Sue and Martin above Zermatt - 2018

Sue and Martin above Zermatt - 2018
Showing posts with label Great British Ridge Walks. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Great British Ridge Walks. Show all posts

Friday, 12 October 2018

Wednesday 10 October 2018 – Y Garn and the Glyders


The prospect of a glorious day out had me binning my plans for Wednesday in favour of a day ‘on the hill’. The ‘hill’ in question was Y Garn and the Glyders, one of my favourite walks. It has the advantage of being easily achievable in a day out from Timperley, with breakfast as normal and the ability to return in time to buy and cook dinner before heading off at 7 pm to see Jim’s SWOG presentation.

I’m really surprised to note that since I’ve been recording this on-line diary I’ve only walked this route twice, on 1 January 2008, and on 29 November 2012, the reports on which contrast markedly with this one. This rare recurrence of a favourite walk reflects an increasing tendency to walk more locally, I suspect.

Anyway, after an 8 am start, passage through a low lying blanket of mist over Cheshire, then past lovely autumn shades beside the M56 motorway, was followed by a twenty minute delay in the A55 roadworks. I eventually parked in a layby a few minutes walk from Ogwen Cottage alongside Llyn Ogwen, which looked splendid under the bright blue sky.

The rebuilding of the Ogwen Centre has been completed since my last visit, and it’s very nice too. Coffee and cake served through the traditional hatch was of a high standard. I chatted to a couple from the Wirral with whom I’d shared space in the traffic jam. They were planning to avoid the wind on the summits by heading up to the Tryfan col and then over Foel Goch to Capel Curig, returning by a low level route.

I set off at around 11am and soon passed a party of eleven children with two teachers. They were heading up to Llyn Idwal before returning for an afternoon of raft building.

I left them and continued up the good path towards Y Garn.


There were fine, clear views back to Llyn Ogwen, framed on the left by the southernmost of the Carnedd summits, Yr Ole Wen, and by Tryfan on the right.


I passed a couple on the ascent. They hadn’t been here before. I explained the route over the Glyders, but unfortunately neither I nor they had a proper map. I’m not sure whether they would have been able to read it, even if I’d had one. (Navigation was never going to be an issue for me on a day like this in familiar surroundings.)

The summit of Y Garn (947 metres) was breezy but not overly windy. A thin fleece over a t-shirt was more than adequate for keeping warm, and quite a few people were sporting shorts. Snowdon stood firm under the clear blue sky across the Llanberis Pass.


Although only just after noon, numerous folk were lunching in sheltered spots beside Llyn y Cwr, from above which there was a good view back to the path down Y Garn.


It was good to be in the shade for the haul up Glyder Fawr. The sun was blindingly dazzling at points where the line of ascent was shallow enough to reveal that brilliant orb. The summit (1001 metres) is easily gained, with good views back across the rocks towards Snowdon.


To the south, a succession of hills led the eye all the way to the distant horizon.


To the east, that little bobble on the horizon is the next summit, that of Glyder Fach (994 metres). It’s slow going to get there, thanks to the rubbly nature of the terrain.


A little further on, Llyn Idwal shone above the Ogwen Valley in a deep shade of blue. The view down to Bethesda and beyond was magnificent.


The gnarly rocks of Glyder Fach soon loomed above me. Ravens and air force jets played in the thermals.


Glyder Fach isn’t the easiest of summits to attain. It’s quite a scramble up to the innocuous looking summit rock pictured below. I stumbled around here for a good half hour. Great care was needed as there was nobody about and the rocks on the north side were very slippery.


A few metres further on is the Cantilever Stone, sadly unoccupied today. You just have to imagine a big group of people standing on the right hand end of the huge rock.


The descent to Llyn Caseg-fraith starts just a little further on. A group of pensioners was slogging slowly up the gentle ascent that I was ambling down. I’d decided against descending via Bristly Ridge, the direct route.


After turning sharp left at the col that is reached before the lake, superb views of Tryfan are enjoyed as you make your way carefully across to the Tryfan col.


Whilst crossing the Glyder ridge I’d looked down on Tryfan and spotted numerous folk on its summit. I caught up with a group of at least a dozen of them shortly after passing below Llyn Bochlwyd, pictured below with Y Garn in the background. They were a group of former students enjoying a reunion.


