About this blog

Just having a bit of fun here, posting about walks and other stuff. I need to get out more.

Sunday, 30 January 2011

Wainwright Bagging.The First 100.

I have been walking in the English Lake District for about 20 years now. Initially I would travel up there on my own for the occasional weekend or even drive there and back from South Yorkshire in one day.
Back then I was blissfully oblivious of the existance hill lists such as "Wainwrights", "Birketts, "Marilyns" etc, etc. I would simply pick a route from the maps and walk it.
Early walks I recall included Coniston Old Man , The Fairfield Horseshoe, Helvellyn via Striding Edge, Bowfell and Crinckle Crags.
Gradually, my trips to the Lakes became less frequent, I had instead started venturing further north up to the Scottish Highlands.
 My walking would be confined to an annual trip to Scotland and occasional walks closer to home in the Peak District... I was neglecting the Lake District.
A few years passed by, then, a conversation with a chap I knew from the local cricket club (Mark Limb), touched on the topic of hill walking. It turned out that Mark also enjoyed walking in the hills and he was in fact "bagging" Wainwrights and he had ticked off  60 odd of them. I was aware of Alfred Wainwright's (AW's) work by this time and when I got home I looked up the list of Wainwrights and discovered I had inadvertently done about 30 of them.

For the benefit of the uninitiated The Wainwrights are a list of hills taken from the 7 books written and beautifully illustrated by AW between 1954 and 1966. His books are a testament of his dedication to the task, bordering on obsessiveness, and they are still a best seller today.
Much has been written about the great man and I don't intend to cover his life story here.
You can find more info here....http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alfred_Wainwright ...if so inclined.
Cover of the first of the 7 Pictorial guides
Over the last 3 or 4 years Mark and I have made regular trips up to Cumbria, sometimes for a weekend but more often taking turns to drive there and back in the day.
Last weekend, we did a lovely circuit of the hills which surround Boredale in the Far Eastern Fells. Wainwrights were "bagged" and the last one of the day, Place Fell was my 100th hill from the Pictorial Guides of the Lakeland Fells by A Wainwright..
In terms of shear beauty, the English Lake District has no rival in the British Isles. For such a relatively small area the region has it all in terms of mountain sceenery, stunningly beautiful valleys, rivers and grand lakes. I am not sure if I will ever complete all 214 of the fells in AW's books but they will give me a reason to keep going back there on a regular basis, and that will do for me.
Alfred Wainwright has another dedicated follower.
A few photo's from some memorable days.  
Skiddaw Panorama

"Peep around the corner"

Tarn on Seathwaite Fell

Pavey Ark

Pike O' Stickle

The majestic Scafells from Grey Friar

On Place Fell last week

Sunday, 23 January 2011

TGO Challenge Route 2011. The second week.

By this stage, one week into a long walk, life becomes a routine. All thoughts are focused on where you are headed that day, the weather conditions, navigation, rest stops and at the end of the day, finding a nice spot to pitch the tent
This is a lifestyle of the most simplistic kind... Living the life of a nomad.

Fri 20th May.
Head out of Dalwhinney with a heavy pack containing 4 days worth of food supplies, following the Aqueduct up to Loch Cuaich where there is a nice track along the length of the loch. Rough pathless walking then following the water courses down the the river Tromie.where there is a bridge close to Bhran cottage. Head north from here along glen Tromie before cutting across to Baileguish via Croidh-la and forestry. Hope to camp at Baileguish but rumour has it the this area is popular with deer tick's, so may push on to Glen Feshie
Distance covered 24km with about 600m of ascent.

Sat 21st May
Hopefully after 8 day's walking I will be fit as a fiddle by this stage. I will need to be as I have planned two seriously testing hill days through the Cairngorms. Today, the plan is to take the Foxhunters path up to Carn Ban More and navigate over the plateau to the Munros on the eastern edge. This is magnificent country and I really hope I get the weather to be able to do this walk. I have twice planned to do this but on both occasions have been thwarted by poor weather. Third time lucky I hope...
View from Ben Macdui

I had a great view of these three Munros (Sgor an Lochain Uaine, Cairn Toul and The Devils Point) from Ben Macdui on last year's walk.

