The Gower, South Wales – October 2017

Friday 13st – Sunday 15th October 2017

Attendees: Maggie, Alan, Claire, Sue, Joanne, Steve,  Mark, Keyna, Ade, Andreea, Marion and welcome to new member Judith.

This year’s coastal trip was at Rhossili on the Gower. The village hall at Rhossili has a practical, comfortable bunkhouse where we stayed.

We had looked at the tides to walk to Worms head which can only be accessed in a window two hours either side of Low tide. So Saturday most of us were up and out walking at 7.30am. We were rewarded with a lovely sunrise. The walk involved a few scrambles across the rocks, some great views and seals in the sea.

Later we met up with the rest of the group and we continued on our walk on the ridge above Rhossili beach reaching the heady heights of 185m at the trig point! We managed to find a beer festival at Llangennith where we restricted our intake to a swift half. Broughton bay was our next destination and then the lovely long walk along Rhossili beach.

A great day walking with some lovely views.

The pleasant evening back at the bunkhouse with a home cooked evening, plenty of laughs and a quiz.

Sunday, none of us were in a rush home and we had a fabulous walk further east along the coast from Oxwich to Three Cliffs bay and back.

Another great sociable fun weekend with Newbury Mountain club.

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Dolomites – Sept 2017

Dolomites Hut to Hut Trek – September 2017

As a change to the more recent summer treks in the Alps and Pyrenees, a few of us ventured to the spectacular Dolomites for this year’s hut to hut. Winter appeared to arrive the same day as us (after, apparently, three glorious months of sunshine), but after seeing through the first few days of inclement weather, we were rewarded with excellent trekking and memorable views in snowy conditions. Our route took in part of the Alta Via 1, including Seekofel, LaVarella, Lagazuoi, Cingue Torri, and Croda da Lago (the refuge with a whole menu dedicated just for grappa). The refuges were top class, with menus to match (weight was gained on this trek) and some of the path constructions an amazing feat of engineering, taking us through rock faces which just didn’t seem possible without a rope. We’ll certainly be returning for more trekking in this amazing area.

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Cadair Idris – Sept 2017

Attendees: Dorian, Maria, Si, Ali, Dave, Andy, Maggie, Jill, Andreea, Gary, Darren, Sue, Ade, Simon P, Alan, Martin and Alex.

The weekend started with the usual fight through the traffic, despite all the jams we made good time and got to Kings Hostel in good time to check in and purchase a couple of beers! Most the group had arrived with the rest scheduled to arrive anytime from now until midnight.

We discussed the route for the next day, the majority, fifteen of us were walking up Cadair Idris whilst Si and Ali were going to climb the Cyfrwy Arete. The walking route decided on was the foxes path which we could walk to directly from the Hostel door.

The next day we set off in good time, the weather was excellent and we headed up to Cadair Idris, the plan was still good as the weather was on our side. We got to the top in good time so we decided to extend the day knowing that weather was going to be pants on the next day. So we headed across to Craig Las before heading back down to the Hostel.

That day we covered a total of 17.6km with a total ascent of 1,298m.

The next day the weather was as expected so a few of us decided to do a small low level walk around Llynnau Cregennen before heading back south and home, the pictures below are all from the Saturday due to the poor  weather on Sunday.

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Malvern Hills – July 2017

When: 30th June – 2nd July

Attendees: Andy M, Dan U, Maisie U, Simon H, Belinda S, Andreea I, Jill R, Trudi W, Daisy CY, Angela C

A lovely weekend in the Malvern Hills and only a 90 minute drive from Newbury. Arriving on the Friday night we enjoyed some music and snacks before a leisurely start at 10am the next morning…

Heading up through the woods was spectacular with rich lush woods on the lower slopes that soon became quite steep as we got up onto the top by Pinnacle Hill. We made our way north and up and over Summer Hill before the high point at 425m. We descended on the far side to do Sugarloaf Hill, Table Hill and North Hill. We then made our way back again via the same route but this time unable to resist the lure of the pub on a scorching hot summers day and little Maisie was after some ice cream
We continued onwards over Jubilee HIll, Pinnacle Hill, Black Hill before stopping at a hotel/bar to finish the day and more ice cream for Maisie. We descended down through the lush woodland back to the bunkhouse. Total for the day was approx 9.25 miles and 2000 ft ascent and descent

