There really was a lot of water everywhere.
We got a call from Warwick school requesting a single Mountain Leader to help supervise one of four groups they had out for an October half term, gold qualifying expedition. The weather over the four days was horrendous. It rained for a large percentage of every day and night, sometimes very heavily. This was also coupled with high winds leading to poor sleep for everyone. However, my group were amazing and stayed really upbeat throughout. They were a great, solid, reliable group always on time and hardly going wrong at all. This meant I could plan my excursions from the car for a minimum amount of time out in the horrendous weather. On the few occasions when they strayed from the route they were matter of fact, open, honest and communicative about what had gone wrong and what they did to fix it.
All 4 groups successfully completed their expeditions with both assessors commenting on how pleasant and cheerful all the groups were, which, considering the conditions (and their age and gender) no one could really understand, not even their teachers.
The last group coming in as the sun comes out.
On Thursday night Ben and I enlisted Tom to help us with a bit of Continuing Professional Development. We decided to drill the various carries and emergency evacuation techniques that are listed in the Mountain Leader Training Handbook (Hillwalking) and get a bit of night Navigation practice in. We drove up to Wrynose Pass in the Lake District and spent a couple of hours going through various carries. Seeing how far we could carry each other on rough ground either on our own or in pairs using 4 or 5 different methods (answer: not far). We found the Rope carry shown to be the best but it did take a bit of fiddling to get the rope set up correctly to make it comfortable for the injured party.
By 11 o'clock we were all pretty tired out and decided to go onto the main event of night navigation practice. We took it in turns to set each other a leg to navigate. One person would decide where we were going, one would navigate and the other would try and follow where we had gone and relocate at the end of the leg.
At about 2am we had a break under a crag and decided that we could probably scramble up it before continuing on our navigation exercise. We thought it was a bit like trying drive anti-clockwise around Leeds centre (the loop road runs clockwise), it was fairly easy but as we performed each move we had no idea what the next move would be and a mistake would have taken us back to where we had started very quickly.
We then navigated together to the top of a hill which was about an hours walk from the car and were tucked up in our bivi bags by 4:30 am. It had started to rain and rained constantly until about 8:30am. By 9:30 we decided that we had enjoyed ourselves enough and that it was time to get up and go home.
It was a great whistle-stop tour of the lakes and thanks to Tom for coming along to give us a hand.
Skye holiday 2013 report
On day 1 we decided to visit the Old Man of Storr; one of the most spectacular sites on Skye. This gives a good, fairly short walk, ideal to get us into the swing of things on the first day, especially given the less than perfect weather forecast. For those that wanted it, it also allowed for the option of a more energetic walk up The Storr (719m).
As it turned out the weather was even worse than the forecast with low cloud, rain and wind. As we emerged from the shelter of a hill at the high point of our walk a particularly strong gust of wind blew several of the party off their feet, and it became clear that continuing up The Storr was not an option! So, after a short but surprisingly adventurous walk, we called it a day and headed to the Edinbane Inn to dry off and enjoy their superb folk session, detouring to admire the Mealt Waterfall at Kilt Rocks en-route.
The mood was for a longer walk today and we decided upon Marsco (736m). Marsco is one of the Red Cuillin and a peak that we had had our eye on since the previous year’s holiday. The wind had dropped since Sunday and was now merely very strong. Marsco gave us the chance of getting in a great summit while staying out of the worst of the wind for most of the approach, and hopefully being well on the way back to the car by the time that heavy rain was forecast.
This proved to be the case, with our walk down Glen Sligachan and approach up Coire Dubh Measarroch being pleasantly sheltered. Things were a little more exciting on the summit ridge where there was no shelter from the wind. Luckily the skies were clear enough to give us some good views and we were able to pick out the lochans in the valley below which mark what was the centre of the Skye ice cap 12,000 years ago, when Marsco’s summit itself was beneath the ice.
We made our descent and while we didn’t manage to get to the car before the sleet and hail hit us, we didn’t have too far left to go. A satisfying day.
No trip to Skye is complete without walking some of its coastline. Today’s walk took in the ruins of the villages Boreraig and Suisnish, both forcibly evicted in the 1850s during the ‘highland clearances’.
