Coed Brenin Enduro 2014

Coed Brenin Enduro 2014

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Scotland, England, but sadly not Wales

With a few days off to climb with Ben I'd wanted to go and enjoy the sea air and climb at Pembroke, unfortunately the very wild weather forecast meant that we had to more flexible with our plans.

Day 1 - We started off with a day trip to Clifton in Scotland (Dumfries and Galloway). We spent a hot and sunny day climbing single pitch granite routes overlooking hills, moor and the Solway Firth - idyllic.

Clifton's fine granite
He also met an odd local here, a guy called Paul who declared it was his local crag, but didn't seem to know where any route started from. He'd pop up out of the bracken in his tight white muscle vest and ask if he could watch us, then disappear again when he got bored to go off elsewhere and start self belaying up another route - interesting. I'd highly recommend this crag and you can get the topo/information all from John Biggar's excellent website (a great resource).

Climbing from the jungle

Day 2 - The weather looked dodgy, with the Lakes being the best bet. We drove into Langdale in the dark swirling clouds and thought 'what have we done' as it had looked brighter in the East on the drive over. A short detour to the metropolis of Ambleside allowed the weather to brighten and rock to dry.

The magical Raven Crag
Back in Langdale at Raven Crag we climbed Pluto, which has been on our hit list for a number of years. Its a brilliant HVS with 3 contrasting pitches which are all challenging in there own ways. We'd been on it a number of years ago, but it had started to rain as we sat on the ledge before the crux last pitch so we'd had to bail up another route in the rain.  Today all went well, and he got up it with only a little wobble trying to cross a wet 5a section near the top!

A climber starting the 2nd traverse pitch of Pluto (rubbish picture from  a long way off!)
Photogenic climbers under instruction 

Ben on Evening Wall
Day 3 - The idea had now been for a day trip to Wales to climb in each country, but sadly the weather dictated that this would be a silly idea, with lots more rain coming North through the day hitting Wales at lunch time. Again the Lakes looked the best bet so I managed to persuade Ben to head to Gimmer Crag.

Nearly there.. looks warm at Gimmer

Gimmer is my favourite mountain crag in the Lakes and feels quite big and remote nestled at the end of Langdale, one hours walk from the car. Our plan was to climb Kipling Groove, a classy HVS I've wanted to climb for years. When we arrived Ben shot up Asterisk to warm up, but basically it didn't 'warm' us up, as it was very cold and breezy. There were a few teams climbing but we were under prepared for the weather, it was probably around 12 degree's, windy and cold.

Ben at White Crag
Neither of us were enjoying it so we headed back to lower elevations and climbed 3 enjoyable routes at White Crag, which neither of us had been to before. This is 300m lower than Gimmer and was nice and warm! An added bonus was that the KMC were meeting here tonight and we bumped into Cliff and Judith from the KMC. I highly recommend Right and Left Trouser leg routes here - although be warned the right is a little sparse on gear.

Cliff breezing up an HVS/E1
So a great 3 days, but I still have a dragon to slay at Gimmer (as Cliff would say)..... will I ever get on/up Kipling Groove.....

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Gungho Chicken hits the trails

You'll be glad to know that the outside tap is finally fixed, which means that I can mountain bike again! This may not make sense to all, but as I explained to Kev, with no outside tap I can't clean the bike, so there was no point. I used this excuse for a while and have enjoyed some great climbing because of it.

Wait for me.....

Quiet walled lane 
So as stated the tap is fixed, and we headed out on the bikes today with Rachael. We did a hilly route around Kirkby Lonsdale and Brownthwaite Fell. Its a great route with one big hill in the middle! Its a varied ride with some interesting sections such as a long walled track that has Andy Goldsworthy art installations along its length (big stones surrounded by dry stone walls - tis art!).

Rachael having a little walk with her bike..

Views over the Lune valley and beyond

I also took the opportunity to take out my new camera complete with zoom lens. It was fun to play with and I'm really pleased with the results. How did I manage without a zoom lens before now I ponder!?

Part way round the loop Abi shouted 'I'm gungho chicken, coming through' as she sped past us. She certainly demonstrated both of these very different attributes on today's ride. Hence forth this shall be her name.....

Beautiful ancient ash tree


even speedier....

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Nearly ended up in Austria.....

We decided to get an early start and head to the Roaches, well Hen Cloud actually.... Whilst waiting for Shaw et al, I saw another car full of climbing gear and people at the prearranged meeting spot. I presumed it was someone else who wanted to come to the Roaches so went to 'have a word'. The climbing gentleman in question didn't want to come to the Roaches, and was actually going to Austria and expecting to meet someone also. I declined his offer of a trip to Austria, because, well I was a little under prepared, and as far as I know they don't have gritstone in Austria!