Sunday, we drove the the hotel/bar where we stopped at the previous evening. From there we headed south with a steep climb up to the summit of the Herefordshire Beacon at 338m with stunning views for miles. Then on to Millenium Hill, Hangmans Hill, Swinyard Hill and a fun but steep descent down alongside the quarry and back up through Gullet woods. Next up was Midsummer Hill before the descent into Hollybush, Last up was a very steep climb up to Ragged Stone Hill at 254m where we stopped for lunch. Then it was time to turn around and do it all again on our way back to the car. Even though the Hills were not as high as Saturdays, it was almost unanimous that the scenery and walking was even better than the previous days. As we descended back down to the cars, there was just time for one more ice cream to keep everyone happy. The total for the day was approx 7 miles and 1700 ft ascent/descent.

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Lake District – June 2017

For Maria and I (Dorian) the weekend started on Friday, running the gauntlet with the traffic – new idea tried this time is to use two sat navs and follow the one with the earliest ETA! (I think it worked!)
We arrived by 10 and started putting up the tent, reception was closed but our booking details were left in an envelope pinned to the door – we did notice a load of them pinned to the door and thought others may not have been so lucky with the traffic.
As we were putting up the tent we bumped into (Simon Kirby, Alex Falconer & Ali) who traveled up the day before with an overnight stop in M6 Travelodge. On Friday they (Si, Alex & Ali) then made their way to Glenridding and after a tea stop began the 1hour 30min walk in to the bottom of arguably the Lake District finest scramble, Pinnacle Ridge – 3 star, grade 3 on St Sunday Crag. It’s short but great fun with loads of exposure!
On Saturday morning the weather was real pants, again we met with Si, Alex and Ali who said they were first heading into Ambleside before doing a low level walk. We also learnt that many people cancelled their bookings or didn’t show due to the weather, in addition the Great North Swim for Sunday was cancelled, meaning that the campsite was not that busy at all.
We hanged around all morning until the weather appeared to get better before heading up to do Tarn Crag, Blea Rigg and Silver Howe before descending down into Chapel Stile to complete our Wainwrights for the day 🙂
Meanwhile Si, Alex and Ali did some retail therapy in Ambleside before returning to the campsite for a scramble up Side Pike then onto Brown How before heading back to the campsite via Blea Tarn.
That night we met up for evening meal at the ODG – all I will say is excellent Sticky Toffee pudding!
The next day the winds were at near gale force so we opted to stay low and do Wansfell Pike from Troutbeck before heading back south after eating our packed lunch in the car. Si, Alex & Ali headed to Langdale Pikes to test this wind. The decision was made to try a scramble The Spur on Tarn Crag. 1 star, grade 2. The wind added a bit of spice to the occasion but they eventually topped out. A hasty retreat was then made back to the Sticklebarn for lunch before heading home.

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Cairngorms – Easter 2017

Scotland – Easter 2017

Staying at The Crofts of Cairngorm, near Nethybridge

Alan, Claire, Keyna, James, Mark, Tricia, Maggie, Jill, Andy, Gary, Isaac, Simon, Dave

Another fantastic Easter week in Scotland – we may not have had the brilliant blue skies as in previous years, but we all got out every day to enjoy the mountains, with some rather wintery weather some days. Mark achieved the highest count of munros (14), starting off with four on the journey up after he and Tricia “wild” camped in between the A9 and the railway line at Drummochter Pass. The longest day saw most of us climb Braeriach (returning through a blizzard, testing our navigational skills) whilst Mark and Isaac continued their run to include Angels Peak, Cairn Toul, and Devils Point, returning over the Lairig Ghru (phew). Other munros climbed during the week were Bynack More, Cairngorm, Ben Macdui, Ben Mheadhoin, and Mullach Clach a Bhlair and Sgor Gaoith from lovely Glen Feshie. Shorter lower level walks and bike rides were enjoyed along the River Spey and the pine forests, whilst a contingent hired bikes from Aviemore one day and without cycle pants had a painful end to the day (the wrapping of a fleece around the saddle just doesn’t do the job)! A trip over to Glenlivet to do a short walk up Carn Daimh finished with a tour round the distillery and some generous samples.

