View from Oban Bothy

View from Oban Bothy

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

16 – 19th July 2013, Barmouth Bimble with Pies

Day 1, Barmouth

Pie aficionados gathered either side of Afon Mawddach in glorious sunshine for a few days of eating beer, drinking pies, backpacking and luxuriating in good company. The Plan didn’t quite go to plan….but that’s the stuff of adventures….innit.
The first bit of not going to plan-ness was our tea at The Last Inn. The place was full so we had to search around the town and eventually, after passing LOADS of closed eateries, nosh was obtained in a local Chinese restaurant….actually a dining room tacked on to the side of a Chinese takeaway.
P1020274Barmouth’s Arousal Cafe. Closed.
Back at the campsite we enjoyed a lovely sunset. And then we went to bed.
Sunset over Bae Bermo. That’s foreign for Barmouth Bay y’know.

Day 2, Barmouth to Dolgellau

The next morning Mike had arranged for us to meet up at Greasy Lizzie’s Rosie’s Diner in downtown Barmouth for an exercise in artery clogging. That’s not a dance by the way.
I think his idea was to sabotage the health of the (incomplete) A Team so as to ensure a slow walking pace for the period of the expedition….and probably a lot longer than that. I couldn’t manage the Gut Buster, but Mike, who shall remain nameless in case his Fat Nurse finds out what he’s been up to, shifted his ginormous plateful of cardiac-arrest inducing comfort food with a minimum of effort. Dawn and I settled on the safer option, The Bloody Huge Breakfast.
P1020277 Barmouth Bridge carrying the railway line and the footpath
The B Team were staking out the south end of the footbridge whilst we enjoyed our third mug of tea – essential for washing down the enormous amount of cholesterol we’d just consumed.
Eventually the A Team prepared for action, went to the toilet, and set off for the south side of the estuary. We walked slowly.
The weather wasn’t brilliant but it was fine for walking – it wasn’t to start raining for at least two hours. This was almost Scottish weather.
P1020282 On approach to the George III at Penmaenpool. In the rain.
Our Plan was dead easy – walk along the Mawddach Trail until Dolgellau, put up the tents, and go to the pub. The Plan was executed with military precision…..apart from the bit when we stopped at the George III en-route to Dolgellau. This variation from The Plan was acceptable – members of both the A and B Teams are only too aware of the dangers of dehydration when on an expedition such as this.
The weather had improved considerably by the time we arrived in Dolgellau, we had warm sunshine and dryness. Better still there was a chippy and a pub serving decent ale.
The A Team came to up to full strength here, Judith and Laura, had joined us – we were now ready for anything. Our combined forces of Teams A & B was made up of Judith, Laura, Dawn, Mike and Alan and his two friends – Teg & Rich. Oh, and I was there too.
We had walked, ooh, around 10 miles.

Day 3, Dolgellau to Cadair Idris

Next morning dawned bright and clear – it was going to be a very hot day indeed.
P1020286We were on parade by around 9am and both teams set off with grit and determination. Fortunately we managed to get rid of both fairly quickly.
The route was up, up, up. It was only 7.5 miles but it was damned hard work. We were all carrying water which slowed us down considerably, without it we’d have really struggled. I carried nearly 2 litres and it was only just enough.
Upness towards Cadair Idris
P1020290 The Pieman in posing mode, Cadair Idris in the background.
P1020294The Uphill Hotness
I’ve not walked around this area for around 20 years and I’ve forgotten how dramatic the scenery is. It’s definitely an area I’ll be going back to sooner rather than later.
This was intended to be a relaxed and laid-back trip but the extremely hot heat of the day meant we need to take more rest stops that normal. This was A Good Thing, I don’t do heat at the best of times and the stops were welcome.
I was a bit surprised (pleasantly so) to find that many of the stiles in this area are identified with their map reference – very useful for navigation in poor visibility:
P1020315 Laura, Mike & Judith at the Cadair Idris trig point.
We were all running low on water and we were keeping our eyes open for running water. It didn’t help that we were walking high on a ridge and any running water would likely be much lower down the hill side. A small bubbly spring was found – running with crystal clear water, it was wonderful! We drank our fill and then filled up our water carriers – our next quarry was a nice bit of flat ground for our overnight stop.
About 800m east of Carnedd Lwyd a suitable camping spot was found. It was a little breezy but absolutely fine. Within a few minutes the area had been transformed into a village of tents:
The evening wasn’t without it’s moments: A naked man, surprisingly clean, was seen lurking around the tents, The Pieman attempted to burn his new Akto down, someone was seen licking clean the inside of her rucksack…..there was probably more. All very odd.
Anyway, back to the plot: We were still high up and so had the benefit of tremendous views over Barmouth Bay and much of Snowdonia:
Some of us stayed up late (9.50pm!) to watch the sunset:
P1020352The cloud formations were unusual, a bit swirly in places….I should have twigged that this was an omen.
By 10pm it was a bit breezierer (that’s Timperley dialect by the way), nothing to worry about – I was in my Akto anyway. I zipped up the tent and was zonked out within not a lot of time at all. I stayed that way until, er, around midnight. So I got at least 2 hours sleep.