Whilst there didn’t really seem to be many people about, I must have seen seventy or so folk during the course of this excellent walk. Five hours of unadulterated pleasure concluded with the short walk back beside Llyn Ogwen to Polly.


My Garmin GPS recorded just over 13 km, with 1000 metres ascent. Transferring the .gpx file to Anquet mapping, shown below, produced the same distance but Anquet reckoned on 1448 metres ascent. I guess it’s actually about 1100 metres, but who really cares, it’s an excellent walk.


Returning via Ruthin and Mold, more fine autumn colours were on display, but in certain areas, Betws-y-Coed for example, the deep greens of summer were still dominant.

Monday, 4 February 2013

Sunday 3 February 2013 – A Great British Ridge Walk – Number 5 - Carnedd Moel Siabod by Daear Ddu and descent via the North-East Ridge

Windy on the summit of Carnedd Moel Siabod

It had been far too long a lay off from Bill Birkett’s fine collection of ridge walks (the last posting is dated November 2010!), so it was a pleasure for Sue and me to be joined by Richard and Jenny for this relatively easy route up Moel Siabod, featuring some fine ridge scrambling – as easy or hard as you want to make it. 

Heading up towards the end of the NE ridge of Moel Siabod - ascent path goes to the left

We chose ‘easy’, whilst chatting to a couple of lads on the Daear Ddu ascent who had chosen ‘moderate’.  It was all very convivial.

Scrambling up Daear Ddu ridge on Moel Siabod

After indulging at the cafe and watching some dare-devil kayakers descend the rapids down the Afon Llugwy, we had enjoyed a pleasant walk up to Llyn y Foel, where we lost the view to a light mist. At the end of the enjoyable scramble to within sight of the summit cairn, we paused in a sheltered spot for lunch.  That was just as well, as on emerging from our haven we were attacked by a vicious wind that seemed intent on preventing us from reaching the 872 metre summit.  It failed, as you can see from the picture above.

Slithery rocks made our descent along the north east ridge a rather painstaking affair, especially after I had taken a tumble.  But there was virtually no snow up there, and the rocks were greasy rather than icy – so no need for winter gear today.

Gradually the air became warmer, the wind chill diminished, and the views to the north and east got clearer. 

A view to Capel Curig from the lower part of the NE ridge - a grassy corridor between fins of slate

A phone call from a poorly son meant that we didn’t need to rush home to feed him (hope you are feeling better today, Mike) so we pottered amiably back down to the car park at Bryn Glô, where a chap was showing off his new sleeping bag from the Cotswold shop in Betws-y-Coed. 

On the last lap back to Bryn Glô

The kayakers had long gone.

Apologies for the brevity, perhaps Sue, R or J have some more to say…?

Here’s our route – 10km (6 miles) with about 800 metres ascent, in a shade over 5 hours.

Our route – 10km (6 miles) with about 800 metres ascent, in a shade over 5 hours

All in all, an excellent day out.  I’d almost forgotten what a good choice Moel Siabod is for a less than perfect day.

There’s no slideshow for the time being as we have some ‘technical transition issues’ relating to our move from Windows XP to Windows 8, which doesn’t seem to support our Picasa software (the upgraded version of which is incompatible with our old version), Web design software (Adobe Studio 8 – Dreamweaver), Photoshop software (CS2), Anquet mapping software, and much of the other software on the old machine, though I think I will be able to find a Windows 8 version of Windows Live Writer….

Though our tribulations are self inflicted (much of the software needs updating anyway, but losing the Picasa albums and all their captions - albeit they are still on the old computer - is a bit of a pain) they could be minor in comparison with what may have happened to fellow blogger Gibson.

Hopefully this will be the final posting from this old but not quite redundant laptop.  Time will tell.  Anyway, Sue and I hope to see some of you on the Sandstone Trail on Wednesday.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Tuesday 23 November 2010 – The Langdale Pikes, The Greater Traverse, including a variant of Great British Ridge Walk, Number 13

Lunch on Pike O' Stickle

I was due to pick Rick up at 7.15.  The alarm rang at 6.30; Sue woke, assumed I had left the bed, and went back to sleep.  I didn’t hear the alarm at all, but woke with a jolt at 6.59.

Somehow I managed to be only 5 minutes late at Rick’s house, and we made it up to our rendezvous point in Lancaster a couple of minutes before Stuart pulled in to collect us for the onward journey.  He had Peter and Richard with him, but the Jeep fitted us all comfortably.