The walk was followed by a visit to the spar cave on the Strathaird peninsula. This coastal cave can only be approached with a scramble at low tide. Its Gaelic name is Slochd Altrimen which translates as ‘cave of the nursling’. Various accounts exist to explain this name, all involving a child being hidden there to ensure its survival.
Sgurr na Stri and Glen Sligachan.
We split into two groups to do two different walks. The largest group headed to Sgurr na Stri, a fairly small but superbly situated peak with some of the best views of the Black Cuillin to be had. We approached it down Glen Sligachan and walked back by the same route. We had wanted a long day and this was what we got; in total we covered about 24 kilometres. The Black Cuillin remained shrouded in cloud depriving us of the classic view, but the rays of sunshine and momentary parting of the clouds, when we reached our summit, gave us atmospheric glimpses of the steep rock of the Black Cuillin, with the water of Loch Coruisk in the foreground.
Meanwhile the other group had visited the Quiraing for a shorter walk on the some of the most dramatic terrain on the island.
It was time to head into the Black Cuillin. Our choice was Sgurr na Banachdich (965m), a Munro on the famous Cuillin Ridge. We set off from Glen Brittle Youth Hostel and walked up Coir an Eich. Above the coir we made our way to the summit through snow and cloud before descending by the same route.
The walk for the last day was Sgurr Alasdair; the highest peak on the Cuillin Ridge, and on Skye as a whole.
After 5 days of weather which had ranged from mixed to downright terrible, we were finally treated to warm sun and clear blue skies. This was one of those truly great days to be in the mountains, made all the better by having ‘earned it’ after the weather of the last few days.
We walked from Glen Brittle into Coire Lagan and scrambled up to the lochan in the upper coire. From here we continued up the Great Stone Chute, with towering cliffs on either side, blue skies above and patches of snow on the ground.
At the top of the chute we stopped in the sun for lunch, and then made our way along the short, but very exposed, ridge to the summit, before making our way down by the same route. A fine finale for the week.
That evening, after dinner, we went out for our traditional evening of otter watching followed by a drink in the Pier Hotel on the harbour.
Thanks to the participants on the recent Advanced Navigation Course for a great weekend.
The course began with a briefing and a cuppa in the great Bilbos cafe in Ambleside before we headed into Langdale and up to Stickle Tarn, our campsite for the night. The walk in was used to recap many of the skills from the Standard course.
Having established our camp we headed out for a challenging micro nav session nearby. Some of the terrain was complex to say the least and there were some impressive feats of relocation before we completed the session and made our way back to the tents.
The night nav session later that evening was for me the highlight of the course. Our route took us up above Pavey Arc where the group were set a variety of points to find their way to or relocate at. The stars were out and the standard of nav was again impressive. Thanks to Daryl for his top tip on gaining maximum info from the land around you when relocating: Try switching off your headtorch for a while in order to get a better view of the skyline and therefore the shape of the land around you.
The next day we walked out via the Pike of Stickle, concentrating on accurate and efficient route finding and planning of legs, with regular stops to challenge ourselves on contour interpretation and relocation.
The weekend finished with a ‘debrief’ in the hard-to-walk-past Old Dungeon Ghyll!
Info on our Advanced Nav Courses can be found here.
We had our autumn meeting in Wales this week. We've set our priorities, assigned our budgets, tweaked our membership commitment and defined our 50, 40 and 30,000 ft aspirations (ask Ben).
We also did a bit of climbing while we were doing all this. This is Marshy taking a tumble from Heading the Shot F7a+ at the crux of a discussion on whether we were fulfilling the fifth co-operative principle as best we could.
Twice a year we have a Lupine Adventure Co-op general meeting. These meeting involve as much, if not more, playing about on hill sides or rock faces than they do sitting around a table with a pen and paper in hand. We usually go somewhere to do something fun and outdoory while talking tangentially and at crossed purposes for a day before sitting down and doing the whole thing again in a structured way where hopefully we've already got a good idea where everyone is coming from. This autumn Ben and I decided to do a couple of extra days before the meeting. The first day involved a relatively unclimbed Very Severe route called Maverick at Gogarth.
