Coed Brenin Enduro 2014

Coed Brenin Enduro 2014

Monday, 31 December 2012

Ski Monday!

This is no beginner! This man is a master on snow!

Today was 'the' day to hit the slopes with our friend from the big city! We skied at the Chill Factore and boy did we hit the slopes hard, as the pictures and video will demonstate!!

Plough Dave, plough! Before you kill someone!
Thanks for the "encouraging" commentary on my 'quick' run Dave!

Thursday, 27 December 2012

Boxing Day - cow watch!

Boxing day was fun at Amy's (on the farm), made even the more interesting by the live 'cow cam' on the wall at the side of the Aga! Amy and Mike use this to keep an eye on the cows calving! Mike informed us during the exquisite Butternut Squash starter (well done Amy) that he was keeping an eye on one and it will need assistance because the calf is the wrong way around. I enquired if he was going out to look at it, as we could all see on the cow cam that it was 'pushing'! To which Mike replied, "well I'll go after dessert", "it's trifle after all" !!!!

Paul checking progress on the cow cam!

 This great meal marked the end of my Christmas celebrations - just New Year to go!

Sunday, 16 December 2012

15 cats, 2 guinea pigs and 2 dogs move house!

I had a brilliant email from a friend in France this week, and thought the story conjured up such great images that I had to share it (an Kev didn't mind).

For a bit of background Kev and Sue have moved to France and live in a very remote spot in the Massif Central. Their house is at an altitude of around 1200m so they get some fairly good winter weather! The email relates to Kev helping a friend move house! 

This is the main road outside their house last week (winter car tyres are a must!)

"The cat move went well. 3 days before, one went missing but turned up with 24 hours to spare. The day before, we headed down to pick up the van which had not been fitted with winter tyres so it was a bit delicate when we were back up on top as the snow was covering the roads and the drifts were about 2m deep. On moving day, the guy with the tractor who was supposed to clear the road from their house to where the van was parked (which was covered in about 6" of snow and has a gradient of something like 1 in 3) was an hour late. The plan was to get all the stuff for the van  from the house to the van in the land rover but even that would have struggled had the road not been at least partially cleared. 
Cherry had given the cats tranquilisers first thing so they were in various states of collapse, it turned out that one or two of them had been given doses that were too large so they were extra dopey! Two of them could barely walk. They were transported 3 at a time up to the van in cat baskets and installed in a selection of travelling cages. Only one of them, one of the new kittens which had not been tranquilised as it was too small proved a problem to catch but, after a couple of hours, they were all installed in the van, together with the two guinea pigs and we set off. During the journey they were fairly quiet and only really complained when there were tight corners and bumps in the road. It took 8 hours to get to the new house. There were a few pees but no poos - the latter were reserved for releasing 5 minutes after we got them all into the house! Most of them had by that time woken up from the tranquilisers but some were still pretty well spaced out until Sunday morning.
So there you have it ... 15 cats, 2 guinea pigs and 2 dogs moved 600km. The fish have to wait!"
Thanks for a brilliant snapshot from France Kev!

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Stellar day on Great End

Winter climbing in the Lake District is a very fickle occupation, when conditions are good generally they don't last long and if you can't get out within a day or so (working full time doesn't always help!) you miss them!

Today was a fantastic day, I've wanted to climb on Great End for a few years, but never been free at the same time as conditions were good - but today I got lured out (easily) by Conan and Pete. Conan insisted on a 6.30am meet up in Kendal, which meant a 5.30am wake up for me.

We expected a lot of people flocking to Great End today, and in particular heading for Central Gully left hand (grade III). After a brisk stomp up to the crag as it was just getting light we were the second team to arrive, and yep you guessed it the other pair started up Central Gully! We waited so that we could do this classic of the crag - thinking that if we don't do it now we'll never get on it today once more climbers arrive. It was a fun yomp! The ice wasn't fantastic but great to be on my first winter route of the season. The views from the top were great, seeing the cloud inversion to the South trying to spill over into our valley.

Me coming up the easy bit of Central Gulley into the snow bowl - nice view of the half frozen tarn and valley

Fun I get to lead the steep pitch - ice is thin and brittle (mostly!)
Great on top with the inversion
 Second on the list today was Window Gully (II/III), and if anything I thought this was a much better route, more steeper bits, better scenery (the window belay) - great route. We even caught a new ice screw that the team ahead were throwing away (we gave it back at the top).

First pitch of Window gully

The brilliant 'window' belay

Love the icle thread (top pitch)!
After this we had just over 1 hours light left, so we quickly shot up Cust's Gully (I), and again this is a brilliant easy gully, with steep rock sides and a giant chock stone suspended about 15-20 m above the gully. Because conditions were lean, there was another chock stone to crawl under en route - brilliant. On top we briefly saw the sun starting to set before heading down to the bags.

