Tuesday, 13 December 2011

A Photography Course around Bolton Abbey

Looking to get the best of my snaps whilst out in the hills I went on a photography course recently around Bolton Abbey in an attempt to try to get my photos to resemble what I see in the flesh whilst I'm out there in the open.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

A trek through Glen Etive to Loch Etive

We recently spent an incredible weekend up in Glen Etive near Glencoe. We were blessed with awesome weather and managed to get two reasonable yomps under our belts in the three days we were there (the other was spent roaming the loaclity taking some snaps).

Glen Etive reflection
A Lochan reflection in Glen Etive
November could be expected to be a bit hit and miss with regards the weather but we couldn't have had it better, it was foul as I drove up Glen Etive but by the time the rest of the blokes arrived about an hour or so later the clouds had parted exposing all the peaks around the valley.

Glen Etive Landscape
The landscape of Glen Etive
We left the car park in the morning with the view of getting yomping cross country down Glen Etive to the Loch to take some time lapse footage some time late in the day. We took maps and the trusty Satmap Active 10 but really just sidled down Glen Etive with no real route in mind. A couple of days earlier we'd been bagging Munros so a few of us were keener for some lower level stuff. We started by hugging the River Etive which was pretty impressive and picturesque not coming across another soul. We had to take a right when we hit a tributary that would have given us seriously wet feet, ankles, knees and waist and head towards the road. This actually ended up taking us across a small footbridge but we still had to hit the road eventually.

Flowing Etive
 A flowing River Etive
River Etive Flowing
River Etive

We continued up here until we came to another road which led to a bridge across the river we'd just followed. We wanted to try to get up the hillside on the eastern side of Loch Etive as we thought we'd get a better view. This proved to be far tougher then we'd anticipated but I've not laughed so hard in some time.

Golden View down Glen Etive
A Golden View
Once over this bridge we were guided around a property where it started getting really boggy and was tough tough going. This didn't get any easier and before long we had a river to cross, which was no great shakes and we decided to take a spot of lunch here in the middle of the tributary.

Dry River Bed
Crossing the dry river bed
Once over the river the bog turned to marshland and was just wet up to about the ankle. We persevered and headed back down to the river we'd crossed as there was a dry bed which would at least have furnished us with some better footing. It didn't as it turned out and only served up larger doses of humour. We decided to get off the river bed and back onto land - into a patch or gorse where we couldn't see the way through or way out. this led to dead end after dead end and cries of help were heard all around - these were met with cries of hysteria.

A marshy Glen Etive
A look over the marshes of Glen Etive to Loch Etive
Once reunited on the far side we decided unanimously that the ascent up the hillside was a painful idea and that we'd be better off catching the shot from the edge of Loch Etive. This therefore meant that we had to cross the river again. There was no bridge however which was going to prove to be a touch tough as there was no clear way it could be crossed without a bit of an inconvenience unless we walked back up to the bridge which no one was really keen on. One of the boys spotted a wide part of the River Etive which he thought looked relatively shallow and went for it.

Crossing Rive Etive
Crossing the River

It was only when he had crossed it that he realised that he'd only crossed the river to the same side that he'd ultimately started from - he was confident his boots had held out though and his feet were still dry. In the end half of us were down to our pants and the others risked it with gaiters on. It was cold but brief and relatively painless.

River reflection
A river reflection

We were not long before we were back on the road and heading for Loch Etive. We timed it pretty much bang on and got the sun disappearing over the horizon. At the same time a canoeist appeared at the far end of the Loch, not sure where he'd been but he was met by a seal proving that there was access from the sea to here albeit being a touch of a hike.

Loch Etive
Loch Etive

Once we'd got the footage we required we kicked off on the lengthy hike back up the road. It was too dark now to go cross country again - that would have been painful. What seemed like a fair age later we were back at the car park. Not the most conventional of days walks but totally varied terrain and what seemed like an awesome adventure in an incredible part of the world, it was totally stunning.

