Berwyns – Oct 2018

Saturday 13th October

To describe the weather as truly awful would be an understatement, the western parts of the UK were being thrashed by Storm Callum, the worst reported storms to hit the UK with gale force winds and heavy rain…..

I decided to stay low and local today, the thought to attempt one of the nearby Berwyn mountains didn’t even cross my mind, a thought that was shared by the majority of the group! Staying in an equestrian centre there was a network of bridle paths that we could link up to create a decent circular route that would enable us to stretch our legs. After a short map study, a route was identified providing a 10k circular route which we could cut short if the weather got too bad.

We headed out and up on to the first high point, the wind whipped the rain into our faces at such an intensity it felt like we were being stabbed by needles, so it was a case of heads down and plough on! Before long we changed direction, the wind and rain was now on our backs making the conditions a little more bearable allowing us for the first time to lift our heads and take in the views of this beautiful countryside.

Due to the relentless rain and wind there was little opportunity to take pictures with most people leaving their cameras and phones in the safe confines of a waterproof bag inside their backpacks. We did manage to find a sheltered spot within a forest that allowed us to have a snack to eat and give us a rest from the relentless wind and rain before heading back out into the storm.

After near on three hours of testing our waterproofs we returned to our accommodation to start the process of drying out and getting warm again – thank goodness there was a dry room! The weather for Sunday was looking to be better so a planning started for a shorter trip up onto the Berwyn Mountains.

Sunday 14th October

As it was a return home day the plan was to do a linear walk up onto Cadair Berwyn from Pistyll Rhaeadr waterfall car park, this allowed people to turn around at any point if people needed to get home earlier than others. The weather was on our side so after packing up and cleaning up we drove to the carpark.

The route took us straight up on to Trum Felen, Moel Sych before topping out on Cadair Berwyn. On reaching Cadair Berwyn and after taking the compulsory summit pictures we decided to make the route a little more adventurous by heading down via Llyn Lluncaws for lunch and back to the carpark via the track below Cerrig Poethion.

Back at the carpark we took the opportunity to take in the waterfall and have refreshments in the teashop before making our way home.

Even though the storm tried to put a dampener on things for this weekend we managed to get out on both days and was rewarded with beautiful views especially on Sunday.

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Pangbourne Day Walk

Pangbourne Day Walk- 22nd September 2018

Maggie (organiser), Alan, Claire, Simon H, Sue Wood, Ade, Iain, Sue Walsh, Trudy, Martin

The walk started in a Recreation car park in Pangbourne which I thought was a great idea as it was free, however as it was a Saturday it was virtually full due to a local football game going on. Something to remember for next time! Once everyone had managed to park and found the car park we finally set off
across the River Thames into Whitchurch.  We headed east passing by some alpaca’s and then ascended the hill up to the Chiltern Way.  


Lunch was eaten sheltering in a wood and although I gave the option of a short cut everyone was happy to continue in the rain. We finally picked up the Thames path and headed back to Whitchurch where beers, coffees etc were appreciated in a local pub.


Despite the weather which was light rain for most of the day it was a great walk and enjoyed by all!


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Pewsey Downs Day Walk

Attendees: Andy M (organiser), Sue, Ade, Iain, Dan, Maisie, Simon

A nice 10 mile stroll along the chalk ridge that is the Pewsey Downs. From the car park near the White Horse, we headed east to Martinsell Hill bagging a couple of Trig points before dropping back down through the village of Oare before heading back up onto the ridge near Gopher wood. A very enjoyable meander indeed…

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Peak District – Beginners Climbing Weekend – Aug ’18

Attendees: Andy M, Mark F, Sue W, Adrian D, Trudi, Martin, Pavel

When: August 17-19 2018

Where: Hope Valley, Peak District

Although we are a mountaineering club there are many in the club with little or no climbing experience so there was a high level of interest in learning climbing skills. For this course we enlisted the help of Danny and Anita from who were fabulous instructors for the weekend.

We stayed in Hope Valley (a mix of Pub or camping) and on Saturday morning made our way over to Stange Edge which is a mecca for climbers in the area. It wasn’t quite as busy as expected possibly due to the holiday season so Danny raced up the crags to setup the ropes and soon we were under way. We started learning the harnesses and how to tie in safely followed by the basics of belaying. Then we started climbing up the crags and putting our theory into practise. The sun was shining and everyone was having a great time and we were all starting to climb higher up and over more difficult routes.