Cust's gully - hope the chock holds fast!

Just the slippy (icy) walk back to the car smiling thinking what a great day and 3 routes we had snatched before the predicted thaw this weekend ;-). Thanks for the great day and pictures guys.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Tales from Leighton Moss

We headed to Leighton Moss this afternoon. This nature reserve is set in an amazing area, with extensive lakes, reed beds and bird hides (and a cafe!). But it's also a great base to go for a walk in the surrounding area. We headed off on a walk before finishing back at Leighton Moss hoping to see the Starlings flocking at dusk (technically called a 'murmuration' I believe!).

Love the robins!
The area is fantastic, loads of ancient forests, limestone pavement, views of Morecambe bay from the higher ground, and views to the snow capped lakeland peaks to the North.

Cake eyes!
The walk was really beautiful and we didn't see a soul until we got back to Leighton Moss. Last Sunday on the way back from Helvellyn I'd called in here to meet Abi, and hoped to see the starlings, but we didn't see them at all.

Beautiful skies above the reed beds!

Abi surmised that at -4 it was too cold for them - I wasn't sure! We did see a kingfisher though! It's the second time in my life I'd seen one - fantastic! It had been hanging around for hours so wasn't hard to spot. The 'hard core' birders/twitchers' didn't seem impressed by it but we were!

Starlings - 1000's of them

Today we were treated to a fantastic magical display in the sky above the reedbeds. I think its one of the most amazing Autumn sights in the UK countryside. 

Amazing display looking out to the coast

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Helvellyn - fun in the snow

I headed up Helvellyn today with Ben and Cassie (the dog) to play in the snow. The weather was amazing right from the start, and we were both amazed at how low the snow line is (below Red Tarn).

Beautiful moon on the walk in

Amazing how plastered the crag is (nearly at the Tarn)
We decided on the classic Striding Edge - Helvellyn - Swirral Edge combo to get the best views and give Cassie a good walk as we'd thought that the climbing conditions wouldn't be that great, but we bumped into Charlie from the 'outdoor warehouse' ( on Striding Edge. He'd just climbed one of the gulley's and said conditions were okay, its not completely consolidated (when is it in the Lakes!?!?) but pretty good. V-corner has also had some ascents this week (classic grade III), but I'd guess not much ice at present.

Can you spot the two climbers (I think its Charlie and his mate)?
Striding Edge was fun, Cassie seemed to enjoy the grade I terrain. And she loved playing with the snow on top.
Playing on top. Keep your eye on the snow ball Cassie!

At the end of Striding Edge (Red Tarn below)
Fairly busy on top, with lots of folks, dogs, runners etc. Great views of the Lakes and Howgills.

Panorama of the ridges and catstycam

I managed to persuade Ben to go up Catstycam on the way down. We decided to play on the side of it and practised ice axe arrests all the way down to Red Tarn - great fun. Ben was particularly good at throwing himself down at various angles and trajectories.

Quiet on Catstycam
As we neared the car at 14.30 ish, people were still heading up to play in the snow, including a few with ski's. More snow is forecast for tonight, so the snow pack may be more unstable before it settles again. Great morning out............

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Big day in Dolphinholme!

A really big day in Dolphinholme today - Dolphinholme Christmas market! Yay.
This was before the crowds arrived - they did very well (great mulled wine guys)

We had volunteered (?press ganged!!) into running the 'onsite bistro', serving tea's, coffee's, hot chocs and mince pies. I saw my role as front of house manager, but Abi didn't see it this way and somehow I ended up mopping and hoovering at the end - oh well in for a penny. The who's who of the shire were in the house (Hall!). It all went down a storm, and I even got chance to try the mulled wine and have a whisky tasting session - funny how the last half flew by!

Shoppers paradise!?

All good fun, and a great excuse for the village to get together.

I'm hoping to get out in the snow tomorrow, to burn off the gluttony!

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Night climb in Langdale

With a clear sky, full moon and a frost forecast how could we not resist a night climb of Original Route at Raven Crag last night?!?!

The Moon! With Jupiter on its left (no tripod so blurred!)
Nice belay ledge to relax at and watch the moon

On the traverse (rest) pitch (cold hands)

 Fun night, finished off with a quick drink at the Old Dungeon Ghyll. I think I need to work on my photography skills though!

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Haweswater land of the Hobbits!

With the crazy wet weather of late and poor forecast for Sunday we decided to go on a low level walk exploring the area around Haweswater.

We parked and got 'booted' up near some very 'hobbit' like chalets at the head of Haweswater. The start of the walk went along a road, and I noticed a house named 'Aragorn' - hmm, where are we again?!?!

Amazing ash tree in the 'shire' (will ash dieback get this far - hope not!)
We headed through some beautiful rich native woodland spotting the odd red squirrel as we battled through the mud.

