Coed Brenin Enduro 2014

Coed Brenin Enduro 2014

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Garburn Pass and Kentmere

At last a sunny day without rain - is what the various weather sites predicted. This wasn't quite the case, but it is the Lake District so I don't know why I believed them.

damp under foot (wheels)

But great skies
I was a little annoyed with myself for not taking a waterproof (probably the only time I haven't packed one) as Steve and I left the parking at Wilf's (Staveley) and got quite wet in a persistent rain shower that soaked me to the skin. Luckily after 30 minutes it stopped, and things improved.

We headed over on the soggy bridleways to Whiteside End and Kentmere, the weather being pretty atmospheric with sun, cloud,  rain, sun, cloud, drizzle etc.

The 3 witches' trees
The Garburn Pass (449m) was the next objective. Its an odd route over the pass on a bike, consisting of lots of pushing and lifting the bike up the steep track up to the pass.

The start of the climb to the Garburn Pass
 When you are ascending this old trade route you wonder why you are bothering, but when you (eventually) get to the pass and are presented with the extensive views and a lot of (newly resurfaced) downhill the hard work is quickly forgotten.

The reward - lots of downhill

Monday, 28 December 2015

Clougha Pike and Grit Fell detox walk

After a very enjoyable 3 days of festive gluttony as it wasn't raining I headed out for a walk in the local Bowland Fells. It was an enjoyable walk, nice and quiet, only seeing the festive grouse and a lone fell runner on the moors.

Looking back to Clougha Pike and Morecambe Bay beyond

Grit Fell

Although a dull day, it was great not to have rain so I headed over Clougha Pike and over Gritfell (a minor lump) before heading back on the Northern shooting tracks. It was also nice to see the single tree on the lonely moor had been decorated with festive Christmas decorations. I think fell runners do this every Christmas, we first noticed it 5-6 years ago. This year they seem to have gone a little crazy, even putting tinsel on the tree.

Rowland Christmas tree

Pen Y Ghent in the distance 

Sunday, 13 December 2015

Lakes Weather Window

I've very much felt in limbo between darkness, work and rain at the moment, but this time of the year it can be like that anyway (I tell myself). The Lakes had some snow on the hills yesterday, so a plan was hatched with Rachael and Abi to go and play in it before it disappeared (which may be tomorrow given the forecast).

Playing with Alfie

It was a tight weather window, as the start of the day looked very promising, but the front carrying (more) rain was predicted to arrive around, or just after lunch time.

Here comes some sun

Picnic time

We headed out early, picking Rachael up at Staveley, and heading up Kentmere in one vehicle. It was touch and go making it to the end of Kentmere as the roads were heavily iced and I don't think I'd have got up the hills without winter tyres on the car.

Off they go again, heading for Kenmore Pike

Looking back a lone figure appears
We headed up towards Kentmere Pike, really enjoying the snowy winter walk having a very leisurely break at Shipman Knotts before a slightly 'off piste' return down into the valley to make it a circular route. The snow was good, with some small drifts, but definitely not enough to consider the ski's.

Lone wanderer as the next weather front moves ever closer
I also got to wear my new Jottnar Alfar top today (gear geek!). Wow pretty blown away by how versatile it is, looking forward to living in it this winter and taking it on some adventures for sure. We finished off with food and drinks at Wilfs. Really hope the snow survives, or comes back soon.

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Storm Desmond

Its been a crazy few days in the NW of England after Storm Desmond passed through. We were out in Lancaster on the Saturday night at an Indian restaurant, sure it had rained all day and the roads were a little water logged, but I'd underestimated the severity of what was to come.

Kendal - the aftermath
There wasn't any obvious surface water near the restaurant when we arrived, but within one hour they were starting to evacuate it as the  basement filled with water. I had to wade through 6" of water to rescue the car, and only just got it out.

We drove home as various roads were starting to seriously flood and get closed by the police. The power went off on Saturday night at about 10-11pm and didn't really come back properly until 7am on Tuesday morning (there was a brief interlude when I was at work).  A substation had flooded in Lancaster meaning 40-60,000 homes were without power. Of course Lancaster didn't get as badly hit as Cumbria, which in many places was severely flooded with houses ruined and roads washed away.

Kendal - George who's house was flooded
The 3 days without power were sobering enough, nights cooking by candlelight, but we were the lucky ones, our power is now back and the house wasn't flooded. Lets hope the Paris Climate Summit actually achieves something to try and help future generations so that this isn't a regular occurrence. Interesting article that links in here.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Winter cometh....

With the temperature dropping and first snow fall in the Lakes and Scotland its time for me to start and think about winter and what I want to do and achieve in the mountains. To try and prepare I've mentally split things into 3 categories.

