Sunday, 7 September 2014

Longsleddale – 06 September

There is still something a slightly wonderful about consulting one of Wainwright’s volumes for advice on unfamiliar ground, all the more so when you find you have been there before but it was so long ago that all recollections have slipped away entirely. My handwritten notes recorded we had climbed Grey Crag from Sadgill on August 4th, 1999. Then we bypassed our first target of today, Great Howe. This marks the probably stuttering start of a campaign to complete our third round of Wainwright’s High Fells, first round of Wainwright’s Outlying Fells, first round of the FRCC Lakeland Fells and our first round of the Birketts. The rounds overlap as you might expect although some of Wainwright’s Outlyers are found on no other lists but otherwise most summits should be worth more than one ‘tick’.

Today’s Birkett targets are Great Howe, Little Harter Fell and Goat Scar and today’s Wainwright’s Third Round targets are Tarn Crag and Grey Crag. The round for today is Great Howe, Grey Crag, Tarn Crag, Branstree, Adam Seat, Little Harter Fell, Harter Fell, Kentmere Pike, Goat Scar, Shipman Knotts and back to Sadgill. It is also a “not too committing” test for my right knee which is somewhat more fragile than usual.


20140906_001_longsleddale-2-EditLooking up Longsleddale from Great Howe

20140906_002_longsleddale-5-EditSurvey Pillar on Tarn Crag

20140906_004_longsleddale-14-EditStile and fence on Branstree

20140906_003_longsleddale-13-EditStile and fence on Branstree (II)

20140906_005_longsleddale-21-EditWool on fence post

20140906_006_longsleddale-22-EditWool and rain drops on fence

20140906_007_longsleddale-24-EditMardale from Little Harter Fell

20140906_008_longsleddale-33-EditReflection on Shipman Knotts

All the desired ticks were gained and my knee stood up to the not too demanding rigours of the day which was quite pleasing because I have been resting it for a week now.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Pic de l’Homme – 04 August

Pic de ‘'l’Homme stands high above Lac d’Aygue Longue at the head of a long valley south of Ax-les-Thermes. Gary & Debbie had shown us photos of the ridges and the lake and highly recommended it as a summit on a circular route from the end of the track up the valley. Almost as soon as we got out of the car the low clouds were chasing us up the valley. Our initial optimism was replaced with doubt and then it seemed as though this would be another day when the unseasonable weather would get the better of us.

20140804_001_Pyrenees2014-734-EditThe end of the track and the start of the race with the low clouds

20140804_003_Pyrenees2014-764-EditLooking up the valley towards the lake

20140804_002_Pyrenees2014-753-EditLooking up the valley towards the lake


20140804_004_Pyrenees2014-765-EditLooking back down the valley towards Ax

Eventually we climbed out of the clouds into sunshine and looked back over a huge inversion. The peaks and ridges above us we all clear and all we had to be wary of was the afternoon storm although that seemed a long way away. The clouds high above us and below us seemed stable and it looked like it might stay like this for the rest of the day.


20140804_005_Pyrenees2014-794-EditLac d’Aygue Longue

By the time we reached the lake along with another two pairs of walkers the clouds above were building and darkening. All 6 seemed uncertain about continuing but all decided to do so, seemingly in the knowledge that turning round would always be an option. Almost as soon as we set off for the Col de la Parade the cloud started moving up from the valley and we were engulfed again.


20140804_006_untitled-802Lac d’Aygue Longue with the clouds drifting in

20140804_007_Pyrenees2014-811-EditLooking back down to Lac d’Aygue Longue after the clouds cleared

20140804_008_Pyrenees2014-820-EditLooking south east from Col de la Parade

20140804_009_Pyrenees2014-825-EditSouth east to the Pic d’Esquine d’Ase

20140804_010_Pyrenees2014-851-EditPic de l’Homme with the inversion filling the valley

20140804_011_Pyrenees2014-854-EditLooking south west to the lower of the two summits

Again we were able to climb out of the inversion to enjoy the spectacular views in warm sunshine. These conditions were much more than we could have hoped for and a day that threatened to be a cloudy disappointment turned into a spectacular one.

Monday, 1 September 2014

Col de Paillères –05 & 06 August

Thwarted by low clouds that gently drifted around the col and never threatened to lift high enough to allow us to see the nearby summits we gave up and went to Foix for the day.

05 August





The following day the weather was much improved and despite this being in the opposite direction to Toulouse (where we were headed) there was time to come back and have another look. This was almost as frustrating as the day before when we had time but not the weather for the hills because now we had the weather but not the time. Ah well, just have to come back another time.

06 August









Friday, 29 August 2014


Pyrenees-Haven, Gary & Debbie’s Guest House is in Perles just outside Ax-les-Thermes in the heart of the Ariege. Perles is a tiny hamlet about as far removed from a tourist honey-pot as it is possible to get – this is rural, south west France at its best.

20140731_003_Pyrenees2014-17-EditLooking south east towards Ax and the mountains



20140731_004_Pyrenees2014-23-EditCemetery 1


20140731_005_Pyrenees2014-29-EditCemetery 2


20140731_006_Pyrenees2014-31-EditCemetery 3


20140731_007_Pyrenees2014-42-EditLooking into Perles from the south east


20140731_008_Pyrenees2014-54-EditOne of the ways out of the village


20140731_009_Pyrenees2014-70-EditNo surprise to find running shoes drying in the sun

20140802_010_Pyrenees2014-369-EditRailway line from Ax



Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Andorra Hill Race – 03 August

This was the reason for the visit to Andorra – Gary was going to race, we were going to take some photos and enjoy the sunshine. The plan seemed straightforward until the race (the long race – there was also a short race and a fun run) start was brought forward by two hours so that everyone would be down off the hills before the lunchtime storms arrived. This meant the race would start before we could, realistically, get there given that Gary didn’t finish work until about nine o’clock the previous evening. We all went anyway and the storms didn’t arrive until very much later.

20140803_001_untitled-469The Long Race Winner

20140803_002_untitled-483The Long Race Runner Up – Rob Jebb

20140803_003_untitled-496Rob, Gary and Brice

20140803_001_untitled-504Rob, Sharon & family

20140803_005_untitled-506It isn’t only in Cumbria that runner cool down in the river



20140803_004_untitled-499The finish area

Foix – 05 August

A morning marked by low clouds that settled comfortably on all the cols above Ax-les-Thermes and so we headed up the valley to Foix, away from the hills and into sunshine. We started in the market, toured the chateau and finished in a quite splendid pub, the Grand Cafe Gros.