View Glen Etive Walk in a larger map

Monday, 7 March 2011

Trek Kilimanjaro whilst the glaciers are still there

The glaciers on the summit of Kilimanjaro are disappearing. A recent study has shown that there is now 85% less glaciers on the summit of Kilimanjaro then there was in 1912. The glaciers are melting and crumbling away whilst at the same time experiencing reduced levels of snowfall. With these factors in mind, it is believed that the summit of Kilimanjaro will be snow-free in between 15 - 30 years, which is tragic. It's not certain what is creating this change in weather patterns but some suggestions are that it is as a result of global warming or it could be due to the reduced levels of rainfall as a result of the deforestation of the rain forest around the base of the mountain. Whatever the reason certain of that charm will be lost as the snow and ice disappear, so to trek Kilimanjaro amongst the snow and ice, please go sooner rather than later.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

A nice but noisy meander from Bingley

With dark nights and short days still being a bit of a bind we decided to go for a leg stretch that was fairly close to home. So we checked in our Walks in the Yorkshire Dales book and found one that we thought would fit the bill.

We kicked off in Bingley at the White Horse Pub at the bottom end of town passing the pub heading in the direction of the river. Once over the river we took an immediate right and hugged the river passing through Ravenroyd Farm and passed another couple of buildings. This was quite a picturesque meander along the river bank although we never quite seemed to get away from the noise of traffic.

By the River Aire

More of the River Aire

We finally came to a gate which we went through and turned left up the hill. The road wound up the hill and without an OS map or satmap we were kind of at the mercy of the crappy map that the guidebook provided us with, needless to say there were a few moments leaving me scratching my head.

We followed the road passing Blakey Cottage on our left and the road here turned into a dirt track. As we continued up the hill a view of Calderdale emerged to the right which was pretty amazing but the sound of the traffic seemed to follow us all the way.


About 50 yards further on we passed through a gate and entered a bit of woodland thick with ferns. The guidebook advised that we took the left fork at the top of the hill. There were however two forks, the first one we went wrong at and we should have gone right (you can see this bizarre detour on the map above) at the first one and left at the second. From here we followed the hiking trail with a wall on our right hand side.

This continued until we arrived at a road a few hundred yards later. At the road we took a right and followed this until we arrived in St Ives Estate.

In the trees

The book directed us right into the woodland with the golf course on our left. We did walk through a lot of woodland on this walk but it was quite different so was quite pleasant. it was particularly busy however so didn't feel much like we'd escaped the crowds. That said we carried on until we got a T-Juntion and took the left hiking trail downhill which led all the way down to the Coppice Pond.

Still in the trees

Coppice Pond near St. Ives House

Once round the pond the quickest route is to walk past St Ives House (with it on your left) and down to the main road (we took a detour through the trees where there were some quite bizarre carvings). Once across the main road you walk down Beckfoot Lane which narrows as you continue down to a picturesque ford with a bridge that dates back to 1723. Cross the bridge and just a few metres further on you reach a set of allotments, immediately after these turn left and walk down the side of them.

A witch in the woods

A bridge then crosses back over the River Aire at which point you'll find yourself in Myrtle Park (home to Bingley music festival) in Bingley and almost home. From here you will walk passed the Bradford and Bingley building which is now totally boarded up since it found itself in difficulty following the sticky situation it found itself in. What is ironic is that the road that runs along the back of the building is aptly named Thrift Way - they could have done with taking heed of this me thinks and going back to there roots that would have saved them from having to shut up shop, board up the windows and all take early retirement - all pretty sad really.

Bradford and Bingley's address

There seems to be a load of decent boozers in Bingley to quench the thirst however being as organised as ever we were against the clock and had to get home so they were procured from our fridge at home. Always welcome. So a pleasant walk with too many people and never really escaping the noise of the traffic. Sadly not one I'll be rushing back to do.

Monday, 28 February 2011

Trails for the Nation!

I walked a minor section of Offa's Dyke Path at the weekend (sadly I've got no photos and as a result haven't documented it as for the main part the visibility was pretty much zero) which was partly by accident on another walk we were doing and it was incredible. I was intrigued so though some digging to get the lowdown on how far Offa's Dyke Path is and how long it would take to trek it in one go would be a top plan with the potential for a trek in the future.

When I stumbled across this nugget of joy - seemingly we have the joy of 15 National Trails across the UK, most of which I already knew about but nice to have a resource with them all in one place with maps and suggested routes broken down into days. Certainly simplifies the planning for the future.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

It's back!

Well I received my Lightline Down Jacket back today, not from Mountain Equipment (they were as much use as a chocolate parasol) but from Tundra Repairs. I actually emailed them yesterday to enquire as to the progress of the repair as they initially advised me it would take around 2 weeks and that was on the 27th January. I got an email straight back sincerely apologising for the delay - which had been caused due to a backlog of equipment and clothing repairs but it would be back with me shortly.

