more Observations from Underground

I was just a little worried with the description of the proposed mine trip. The “bridge of death”, and a dingy that kept deflating had me very close to going for a walk above ground. But Pete’s enthusiasm “it’ll be a great adventure!!” finally won me over. More “more Observations from Underground”

Welsh Blog Rendezvous

Croesor-Rhosydd Through Trip

The Croesor Rhosydd through trip connecting these two extensive and ancient slate mine workings has been on my list of must-do adventures in North Wales for ages. However, we only generally go to Wales when the sun is out, and then we go rock climbing. This time was different though, the through trip was the main objective for Saturday’s adventuring on the blog rendezvous weekend…

Although I’ve done the trip in to Rhosydd and out of the top exit in West Twll many times, as this only requires wellies (although I have done it in sandals, albeit with very very cold feet, and just a mini-maglite for illumination) the trip through from Croesor requires much more commitment, skill, and equipment, but the rewards are far bigger!

Rachel, Brendan, Richard, Keith, Laetitia, Ian, and David near the Croesor mine entrance
Brendan on the first bridge obstacle. Before this there had been two 30 metre abseils and a fantastically exciting 50 metre cable zip-line across the first flooded section.
Laetitia and Keith coming across the final 50 metre flooded section, the Chamber of Horrors, in the in-situ canoe! Utterly amazing!
David crawling through the breakthrough point between the Croesor and Rhosydd mines. This was walled to demarcate the two mines and therefore two independently owned sources of revenue.
Pete, Richard, Brendan, David, Ian, Rachel, Keith, and Laetitia at the Rhosydd exit

Were the years of procrastinating about the through trip worth the wait? Yes! What a brilliant and exciting trip! The zip-line and boat crossings were particularly fantastic. Oddly some of the cavers in the group were saying things like, “I’m so glad I’ve ticked this trip, now I never have to come back”! Conversely, I can’t wait till the next wet day in North Wales! No longer will it be a case of wondering what to do in-lieu of climbing, we’ll be straight in to Croesor-Rhosydd.

What else? Oh yeah, a big thank-you to Keith and Brendan, for having half an idea of where we were going! 😛

Rendezvous Dinner & Helyg

We’d booked one of the CC‘s hut, Helyg, for our sole use over the weekend to hold the fourth rendezvous-meet of authors of reports on this site. With the highlights of the meet being a celebration four course meal, a (hopefully humorous) review of the past year of blogging pictures, events, and stats, and a quiz (with prizes) all held on Saturday evening. I thought the celebrations were great fun, I hope everyone else did too. Unfortunately I had so much fun I forgot to take many pictures! But we did get this one of the awesome chocolate dessert! :yum:

Chocolate dessert with special gold stars for champion bloggers!

Before we all set off on Sunday for various climbing and walking adventures I snapped this group shot in front of the Helyg garage…

Pete, Laetitia, Richard, Jon, Paul, Ian, David, Rachel, and Brendan outside the Helyg garage

Tremadog

As predicted the weather on Sunday was dry and sunny! Having had such a terrible summer so far this year with record rainfall the climbers were keen to get out and climb a few routes. Tremadog was selected as the venue as it offered climbing options at all grades should the cavers fancy a go. As it turned out though the caving team headed out to walk a section of the Nantlle ridge instead, leaving us to climb a few routes on Tremadog’s sun kissed rock in between trips to Eric’s Café.

Pete on Chwys
Laetitia showing that she is “smarter than the average bear” on Yogi
Pete on the first belay of Merlin Direct
Paul approaching the belay on Merlin
Paul climbing the superb crack of Merlin Direct
Paul nearing the finish of Merlin Direct

Stanage Rendezvous

Following on from Saturday’s caving trip and Rachel’s early-birthday-celebration dinner in the Scotsman’s Pack in Hathersage we were lucky enough to have a reasonable forecast for Sunday … a day climbing on Stanage Edge was on!

Meanwhile Anna headed off, supported by Ian and cheered on by Richard (still convalescing his recovering fractured arm), to take part in the 10k fell race, the Stanage Struggle.

