A Warm up at Windgather

Terry and Bernie were likewise looking for a warm up climb. The east looked better and we opted for Windgather, near Whalley Bridge with temperatures 14°C.

Terry and Bernie under Windgather
Various cracks, including Moss Chimney
Bernie looks happy, though wind on top was chilly!

Then more various posed shots – our friend Dalma should note the absence of bolts. In this country, to put bolts in these situations would be a capital offence.

But then the inevitable tea and cakes – not in Chamonix or San Moritz, Boulder or Canmore but Sainsbury’s in Makerefield.

Tea & Cakes in Sainsbury Makerefield

Rift bang rockfall

I would like to start this post with an apology.

Tish I’m sorry that there are no pictures and for the emotional hardship you will suffer when Pete realizes and throws the toys out of the pram.

In the middle of last week Jim suggested a trip into Peak to look at the top of Buxton Water aven. On a previous trip he had seen two boulders at the top blocking the way on to open black space. Suitably fooled I met up with Jim at the the TSG hut for several cups of tea before heading off to the cave.

In the cave we kitted up and dived through a very murky Buxton Water sump and surfaced in the aven, de-kitted and donned our SRT kit for the climb up the in-situ ropes. The aven goes up several hundred feet in a series of short pitches between steeply angled ledges all of which hold back precariously balanced boulders. Jim went half way up the aven and I stayed out of the firing line until he shouted down that is was my turn to move, Jim then proceeded to the topmost ledge and on joining him I saw that the next stage went straight up into a rift above the aven. After a quick look into the boulder chock at the very top of the ledge (to confirm that it doesn’t go) we went up the rift to look at the two boulders.

At the head of the rift another loose ledge awaited us but we were able to wriggle up off the rope to inspect the boulders. Or rather we weren’t. Jim had suffered from rose tinted spectacle syndrome and had forgotten that there were two bulges in the walls of the rift below the boulders (and the black void beyond) that needed removing before we could get at the boulders. I went back down the rope and sored the equipment needed for the job, tied it on to the rope and Jim hauled it up. I followed up the rope as Jim started drilling the first shot hole, on my arrival at the top of the rope Jim was ready to let off the first Hilti cap. We both covered our ears and Jim hit the firing bar – no result. After several minutes of tapping away we had to admit that the cap was probably a dud and without a second bar we were stuck. I slid back down the rope while Jim tried to free the now jammed bar. A loud report announced that he had succeeded. Once again I got myself out of the firing line as Jim continued dilling and capping the rift wall, quickly removing the first bulge before starting on the second. All the time small boulders were falling down from above and ricocheting down the aven dislodging rocks from the various ledges below. Several of these made that special deep noise that large rocks make when they hit water and work stopped as we listened for the noise of air escaping from diving cylinders below. Nervous laughter and expletives were the order of the day. Unfortunately the second bulge proved more difficult to get at than the first and, eventually defeated, we retreated but not before one more large rock had come down the final pitch, scoring a direct hit on the tackle bag at the bottom, destroying a large chunk of the ledge and taking a lot of other rocks down into the water below.

After making our way gingerly down the aven and checking the dive gear on the clothes line we exited to find that we had spent about seven hours underground and had overshot the show cave closing time by half an hour. Fortunately Jim is so well known at the cave that instead of being in trouble we were greeted with a cup of tea. 😉

Tree planting, a pub crawl, dinner with friends and a mountain marathon

Saturday was ‘Tree o’clock‘ day, a world record attempt to plant the largest number of trees in the UK in a 1 hr period. My friends at work, Jenny and Gemma had organised the planting of 50 free trees provided by the council. So, on Saturday between the hours of 11 and noon, 13 of us planted the 50 trees, which ended with tea and biscuits!

Rich planting tree

Rich and sarah


From tree planting we socialised with Sarah, my sister, she had come to watch the planting and browse in the shop at work.

After lunch with Sarah, we made our way to Ilkeston to meet up with some of my old running club friends. We arrived at Catherine and Tony’s house, pre-pub crawl, and were told that they were going out dressed in “school uniforms”! Within about 5 minutes we were kitted out similarly. As we walked to the first of 5 pubs, we realised that the whole dressing up thing was just something that Tony had decided that morning and that nobody else would be dressed up! Some of our friends appeared to notice, but most just took it in there stride. The point of the pub crawl I think was to drink real ale … I haven’t liked this stuff previously because it’s too bitter, but actually the stuff I had was nice…

At about 6.30, Tony disappeared to put dinner in the oven and after another pub, Richard, Catherine and I made our way home. It was raining, we were all wearing trainers and we had drunk a fair amount, so we ran back to Catherine’s (probably a couple of miles), which was the perfect end to an amusing pub crawl (but probably only something that we would do). Tony had a lovely roast dinner ready on our arrival. 🙂

Sunday was the second Dark and White Mini Mountain Marathon – a 3 hr score (I guess you know what this means by now) from Hayfield. It was raining when we started and during parts of the event, but the views were stunning. We hadn’t been in this area very many times and hence it was interesting to see Kinder from the opposite side. Kinder Downfall looked awesome from the bottom with masses of water flowing over it. I scored equal points to the first lady, although as my time was 4 minutes longer (2hr58 vs. 2hr54), I think I probably came second. Richard was first M40 and 2nd overall. The final race is in January, so 1st place will be my target, as for Richard … he’s still deciding whether to be in the M40 or open class! We retired to the pub and then home. An early night I think.