The descent to Corrour bothy can be tricky if there is significant snow in Coire Odhar, hopefully it will be fine on the day as I need to push on to camp close to Derry Lodge to put me in a good position for the long walk the following day.

Derry Lodge
I camped here last year and was lucky enough to have a great Golden Eagle sighting, a cracking end to a memorable day.
It's a really lovely spot close to the Derry Burn amongst the Scots Pines. There should be a few other Challenge walkers here but most will be ahead of me by a day and no doubt living it up in Marr Lodge or Braemar.
Derry Lodge camp 2010

Sun 22nd May
Early start and another big hills day. I walked part of this route last year and enjoyed it so much that I included it again this year, Clais Fhearnaig has a wonderful lochan, few walkers pass this way and it's an ideal oportunity for a skinny dip/scrub up/tick check.
Glen Quoich is quite stunning too. From here I hope to head up to Ben Avon and its two Munros. If I am going to opt out of a high level day and instead take the FWA, then I suspect it will be today. Hope not though as I really want to see the topography on the Ben Avon tops.
Clais Fhearnaig

Either way, I will end up following the River Gairn as far as Loch Builg where I intend to camp.

Distance 30km
Ascent 1250m (If Ben Avon is done)


Mon 23rd May
Easy day along Glen Gairn, familiar territory for me as I have passed this way twice before on previous Challenges. I like this glen a lot, the walking is easy on good paths and tracks and there are Oyster Catchers, Curlews and Lapwings in good numbers to add interest to the walk. I will then follow minor roads along side the river into civilisation again at Ballater and a welcome B&B.

25km and a lowly 400m of upwardness.

Tue 24th May.

REST DAY. Spent doing...well, not very much at all really except sleeping, eating and drinking Guinness.

Wed 25th May.
Mounth Keen path to Mount Keen and onwards to Tarfside.
Tarfside is a funnel for Challenge walkers heading for the coastline in the St Cyrus-Montrose area.
On the Tuesday the "campsite" will be full of Atkos, Lasers, Tarps and the like and the Masons Arms will do a roaring trade on what is one of the most "sociable" evenings on the Challenge.
I expect the Wednesday night crowd to be a bit more refined and I'm not even sure the Masons will be open.
Still, it should mean that I can get a bed in St Drostans hostel and have the full attention of the lovely ladies who staff the hostel for the benefit of TGO Challengers.

Distance 27km Ascent 1150m (if Mount Keen not bypassed)

Thur 26th May
The walk will be almost over now, just one and a half easy going days to the coast. Today I will just follow the River North Esk into Edzell for lunch and then on to the campsite at North Water Bridge.
About 25km today with no ascent worth mentioning.

Friday 27th May.
Early start along lanes and and paths to my finish point on the beach in Montrose Bay. Paddle in the sea and walk along the beach to hopefully catch the aftermath of the morning after the night before on the campsite in Montrose.

And there you have it.... The most challenging of my challenge walks to date with some long, tough days. It's within my capabilities though so long as I stay injury free, eat well and the weather is not too serious. It will be interesting when I post my trip report to see how close the actual route turns out compared to the planned route.

Beach celebration St Cyrus 2007 after falling into bad company.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

TGO Challenge Route 2011. The first week.

Well I finally managed to get my route completed last week and sent off for vetting.

The vetters are experienced Challenge walkers and they do a great job reviewing the 300 or so submitted routes. The main reason the route is vetted is to make sure that all participants know how to work out distances and ascents and that they have not inadvertently planned a route that may get them into trouble if the weather closes in. For any day where the route is high level, you have to submit a lower level "Foul Weather Alternative" (FWA) route for that day.
I enjoy the planning aspect, and pass on many a winter's evening working out the routes, planning hill days, re-supply points and booking any accommodation along the route. This year I will only have one night of luxury , in a B&B at Ballater, I will camp out in the wild or on campsites on all the other nights.

I received my route back yesterday from Alan Hardy and was pleased when I read the his opening comments.

"It's a very fine line that you are following this year with some great wilderness and hill days and the possibility of some good social evenings later in the walk"

Alan then goes on to pass on useful information on aspects of the route that he has previously.walked.

