Sunday, 27 May 2012

Winter Hill

Today I had arranged to meet a few members of the forum for a walk in Lancashire up to Winter Hill.  To be honest, when you look at a route map of the area, there doesn’t look to be anywhere to stretch your legs around there, but I was determined that I needed to get on a forum meet, and this was the only one within driving distance, on a day that I was able to make, and not too difficult.  So I got in the car and drove the two hours to reach Horwich in Lancashire.

When I arrived, Brett, Sam, Molly and Ellie were already there and waiting for me.  Now bearing in mind this was supposed to be a slow walk, the energy of these four was baffling.  They ran around everywhere, they must have walked (or ran) at least 4 times the distance I did.  They kept wandering off the track, investigating holes, ditches and fields.  Ellie kept disappearing altogether, and had to be called to come back to join us. 
But they were excellent company.  Sam kept bossing the others about, Ellie was a bit shy, Mollie was really sweet and Brett was very inconsiderate sometimes.  At one point he kept trying to trip me over with his stick.   But as a group they did their bit for the environment, collecting discarded water bottles and taking them back with us.  They didn't bring their own food though, and Mollie looked at me so hungrily when I was eating my cornish pasty, I felt I had to share. 

Some photographs:
This is the start of the walk, a cool area of woods under Burnt Edge:

We got to the summit of Winter Hill for some wonderful views, this is Belmont Reservoir

Belmont Church 

Lovely view South East

The Story of a Trespass - 30 years before Kinder


Brett, Molly and Sam.  Ellie has gone off somewhere again.

I should of mentioned that Brett, Sam, Molly and Ellie brought company in the form of 9 other human walking forum members.  Thank you Sooz for organising the walk.

Two hours might seem a long way to drive but I can honestly say it was worth it.  It was a very very pleasant walk on a beautiful day.  I love the moors,  and I met some really nice people.  
One last picture - Brett at the reservoir on Smithills Moor.  Doesn't that water look soooo inviting on such a hot day. 

Monday, 14 May 2012

LLechwedd Slate Mines

After a strenuous weekend, we had a lie in before leaving the Travelodge to head home.  We'd decided to make a visit to something touristy on the way, and I remembered a Slate Mine that I'd visited previously:-  LLechwedd Slate Caverns I'd thoroughly enjoyed my previous visit, taking both the Deep Mine and Tramway tours.  It's quite an education..  We complain about work now, but Oh My!, what a life those people had.
Some of my pictures (although the ones on the website are much better):

I've been meaning to buy slate table mats for a long time.  I now have a prized set.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

The challenge of Tryfan.