As we arrived at the parking for the popular end of Stanage we were greeted by lots of familiar faces – it was the CC Peak Aspirant Members meet based at the Downes hut and most of them had opted for Stanage too. 😯 Combined with the early weeks of the new academic year and lots of University climbing club teams out to play, to say Stanage was busy would not really convey anything like the busyness of the crag! I reckon there were more people climbing at the popular areas than there are climbing in the whole of the Lake District on any given sunny Sunday. But I suppose there’s a reason for that, after a few routes reacquainting ourselves with the style of gritstone climbing, we had to admit it was great fun! 😛

Paul on Central Trinity
Elsie on Macleods' Variation of Hargreaves' Original with Laetitia belaying, Paul checking the weather to the west, Rachel watching in anticipation of her turn, and Richard watching from the top!
Pete on the big holds at the top of Easter Rib
There was just time for Paul and Laetitia to follow before the rain finally arrived!

Gauging interest …

This December I will be celebrating a birthday that is divisible by 10 and hence I thought that perhaps I should organise a party. Hence this post is to gauge your interest…

I was thinking of a blog rendezvous-style weekend, but with more cake and a few other invitees, but most certainly with a focus on ‘doing something fun outdoors’.

So, the options are:

Derbyshire: stay in a bunk barn, go climbing, walking, caving, running, orienteering

South Wales: stay at Whitewalls, go climbing (there’s some in the quarrys above Whitewalls apparently), walking, caving, running, orienteering (less likely)

Let me know your preferences via the poll below, or alternatively send me an email.

Would you be interested in attending?

  • Yes (100%, 13 Votes)
  • No (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 13

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Which location do you prefer (if no preference tick both)?

  • Derbyshire (77%, 10 Votes)
  • South Wales (54%, 7 Votes)

Total Voters: 13

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What dates are you available (tick all that apply)?

  • 17-18th September (77%, 10 Votes)
  • 15-16th October (69%, 9 Votes)
  • 22-23rd October (69%, 9 Votes)
  • 1-2nd October (54%, 7 Votes)
  • 8-9th October (54%, 7 Votes)

Total Voters: 13

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What is your favourite cake?

  • Chocolate (46%, 6 Votes)
  • Fresh and fruity (23%, 3 Votes)
  • Spongy (15%, 2 Votes)
  • Dense fruity (8%, 1 Votes)
  • Alcoholic (8%, 1 Votes)
  • Pastry-encased (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 13

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I’ll call the poll finished once this post falls off the front page into oblivion.

Blog Rendezvous?

A Damp Start…
Despite six months of notice and lots of positive votes for all sorts of activities support for this year’s rendezvous dropped off severely. Was it because of the weather? Not sure really – more likely just a lack of enthusiasm and commitment! 😥

Anyhow, Saturday started dry albeit very grey and overcast. So we took the opportunity to quickly (Huh? Two hours later!) cut the grass and harvest a bumper crop of red currants (another two hours of tedious work).

However, even with all that gardening there was still time to get the mountain bikes out before the Rendezvous-proper kicked off… Ah, the benefit of living in one of Lakeland’s best mountain biking valleys! 😛 Although by now the rain had arrived and we spent the whole journey in the rain. 😳

Kentmere Mountain Biking

Rendezvous?
Not much of a rendezvous! :angry: The second blogger’s rendezvous was very poorly attended – only the uber keen Rachel & Richard joined us. 🙁 That said, clearly word had got out, even Alan Hinkes had heard it was the event of the year and made an appearance… Oh OK, he was here to enjoy himself like everyone else at the growing Staveley Beer Festival. How much bigger will it get? We wondered if in years to come if it might becomes the South Lakes ‘Glastonbury’!

Alan, Rachel, Richard, and Laetitia

We enjoyed some Manuka Beer inspired by a recipe from New Zealand, Richard’s homeland…

The Manuka Beer site seems to be offline, so here’s some background:

Manuka Beer was brewed for the first time as long as 200 years ago. The sailors under Captain James Cook, British explorer, seafarer, and cartographer, were the first to taste manuka beer, made from the leaves of the manuka plant or the New Zealand ‘tea tree’. They were introduced to the plant by New Zealand’s indigenous population, the Maori, who for countless generations had used the manuka plant as a medicinal herb both on its own or added to their cooking. Today, manuka honey is known for it’s wholesome, health giving qualities due to its high concentration of natural antioxidants which protect the body from negative outside influences.