The route outline is as follows:

Thursday 12th May.
Travel by train to Glasgow. Join the afternoon train there to Oban. Jump on a Cal Mac ferry to Mull where a bus awaits the ferry to take me to Tobermory.
I will spend the evening in Tobermory and stay in the Youth Hostel that night.

Friday 13th May.
Early morning ferry to Kilchoan on the Ardnamurchan penninsular then bus to Laga Bay on Loch Sunart. I will start walking from here. First hill of the walk will be Ben Laga which should be a great view point, then down the other side to Loch Laga to join up with the former drove road to Acharacle.
All challengers must sign out at one of the designated start points so that the organisers know that you have started the walk. Acharacle is where I will sign out before an afternoon stroll down the road 
Laga Bay and Loch Sunart
to Salen Hotel where I will have lunch.(Link to hotel)
It has a good reputation and will be my last chance for "proper" food for a few days.

After lunch I will walk the 2 miles to Resipole Campsite which is spectacularly situated beside Loch Sunart.
A nice easy first day. 19km and 750m of ascent.

Sat 14th May.
After yesterday's steady day, today will be one of the toughest of the trip.
A path starts close to the campsite and heads straight into the hills. Beinn Resipol stands at 845m above sea level and will be my first big hill of the trip. Spectacular views are expected. Continuing in an easterly direction (that's the general idea) along the ridge, I will eventually descend to the ruins of some old lead mines, pass close by Bellsgrove Loch to yet more mine ruins where I will start the long climb to the days second Corbett, Sgurr Dhomhnuill and yet more breathtaking views. The plan then is to follow the ridge down to the River Scaddle where I will enjoy my first wild camp of the trip.
23km and a monstrous 1900m of ascent.

Sun 15th May.
A long day today, but easy going along tracks down Glen Scaddle to the A861. Along the road for about 6km to pick up the Corran Ferry, lunch in the Argdour Hotel then continue through Inchree, Gleann Seilach and Lundavra to pick up the West Highland Way. Heading eastwards (trend here) I intend to camp close to Larigmore ruin.
35km and 640m of ascent.

Mon 16th May. Another "Biggie" today. Follow WHW to Kinglochleven, pick up supplies and enjoy a cooked meal then head out of the village for the eastern Mamores. Long hard climb to my first Munros of the trip, Na Gruigaichean and Binnein Mor. High camp at Coire an Lochan.

Coire an Lochan

Planned distance: 16.5km
Ascent: 1500m

Tue 17th May.
Following yesterdays exertions, today should be nice and steady. I have the option of nipping up Sgurr Eilde Mor (Munro), be rude not to, then dropping down (not literally) to Loch Eilde Mor and then along good paths to the bothy at Loch Chiarain. Following a leisurely lunch on goodies picked up in Kinlochleven in the bothy, I have a pleasant afternoon stroll to Loch Treig where I will pitch the tent and soak up the views.
22km and 820m of upwardness.

Wed 18th May.
The Munro, Beinn na Lap will follow immediately after breakfast. I have climbed this hill before on the Challenge in 2007 and it is a relatively easy climb, it's a smashing viewpoint though and one of my favourite hills.
Onwards and eastwards then to Loch Ghuillbin, Lubvan and wild camp at Lochan na H-Earba
22km, 850m

Thur 19th May
Quite a big day today with two more Munros planned, Creag Pitridh and Geal Charn.
Descent to River Pattack then rough going past Lochan na Doire Uaine and onwards to Dalwhinney.
Hope to fit in a tour of the distillery here and also get a meal in the Inn of Loch Ericht in Dalwhinney
28km and 1200m of ascent.

Week 2 to follow...

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Sanctuary on my Doorstep

All my life, I have lived in South Yorkshire.
I grew up in a town called Wath-Upon-Dearne and attended Wath Victoria Junior and Infants school and then Wath Comprehensive school. I left school in 1977 and started work at one of the local collieries as an apprentice Blacksmith Plater Welder.
During my youth, my enduring memory of Wath was of the thick smog which hung over the town most days as a result of the huge coking plant that was situated on the edge of the town. Back then, there were also two collieries in the town, Wath Main and Manvers Main and a huge marshalling yard (Link) which transported the coal and coke all over the north of England.
The area was booming, families moved into Wath from all corners of Britain, new homes were built and there was money to spend. The local shops and pubs had never had it so good.... ..but the environment was paying the price.

