Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Clearing the house (mobile blog)

This week has seen me create a mountain instead of climbing one..
We've had the house insulated, but it's meant clearing the loft...
Most of the crap was kindly left to us by the previous owners.. God knows how long it's been there cos we've lived here for nine years!
It's taken two weekends of hard graft to empty the loft, sort out what we want to keep and get rid of the rest. I was going to get a skip for it, but a standard six ton skip is now £115!!!
I offered forty quid to my sister's fella to come over with his minivan and help me tip it instead.

If you ever have to use the tip at Ravenfield, then save your self some time. Walk in and lamp the mustashioed tit and save yourself an argument with a bureacratic idiot.. Sort it into fourteen different containers - fine. Get a 'permit' to get rid of your rubbish. Fine..
Do all this and then get told you can't throw away your rubbish because someone filed the permit (he know's you have) to the wrong site?.. I was not happy....

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Monday, 25 October 2010

Old photo, circa 1962-ish..

This is my mum, her mum and her friend going for a weekend away in edale... 
Check out the mountain of kit my gran is sat on!

Thursday, 7 October 2010

A quick trip to Kinder.

A couple of weeks ago my good lady was going to her parents for the day and instead of taking me, she asked if I wanted to go out walking..
Not needing to be asked twice, I gave my sister a call to see if she wanted to go for a walk. She was happy to go out, but was wasn't keen about going up Kinder.
You see when my mum was young, she had gone up Kinder and she had hated every minute.. She had inadvertantly filled my sisters head with visions of a dready (wo)man-eating-bog trudge that should be avoided at all costs.

I eventually talked her round (but I'd trimmed the trip down to a simple scramble up Crowden Clough, around the edge of Kinder to avoid the boggy ground and down Jacobs ladder.

Setting off she put on a brave face Soon after she settle in and was having fun. We'd talked on the way and she'd reminiced about the fun she'd had doing her DoE. She had been over the great ridge, but not on Kinder before. As we passed into the bottom of the Clough itself, a pretty waterfall presented itself to us and she came to life, noticing more around her, becoming more animated about her surroundings. We chatted about what she could expect on the top and as the climb became steeper, I slowly built her confidence on the rocks, crossing the stream more than was needed and going over tricker sections, rather than round them. At one point, Trina said that if it got much more difficult, she'd need to turn back. I helped her build pride in what she had already done, as she had heard the bad stories of kinder and we were soon back on our way. As we neared the top and we came up to the scramble itself, She was ready. With the exception of one section that required something more technical than she had done before, she did brilliantly and once at the top, we followed the stream up the river bed to get a look around, and then followed another fork of the stream to find a sheltered spot to have lunch.
About this point it started to rain a little, but it didn't last long.
We followed the path around the edge of kinder taking in the view Which is always one of the strong points of kinder. We crossed through the blasted rock formations, and soon came to the head of the path that leads down to Jacobs Ladder.
I always forget just how steep this path is, or at least, appears to be. We carefully picked our way down, passed by a group of mountain bikers going the other way (If this was you, or you have done this - you are mad).
Soon after, we were off the hill and in the Nag's for a quick one before going home.

Did my sister end up enjoying her day out on Kinder? Have a look for yourself.

Friday, 1 October 2010

New Gear!

This is just a first look at some new gear I got for my birthday.
(Note: Although I've played with or used this kit, I havent been out on the hill with any of it yet).

The Berghaus Spectrum Fleece.
The thing that has impressed me the most is the zip.. Sad, I know but it's nice to find a zip that doesn't catch, gliding easily open and closed. It also has a small baffle behind it too to trap that extra bit of warmth. The jacked is a nice shade of bright blue with darker blue under the arms and side.
I've been out and about in this and it's looking great.

North Face Classic micro fleece.
Small, light and 1/3 zip. Very, very warm and it fits well too. Not a jacket like the above berghaus, but a great everday jumper or additional layering option.

Alpkit Numo sleep mat
This was a bit of a controvertial choice. I've been looking for a new sleep mat for some time. I wanted something lighter that packs smaller than the Vango trek mat i've been using. I looked at the Thermarest Neoair, Pacific outdoor ether (several variants) the Alpkit Aero and Numo and a few others.
I can't afford the Neoair. A few people pointed me to some bargins, but i missed some and others were for the short length. (I wanted a regular size). Also it had to be easily found as someone else was buying it as a gift, so saying "watch ebay and these sites and buy one when it's less than..." wasn't an option.
The Ether Elite looked like a good buy, but sold out.
I have 2 self inflating mats, so the Aero was out.
The Alpkit Numo fit the bill nicely. It's small and light when packed (nearly a kilo lighter than the vango mat!) and it blows up to a good thickness. I have tried it out and it is very comfortable. The only things Alpkit could improve would be that when it's being inflated/deflated the baffles at the end block a bit and means that a slow and steady approach pays dividends (it takes 11 big breaths for me to inflate this mat). Lastly the valve is in the traditional top corner of the mat. It'd be better in the middle of the top, allowing air out better when the mat is being folded and rolled.