After lunch we practised some abseiling by belaying ourselves down with Anita looking after an additional safety rope just in case. Trudy ended upside down at one point as she leaned back a bit too far but she soon righted herself and continued abseiling down the wall. Then Danny setup some more difficult routes with some overhanging rocks to test us. Martin did a great job of getting up over them but he was the only one. Danny then showed us how it should be done and made it look easy.

After a full-on day we retired to the pub for an evening meal all suitably achy but happy after a great day.

Sunday morning started a bit rainy so we had a slower start to the day. We drove over Burbage just a few miles on from Stanage where Danny knew a great rock wall about 15m in height sheltered from the breeze. The day was a bit cooler but the rocks soon dried out by late morning and so we were all set to go again. Anita then talked us through some of the other equipment that we use such as Karabinas, Hexes, Wallnuts, Peenuts, Quickdraws etc and how they are all used and secured.

Once we had warmed up we carried on practising our climbing skills. Andy and Martin did a good job of using the rocks and hand holds learning to hanging off the rocks to position themselves at different angles to reach new footholds. Also using cracks to put your arm in to use as an anchor was a good experience. Sue did well pushing herself up to the top of the wall and well outside of her comfort zone.

As the day drew to a close tiredness set in and there was just one last chance for Andy to climb the hardest route of the weekend which he just managed to do at the final attempt before running out of puff.

This was a fabulous weekend and one that everyone thoroughly enjoyed…

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Brecon Beacons Navigation – Aug ’18

Navigation Trip

Date: 3rd – 5th August

Accommodation: Pencilli Castle Camp Site, near Brecon.

Attendees: Dorian (instructor), Maggie (organiser), Nicola, Val, Simon H, Dave, Andy.

The advantage of going to the Brecons is that it should be a short journey, but no, we had the usual Friday traffic queues, plus detours, so it took us 3.45 hours rather than 2.30 hours! We finally set up camp, cooked but then had to decamp quickly into the back of Maggie’s car as the rain started to fall, and then went up to the comfort and shelter of Andy’s luxurious camper van.

On Saturday morning Andy set off on his bike for a big day out in the hills (74 miles, 6000ft ascent) while the rest of us went to Dorian’s house for an introduction to our Navigation course. We looked at planning, weather, maps, compasses etc. The coffee/teas were most appreciated plus Maria’s delicious carrot cake and brownies! We then headed to Ystradfellte for a practical session; practising pacing, setting the map and using our compasses to take magnetic bearings trying to avoid sink holes and trail bikes.  Then it was back to the campsite for a well-earned BBQ and some liquid refreshment!

On Sunday Andy did an offroad MTB loop arounf Pen-y-Fan whilst the rest met Dorian by the A470 and headed across a permitted path to the Taff Trail. Avoiding the hoards of people walking up to Pen Y Fan from the Storey Arms, we made our way up to Fan Fawr (734m), then navigated our way to sheepfolds, streams, cairns, piles of stones and even footpaths! The weather was glorious, the views were great and we only saw a couple of people all day.

It was great weekend, a lot was learnt all thanks to the excellent training we had from Dorian. To be recommended!


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Snowdonia Epic July ’18

The weekend saw us (Dan, Masie, Dorian, Maria, Nicola, Dave, Andy, and Pavel) escape the Football World Cup and congregate at Dolgam campsite just outside Capel Curig. The site has excellent facilities (probably the best in North Wales) and also gives good access to the Snowdonia National Park with the added advantage of Moel Siabod within walking distance. Some took advantage of the good weather we were experiencing to arrive in Snowdonia early and head out to the Mountains on Friday whilst others did the usual fight with Friday evening traffic.

On Saturday Dan and Masie walked from the campsite over Moel Siabod, Carnedd y Cribau  and ending up at the famous Pen Y Gwryd hotel, where members of the 1953 Everest Expedition stayed during their training for that historic adventure.

Dorian, Maria and Nicola parked up at Idwal Cottage to head up the Devils Kitchen before heading across to Y Garn, Foel Goch, Mynydd Perfedd and  Carnedd y Filiast before picking a route down and back to Idwal Cottage.

Dave and Andy headed up the north ridge of Tryfan and Bristly Ridge onto the Glyders before heading back down.

Finally Pavel as he arrived late on Saturday made his way up Moel Siabod.

On Sunday we all headed out again to do a short walk before heading back to Newbury, Dan and Masie explored the Crimpiau and Maria, Dave and Dorian explored Moel Siabod.

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Lake District – May 18

Attendees: Andy, Nicola, Alan, Claire, Maggie

Fabulous weekend in the Lake District. After an almighty 9 hour drive on Friday afternoon, we reached the campsite at dusk with enough time to set up camp.

