Coed Brenin Enduro 2014

Coed Brenin Enduro 2014

Monday, 27 May 2013

Quiet day on the Helvellyn Ridge

Wanting to keep our momentum with walking, we hatched the plan of walking the whole length of Helvellyn (12+ miles measured with a shoe lace), before the dreaded rain returns tomorrow.

J and R heading up from Grisedale Tarn

A few folk around on top, including a tent selling hot drinks and snacks!

We walked South to North, starting from near Grisedale Tarn, and finishing near Keswick/Threlkeld.  I'd expected it to be a quiet walk once we got past the main top of Helvellyn (I realise its a bank holiday weekend). Well clearly that wasn't quite the case. It was heaving on top, and amazing to see the constant line of 'ant' sized people on Striding Edge (Rob got great pics of this).

Close up of Striding Edge from the Nethermost Pike area (good zoom and pic Rob)

Huw is/has just been working on the Cuillin Ridge, Isle of Skye, wonder if that ridge was this busy!?!
Other surprises included seeing the Helvellyn ski tow, the tent on top selling teas, coffee's and chocolate (industrious youth trying to raise money to fund a climbing trip to the Greater Ranges - they needed £21k, not sure if they quite reached that goal!), and really the day was dominated by the 'Threlkeld to Helvellyn and back Fell Race' that we felt bound up in as runners 'buzzed' us from both directions as we walked ever Northwards. So in the end one of the busiest walks I've ever been on - but satisfying all the same.

Is this an arable field? No its the Northern end of the Helvellyn Ridge. 3 wanderers stride out.

Near the end of our walk the last 2 fell runners try to take positions from Rob, Janet and Abs

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Four seasons in 3 days.....

Later this year we are heading off on a 'hike' overseas so we needed to do some training for this, especially since Abs hasn't back packed since her DOE award (don't you know!). I was hankering after a trip to the wilds of Scotland, but in the end it made much more sense to stay local and head off into the Lake District for a few days.

Day 1
We set off from Shap (frontier outpost on the East of the Lake District)  in glorious sunshine, in fact it was so hot that I got sunburnt. We headed over into Swindale, which is an amazingly quiet bit of the Lakes. We saw a redstart, meadow pippets, skylarks, wheatears, a dipper and heard the first cuckoo of the year on this stretch.

Leaving Shap - strike a pose (our camp spot on the horizon looks a long way!)
 From Swindale we took the old 'corpse road'. This ancient route links Swindale with the old settlement of Mardale further West. Up until the 1700's Mardale didn't have its own cemetery so bodies had to be carried over this hilly route to Swindale and on to Shap for burial. The settlement of Mardale is now long gone (under water) due to being compulsory purchased to allow Haweswater reservoir to be built in 1929 (to supply water for Manchester - thirsty beggars!). From the high point of this old byway we had our first clear spectacular views of High Street and our onward route.

On the Corpse Road, views of Haweswater and High Street beyond
Sadly there wasn't an ice cream van at the reservoir car park as I had promised, so we pushed on up to Blea Water our high camp for the night. It was a great spot, and we were the only ones here. Abs had brought a poetry book on the trip and we spent the night reading poems in the tent (I didn't want to admit this point!).

Camp with our own pool

Day 2
It was quite cold and overcast at the start of day 2 and felt quite Autumnal. We were on top of High Street at 9.30am, and had the great views out to Morecambe bay (South), and deeper into the Lakes to ourselves. It was freezing, I had every item of clothing on that I had with me. The descent path down into Patterdale, is a treat, and I can understand why its on the Coast to Coast route. This is where we saw the first of the coast to coasters. Quite a collection of people passed us, including a large fun party of 'mature' ladies (sorry I can't think of a better description), led by a well spoken lady with a tall single stick brandishing a sheep horn at its top, enquiring how much further Shap was (about 14 miles). We also saw a 'mature' gentleman, who was hobbling badly in shorts with his knee strapped up, swinging wildly from tuft to tuft, trying to avoid the bogs with all of his days possessions in a single carrier bag (no rucksack). I wouldn't want a carrier bag for company on their 17 mile day. They were all very friendly, and from lots of different corners of the world too.

On High Street (icy cold wind but still happy!)

Dropping into Patterdale (hot again)
Down in Patterdale, it was hot again, and we had a brief stop in the pub before heading onward. The valley of Grisedale is beautiful (never been here before now), it was still sunny as we headed upwards once more, but really windy and quite cold (spring like). We pitched our tent at Grisedale Tarn as the last of the day hikers were heading down into the valleys. Finally the wind eased as we enjoyed our yummy Vegi Dahl.

Camp at Grisedale Tarn
Day 3 
Well we were surprised to wake up in a blizzard and covering of snow this morning! No wonder I had been a little cold in the night.
Crazy weather, no wonder I was cold last night!

Time to head down.....

A quick cup of tea, and hasty pack up, before heading off as the snow worsened. Due to the high winds instead of heading up Fairfield as originally planned we headed down into Grasmere for a quick cafe stop, before walking on another 'corpse road' that leads to Rydal (nice route) and finally Ambleside.