The view after the first few hundred feet of Tryfan
Todays plan was to park next to LLyn Ogwen, go up Tryfan, across the Glyders, down through Devils Kitchen and back to the car park.  It works out about 5 ½ miles on the map, but that would be 5 ½ very difficult miles for two, not very fit, older types.
Now I was a little worried about Tryfan because of all those contour lines on the map.  It’s steep!  I was a little achy from yesterday’s walk up Snowdon, and I thought there was a good chance the North ridge was going to be too much for me.  I was sort of planning to walk along the Heather Terrace Path and make my way to the summit from the South.   Peter couldn’t see the point of walking around the outside and wanted to tackle the ridge.  We agreed to make a start, see how difficult it was, and decide from there.  Maybe we’d split up again.
The scramble ahead
We started upwards, and it soon became obvious that this was a scramble.  A long persistent upward climb over rocks, ledges and boulders.  I could do this.  Slowly perhaps, but it was fun, and not too difficult.   I watched the other walkers as they overtook us, some with dogs and some with ropes.   Hmmmmm?   I’m no climber, so I thought it best to ask.  We were told that the ascent to the summit is a scramble all the way, but there was one section where I would have to climb.  But it wasn’t a difficult climb, it was a steep slope, with loads of hand holds, and not very high.  “Yeh. You’ll be able to do it, it’s easy.” We were told.  Decision made then.  Peter and I carried on up the North Ridge.  
Getting higher and the views are stunning  That's Yr Ole Wen and Pen Yr Ole Wen over there
We were both tired from yesterday and I am definitely not as agile and nimble over the rocks as Peter and the others on the mountain, but I was enjoying it.  We did have frequent rest stops.  Peter kept looking out for the easiest way up, I followed.  Slowly but surely we kept going up and up and up.
But it got harder the higher we climbed, and we began to realise that perhaps this hadn’t been such a good idea after all.  The ledges were getting more and more difficult to get over.   But I’m no quitter, and it would be daft to turn back considering how far we’d come.
We were overtaken by loads of other people.  The most memorable were 5 men from Northern Ireland.  They were distinctive because the last of their group, (older, overweight, sweating and exhausted looking), was obviously finding the climb as tiring as I was.  That made me feel better as we followed behind.
And higher. 
We were very close to the summit, maybe a couple of hundred feet away when we reached “the climb”.  I looked up, and thought “No way!”  Peter and I looked around to see how everyone else was getting on.  There were loads of people going up it, but the NI lads had disappeared around the side.  We followed them, around the side and over a small but difficult ridge, that once I’d got over, I knew I couldn’t go back on.
"No way!"
We moved around the next rock, and Oh we were in trouble.  Ahead of us, there were a series of nearly vertical ledges and climbs to get up around 30ft.   None of them really difficult or really high individually, but they followed on one after another, almost like a ladder.  Below them was a drop of several hundred feet.  As I said, I don’t do climbing.  I don’t have the strength and flexibility that climbers have.  I watched the NI group go up and saw that the last guy managed it.  “If he can do it, so can I”, I thought.
I knew I had to focus on the area in front of me, concentrating on the each stage, balancing on each ledge and not thinking about anything but the next handhold.  Don’t look up, don’t look down.  Peter led, telling me where to put my hands and feet, leaning over to pull me up and encourage me all the way.   Anyone listening would have heard a constant mumbling prayer of “please be easier on the way down, please be easier on the way down …..”
View from the top
I did it!  And I then got over the next couple of obstacles to reach Adam and Eve at the summit.   I was quite proud of myself at that moment, as for me, that was one of the scariest things I have ever done.  I’d managed to control my panic and not freak out.
So we'd finally made it to the summit.  It was covered in rocks,  freezing cold and blowing a gale. In fact, the wind was so strong it nearly blew me off my feet.  No-one was climbing on top of Adam and Eve that day!  It did seem a bit of a mean reward after all that hard work. 
We stayed just long enough to take few photos.  The views were stunning, but the wind was stopping us from enjoying them.  A little disappointed, we started on our way down. 
And it's a long way down
And yes, it was much easier, scrambling over rocks and boulders, until we reached gentler grassy slopes.  Very tired, we were heading straight back to the car having decided to leave   The Glyders and Devils Kitchen for another day.
Llyn Idwal and Llyn Bochlwyd from the west slope of Tryfan - we're going down.
Looking back on the much easier route down.  (Phew!)
With hindsight and all things considered, the final comment has to be………“That was Bl.….y Stupid!”     We had majorly underestimated the challenge of Tryfan.  Most walker/climbers could rise to it, but I was well out of my depth (or height perhaps).  The story could so easily have ended with us having to call out the MRT...... or even worse. 

Lessons learnt: –  Be more cautious in the future
                               Research the route properly before starting
                               Quitting isn’t always a bad thing.  It could even be considered wise.

Having said all that, what an amazing day.  Completely exhausting, several "brown trouser" moments, exhilarating views, and an massive sense of achievement. 

But I'm not doing it again.

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Crib Goch

This is Peter's very excellent video showing the traverse across Crib Goch, heading for Mount Snowdon that he did on Saturday 12th May

Not my thing at all!

