Sunday, 28 November 2010

Helvellyn – 27 Nov

With expectations of high clouds clearing out by lunchtime to leave bright blue skies we arrived at Dunmail Raise early enough to catch the first of the sunshine as it crept over the high ridges.

HR-001Helm Crag above Grasmere

The first climb up Seat Sandal suggested we were probably going to do less than we planned; the frozen turf was fine but the snow drifts, although usually not more than ankle deep, more progress more difficult and suggested descending might be entertaining.


HR-002South west from Seat Sandal with the Coniston Fells in the distance

The descent, by any route towards Helvellyn, from Fairfield would have been difficult so we turned north for Nethermost Pike and the Helvellyn ridge.


HR-003Fairfield to the left of Grisedale Tarn


HR-004North west from “The Post” below Nethermost Pike’s summit

Two more summits and we would reach Helvellyn but before we did, we found the weather hadn’t read the forecast and instead of the clearing out the cloud base was dropping and with it the temperature. Thick clouds were pouring on from the north east.


HR-005Pauline and the Trig Point on Helvellyn

By the col between Helvellyn Lower Man and Whiteside it was apparent we were unlikely to see any improvement in the visibility unless we were able to either stay below or get above the band of cloud forming on the ridge.

HR-006Thirlmere Reservoir appears through a break in the clouds.


HR-007Brown Cove Crags and the end of Thirlmere Reservoir 

Briefly we dropped off the ridge out of the clouds and below the worst of the wind and saw two skiers slaloming down the fellside below us. You may be able to see two ‘specs’ in the lower right hand corner of the above photo; the ‘specs’ are the two skiers, one of whom it turned out, is a friend we met skiing on Winter Hill on Christmas Day. With the best of the weather behind us we turned and headed south over Helvellyn and back, eventually, to Dunmail Raise.

HR-008Nethermost Pike summit rocks

HR-009South east from Nethermost Pike

HR-010Pauline about to descend from below “The Post” on Dollywagon Pike with Steel Fell beyond

HR-011Raise Beck


Google Earth Route: Download

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Wansfell – 20 Nov

With a weekend in Troutbeck for the Kendal Mountain Festival came the opportunity for an early morning run over Wansfell with Colin and Sam, his new three year old trail hound. Cold and frosty when we set off and simply glorious when we reached the ridge.

The KMF exceeded expectations and remains a world class gathering of mountaineers. We went to see the Pou Brothers, a pair of amazing Catalan climbers describing the highlights of their last seven years adventures.

Troutbeck-007The Pou Brothers

Describing his biking and climbing tour “Cycling The Americas”, and more besides, Mark Beaumont was excellent. With plenty of anecdotes, previously unseen footage and plenty of background into the planning and execution of long slow expeditions, he is a highly articulate, down to earth guy.

Finally we saw Kenton Cool introduce Peter Habeler. Kenton could barely contain himself during the introduction and Habeler then just chatted to us, explaining how much fun he had had in the mountains at the other end of the rope from very many great climbers, as though he had been there only to make up the numbers. Clearly he wasn’t only there just to make up the numbers on the first oxygen less ascent of Everest with Reinhold Messner in 1978, or anywhere else. An enthralled audience enjoyed every minute of this very modest, unassuming man’s presentation and it was a privilege to be there.


Peter Habeler and Kenton Cool


South over Windermere


Promise of sunshine


North west over the rest of the Lake District with Ambleside below


Windermere again, still below the inversion


Another early riser enjoying the sunshine


North along Wansfell with Red Screes in the distance (on the left)

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Darwen Tower – 13 Nov

While we were running over Winter Hill on Thursday night in near gale force winds the worst of the weather was saving itself for nearby Darwen Moor. There, high over the town of Darwen on Beacon Hill, stands a Victorian Tower open in 1898 to commemorate Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee and also to celebrate the victory of the local people for the right to access the moor. It was opened to the public on 22 September 1898.

Darwen Tower-100Darwen Tower – June 2009

According to the Lancashire Telegraph the wind was gusting to over 80 mph and one of the gusts removed the top of the tower. This seemed like a perfect excuse for a long run on Saturday over Winter Hill to Darwen and back over Great Hill.

Darwen Tower-001Pool in Chinese Gardens, Rivington

Water should, perhaps, have been the theme for the day because so much rain had fallen in recent days that the ground is saturated – saturated where it isn’t simply flooded.

Darwen Tower-002Looking down to Horwich with an impromptu stream on the right

Beyond Winter Hill the weather started to look a bit more threatening but before a fierce shower of hail stones produced huge rainbows.

Darwen Tower-003Rainbow

Darwen Tower-004Double Rainbow

Darwen Tower-005Looking over Blackburn from the top of Darwen Tower

Darwen Tower-200Darwen Tower – November 2010

Crossing Great Hill reveals the extensive moorland leading to a panorama of the Lancashire Plain, north Wales and the mountains of Snowdonia but yesterday wasn’t quite clear enough to see that far.