The day’s plan was to walk Bill Birkett’s route ‘LAN5’ – The Greater Traverse of The Langdale Pikes, featuring nine ‘Birketts’ and six ‘Wainwrights’, not to mention seven ‘Lakeland 2000ers’, for those who count such things.

We started up Stickle Ghyll at 9.50am, at something of a sprint that left Richard searching from time to time for more lung capacity.

Approaching Stickle Tarn from Stickle Ghyll

An icy north easterly wind greeted us at Stickle Tarn, but we soldiered on and enjoyed the easy east ridge of Pavey Ark.  As we ascended, the ground became increasingly slithery due to a veneer of grease that could just as well have been ice.  In fact it turned to ice as we neared the summit.

We had decided against tackling Jack’s Rake, and those who did go that way seemed to be taking their time in today’s greasy conditions, so our easier route was a good call.

After stumbling around on the lumpy rocks of Pavey Ark’s broad summit, we headed off to gain Thunacar Knott’s easy summit.  The cloud base had been lurking just above our heads and had indeed obscured some views – mainly those towards Bowfell and the Scafell range – so we were pleased when it lifted a little, gracing us with sunny periods for the rest of the day.

Our highest point of the day, Harrison Stickle, came next.  Its summit rocks sported an icy rime.  We slithered some more before heading off to climb Thorn Crag.

But none of us was sure where Thorn Crag was.  I think we concluded that it was the small lump on the left of the picture below.  If so, we missed it, as we descended directly from Harrison Stickle to the heathery hollow.  Then we traversed the entire ridge from the centre of the picture up to Pike O’ Stickle, from where the picture was taken.  I now think the first of those summits may be Thorn Crag, after which we met a couple who had traversed below it on their way to the loftier summit of Loft Crag, seen here to the right of the picture.

Looking back to Harrison Stickle from Pike O' Stickle

It had taken three hours to reach the top of Pike O’ Stickle, and we were pleased to find a sunny position on the summit (pictured at the head of this posting) that was sheltered from the wind and afforded excellent views.  Rick was particularly happy to have made it – his dickie shoulder had not appreciated the vertical variant route chosen by Peter and Richard!  Our eyes were however particularly drawn to a figure that was half way up the sheer face of Gimmer Crag, pictured below in the distance.  The figure failed to move during our tenure at the top of Pike O’ Stickle, despite much shouting.  We were worried for the person concerned, but saw no evidence of a rescue taking place.  The jets and trainer planes that buzzed us for a while weren’t capable of hovering.

Lunchtime view from Pike O' Stickle, with Windermere and Blea Tarn

As we moved on across Martcrag Moor the low sun cast a lovely light on Allen Crags and Glaramara and beyond to the Skiddaw summits.  It was a glorious afternoon, with innumerable Lakeland peaks laid out before us.

Heading across Martcrag Moor, with Great Gable conspicuous to the left

Whilst the path hereabouts has been improved, there remain boggy sections that tested our footwear.  It passed the test – I don’t think anyone’s feet got wet.  My new Scarpa Mantas, on just their third outing, were superbly comfortable and supportive – just the job for these conditions.

Stuart adopted a classic pose.

Stuart, in his Russian shepherd's outfit

We reached Stake Pass soon after 2pm, so had plenty of time to enjoy the low ridge that leads over Black Crag and Buck Pike to Rossett Pike, the last of today’s summits.  It wasn’t so icy up here, and there were lovely views down Mickleden, with sunlit Pike O’ Stickle standing as a sentinel above the deep glacial valley.

An afternoon view down Mickleden

A group of four men were the last people we encountered, having seen about 20 others on these hills today.  They were bumbling around in the Rossett Pike/Black Crags area, and eventually descended Rossett Gill, way behind us.  I suppose not everyone is as familiar with this terrain as our little group may have been, but those four men did seem to make hard work of getting off the hills!

We were happy to reach the Jeep at 4.50 pm, shortly before darkness took over.  The Stickle Barn was shut, but we managed a fireside pint and post walk banter in the New Dungeon Ghyll Hotel, before wending our way homewards, deeply satisfied after yet another successful outing.

A full slide show (29 images) is here.

Our 16 km route with 1100 metres of ascent took seven hours and is shown in outline below.  It’s a good one, and would be relatively easy even in winter conditions.

