Sunday, 31 May 2015

Monadh Mor via Tom Dubh - 27 May

This was always going to be speculative - it isn't possible in Glen Feshie to tell what the weather is going to be like on the plateau above - but it was worth a look at, even if we were forced to bail out along the way.

A new, superbly graded path provides easy, fast access to the clag and strong winds above. The large tracks enable easy navigation for the first part of the route but when they stop it really is a different world.

Tom Dubh is an insignificant little summit but it provides a positive location and we were happy to find the summit in near zero visibility. Finding Monadh Mor was only slightly easier now but the easiest route to the summit was blocked by a snow field which disappeared into the clouds above. Wishing to avoid a steep snow field we wandered upstream along the outflow from Loch nan Stuirteag, wishing to avoid crossing a calf deep, freezing cold river didn't do any good - it still had to be crossed and re-crossed on the descent.

River crossing done and all that is left is the final slog over the boulder fields in the low cloud. Eventually a cairn looms out of the gloom and we are there. The strong, cold wind discourages lingering and so, without delay, we start to retrace our steps to Glen Feshie.

Looking back to Sgor Gaoith

Another snowfield

Pauline on the last snowfield before Tom Dubh

Looking back to Sgor Gaoith

Craig Meagaidh, Stob Poite Coire Ardair & Carn Liath - 26th May

Reversing the 'normal' descent route (which takes a bit of finding) enabled us to avoid snow-packed climb through The Window to Creag Meagaidh. A clockwise circuit also put the wind behind us all along the ridge. This may miss the views of the impressive cliffs at the head of Coire Ardair but walking into a 35mph wind driving rain/sleet/snow into your face is a taste I have yet to acquire.

We reached the approach to the summit at the same time as the clouds dropped and snow blew in. Visibility was so poor we were unable to find Paddy's Cairn despite passing within a few yards of it as we headed towards the summit of Creag Meagaidh. Once there the clouds thinned enough for Paddy's Cairn to appear out of the gloom and we escaped to the top of The Window. 

The long grassy descent from Stob Poite Coire Ardair to Carn Liath was a pleasure with the wind blowing us along. The clouds stayed low on Creag Meagaidh concealing much of the grandeur of the location - perhaps this is one to come back to?

Pauline on the lower slopes of Creag Meagiadh

Loch Laggan

Getting ready for the final pull to the summit

Puist Coire Ardair

Keith & Pauline climbing Puist Coire Ardair

Looking back across Loch Laggan

Towards Creag Meagaidh summit
Lochan a Choire

Cornices beyond Puist Coire Ardair

Beinn a Chaorainn & Beinn Teallach - 25 May

After finding The Window below Creag Meagaidh we headed further west to Beinn a Chaorainn and Beinn Teallach. One is a big slog and the other not quite so big but after a potentially awkward bog. The three summits of Beinn a Chaorainn are more than adequate reward for the slog while the descent from Beinn Teallach has fine views south to Loch Trieg and the hills either side. A pair of uninteresting looking hills actually provide a very rewarding day out. 

Climbing Beinn a Chaorainn

 Beinn a Chaorainn second and third summits

Beinn a Chaorainn first summit

Highest snowfield on Beinn Teallach

Loch Treig from Beinn Teallach

Descending Beinn Teallach with Loch Treig in the distance

Saturday, 30 May 2015

Sgor Gaoith - 24 May

Two years ago we climbed out of Glen Feshie with every intention of traversing the high ridge north to Sgor Gaoith but poor weather and zero visibility persuaded us to save it for another day. This is to be the “other day” despite the forecast which isn’t particularly promising. The weather looks pretty stable for the week; wind around 30 mph, temperatures ~4C., wind chill about –3C, visibility should be good to zero – typical summer in the Cairngorms!

A long pathless slog to Geal-Charn is followed by easy walking to the summit of Sgor Gaoith which we watched appearing and disappearing as the heavy clouds sped across the Cairngorm plateau. The summit remained clear long enough to tempt us to continue south to Carn Ban Mor before descending to Glen Feshie. This was a piece of wicked humour because as soon as we were committed, the clouds blew in again bringing a second snow/hail shower.

Keith and Pauline approaching Sgor Gaoith summit

South west over Loch Einich

North west over Loch Einich

North west over Loch Einich


South over Loch Einich towards Monadh Mor

Summit of Sgor Gaoith

Cornices to the south of the summit

Scots Pines in Glen Feshie

Scots Pines in Glen Feshie (2)

Glen Feshie

Monday, 18 May 2015

Grasmere Parish Boundary – 16 May

The second in an occasional series of Parish Boundary walk – the first was about 7 years ago we won’t be waiting another 7 before the next one. Amongst the books A Wainwright published is a large coffee table one entitled “Westmorland Heritage” in which he describes his beloved county as it was in March 1974. He describes it parish by parish and in doing so identifies the boundaries and produces another list. The Grasmere parish boundary crosses the A591 near White Moss car park and then takes a more or less direct line to High Nab which is for all intents and purposes impossible to follow. The north west corner is close to Sergeant Man and it would seem a pity not to visit both Sergeant Man and High Raise, so we did. The “we” this time is a party of 6 plus Dylan from The Rucksack Club.

