Wessex Ridgeway Cycle

31 July – 1 August ’21

Attendees: Andy M (organiser), Mark C, Trish C, Nicola M, Simon B, Mark F, Marion F, Mike B, Gabby B, Maggie R,

The route started in Tisbury just past Salisbury and finished in Axminster for a direct train back. The Wessex Ridgeway actually runs all the way from Marlborough to Lyme Regis on the Jurassic Coast. Each day was around 42 miles and 1500 metres of ascent so fairly big ones.

Andy, Mark C, Simon, Mark F, Marion F & Mike were all cycling and support crew duties were admirably performed by Maggie & Nicola, Trish and Gabby who opted to join up but plan walks instead.

Day 1 started fighting the traffic at Stonehenge. Once past that we were underway mid-morning. Immediately the route started off with a steep 1 in 5 climb aptly named “steep mother” in Strava. This should have been a good indication of what was to come for the weekend ahead…
We soon hit the byways and a bit of the mud that was along the route after some very heavy July rains prior to the trip. The route had us turning into a path that was so overgrown that we cycled right past it. Time for our first ad-hoc detour through the nearby sheep field…

The route was really good in places and really bad in others. From great singletrack and bridleways to virtually untrodden paths and untouched boggy farmers’ fields. One path became so narrow and overgrown with ferns, brambles and thorns that it tore us to shreds with plenty of wounds on our arms at legs at the end! Were those faint moans of discontent I could here??? There were gates galore along the route and with some really steep the climbing that we had to push up meant that the route was taking a long time – so far 4 hours in and only 20 miles done. We were on target to arrive at the evening pub (https://dorsetgreyhound.co.uk/) at 8pm when they stopped serving food!!! We decided to cut short the last of the off-road section and head back the last 8 miles on the road to the pub and arrived to meet the rest of the group at 7pm. It had been an epic stop start muddy ride and we were glad to eventually arrive and have a beer and some good food.

Day 2 started with Mark and Marion losing their car and house keys so they had to change their plans but fortunately Mike & Gabby had 3 bike racks on the car to help them get back ok. Simon was exhausted from the previous day and so it was left to Andy and Mark C to fly the NMC cycling flag. Filled with a fantastic cooked breakfast and renewed belief that there was no way the route for day 2 could be as bad as the previous day, we set off…
…and we were pleasantly surprised with some nice singletrack and wide bridleways – now this was much more like it!!! However, it was soon business as usual as we found ourselves making our way through more non-descript farmers’ fields, gateway galore, long cornfields and more ups and down’s than we cared to mention. Then the heavens opened and we got drenched so much so that it actually started to clean the bikes – result!!!
an hour later the sun was out and we’d dried off. Under wheel the tracks were pretty muddy but we were in full flow with a good rhythm as we cycled through all the way to Lyme Regis powered by the desire for an ice cream. We eventually got there at 5:30pm, which again was much later than expected and it had taken us 6.5 hours to do the 33 miles there. We still had another 8 miles to Axminster to complete up the longest climb of the whole weekend from sea level to the top of Trinity Hill past Uplyme but we hit it at pace and were in Axminster just after 6 to finish with a beer whilst waiting for the train back.

Meanwhile on the Sunday, Maggie had planned a short 4 mile walk for the support crew which managed to turn into an all-day epic. No idea how! Oh, and we never did find out where the keys were…

This was another eventful NMC long distance ride like so many others in previous years and we’ve had a great laugh recounting some of the highs and lows of the various activities…

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Golden Cap

9th- 11th October 2020

Attendees: Mark, Marion, Maggie, Alan, Claire, Andreea, Ade, Sue, Jill, Martin, Trudi, Martin and Simon

A weekend planned in January 2020 with the National Trust bunkhouse at Stonebarrow near Charmouth in Dorset was booked. Although it sleeps 8 with Covid-19 restrictions in place only 6 were allowed. However, this didn’t deter members of NMC, who found alternative accommodation in local B&B’s and a Pod on a campsite.
So on Saturday 9th October 13 members of the club gathered in Stonebarrow hill to start a circular walk heading inland to North Chideock, Colmer’s Hill, Doghouse Hill and Golden Cap, around 10 miles. After the Risk Assessment talk, everyone headed out on a fabulous sunny day. Social distancing was kept but it didn’t dampen the chat or enthusiasm of the group. It was so good that one of photos looks like a group of statues standing the a field (with Colmer’s Hill in the back ground)