Nearly made it on this attempt

Why oh why can't I get to the top....
We headed South, pushing through the cryptosporidium zone without incident and risking a coffee stop (risky strategy!). The Roaches looked splendiferous as we parked directly under a very green looking Hen Cloud. We decided to head over to the main Roaches area and started by playing around on the boulders where Shaw was determined to get up a no handed slab problem - which he did.

Climbers on the top of Valkyrie and walkers
We then set to work on routes, and picked some fairly tough ones to warm up on! As we all had different guidebooks it was interesting to see how a few of the routes we climbed had been upgraded over time. The Roaches are now managed by the Staffordshire Wildlife Trust (formally the Peak District National Park Authority but they ran out of money.....) and I think they are letting the area 're-wild', which is nice to see. It was interesting seeing grazing cattle at the belay when topping out of some routes.

Shaw on the mini Sloth
We climbed 6-7 routes, all good but the notable ones for me were Saul's Crack (HVS) and Wallaby Direct (HVS) because they were so strenuous, and after them I was completely knackered! I'd forgotten how physical (but brilliant) climbing at the Roaches is.

Shaw working Joe's Arete

Me playing on the aerate too
We didn't make Hen Cloud, saving that for another trip, and after a final play on Joe's Arete we headed for home as a few photographers started to gather and take position, ready to capture the setting sun on this fabulous landscape. The consensus from the group was that rural Staffordshire is great, and I think I heard someone declare its wilder and better than Derbyshire - but coming from Derbyshire I'm not sure I can go that far..... maybe the water from the coffee stop had affected peoples brains after all....... Another great grit day out.

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

The Bay Cycleway (with lots of food stops)

The Bay Cycleway is a 'newish' signed sustrans route in our area. It connects various quiet roads and cycleways around Morecambe Bay, from Walney Island to Glasson Dock, creating an ~ 83 mile route.

Under starters orders on Walney Island
We'd previously joined some friends on the section near to Lancaster. On that day there wasn't much time to stop, take pictures and enjoy the scenery as it was quite a mission for them to ride the whole route in a day.

Barrow cycleway
So we decided to complete the whole route, but over a more relaxed two days. Janet and Rob joined us for this mission. It nearly didn't happen at all as they wouldn't let us on the train with our bikes. It's bl***y annoying that Northern Rail don't allow you to book bikes on their trains and only allow up to 2 bikes on any train journey at the guards discretion.

Views back over to Bowland
We knew this but assumed there would be some flexibility and a willingness to help...... no, not a bit of it (must write to Tim Farron about this!)! The 9am train came and went and we weren't allowed on it, the guards cheerfully told us we probably wouldn't be allowed on the next train either... How on earth anyone with a bike wanting to do this ride ever gets to Barrow is anyone's guess.

Near Ulverston
Luckily Abi had the idea of getting a taxi (van) and we found one outside the station that we managed to cram 4 bikes and 4 people into. It dropped us in Barrow, and we cycled to Walney Island the start of our big (mini) journey.

The sun was shining and the riding started out flat and interesting as we rode through the industrial sections of Barrow, spotting a submarine in the dock, and enjoying the expansive views out to sea.

Cartmel (I think!)
I kind of don't know where we actually went on the next section, but it was very pleasant with quiet roads and further sea views. The views into the Lakes were also pretty good. Our ride also corresponded with a Buddhist Festival at Ulverston - didn't spot the Dalai Lama though....

At the top of the hill of doom

After getting slightly lost (me and Abi), and losing Janet and Rob there's a great off road section before the mother of all hills. We rewarded ourselves after the tortuous climb with ice creams in Cartmel before another hour in the saddle got us to Grange and a rather strange night out.

Cake perfection...

Day 2 was drizzly, but fun as we strayed onto our more local patch. We enjoyed a rather fine cafe stop at the Wolfhouse in Silverdale. At this point (considering I'd also had a cooked breakfast in Grange) I was starting to think that I'd probably put on weight during this adventure due to the high quality of cafe stops we managed to fit in.

It rained fairly heavily as we were on the canal section near Carnforth, but this was nice and refreshing. Sadly it put off most members of the team from wanting an ice-cream in Morecambe (as we sheltered under a canopy trying to keep warm).

The rain soon stopped and we were treated to 200 Batala drummers performing on the quay - quite a sight, and sound (heres a video of it)

Morecambe bay looking fine...
Reinvigorated we kept going on the last leg round to Glasson dock, and then the final 5/6 hilly miles home, as Janet and Rob headed back to Lancaster train station to retrieve their car. What a brilliant 2 days.

Finished at last! Only 5/6 miles home!