Our route - 16 km, 1100 metres ascent, in a leisurely 7 hours

The header refers to ‘Great British Ridge Walk Number 13.  This is ‘The Langdale Pikes via Jack’s Rake’.  Variants are allowed.  So, as we climbed all the summits and walked the ridge, I think we can say that walk was accomplished.  Jack’s Rake will however be revisited in dry conditions.  It’s a great route that I haven’t been on since backpacking it with Andrew and Gary on 8 June 2005.  Here they are on the route; happy days…

Gary and Andrew on Jack's Rake - 8 June 2005

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Tuesday 19 October 2010 - A Great British Ridge Walk - Number 19 – The High Ridges around Coledale

Rainbow over Blencathra

By way of a change, I set off alone at 10 am this morning, on this meander around Coledale.

Well, I was walking alone, but there were plenty of people to chat to – I must have seen getting on for 100 folk on these hills today.

Luckily, the weather had improved as I headed north up the M6, though as I set off from the parking place in the old quarry by the side of the Whinlatter Pass road (NY 227 237) a brief shower summoned the waterproofs for the first time for a while.

I was soon up Kinn, and reached the top of the pyramid known as Grisedale Pike in good time.  It was swathed in light cloud right on the summit, whereas Skiddaw was pretty much engulfed in cloud until mid afternoon.

After negotiating the bump of Hobcarton Head I strayed from the purist’s route around Coledale to take in Hopegill Head, from where a couple of folk were making hard work of the slither down to Ladyside Pike.  Turning my back on them, I nipped over Sand Hill and down to Coledale Hause, with lovely views towards Buttermere over sunlit Sail Beck.

Forsaking the windy Hause in favour of the direct ascent of Eel Crag, I soon reached the point where the ‘shelf route’ that I enjoyed almost exactly a year ago joins the prow of the mountain for the easy plod up to the substantial cairn that marks the highest point of today’s walk, Crag Hill (839 metres).

Crag Hill (839 metres)

The views were atmospheric and delightful, with sunshine accentuating the bright green of the lush fields far below.

Rain was never far away – it is pushing in to the left of the picture below – but luckily I dodged it today.

The view towards Newlands from Sail

I made quick progress over Sail and enjoyed lunch with the view above, before heading on to the summit of Scar Crags, from where Derwent Water glistened beyond more sunlit fields.

Derwent Water

The path headed gently on to Causey Pike, from where a scrambly descent led to my final summit of the day, Rowling End, with this birds eye view into the valley below.

Bird's eye view

The steep descent to Stoneycroft over greasy rock was followed by a short road walk, then a lovely path beside a forest that dropped me back into Braithwaite well before 3 pm.

Here’s today’s route – 15km, with about 1300 metres ascent, taking a shade under 5 hours at a fairly brisk pace.

The route - 15km, 1300 metres ascent, 5 hours

A slide show will follow if I get around to it, but there may be a short hiatus whilst the computer goes in for repair.

Today’s walk traversed 6 Wainwrights, 11 Birketts (they are great to ‘bag’, aren’t they!) and just one Marilyn – interestingly Grisedale Pike, not the higher summit of Crag Hill.  It’s a lovely round, always enjoyable.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Tuesday 12 October 2010 - A Great British Ridge Walk - Number 23 – A Deepdale Circuit – Fairfield via Birks and St Sunday Crag and descent via Hart Crag and the Hartsop above How Ridge

The Coniston Hills from the summit of Fairfield

Rick and Stuart, both recently retired from their all consuming careers, are enjoying regular walks in the Lake District.  They are following routes described in Bill Birkett’s brilliant work, ‘Complete Lakeland Fells’.  Today’s choice was ‘FAR 1’ – the Deepdale Horseshoe in an anti-clockwise direction, whereas Bill’s ‘Great British Ridge Walk No 23’ covers almost the same ground in the opposite direction.  Our chosen route actually included a couple of tops (‘Birketts’) not incorporated in route 23.

Descending from Kirkstone Pass towards Ullswater, we came upon a cloud inversion that saw us starting off from the Patterdale Hotel at 9.45am in mist.

In his youth, Rick was a class act on the running track.  He had forgotten that this was not a contest and set off at a burning pace up Arnison Crag.  This didn’t last – we took nearly 2.5 hours longer than Bill’s 5.25 hour estimate for this walk.

Our early speed did however extract us quickly from the mist, which continued to blanket Ullswater for most of the day.  Here, Rick and Stuart approach the 433 metre (1422 ft) summit of Arnison Crag.