Thanks to Jen for the pics – sorry we were a bit slack with the camera for the rest of the weekend.

Across Wales Walk

The Across Wales Walk (AWW) is a 45 mile walk from Anchor Bridge near Clun on the English-Welsh border to Clarach Bay on the Welsh coast near Aberystwyth. It is organised every year by the West Birmingham Hostelling Association and has a challenge walk format with 5 checkpoints along the way to ensure competitors are still alive and provide them with food and drink. When I heard about it through some of our friends it appealed and so I signed Richard up to it before he could truly appreciate what he was getting himself into.

If any of you were under the impression that this was a walk then think again …of course not, why walk when you can run!

How does this compare to things we have done recently?
So we ran/walked 57 miles at the Rogaine, but this was over 24 hours and we were pacing ourselves for the time duration rather than the length. Then there are all the mountain marathons, but these are very hilly and so constantly the pace is changing from walking uphill to running downhill and it’s only for about 6 hours per day, although there are two days, compared to this one day event. In comparison, the AWW is a 45 mile route across farmland and undulating countryside with one mountain to cross in the middle of Wales… so less walking uphill and more running … as it turned out a lot less walking!

So, it was with slight intrepidation that we started our weekend, I say slight as when you have to get up at 3.15am on a Saturday to start an event, there isn’t much room for gathering apprehension…. I say got up, but in reality we were sleeping in a village hall with about 100 other people, so I think I got absolutely no sleep at all! Nevertheless I stand by my view that sleep the night before an event is unimportant as long as you lie down and rest.


After a toast breakfast we were bussed from Clun to Anchor Bridge where the challenge started (5 am). It was difficult to know what pace to begin with, but somehow we found a sustainable one and kept with it. From Clun the route followed roads, paths and tracks. It was undulating with short sections that were too steep to run. Soon the sun started to rise and the rather lovely landscape came into view.


In no time we arrived at checkpoint 1 where orange squash was on offer – a mid-race refreshment that I often crave and hence was a real treat! I would try to describe the route in detail, but I don’t want to get up (because it hurts) to get the map and anyway I’m sure the race through my eyes will be more interesting! To be honest, I can’t really differentiate between what we saw on the 1st and 2nd legs, it was all quite similar. But I do remember that coming out of the second checkpoint, Richard decided to take a slightly different route (within the rules) which he thought had slightly less climb. It was very amusing because the marshalls at check point 2 called us back asking if we knew what we were doing, which we of course replied yes …. afterwards we saw that they had noted on their checking sheet “went a very odd way out of CP2!
Leg 3 was quite tough; not so much for the terrain but just feeling tired and slow. I think in a race, the start is always ok and then you have to go through this crappy period before you really get going. To make it worse there were a few forest roads which were hard on the legs. Then there is the mental side of it, you know that you have to run 45 miles, you guess you’ve run about 10 and then you start working out how many marathons there are still to go…
Checkpoint 3 was great, they had tea … fantastic, it was a bit hot however and I so I drank half and then got Richard to cool it down by adding water. Unfortunately he added barley squash instead… which was actually delicious, the tea was still bitter, but also sweet!
As the check points rolled by things got better and better. Plus, good advice when you start to feel a bit low is to eat. I had stocked up on sausage rolls, pork pies and flapjack at the farm shop and they were delicious!
Soon enough the leg arrived that contained the mountain Plynlimon. For most of the race so far we had been running with a man and a woman who had rather different skills to us. They were quick on the roads and where they knew the route, whereas we were quick off-road and the mountain was going to be our one chance to get ahead before the road running increased in the second half. Richard chose a line up the mountain that knocked off a bit of distance and then we quickly walked up the mountain, traversed the summit peak and then ran down the other side. The bottom was yukky with lots of hummocks and holes to fall down, but it didn’t take too long, other than extracting my foot from a metre deep bog on the last step before the road! We got to the road and didn’t know if we were ahead of the man and woman or not, so we ran on up the road around a reservoir and then along a dam to the next checkpoint. They hadn’t got there, we were in front! We drank watered down soup and then headed on, overtaking another competitor in the process.


The next bit was dull, a run of probably about 3 k around the lake on the road. I decided that this was too dull to go slowly so somehow we increased our speed, we could see the other competitor behind us and we just pulled away from him. Those sausage rolls really had done the trick! We also knew that the man and woman could come up behind us at any moment, so any extra speed was going to be useful.