I then got a random text later on yesterday saying that my package would be with me on Tuesday. I didn't put two and two together with this, well I tried to but I didn't come up with an answer. Anyhow it turned up today and they have done a great job! They have patched it from the inside and you can barely tell it was ever torn - I tried taking a photo to fire up on here but sadly it didn't come out, I will try to get one up at some point. So £23.50 well spent! Many thanks to Tundra Repairs - the job was tip top and customer services second to none, how refreshing after the start I had with Mountain Equipment.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

No matter which way the wind blows!

So long as it blows - for wind power anyway! With the ever increasing number of wind turbines which are being erected in the areas of natural beauty in our countryside which we're stumbling across more and more often when out walking I thought I'd post this link ( It breaks down the current proportion of power generation from different methods and with all the wind farms that have been erected over the years they are still only contributing 2.5% ish to the total power generation in the country. This puts the governments drive for green energy into perspective. Is it really worth losing our countryside for this paltry contribution? Whilst it appears that we're going green as a nation with these things appearing everywhere sadly I feel it's more a token gesture to make people believe the powers that be are really making a difference.

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Jacket is in the remaking!

Having sent my Mountain Equipment Lightline to Tundra Repairs, it arrived on Monday (according to Royal Mail, and their special delivery isn't that special as it was typically a day late) and having had no response from them I decided to drop them a line.

The pleasant lady who answered the phone knew who I was and was pretty adament that an email had been sent to me advising me of the price and necessaries - which I hadn't seen. Upon flicking through my digital postbox I found that indeed they'd sent me an email on the arvo of same day as it'd arrived - very efficient and indeed my bad. The cost of the repair was £23.50 including return postage - which by my reckoning is a bargain.

I have thus flung cash in their direction digitally and seemingly have around a 14 day waiting period! So far a great service though - I await with baited breath for the repaired product.

Monday, 24 January 2011

The Buttermere Horseshoe

Date: 25th September 2010
Who: Me and Si
Hills Climbed: Red Pike, High Stile, High Crag, Haystacks, Dale Head, Hinscarth, Robinson
Map: OL4
Distance walked: 14 miles
Ascent: 1900 metres

I'd been wanting to venture out and do the Buttermere Horseshoe for some time after a few of us had been up in that neck of the woods (hills) in the January of 2009. So a few of us put the weekend to one side and in normal style two of us ended up digging our boots out for the yomp. With little info apart from the knowledge that it was supposed to be incredible on a good day and took in Haystacks, Mr Wainwrights fave fell, and Inominate Tarn (where his ashes were scattered). I ventured onto google to get a concise route along the hiking trail that I could figure out on the OS. Walking Britain came up trumps for this one with just the very thing only having not been out in the hills for a while it wasn't such "the very thing" we'd been looking for - this walk turned out to be the only walk in the area (the Lake District) categorised as very difficult - oops.

View Buttermere Horseshoe in a larger map
We blazed up to Buttermere where the hiking trail began and walked past the two pubs in Buttermere hugging the northern edge of Lake Buttermere itself. From here we ascended through the trees heading for Bleaberry Tarn and continuing up the aptly named Red Pike suitably named presumably due to its colour underfoot. The weather was spectacular and we were lucky enough to take in some awesome views as far as what we thought was the Isle of Man and the Galloway Forest Park in the Scottish Borders.
Crummock Water from Red Pike

