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Malvern Hills

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malverns_001
Three of us headed to the Malvern Hills on Sunday (just gone). Unfortunately the weather sucked. Still we walked up and around North Hill, Sugar Loaf and Worcestershire Beacon (Highest point in the Malverns – 1395 ft). We were rewarded with views of bugger all. Still, we’d worked up an appetite & headed for the nearest pub for some food. Suitably stuffed we emerged from the pub to find the weather had cleared, so we headed back up Worcs’ Beacon for some stunning views.

malverns_002Trig Stone on Worcs’ Beacon

malverns_003Mike & Andy heading down Worcs’ Beacon towards North Hill

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Written by rufdog

October 13, 2009 at 4:23 pm

Lost on Kinder Scout | Part II

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kinderscout2_011Shot by MJW

As my first solo attempt to find Kinder’s high point was thwarted by the Peak District’s ever present threat of low cloud and the resulting dismal visibility, I thought it was time to have another crack at it.

I headed up there with a good friend of mine, Mike. Despite a favourable forcast, the drive through the Peaks was mainly wet. Thankfully, it cleared up and we only saw rain sporadically throughout an otherwise glorious day. The climb up the cloughs was straight forward, emerging into the strange peat bog on the plateau. Then we had to set about finding the infamous ‘cairn and stake’. We scanned the horizon, both looking for a large pile of stones. It was Mike who spotted it first, and it was comical. What we found was a stone topped mound of peat no higher than a small dog, with a sorry, but proud looking stake emerging in the centre.

We headed for Pym Chair and the Pagoda, had a climb around and polished off lunch. We followed the ridge of the plateau, missing our intended route and adding several kilometers to the fabulous trek back to Edale.

kinderscout2_007Shot by MJW / The ‘Peak’

kinderscout2_002Mike surveys the plateau

kinderscout2_003Eroded stones form the Wool Pack

kinderscout2_008Shot by MJW / Approaching Pagoda & Pym Chair

kinderscout2_010Map + wind issues whilst hunting for the ‘Peak’

Written by rufdog

October 10, 2009 at 8:23 pm

Posted in Walking

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Lost on Kinder Scout

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kinderscout002Vale of Edale

After being in the Lakes for a week, the office can become a tad claustrophobic. So I hatched a plan to drive up to the Peak District for a days walking. I set out from Edale to tackle Kinder Scout on a bright but slightly overcast day. All was going well, a simple trek along the Pennine Way led to the foot of Jacob’s Ladder. From here I followed my downloaded instructions. A difficult, but immensely pleasurable climb up the waterfalls of the Cloughs led to Kinder Scout’s plateau. Unfortunately as I emerged from the Cloughs, the cloud suddenly descended. Visibility dropped to around 200m in this very alien strange place of grough strewn peat bog. A truly amazing place. For those not familiar with Kinder Scout, it is a large plateau, with several (three I think) high points, all at 636m.

I couldn’t see any landmarks to get my exact position, despite wondering around up there for a fair amount of time. If it wasn’t for my compass I’d have been screwed, every direction was identical. As I’d never visited the area before, I was getting a tad worried and decided to abandon my planned circular route and head roughly south to pick up a path. I ended up at Noe Stool, so I followed the path south back to the safety of the Pennine Way. I can’t wait to go back during fairer weather.

kinderscout001Peat Bog in all directions on Kinder Scout’s plateau ‘summit’

kinderscout004Noe Stool emerging from the cloud

sheepObligatory random sheep shot

kinderscout003Dog topiary in Edale village

Written by rufdog

September 1, 2009 at 2:26 pm

Three Peaks

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scafellpike01View from the summit of Scafell Pike

As mentioned a few months ago, a recent trip to Scotland saw myself and a friend climb Ben Nevis, our first mountain climb. Well, mine anyway. It was exhilarating and I/we definitely got the hill walking bug. So, a few weeks ago myself and four friends headed for the hills with a new found ‘mountain bagging’ confidence. As we had Ben Nevis under our belts, we hatched a plan to complete the ‘Three Peaks’, albeit in three months, unlike some nutters who attempt them in 24 hours. First on the hit list was Snowdon, Wales’ highest mountain at 1,085 metres (3,560 ft). One of Snowdons attributes is the many routes to it’s summit. After a bit of research, we planned to ascend via the South Ridge route from Rhyd Ddu and choose the descent route at the top.

snowdon01At the summit of a cloudy Snowdon

snowdon03Andy behind Snowdon’s visitor centre

snowdon02We found an old mill at the end of the Ranger trail, near the end of our Snowdon walk

Early Sunday (9th Aug) we set off from our lovely B&B in Betws-y-Coed for our start point. After parking up in Rhyd Ddu train station, we headed off towards the cloud covered hills. The South Ridge path shares the same first section with the Rhyd Ddu path but we missed the fork point and ended up on the Rhyd Ddu path, which didn’t really matter the low clinging clouds offered poor visibility. One reward was Bwlch Main, an exposed knife edge ridge. As we trudged up it there were no views, but a spooky soup of cloud either side of the ridge below us.