Physical -  After I smashed up my left leg quite badly over 10 years ago I am well aware of the fact that I'm 'wonky', well out of alignment/symmetry, and also I have a clear disparity in strength and control between left and right sides. I'm pretty fit/strong, and in everyday life its easy to ignore or mask this issue. But over the last year or so I've quickly realised that skiing highlights this fault. Partly linked to this, and also to try and get in the best condition possible for the season I've signed up for SkiFit, a specific home exercise program. Its early days (1.5 weeks!) but it seems to be a very good program, and the exercises and balance work seem to be working me hard. Currently trying to fit in 3 x 1 hour weekly sessions at present......
Get down to those crazy hoedown ski exercises!!
Equipment - Dust off the kit, check its working, and although I should have done it at the end of last season finally get those holes in the ski bases filled and repaired!!!

Skills/Education - I love the world of backcountry skiing that I've recently started to dip my toe into, but also I've been thinking a lot about how the risk is probably a lot greater than the other stuff I do. I don't have any evidence to back this up, but even when winter climbing you are generally trying to avoid snow laden slopes, looking for the steeper (consolidated) ground, whereas with skiing you are actively seeking snow filled slopes to cruise down, and obviously 'theres the rub', you want the snow slopes, but will they play nicely... So education to back up (good) judgement is required.

Lots of reading... Bruce Goodlad's Ski Touring book  is very good, along with watching Internet videos ....!

Know Before You Go from Trent Meisenheimer on Vimeo.

Monday, 2 November 2015

The Muscles from Brussels..

I can't remember how I got talked into a quick Autumn visit to Fontainebleau, or when I booked the flight, but what a fantastic idea.

Love this picture of Mr Giant Hands (me!)

'Muscles' on day 1

A recent thread on UKC had made me wonder if the forest had changed since my last 'proper' bouldering trip here over 10 years ago, it suggested that there was a high probability of being mugged, being arrested trying to sleep in the forest, and that the forest was destroyed, indeed on its knee's because of human waste pollution - luckily things weren't quite that dire!

My favourite picture - Dave was a little disappointed that the toadstool takes the attention!
So a quick flight from Manchester saw he quickly arrive in Paris where I was stuffed into the camper van and whisked off to the forest by the 'muscles from Brussels'.

The best problem we found - old /off circuit

Struggled to be flexible enough for this one!!
The weather was magical, crisp and cool at night, followed by sunny warm days. It was fairly busy as you would expect in half term, with many different nationalities enjoying the forest, but who can blame them.

Dave showed me some great spots due to his excellent local knowledge, and the routine of boulder for 3 hours or so, before a long lunch break at the van, then an afternoon session at another area worked well. Obviously finishing every day with beer and then wine!

We managed to go to 5-6 areas, all amazing, all slightly different. I particularly enjoyed Isatis, which had a magical feel to it, maybe because the rocks spread some distance into the wilder forest so you could always find a quieter area.

It was all made more beautiful because of the rich Autumn colours that coincided with our visit. The climbing is also brilliant and so unique. I soon got into the often delicate nature of the climbing, and appreciated the sloping and at times polished holds.

Isatis - red

Isatis - red
I wish I was still there sleeping near to the trees, waking up slightly chilled holding a hot coffee waiting for the sun to warm up the forest so that the dampness on the rocks was rubbed away, and you could start to lose yourself in the simplicity of climbing them.... Can't wait for next year to revisit this magical place.

CDG - waiting to fly home

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Into the Grit season

With Kev still over from France it seemed fitting to have a day climbing on the grit stone for old times sake. A brisk start meant that I was happily munching a large egg and bacon sandwich in Hathersage at 9am awaiting Kev's arrival. We headed to Burbage North and enjoyed a sunny half day bumbling around the crag and boulders. I think we climber 7 routes, with The Grazer (VS, 5a) (for obvious reasons) and Knights Move (HVS, 5a) being particularly memorable.

the grand master resting...

Kev's first lead in 7-8 years (magics still there)
We finished on a high (early!) so that we could indulge in cake and coffee in the fine metropolis of Hathersage. Lovely to be back in the Peak for a day. Now I just need to keep up some climbing momentum with a Font trip planned in a few weeks time.

Here comes the grand master

Kev topping out as I got distracted by the view!

Lone biker and the Burbage valley

Monday, 5 October 2015

Coed y Brenin hurt locker

One of my favourite times of the year is when I trundle over to Wales for the Coed y Brenin Enduro. This year Abi had more sense than last and decided that a diary clash meant that she couldn't make it, but as a bonus Kev came over from France specially for the event - chapeau!!

Race morning
Ahead of Jo (and Elin) at the start line - didn't last long....

Beautiful early section, shame about all of the people!
With Kevs coming it meant that we had to do the longer 55km course, but with the sun shining all day it was no bad thing to spend over 5 hours on the bike. I found the long course challenging, but to be fair both courses are. Its all worth it for the sausage rolls (with chilli dip) at the feed station (this year I equalled last year with 10) and finishers mug at the end. Maybe the photo stops and 10 sausage rolls slowed my progress slightly who knows.....

Here comes Kev

hmm home made dips and sausage rolls (slowed me down!)
This event is also my current yearly opportunity to catch up with family Gilbert, and I was even ahead of Jo at the start, but this only lasted about 10 seconds. A great event, I'll be back..

Kev shooting the tree gap

Beautiful forest