He did some paintings too. Crib Goch
                                         Low Clouds over Snowdon


So we are here in Snowdonia, and like everyone else, our target is the top of Mount Snowdon.
We had it all planned.  Thanks to people on the Walking Forum (and Botty for warning us about the hazards of Welsh traffic), we were armed with our £10 parking fee and set out early (before 9 am is crack of dawn for us) to get to the Pen-y-Pass car park.  We got there about 8.50am.  And it was full?  Lots of people in front of us drove in to find out that it was full.  Lots of people behind us drove in to find out it was full.  And the "parking attendants", or whatever they were, told all of us to turn round, drive back 2 1/2 miles and park in the village of Nant Peris. We could then get a bus back up to the start of our walk.  Tip for anyone else planning the same trip, we should have taken notice of the sign we saw in Nant Peris which told us the Pen-y-Pass car park was full.  (We didn't.  We thought they were telling us fibs.)
The start of our walk.  Pen-y-Pass hostels below us. 
As it happens.  We were very lucky.  We managed to find the last space in one of the laybys.  The parking was free.  Yippee.  And not only that, it had a bus stop.  And not only that, the bus turned up just as we finished putting our boots on. A big red double decker.  Cool eh!
Looking along the Pass of Llanberis. Llyn Peris in the distance
Right, so after using the facilities, we set off from Pen-y-Pass car park at about 9.45. Another tip for fellow walkers, if you don't like company, don't do this walk on a sunny Saturday morning in May.  There were people everywhere, all ages, all sizes and all states of fitness.  There were charity walkers wearing pink pants superman style or good cause logo's across their chests. There were big groups, little groups and chatty, noisy groups.  There where couples posing and photographing each other at every scene and lean mean walking machines striding up like the hill was flat!   London Waterloo is busier, but not much and at least there, everyone keeps moving.
People everywhere as we made our way to Bwich y Moch
Llyn Cwmffynnon across Pen-y-Pass
Looking up at the start of Crib Goch
So in amongst the hustle and bustle we went up the first part of the walk heading for the Pyg track until we got to Bwich y Moch (do not ask me to pronounce that).  Here the path splits.  Peter went right, taking the high road, across Crib Goch, (not my thing!).  I took the low road, along the much safer Pyg track. Whoever got to the other end first had to get the teas in.
The start of the Pyg Track
The Pyg track is not the easiest of routes and quite steep in places but the weather was really good and the scenery was stunning.  I strolled along at my own pace (and I am slow) and just thoroughly enjoyed it.   I often looked up at Crib Goch wondering how Peter was getting on.  There were loads of people up there taking advantage of the good weather.
Snowdon in the clouds. View from the Pyg Track
Looking back at Glaslyn and Llyn Llydaw
Eventually I reached the last steep incline of the Pyg Track and climbed up to the point where many of the paths meet up for the last 15 minutes of walking to reach the summit.  Climbing over those last few steps onto that ridge you step into a different weather zone.  We were sheltered down on the Pyg Track, but here on the ridge, the wind was freezing cold and very strong.  It had just gone1 pm.
And this is where I waited for Peter.  But the gloves, hat and coat didn't keep the cold out, and after half an hour I had to text him to say I was heading for the cafe.  I needed a hot drink.  The cafe itself was absolutely heaving, as was the area outside and the summit close by.  It  really was as bad as Waterloo or a tube station platform at rush hour.  It was absolutely packed.
Peter did eventually get there.  Apparently the number of  people on the ridge had resulted in queues to go across various stretches.  For this reason he was well over an hour behind me.  But by now, things were quietening down.  He had his tea, and a warm pasty, we visited the summit and took photo's, and started on the route down at around 3:30 pm.
Looking West from the Summit of Mount Snowdon
Looking South from the Summit of Mount Snowdon

Looking East from the Summit of Mount Snowdon
The Snowdon Mountain Train
But Oh!  What a wonderful walk down.  We went back along the Miners Track.  A very steep descent to start off, but then it flattens out and becomes a stroll.  The crowds had dissipated, the clouds had thinned to nothing, and the llyns reflected the blue of the sky.  It was absolutely fantastic. Peter filmed everything, I photographed everything.  A very relaxed and leisurely walk back to the car park.

Unfortunately a bit too leisurely.  We just missed the last bus back.  Good job it was downhill to the car then!
On the way back to Caernarfon, we stopped at the Vaynol Arms for a bit of supper.  I can't recommend the chips, but Peter can recommend a pint of  "Golden Dragon" beer.
We'd walked nearly 9 miles, reached a height of around 3600 feet, and Peter had taken on the daunting Crib Goch.  We both slept very well that night.