As usual, we ate very well every night, so many thanks to all the cooks – the bill coming to an average of only £3 per meal! Most evenings we ate quite late, as it was difficult to extract people from the sauna and hot tub. It is definitely the most funky place we have ever stayed and in such a beautiful isolated setting with views of the Cairngorm range.

Roll on next Easter – we’re sure to be making a return to Scotland…

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Brecon Beacons Navigation Trip

Navigation Trip

Date: 17th-19th February 2017

Accommodation: Ynysmarchog Bunkhouse, Trecastle near Brecon, Wales

Attendees: Maggie (organiser), Alan, Claire, Andy M, Steve, Andreea, Belinda, Darren

All arrived fairly early on Friday evening (an advantage of not having a long car journey) and settled into the recently refurbished bunkhouse relaxing around the warmth of the log burner.

On Saturday morning we met our instructor for the day, Mark Hendry who had a wealth of skill and knowledge to share with us. After looking at various maps we headed outside to work out our individual paces for 100m and estimated distances we could see around us. We then set off in the cars heading south east, and eventually walked up to Fan Frynych, practicing comparing the map to the ground, learning how to measure distances, setting the map and using our compasses to take magnetic bearings.  Luckily it didn’t rain but we had a lot of low cloud which was good practice for navigating in. We finally finished the day by searching for an unusual contour feature in the dark and arrived back at the cars at 7.30pm.

Dashing back to the bunkhouse we just about made it to the pub before they stopped serving food.

On Sunday Claire planned a navigation exercise for us to follow, we started by using grid references to mark the sites on our maps. The search was on to find World War 2 airplane crash sites in an area of sink holes in the Swansea Valley. Starting from Glyntawe we headed up the Cwn Haffes gorge in the rain, which was challenging as it was not marked as a path on the map. Having to abandon the planned river crossing due to the large amount of rain that had fallen, we used pacing to navigate to a sink hole where we sheltered from the wind to have lunch. Most of the group decided to head back to the cars spotting various features on the way, whilst Alan, Claire and Steve battled on in the wind and rain to successfully navigate to several other small physical features shown on the map, which in poor visibility, put all the skills learnt into practice!

It was great weekend and a lot was learnt, all thanks to the excellent training we had from Mark.

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Snowdonia Quest for Snow 2017

Attendees: Dave W, Si, Ali, Dorian, Maria, David PJ, Gary, Mark C, Pete A

Excellent weekend in Snowdon staying at the luxurious Plas Curig Hostel.

Several groups headed out in different directions on Saturday, some headed to the Carnaddau, some headed to the Glyderiau, some done the horseshoe and finally some headed up onto Foel Goch. All came back happy with their achievements.

That night we had an excellent meal at the Bryn Tyrch along with a few beers to celebrate the day.

On Sunday after breakfast at the Moel Siabod Cafe we headed up Moel Siabod, all doing varying routes, weather was misty, cold and windy on the top meaning we had no real excuse to hang around before heading back to the Moel Siabod cafe for coffee before the drive home..

Sadly not much snow this time around…

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Brecon Comfy Sofa Trip 2017

Date: 13th-15th January 2017

Accommodation: Rhydins Fawr Barn, Llandovery, Wales

Attendees: Maggie (organiser), Alan, Claire, Keyna, James, Mark, Marion, Dave W, Andy M, Simon P, Jill, Martin

Staying at a barn on the northern edge of the Brecon Beacons, all arrived fairly early on Friday evening (the advantage of not having a long car journey) and settled into the recently converted barn with not one but three comfy sofa’s and with a log fire!