Day 2 of our pre General Meeting mountain days involved a trip up Tryfan to do another esoteric VS called Long Chimney, which is not particularly long, not a chimney and not (arguably) a VS. To be fair for me to back off a mountain VS is all par for the course but Ben went up and didn't like the look of it either. After a bit of trouble sticking to the Severe to the left we ended up binning the guide book for the day and forcing a route up the face.
We encountered these rather magnificent goats (anarchists of the hills according to Jim Perrin) on the way up and way down the track.
Lake District 2011 Holiday Report
All photographs on this page (and more) can be viewed on our Lake District 2011 Photo Gallery.
Our holiday home this year was right in the middle of Keswick. When booking I was a bit unsure if it would be OK as on Skye we have always been in the middle of nowhere. However, the house was lovely and being in town didn't detract from the holiday at all, we even got to go to the puzzle museum.
Sunday 10th July 2011
We started off the holiday (as we always do) with everyone going out together. Last year on Skye the first walk was a long one. This year, because the weather forecast was good we opted for a short walk (only 7.5 km) but with a lot of ascent to reach the top of Red Pike above Borrowdale. Little did we know that we'd be blessed with good weather all week so our early peak and fine view bagging was unnecessary.
I think that people come on our holidays for a number of reasons, some are obvious like the social side of a group holiday or to be shown around an area that we know well but our guests may never have been to. Others are not so obvious, on this walk we were able to take out guests to a place that some of them would not have attempted unless assisted by Mountain Leaders. On this route one of our guests exclaimed 'if my children could see me now!' as we negotiated a short rocky step.
Once at the top we split into a group of fast descenders and a group of slow descenders to get back to the cottage.
Monday 11th July 2011
After the somewhat difficult trip up Red Pike the day before we opted for a lower level walk. Setting off from Grange, on the shore of Derwent Water, we walked to Seatoller and then back along the riverside path via the tea room at Rosthwaite. Some of the group detoured up to Castle Crag on the outward journey while others took a break in the pass below.
The walk was not without its challenges as we found on the return journey when the gentle riverside path suddenly gave way to a stretch of rock that needed to be traversed until the path resumed a few metres further on.
This walk took us through several stretches of beautiful old woodland, including some of the best for seeing red squirrels. Sadly they remained hidden on this occasion, the only sign of them being a pine cone bearing the distinctive signs of nibbling by a squirrel.
Tuesday 12th July 2011
The group decided to take a day to walk around Derwent Water. Ben and I tagged along for a couple of miles before deciding to check out a gill scramble up Cat Gill. A couple of the group had indicated that they may want to do a bit of scrambling later in the week so we thought we'd do a reccy on this one. I can't really say how the walk around Derwent Water went but the gill scramble was enjoyable. The water was quite low and while it was very, very slippery in places it was fairly simple.
In the evening we went to see Castlerigg Stone Circle, one of the most visually impressive prehistoric monuments in Britain (for its dramatic location rather than its size).
Wednesday 13th July
As this was due to be the best weather of the week we thought we'd go up Langstrath and incorporate a swim in Black Moss Pot into the day. Unfortunately it was a bit cloudier than expected but 3 of us still braved the waters while the more sensible members of the group remained on solid ground.
After the swim we continued up the valley where half the group made a bee line for the ridge by Linings Crag and came back along the tops while the other half crossed the water to the other side of the valley for the return trip.
Thursday 14th July 2011
The group split today with some of us going up Scafell Pike, and the others taking a walk up Latrigg before going to the Whinlatter Forest Centre to view the Ospreys.
The Scafell Pike team were successful making the top by 2pm. We took the path from Seathwaite up past Styhead Tarn and along Corridor Route and returned via Esk Hause. The total distance was about 15 km with over 1km in ascent.
The other group walked from the house to the top of Latrigg, a lovely hill which for a fairly straightforward ascent gives great views and a real sense of height, then back along the old railway line to the house. After a break for tea and cake we drove up to Whinlatter where the local nesting ospreys can usually be viewed on a video screen. Sadly they had recently moved their nest and could no longer be seen, but the informative display and staff made the visit worthwhile.
Friday 15th July 2011
After the big day on Scafell Pike we all decided to go to see Aira Force over by Ullswater. This short walk was lengthened by some to take in the summit of nearby Gowbarrow.
We were back in Keswick in time to visit the shops, and of course the puzzle museum.