I also got some drybags, which are although boring are good to have. I used the larger one (35l) for carting clothing around in the torrential rain today when i picked up my son from school.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Tent pole misery...

I suppose it had to happen sometime. I thought it'd be out in the hills though.

Last night i put the tent up in the back garden for Ben. I do this every now and again if i think he needs a bit of quality time.
I had pitched everything earlier and was just unpacking the sleeping bags. Ben came out with his water bottle. He ran back to the house for something else..
And ran straight over the tent!
I eventually managed to find words that were not profane, grabbed the repair sleeve and we bedded down for the night.

I made the call to decathlon today. They were helpful and clued up. The replacement poles are priced reasonably and although they have to be ordered, they'll be here for my birthday.
So, all together not as bad as i expected. 

Cheers to decathlon Sheffield and the lady who helped - Thanks Helen.

Monday, 30 August 2010

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Wild Camp

After I had been on the last winter walk, Jim mentioned he liked carrying everthing we needed because if the weather closed in, we could just pitch for the evening..
I suggested we should go wild camping..
The plan was to get dropped off at the side of the snake pass where it meets the pennine way (Cheers Dad!), Walk up to the crash site on the top of Bleaklow, drop down into Alport Valley, Have a look at Alport Castle and then pitch for the evening in an undisclosed location before being picked up from the main road the next day.

The trip out was unremarkable, so I'll skip that, (NB. the layby at the drop off point is in bad repair so take care not to bottom out your car).

We soon set off for Bleaklow top. The path is clear (it's part of the pennine way) and this is a nice easy walk in nice weather with no kids. Pretty soon we came across the remains of the crashed B-29 Superfortress "Overexposed".

It's the same type of aircraft that dropped the atomic bombs at the end of the second World War. It's strange to walk among what's left. Some parts are shredded, some melted and some perfectly intact. Thirteen men died when the plane crashed but I didn't feel anything odd, In fact I found it quite peaceful and interesting, though I'm sure if the mist rolled in and I was on my own, it would have been completely different.
Continuing on to the top of the hill we stopped for a bit. I stepped up onto the boulder the trig point is set on. Although windy we must have been sheltered as the wind just a couple of feet higher was amazing. It was like being in a convertable or on a motorbike at speed. There were no gusts, just constant, cold, refreshing wind on a (surprisingly) sunny day. I couldn't get enough. I stood there for ages, just letting the wind blow the cobwebs out. Perfect.

As we went back on ourselves, we passed a couple who were coming the other way. I mention them, not because they were memorable but because they were the last people we would see until the next day! (If you don't find this remarkable, I once read that the Peak District National Park is the second busiest in the world - only beaten by Mt Fuji).

The walk down the valley was scenic and obscenely quiet, No other people, not even sheep for the most part. The only other living things were a few birds and a snake thet leapt from the path in front of us (it's nice to know they really are more scared of us!).
(note: From dropping into the valley, to its exit at the main road there is NO phone reception on Vodafone, Orange or T-Mobile, so phone loved ones before you enter the valey!).
The path is ok until you reach the valley proper. It peters out to a sheep track and is hard going walking on a steep slope an a path perhaps 20cm wide. There are patches of bracken that grows to an incredible size. In places it was taller than me and I'm 6'2"..
We were well ahead of time, so we kept stopping for breaks, watching the erm, stream go by as there really is nothing else there!. I kept hearing that 'swishing' noise that you can hear traffic making on a motorway. It took me ages to realise that it was the sound of the wind rushing over the top of the valley.

As I got to within sight of the first of our (several possible) camp sites, we stopped on a bit of a platau and the decision was made to try and get down to river level. This may have been a mistake. Telling the truth, It was a mistake and a fairly big one. We had little visibility of our surroundings, because no one could see over the bracken, and the steep valley sides, just got steeper and steeper. We hit a small stream valley and the floor kept dropping away either in a very steep gradient or in 2 foot steps. Normally not a problem, just tiring. Here the bracken not only blocked the view, it blocked the view of our feet. To make things slightly more intersting the bracken also liked to get wrapped round my boots, trying to trip me up.
Some how we reached the stream without spraining an ankle and the first possible camp site. Very pretty, but buggy and not that discrete. Besides, Jim and Paul wanted to camp in a woods, so we pushed on.