Starting at Dunmail Raise and over Steel Fell to High Raise and then Sergeant Man to reach the rarely visited ridge running to Silver How.


20150516_001_GPB-117Looking back across Dunmail Raise

20150516_002_GPB-126Towards Blea Rigg and Silver How with Windermere in the distance

20150516_003_GPB-127Towards the Coniston Fells with a glimpse of Stickle Tarn

Beyond Silver How, in contrast with the rest of the ridge Loughrigg Terrace is very busy but it gets us to the A591 crossing. Thereafter we use Dunney Beck to provide a way of gaining the ridge on the west side of the Fairfield Horseshoe just below Heron Pike.

20150516_005_GPB-149Helm Crag with Easdale Tarn and much more beyond

Now the route is straightforward – Heron Pike and Great Rigg to Fairfield then back to Dunmail Raise over Seat Sandal.

20150516_006_GPB-157Dylan watching Andy descend to Grisedale Tarn

20150516_007_GPB-159Coming off Seat Sandal looking north to Skiddaw

A grand day out. Not, perhaps, on the scale of the Old County Tops whose front runners we saw from High Raise as they approached Greenup Edge but 17 miles with 6000 feet of climbing in an unusual circuit around Grasmere.

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Andy’s BGR Leg 5 – 10 May

On Friday night Andy decided to delay his midnight start by three hours, or so, to let the worst of the weather clear out which meant a later than usual departure from Honister for the last leg. Drifting a little from his revised schedule caused some concern for those of us with nothing to do other than wait at the slate mine. Somewhat ironically this concern wasn’t shared by the rest of the interested world who were able to follow his progress on Live Tracker.

20150509_001_AF_BGR-50No signal – no Live Tracker!

20150509_002_AF_BGR-51He is up there somewhere

Behind schedule but with time in hand the drag up Dale Head must have seemed endless even although we were recovering lost time. This continued over Hindscarth and Robinson so that by Chapel Bridge all doubts had gone and the only thing remaining was to enjoy the steady jog back to Keswick. A real privilege to be with you this morning on the way back to Keswick Andy, thanks for the invite!


20150510_004_AF_BGR-26Congratulations from the local Police too

20150510_003_AF_BGR-24Welcome to the Club, Andy Ford !

Monday, 4 May 2015

The Best of the Lakeland 3000s – 02 May

The title doesn’t refer to the weather but rather to a version of the route which, albeit an incomplete circuit, avoids the road sections – at least, that was the plan. After an early breakfast in the Salving House a small FRCC group set off for Scafell via the Corridor Route and the West Wall Traverse.

20150502_001_lakes3000s-1-EditSteak Breakfast almost done



20150502_002_lakes3000s-2-Edit-2Base Brown catching the morning sun

20150502_003_lakes3000s-4-EditSty Head Tarn with Lingmell and the Scafells beyond


The fells provided welcome shelter from the bitter wind as we made our way below Scafell Pike to the foot of Lord’s Rake where the clock went back a season or more. Pauline’s blog “Out & About” has some photos in the West Wall Traverse. From there we emerged into winter on Sca Fell and, without lingering, descended to Foxes Tarn.

20150502_004_lakes3000s-9-EditScafell Pike with Sca Fell beyond

20150502_005_lakes3000s-10-EditSca Fell

From Scafell Pike to Esk Hause, Stake Pass and Greenup Edge to Steel End car park where Helen was waiting for us with food and warm drinks. Here Pauline withdrew and four of us prepared for Helvellyn. The plan had been to avoid the road sections and the long drag down Borrowdale had been avoided by starting from Seathwaite and finishing in Keswick while the road to Keswick would be avoided by traversing the Dodds, according to the plan. The weather, however, determined that wasn’t to be. Almost immediately after meeting Nicky Spinks, below Rossett Pike on an OCT recce, the rain showers more or less joined together to provide much more constant rain which would be falling as snow higher up, and it was.

The decision to come off Helvellyn to Thirlspot was the right one despite it leaving the road to Keswick as the only option. Helen & Pauline met us here and Gerard decided that was enough excitement for one day so Julian, Phil and I set off along the road to prepare from Skiddaw. After a final support stop in Keswick we started the fourth of the “4 Threes”. Little could have prepared us for the fell top conditions that weren’t even hinted at as we passed through the last gate before the summit. The rain, after reverting to showers, was falling as snow or hail and being driven, in sub-zero temperatures, by a 40-50 mph ferocious wind. The cold was so intense I watched ice forming on my gloves and walking poles. As soon as the summit was reached we turned and descended to Keswick where Helen, Pauline and Gerard were waiting for us.

Thanks to Helen for the road support, to Phil for organising the Meet, to Julian and Gerard for the company and to Pauline, of course, but especially for the photos in the West Wall Traverse.

A proper day out!