had some well deserved fast descents on the landrover tracks as we headed NE across the moors towards Ilton. Once here, we'd dropped off the Moors and out of the worst of the winds, and finshed the ride with more muddy fields, and then road through Swinton Park back to Masham.

By the end, my fingers were struggling to function on the gear shifters, and feet felt like…well I couldn't really feel them. However once back in dry clothes and warming up in the cafe, all agreed it was good to get out, and beats spending Sunday on the sofa – just!

Ride distance – 32km, ride time about 3 hours. Would be a great one to do again in summer, and the right side of the Dales for a quick blast from York.

 

Flirting with the dark side

Sunday, January 4th, 2015

We've been doing a few Open5 events recently, which involve orienteering both on foot and on mountain bikes. We've not done a lot in the way of biking, so yesterday we decided to drive up to Dalby to try a bit of real MTB action.

The red routes sounded a bit technical, and green routes looked to be slightly bumpy road riding, so we went for the blue route. Me on my 30-year old Rockhopper and Carmen on her hybrid ("shopping bike") probably attracted a few comments, but we were going slowly enough that we were well out of earshot before they were made.

The route turned out to be rather more technical than expected (harder than some of the "red" routes I did in the Open5) but we got round in one piece. And Carmen can't have hated it too much as she decided we'd go round for a second circuit!

She's now looking for a cheap mountain bike. Oh dear…

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 – a 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 – but 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 – easy 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 – Carmen 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 – previous 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 – the 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 – not 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

Dales MTN Biking 30th November

Friday, December 5th, 2014

As Paul and I drove up the 'Cote de Blubberhouses' in the mist and rain at 8.30 on Sunday morning we looked at each other and wondered if we were in for 'one of those days'. However by the time we'd reached Gargrave and met Peter and Phil, the mist had cleared, and although it was still overcast, my optimistic nature was at least imagining a bright patch in the clouds where the sun was trying to get through.

Phil and Peter on one of the lanes

Phil and Peter on one of the lanes

We were soon off and riding, with Peter providing the navigation as this was one of the routes he knows well which meant mapreading stops were few and far between. We warmed up the legs along the Leeds and LIverpool canal, before heading south from Bank Newton to East Marton. Some very muddy sections then followed along typical Dales lanes, and past a pheasant shoot to arrive at the Town End Farm Shop and tea room at Airton for an early lunch stop. It seemed like a favourite for cyclists with lots of other groups having the same idea. Being the only mountain bikers in there, we definitely won the 'comedy muddy face' competition and it wasn't until I saw myself in the mirror that I realised why the server had burst out laughing when we ordered!

Paul in the mist and mud on Hanlith Moor

Paul in the mist and mud on Hanlith Moor

After an excellent lunch and cuppa we continued north to Kirkby Malham and then began the drag up Hanlith Moor, through the cloud and mist, and some very boggy ground that meant walking and pushing at times. The reward was a great fast descent on a good track back down to Calton, then through Bel Busk and back to Gargrave.

Dales riding

Dales riding

The stream provided a chance to clean most of the mud off the bikes before we stowed them in the cars and headed to the pub to rehydrate.  The sausages I'd bought at the farm shop during lunch had also survived the second half of the ride, and made a great toad in the hole when I got home. All in all a cracking day out, and very pleased we went for the optimistic weather decision in the morning!

Post ride bike wash - Dales style .

Pete gives his bike a much needed wash

Route overview

Route overview

 

Stick to climbing, it's safer!

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

Having had a humbling evening bouldering at Slipstones on Saturday, I decided a quick mountain bike ride was the order of the day on Sunday. I’d recently spotted a couple of local routes whilst trawling the internet at work so I popped the bike in the back of the car and nipped up to Reeth (thus avoiding the 8mile ride over Grinton Moor – watch out for this on le Tour). Despite a bit of dithering due to some rather ominous looking clouds I hopped on the bike and headed up the road to Arkengarthdale for a couple of miles before branching off south-east over Reeth Low Moor. This led (logically enough) to Reeth High Moor and after a few miles of climbing on pleasant bridleways I was (virtually) on the summit of Great Pinseat.Image stolen from the web From here I veered north-west and began the decent back into Arkengarthdale. The first section of this was pretty gnarly with the deeply rutted bridleway filled in with fist sized rocks making it rather like riding down a scree slope. A cautious approach soon had me on better ground and the trail dropped rapidly down to the road on fast, flowing tracks.