On Saturday we set off from the village of Cilycwn to head up to the plateau, Mynydd Mallaen, to do an 11-12 mile walk. However, the start was exceeding slow as we spent ages avoiding mud, mud and more mud in various fields and farmyards. We finally headed up to higher ground where there was some snow, but definitely not crampon weather. After sheltering from the wind under a fallen conifer tree for lunch, we continued on a bit further but with the cold weather and rain coming at us sideways we opted for a slightly shorter route down. With time to spare we tried to find a pub open, but after trying two that were closed we gave up and headed back to our warm comfy accommodation.

We started the evening by celebrating Keyna’s birthday with sparkling wine with the barn having been secretly decorated by James. This was followed by a superb meal of lamb shank and veg cooked by Marion, finishing with birthday cakes.

On Sunday the weather didn’t look brilliant so Mark, Marion and Jill headed into Brecon. The rest of the group went on a ‘Waterfall walk’ from Pontneddfechan (once we had found the path up). Led by Claire, we wadded through yet more mud, whilst Andy and Dave nearly drowned (so they had us all believe) in the badly waterlogged field until we got the path that wound around the spectacular waterfalls. The rain held off but we all got wet traversing under the last waterfall but we didn’t mind one bit 🙂

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Pyrenees Hut to Hut – September 2016

– Dan U (organiser), Steve, Alan, Claire, Maggie, Sarah, Andy D, Dan S, Dave, Simon P

Day 1:
Dave had opted to take the train to France & was thus already in Lourdes as the rest of the group waited at Stanstead and bought breakfast from Weatherspoons. A short flight & we were in Lourdes. After a minor bit of confusion over taxis we were heading for Pont D’Espagne & the start of the week proper. It was after lunch & we had about 3hrs to walk the 6km to the first hut if we wanted dinner. It was cold & wet, so a fast pace wasn’t too much of a hardship.

Instead of stopping at the small hotel & bar at the Lac de Gaube we carried on up the trail. A walker coming down from the refuge told us that Dave was in good spirits & waiting for us with the beers. We duly arrived at the hut, one after another, booked in, chucked our stuff on our bunks & waited for dinner.

Day 2:
Today was a short day with the option of a peak or two. After breakfast we left the hut & headed off up to climb to the Horquette d’Ossoue (2734m). This was an easy climb & after an hour or so the group was at the col. To the right was the easy 3000m peak of the Petite Vignemale (3031m) which most of the group opted to climb. The Baysellance hut where we were staying the night was only 1km from the col, so there was no rush. Dave, Steve & the two Dan’s headed down to the hut for beer & lunch, & were joined by Andy & Sarah. The main attraction at the hut ( apart from the view ) is the Vignemale proper, so after lunch those that were down from its smaller brother decided to go & ‘have a look’ at the route.

The Vignemale (3298m) ascent involves a small glacial crossing & a short scramble. To get to the start of the ascent means losing a certain amount of height but without packs this wasn’t too much of a burden. We were soon climbing the moraines and smoothed rock. Sarah & Andy decided to sit & go no further, whilst the rest of us carried on over the ice. The glacier is quite benign & this year was very dry so the few small crevasses were easy to avoid. We were the last party to climb to the summit which was good as the scramble to the top is over loose rock & stonefall caused by other climbers is a real hazard when the route is busy.

We had a short stay on top & headed back to the hut. Sarah & Andy had gone from the edge of the ice – not as it turned out back to the hut but across to the summit of Montferrat 3221m on the opposite side of the Ossoue Cirque. They only just made it in time for diner – the hut warden almost sending out a search party. Lack of water at the hut meant the showers & toilets were shut, making for an ‘interesting’ time answering any calls of nature.

Day 3:
A long day ahead of us today about 15km or so – which it turned out was attempted three different ways. The entire group headed down the valley passing the caves blasted out of the rock for Count Henry Russell (a slightly eccentric English man who wished to live on the slopes of the Vignemale) and passing a fine cascade which brought out all the cameras. In the valley bottom we picked up the pace a little & were soon spread out. The two Dan’s, Dave & Steve opted for a direct route to the next hut, taking a straight line up the R flank of the Sausse Dessus valley wall. Andy & Sarah opted to try their luck hitching up the Especieres road to the car park ahead &, which raised a few eye brows. Alan, Claire Maggie & Simon had opted for a rather longer route taking in a long loop into Spain.