Darwen Tower-006

Further down the track, originally a mule track leads to the village of White Coppice with its idyllically located cricket ground and the white painted cottages overlooking it.


Darwen Tower-007 White Coppice Cricket Club

Darwen Tower-008Dean Black Brook at White Coppice

Darwen Tower-009Cascade from Yarrow Reservoir (which is almost always dry)

Yarrow Reservoir Cascades

Just shows how much I have to learn about shooting movies!

Finally, by way of an experiment, a Google Earth version of the route is attached below.

Darwen Tower Route download

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Sabden – Stan’s Cabin – 02 Oct

Earlier in the year we visited the “Hidden Valley” below Pendle Hill, in very poor weather, to recce a route and to find the grave of Jeppe The Knave. We did little more on that day, saving the remainder of the route for better weather. Better weather we couldn’t have had than that provided last Saturday when Pauline led her first Rucksack Club walk. In glorious bright, if not warm, sunshine we left Whalley on way to Jeppe’s grave and beyond.

Sabden-001Leaving Whalley (i)

Sabden-002Leaving Whalley (ii)

Sabden-003South towards Winter Hill

We found Jeppe’s grave and the Trig Point above it on Wiswell Moor as well as the other three Trigs on the route around Sabden on day when conditions were so good there could be no excuse for getting lost, at all, in complete contrast to most of our more recent visits to this part of Lancashire.

Sabden-004Churn Clough Reservoir

Sabden-006Pond at Sabden Fold farm

Pauline thought the four Trig Points would provide a framework for the route and that Jeppe The Knave’s grave would provide something a little unusual as well as bit of local history. Pauline wasn’t wrong on either count and then one day last week I realised we would pass another site of historical significance. En route to the second Trig Point on Stang Top Moor we would walk passed White Hough Outdoor Centre where, 40 years ago this year, the Fell Runners Association was founded.

Little did we know that we would also pass and, indeed, had passed on any number of occasions another spot with a very strong link to fell running. Making way along the maze of footpaths to Stand Top Moor we approached a green painted hut, named “Stans Cabin”.

Sabden-005 Stan’s Cabin – 1935

As we neared the cabin John Richardson revealed the “Stan” to whom the cabin had belonged was none other than the late Stan Bradshaw, a legendary fell runner and former member of both Clayton Harriers and the Rucksack Club. This was his outdoor base for long runs over the local, and not so local, hills and it probably isn’t possible to overstate Stan’s contribution to fell running. The Times obituary refers to him as the “father figure of fell running” while the Lancashire Telegraph provides a few more local details.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Mallorca – Port de Soller Sunsets

This year was our seventh and, probably, final visit to Mallorca, at least for while, and so it seems fitting to post some sunsets and big skies in Port de Soller from this year.












Mallorca, thanks for the memories!

Mallorca – 2010 Miscellany

MMisc-023Monastery at Lluc

M_2010_mountains-023on Puig de Massanella

M_2010_mountains-024near Font des Noguer

MMisc-020Roman bath at Biniaraix

MMisc-021Dog on the wall of the house “Can Silles”

MMisc-022Fishing in the harbour at Port de Soller

Mallorca – Puig de Massanella

The  Puig de Massanella is the highest accessible peak in Mallorca as much of Puig Major is closed by the military. Its height and location combine to provide outstanding views or so we have read in a number of guide books. Two previous visits had failed to provide any evidence of the views , the summits be cloaked in low clouds on both occasions and on the latter attempt we narrowly lost a race against incoming low clouds. As in 2007 and 2008 we preferred the long route in from Font des Noguer near Cuber but this time we chose a day in a period of stable weather and a day free from clouds.

M_2010_mountains-020Puig de Massanella – highest two summits from the third

M_2010_mountains-021Pauline (in blue top) joining part of the crowd on the summit with Puig Major on the right

M_2010_mountains-022North east over Puig Tomir with Formetor peninsula and Alcudia in the distance

We can now testify to the grandeur of the views from the summit and offer a little of the evidence we gathered. While you could remind us that the Cicerone Guide specifically suggests choosing a fine clear day I think we will be happy to keep our memories of the lost race against the clouds the last time and bewilderment of wandering in serious clag between the two lower summits unable to find the third and highest on our first visit.

M_2010_mountains-025Towards Palma from Sa Gubia

Sa Gubia lies west of Bunyanola and provides some of the best rock climbing in the area. A mirador in memory of Leandro Ximenis, a well-known Mallorquin mountaineer, was erected on its summit in 1958 and provides panoramic views in all directions. This was our final hill of 2010, a gentle stroll before lunch and the flight back to winter in Manchester.

M_2010_mountains-026on Sa Gubia