Image stolen from the web. A mile or so on the road brought me to Langthwaite (of Simon and Debra's bolt-hole fame) where I was able to cross the Arkle and pick up a bridleway that more-or-less follows the river all the way back to Reeth. The first section was fairly pleasant but as the trail began to climb away from the river it became an awkward ride on steep grassy slopes with bracken and nettles encroaching onto the track from either side. Having had to GOAP (get off and push) a significant amount of this I was relieved when the trail opened out onto fields and began to descend. Shortly after passing a couple of hikers (the only people I'd seen all day outside of the villages) I encountered another steep section of scree like trail with a blind corner at the bottom. As the track was only six inches wide and flanked on either side by three feet high nettles I decided a fall here would be highly unpleasant so a bit more GOAP was employed. As it turned out the scree stopped after the corner so it was probably quite rideable after all. I hopped back on and proceeded along the grassy track.Stolen from t'web.

Moments later my front wheel wiped out on a patch of wet grass and, despite having passed the nettles, I managed to get spat off right on top of a lone thistle – ouch! As I went to pick myself up I was surprised to find a three inch gash in my left knee. It was deep! I could see white bits!

"Oh shit!" I exclaimed, as I instinctively grabbed my knee with both hands and pushed the flesh back up to where I thought it ought to be. "What the f**k?" I asked. I was riding on grass. I was hardly moving. There were no rocks. There was no pain! Doesn't matter, what now? No first aid kit – "Shit!" Stay calm – deep breathes. Those walkers were headed this way – they'll be along any minute – stay put.

As I awaited rescue and flitted between nausea and pre-syncope I spotted a single rock protruding from the grassy slope. Closer inspection revealed one upward facing edge, as sharp as flint. Moments later the walkers arrived: "Are you alright?"

"Yes," I replied, "but I might need some help. Do you have a first aid kit?"

“No, sorry. What have you done?”

After filling them in, and giving the wound a bit of a wash with a few squirts from a bottle of water I secured a tissue to my knee with my trusty Buff™ and wrapped the whole thing in a rather fetching pink scarf with spangly gold bits (this didn’t really help much but it would have been rude to refuse… and it did look fabulous darling!) I began the one mile hobble back to Reeth under the watchful eye of my kindly new friends. Shortly before getting back to the car I was passed by Simon and Debra – presumably returning to York after a weekend in the Dales – who smiled and waved, and drove straight past!

I’ll spare you the details of my journey to A&E (except to say that driving without bending your left leg is difficult but not impossible) and my subsequent stay in the South Tees, Thomas Cook University Hospital, Middlesborough – where a change is as good as a holiday. Turned out that in addition to a rather large and dirty wound, I’d partially severed my patella tendon but not as badly as first feared, so I’m hobbling about on crutches but the leg brace is off already and the ten stitches are coming out next week.Hospital

Lessons learnt:

1. Don’t ride the bridleway from Langthwaite to Reeth – it’s shit!

2. Invest in some knee pads – the bloke in the next bed had some nice ones, though they (nor the rest of his body armour) didn’t stop him breaking his shoulder blade.

3. Carry a first aid kit. You can manage without but a few plasters and a bandage go a long way.

4. Always know where your Buff™ is!

P.S. in case you were wondering, the pain did eventually catch up with me – with interest!

Hadrian's Wall

Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013

Hadrian's ButtressThis summer's (sic) first camping meet was to Once Brewed, by Hadrian's Wall. Despite the lack of anything particularly summery, a great time was had by all.

On Saturday, Peter, Mike, Alan and Donal went off to Kielder for some mountain biking, where Peter was eaten by midges. Carmen and I met up with Jamie at Crag Lough, under the Wall, to take advantage of the dry conditions for some climbing. Any midge that had shown its head would have been immediately blown into the North Sea, so we stayed uneaten.

The roc's nest on Grad's GrooveWe managed half a dozen routes, from VDiff to MVS, though as is often the case here, the guidebook grades bore only a passing resemblance to their actual difficulty. Jamie led the classic hard severes of Main Wall and Hadrian's Buttress. I led Dexterity (S) and Hadrian's East (VD). And Carmen led Ash Tree Wall (S) and the main sandbag of the day, Grad's Groove. Graded MVS 4b, but with 5a moves to leave the ground, the crux for Carmen was climbing into and then out of the massive nest that blocks the upper chimney.

Sunday brought more of the same weather. Mike headed off for some more biking. Alan did a long run along and around Hadrian's Wall. Donal and Peter finally managed to climb at Crag Lough, after many years of rainy visits, but called it a day after being sandbagged on two "VDiff"s Bracket, and Tarzan's Mate – climbing at this crag takes some getting used to!

TrapeziumCarmen and I started out at Peel Crag, where I led Tiger's Chimney (VD) prior to Carmen's attempt on Tiger's Overhang (VS 4c, with the crux involving getting over a large horizontal roof). Discretion won the day and she retreated into the chimney, to return sometime in the future, packing extra bottle. We then returned to Crag Lough, where I led Face Route (S, but easier than most of the VDiffs) and Carmen did Sinister Groove (S, but would be VS anywhere else). Some light rain put an end to anything hard, so we finished with Trapezium (Diff), Back Alley (Diff), and Route Two (VDiff).

A few more photos here.