Staveley Beer Festival

The festival was quite lively despite the now drizzly rain…

Sunday
Sunday’s weather turned out much better than Saturday (as forecast) and Rachel wanted to get out rock climbing – well that’s my favourite activity, so it was game on! 😀 The old reliable Shepherds Crag was selected…

Rachel on the fine fingery Creeping Jesus (HVS)

2010 Rendezvous; Locations & Activities?

questionsLast year we held the first rendezvous for authors of articles posted on this blog. For many it was the first chance to meet, in person, the people they only knew from cyberspace [sic].

The weekend of climbing, caving, BBQ’ing, and celebrating (complete with freebie Lucozade) was great fun – and so thoughts have moved on to the next rendezvous. But where to go? What to do? Some ideas have already been mooted in comments elsewhere (here). I promised a poll to gather, in a democratic way (that should make Ian happy 😆 ), people’s preferences for the second author rendezvous. The only thing that is promised to be undemocratic is what Laetitia will do for prizes! 😀

First, where to hold the rendezvous. Obviously this choice may affect what we can actually do. Choose wisely. 😉

Rendezvous Locations?

  • Lake District (50%, 4 Votes)
  • Other (please outline in comments) (25%, 2 Votes)
  • Derbyshire (13%, 1 Votes)
  • Yorkshire Dales (13%, 1 Votes)
  • South Wales (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Snowdonia (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Chamonix (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 8

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Next, what to do. This question allows five choices! 😯 Please try to consider what activities are feasible in the locations you have suggested above.

Rendezvous Activities?

  • BBQ (63%, 5 Votes)
  • Caving (50%, 4 Votes)
  • Other (please outline in comments) (38%, 3 Votes)
  • Pothole caving (SRT; single rope technique) (38%, 3 Votes)
  • Mountaineering (38%, 3 Votes)
  • Walking (38%, 3 Votes)
  • Rock Climbing (25%, 2 Votes)
  • Wild-camp (25%, 2 Votes)
  • Mountain biking (13%, 1 Votes)

Total Voters: 8

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Last, when…

Remember, use the comments below to debate and suggest other options. Perhaps, have the debate before you vote… Someone might have a killer idea that changes what you might have otherwise voted for.

Rendezvous Weekend: The Caving Trip

Day two of the blog rendezvous we elected to go caving. Our first choice, Swinsto Hole, was ruled out due to rain, so we opted for a trip from County Pot to Wretched Rabbit in Easgill, despite the fact that nobody had been there but Rachel and I (once), and we weren’t sure we remembered all of it. A short trip to Bernie’s to buy a guide, and the newsagent to make copies of the crucial sections and we were off to Bullpot Farm.

The intrepid cavers before the trip
The intrepid cavers before the trip

After a pleasant walk across the moor and up the Beck, punctuated by a quick jog back to retrieve the Stop that had dropped out of the top of my SRT bag, we managed to find the cave entrance and off we went.

County Pot went pretty well. Pete rigged the first pitch and we were all quickly down that. There was a bit of excitement at Spout Hall due to the amount of water coming down the spout, (and Tish’s claim the stream was waist deep) but that went fine as well, and we were soon at Poetic Justice, which I was pleased that I recognised from last time.

It took some time to get everyone up the chimney at Poetic Justice, which seemed much slipperier than I remembered it, and then we descended the second pitch into Pierce’s Passage, after a small amount of trouble pulling our rope down. Pierce’s passage came and went, but the last few metres to Eureka Junction was somewhat scary, with a thick layer of fresh foam coating the walls and ceiling–a reminder of how much water had been through the system not long before.

Tish plays in the waterfall at Spout Hall.
Tish plays in the waterfall at Spout Hall.

Nobody felt like hanging around in the streamway, so we quickly went back up to the junction with Wretched Rabbit and headed up the narrow canyon.

I had thought that I remembered the main features of Wretched Rabbit, but it turned out I’d completely forgotten the bypass in the high level oxbow, so we had a somewhat confused time in that section before eventually finding our way out to the cascades. This was followed by more drama as we took the wrong rope climb from the big rift (Rachel thinks we did this last time as well) and ended up wandering around in the high level series–we could smell the fresh air from the entrance, but couldn’t find it! A particular apology to Anna for making her struggle up the rope only to have to come back down it again.

Everyone enjoys a break in Wretched Rabbit
Everyone enjoys a break in Wretched Rabbit

After trying a few false leads, we returned to the Big Rift and climbed the series of small pitches to the entrance. A happy sight for me as I was beginning to doubt my memory of the cave.