To get to this spot, we went up “Hell’s lane”, a bridleway with deep ruts and uneven surface which ended with deep banks on each side. We had cyclists pass us, who were digging deep to stay on their bikes but eventually as the lane got steeper, they had to join us walkers on foot.

We then headed towards the coast and had our lunch at the top slopes of Doghouse hill looking east. A fabulous view:

After lunch we stuck to the coast heading west and down to sea level with a break to enjoy the lovely sunshine.

Golden cap was in our sights and we stuck to the coast a bit too much. We found ourselves on a path that disappeared through erosion and so we had a couple of barbed wire fences to navigate over.

View from Golden cap, east towards Seatown and the lower doghouse hill:

A view from Golden Cap looking west towards Charmouth and Lyme Regis in the distance. The end was in sight, back at Stone Barrow hill. A lovely walk enjoyed by all.

We then separated to our respective accommodation.


Two walks were planned with Andreea, Simon, Mark and Marion walking from Lyme Regis to Charmouth. The tides were in their favour and they had a productive walk spotting fossils on the beach.
Alan, Claire and Maggie did a 6-7mile coastal walk in a figure of eight from Burton Bradstock. A dip into the sea was tempting but getting out into the chilly wind made the decision – it was a no!!!

Lyme Regis from Charmouth hill:

A lovely weekend which was well appreciated by all, ice to get away in these strange times.

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Lake District – Quest for Snow

Lake District trip 7-9th February 2020

Sykeside Bunkhouse, Brotherswater, near Patterdale 

A few of us headed north for the February trip traditionally named ‘Quest for Snow’. However we weren’t certain how Storm Ciara which was due to come in over the weekend would affect us. Fortunately we went up on Thursday evening and woke up to a cloudless sky on Friday. We parked at the Bunkhouse and headed up Dovedale Valley onto Hart Crag (822m) and then on to Fairfield (873m). The views were amazing due to the brilliant, clear blue sky. We accomplished our mission to find snow, although it was sparse! We returned via a really nice ridge, Hartsop above How. 

On Saturday the wind was beginning to pick up, so we walked from the bunkhouse up to Hayeswater and on to Angle Tarn. With gusts of up to 50mph at the top, we just about managed to stay upright with the help of poles. With only one hailstorm we got back before the torrential rain and winds arrived in the evening. However we were quite content sitting in the pub with a log fire having a great meal.

It was straight back to Newbury on Sunday due to the weather conditions and the flooding, the campsite had turned into a lake!

It was a great weekend with a cosy room in the Bunkhouse which was  situated next to an excellent pub.

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Cairngorms Winter Skills Course

January 17-20th 2020

This trip was organised and run by our very own mountain leader Isaac Walker. We stayed at the Cairngorm Christian Centre in Kincraig, about 5-6 miles from Aviemore. What a terrific place it was and Jane who runs the centre was great.

After a very cold snow-filled December, January was positively sub-tropical across the UK and we were worried that there was virtually no snow until just a week before the course started. Luckily in the days beforehand is started to get much more “wintery” to everyone’s relief.
A few people drove up on the Friday and a couple of others made themselves comfortable on the overnight sleeper train for what turned out to be a delayed journey up north (after 2 hours they had returned back to near Euston Station having travelled just 1 mile)

Once everyone arrived and we could get out on the hills we were able to do some basic winter understanding. Learning about avalanche risk, reading the avalanche forecast and interpreting that onto the map. Also discussing other factors such as route planning factoring in the wind and snow drift it causes. Then it was how to properly use our crampons and ice axe equipment. How to move across different terrain in the crampons – side steps, toe-ing up steep slopes and properly moving down them. Then cutting steps and different techniques.

