Archive for November, 2009

First Hot Aches of the season

Sunday, November 29th, 2009

on the snowy ridgeA cold wet weekend forecast. What to do? Obviously perfect conditions for a walk and scramble, so Simon, Carmen, Rob and me headed for Winnats Pass in the Peak, for a scramble followed by a walk up Mam Tor and back via Cavedale and Peveril Castle.

Heading off at a civilised 8.30 in pouring rain, our doubts about our sanity eased as we got closer to the Peak and the downpour stopped, to be replaced by the sight of snow on the ground. Parked up above Winnats, walked back down and eyed up Elbow Ridge, which was disconcertingy wet and snowy. Eventually Rob decided to take the lead and started up, so one up all up it was. Elbow Ridge is an exposed limestone fin, it's an exhilarating but easy diff in good conditions, however when the holds are wet and slippery, your hands are numb from wet snow and you look down at the road way below it feels altogether more exciting. Once we topped out hot aches set in, there was a vicious cold wind and the mist was blowing sideways in sheets as we were now inside the cloud.

Arriving at a unanimous decision that none of us fancied the scramble up Matterhorn Ridge in these conditions we moved hastily on to the walking part of the day. As we headed up Mam Tor the wet white stuff turned to proper creaky snow. Me and Carmen cunningly got to the top first and ambushed Rob and Simon with snowballs, but were beaten off by Rob's cheating tactics of catching all our snowballs and throwing them back at us. Most of the day the visibility was pretty poor but it stayed dry and every so often we got clear views and pretty golden light filtering through the mist.

Heading back through Cavedale and past Peveril Castle we found a heated and barred off cave containing machinery. Rob Simon and Carmen agreed this must have been something to do with the nearby show caves, however I prefer to believe it was Dr No's secret underground headquarters. We completed the walk just as the light began to fade, and felt that all things considered we had made good use of the day.

Wales November 2009

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

Cefn Garw Hut The club trip to Wales was warm and sunny as usual…
Finding the hut was quite interesting as it was up a steep, rocky, muddy, unmarked and flooded track. Simon and Carmen arrived first shortly followed my me. The hut had plenty of room even if it was a bit dirty. On arrival Andrew did his usual trick of putting the fire out and Simon Fox had an early night.

On Saturday Andrew, Donal and I set off to bike on Dinorwig, near Llanberis. We decided to drive to the highest possible point on the road to avoid a long boring road climb in the poor weather. Once parked up we sat for some time whilst we watched the rain and the car was rocked by the wind. After a while we drove down to Petes Eats and visited Joe Brown Mountaineering. From then on it was a tour of the cafes and gear shops of Chapel Curig and Bets y Coed. Donal took us for lunch at a cafe with most expensive coffee in the world and Andrew found new topics of conversation and areas of life to over-complicate.

The climbers – Rob, Simon C, Carmen and Pete – climbed the Cneifion Arete after having waited to do a route on the Idwal slabs.


We're queuing in the rain, just queuing in the rain…

Wet Rob

Simon F and Debra went for a walk up Moel Siabod. Initially they had to go to a gear shop to buy the things they had left at the hut. After abandoning their scramble Debra had a slip and small fall near the summit which resulted in a bruised knee. Fortunately, they were carrying all of the emergency equipment needed, a head torch each, first aid kit, etc and were able to evacuate the hill under their own steam.

Saturday night the group enjoyed a fantastic vegetarian feast, sprouts being a particular highlight. The planned bake had to be replaced by a stew owing to the hut having no oven. Andrew was banned from meddling with the fire.

On Sunday the bikers headed to do a ride from a guide book that had been written by Donal's brother/sister/inlaw??? The high winds and heavy rain made getting lost on an unrideable track even more entertaining, but at least the company was good.

On Sunday the climbers did a little wet cold windy walk near Conway. Simon F and Debra headed home to tend to Debra's injury.

Present: Donal, Carmen, Simon Caldwell, Simon Fox, Debra, Andrew, Rob, Gordon Pacey, Margert, Pete Bradshaw and me.


Disappearing Trick

Monday, November 9th, 2009

Now you see it…

The New Foggy Dew

…now you don't!

The Even Newer Foggy Dew

Clearing the cobwebs

Sunday, November 8th, 2009

Last Sunday was forecast to be very very wet and very very windy, with low cloud and poor visibility – so perfect conditions for a run round Kinder! It was round 1 of the RAB Mini-Mountain-Marathon series – a set of three 3-hour score events in the Peak District. Two years ago, when there were hardly any entries (it was the first year it was held), we managed to win the mixed pairs class. Last year we came a close second. This year I am officially an old git, and so we were promoted to the 'mixed veterans' class – usually more competitive as many fell runners seem to improve into their 40s and even 50s (so there's hope for me yet).