The summit seemingly appeared out of nowhere through the mist and cloud. It was a strange alien place, grey, cold, wet but strangely endearing. With the new visitor centre designed to blend from the emerging rock, it looked like a scene from a nuclear winter. We climbed the stone steps up a small crag to the actual summit where a brass plate set in a summit stone listed the various views that abound on a clear day. Wet and getting a little cold, we took shelter in the visitors centre, grabbed a warming coffee and tucked in to our packed lunches. A small souvenir shop proved useful, as amongst the tat were some t-shirts, mine was sodden through.

After a well deserved lunch, we consulted the various routes and headed North along Llanberis, the ‘tourist’ path. Our intention was to fork off west onto the lesser used Snowdon Ranger path, but we missed it by half a mile or so. The Llanberis path looked so dull, we climbed back up in search of the fork. It was a pain in the arse, but well worth it in the end, the Ranger descent was great. The cloud lifted and there were only a handful of other people doing the Ranger route. Eventually we got back to civilisation on the main road, only to discover we’d missed the last Sherpa bus, but a very kind family gave us a ride in their Defender to our car. That evening we stuffed our faces with steak and the next morning headed off to the Lake District, with Scafell Pike, England’s highest peak next on the menu.

After a couple of quiet rambling days we headed for Scafell. Our starting point, Seathwaite proved to be quite elusive. Unknown to us, there are two Seathwaites. We got the wrong one after 3 hours of driving the windy exposed roads from Bowness. Apparently it’s fairly common, sat-navs (& Google maps) take many souls to the wrong place. For reference, make sure you’re heading to the Seathwaite near Seatoller. With the morning wasted, we headed to Coniston and climbed the ‘Old Man’ in mixed weather, which I found very difficult, maybe Snowdon had taken it’s toll.

oldmanconiston01Old Man of Coniston

The next day (Thur 13th) we wearily headed for Scafell again. This time we decided on starting from Wasdale, a shorter route as we felt that the Old Man of Coniston took it out of us. One big bonus was the weather, it was glorious. Wastwater and it’s surrounding area was bathed in sunlight and was jaw-droppingly beautiful. You could spend weeks just exploring the area.

mickledore01Looking back at Mickledore

After suncreaming up, we got going, but immediately my legs weren’t having any of it. I found it difficult to keep up with the others, in the end I gave up trying to keep pace and went at my own speed. Guy hung back with me, so I wasn’t walking solo. We ascended via ‘Brown Tongue’ but we (Guy & myself) took the advice in Wainwrights book and split off right to climb Mickledore. Wainwright wrote something like ‘Mickledore is as magnificent as the other route dull’, he was right, and we were very glad we took this route up. Scrambling up the narrow ridge was great fun, and the instant you reach the top you are rewarded with a stunning view to the west. From here, we walked the narrow ridge of Mickledore towards the flatter boulder strewn top of  the summit. We met up with the others, who had got there ahead of us by some time. The summit was just covered in a thin hazy cloud, with amazing vistas coming and going. It wasn’t an issue as views were plentiful just a few hundred feet below the 978 metres (3209 ft) summit. We all headed down the ‘tourist’ route which was a nice gentle descent back down to our start point. We dumped some gear in the car & headed for the nearby Inn for a well deserved ‘3 peaker celebration’ pint. Brilliant.

scafellpike02Guy & Mike at the trig point on Scafell Pike

I’d like to say a big THANK YOU to whoever handed in my camera to the Coniston Information centre. I left it on a tree stump at the bottom of the Old Man of Coniston walk. I was so glad I got it back, as it held the only photo of all of us at the summit of Snowdon. (Andy – get your arse in gear & send me the pic of us at the top of Scafell Pike :0)).

Written by rufdog

August 31, 2009 at 2:27 pm

Bonnie Scotland & Conquering Ben Nevis

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scotland_bennevis004View from the top of Ben Nevis

Having never visited Scotland before, I was raring to get up there when a few friends suggested we head north for a week in the Highlands.

The journey wasn’t bad, unlike the miserable weather. None of Scotland’s rugged beauty was visible from the car as we snaked our way to base camp near Fort William.

