Winter Camping on Kinder (again)

It’s become a tradition to go winter camping at Woolpacks on Kinder, and this year we managed to pick a properly cold night to do it! We left our car in Hope and hiked up Lose Hill before taking the path round the southern side through Brockett Booth plantation. By this stage it was snowing lightly but with high cloud the views were lovely. Since I’ve never seen the Mam Tor landslide up close, we headed down to there from Hollins Cross, and then climbed Mam Tor, getting there just as the rather cold wind was picking up, and the light was starting to fade. Rather than hang about in the cold, we headed back down the ridge to Hollins Cross and then dropped down to Edale for dinner at The Old Nag’s Head.

Rachel points out the Mam Tor landslide.
Rachel points out the Mam Tor landslide.

After a pleasant dinner, a couple of pints, and the chance to warm up, we went outside to find it pitch black and snowing steadily. We climbed the steep track to Grindslow Knoll and then – unlike last year when I spent ages floundering around in peat hags in thick fog – quickly found the track on the South edge of Kinder that goes towards Jacob’s Ladder. At Woolpacks we managed to find a nice flat sheltered spot tucked underneath the rocks, and quickly got the tent up and crawled inside.

Settling down to a chilly night. The glow in the sky is presumably Manchester
Settling down to a chilly night. The glow in the sky is presumably Manchester.

It was pretty cold in the night – apparently it was -4 in Hope, so we’re guessing as cold as -10 where we were. However, after a reasonably restful night, we woke up to a cold clear day. Sadly our flask of tea made 24 hours earlier was only just above body temperature, so breakfast left a little to be desired.

Eventually we left the warmth of our sleeping bags and got into our frozen shoes. It had stopped snowing in the night and our sheltered position meant there were only small drifts against the tent walls. We got the tent down and headed back along the edge of the plateau thinking of a warm breakfast in Hope.

Getting going again in the morning.
Getting going again in the morning.

The walk back was lovely, with fresh snow on the rocks, occasional hints of sunshine, and not too much wind. The path was quite slippery in sections though, as everything was frozen solid. We finished with sandwiches and hot tea at the Woodbine Cafe in Hope!

The lone trees on the way to Win Hill. For Pete and Tish, there's a letterbox hidden here.
The lone trees on the way to Win Hill. For Pete and Tish, there’s a letterbox hidden here.

Woolpacks in the snow.
Woolpacks in the snow.

Girls Weekend Out(Door)

How to define a perfect girls weekend outDoor?

  • Switzerland
  • 1000m in hight uphill
  • bivouac at 2500m sleeping under the starry sky during the nights of the perseids surrunded by several 4000m mountains (Eiger, Wetterhorn, Schreckhorn, Finsteraarhorn, etc.)
  • whisteling marmots to accompany our dinner and chamoise flocks arround us
  • being the first ones on the route up in the morning
  • beautiful Via ferrata all along the ridge up the Schwarzhorn (2928m) climbing several steel ledders up two escarpments
  • awsome blue sky with fantastic mountain views
  • vanilla ice-cream with hot berries for dessert
  • shopping at Grindlwald at the foot of the Eiger

No more comments 😉 – just big smiles 😉 😉 😉 😉 😉

CC Gairloch Jubilee Meet

Thanks to the extra holiday the four day jubilee weekend made for a perfect opportunity to head a little further afield than a normal bank holiday weekend allows. More “CC Gairloch Jubilee Meet”

Camping on a tropical island

We chose to make the most of the unseasonally warm weather by wild camping … in Derbyshire. We set out on Saturday afternoon from Edale and walked across the eastern end of Kinder Scout, dropping down to the A57, then up through Alport Dale, past Alport Castles and then northwesterly up the Alport River. We were heading for a waterfall high up on the river where the ground levelled out sufficiently to allow us to camp. For the few final kilometres, darkness was nearly upon us and we had to resort to the light of our headtorches.

We were just starting to wonder whether we would find a dry, flattish place to camp, when we came across the perfect spot; an island in the middle of the river, just below a pretty waterfall.

The campsite!

Our island in the river

We pitched our tiny tent and cooked a delicious meal of gnocchi with bolognese sauce and cheese, followed by chocolate cake. After a spot of star gazing, we headed indoors and slept to the sound of the waterfall (Richard dreamt about a motorbike appearing from nowhere to our campsite, but when he awoke he realised that it was the waterfall!).

On Sunday, we packed up early and headed northwest to pick up the Pennine Way, which we subsequently followed all the way to Mill Hill. Next we skirted around the north of Kinder Scout (along ‘The Edge’) and then after about three kilometres we set off across the plateau, before heading down Grindslow Brook to Edale.

Traversing 'The Edge' above Black Ashop Moor
A sheep and the view over Alport Moor

California holidays I

After spending a week in Monterey at a conference, Richard joined me for a holiday in California!

We spent the first day on the coast looking around Lobos Point where we saw numerous seals, sea otters and birds – Richard plans a separate wildlife blog after we have downloaded the pictures from his camera!