Day 1 – a nice stroll up towards Walna Scar and Brown Pike and around Dow Crag and up onto the Old Man of Coniston (803m) for lunch. We were hampered by non-stop 40mph winds which blew my map out my pocket and off into the distance – good job I can remember most of the route. Then back alone the ridge towards Swirl How (802m) and across to Grey Friar. We were working off map now but found some lovely paths down to Seathwaite tarn and back through the valley to the campsite.

Day 2 – With the winds even stronger and no letup in sight, we re-arranged our walk and kept slightly lower heading west out the forest and up onto Harter Fell (653m). An interesting walk back along the river on a path that didn’t really exist and got worse resulting in me standing in the river helping the ladies get across the stepping stones so they didn’t get wet!

Day 3 – yay no wind!!! a drive out along hardknock pass parking nr Brotherilkeld and a lovely walk up the valley following the river Esk and passing the waterfalls. We then headed over to Great Moss 🙂 followed by light scramble up the gulley towards Broad Stand. I braved the hordes of tourists to go to Scafell Pike (978m) and back down again to join the others who scrambled straight onto Scafell (964m). Along to Slight Side (762m) and then back down the valley to head home…

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Scotland (Galloway) – Easter 2018

None of us had been to this region before, and it did not disappoint in terms of scenery, though the weather left a lot to be desired. Claire, Alan, Keyna, James, Maggie, Jill, and Andy spent a week in a very quirky house called The Buchan, located spectacularly at the road head in Glen Trool, just below The Merrick, the regions highest hill (at 843m). The house is not connected to the outside world, with electricity generated from the local burn and hot water/heating from the wood burner. Therefore power and heat was a bit random, not being able to operate too many appliances at the same time (who switched the kettle on plunging us all into darkness?!!!). After a few days perseverance we did manage to get the hot tub up to temperature (such are our priorities!), though the Everhot oven was Neverhot. The best walk in the area is without doubt the Merrick, particularly the off path route back past all the lochans. We had a great weather day for this, but for the other mostly wet days we stuck to low level woodland/loch walks, and a trip out to the Mull of Galloway for some spectacular coastal scenery (in the wind and rain). And we did stick to our promise of having a BBQ and fire on the final night using James’ mega fire pit birthday present. A much lower key Easter trip compared to previous years (largely down to the weather) but very enjoyable all the same, and great to explore a “new” area.

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Snowdonia (AKA Knoydart) March 2018

We had waited with bated breath all week waiting to see if the Beast from the East was going to actually happen and ruin our highly anticipated trip to Knoydart, which we were all so excited about. By lunchtime on the Thursday it was snowing quite a lot for Newbury, although the trains to London were now running again after morning cancellations. But by early afternoon, the call came – the overnight sleeper to Fort William that night was cancelled – game over. Despite some bravado talk about finding alternative travel means (the weather in Knoydart was calm and sunny), we met up for a curry that evening in a deserted Newbury as most folks hid from the blizzard, and decided that rather than waste our days off, we would head to Snowdonia instead on Saturday, when the worst of the weather should be over. Finding some last minute (and very cheap) accommodation in Llanberis, a lovely cosy cottage called Snowdon View, Claire and Keyna travelled in the truck, and Mark, Tricia, Alan and Gary in the Volvo, equipped with ropes, shovels, flasks etc. But a steady 60 on empty roads saw us arrive in North Wales in good time, though we were a tad disappointed about the lack of heavy snow in the region.

We headed up Snowdon the following morning, and this did not disappoint, with snow and ice all the way from Pen y Pass, a great winter day out, including being in a white out on the way down making navigation down the Llanberis route very tricky and scary (with both the footpath and railway buried in snow and no use as a navigational aid). The following day we tackled Y Garn in slightly better conditions, For our third day we explored the environs of Llanberis, including the waterfall and mines (and resident wild goats), before heading back home through a landscape now devoid of any white stuff, as if the Beast had never happened.

Our train fare to Scotland was refunded, and the owners of the Knoydart cottage transferred our booking to next year, so with the sleeper now rebooked, it is Knoydart or bust for April 2019!

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RidgeWay 40 (2018)

7:45. Overton Hill. Dry. Overcast. Barbury Castle. Heifers. A346. Drink. Steep bit. Horses. Liddington Castle. Shepherd’s Rest. Uffington Castle. Peanut Butter Sandwiches. Cold Rice Pudding. Didcot Power Station.  Boring Bit. Segsbury Castle. A338. B4494. Cake. Scutchamer Knob. A34. Rain. Soaked.  Streatley. Thames. Goring. Train. End…

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