We left Chamonix on Monday evening and headed over to Germany, via Switzerland, to visit our friends in the very small village of Todtmoos-Au in the Black Forest. More “New Year in Germany”
What amazing weather, a whole weekend of wall-to-wall sunshine! Even the evening was clear (and cold) for the fireworks… 😀
After planting nearly 100 mini daffodil bulbs (they were on offer ay Hayes, just £3 for 30) we headed out in to the fells to enjoy the weather. It would have been a great day for rock climbing on a suitably sunny south facing crag. But, because of the late start we opted for a walk with a late finish to allow for some night navigation and a quick dash in to Kendal to see the fireworks at the castle.
The fireworks over Kendal Castle were spectacular! And free! 😛 Although we did chuck a few quid in to the Round Table collection bucket to support (unspecified) “Kendal charities”.
We spent the weekend at Whitewalls with Chelsea Spelaeological Society celebrating bonfire weekend. We drove down to Llangattock early on Saturday morning and arrived to the dawn of a most beautiful day. Richard was to enjoy this lovely day on the surface, but I intended going underground. It appeared that there were two possible caving trips on offer. A through trip from Daren Cilau to Cncc or a through trip from Cncc to Daren Cilau. I have to say that I wasn’t truly excited by another trip into Daren Cilau and Cncc as a number of our most recent trips have been into there. However, I decided to go along anyway and I’m really glad I did.
After some deliberation I decided to go on the Cncc to Daren Cilau trip, mostly because there were less people going in that direction, but also because I prefer the Daren entrance crawl to the long exit out of Cncc. What I didn’t realise when we set off, was that one of the chaps I was caving with, Paul, was one of the original cave explorers who broke through to the ‘Large Chamber Nowhere Near the Entrance’ which then led onto the miles and miles of passage that we have today. Even more astonishingly Paul hadn’t visited Daren Cilau since 1996 and his memories of the cave were very-much based on his initial exploration.
So, as we moved through Busman’s and then towards the Antlers, and onto the White Series, Paul recounted the thoughts of that first trip into these passages. Daren Cilau is perilously close to Craig Y Ffynnon and on that first trip, the group surmised repeatedly about their proximity to that cave. Before this area was discovered, Daren Cilau was not known for it’s spectacular formations and hence when they discovered the Antlers, a pagoda-type formation and other well-decorated passages, they wondered whether their new find connected to Craig Y Ffynnon. At one point on the route, we came across a ~30 foot pot in the floor, over which we traversed. Apparently when the original explorers reached that point they wondered whether they were above the Craig Y Ffynnon passages and that perhaps they were looking down on passages that they had already visited. On later inspection a connection had not been found, but the caves remain perilously close together.
Arriving in the Large Chamber Nowhere near the Entrance, we had a quick break before making our way along Jigsaw Passage, through the boulder choke and down the boulder slope where Richard broke his arm (I checked for broken boulders, but it looks like he didn’t cause any damage to the cave). Then, all that was left was the entrance series. As I said, Paul hadn’t been in Daren for a long time, and neither had Jo, our other companion on the trip. They were both a little nervous, but their moods lightened as we made progress through the crawl, having remembered it as being much worse than it actually is.
While I was caving, Richard went for a run as it really was a glorious day. Since he’d never been to Chartists’ Cave, and it’s less than 10km straight line from the caving hut, he decided to go there, and visit a few other interesting sites along the way. He headed along the Tram Road to the entrance to Agen Allwedd, then up between the crags to the top of the hill, where he headed west.
Readers with good memories will remember our wander around on this bit of moor looking for the shake-hole with Ogof Cynnes in it. In sunshine it was a little easier, and even better, it turned out to be on an old orienteering map he’d taken with him. In fact, the map showed a control in the Ogof Cynnes shake-hole!
Chartists’ Cave was easier to find (it was actually marked on the orienteering map), and happily it was the 172nd anniversary of the Chartists’ Insurrection, when weapons that were stored in the cave were used by the Chartists when they marched on and siezed Newport.
He also spotted some more of the mysterious “star jelly” on the moor, although it was rather less impressive than the stuff in Scotland. The fact that it had bucketed down with rain all Friday and the moors were running with water might have had something to do with that!
The Whitewalls bonfire was lit at 6.30 pm. The heat would have been lovely, but most of the wood comprised branches with leaves that flew from the fire as large blazing sparks, which prevented one from getting too close. The sight was almost better than fireworks! After the fire we enjoyed chilli and jacket potatoes, which were followed by fireworks! Everyone had brought just one firework. However, given that about 50 people had turned up, this was a lot of fireworks! We lit up the sky for at least 40 minutes! There were a number of really big ones too; not the type you would buy in the supermarket! Fireworks were followed by dessert and dessert was followed by birthday cake (there were a couple of birthdays this weekend, including Richard’s!).
