Yorkshire Dales – Sept ’23

We had a great week in Littondale Yorkshire, in a very comfortable house. Eight members came to Litton, some for the weekend, others for the weekdays and three of us (Mark, Marion & Claire) stayed for the full week.

We walked most days, directly from the house to the hill above us and further down the valley to get nearer Pen-Y-Ghent. Sunday was  a bit too wet, so we had a visit to the local big town of Skipton. We discovered Grassington after a morning low level walk, a quaint Yorkshire village and after noticing a few references to ‘All creatures and small’, we realised that is where the latest series is filmed. On our last full day we used the local bus to the start of a walk in Wharfdale valley. All very scenic and relaxing walks.

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Black Mountains – Jan ’23

27th– 18th January 2023 Black Mountain Trip

Organiser: Maggie

Alan, Claire, Ann, Gary, Julie, Gerry, Mark, Marion, Trudi, Martin, Maggie.

This was our second trip to Tylau Lodge bunkhouse, which is just outside Hay on Wye on the edge of the Black Mountains. We enjoyed the lovely open plan living area with great views and the log fire, it’s definitely a comfy sofa trip!

On Saturday we started at the car park by Dragons Back and walked up to Y Grib, onto Lords Hereford Knob (713m) and back to the Bunkhouse (about 11 miles).

The day finished with a great meal including a sausage chilli and an apple and mincemeat roll, followed by a quiz and Red Handed.

On Sunday we set off to do the ridge, Mynydd Troed (609m) which is to the west of Dragons Back. Although we headed into the cloud we were rewarded with great views when it cleared. We then split into two with some heading back to the car park and others ascending up to Mynydd Llangorse (508m).

Yet another great weekend, we will be back!

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Bob Graham Round – Dec ’22

Bobbing in December
Dec 11-17, 2022

Not technically a club trip but as Mark is our president and did this superb solo effort and accompanying write up that we have to share…

The MWIS forecast for the Lake District was for near perfect winter conditions – very cold, but minimal wind and no precipitation. My base for the week was a loft apartment in the centre of Keswick, 50 metres from Moot Hall. The plan was to start from there and do successive legs of the Bob Graham Round. For those not familiar with it, this is one of the great fell running challenges. I’m not a fell runner and there’s no way I could ever do this in 24 hours, but I could at least experience the route.

I arrived Saturday afternoon and duly popped into the Kong shop for the Pete Bland map of the round. The shop is easy to spot – a two storey tall King Kong figuring outside, seasonally dressed as Santa. Kong held their first ever mountain marathon on the Isle of Arran this year and as a participant, I felt I owed them some patronage.

Sunday: Keswick to Threlkeld
Early start at 7.30am on the steps of Moot Hall. Unsure of the conditions I took an axe. Setting out from the town centre was novel: micro navigation down alleyways, icy car parks and bridges, but Spoonygreen lane leading to the Skiddaw carpark is easily found. At 9am I was on top of Skiddaw.
A proper fell runner came past me on the descent. I couldn’t keep up, but his line was useful to follow. The path up Great Calva goes up from just after the stone bridge and was easy to see in the frosty conditions. I’d missed this previously. The map says follow the line of grouse butts. I’m not entirely sure what these look like, and don’t think I found any – but the line I followed was fine.
On the descent from Great Calva, I found Wainwright’s round sheepfold and the bridge for the Cumbrian way. I then spent almost an hour faffing trying to find a decent river crossing over the River Caldew. There isn’t one. I wasn’t keen to get wet when the temperature was -5C, but no option.
It was a long drag up Murgisdale common. In the snow I ended up following paths which took me a little further west than ideal. The route just requires you to hit Blencathra summit, not Foale Crag to the West.
The summit was surprisingly crowded, including 3 friendly jet-black springer spaniels out for a walk. The descent of Hall’s Fell is technically a scramble and was icy at the top. Spikes on and gingerly down. The farm tracks at the bottom were also suicidally icy.
A short wait for the hourly bus service to Keswick and I was back at the flat mid-afternoon.
Total time: 6 hours, but can save time on the river crossing, some opportunity for better nav, and a much faster descent to Threlkeld in summer.