Today all of the industry has long since gone. Where the coking plant and Manvers Main once were, stands Dearne Valley College and numerous Call Centres. A new road starts here and passes directly through the area where the marshalling yard was situated.
The land on which Wath Main proudly stood for over 100 years has been extensively developed and now hosts a golf course and a lake. Thousands of trees have been planted and the area is now quite pretty, totally transformed in the space of 25 years.
The new road continues here to eventually link up with the M1 and passes new housing developments, a rather tacky looking new hotel and the inevitable KFC. About 300 yards further along the road a rather innocuous sign post, just before a mini roundabout exclaims.."RSPB-Old Moor"......This is the sanctuary on my doorstep.

There have always been wetlands in this area adjacent to the River Dearne and when I was growing up in Wath my mates and I used to venture down there occasionally. We called it "Swan Lake" or "Swanny". There was not much there to interest us though and we generally stayed closer to home.

In 1998 Barnsley Council, as part of the regeneration of the area, opened up a visitor centre here in some converted farm buildings. Further development took place in 2002 as a result of a lottery grant , and the following year the RSPB took over the site. They have lovingly developed the site and other wetland areas close by, and what we have today is a first class area of outstanding beauty for all to enjoy.

Entrance to Old Moor

Please take time to have a look on the RSPB-OLD MOOR WEBSITE .
Theres lots of information on the website...and don't miss fat Berts daily updates on the days sightings at Old Moor!
Download the map and go and have a look around.

Old Moor Wetlands

Autumn Colours

Grey Heron in the rain.

Tufted Duck

The onset of winter at Old Moor

Icy view from the Wath Ings hide

Thursday, 6 January 2011

ECAD in Australia.

Following hot on the heels of Englands magnificent Ashes victory in Australia, England Deaf Cricket squad will depart for Melbourne this weekend to take part in a tri-nation tournament with Australia and South Africa.

My son Andrew will be part of the squad and this is a fabulous honour and opportunity for him to represent his country. Details of the squad and itinerary can be found in the link below.


Andrew is a talented cricketer and currently plays for Wath CC in the South Yorkshire Cricket League. He has been involved with the England Deaf team for about 4 years now and is a key batsman for them. Like his old man, Andrew loves playing and watching most sports but it is cricket that he excels at.

Good luck Andrew, enjoy the experience...wish I could have made the trip with you.

Andrew on his way to a century for Wath CC V's Whitley Hall CC in the S.Yorks League.

Sunday, 2 January 2011

TGO Challenge

On May 13th this year I will set off on a walk across Scotland, from the the west coast at Laga Bay on the Ardnamurchan peninsular, to Montrose on the east coast.
On this walk I will pass through some of the finest scenery to be found anywhere on these islands. The walk will take me around 13 days to complete covering a distance of almost 350km (220 miles) with, if all goes to plan, a total ascent of 13,460 metres (more than 1.5 times the height of Mount Everest).

I will be in good company during the walk as around 300 other people will be setting off at around the same time from various points on the west coast of Scotland. We will all be taking part in what has been labelled the World's biggest backpacking event...The TGO Challenge.

TGO is a hillwalking and backpacking magazine and they, along with RAB  are the sponsors of this unique event.
"The Challenge" (as it has become known) has it's own website and details of the event and other useful information, including a sometimes lively forum, can be found here....TGO Challenge website

The gist of it is, you plan your own route across Scotland, from west to East, starting at one of the designated start points. You can chose to plan either a high, or low level route, or maybe mix it up?, and you can finish anywhere on the east coast between Fraserburgh and Arbroath.

The event kinda gets under your skin a bit, once you have completed your first Challenge, you get the taste for it and the multiude of route options are intriguing...this will be my 5th crossing of Scotland..and my 5th TGO Challenge.

More on this later.