Richard and waterfall

This part of the run was actually quite pretty with gorse and heather-covered hillsides and waterfalls. We kept powering on and soon arrived at checkpoint 5. There was bread pudding and more soup. Perfect. We didn’t stay long though, the last leg was still to come. I was amazed how well we were doing and how we were still able to run relatively quickly after all those miles! So, we made our way up quite a long hill to start the leg. It was there that we met a runner coming down the hill. He stopped to tell us how far the next person was in front and then proceeded to ask where we had run from, we said Clun and his face was an absolute picture! Soon we were descending on the road … 6 miles to Clarach Bay. This was probably the least enjoyable part of the race. It was road, we were going quickly, but when we did slow to a walk up the hills, getting going again was torture. By this point Richard’s knee was aching and my hip was hurting, so the first few steps of running was agony. The thought that the man and woman might be close behind us however made us keep running. We ran into Bow Street and then there was just the 3.5 km run down into Clarach remaining. It was painful, but we mustered enough energy for a sprint finish into the finish. What a race! We’d ran across Wales in 9 hrs 50 mins! After a few minutes we thought we should go down to the beach. I got up and realised that my legs were now completely useless. It took me about 5 minutes to walk about 25 m!


We were driven to Aberystywth where we ate in the university halls of residence. We then awaited our friends from the Peel Road Runners who were also running the race and ended up in town for beer and wine. An early night was on the cards.


Before being driven back to Clun, certificates were presented and our congratulations focused on the two chaps (one 68 and one 72) who had done a double crossing – the first being through Friday night and the second starting when we did! What stars! We came joint 6th overall and I was the first lady home. Our first ultramarathon complete. What next. The idea of completing the BG is getting evermore appealing.

A great event – thanks to the organisers who did an excellent job!

Craig Yr Wrysgan

The fine weather earlier this week disorientated Vikki such that she believed she was still in Spain and wanted to go climbing!!

So here we are walking up the Moelwyns road. The sign relates to the mine workings, not to Vikki!


We had a very pleasant climb up Mistral (VS) on very rough rock, a pleasure to climb on.

Here’s Vikki topping out….


and the happy couple on top…

All that remained was the tea shop at Tanygrisiau – yes, there’s even one there!

Its Monday, so it must be…….Glenshee!

Today was Chris’s birthday (landlord of Hunters in Cockermouth), so we decided on an away day to Glenshee. In the east there’s been a lot more snow than the Nevis range, so despite a slight thaw there was still plenty to go at.

Chris takes a quick break
Chris takes a quick break

It was fairly windy, but we skiied non-stop until our legs had turned to mush, and although it was the dreaded half-term there were no queues!!

Chris takes an unscheduled break
Chris takes an unscheduled break

We did find the tea and cakes on piste to be good value; £2 for a chocolate crispy and cup of tea. Pretty tasty but maybe the mug could have been bigger

Glenshee chocolate crispy
Glenshee chocolate crispy

Although its a bit of a trek, it was well worth the effort; second day skiing of the season and I improved a lot…… the skiing legs are coming back!

Late afternoon just before lift closedown
Late afternoon just before lift closedown

Great End and 2 Tea Shops

You’ve got to grab the opportunity when it arises, so Jon and I took a day off work and headed up to Great End to enjoy some of the fantastic conditions.

Great End Crag
Great End Crag

We made an early start expecting the crag to be heaving, but saw only a couple of climbers all day, and a couple of walkers. We headed for the Central Gully area, and did Left Branch (3) and Right Branch with the Chimney finish (IV,5). The neve was solid, and the ice on left branch ok. The chimney finish was a good lead from Jon as it was a bit thin.

Jon soloing up to the branch in Central Gully
Jon soloing up to the branch in Central Gully
Central Gully
Central Gully
Jon on the mixed section of Right branch, chimney finish
Jon on the mixed section of Right branch, chimney finish

As usual, we took far too much gear with us……….. having left half in the car, half at the bottom, we still had twice too much. Why is that???

We were back at the sacks by 12.30 leaving plenty of time to head to Keswick for the first tea shop. Then it was glove shopping (again!!!) and another tea shop. All in all a good end to a perfect day!

Cakes and tea at "Ginger and pickles" Keswick Tea and biscuits at "Abraham Tea Rooms"
What about these???
What about these???
"I like these!"

Blown Away [well almost] !

The annual AMC [Arete Mountaineering Club] Keswick B&B meet started at 9.30am Saturday morning with a bacon buttie and tea in a Keswick car park.


As the forecast was for increasing wind, a day scrambling on a lower fell was suggested, the decision being Intake Ridge on Bessyboot. On our approach the first obstacle was crossing the swollen stream followed by the first pitches of our route. By now the wind had gained strength, and as the crux crossing of an exposed slab (rope recommended!) loomed above, with the wind stepping up another gear convincing all but one to take option 2 [chicken out].

Clive disappeared round onto the slab and eventually reappeared with tales of holding on tight and laying flat against the rock as the wind tried to blow him back to Keswick. More pitches led to a very windy summit and walk down below Raven Crag; climbers in situ on Corvus.


Our day ended as it began in Keswick with food, tea and cakes this time.