High Crag from Red Pike
We stopped off here and had a bite to eat before heading off along the ridge line to High Crag. this was an easy trek between the two summits with little change in altitude. You get an awesome view of Crummock water and Buttermere from up here.
Red Pike, Bleaberry Tarn (in the very bottom of the photo) and Crummock Water from High Crag
The route then takes you over the spiny ridge, which from afar looks pretty intimidating, and across the top of Eagle Crag and Comb Crags. Today was a pearler of a day but last time we were up here it was a touch of a different story - the wind was howling so fiercely we were crossing crouched so that the wind didn't tear us off the hillside, that was in January mind.
Haystacks from High Stile (with Green Gable and Great Gable in the distance - top right of the photo)
Once over High Crag and we kicked off the zigzag descent to Seat and then to Scarth Gap before starting the pretty steep and rocky ascent up Haystacks, which at an ascent of 597 metres was lower than I'd expected. That said it is such a significant rocky mound to see from afar it can't be mistaken for any other hill.
Inominate Tarn
Once at the top you can't help but cast your eyes in search of the Inominate Tarn - where Alfred Wainwright's ashes were scattered but you can't actually see it until you get off the top and when you do first see it it looks deceptively small. As you near it you get a true feel for it's size, not that it is a large tarn but it's bigger then it initially appears.
As you cast your eyes to the left (or east) you can see the slate mining still going on which is the direction we took, heading towards Honister Pass and the museum.
From Haystacks to Honister pass is a hop, skip and jump really, but along this "hop, skip and a jump" we had to decide if we were going to take the easy route back into Buttermere via the road or to press on up the other ridge initially summitting Dale Head and continuing on to Hindscarth and Robinson to complete the Butteremere Horseshoe. No decision was made until we got sat down and had a drink and a bite to eat at the Honister Pass slate museum and visitor centre. Needless to say it didn't take us long to come to the punishing decision that we'd go for the monty and fire uphill to feel the burn. We didn't realise at this point, in fact we didn't realise until a couple of days later that in fact at this point we had surreptitiously missed one of the Wainwrights on the Buttermere Horseshoe and that is Fleetwith Pike, it is a bit of a detour and can be taken in on this walk - probably for the best that we'd left it for later however.
We set off uphill heading for the summit of Dale Head. We eyed the fence we were to follow far into the distance where it seemed to coincide with the hill top. It wasn't until we got to where the fence was no more that we realised that the fence didn't go to the top, in fact it went nowhere near. I think there were another four false summits before we actually got to the top. This was starting to seem like the wrong choice however the panorama north from Dale Head was incredible.
With tired thighs, and calves, and but-tocks we headed off for Hindscarth's top more focused on the floor that on the horizon at this point and after what seemed like an eternity we hit it. Not hanging around we only had one hill left before we could head for a pint and home. From the top of Hindscarth you can pretty clearly see the top of Robinson so with heavy legs and everything else for that matter we trudged on for the final summit which we achieved some time soon after.
As it was now starting to get dark so we decided to make a swift and safe exit from the hillside and take a longer route along the road. Well the exit wasn't swift, nor was the route off the marked hiking trail dry. Being that it was such a glorious day we'd gone in trainers which definitely helped us cover the ground and didn't sap the energy like boots would have however they are far from waterproof and before long our plates of meat were ringing. We kept to the high ground as heading too far right at this point could have seen us toppling over Moss Force waterfall - not a great way to finish the walk. We intercepted the steep hiking trail descending to the car park at 193177.
We stuck to the road and followed it back to down to Buttermere, my feet were giving me a touch of grief now with every step which was all forgotten about when I saw a shape which looked like a kind of fat squat dog bolting across the hillside above us, as my eyes focused on it I realised it was a badger. It then crossed the road in front of us and shot off down the hill like a missile on steroids. A great way to finish an awesome walk - the first time I'd ever seen a badger in the wild.
All said and done this was an incredible day out that should really have been done following with a couple of warm up walks but the weather was impeccable and the views were for as far as the eye could see, definitely one for the "To do" list. At 14 miles (Satmap clocked it just short of 14 miles) it's not hugely long but with a total ascent of over 1900 metres it's that that saps you. Still very rewarding. Sadly due to the time constraints the pint had to wait until I got home.

Sunday, 16 January 2011

There's a hole in my jacket dear Mountain Equipment

But that seemed to fall on deaf ears sadly.

Mountain Equipment LightlineI recently snagged my Mountain Equipment Lightline duvet jacket and heard that blood curdling rip as the shell of my jacket tore leaving a whole sufficient to allow the safe passage of the down contained within into the wide open world, which is a nightmare. Fair play it's been pretty sturdy but as with any garment - they aren't bombproof. On mentioning this to my brother he advised me that you can actually get them repaired rather than gaffa tape them up leaving them resembling something that Joseph would look at home in. So on that note I contacted Mountain Equipment as my first port of call to ask if they could repair it. To which, dissapointingly, I got no response. On looking further however I found that Mountain Equipment themselves don't repair their own clothing but recommended a company that specialises in the repair of outdoor clothing - which could turn out to be quite a find. They're called Tundra Repairs and repair pretty much every item of clothing you can imagine it appears. I have therefore contacted them for a quote to get the jacket repaired. They came back to me within hours and requested I forward it on to them in order that they can have a look at the extent of the damage and provide a quote, so far so good. The jacket is thus winging it's way to them in the incapable hands of Royal Mail. I've got crossed fingers for this now I thought this one was a write off and the selotape just wasn't cutting the mustard. Time will tell the cost for the job and the quality of the finished thing!
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