We decided to find the place to pitch and drop off our bags, before walking on to Alport Castles. First we had to find a way into the woods.. They were thick, dark and inpenetrable. Finding a hole big enough for a badger, we pushed in.
Inside, it was warm, quiet and nowhere near as evil as it looked from outside. I had been given a description of how to find the campsite by an online friend. Without directions we'd never have found it.
We came over a small rise and saw our home for the night. Alport castles, Majestic as it is, never stood a chance. It's perfect. It's flat, hidden and someone before us had built a bench and there is a fire pit there too. Just at the side there is a small stream. At first glance this looked filthy, but this was because it is a sandy bottom with a little dirt in it. Not a lot of water comes through it, but what does is clear, not full of tannins from the peat on the hill tops above the valley and for the most part, insect free. It may dry up if it hasn't rained for a while, So don't depend on it, though you could go to the river Alport if your need was great enough. After digging a small depression for the water to collect, and pitching camp (including pitching a tarp I'd brought that we put over the bench). We were totally settled in. We were going nowhere.
The night was great. A fire was lit, though much smaller than previous ones by others as we were not cooking on it. The fire would only be for a bit of heat, light and general 'when would we get the chance to have a fire again'.
There were no 'spooky woods in the middle of nowhere' feelings. We just had some Supper, sat round the fire listened to music, drank our wine and chatted. It was one of those nights that you'd love to have all the time. So we'll have to go back, sooner rather than later.

The walk out was also uneventful, though it's still very wild, with no paths through the bracken other than ones left by animals. The river also has eroded the bank in places so it is slow going until you reach the farmhouse and pick up a dirt road.

An excellent place and all three of us enjoyed this trip thoroughly. As we didn't manage to go round Alport castle, we've the perfect excuse to go again..

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

A nice easy wander.

Hello my friends. I've recently been away to a place called Malham. If you've never heard of it.. Shame on you. It was once the site of a colossal waterfall that dried up a long time ago, leaving a huge cliff facing out over a huge valley. I've wanted to go here for a long time, but something else always presented itself.
I got the call recently from my mate Jim, something along the lines of: I fancy going for a hike.. Any Ideas?
Of course I had Ideas, but this was the favorite from the off...
Camping in Gordale Scar, walking up the 'scar', to Malham Tarn and back down to Malham Cove.. It sounded simple and this time, It was.
In fact, although we covered a good few miles, It was pleasant, and beautiful (and the pub had cracking beer).

The campsite is nestled under the scar itself and the owner has.. Lets say - peculiarities. A brief conversation with him in morning went Me:"You're lucky to live somewhere so beautiful" Site owner: "So people tell me"....
What!!??? It is also not somewhere to go if you like your amenities. The toilets are.. Functional. There is a pot washing room and that's about it.
There is a shower in the pot washing room, but I'm not sure how long I'd have to be camped out before you could convince me to use it..
But! the site itself is in the most stunning location you could ever ask for..

The Scar Itself is caused by a combination or erosion, glaciation and quarrying. 
If you go, the path goes straight through the middle of the campsite, then there's a sharp right turn into the scar itself. Inside it is stunning. A huge open cavern with a magical waterfall at the end. 

After you climb and scramble up the back of the scar, next to the waterfall. You come out onto a multitude of grassy, extinct riverbeds. If you've ever been to the beach (and I'm sure you have) and if that beach had a small stream on it, you'll know what I'm talking about.. When the stream runs over the sand, It cuts lots of channels that criss-cross over each other.. It's like that but the sides of the stream beds were higher than me and wider than a house... These eventually peter out and you find yourself next to a road.