We finished the course by moving onto practising ice axe arrests. This was a little harder trying to find some suitable areas to practise. Partially because good snow that had not been touched was still hard to come by, and also quite a lot had started to turn to ice in the freeze-thaw conditions. However Isaac found an untouched area of snow with strategically placed “safety heather” that would catch us if required. We practised basic technique before trying move adventurous moves such as head first, on your front, back and then finally backwards head first!
It was great fun although hard on the knees, arms and chest. It was great practise and really re-affirmed that we all hope to never actually have to use the skills for real…

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Khyber Pass – Dec’19


Mark C, Peter A, Andy M, Dan, Maisie Ruff-Diamond, James A, Ali C, Alan T, Claire W, Maggie, Barry, Barry, Marion, Mark F, Chip, Jill, Scarlet, Chris, Holly, Srini, Dorian.


A small group went up Thursday night and stayed at Pen-y-pas. Gary, Barry and Maggie went walking in the Glyders. Pete & I set up the course for the next day. Weather was horrible. A guard’s tunic was possibly not the best choice of clothing.


The format wasn’t something we’d tried before, and I was a little nervous about how it would work – hence the overly serious briefing on the Friday. We needn’t have worried and everyone was out on the hills despite the weather. The recent heavy rain ensured the waterfalls looked spectacular and the low cloud increased the navigational challenge. It’s much harder to navigate to an obscure point that few people ever set foot at, than a vista that is visited by thousands. Well done to everyone. Thanks for not dying (forgivable) or calling Mountain Rescue (much more embarrassing).

I managed to meet up with some of you on the hill during the day, but first let me refer to Andy:

Major Moss’s report:

Myself, James & Alison set off quickly picking up markers 1, 2 & 3. By the time we got 4 at the western top of the horseshoe the weather had well and truly closed in. As we made our way along the top of the ridge we caught up with Gary, Barry and Jill.

By the time we joined up with the Watkins path further along the ridge both Alison and Jill’s gear had succumbed to the Welsh weather and they were getting cold so they decided to head back to base with James escorting them. [Ed: James removing the marker at 1 to confuse Dorian, later]

Myself, Barry and Gary pushed on for the summit after a steep climb up the screen to the summit and arrived around 1pm

Having stopped for a bite to eat sheltering around the side of the café, we then proceeded to walk right past the popup shelter that was home to Mark and Pete with hot tea/coffee not knowing it was them inside waiting for us!!!

As we headed back down RhydDu we kept a look out for marker 5 on the way down but couldn’t see where to venture off the path due to the poor visibility so instead we headed straight down to pick up no 7 before returning to camp just as the last throws of light disappeared. Tired but happy after a fairly full on day and also because we beat the rest of the group!!! [Ed: NMC lawyers re-iterate the event was non-competitive]

Route Planner’s report:

The route was intended to cater for a mix of abilities, with checkpoints mainly close to paths, and just a couple off the beaten track. That said, 1000m of ascent is a significant physical challenge especially in the conditions. Of the people Andy didn’t cover:

Maggie, Alan, Claire & Srini reached checkpoints 1, 2, 3 and 6. Remember, this was Srini’s first ever mountain walk.

The Lake at 3 is actually a reservoir, as shown on Dan’s 1911 map, and the dam is still there. Claire’s route between 2 and 3 is worth a mention. They crossed the river, ascending to the small saddle on the end of the ridge. After the warnings given, this was a safe route, and a good way to locate the Lake. As Pete & I found out on the Thursday a direct ascent on a bearing is more dangerous and can easily lead to smaller pools at the top. Not that you lot need any navigation tips, but if you are going to aim off, as a general rule, aim off in the direction of least effort.

The Brecon Brigade, Holly & Chris, led by Dorian the Cunning, decided to do the route in reverse.  We feared their plan would wreck our checkpoint collection plan, but luckily they retired early down the Watkin path, leaving me free to nip off at 1pm to collect checkpoints 1-4. They got 4 checkpoints, including Snowdon, popping in for hot chocolate, and were the only team to reach the other Dam(ned) Lake (possibly the hardest checkpoint).