Monday: Threlkeld to Dunmail Raise
My brother Dom accompanied me. He’s quicker than me on 5-10K distances. We put cars at either end of the route – paying £8 to park in Threlkeld! It’s possible to do this on the bus, but as the bus in only every 2 hours from Dunmail, and uncertainly about how we might fare on the route made the certainty of a car worthwhile.
We took the longer, less steep route up Clough Head, which is the biggest climb of this leg. We made good time, knocking off the Dodds quickly, and stopping to eat Regedd gourmet scotch eggs for lunch on the sunny side of the Hellvellyn wind break.
We encountered proper fell runners on Hellvellyn. One guy casually jogging up Helvellyn Little Man, and a young couple coming down from the summit – he was in shorts; she had a Santa hat, and I am sure I heard bells jangling. This is called taking the piss.
Off Dollywagon Pike, there is a choice. There is supposedly a good path down to stepping stones at the outflow of Grisedale Tarn, and then up Coffa Pike onto Fairfield. However, the path up the other side wasn’t obvious, the stepping stones were likely icy, and it was additional 60m descent. So, we opted for the brutal direct descent, and did Fairfield out and back.
The last ascent of this leg is Seat Sandal. It’s a bit of a sting, but also note the summit is not the big lump of rock you can see. Somewhere in my head is that any “Seat” is a rock, probably biased from Arthur’s seat in Edinburgh. I walked 300m past the summit and had to retrace.
I also cut off the summit to the north, to meet up with Dom, who decided to skip the last summit. The path down was narrow and icy, and after a few slips, we stopped and put spikes on.
At the road, there’s supposedly a footpath, but it didn’t work out. It’s a fast road, so I put a torch on to make sure cars could see us. Back in Keswick, we found the excellent Fellpack restaurant to recover.
Total time: 7h15.
A long day, but along good paths. I doubt I could ever get down to the map pace of 4 hours for this leg though.

Tuesday. Day Off
Had some work calls and needed to figure out how to do the next legs. There’s no viable way to Wasdale on public transport. An option was to do the legs out of sequence: Drive to Wasdale; Do Leg 4; Back to Keswick; Do Leg 3; Pick up car. But it didn’t feel right. I considered splitting the legs at Great End coming via back Seatoller but that left a monster 30K day, that I knew I wouldn’t get done in daylight.
So, I opted for a night at the Wasdale Head Inn. This meant having to carry a change of clothing and led to the purchase of something I thought I’ve never own: Down Camp slippers.

Wednesday: Dunmail Raise to Wasdale
I took the 7am bus to Dunmail Rise. As the bus driver let me off in the dark, he said “I hope you’ve got a decent torch mate”. I did and I figured I was quite likely to need it. This is the longest leg, including High Raise, the Langdale Pikes, Bowfell and the Scafell range.
The bus stop is just past the dual carriageway section, and the footpath stile is just a little way North from there. Dunmail Raise looks unassailable. The path up is brutal but after 200m of vertical you’re in a different world and Steel Fell approaches quickly.
Finding the peaks on the plateau isn’t hard but I somehow made a mistake and ended up on High Raise when aiming for Sergeant Man. And then somehow missed it again as I headed off for it, ending up on Thunacar Knott. It was very cold (-8C, I think the forecast said) and I decided not to backtrack and keep going.
From there, I think I was close to the correct route. Both the book and map have useful tips about how to get up onto Rossett Piike, and Bowfell, with Bowfell being perhaps more of a scramble than it should have been. From Bowfell, Great End is straightforward, and the Scafell plateau is relatively flat going along one of the most popular routes in England. At 2pm I was on the summit of Scafell Pike.
There are different choices to get to Scafell. The fastest is Broad Stand. It’s a rock climb, and I’ve only done it once before – in summer, with other people watching on, and when I was young enough not to know better. In winter, alone and recovering from hand surgery, it was a non-starter. From the distance Lord’s Rake glistened as a river of Ice. It was out too. I had spikes, but no axe.
So Foxes Tarn. At the best of times, this is a long way round, but somehow, I overshot the descent, and ended up scrambling around on the southwest ridge of Scafell. I made the summit at 15:20. I was cold and just wanted to get down.
The descent off Scafell was slippy. I stuck to the path till well over Rakehead Crag. Then found my way through stiles and gates, ushering sheep out of my way. And into the National Trust carpark, just in time to see the sunset over the lake shore at Wasdale shortly after 4pm.
It was a mile along the road to the Inn. The Inn itself is old, and its heating was struggling in the conditions. It took me a long time to warm up, but the Lamb Casserole was a big help, as well watching Morocco play France with all the other guests in the hotel (6 of them). Two brave souls were camping outside.