Day 4, The Great Wind and and the walk back to Barmouth

I woke to a slap in the face – it was the tent inner flapping around in the wind. I later learned that Laura in the tent next door spent most of the night sitting up in her tent trying (successfully) to stop it from flying away.
All was okay with my tent but it was clear that the wind was strengthening – it didn’t help that we were pitched on an exposed ridge. At 2am I plotted an escape route off the ridge and packed as much of my stuff as possible into my rucksack. Then I tried to go to back to sleep. The BBC World Service helped by keeping much of the racket of the howling wind from my delicate ears.
At 4am I popped my head out of my tent to see a light on in Dawn’s tent, I didn’t know it at the time but she was struggling too – a tent peg or two had popped out and her shelter had lost some stability.
At 6am I heard voices outside my tent but the BBC meant that I couldn’t tell what they were saying. I made my breakfast, had a couple of mugs of coffee and then decided to have a look outside. It was a bit of a shock to see everyone’s tent being packed away. The buggers were going to leave me, I’m sure of it! 
Mike’s original Plan was to continue along the ridge but it was decided to escape the ridge as quickly and directly as possible.
Our party left the ridge at around 6.45am and headed down to a sheepfold where those who hadn’t eaten could have their breakfast – that was everyone apart from me!
P1020359 Dawn, with Judith behind
Breakfast Stop No1
The lower we got, the less strong the wind became. It wasn’t long before our warm layers were packed away and we made our way to Breakfast Stop No2 at Llynnau Gregennen:
Unfortunately we’d lost Mike by this time, he went off to bag a hilly, humpy thing. He got a bit lost too.
P1020370 Back towards Barmouth
Crossing the slab bridge over the Afon Arthog close to Llys Bradwen
Then before we knew it we were back in Barmouth….and very welcome ice creams and cold drinks.
We’d had a good few days that didn’t go quite to plan, but what the hell – it was fun. I’ll probably go back follow the intended route at some time, hopefully it will be a bit cooler and nowhere near as windy.

More photos here

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Sunday 27th July 2014, Ribble Roaming

A bit out of order: A 20(ish) mile LDWA walk

This is ‘A bit out of order’, not because of a disorderly walk, but ‘cos there are earlier things, waiting in the background, that should I have written up first…..but you know how it is. Worralot of commas in that sentence.
Ken, our Glorious Walk Leader, has long legs. Very long in fact. So long that I don’t think he does short walks very often… today he coerced a dozen walkers (and a dog from Skipton) on this route wot he had invented.
Being a bit unfit at the moment I thought a bit of a stretch would do me good, so….at 9am we set of from Marle Wood Car Park which is unusual as it’s free. Perhaps Lancashire County Council have forgotten about it.
We walked south towards Copster Green….and then, just for the sake of variety I imagine, we walked north (ish) to cross the River Ribble close to Dinkley Hall, a Grade 2 listed building.
P1020376 Crossing t’Ribble
P1020378 Ken, our Glorious Leader (L) with some of the group. And the doggy from Skipton. 
Ken dragged led us along the river banks of the River Ribble and then the River Hodder. I think the photograph above was taken by the confluence of the two rivers.
P1020380 Cromwell’s Bridge over the River Hodder at SD705392
P1020383The new East Lancs LDWA Walks Secretaries of Distinction: Dave & Alma 
Our lunch stop was overlooking the back of Stonyhurst College, famous for teenage pupils absconding to the Caribbean. And Arthur Conan-Doyle, but I don’t think he absconded. Not to the Caribbean anyway.
P1020385 Lunch
Post lunch Navigation Committee meeting
Next stop was at Hurst Green, home to the very excellent Millie’s Tea Shop that fed and watered me just a couple of weeks ago whilst backpacking the route of next year’s LDWA 100. Sadly we didn’t have time to call into Millie’s, but I did manage to grab a very nice ice cream from the local social club.
The next few miles coincided with the LDWA 100 route and the Ribble Way.
Leaving the Ribble Way to cross the road bridge over the river just the east of Ribchester we continued on the 100 route for a bit longer before a bit of jiggery-pokery delivered us very nicely back to our cars.
Ken’s route was excellent. the company was equally excellent. The weather was quite a bit excellent too. A chap can’t ask for much more, eh?
P1020397  Pendle Hill from just beyond the road bridge at Ribchester

Where we jolly-well went:


19-20 miles

More photographs here.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Thursday 10th July 2014, LDWA Red Rose 100 recce, Day 5