As already noted Gary, Barry & Andy got 5 checkpoints, and they know themselves that they walked within 300m of getting the 6th. In the conditions, this is a great achievement. Book yourself onto a Mountain Marathon boys. Clearly their Special Forces training paid off, as they managed to sneak by the Summit OP twice – Lieutenant Anderton is currently on a charge regarding his lack of observation skills.

There was a great atmosphere on the summit, with dozens of people popping in to say Hello, or perhaps just shelter from the conditions and grab a hot drink. Pete spent quality time with his daughter, Scarlet, braving hypothermia for 4 hours, emerging smiling and still talking to each other.

Back at the Residency

We ate well. Thanks for all your help with the evening. This was a real team effort – please excuse any omissions below

  • Vegetables peeled and cooked by Marion, Pete, James, and many others.
  • Canapes by Jill, Ali and James
  • Table layout by Jill and Gary, to mathematical precision. I think they had a laser.
  • Signage and Silver-polishing by Gary & Barry – reusing the YHA door sign was genius.
  • Table service by James & Pete (and others).
  • Washing up by dozens – close call on the toffee sauce being mistaken for gravy.
  • AV services from Dorian, Dan and Pete.

Apologies for any post-traumatic stress caused by the rough looking waitress in Lederhosen.

Even the partial power trip on Saturday night didn’t dampen the atmosphere, although the wardens who turned up to fix it were a bit bemused.


  • James ran up to Pen-Y-Pas and back – clearly too much energy left over from the Saturday.
  • The organizers picked up the only remaining checkpoint flag at the damn.
  • Claire and Maggie headed to Betws y Coed and had a leisurely 3 hour walk around the Llyn Esi reservoir with no rain!
  • Dan and Maisie went to the Pen-Y-Ghent Hotel & had a pint with Tenzing & Hillary

Some learning points for next time, but this trip couldn’t have worked so well without you guys getting into the spirit of it. Special thanks to Pete who reigned in the dafter ideas and helped implement the better ones.

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Next Steps Scrambling Training Weekend…

next steps scrambling – Ogwyn Valley

Trainer – Matt @ www.greatormevertical.co.uk
Attendees – Andy, Kate, Iain

The day started with a basic introduction to the types of scrambling (grade 1, 2, 3) equipment used and various use case scenarios. What was interesting was learning about the differences between ropes and slings and what to look for when scrambling outdoors as opposed to indoor climbing.

After morning briefing, we headed outside into the welsh rain to put our new found knowledge to practial use. A short walk from the hostel into the base of the Glyders with plenty of super slippy rock with the rain hammering down.

We practised belaying others using the A-B-C (Anchor, Belayor, Climber) technique along with just the B-C (Belayor & Climber) as well. We then practised self Rappels using the traditional and African Chair method. By a mile we all found the african chair method much more controlled and less uncomfortable although this comes at the expense of significant amounts of rope as you have to double up – something to think about on the mountain…

after a bit of lunch in the driest spot we could find, we then scrambled up to higher ground to practise use of belaying with the use of a sling and italian hitch knot. It was here that Iain felt uncomfortable over some bigger boulders with the slippy rock so we had the perfect reason to practise for real, and although there was a risk of Iain meeting a grisly end, we all felt it was a risk worth taking to learn some new skills :o)

After taking it in turns to climb and descend down a short steep gulley whilst also practising as the belayor, it was time to head back to the YHA for a nice meal.

Sunday was an early start to do the north face of Tryfan as the morning was forecast to be dry before before rains moved in after lunch. As always Tryfan doesn’t disappoint and a wonderful scramble to the summit. Iain who came close to completing Tryfan a number of years ago but had to turn back had a score to settle and was overjoyed when we made it to the top.