Thursday : Wasdale to Honister Pass
Many of the Inn staff live outside Wasdale, and it takes time to get there along the icy roads. Breakfast wasn’t until 8am and I wanted to be gone by then, so they gave me a packed lunch in lieu of breakfast. Starting the day with a smoked salmon and cream cheese was a touch of luxury.
They say there is no easy way out of Wasdale. That’s certainly true of the direct ascent of Yewbarrow. I followed meandering sheep tracks for a bit, but soon hit what I presume is the main runners’ trod up. 600m ascent in less than 1K.
From there, Red Pike was straightforward. I passed a photographer on the ridge to Scoat Fell who thanked me for not wearing a bright jacket. I guess he was waiting for the right light and was grateful for not having the chore of photoshopping me out.
The BGR summit is not Scoat Fell, but Steeple. This is a short out and back pinnacle, which doesn’t add much, but seems unnecessary, especially as Scoat Fell is higher. The optimum (which I know now) is to go west of the Scoat Fell summit.
Pillar and the top of the Black Sail pass quickly, and you’re under the shadow of Kirk Fell. I’d only ever come down this side of Kirk Fell before, and my recollection is the descent is down the ridge following iron fence posts. I couldn’t see it from the bottom. I followed the path up a small ridge, and quickly found myself in a series of gullies and cracks which eventually came out on the summit. I presume this is the Ennerdale race descent mentioned on the map.
Decades ago, I wild camped with friends beside the lake on the top of Kirk Fell. This time, I headed straight off to the right of the lake to miss the subsidiary summit, and down to Beck Head. Great Gable is another one of those hands and feet ascents, but easy enough. Someone had left a rose by the war memorial there – probably on remembrance today. The petals were still perfect in the frost.
The next few hills – Green Gable, Brandreth and Grey Knows are relatively gentle bumps. On the top of Green Gable I stopped to drink my coffee, and fed a Raven a bit of Snickers bar. I stopped again on Grey knots to text Pete, who had just arrived in Keswick from Manchester, and I’m pretty sure that same Raven was there waiting for me.
From Grey Knotts, I followed the fence a little way down to Honister, but I think I cut off too soon for the “grassy spur” mentioned on the map. This was marshier, now frozen, slippery marsh, so I am sure there is a better route and quite slow going.
Honister café was closed and the car park almost deserted. It was a long trudge down the road to Seatoller. I gave up with the Cumbrian way which meanders alongside it as it was just solid ice. It was a cold 40 minute wait for the bus. My only company was a Robin which I fed with crisps from my packed lunch. For most of the 20 minute ride back to Keswick, I was the sole passenger on the double decker bus. Amazingly this is a year-round hourly service.
Time: 6.5 hours
This is only an hour over the book time, and I wasn’t rushing. But then lots of this route isn’t very runnable. Many of the ascents and descents are rocky or over broken ground.

Friday : Honister Pass to Keswick
Pete drove me back to Honister about 1pm. We made good time up Dale Head – it’s a slog but along good paths. There are good contours out to Hindscarth and from there to Robinson. At 2.30, we parted ways. Pete returned to the car at Honister. I was bound for Keswick.
I made good time off the ridge and was back on roads inside 2 hours of starting. I didn’t feel like running along the hard icy roads in trail shoes, so meandered back on the footpaths, proudly walking into Keswick and up the steps of Moot Hall. Just as the market stalls were clearing up.
Time: 3.5 hours.

