Saturday, 29 January 2011

Best of 2010 Part Two - Three Peaks of Yorkshire

And so we carry on with the best of last year's expeditions. I did the Yorkshire Three Peaks after a strenuous week in the Lake District with crag rat Rainer and my better half Claire, so I went into this 25 mile jaunt with blisters all over my feet to start with - not ideal circumstances I'm sure you'll agree. We were a larger party as we were walking with most of Claire's work colleagues, so we met up near Ribblehead railway startion before heading over to Horton-in-Ribblesdale to clock in for the start of the walk.

the team at the start - still smiling

Well, maps, compasses and route planning was completely superfluous, as we had picked the wrong weekend to do the challege - the same weekend as the thousand or so that were walking for charity for the British Heart Foundation. No chance of getting lost - simply follow the crowds.
So off we headed towards Pen-Y-Ghent, and it was like being in a supermarket queue when you got to any gates and stiles, waiting your turn. Fortunately the masses started to string out on the way up the first peak and so we were more or less able to walk at our own pace.

Pen-Y-Ghent was a steep start. The going got tough towards the top of the Peak, but with views opening up it was worthwhile and it was a lovely hill to be going up. We made it to the trig point with a brief stop for a cereal bar, but the stop was short as it was windy and crowded funnily enough.

By this point the crowds had thinned out a lot so our progress was unhindered. We were also very lucky to be doing the walk after a week or so of dry weather - the much anticipated bogs that lie between Pen-Y-Ghent and Ribblehead were very dry and the ground springy underfoot. It was a long trudge though, and easily the longest section of the walk. I found the road hard to walk on after the soft peat, but he had a mile or so of tarmac before we got back to Ribblehead station and our support team with the sarnies and drinks, lovely. It was a great setting to have a quick picnic, but knowing how much we had ahead of us, there was no time to rest.

the Ribblehead viaduct still far away, Whernside rising behind

look no bog!
The next section was another long one (funny that, on a walk like this), following the rail and river along to reach the foot of Whernside. It was very pleasant walking alongside the historic rail viaduct and it made you almost forget the blisters on your feet! Part way up Whernside we were greeted with the tragic sight of a fellow Three Peaker who had suffered a heart attack - mountain rescue were at the scene, but sadly they were unable to resuscitate the victim. It was a sobering moment.

looking across to Ingleborough
Onwards we went trudging along the gradual gradient that is Whernside, not the most thrilling of hills it has to be said. We made it to the flat ridge that makes up the top, and carried right on without really stopping. The stretch back down was definitely no highlight, as the path was quite rough in places and steep going, meaning that you half slipped half stumbled down the rocks to the farm that was at the bottom.

The unprepared had to splash out for snacks and drinks right there, we had our faithful support team waiting with our goodies, perfect! Then we headed up towards Ingleborough, and it's amazingly steep "steps" up to the summit plateau. Rainer and my tactic came in to good use - don't look up, just keep looking at your feet, and sooner or later the ground will level out. The walk to the summit cairns was a breeze and the views from Ingleborough were fantastic - right across Morecambe Bay and with the Coniston Fells visible in the distance.

me and Rainer after the steep "ladder"

enjoying the view
All that remained was to head back over to Horton-in-Ribblesdale, but this was when exhaustion was setting in, not made any easier by walking on the limestone pavements. Eventually we made it, and clocked out at just over 11 hours. I think those pints at the pub afterwards were more than well deserved!

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Best of 2010 Part One - Loughrigg & Silver How

Roseberry Topping was a bit of a one-off - the walking season hasn't officially started for us yet.
To bridge the gap between posts I am going through my old photos to bring you a couple of highlights from 2010.
I will start off with the most important walk of the year - one that I did with an engagement ring for Claire burning a hole in my pocket nearly all the way! I finally gave her the ring just outside one of Wordsworth's former residences - Dove Cottage, Grasmere. It may have rained all the way after that but somehow we didn't notice it.