A gentle descent down the south side and back down to the visitor centre completed a fantastic weekend…

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Fort William – May ’19

Friday 3rd May to Monday 6th May 2019

Attendees: Andy & James
Accommodation: Glen Nevis Campsite

Friday – Glen Coe
The route took us up the hidden/lost valley of the Glen Coe 3 sisters. The route started at the “meeting of the Three Waters” following the path up through the valley. At the far end of the valley a steep climb up the scree and snow covered “Lost Valley Buttress” before grabbing the summit of ‘Stob Coire Sgreamach’ @ 1072m and then back up to ‘Bidean Nam Bian’ @ 1141m. From there the route descends down and back up to ‘Stob Coire Nan Lochan’ @ 1115m before the long descent down the Gearr Aonach Ridge and back to the start.

Saturday – Ring of Steall
Todays’ route started at the carpark (grid ref NN 14601 68355). From there it was a relentless climb up to the first summit Sgurr a’ Mhaim @ 1099m. Then it was a nice walk along a narrow & slightly exposed ridge to Sgur an Lubhair @ 1001m. Then followed a long walk around to the next summit Stob Coire a’ Chairn @ 981m. The route got exciting again here as we scrambled along a nice rocky ridge to An Garbhanach (975m) followed by An Gearanach (982m). The route then descended all the way down into the valley on a beautiful path to the waterfall and a fun wire bridge crossing across the ‘Water of Nevis’. Thinking that was the end of the walk, we were further rewarded with a spectacular walk back along the valley to the car.

Sunday – Bike Ride
Today we gave ourselves a break from the walking and instead got on two wheels for a beautiful ride around the peninsular around Loch Shiel.
From fort william we cycled down to the Corran Ferry for the trip across Loch Linnhe (free for bicycles). Then we followed the road along the coast before heading west inland through Glen Tarbett. It was here that we both nearly got run over by a car pulling out of a junction who failed to look down the road. Luckily still intact and with out heart rates settling again, we pulled over a few miles further on at a tea shop near Scotstown. The roads were quiet, smooth and the scenery stunning. We made our way up to Loch Shiel along some stunning routes that were sheltered from the headwinds. We then joined the busier A861 back past Loch Eil to fort william. Regrettably in the planning we had missed the railway viaduct at Glenfinnan (made famous in the Harry Potter films) as we happily cycled past wondering why the area was so busy with tourists.
Our weary legs made it back to Fort William having covered 85 miles and 3500ft of Ascent and a great sense of achievement. To cap a brilliant ride the Garmin sat nav ran out of power 2 minutes after crossing the finish 🙂

Monday – Ben Nevis (CMD Arete)
Today’s route had been on the to-do list for some time – Ben Nevis via the CMD Arete route. We set off directly from the Glen Nevis campsite following the tourist path up. We split at the Lochan Meall An T’Suiche lake and made our way around to the CIC hut in the valley on the eastern side of Ben Nevis. Here we had a steep scramble up to the summit of Carn Dearg Meadhonach @ 1179m. The conditions were cool with a light dusting of snow from the night before and clear skies with views for miles. We made our way along the ridge to Carn Mor Dearg @ 1220m before the ridge descends down and around towards the summit. The route becomes quite exposed in places if sticking to the top of the ridge, although there are opportunities to drop just off the ridge for those without a head for heights. Having completed the ridge there was a final steep climb up to the summit of the great Ben @ 1345m and the ruins of the old observatory weather station. As the conditions were so calm with not even a breeze some people decided to do some slacklining across the gulley just off the summit. Certainly not for the faint hearted!!! After taking in the views we descended back down the tourist path to the campsite where we drove home later that night to try and avoid the traffic on the motorways…

Scotland you didn’t let us down on this trip. 4 truely epic days and glorious weather and scenery…

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Buckden, North Yorkshire – Easter 2019

Date: Friday 19th– Monday 22nd April

Attendees: Maggie (organiser), Alan, Claire, Simon

We all headed north on Thursday evening to avoid the Easter traffic, so we were able to do a walk on Good Friday. We started at Bolton Abbey and headed up to Simon’s Seat (485m) with spectacular views across the Yorkshire Moors. Walking back along the Dales Way by the River Wharfe, we encountered Easter bunnies and hanging eggs (no we weren’t dreaming) which were all part of an Easter trail involving rather a lot of excited children and adults!  We then headed to our accommodation, Town House Bunkhouse (National Trust) in the village of Buckden. 