Conclusion
This was an amazing week. One of the best I’ve ever had in the hills. It was cold, but no rain, or sleet or snow, and crystal-clear visibility most of the time.
So, could I do a proper Bob Graham Round?
My initial reaction is No. All the legs are solid walking days. Some guides suggest splitting Leg 4 into 2 at Langdale. After each of the first 4 legs, I knew I’d had a good day out and was happy to stop.
I missed Sergeant Man and didn’t start in the exact same place in Day 2 as I finished on Day 1, so technically I’ve not done the full route. But I somehow covered an additional 20K of distance, so clearly there is room to improve the navigation.
It was winter, which is always slower – carrying more gear, more slippery ground, more care on descents, etc.
The moving time suggests I was only a couple of hours over, but 24 hours without a stop would be impossible. I had good recovery each night, and even had a rest day after Leg 2. That’s probably the real test – could I keep going for 24 hours?

Book (23 hr schedule)
Leg Distance Ascent Time
Keswick-Threlkeld 19.8 1610 04:00
Threlkeld-Dunmail 21.5 1800 04:00
Dunmail-Wasdale 24.0 2080 06:00
Wasdale-Honister 16.7 1880 05:35
Honister-Keswick 16.8 800 03:00

Me
Leg Distance Ascent Time Moving Time
Keswick-Threlkeld 24.2 1637 05:53 04:53
Threlkeld-Dunmail 26.9 1860 07:16 05:43
Dunmail-Wasdale 30.0 2278 08:28 06:52
Wasdale-Honister 20.1 1941 06:30 05:08
Honister-Keswick 17.8 761 03:30 03:14

The next step would likely to try this over 2 or 3 days during the Summer…

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Snowdonia – Dec ’22

Planning

Capel offers routes South to the Molewyns, West to the Glydders, and North to the Carneddau. In order to take you some distance into the hills, the route needed to be linear, and the regular (for rural Wales) bus service made Bethesda the obvious destination. I chose the Carnedds because there is more flexibility of routes, and that ridge, especially east from Llewellyn is spectacular and I thought fewer of you would be familiar with it. Also, the shelter on Foel Grach would make a good rest place. I also looked at the Dulyn Bothy, which is a lot more comfortable, but it made the route too long. Certainly a place for a future club trip.

I recce’d the area 2 weeks beforehand. Planning on a map is one thing, but there’s no substitute for going there. A very rainy November made river crossings difficult, and one of the bridges on the map is long gone, so minor adjustments were needed.

There’s always risk in a linear route, especially across a high ridge, which is why there were few checkpoints at the start, in the hope you would get to Foel Grach quickly. I couldn’t resist including Ffynnon Llyffant though. The club ran a wilderness camp here a couple of years ago, and the aircraft wreckage adds interest. I’m still amazed the plane was travelling south and hit the ridge between Carnedd Llewelyn and Foel Grach and bounced over somehow.

As you can see from the GPX of setting the course, we went to the lake without going to the summit of Carnedd Llewelyn. The only other people to reach that checkpoint on the day were Andy and Pete, who rightly took the safer option of coming over Lllewellyn and down the grassy slope north of the lake, rather than picking their way down through the crags.

From Foel Grach, there were a cluster of checkpoints close together. The idea being that you could include whatever suited your energy level without compromising being down before dark. You all made good decisions here, from coming straight down to bagging the lot. Carned Gwellian adds about 1.5km but with very little height gain and on good paths. The fate of this marker remains a mystery, however: Did it blow away? Was it in the wrong place?

The knoll on the end of the ridge adds little to the overall distance, and the terrain is actually very good underfoot, but that was much harder to see that in the conditions.

It was possible to cover much of the course on paths, but I hope most of you found the chance to venture off trail at appropriate moments, and at least figure out where paths not on the map were likely to be.

This area of Wales has been shaped by human activity for Millenia, and I tried to give an insight into this in the “where have you been” sheet. People lived very hard lives in these hills.

The Day Before

Gary aced the food prep. It was all in a massive plastic chest which we kept outside. This dramatically reduced the effort on the day.

Setting the course went well. Visibility was poor on the tops, but the wind was light, and when the sun broke through it was relatively warm.

We didn’t pre-print maps this time, and just gave a list of grid references. Given the number of different mapping formats in use, including Gerry’s 1:12,500 it was the right call. Transferring co-ordinates and planning kept you all the quietest I’ve seen you for over an hour. And with very few questions, except for the classic:

Maggie: What’s the terrain like?

