Archive for June, 2014

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!

Blackrock cottage Glencoe. 24-26 May 2014

Wednesday, June 4th, 2014

Another Bank holiday weekend at the end of May gave the chance to travel a bit further afield to Blackrock cottage in Glencoe. This is the picture postcard cottage often seen on highland photos, with Buachaille Etive Mor looming large in the background.

Looking west towards a cloudy Glencoe

Looking west towards a cloudy Glencoe

It has a rustic feel to it and once we’d opened up it was time to enjoy a cuppa by the fire after the long drive from York. The banter continued into the early hours, aided by a glass or two of port and Karl kept us all entertained with stories of tigers (trust me, it was very funny!).

Saturday was sunny and dry so after a big fry up we headed out for the Buachaille, keen to get some climbing done and make the most of the good weather. Pete and Adam headed up to Rannoch wall to climb Agag’s Groove (VDiff), a great multi pitch classic finishing on the top of Crowberry ridge. They then continued up onto the summit of Stob Dearg, desending down Coire na Tulaich which still had a slippery start over the remains of the winter cornice.

Peter and Adam on Agags Groove

Peter and Adam on Agags Groove

Rob, Karl and Jamie headed around to the ‘classic rock tick’ of North Face route (S, 220m), another great multipitch day out, descending back down curved ridge. Meanwhile Sarah and Rona were enjoying the excellent visibility across the highlands as they walked the ridge of the Buachaille and ticked some munros off the list. Back at the cottage, Karl’s spicy bean dinner went down a treat, followed by apple pie and custard. The legendary YAC portions meant no one had room for the optional cheese and biscuits afterwards.

Sunday dawned a bit more overcast, so after another epic fry up (Karl seemed to have taken the need for a good breakfast before a day in the hills very seriously!) we headed out for a walk up Lairig Eilde.

Hiking up the Lairig Eilde

Hiking up the Lairig Eilde

Sarah and Rona opted for a shorter walk, finishing in the Glencoe Ski centre café before heading back to Edinburgh. The rest of the group continued up the excellent scramble of Sron na Lairig (nose of the pass) at the top of the valley. Donning waterproof trousers at the bottom was the right decision, as once the scrambling began, so did the rain. The wet rock made things more interesting and the scramble finished with an exposed ridge above spring snowchutes, during which eagle eyed Rob spotted and retrieved some winter crag swag via a quick abseil. Pete and Adam continued to tick the Munro of Stob coire Sgreamhach before descending via a very wet Beinn Fhada and the ‘bad step’.

Scrambling on Sron na Lairig

Scrambling on Sron na Lairig

Rob does his 'Usain Bolt' impression

Rob does his 'Usain Bolt' impression on the final ridge

Monday was overcast with showers threatening again, and with everyone else having made an early exit home, Pete and Adam closed up the cottage and then headed west over the Corran Ferry to Ardnamurchan. A steady walk up the valley led them to the base of Pinnacle ridge on Garbh Bheinn. After lunch we were pleased of the rope and small rack we’d packed, as some tricky (poor?!) route finding led to steep rocky and heather covered ground. Once back on the main ridge, an airy, atmospheric finish in the clouds ended a great scramble.

Adam high on Pinnacle Ridge

Adam high on Pinnacle Ridge

During the snack stop at the top the clouds lifted to reveal cracking views west to Loch Sunart, and across Loch Linnhe to the south and east. A walk back down the SE ridge, spotting a small herd of deer on the way, followed by a meal in The Inn at Ardgour by the ferry topped off a great weekend in Scotland.