At this point, I must mention that on this trip, I broke a cardinal rule. I took no map. To be honest, I couldn't afford to go away and buy a new map, so I took my GPS so that, if we did get lost I could backtrack back to the site, with nothing more than a bruised ego. I needn't have worried, On a clear day, with a compass and someone who is confident in it's use, you'd probably never need a map. Maybe not even the compass.. I only used it to take a back bearing as a double redundancy for the GPS.. (DISCLAIMER: NEVER GO WITHOUT A MAP - I DID IT BECAUSE I'M STUPID AND BECAUSE I'M BROKE - NEVER TAKE RISKS WITH YOUR SAFETY).
If you find the road (which is on the OS map) it is pretty much impossible to miss the tarn. There are multiple paths and they all seemed to take you to Malham Tarn.. Now please let me inform you, Unless you have a big things for lakes, this one is pretty unremarkable. Its big, wet and somewhere pretty. It kinda reminded me of a large park near Gatwick. It was however, a great place to stop for lunch.
While we ate, facing away from the tarn, using a wall as a windbreak we were pretty much alone. (watch where you sit though - I nearly plonked myself down on a cowpat tucked right under the wall)
We followed the edge of the Tarn down to where the stream came out, and followed this to a place labelled 'Shake Holes'. This is where the stream goes underground. This is also where things get a bit bizarre.. When there was enough water running over the surface to the waterfall, things make sense. But! when the water goes underground, it gets lost and goes somewhere completely different. (the water coming out at Malham Cove, which everyone assumes is from the tarn, comes from somewhere else, quite some way away). At Shake Holes, the water goes underground. It seeps in so gently that it just slowly peters out, until there is a dry river bed. (incidentally, the last time water made it over the cliff was in the 1800's). The we had a nice surprise. While we were walking leisurely down the river bed, we started passing people on their way up. lots seemed tired and hot.. Jim remarked that the whole walk had seemed to be downhill all the way.. Mostly it is. With the exception of the climb and scramble up the scar, everything else was as good as flat. even the fall of the dried up stream beds from there to the tarn was so gentle you didn't notice). we wondered why everyone seemed so, well, hot and bothered.
It soon became apparent. on this side the river had cut a narrow path, that was beautiful , but full of still air. this lead into an almost straight glacial valley. Like nothing I'd seen before, it was as if a Deity had just pressed his finger into the ground and drawn a groove into the dirt..

 We stopped about halfway down here, just meaning to have a smoke, but it was so quiet, pretty, sheltered, warm and comfy. We stayed over half an hour. But there was no rush on this trip. The tent was already up, and it was still early in the day.

When we set off again, we soon covered the ground to the top of the cliff around the cove itself, peering over the edge and taking pictures Enjoying the distant horizon the elevation afforded us.

From there we walked the famous limestone pavement, Its deep cracks and wobbly blocks making for an interesting walk. In snow or even the wet, it'd be easy to snap an ankle up there.

This lead to the stepped path at the far end of the cove. (which is part of the pennine way. It runs right up from malham, up the valley, past the tarn and on from there). Down the steps we went, Jim still amazed we were still headed down hill. We backtracked at the bottom and went to watch the climbers for a while. Sadly the stream in the bottom was quite low (If you are ever here, a good conversational point: this is the source of the river Aire).
Feeling good and only slightly footsore (NB. I'm not going to walk in just one pair of socks again. I've tried it a couple of times now, and each time I've come close to getting blisters). We followed the stream and found a cracking pub called 'The Lister Arms'. Try the 'Nutty Black' It's a very easily drunk ale, but it's also a session beer, so several pints won't send you walking into lamposts.

So - a great place and a cracking walk. If  you set off from Gordale Scar it also seems downhill all the way, once you've got up the first bit. Oh, And before I forget, make sure you search out Janet's foss too. It's quite pretty.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

The slog.

This year's walk was a simple premise: walk into Edale and camp for the night.

Of course I made it more complicated. We would walk from ladybower and leave the car at home. This meant I had to work out the bus's, train's and tram's we'd use. Secondly it meant we'd have to carry anything we wanted in with us. not a big task in the summer with a day pack, but in the middle of winter and with an over night camp, the stuff you need soon piles up...

Jim met up with me at mine. We bused to Meadowhell, picked up a tram, met Paul in Sheffield center and then a final bus to The Ladybower Inn (as we left sheffield mist and low cloud started appearing - not a sight good for the soul). We wanted sun and views, but you have to play with the cards you get dealt).
By the time we arrived there, Jim and I had already been lugging our packs for 3 or so hours and Paul had woken with a very sore back ..

Paul had done a reccie on the route a week or so before. In the day, on his own with little weight he'd done it in a bit over 3 hours. We'd also been on a walk in Rotherham a few weeks before with a full pack, just to see how we'd get on.
There were no problems, other than my tired old boots rubbing. This would be sorted by just wearing thicker socks on the day. Simple.

Setting off from the bus stop the sky started to clear and the sun came out. This was more like it, few people and the views were getting started.