Then the games started. Some of the Chelsea ladies had been busy preparing chocolate bats, which were hung from the ceiling of the caving hut. The bats were made of delicious chocolate. Some were made only of delicious chocolate, but others had been augmented with less familiar ingredients. In order increasing unpalatableness, the list was as follows:
Mild chilli chocolate
Hot chilli chocolate
The game involved being asked a trivia question, if you got the question right, you were saved from having treats, if you were wrong (which of course most people were), you had the choice of taking pot luck on a bat, or having a shot of two fairly gross spirits (one being chilli-flavoured). I was extremely lucky, when I got my question wrong, I chose a mild chilli chocolate bat, which was fairly palatable. The garlic ones were the worst; when consumed the whole room stank!
We travelled to North Wales at the weekend to celebrate the publication of the new CC Tremadog guidebook.
Loads of people were invited and despite the terrible rain loads turned up too! 😛
After the food, partying, celebrations, speeches, and booze we headed outside to mark the publication with a bang – and to enjoy a day-late bonfire night – with a few mega fireworks! 😈 Amazingly, as if by providence, the rain had stopped and the fireworks were amazing echoing of the hills at Pen y Pass and illuminating the whole of the Llanberis pass. 😛
After the firework fun and games, and having categorically proven once and for all (again) that climbers are just big (but very brave 😉 ) kids, we headed back in to the Caban for more booze and photographs…
Sunday, with heavy hung over heads, we ventured out in to a brilliant blue-sky sunshine day! Albeit there was a heavy covering of snow on the tops… Richard was so excited that he headed off for a winter conditions traverse of Crib Goch without crampons and axe – I expect that was very exciting! We opted for rock climbing at one of the sunnier cliffs described in the Tremadog guidebook; Moel y Gest.
When we got into the car this morning it was one of those days where you ran to the door and got in very quickly! The rain was torrential. Unfortunately we’d already paid our entry fee to the first “Dark and White Mini Mountain Marathon” event, so we had to brave the weather and not sit in front of a warm fire all day.
The event centre was Edale Village Hall and the event was a 3 hour score with controls placed around Kinder and the Rushup Edge area. The aim was to find as many of these controls as possible in 3 hours. We set out in pretty torrential rain and wind with Kinder Scout surrounded in cloud. As I made my way up to Grindslow Knoll however occasionally the cloud would lift leaving the sun beaming through into the adjacent valleys and it was spectacular. I often appreciate the views much more on a day like today when you only get to see them momentarily. I continued collecting controls along the edge, visiting Wool Packs (a cool place with amazing stones), Noe Stool and Kinder Low. I then descended past the Swine’s Back and then realised that I had some difficult decisions to make with 1 hour left on the clock. I could take the safe option (time-wise) and head down the valley back to Edale, or I could take the high level option over Horsehill Tor with the descent down Chapel Gate. I decided that I would much rather be late back and have had tried to get round the tops (with high points on offer), than chicken out, be early back and freeze until Richard came back with the key.
So I set off on the high level route, the ground was pretty rough in places and I wondered a few times whether or not I had made the smart decision. This crossed my mind again when I was nearing the valley floor and realised that the roads leading straight to the events centre were out of bounds and that I had to take detours on footpaths! Nevertheless, I managed to get back only 4 minutes late, which is a good thing according to the Dearden Oracle, who tells me that as there is only 1 point per minute lost for the first 5 minutes of lateness, it is better to be 4 minutes late than to have collected less controls and have been on time, because the 1 point is often worth the same as 5 or 10 because people who aren’t late get score with round numbers.
It turned out that Richard won the mens (<40) and I won the ladies (<40). This is the last time we’ll manage that!
The tea and biscuits put on by Dark and White were much appreciated and eventually we pulled ourselves away from the nice warm village hall into the car where we devoured two-third of the pear rolypoly that we made with left-over puff pastry the night before. Yum!
We got back home just in time to watch the Polesworth fireworks, which were excellent considering the size of the village!
Every New Year is mad in Chamonix, in fact most ski resorts go crazy on New Year’s Eve, it’s just the number of people, the quantity of fireworks, how close people stand to the fireworks (often letting them off while still holding them), the showers of champagne, and – of course – the location that make it special…
Paul, Terry, Vicki, Anna and Ian met Pete and Tish for an evening to plan our trip to Oz, and let off a few fireworks. But first things first, we toasted Terry and Vicki on their recent marriage………. Ahh, they couldn’t leave each other alone all night; young love eh!
Then it was on with the flash bang wallop………….. an early start so as not to annoy the neighbours.
Only one complaint this year!!! One bozo making an early application to be next year’s guy. And his puppies will be nicely fattened to add to the menu… yum!
On with the food after the show, and as usual Tish excelled with roast pork (hmm….. what happened to the bloke who complained last year?)
:star: Our firework party is an annual event… :star:
Check out the “small” firework Sabiene came with…