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Thursday Walk- 20th March- Report
4 of us met above Moscar Heights to be greeted by a strong and cold wind with grey skies. With a forecast of rain spreading in from the west by approximately 2p.m. we started promptly at a good pace.
The buffeting continued over Ughill Moors, but we were soon in the shelter of the Dale Dike valley. The pace was maintained with no coffee stops until we descended below Brogging where we finally stopped for lunch in the shelter of the woods below the Strines reservoir. It was then onwards and upwards to the Boot’s Tower in the face of the wind.
The relative calm of the rhododendron tunnel in the grounds of Sugworth Hall then led us to the Lodgemoor crossing and back to the cars at 2.15p.m. just as the first drops of rain arrived.
A bit of a blustery day, but the ground was mostly dry and the rain held off. A good romp enjoyed by all.
Twelve Club Members ignored predictions of travel chaos and made it to Lancashire Mountaineering Club’s ‘The Loft’ situated close to Blea Tarn above Langdale. Road conditions were fine until the last two kilometres which involve 1 in 5 or steeper gradients. Getting out of Sheffield and it’s snow was the an issue for some. The Lakes actually had less snow than most of the rest of the country, but the Blea Tarn road has only one farm and the hut on it and is not therefore gritted. Only Dave and Chris’s early arrival allowed them to get up the hill relatively easily. Mark, David and Gary’s approach required chains after traction was lost two thirds of the way up the hill. Others bailed out at the bottom of the hill. Nigel, Al and Marcus finally arrived after negotiating the hairpin bends from the Great Langdale side using chains – a fine effort! A few drinks were required to settle nerves and a unanimous decision was made to walk from the hut the following day.
On Saturday, most of us walked down into Great Langdale and up Oxendale. Mark and David opted for Crinkle Gill with a party of 7 tackling the neighbouring Isaac Gill. Snowy steps lower down gave way to some good ice pitches higher up in Crinkle Gill, with the rope employed on one pitch (Grade II – III). This was followed by a short route on Gladstone Knott, over snow covered rocky steps, again roped (Grade II -III). The team of 7 had fun in Isaac Gill (Grade II) though less ice was encountered. Both parties met at the top of Gladstone Knott by chance and a return was made via Red Tarn contouring below Pike o’ Blisco. Dave and Chris separately walked up Pike o’ Blisco.
The hut was rather warmer on Saturday night with walls streaming with condensation from steamy bodies and wet gear. There seemed to be plenty of food and drink to go round. Most notable was Al’s impersonation of Desperate Dan where he appeared to eat a whole pig (well at least a small one). We did have to help the neighbour unfreeze the water supply to their house and the hut, but at least only the incoming supply to the toilet and not the outflow was frozen!
Sunday saw teams split between Greater Langdale with 4 walking or climbing around Angle Tarn and the rest heading for Coniston. David and Mark climbed the upper section of Low Water Beck (Grade III) followed by South Gully (Grade II) on Low Water Crag. Good ice was again found higher up the gill, although plenty of water was flowing beneath it. One pitch was sufficiently steep to get the rope out and there was even enough good ice to place a few screws. South Gully was predominantly full of powdery snow but there were excellent turf axe placements making for an enjoyable solo. Nigel, Al and Marcus had fun climbing the nearby ‘Mulled Wine’ (Grade II) with Marcus marking his first winter lead. Andrew and Mary tackled a number of ice falls around Levers Water, some sufficiently steep to enable top roping.
Teams returned to Sheffield by different routes and different times. Nigel phoned David to check he was not still on the hill to find he was sitting at home. Nigel’s team was sufficiently late back, as they ate in Coniston, to require chains to both get away from the hut and to get back to his house.
An excellent weekend with significantly better climbing conditions than predicted.
Members were out in force in the Peak District in January following the arrival of snow.
On Tuesday 22 January, Mark Procter and David Pendlebury bagged an early 2013 ascent of Kinder Downfall. This ascent made the national press due to some great images from freelance photographer Rod Kirkpatrick.
Linda McLeish led a snowy walk in the area of Dale Dyke Reservoir for the Thursday walking group. This was followed by a very well attended ‘Moonlight Walk’ organised by Paul Gibson. Moonlight was in short supply but reflection off the snow meant headtorches were unnecessary and a circuit of the Burbage Valley was made before well-deserved refreshment was taken in The Fox House.
On Friday, Tom Corker and David Pendlebury made an early start to climb Wildboar Clough on Bleaklow. Sporting rock and ice pitches were found before an early return to beat the forecast snowfall. Tom is co-author of ‘Scrambles in the Dark Peak’ published by Cicerone.