Our route took us from Ambleside up to Loughrigg and then over to Silver How with views of Grasmere and Rydal Water accompanying us all the way. The start of the walk from Ambleside via Rothay Park needs little or no navigational skills:

Its a pleasant enough walk through the park with Loughrigg firmly in sight ahead of you and some good views of the Fairfield horseshoe with leads off to the north.

Following a stretch of road that gets steep very quickly, the road soon gives way to track, although there are still a few very attatracive properties dotted along the way until you reach National Trust land. Again navigation is as easy as you like, with the occasional signpost telling you to follow the wall. By this point you have already gained a fair height and the walking is very pleasant underfoot

Closer to the summit it becomes a mess of paths crossing each other and heading in all direction. There are also a number of summits, including the prominent Ivy Crag which I had mistaken for the summit whilst on a previous walk with my crag rat buddy Rainer. From Ivy Crag you get great views over towards Windermere lake. Ten more minutes of walking are needed to take you to the true summit. It was very windy so we didn't stay there as long as we may have wanted to. We did enjoy this view down to Loughrigg Tarn and the Coniston range in the distance.

Looking westwards we were rewarded with a good view of the Langdale Pikes. I am looking forward to exploring those fells hopefully later this year.

After crossing the summit plateau we headed northwards. At this point I had originally planned for us to simply come back down the north side of Loughrigg and return to Ambleside walking alongside the water, but we had made good time and the weather was still on our side, so we decided to carry on towards another fell, Silver How. We stopped to enjoy the views of Grasmere and surrounding fells.

This was when the weather decided to turn against us, and the occasional drops of rain  quickly became a steady downpour. Not to be outdone, we tested our waterproof jackets, and they did a great job in keeping us, maps and guidebook all dry. No so our cheap and not so cheerful boots, which soaked up as much water, mud and bog as they physically could!  It was a muddy struggle with huge patches of bog at times stretching out ahead of us and no way of carrying on without getting soaked. Having come through the trees and over a few hills we now had Silver How in view ahead of us and what appeared to be a very steep route up there.

The path wasn't too steep once we got there although it involved a lot of very slippery rocks to negociate. The climb was simple enough and all of a sudden we were on the summit. We had a decent view southwards back towards Windermere and around us the fells looked very moody with clouds hugging the summits

wet and happy
We came back down the same route before heading towards Grasmere and more boggy ground to cross - feet soaked through yet again. Just before we got to Grasmere we came across what my nephew would describe as "strange nature" - this magpie harassing a sheep. The sheep would occasionally shake the stubborn bird off but it would hop a short distance away before flying onto the sheep's back again.

We had planned on getting the bus back from Grasmere but the winter timetable had come into effect, which meant we would have had a wait of over an hour. A quick look at the map and we were off again, heading towards Rydal Mount via a path called the Coffin Route. This was a lovely path to walk, and with Claire's new ring fitted perfectly on her finger, the lingering rain didn't manage to dampen any spirits.

We got to Rydal Mount just as the light was fading and in perfect time for the bus back to Ambleside.

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Roseberry at Dawn

As someone who enjoys a lie-in, it wasn't an easy decision to get up before 6 am on a weekend. But that's what i decided to do in order to head over to Roseberry Topping with my mate Stu to check it out with the sun coming up. Unfortunately we got there too soon - we beat the sun! It was too windy on the top so we headed back down sharpish to have a lower level walk, very nice. I was hoping to try out some settings on my camera, and I wasn't too pleased with the darker shots. They all came out very grainy and remined me of pictures off an old mobile phone. But other pictures came out nicely so I have added a couple for you to enjoy.

looking back towards Middlesbrough halfway up Roseberry Topping

And looking up to our goal for the morning

looking eastwards towards the Saltburn and the Tees estuary

and over to the hills of the North York Moors

Stu relaxing in his new summerhouse

a look over towards Captain Cook Monument

Friday, 14 January 2011

German business vocab list

I have recently collected together a lot of business German, so I have made it available on this site as a resource. Click the link at the top of the page or click here.