The 4 chaps made good time up the pathless valley side and were soon at the top on the ridge. Their route now took in two summits – Pic Des Sant Andre 2608m & the Pic Entre Les Portes 2477m. We were now at the Port de Boucharo & within a final few km of the hut. Catching Andy & Sarah on the final climb to the hut the first part of the party arrived in good time for several beers.

Later, much, much later the rest of the group arrived again just in time for diner having had a fine day out in Spain.

Day 4:
Despite the Sarradets Refuge sitting in a fine position just below the Breche du Roland I was the only person who decided to tackle the 300m climb to the top. The views were stunning & worth the effort. However, there was the chance of lunch at the Hotel in the valley, so lazing in the early morning sun was not an option. The path to the valley floor involves a very steep descent of the Echelle de Sarradets which is steep enough to warrant being marked in dots on the IGN map. It lived up to its reputation, with Sarah taking a slightly off route option (red crosses should not be followed) and giving herself a bit of a fright. However we were soon back on track & in the valley floor below the impressive Grande Cascade which brings so many tourists to the small village of Gavarnie.
We got a good table on the Hotel terrace & ordered beer & food as the group re united. Setting off separately however we began the short climb to our hut. Luckily the Cider House which we had frequented with a passion (for the 2€ hot showers of course) eight years previously was again open & it seemed only natural to stop & have a few ciders for old times. Again the chap running the hut didn’t believe that we wanted a bottle of cider each (they are 75cl ) and seemed amazed when we ordered a second round. He took a shine to Maggie who confused him further by asking to see the accommodation.

A short hike uphill saw as at our hut the Park Authority owned Refuge Espuguettes.

Day 5:

Another longish day, but one which was mainly downhill. We set off early and some of the group (Dan S & Andy) decided to bag the only summit near to our route for the day – Pimine 2801m. The rest of the group continued on up to the Horquette d’Alans. From the col it was a long 4km descent to the Gloriettes Lake, but a descent through attractive scenery. The group was spread out over the mountainside, but the weather had cleared & the route straightforward.  
From the lake there was a short steep climb around into the Heas valley where our accommodation was situated. The path to the hut split & so I left a very fine arrow & sign, made from stones lying on the path side to point the way – but no one saw it. Arriving at the Auberge du Maillet & finding the owner had such a strong local accent he was unintelligible the group arrived one by one. Due to a large number of French pensioners also wanting to stay in the bunkroom, most of our group upgraded to rooms in the hotel itself. The afternoon was spent either in the bar or walking up to the Cirque above the Auberge. On fine days it is a stunning location, but the weather was not kind to us.

Day 6:
We had a second night at the Auberge, so today was a much easier day where we could leave most of our stuff in the hotel & travel light. The weather was not too good with low cloud & rain so the plan was to hike up to the Cirque & play it by ear from there. In the Cirque is a large Madonna – the Vierge du Troumouse which we headed for first in the thick mist. We continued on round to the Lac des Aires & here we split – some wanting to head back, others to continue round the Cirque. I decided on a reconnoitre of the route up to the Pic de la Munia.
The weather never improved so we all ended up back to the Auberge over the course of the afternoon where hot chocolate & wine passed the time.

Day 7:
Today was our last day in the hills. Dave had to get to Lourdes for a train, so he left early to walk down the valley road. The rest of us had a straightforward, if long, traverse around two valleys to get to the CAF hut above Gavarnie. Again the group was spread out on the mountainsides with a gap between us. The well marked path passes through several deserted high mountain farmsteads before an easy descent into Gavarnie. Being late in the season Gavarnie was almost closed for the winter with only a handful of shops open. We sat in the hut & passed the time either by having a snooze, or seeing what the wine was like.

Day 8:
Our taxis were awaiting us bright and early (well one was) so half the party piled into the back & set off for Lourdes. We passed the other cab after a few minutes & after an hour or so we were back in Lourdes. Our flight was an afternoon one so we had a few hours to kill – heightened security at the Grotto & Basilica meant we couldn’t take our rucksacks in without a thorough search, so we went to have an early lunch & beer or two….  

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