Coed Brenin Enduro 2014

Coed Brenin Enduro 2014

Sunday, 30 November 2014

7 Stanes - Dalbeattie

A great mini adventure today, heading to Scotland with Rachael to mountain bike. We decided upon Dalbeattie, as I hadn't been to this trail for years and Rachael had never been.

Great banter (and caffeine) saw us there quickly, but we both found the 24km red route really hard! Not sure if we were just being wimps but we had to side step a lot of the countless wet rocky bits, and I didn't dare try the infamous 'slab' as it was wet and completely coated in pine needles (it would have ended badly I'm sure).

We vowed to return on a drier day when we both felt more in 'the groove' to try the technical bits again. A fun, restorative day out :-) .

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Kendal Mountain Festival 2014 - lots to learn!

I had a day off mid-week which fitted in nicely with a day out in Kendal and I went to 2 photo/film workshops. Great fun, the 3 hour workshop on sound production blew my mind - so much to learn!

Learnt loads and enjoyed the day immensely, but the biggest thing for me was actually learning what depth of field (DOF) is and how to use it! 

Shallow DOF - leaves in focus, background blurred
To every other photographer in the world I'm guessing this is very basic, but I didn't really understand it or how it can be achieved until today. I could achieve a similar affect in some of my photographs before, but I was cheating and relied upon luck. So pleased, here are a couple of (boring) photographs to prove it!!

Deeper DOF, leaves still in focus, but so is background (well nearly!)
I also went to 'The Best of KMF' on Sunday night, and the best film in the selection I saw was 'Valley Uprising' - amazing film about the history of climbing in Yosemite.  Here's the trailer:

Also the biggest release this year that sadly I didn't catch was Jeff Lowe's Metanoia, a documentary about the life and climbs of the legendary US alpinist, who is sadly now terminally ill and was flown over to the Kendal festival by Lowe Alpine for the films release. Jeff's climbing piece de resistance was on the North Face of the Eiger. Climbed in 1991, and still unrepeated, Metanoia – graded VII, 5.10, M6, A4 – is the hub of this biographical documentary.

Here' a trailer, I hope I get to see it soon:

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Scottish Border Reivers

Border Reivers were raiders along the Anglo–Scottish border from the late 13th century to the beginning of the 17th century, and they raided the entire border country. Their heyday was perhaps in the last hundred years of their existence, during the time of the Stewart Kings in Scotland and the Tudor Dynasty in England. I guess stuff has changed a little since these times, but if the Scottish independence vote had gone the other way who knows whether tales of further raiders would exist in the times of Salmond and Cameron!!

The start - through nice forest (uphill)

Breaking out onto the moor, still good tracks, but still a lot of climbing to go

I love the borders area as its very beautiful, but also has diverse scenery. We had a great few days in the borders, starting at Peebles. It would have been easy to take the mt bikes to Glentress or Innerleithen to bike on the manufactured 7 Stanes trails and although fun, it would have been busy, and we wanted to see a quieter, wilder side.

Abi stuck crossing a bog!

Toadstool and Abi!
With this in mind we decided to head up the Three Brethren from Selkirk. It was a frosty start as we set off on the long climb up through the forest and then open moor, but it soon warmed up. There was some pushing to get to the top at 464m, but it was well worth it for the stunning views. 

Top of the three Brethren

At last some downhill on the Southern Upland Way
What followed was a stunning section that undulated but stayed high on the broad ridge - and all on good tracks. Looking back the Three Brethren soon disappeared in the distance. Annoyingly I realised at this point that I'd left my shades on the grass when I'd stopped to take pictures of a toadstool!! I didn't really have enough time to go back and get them (or the energy!).

Lunching on Brown Knowe
I final slog to the 523m high point of Brown Knowe, which borders Innerleithen and Minch Moor. We lingered here eating lasagne pies (only in Scotland - but very good) and drinking in the peace and dramatic views, knowing that once we set off again it would all be lost as it was now all downhill.

Miles of downhill 

The descent was mega! Miles of easy but fun single track that gradually lost height down an old drovers road before spitting you out (covered in mud) down a final steep track back into civilisation. The amble back to the car on quiet roads past 'sacked' castles was nice too, and we made it with about 45 mins daylight to spare. We saw a few walkers today, but no one else on a bike. A great route choice. 

Last bit of fun before the road

Castle ruin on the way back
Much later we were eating game pie at a pub in Rothbury. Abi retrieved a bone from it and declared "I think its a rib from a rabbit, what if it had Myxomatosis, could I catch it?". To this I replied, ".....well, lets keep and eye on the situation and if you get sticky eyes maybe we'll phone the doctor....." !