Lobos Point

We then made our way to Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, spending the majority of time in the latter. Before we arrived, we were a little concerned that the snow conditions may have reduced our possibilities for overnight backpacking trips, however we were happy to find that some areas were relatively snow free. We therefore chose a trip that started from Roads End in Kings Canyon. The walk took us up the south fork of Kings River, into Paradise Valley and then into the valley of Woods Creek up to a junction where the path joined with the John Muir trail. We camped near the highest point of the walk, at a place called Castle Dome Meadow – a great place for watching deer whilst cooking dinner!

We’re off to Yosemite tomorrow….

a) Richard packing for the backpacking trip, b) Garter snake, c) camping spot in the woods, d) Richard looking over Woods Creek, e) Castle Domes, f) Castle Domes, g) Rope bridge, h) King's River

Mountain Leader Training

While Pete is occupied at the BMC International Meet in Cornwall I’ve been keeping myself busy with a Mountain Leader Training course in Wasdale. I’d been thinking about doing the course for a while, but never got around to doing anything about it. I eventually booked at the last minute with Carol Emmons and I quickly registered with MLTE (Mountain Leader Training England) to get my Log Book.

The course follows a set syllabus which concentrates on navigation, rope work, group leadership, incident management, weather forecasting, conservation and access, route planning, and river crossing. It also includes a two day expedition with a wild camp above 600m.

Carol runs her MLT course out of the Wasdale YHA with the help of Richard Sagar. It’s been years since I’ve stopped in a YHA and I was quite impressed. Thankfully, you don’t have to be a youth. You also don’t need a sleeping bag or sleeping bag liner. Pillows and quilts with fresh cotton bed linen is standard now.

There were 10 of us in total on the course, 8 men and 2 women, with all sorts of backgrounds and all ages. The youngest was 22, the oldest 62. We all got on really well and had such a laugh. I’m sure we shouldn’t have laughed quite so much, jokes were flying around all day, and night, while we wandered around the hills looking for the tiniest of reentrants, edges of outcrops, or miniscule tarns.

Luckily for us the weather was pretty good most of the time. We had a little rain, a little snow, quite a lot of wind, but also some lovely sunshine, and starry nights which meant for freezing cold nights.

The wild camp was a great success up at Scoat Tarn. Thanks go to Richard and Rachel for lending me their super light tent and therma rest, and recommendation of Ainsley’s couscous with porcini and sausage – yum yum. The night navigation was great fun. Two hours of micro navigation went really quickly and we all found the marks. Poor Young Dave managed to walk into a bog, which made us all laugh even more.

The river crossing was kept for the last day. There wasn’t a great deal of water to play with, so we just practiced the techniques in a shallow stream. I did get into the stream after I’d taken the photos, honest.

An excellent week of fun.

Here are some pictures from the week…

Winter wild camping

Last weekend’s adventure was judged “not nearly adventurous enough”, so Rachel insisted we do something more exciting this weekend. We were initially devoid of ideas, but eventually came up with the idea of a wild camp on Kinder Scout and the chance to recce some of the Edale Skyline route.

On saturday, we drove up to Hope, parked the car there and set off up the hill towards the low cloud and Mam Tor. The walk past Back Tor and Hollins Cross was nice enough, although as the picture of Rachel shows, we were in the cloud the whole way. Happily, after Lords Seat the cloud suddenly dropped into the valley below us and we found ourselves enjoying the last hour of the day in beautiful winter sunshine as we slogged across snow drifts and through the enormous bog that is Brown Knoll. The light was lovely as we headed to the top of Jacob’s Ladder, with a beautiful view along the ridge west to Mt Famine, south of Hayfield, and East across the top of the clouds to Gridslow Knoll.

Rachel on Rushup Edge
Richard deciding which way to take us
Looking over the ridge towards the south of Hayfield Reservoir
Looking over the ridge towards the south of Hayfield Reservoir
Sunset from Brown Knoll

As the light was fading, we opted to camp at one of my favourite spots on Kinder, Wool Packs, with great towers of rock on all sides. We set up the tent at the side of one of the rocks, and cooked in a sheltered spot between two of them. It was bitterly cold so Rachel stayed in her sleeping bag while I did the cooking. The clear skies were filled with stars and passing planes!

Home 🙂 Richard pretending to be asleep whilst Rachel awaits feeding

In the morning it was clear it had been very cold in the night—the tent was covered with ice crystals and all the water nearby had frozen. We were also back in the fog, which made the rocks looming out of the cloud very atmospheric. It was still bitterly cold so I stayed in my sleeping bag while Rachel did the cooking! The overnight cold had meant she had to melt snow for water in the morning, but she did a fine job, and we even had a glimpse of the sun during breakfast.

Morning sun - the only sun we saw all day!
frozen grass
Frozen grass at the "camp site"
Ice crystals in a puddle on Kinder

We opted to walk out to Kinder Downfall in the hope that the ice would be spectacular but sadly this year it wasn’t—just a huge solid ice bank under the fall. We then decided to walk the rest of the way around the plateau to make sure we had a proper day out. With the cloud down and very thick, we didn’t see a thing all the way around and missed our turning at the Western end, only realising we’d gone wrong when we ended up looking down the hill at the Youth Hostel at Edale. After a short relocation, we found the path off Kinder that runs out to Win Hill, and finished our route back to the car. A short stop at the Woodbine Café for sausage sandwiches and Yorkshire Curd Cake, and most importantly some time in front of their roaring fire finished off a lovely day.