A quick drop into County Pot to retrieve our rope, and then back across the moor saw us enjoying well-earned drinks in the Marton Arms before parting company after an excellent weekend.

I’d forgotten how physical a trip this is. Ian and Anna in particular did very well, considering how little caving they’ve done. My arms ache today from hauling myself up the pitches at the end, and up the chimney at Poetic Justice.

Adventure Bloggers Rendezvous

As reported by Ian already, the much anticipated Sterling Adventures blog author’s rendezvous took place this weekend. We’d chosen North Yorkshire for the event because it offered lots of local adventuring opportunities, and a convenient hut for us all to stay in. Although, as Ian also hinted at, the state of Greenclose was shocking! Caving huts are never very clean or orderly places, but add a bunch of students into the mix and disease won’t be far behind! :angry:

Rock Climbing, Twistleton
We met in Bernies cafe in Ingleton on Saturday morning and decided that the glorious sunny weather was best spent rock climbing. But before we headed off to the crag Laetitia handed out the uniform for the weekend – Blackpool’s finest line of t-shirts, each imprinted with the blogger’s name and role…

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Not a bad turn out…

Bloggers; Pete, Richard, Rachel, Ian, Anna, Paul, Laetitia, and Dave
Bloggers; Pete, Richard, Rachel, Ian, Anna, Paul, Laetitia, and Dave

[NB. Colin had opted to do his own thing and go cave diving in Grey Wife … again!]

We’d chosen Twistleton, an impressive spot with routes of all grades to help with one of the aims of the weekend – to introduce each other to each other’s adventure sports; today being to get Richard and Rachel out of their comfort zone on a few rock climbs. Tomorrow would be the chance for the climbers to get uncomfortable in a cave! 😮

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The views across to Ingleborough were too tempting for our energetic fell-runners Richard and Rachel to ignore. After a few climbs they left us to run up Ingleborough and back. We thought they were joking, it’s miles away and much higher! They weren’t! Luckily though they are really fast and got back just in time to share their cakes with us. :yum:

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Adventure Bloggers’ BBQ
After that it was time to get back to Greenclose (via Booths in Settle to buy some BBQ food). Of course first we had to clean everything we used, or thought we might use, to ensure no-one caught a dose of listeria or salmonella (or likely both!).

Greenclose BBQ
Greenclose BBQ

Recently Lucozade had asked me to publish a “guest post” publicising their Summer Challenges. We shared the rewards out to all the adventure bloggers… 😉

Lucozade rewards!
Lucozade rewards!
Ian and Anna fighting over the last burger!
Ian and Anna fighting over the last burger!
Richard explains to Laetitia how running up Ingleborough was steep, but "Oh so easy!"
Richard explains to Laetitia how running up Ingleborough was steep, but "Oh so easy!"

After the BBQ it was time for more cake! :yum: We like cake! Especially after a good day of adventuring! 😛

Cake!
Cake!

Prizes!
And then, some blogging stats and prizes! 😆

  • Ian definitely won the prize as the most prolific adventure blogger.
  • Closely followed by the Wainright completing David.
  • The absent Terry got a special mention as the most travelled blogger, having written 23 posts from countries other than England!
  • Rachel’s post about last year’s flooded OMM was noted as the post with the most readers in a single day. We also toasted Rachel’s scoop announcement via the blog of her engagement to Richard.
  • The absent Dave’s picture of Clive in Juniper Gulf was picked out as the most highly rated picture.
  • Colin’s dry humour in his numerous comments raised a chuckle or two!
  • Pauls’s comment on breaking his wrist and scuppering his rock climbing trip to Australia was perhaps the saddest comment to date.
  • Anna’s penchant for cats won her a special cat mask!
  • Richard was complemented on racking up the most miles, having blogged from China, the USA, Australia, New Zealand, France and all over the British Isles!

:star: It’s been an amazing success, we now regularly get over one million hits every month! :star:
A massive Thank You to everyone!

Ian poses in his Most-Prolific-Blogger prize sunglasses!
Ian poses in his Most-Prolific-Blogger prize sunglasses!

Laetitia examines a “something” made with Richard’s prize, a set of modelling balloons celebrating the posts about balloon beds.

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Caving
Sunday was the day to put the climbers out of their comfort zone and go caving! Over to Richard to report that…