On Saturday we walked from the Bunkhouse up to Buckden Pike (702m), across the moors to Great Whernside (704m), then down to Kettlewell. Here we enjoyed a well-deserved ice cream before we caught the local bus back to Buckden and headed for the village pub.

Sunday was yet another glorious sunny day and once again we headed out from the Bunkhouse up on to the moors to Horses Head (605m) where we had great views looking across to the Three Peaks. Then it was down to Hubberholme and another local hostelry!

On Easter Monday the sun was shining again and we headed to Kettlewell for a circular walk which included Stainforth Force where we saw some scary jumps and Catrigg Force Waterfalls.

Another NMC great weekend with four days of sun, wonderful scenery and a great little bunkhouse!

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Peak District – Mar 2019

Peak District 22-24 March 2019

Attendees: Andy, Ade, Aga, Andreea, Angela, Barry, Maggie, Martin, Sue, Trudy,

A nice relatively local trip to the stunning Peak District and the second busiest national park in the world.
We stayed in an independent hostel in Sheen in the white peaks.
Some people arrived early on the Friday and explored the local towns and areas. On Saturday we drove a short distance to park at Alstonefield where we set off to across the fields before dropping down in the valley alongside the river Dove.
Once in the valley the scenery was spectacular with many caves lining the route and wonderful cliffs and overhangs with bolts for those sport climbers.

A nice lunch stop at Milldale was followed by more wonderful sights such as the 12 apostles before the highlight of the day walking up to Thorpe Cloud and the stepping stones across the river and with wonderful views for miles around. It was busy with sightseers and for good reason.

We then crossed the river and began making our way along the opposite bank but keeping a high route. It turned out to be a great day covering approx 12-15 miles and 3000ft ascent.

Back in the bunkhoue we enjoyed an evening of home cooked lasagne and a couple of games of charades.

Sunday was another glorious sunny day. We started and the picturesque town of Hartington making our way across fields to once again pick up the river Dove further along the valley. Andy & Barry quickly bagged a couple of nearby summits including Wolfscote Hill (388m) the highest in the nearby area before meeting the others as we came back along Biggin Dale.

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Brecon Beacons – Jan 2019

Date: 11thth-13th January 2019

Attendees: Maggie Russell (organiser), Alan Tinkler, Claire White, Dave Wilson, Simon Pike, Nicola Milliner, Andy Moss, Gary Phillips, Barry Tucker, Al Chester, Gordon MacDonald

After a 6 year break we returned to Dan Y Gryn NT bunkhouse situated near the Storey Arms, which we enjoyed as much last time, except that for reasons unknown we were not allowed to use the log burner. Luckily it was a very mild January…

On Saturday, some of us headed north along the lane from the bunkhouse and headed up the Cwm Llwch Valley to Corn Du (873m) and Pen Y Fan (886m).  Unfortunately it was cloudy and also very windy at the top but at least we didn’t get wet. The boys decided to carry on and do Cribyn and Fan Y Big, but the girls decided to head down the track to the Storey Arms passing what seemed like hundreds of people all wearing trainers, we definitely felt overdressed by comparison!

Gary, Barry and Andy headed to Fan Fawr (734m) and continued onwards with Andy & Barry completing 9 summits along the way, approx 6000ft ascent and covering 22 miles roughly, arriving back in the dark close to 7.00pm.

Back at the barn we all enjoyed Gary’s homemade vegetable soup and beef bourguignon, followed by Waffle Berry pudding; all were all greatly appreciated! This was followed by the now well-known NMC game of Red Handed.

On Sunday due to a variety of reasons most people headed home early. However Andy was ultra-keen and was up early at 5am to head up Peny-y-Fan in the dark and had arranged to meet Dan and Maisie (who had an even earlier start driving over from Newbury) on the top n at 8.00am! Amazingly they arrived at 1 minute past!!!
Barry, Gary and Al also did the same but at a more sensible hour of the day!

Yet again we all had another great weekend in the Brecons!

Maggie (trip organiser)

Brecon Trip Report

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