Amazing lichen - and a Hobbit scuttling off looking for a ring......

When we got over to Swindale the sun came out. It was too wet to look at the crag, which I'd finally got to climb at earlier this year (its only taken me 5 years!).

Swindale - Gouther crag hidden in shadow under the sun!

Peter Pan shadows
On the return loop we saw a Hobbit walk in someone's garden, and I think I spotted Bilbo Baggins disappearing behind some trees.

Most people associate New Zealand with Lord of the Rings, but after today I'm not so sure....................

Views over to High Street as we head home to Dolphinshire

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Langdale - Mountain biking

I spent a great morning mountain biking with Steve today. It was fairly 'nippy' first thing with the car telling me it was + 2C, and I could see a dusting of snow on the tops.

We chose a loop that utilised the fantastic stony tracks in the central Lakes. Firstly heading over Skelwith (fantastic views of Wetherlam, Crinkle Crags etc), before dropping into the Furness Fells and Hodge Close Quarry.
Steve didn't want to get wet feet this early on!
Can you see the dusting of snow???
Steve dropping down the 'chute' in the Hodge section (lomo style pic!)

The weather was fantastic as we headed over into Little Langdale, with only one cow encounter and one airobatic display! Amazingly there weren't many bikers out - on this route at least!

who's giving who a wide berth?
Man down!!!! The shame of being caught on camera!!
From Little Langdale over to Great Langdale I've found a new (to me) secret track that turns off the more popular drop into Elterwater and means you can take a fantastic 'old' road to Oak Howe and deeper into Langdale before quick tracks sped us back to the cars. What a brilliant blast in the Lakes today - left me wanting more..........

Great old road heads into Langdale - wouldn't fancy taking my car up here!

Which way? Last view of the Langdales before heading back

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Quiet day on Pen-y-ghent!

The forecast for Sunday was excellent, but after all of the rain we have had in the North West lately we thought the Lakes would be very wet, so instead opted for the Dales and Pen-y-ghent.

It was a good choice and we saw the sun breaking through the mist as we headed over. The walk in joins the Pennine Way, apparently this section is noted as being the best and steepest bit of the whole Pennine Way (not sure how accurate this fact is!).

Up we go...
On top we were greeted by lots of people and children, they may have been scouts or young offenders (joke), but not really sure, all I know is that they seemed to be swarming and leaving rubbish on top! Peace soon arrived as they headed off.

Quiet on top then!

Soon quiet though!
Dramatic as the mist drifted in and we headed over to the much quieter and boggier (that's more like it!) Plover Hill. This top was very flat, and strangely we couldn't seem to get to the summit cairn as it was the far side of a high dry stone wall (no stiles etc).

The 3 wise owls heading down into the monks valley
Down we headed to the Hull Pot, which really is a dramatic sight, before winding our way back down to the cafe at Horton and a well earned pint (!) of tea. Brilliant Autumn day in the hills - thanks Janet and Rob for the excellent pictures.

Me, Janet and Abi circling the Hull Pot (pen-y-ghent behind)

Saturday, 10 November 2012

The Garburn Pass - Mountain biking

I managed to get an exciting new job this week and wanted to celebrate by going on a big mountain bike ride this weekend. The weather forecast for Saturday wasn't that great so I decided on a shorter but challenging route.

The Garburn Pass (old road byway - 449m) is a right of passage for any mountain biker in the Lakes area. You have to decide which way you tackle it, both having pro's and con's! I mulled this over on the drive up to Staveley in the rain! This would be the 6th or 7th time I've tackled it from various directions and routes, I'll never forget the first time, it felt epic.

It's very steep, rocky and technical. The choice is whether you want to ride up the less technical side (still hardcore), and descend the gnarly side (very hardcore - think double black), or push up most of the steeper side and then have the better descent.

I opted for the latter, which then meant on the way over to it I had the classic blast down to Kentmere Hall as well. It was a cool ride and very wet. Annoyingly I had forgotten to charge my camera, so only got 2 pictures before the battery went flat. I'd forgotten just how rough it was and as I pushed up the steep side of the pass a rider passed me pushing her £3k Orange Five down the hill, come on girl!! (obviously I didn't say this - I politely said hello!).

Near the top of the pass 3 riders head off...

At the top it was very atmospheric (damp!), and I saw 3 riders heading the opposite way to me. Now was the bit I had been waiting for - the descent! Wow, it had changed since I was last here, some of it had been washed out, and created holes and channels up to 2-3 feet deep in places (crazy). Super technical but fun! I lost concentration for 1 milli-second and got thrown off by a wet rock, whilst switching channels. A few bruises and dented pride was all I had to show for this silly mistake.

A fantastic 15 mile blast in the Lakes on a damp day!! Brilliant.

muddy, cold and satisfied - glad to have a cup of tea!