We walked over the ladybower bridge, spending most of my time pretending to push Jim in the icy water as he peered over the edge.

We follwed the road down to the dam itself. It's really quite pretty, look:
After crossing the dam, we picked up a gentle, but muddy path. I started thinking that leaving my gators at home was a mistake but soon the path dried out as it was became steeper and steeper and as always, I started going red in the face as the others picked their way ahead of me.
As we left this narrow steep path we entered a rather knarly looking wood. I wouldn't be surprised it it was used in a future Scooby Doo movie. Just as I was  catching my breath, a couple of ladies came the other way. They warned us about how steep it was on the other side. I still wonder what their faces were like as they looked down the path that we had just come up.
Soon we started to come out of the tree line and we got our first real views of the day. This was swiftly followed by a push to get to the top. Look at the above photo of the reservoir and you'll notice the hill has a nipply bit on the top. So I settled back into my trudge. This part of the walk was really pleasant, a light wind quickly drying off any damp sweaty bits, but not so bad that it was cold. Suddenly, much faster than expected we were on the top.
The view was the best I've ever seen. We weren't that high, but we had views of the best bits of the Peaks. The flat top of Kinder scout, the ridge running off towads Mam Tor, Ladybower below us and the last vestages of Stannage Edge. It really is perfect up there. If you haven't been, book a day off work in the early summer before it get's too hot and go see for yourself. You won't regret it. If you think it's not for you, take a look. I'm sure you'll change your mind.

Going down was fairly straightforward, if steep at times. and brought us out at a farm. We were worried abought rights of way as the path seemed to just be access to the farm, but as we got closer we realised the path just went straight across the yard.. The biggest surprise came when we got there, there was a sign advertising rooms and get this - a swiming pool... slightly unexpected..
 After the farm, we picked up the a road that headed back dow towards the outskirts of Hope and a quick refreshment stop at The Cheshire Cheese.
Suitably refreshed, we set off up the next hill of the day.
This time things were harder. I don't know why, I'd climbed higher going up Scarfell Pike. I'd walked further and in much less time. But this ascent really hurt.
It started to go dark on the way up as planned, giving Jim a chance to pose for dramatic images..
Then it was time to get out the head torches, and by the time I made it to the top it was night proper. The stars were out and the temperature was plummeting. I was too tired to care by this point and the walk was rapidly turning into a test of endurance, with Paul and his bad back somehow still moving too. (if this never happens to you, rest safely in the knowledge that you have never pushed your limits).
We went past Backtor and followed the path down not long after. We were all tired now and stumbling over everything. Suddenly we seemed to be down most of the way and I called a halt for a fag break. Suddenly, the laughter broke out again and the mood lifted. We set off again feeling much better. We got onto the road and came out near the Youth Hostel. There was a group of people coming the other way and as we passed, us with full packs (which now had frost on the top of them), not knowing if there were any spaces at the campsite (at this time of year it's a pretty safe bet though). One of them turned to the another and said "now that's hardcore!"
This became the catchphrase for the rest of the trip. Why? I don't know. sometimes some things just stick..
After this things went quickly and smoothly. We soon covered the last mile or 2 joking along the road, got to the campsite, pitched the tent, went to the pub and went back to the site where I made a brew and the site owner came round, checking in on everyone (and making sure that people remembered to pay him in the morning too).

Early in the morning I heard the weather change. It had started to rain very gently on the tent, I rolled over and went back to sleep. When I woke up later, It had gone dark again. This confused the hell out of me - had I slept through the day? As I thought this, my foot tapped the side of the tent and suddenly the side of the tent slipped off!? It hadn't rained at all.. It had snowing, not raining and not at all gently).
Someone came past and was telling his mate that the roads were blocked and he couldn't get back to Sheffield. While we were discussing what to do the happy sound of a train drifted through the valley.

We decided to strike camp there and then, skipping breakfast in the hope that the next train would still come as well. Strangely, when we'd packed up and got on the road, it didn't seem as bad, but cars were having big problems, even on the flat.
We arrived at the train station and I put on a pot of coffee for us. It was still very pretty, white everywhere and silent, with no cars or crowds.
And that's it really. The train came, Paul went his own way back in sheffield and Jim and I struggled to get back out of Rotherham on buses that had pretty much stopped running..

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Long time no post...

I know, I know....
I've been a bit busy with the twins etc. I'm gonna make a bigger effort to start posting again in a couple of weeks after the annual nightwalk.. Try looking back in at the end of Feb, there should be more then..