Chipping to Mellor Brook

Chipping starting stirring at around 5am – dog walkers, agricultural stuff and so on. My tent was absolutely wet through after yet another clear and still night. I draped it over a wall in some warm sunshine to dry – it didn’t take too long being as wot the sun was hot, even at this early hour.
P1020214My pitch around the back of Chipping village Hall, Checkpoint 10, 68 miles
I was aware that I probably wasn’t drinking enough on this trip…we all know the signs, eh? I filled my 2 litre Platy water carrier and promised myself that I’d make a concerted effort to drink more that day.
P1020215 The mist appeared within a couple of minutes – caused by the hot heat?
Chipping’s public bog had a plentiful supply of hot water and I managed another top-to-toe wash down before setting off on the next leg of the recce at around 7am.
P1020213 P1020216
Chipping’s tractors
Crossing the grassy fields to the south of Town End was a bit tedious – it wasn’t terribly easy to navigate. Navigating through farm fields isn’t always easy, there are often missing or worse, moved signposts. Blocked stiles, often hidden by overgrown undergrowth just adds to the problem.
I would imagine (and hope!) that at the end of May 2015, when the event takes place, the overgrown triffidness won’t have grown too much and that signs and stiles will be easier to locate.
My feet were wet through within minutes, the dew-laden grass combined with seriously un-waterproof (and almost new) Goretex-lined North Face Hedgehog XCR shoes. A fairly major kit-failure methinks.
P1020219 Lancashire welcomes you!
It was an ‘interesting’ footpath that headed away from Thornley Hall at SD632412 – it was actually a running stream at the time. Having sploshed through in my wet footwear I thought my troubles were over…oh no!
Another ‘footpath’ running from SD633410 to SD626404 was a complete jungle of boggy bits and overgrown nastiness. I imagine the overgrownedness may not be a problem in May, but I would expect the boggy bits to be boggier.
Giles wasn’t too easy to get through, although reading the Route Description just might have helped me. Koff. The gated exit from Giles is very easy to walk right past – I suspect that there may be a few folk wandering off through the private grounds on the event itself. Just like wot I did.
It’s a horrible climb out of Giles up to the road near Myers’s Farm – at least that’s what my notes say. There is bog, ill-defined footpaths and considerable overgrownedness. Oh, and it’s an uphill up. I was glowing by the time I got to the road….all hot, sweaty and a bit mithered.
By this time stomachly noises reminded my that I’d not had my breakfast and I needed to stop to rest, eat and drink. And perhaps locate an ice-cream van.
There wasn’t an ice-cream van but there was a nice grassy bit on the road by Longridge Fell. It was very hot indeed by now and I decided to sit out the next hour and a half or so. My backpacking towel protect my delicate skin from the worst of the sun’s ravages, and that same sun dried my feet, shoes and socks. 
Longridge Fell 
Longridge Fell was very popular with Hang Gliders that day – the were loads whizzing around he skies. I don’t know why, but I didn’t take any photos. I should have done, some of the aerobatics were lovely to watch.
My next navigational faff was to very effectively miss the section through the grounds of Stoneyhurst College. I put this down to enjoying my walk and not paying attention to where I should be going. This was really a major error on my part, it’s a spectacular establishment and really shouldn’t be missed.
P1020224 Hurst Green Memorial Hall, Checkpoint 11, 76 miles.
Hurst Green Checkpoint 11 at the Memorial Hall (76 miles) was next.
I should point out here that the mileages I quote alongside the Checkpoint number refer to the distance into the actual 100 route, and NOT my mileage covered. My mileage was different ‘cos of the unique and quite interesting (to me) method of finding my way around. Or not.

Wonderful Tea Shop Warning:

The checkpoint was quickly followed by another extended stop at a very wonderful tea shop, Millie’s in Hurst Green. It was friendly and welcoming and provided all I needed for the next leg of my walk. I must confess to spending an hour and a half just chilling – quite literally.
What a difference to the unpleasant atmosphere of Puddleducks in Dunsop Bridge.

End of Warning.

Leaving Hurst Green in the very hot heat I walked south to pick up the Ribble Way. There was no wind and the sun was burningly hot, this all made for difficult walking. don’t worry though, by next May it will be cold and wet!
Locating the Ribble Way wasn’t too difficult but walking along it wasn’t so easy, main problems were overgrownedness and hidden stiles and signposts. Nowt new there then!
I needed to leave the route to pick up food and stuff so I diverted to Ribchester’s Spar for ice cream, electrolyte drink, more ice cream and some food.
P1020226 Bridge over the Ribble at Ribchester
The final stretch of the day into Mellor Brook presented a few access problems. I was getting the idea that this part of Lancashire didn’t welcome walkers on it’s paths:
P1020228 Footpath from nowhere
P1020229 Oh no sirr, I don’t of any path going thataway
P1020230 Broken footpath sign
Triffid-laden stiles
Eventually I arrived in Mellor Brook and found Mellor Brook Community Centre, location of Checkpoint 12 at 89 miles into the 100 route:
Checkpoint 12, 89 miles
After locating the pub and shifting a few pints of rather good ale I nipped into the bogs for a wash down before heading out of the village to sort a quiet spot for my tent. This was far easier than I expected, within 5 minutes I found a field that was completely shielded by a tall hedge. Half an hour later I drifted off to sleep to the sound of Radio 4 in my right ear ‘ole….not before taking a piccy of the sunset from my tent:

Wot I did:


19+ miles of hotness.

With this much up and downery:

image That high bit is Longridge Fell
This was really quite a tough day – mainly down to the high temperature and having to deal with obstructions on the route. It wasn’t helped by the fact I was a bit tired and was carrying 20lbs+ on my back!

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