Friday, 11 May 2012


Caernafon Castle Front Gate
The date to start our long weekend in Wales had finally arrived.  So we started by not rushing, and after leisurely preparations and a steady 4 hour drive we arrived at the Travelodge in Caernarfon around 3 pm.  Despite drowsiness from the journey, we were keen to get out and look round.  Our hotel was just off Victoria Dock and overlooks the Menai Straits.  We were just yards away from the walled town and Caernarfon Castle, so guess where we went?

Sadly, we didn't actually get to the castle until just gone 4, which didn't give us enough time to look round.  We were just about the last ones to leave, but the guy in the ticket booth couldn't have been more helpful.  He started by taking pictures of me and Peter (as you do), and then, when he found out that we hadn't had enough time to look round, provided us with a "re-admit" ticket so that we could go back,.  Wonderful Welsh service.
View from a tower

After a quick change, we were back out for our evening meal in the nearby Cantonese and afterwards a short stroll around the little harbour to enjoy the beautiful sunset.  A glorious start to our weekend break.

Monday, 7 May 2012

Bainbridge and Semer Water

Looking out for somewhere to go this weekend, I found a route on the Walking Englishmans site: Romans, Raydale and Semer Water.  It looked just right in as much the tracks were clearly defined, it wasn't too far a drive or too long a walk, and I get to see Semer Water, somewhere new for me. I parked in Bainbridge, which was easy because even though the place was busy, there are loads of places to leave a car.  Then it was off on my way up School Hill to Cam High Road, which is actually an old Roman Road.  And yes, dead straight.
On his website the WE suggests that you nip off the Cam High Road to look at the  Horton Gill waterfalls, so I did, turning right down the road to the bridge.  The little waterfall at the bridge is quite lovely in it's own right, and I couldn't resist climbing down to see it better. 
I got back up onto the road and then turn left into the field to walk along the gill. The thing is, you are trespassing.  I didn't realise this at first (sort of from WE's comments)  and assumed there was a way out, but there isn't.  So I retraced my steps to leave the way I came.  At this point, the sheep in the field all bunched up behind me in that way that sheep do, and more or less chased me out.  I think that sort of paid me back for trespassing.   They were very noisy, Baaa baaa baaaing.  (I think it translates to "Gerrof my land").  The waterfalls were lovely though.....

So back onto the Cam High Road, take the next fingerpost left, and climb up, through the cut in the ridge and over the hill out of Wensleydale into Raydale.   I quite liked walking through that gap in the ridge, it was just a nice place to be.   Once through and at the top of the hill, you get your first sight of Semer Water.  I don't know why, I just thought it would be bigger.  I also thought it was a reservoir, I found out later it isn't.  
So down the hill  to Marsett, across Raydale floor and then turn left again to head towards the "Chapel (rems of)". As WE states on his website, the old chapel really is quite wonderful.  Sadly, when I arrived there were loads of visitors ahead of me, climbing all over and around it, or sitting on the walls, eating lunch.  It made it impossible to take photo's really, but it really worth a look if you're over that way.  Onwards then to Semer water.  This is proper Dales walking round here, lots of fields, stiles, sheep and boggy bits.  Lovely.  
Reaching Semer Water, I learned from the information board that the lake is actually glacial. Curious.  For me, water = birds, but as I walked towards the lake, most of the interesting ones were too far away even for my binoculars although  I did see loads of noisy Canada Geese.  The path then moves away from the water and through fields, so I didn't really get to see that much of the lake as I wanted.  

On now to Low Blean Farm.  The path has been rerouted and now runs behind the farm, over a very pretty little beck.
Then it's on to Low Force farm and up the hill onto Blean Lane.  From there it's mostly road, with a bit of field walking back to Bainbridge.  The final point of interest is crossing the road bridge over the River Bain.  At the time the WE walked this route, there was a lot more water in the becks and rivers, as can be seen in his photo's.  I'm happy with mine though.

On the way back up the car, I noticed a lovely little tea room near the green.  I didn't have any cash on me,  otherwise I would have indulged.  I'll know for next time though.  All in all a very pleasant day  Not too difficult a walk and with the Dales all around it was just very, very nice.
Just over 8 miles and about 1300 ft of up.  Map on WE site.