The drive down took ages due to heavy rain – spray on the M1, and floods on the back roads. But this gave us the advantage of a late start – the weather didn't take too long to improve, and the last 2 hours of the race were dry and even sunny at times.

I was tired after the previous weekend's OMM, and Carmen was still under the weather after a 2-week bout of girl-flu, so we couldn't go too fast. We started to the south of Edale with a steady climb up the hill, and a long run along Lord's Seat. Wet and windy, but on footpaths so no navigation to worry about. By the time we turned off the path to contour across the moors above Upper Booth and Jacob's Ladder, the rain was easing, and the cloud lifting.

After a control near Edale Cross we decided to play it safe, and rather than detour to Kinder Low for another 20-pointer, headed back towards Crowden Clough in dry weather but strengthening winds. Things went temporarily wrong when we reached the Pennine Way about 200m further east than expected, and faced a tiring fight back to the control, directly into the wind. But after this, we just had to follow the PW back to Edale, and made it with 3 minutes to spare.

175 points – could have been 185 with a slightly better route choice near the end, but still pretty good. It put us 32nd overall (out of 122), but more importantly, 1st out of 10 in our class. Which was nice 🙂

The next round is on 6th December, starting in Hayfield. Still a few places left if anyone fancies joining us! But don't wait too long, the last event filled up quickly.

Full results, routes, etc are here.

Tussocks tussocks everywhere…

Friday, November 6th, 2009

We always did like a challenge so on the back of several years of running I felt reasonably confident about it all, and Graeme Shaw is a bit of a mountain goat anyway so reckoned we'd be ok. Well we were lucky to camp in the dry after a 4 hour drive to Wales on Friday night after work where we had a good meal and a beer, so when we got up on Sat morning for our bus ride to the start we could afford to feel reasonably positive. Remember to bring separate tents and bags and gear for this as you will want your rucksacks to be tightly and lightly packed with all other stuff; food, headtorches, cooking utensils, lightweight tent, energy regime, sleeping bag and mats and extra clothing, water proofs and gadgets.

The start was quite exciting with queues and klaxons sounding as we watched teams head off into the murk. We were nicely sheltered and warm and well hydrated, things were looking good. Finally it was our turn at the relatively benign time of 11.40 and we were off. Graeme's knees were a little poor from over training and possibly a touch of tendonitis so we took it easy and it was thoroughly enjoyable, you can't help but get caught up a bit in it all, after all it is a race. Our clothes bore the brunt of early squalls and strong buffeting winds but we were more than happy.

Unfortunately as the route wore on, us being on the C class half marathon per day event, we struggled quite badly from a poor route choice borne out of a hasty decision and then compounded by going for a checkpoint that turned out to be further than we thought and through a deep valley when we could have skirted round the top on a path! Under such circumstances our general fitness and positiveness helped us through but then we missed a checkpoint that we didn't think we'd got to just yet and had to go back and fetch it. This was followed by me falling into a bog up to my chest in driving rain. The balance of warmth, comfort and positivity can be upset by such factors but as a testament to our tenaciousness, despite it being touch and go for a while, we bore the brunt of increasingly bad weather and appalling terrain as it became knee deep bog for 3 to 4 miles.

Thankfully we finally reached the campsite a little the worse for wear but essentially with our spare gear remaining dry. Once in the tent we ate our sardines with pasta or noodles, drank litres of sugary tea and generally warmed up and dried ourselves out, i.e., wet baselayers dried in the sleeping bag overnight and we both had a good night's sleep.

Sunday we made no mistakes of course, once bitten twice shy and we couldn't sustain making it harder than it needed to be again. Graeme's knees were getting worse, and a cold he had started with became poorer too. We could only walk the second day but the weather was lovely and it was a joy to be on the hills with the wind at our backs and the end in mind and eventually in sight. Despite dramas and mistakes we learnt enough to have another go next year, and next time we might not get carried away by the 'feel good factor'. I think we came 197 out of 267 pairs, but we probably would have settled for just finishing.

Don't by any means let our exploits put you off, if you're reasonably fit and half decent with a compass it really is a lovely w/e away in the hills. We had soup and tea waiting for us on finishing and once the buses had collected us, albeit a long hour's wait but thankfully in the sunshine, a lovely meal provided at the end. There are several events other than the one we did, four routes of varying distance, C class being the easiest and B, A and Elite the hardest, followed by orienteering score events of three difficulties. For all classes it was about £45 each to enter. There have been other entrants from the club over several years and they are clearly enthused by the events, so roll on next year, it would be nice to stay fit to do it again.

Further info at:
and more photos here.