Once there, the seven of us settled into our comfortable, newly built lodges, had a few beers and hit the sack.
Next morning, the weather cleared enough for us to admire the imposing north face of the Glen Nevis range.

Dodging the drizzle, we managed to grab the best of the weather visiting some truly beautiful areas. Bathed in glorious sunshine, we dispatched the all-important Loch Ness, including a boat trip on the famous deep dark waters. Over the week we walked some lovely routes, a 13 mile walk here, a pub meal there, Neptune’s staircase, forest walks, Lochs Sunart and Lomond and a trip on the Jacobite ‘Harry Potter’ steam train were a few of the highlights. It’s a shame my four legged friend Blue wasn’t with me, he’d have loved the walks.

On Wednesday evening, a beer induced confidence led me to suggest that the 4409 feet of Ben Nevis looked like a piece of cake, and a plan to climb it on a forecasted sunny Friday was hatched.

On Friday morning I drowsily ignored my early alarm and woke up in a panic around 10.30. Completely unprepared, my mate Guy (who was the only mug to agree to the ‘expedition’) and myself arrived at the Glen Nevis visitor centre an hour later. A quick trip to the shop, to grab a map and an essential sun blocking baseball cap, we were set to go. It was glorious weather, the strength of the sun in Scotland seems amplified compared to middle England.

At 11.45ish we set off armed with a dismal food supply with the sun beating down. We had one round of sandwiches and a handful of cakes and biscuits between us. I hadn’t even had any breakfast. I say one round of sandwiches… it was meant to be one round each, but when it came to stop for lunch many hours later, Guy furiously discovered that he had left his lunch in the boot of the car. It wasn’t funny for him, but I couldn’t help laughing amid his swearing.

Prior to lunch, just ¾ of an hour in, I realised my grave error in thinking it would be easy. I knew I couldn’t make it, the sun was relentless, my legs like lead. I wolfed down a few Jaffa cakes, which helped immensely and slowly soldiered on, trying to keep up with my walking partner. It was tough for me, I find it incredibly tough hiking, even walking uphill, but incredibly easy downhill. I thought this was the norm, the status quo. It seems I was mistaken, a lot of people I have spoken to find it is vice versa for them.

We kept going, occasionally thinking we were close to the top, only to be thwarted by the numerous false summits. Soon we could see the snowfields, and knew we were close. Guy wanted to throw the towel in, but with a little persuasion we cracked on.

One more push and we made it, we summated Ben Nevis around 5.15pm on 29th May 2009. We were greeted by a remarkable view. The weather was perfect, bluebird skies and hundreds of peaks as far as the eye could see. It was truly stunning, breathtaking, staggering and unforgettable.

I found the whole experience quite emotional. I know Ben Nevis isn’t a big deal to serious walkers, but combined with the view, the feeling of achievement, genuinely elation and self-fulfilment I did feel very emotional. I also felt completely refreshed and re-energised. I sat next to the triangulation point and smoked a well-deserved Café Crème cigar. It was a bloody marvellous feeling.

A few hours later we were back at the base and heading back to the lodge, sunburned, knackered and starving. With our new found confidence, talk turned to completing the triple with Snowdon and Scafell Pike on the ‘next’ list.

After a large bowl of pasta, I went out on the deck with a beer and peacefully watched the pinky orange sunset slowly bathe the north face of my first ever ‘bagged’ Monroe, with a new found admiration and respect for it. I’m sure I’ll be back someday, with Blue by my side.

scotland001Rugged scenery became visible when the drizzle lifted

scotland_bennevis001A Tarn nestling on Ben Nevis

scotland_bennevis002Westerly view over Loch Linnhe towards the Isle of Mull

scotland_bennevis003Another westerly shot over the boulder fields

scotland_bennevis005A little higher, amongst the snowfields

scotland_bennevis006The old observatory on the summit

scotland_bennevis007I finally made it!

scotland_bennevis009We made it

scotland_bennevis008Me & Guy in the snowfields at the start of the descent

scotland_bennevis010Watching the sun set on the north face of Ben Nevis with a beer

Written by rufdog

June 11, 2009 at 9:39 am

Conquering Coniston Water’s Fells

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smithy-lakes
After hiking our way up above Coniston Water in the Lake District, Andy climbed up onto a massive boulder to gain an advantage point.

Despite the ominous looking clouds seen here, it was a scorchingly hot and humid August day. The sunlight was dancing across the surrounding fells as it broke through the clouds.

crew-coniston
The full Coniston crew..
Guy, Mike, Me & Andy (L to R)

coniston-views1

coniston-views2
The views we were rewarded with

Shots taken 2nd August 2008

Written by rufdog

February 15, 2009 at 6:23 pm