12 places were booked at the Bowderstone Cottage, but with some last minute additions 15 members actually attended. No other parties were in the hut, so we soon made ourselves at home helped by alcohol and a warm fire!
Violent winds rocked the hut all Friday night and Saturday dawned with continuing high winds and squally showers. The group split into various parties who then sallied forth to do battle with the elements. Pete T, Nigel W & Allan C set out on mountain bikes to do “The Borrowdale Bash”. Bill & Ellen also went cycling, but were hampered by their canine friend more than the conditions! Caroline, Gordon, Ali & Charles opted for a walk up the Langstraffe valley, while Andrew & Mary took on the challenge of Cam Cragg Ridge, a grade 1/2 scramble.
Gary, Leon, Josie & Mike set out for Cat Bells and the ridge to High Spy where the buffeting from the wind proved too much. After a sensible exit down towards Grange, the Alladale Ramble led us back to the cars with a short diversion to the top of Castle crag. Another diversion to Keswick on the way back to the hut meant a welcome pint to round off the day.
The evening was split roughly 1/3 to 2/3 between veggies and communal curry eaters. The booze flowed and the conversation stretched well into the night. At the stroke of midnight Leon became a year older and the occasion was marked by a round (or more for some) of whisky!
Sunday was another day of strong winds, but reasonably bright and dry. The walking and cycling theme continued with most parties opting for a short day before the return drive home. The mountain bikers found excellent sport at the Winlatter Trail Centre. Mary, Gary & Mike set out from Grasmere to do a mixed route of Gill scrambling and top bagging – although to avoid the exorbitant car parking charges the day was extended by several miles. Sour Milk Gill was eventually reached, but the raging mass of boiling white water was not inviting! Instead we walked up to Easdale Tarn where the second Gill scramble was successfully ascended with a pleasant finish up Belles Knott. All that remained was to continue over to the tops of Sergeant Man and High Raise before a long and tiring walk out below Grasmere Common.
All in all a very enjoyable week-end in a great part of the Lakes.
P.S. On leaving the hut a cagoule and pair of over trousers were found in the dormitory. If it belongs to a club member could he/she contact me by email.
It may have rained a little (okay – maybe more than a little) but that was not enough to deter us ‘hardy’ mountaineers from having a good time and climbing a few hills! We even spotted the occasional bit of blue sky as several of us (Hugh, Gary, Ellie, Pete, Mike, Nigel and myself) headed out on the first day on a scrambling/walking adventure up Conival and Ben More Assynt. The route was expertly navigated in a collaborative fashion! On our way down we were rewarded for our great outdoors stamina (i.e. being out there for over 10 hours) by a beautiful sunset! We were joined back at the hut by Dave and Linda.
The ascent of Conival and Ben More Assynt
The next day, weather permitted a multi pitch climb on Stac Pollaidh by Pete, Ellie, Gary and myself. Back at the hut, we were all joined by John and Gordon. Night set in and that was it for the great weather! The next day was damp! After much debate, a party of us (Hugh, John, Gordon, Mike, Gary and myself) braved an ascent of Cul Beag, with the others opting for a low level day, including a trip to Sandwood Bay and Reef rocks. All went well, apart from in the Sandwood Bay party (Pete and Ellie) who found upon returning to Pete’s van that it would not start! They eventually turned up at the hut at 2am that night, after struggling to get through to the breakdown recovery man the exact whereabouts of the caving hut we were staying in (somehow the words ‘caving hut’ had been translated to ‘cave in hut’ – don’t know about you but I have not encountered many caves in the huts I have stayed in!).
A rather wet ascent of Cul Beag!
The weather got no better over the next few days – which for some reason inspired coastal and geological walks. However, it did allow a recky of the Old Man of Stoer for those endeavouring to conquer it on a better weather day. A party of us also got up Suilven (whose pronunciation was much debated) while others of us bailed out of a pending wet epic on Foinaven and Arkle (the definition of epic also being much debated)!
Thanks to Hugh, we were ‘rescued’ from the joys of wet weather camping by his wonderful hut suggestion. Lots of laughter and the ‘occasional’ wine and whiskey drinking went on. Hugh was on top form with his ‘Hughisms’ and extraordinary ability to ‘name that film soundtrack’! It was great also to see Sue who joined us for a couple of days.
Most of the party set off back home on sat. The weather being ‘a little’ better that day prompted John, Gary and I to climb Ben Deag and 2 other neighbouring tops. A glorious day, rewarded with fantastic views of Sutherland and An Teallach.
Overall, a great holiday! Thanks to all those who came along.