Gary: There’s no train. We told you: It’s a bus.

On the day…

After ushering everyone out of the accommodation, Gary and I drove to Bethesda, and slogged our way up Foel Grach. Freezing level was 750m and the wind biting, so we knew it was going to be cold. We got to the Shelter around noon, put on every item of clothing we had, set up the stove, and got on with the important business of putting up the Café sign.

First to arrive was a German chap called Markus. Then one of the park wardens dropped in to check on the condition of the hut. We learnt it was refurbished in the 90s when Snowdonia Park took ownership of it, and they inspect it regularly.

After they left, 2 guys from near Chester came in – Jaz and Baz. They’d come over Pen Llithig y Wrach, spotted CP2 on the Bwlch, and remembered the code. They had the one from Shelter, so at 12:30 they were the leaders! Then came a Scottish couple. The bloke kindly opened the window shutter, which blew out all our tealights and we couldn’t be bothered relighting them. They had a 1:45 “go down” time.

Phone signal was intermittent, but we were able to get some idea where everyone was.  We knew of Dan’s catastrophe; that Andy and Pete had made it to the Lake, and that Alan & Claire had just left Llewellyn – a mile away along a wide path, so would surely arrive soon. It also allowed us to give Anne the important instruction to put the birds in the oven.

Pete turned up followed shortly by Andy. It was wonderful to see them, and that all Gary’s efforts had not been in vain. We served them a selection from the menu, including biscuits and flapjack. At 14:20, it was now an hour since Alan & Claire left Llewellyn. I know how easy it is to get lost on that summit in poor visibility, but I knew Alan had spent enough time up there in bad conditions to not make that mistake. So, where the hell were they? Luckily, they turned up a few minutes later.

At 2.30, we had to make the decision to leave. This is when the bulk of the party arrived – talk about timing. We’d just binned the water, so weren’t able to offer you a hot drink, and in any event needed to get down. 5 minutes later and the Shelter would have been empty… apart from a small group turning up to spend a night in the Shelter. I am sure we had a better evening than they did.

With the weather forecast to get worse on the Sunday, I was keen to collect in the checkpoints. In the limited daylight remaining, Pete and Andy agreed to collect CP5 & 6, whilst Gary guided everyone else down. I set off to collect CP1-3.

I made a couple of navigational errors due to visibility but made it to the CP1 footbridge before I needed a torch. Running the boggy path, I was expecting to repeat Dan’s feat, but luckily didn’t and reached the bunkhouse shortly after 5pm.

Gary got everyone else all down safely, taxiing the weariest direct to the bunkhouse. Those still going strong made it to the intended final destination pub (eventually), which gave you the chance to spot the final picture. And to learn some Welsh.

All bar 3 people reached the end of the route, so whilst a test, it wasn’t beyond your abilities, and you passed with flying colours. Andy & Pete got all the checkpoints, and I don’t think they found it overly easy in the conditions. On balance I think it worked out, but always interested in your comments to make it better next time.

I am sure you all have your own experiences of the day to recollect, and if you’d like to put them into writing, we can add them to this report.

Thank you to you all for getting into the spirit of the trip. Especially thanks to Gary and his family, who all put so much effort and attention to detail into this trip than I was expecting.

Happy Christmas. Mark.

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Brecons – March ’22

17th- 19th March 2022 Black Mountains Trip

Organiser: Maggie

Alan, Claire, Ann, Paula, Jill, Simon, Gary, Jean, Thomas, Phil and Julie.

This was our third attempt to go to South Wales, as the first two were cancelled due to Covid rules. We then found out that the National Trust Dinefwr Bunkhouse had structural issues so we had to find other accommodation. However, we were not disappointed when we found Tylau Lodge, just outside Hay on Wye on the edge of the Black Mountains. Sleeping twelve people, it had lovely views from the open plan kitchen and lounge and was definitely a comfy sofa trip!

The weekend started with Paula and Ann leaving early, only to get stuck on the M4 due to a safety incident at bridge near Swindon for 7 hours! They even enjoyed listening to the bird song on the side of the motorway.