Looking back at our route from the valley

A miniature Abi

Nearing the finish at Ambleside

A great 30 mile trip around part of the Lakes, and typically Abs is feeling fit and fresh whilst I hobble around the house and write this..... 

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Lancashire sea cliff climbing - yes really!

Tuesday saw plenty of rain in Lancashire, so the thought of getting out seemed very unlikely. However, Huw, a good friend from Wales was heading this way on a quick stopover on his way to Skye for 10 days mountain work (good gig if you can get it!).

Huw heading out on the Onedin Line
As I finished work I noted the rain had practically stopped (!), and I could see the clouds clearing over Morecambe Bay, but it still looked menacing (grey and wet) over the Lakes and Bowland so I had the genius idea of heading to Jack Scout Crag, the only sea cliff climbing in Lancashire (I think).

Huw's hanging belay. Tide going out over the bay
Huw, battling the short sharp Brant's Little Brother (picture courtesy of Karl 'Curlew')

What a great idea, even if I say so myself. The setting is beautiful, a compact limestone cliff next to a small bay, with views out to sea, and across the bay.

Views across the bay to the Southern Lakes
Sorting gear at the end of the evening. Time for food and a beer....
We climbed Onedin Line, a 2 pitch VS 4b,4c (probably the best route here), Brant's Little Brother (VS, 4c) - which was fun, and quite fitting considering Huw is from Wales where the brilliant but hard Brant is located (sandbag route). Finishing with Curlew Calling S 4a, seemed fitting given the location (I do like a curlew), and coiling the ropes on top as the sun was setting really did complete this great experience.

The late night pizza and beer also went down well - cheers Huw, enjoy Skye, don't work too hard.....

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Down and dirty (mud) in the Dales

So we were lucky to have Mr Shed visit his Northern homeland this weekend. On Saturday he agreed to coach me and Abi (for a reasonable rate), so that we could hit peak fitness for our trek this summer.

Sheddy has great experience as an athletic mentor, and it all sounded good when he suggested that we need to ramp up our training with a consistent base building phase followed by a 2 week taper before we depart.

Sheddy tries to hot wire the roller....

He offered to email us a training plan including nutritional advice with 1 hr weekly web chats, and he also promised to occasionally turn up and beast us to keep us on the straight and narrow. 

So today we headed to Dent in the Yorkshire Dales with our eyes on a 10 mile walk under Shed's strict advice, even though the forecast was wet. We loaded up our packs to simulate the trek, I packed 8kg, Abi 7kg (well starting slowly).
Lovely views over Dent Dale (Sheddy is imparting some training advice)

When we got to Dent and parked up ready to set off on the 10 mile walk, Shed wimped out and decided he didn't want to walk at all, and wanted a cream tea in the cafe. I couldn't tell if he was serious, or whether this was a test of out mental strength. We managed to convince him to walk, and ended up walking about 9 miles. It was wet, but we were in the zone, and in Sheddy'd training program for the long haul.

By this point Sheddy has quit as our coach

We did have a cream tea at the end, and Shed has quit as our coach, I think we broke him today by pushing on further and faster than he was comfortable with (and he lost interest). Great day in the Dales.  

Monday, 6 May 2013

The Dyfi Enduro 2013

I've wanted to take a spin in the Dyfi Enduro for years, its arguably one of the best old school Enduro's in the UK. Last year I was close, I had an entry but a month before broke my ankle so couldn't do it - gutting.

This year the event's 900 places sold out in under 20 minutes so you had to be super quick to get an entry. The plan was for me, Rachael and Paul G to do it together. Later on Jess managed to get a spot by some FB horse trading and joined us.
First longgg climb, DJ just behind my camera position (I stopped to dance)

High up on the route
What an amazing event starting from from the middle of Machynlleth, and being led out by a police escort on the initial road section. It could only be the Dyfi that sees you 'ragging' around mile after mile of forest trail and then coming across a DJ blasting out dance music as you pass. On top of the first big climb there was a drumming band, again only on this event! Later on when really flagging you enter a really dark section of the woodland and there's Willy Wonka and lots of Oompa-Loompas wanting to high five you as you try and dodge the little beggars....

Paul doing his Michael Jackson at the feed station. Paul consumed 18 sausages rolls here!
Free broken specs at the feed station - much larking around, I blame the energy drink

What can I say about the ride, well its tough, and I can honestly say that I've never done so much climbing/ascent on a bike in a single day (about 2000m), man some of those Welsh fire roads are long. Sadly we didn't make the first 350 cut (first 350 riders do a longer course). Even without this extra bit it was hard day on the bike. Abi cheered us on at the half way point (thanks for waiting 2 hrs!), but wouldn't let me stop to chat, so up another climb we went....

We all stuck together and had fun and I was happy with our 6 hour finishing time. Today as I sit here writing the blog with heavy legs, minor bodily chaffing I shouldn't mention and sipping tea from my Dyfi mug with a smile on my face I think, yep a great day to remember............

Happy Monkeys, proud of out finishers mugs
Next year we'll be going for placings now we know what to expect!