Rick and Stuart ascending Arnison Crag

It was truly wonderful, with blue skies above and mist lingering in the valleys on this windless day.  We were soon down to t-shirts for the lumpy path to Trough Head and the subsequent steep ascent to our second summit, Birks – 622 metres (2040 ft).

Hand towels would have been welcome – we were all dripping in the heat.  Luckily the gradient eased as we continued towards our third and fourth summits, Gavel Pike – 784 metres (2572 ft) – on the left – and St Sunday Crag – 841 metres (2758 ft) – centre.

Looking up to Gavel Pike and St Sunday Crag, with Dollywagon and Nethernmost Pikes behind

Mist over Ullswater and to the east gave head-turning views, so we made slow progress.  Strange that the mist-shrouded views seemed more eye-catching than the normal views in which the lakes and valleys would be visible.

Looking back towards Grisedale and Ullswater

Once on the main trod from Grisedale we encountered quite a few folk on St Sunday Crag, beyond which we enjoyed a leisurely lunch amongst some kamikaze, non-biting flies.  Grisedale Tarn now lay ahead, with the Helvellyn massif to our right.  Beyond, Seat Sandal and the high peaks of the Lake District, with the distinctive bobble of Great Gable on the far horizon (to the right of the image below).

I’ve discovered that I was here 25 years ago to the day, on a Helvellyn/St Sunday Crag round from Patterdale.  Apparently I was too tired to go up Fairfield on that occasion!

Lunch beyond St Sunday Crag

After encountering a large group we enjoyed the scrambly (direct) ascent of our fifth summit, Cofa Pike – 823 metres (2700 ft).  Views opened out in the dazzling sunlight.  We spent some time with the 1:40,000 BMC map laid out before us, identifying hills far and wide – as wide as Grisedale Pike, anyway.

A short final scramble took us directly to the summit, our sixth, of Fairfield – 873 metres (2863 ft).

Rick approaches the summit of Fairfield, with St Sunday Crag in the background

This was the high point of the day in more ways than one.  The Coniston hills were revealed in the distance, their upper reaches shimmering in the sunshine whilst mist concealed their base.  The lakes of Coniston and Windermere languished below, partly obscured by a thin veneer of mist. (See link to slide show below.)

The Coniston hills, from Fairfield

There were now quite a few folk around.  Everyone was chatty and jolly.  It was that sort of day.  Between Fairfield and our seventh summit, Hart Crag – 822 metres (2698 ft), our ‘Deepdale Horseshoe’ route coincided with the ‘Fairfield Horseshoe’, a route from Ambleside.  So it’s a path I know well, but I don’t remember having enjoyed such stunning weather up here.

We lingered on Hart Crag, reluctant to lose a significant portion of the view.

Eventually we turned ENE with the sun on our backs and set our sights on the Hartsop above How Ridge, with Place Fell and the summits of High Street laid out in the distance.

Descending from Hart Crag, with High Street

Gill Crag, on the Hartsop above How Ridge, 582 metres (1909 ft), our eighth summit, provided an excellent spot to drain our flasks and finish the shortbread.

Further on, we hardly noticed the ninth and final lump on our route, Gale Crag, 512 metres (1680 ft).  There was lots of this [subsequently identified] Fir Clubmoss (Huperzia selago), looking very healthy on the Hartsop slopes.

Fir Clubmoss (Huperzia selago)

The day’s heat had finally dispersed the mist, but the low sun provided a lovely mellow light for the rest of our descent to Patterdale.  We really didn’t want to finish this walk, but we had to get home at some point, unlike the gent we had met on Hart Crag who was sensibly planning to stay high and camp at Grisedale Tarn.

Descending to Patterdale

However, we couldn’t resist a pint of nectar before leaving…

…we didn’t encounter any traffic problems – the ‘rush hour’ was long gone.

Refreshment Zone

A slide show (55 images) is here.

The day’s route, executed exactly as suggested by Bill Birkett in his ‘FAR 1’ route, is shown below.  It was about 15km with 1100 metres ascent and took 7.5 hours – a very leisurely pace was adopted once we had burst out of the mist into the sunshine above Patterdale.

Our route - 15km, 1100 metres ascent, 7.5 hours

Here is another link to Bill’s book, and to the accompanying and very worthwhile almanac.