On Saturday most of the group started from Gospel Pass and did a circular walk of almost 20 miles along the ridge to Llanthony, which included Hay Bluff (677m) and then back to Lord Hereford’s Knob (690m). We were lucky with the weather as there was not a cloud in the sky, however it was quite windy. Maggie did a shorter route and Alan and Claire, who had a bad ankle, just did Lord Herefords Knob. The day finished with a great meal including a meat and vegetable chilli, pavlova and rhubarb crumble.

On Sunday some of the group did the spectacular Dragons Back (7miles) with superb weather. Others took it easy and enjoyed the sunshine on a canal walk.

Yet another great weekend, we will be back!

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Peak District – Nov ’21

Peak District Trip 12-14th November 2021

Organiser: Maggie

We finally made it to the Peak District after having had to cancel last year due to Covid restrictions. However it was definitely worth waiting for as it was a great bunkhouse with stunning views!

The weekend started with Alan getting his car stuck in some mud on the edge of the car park, when he had the whole area to choose from! Luckily on Saturday with a few extra people around we were able to push it out.

On Saturday we woke up to clear blue skies and wonderful views. Everyone set off across Eyam Moor towards Grindleford, up on to Froggit Edge and then back via Eyam where tea and beers were enjoyed by all.  After a 15 mile walk, a log fire, meal and a few drinks were most welcome back at the bunkhouse!

On Sunday Adam got up at 5.30am to head off to Kinder Scout where he did a long circuit, about 15 miles, though unfortunately mainly in cloud. Later on some of us also set off in the cloud, but luckily it slowly dispersed and we were able to enjoy the stunning views around us.

A great weekend and definitely worth going back to!

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Lake District – Sept ’21

24th-26th September 2021-Lake District Trip Report.

We stayed at the Agnes Spencer Memorial Hut owned by Cleveland Mountain Club for the weekend. It was a really good hut and we had sole use due to Covid restrictions and so had plenty of room. It’s in a great location at Grisedale Bridge in Patterdale, near to Ullswater so there were plenty of walks to choose from starting from the hut.

Friday: Alan, Claire, Simon and Maggie travelled up on Thursday and did part of the Ullswater Way which is 20 miles around the Lake on Friday from Pooley Bridge back via the scenic Aira Force Falls to Patterdale.

Saturday:  Alan, Claire and Simon tackled Hellvelyn on Saturday, with the promise that the cloud would clear by mid-morning…a promise that was not delivered. After summiting via Hole in the Wall from Grisedale and an easy if slippery scramble up Swirral Edge, we stayed high continuing on to Raise and Stybarrow Dodd, with the hope that some views would materialise. This failed to happen until our descent through Glencoyne past the aptly named Seldom Seen, when Ullswater came into view once more. The walk back along the lake and a Kendal mint cake ice cream in Glenridding made a pleasant conclusion to the day.

Dan and Maisie left the hut & went up onto Birks, then over to Gavel Pike & St Sunday Crag over Cofa Pike to Fairfield. Then onto Hart Crag, returning to Patterdale over Hartsop above How & Gale Crag.   Poor visibility above 700m & lots of other folk lost on the flat top of Fairfield!

Due to a knee problem Maggie went off her own for a lower level walk around Place Fell, planning to walk back along the lake. However after about 4 miles her knee gave way which meant she couldn’t continue, even with poles. Luckily she had just reached a small hamlet, but there was no phone signal. After knocking at a couple of doors she found a kind lady who phoned for a taxi. It turned out to be an expensive weekend as it cost £50.00 although it was only a 3 mile walk along the lake!

In the evening we had another great meal cooked by Chef Dan, Tiroler Grostl, which had bacon, onions and boiled potatoes all fried together with herbs. Simon also made a delicious apple crumble from apples from his garden. All enjoyed around the fire with a few drinks!

Sunday: Alan and Claire completed the Ullswater Way and met Maggie who had got the bus into Pooley Bridge. They then had a leisurely ferry ride back to Patterdale. Simon started off with them and then headed over Place Fell and back to the hut.

Dan and Maisie went to Keswick (Maisie was expecting it to be like Clovelly) & after a great lunch in a Tapas restaurant we headed back – Maisie didn’t want to be back too late as it was school Monday!  Yet another great weekend in the Lakes!

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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.

Sunday…

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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