Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Days 2 and 3 Ambleside

This is going to be more of a note making exercise and so if you can't really be arsed this would be one to skip.

Old new band of the week are The Young Republic, their Myspace has some great new songs. The first three are all worth a listen and with a new album due out I can see them being the New New Band of the week all over again soon. Napoleon Roses is a belter.

And so we left Clapham near Ingleborough (Chris heading back to Ponte Carlo no doubt via an ancient mountain pass just south of Inver-outer Isles) in the dark with the promise of a few beers in a cosy Ambleside in our heads. From the M6 virtually all the way back to Windermerewas a solid line of traffic, thankfully all headed albeit in a stationary fashion in the opposite direction to us. Now either,Godzilla had arrived in Ambleside and was taking chunks out of the mountains, or the post New Year romantics were now sat in the cars opposite arguing about ' who's bloody idea was this in the first place'. Really, the post new year romantics could easily have been a Record Mirror special subset genre to challenge the post C86 brigade. Think Shop Assistants if it helps...........no...............moving swiftly on.

The Shoppies  bloody hell that's jangly

30 minutes later we ambled into Ambleside (how else do you get there?) no problems at all, oh until we reached the archway to the car park off the main street. Designed for a horse and cart circa 1725 I think, and a bloody skinny horse at that, still if I'm going to hang off mountains I can certainly take the odd risk with a wing mirror..........it's all adrenaline junky stuff for me these days. I just made it through while Craig opted for the 'yay go me' park right outside the front door technique....jammy git. Now this may appear a bit bloody convenient but lets just say the pub/hotel receptionist did look a bit like Tracy Tracy.

nanananana nananana nana

and the even better

We checked in,we planned routes and had a bit of tea and we were knackered so no 'on the town' for us tonight. 10.30pm and I'm all tucked up in my room watching Match of the Day and I knew I wasn't even going to see the end of that through drooping eyelids. Then it started....right below my first floor bedroom, 'Ladies and Gentlemen it's Lakeside Karaoke' oh good I thought!. Well by the third American Pie I was beginning to lose the plot, I've seen The Deer Hunter, I know how it works. One stray bullet, you pretend you weren't there and its Buddy Holly time. Just in case this ever comes back to bite me, I learnt everything I know about guns from the owl murderer who also used to take pot shots a builders in his youth.

Thankfully the overnight bag I'd brought had a brand new pair of festival camping earplugs tucked down the side, lucky for them I thought as I dreamt of Camper Van Beethoven.

Take the Skinheads Bowling - Good tune good vid

Bright and Breezy next day we set off to walk the Fairfield Horseshoe, down Tyrone Road, passed Shannon Crescent shops (steal a Bar Six), onto Bishopton Rd West and down to theRimswell,turn left up to the VG and then round the back through the cut and home by dark........shit that's when I was 4, I got in right bother that day too. This one has 8 Wainwrights (look it up, it's like train spotting for walkers) it was also going to be a heck of a challenge, 8 real peaks with the tallest Fairfield being only 15 metres shorter than Great Gable and then back around the rest before dark.

We could see the whole route from the first hill and the really good thing is the second half really did look to be downhill all the way. It was bloody freezing in parts, but we are all kitted out these days,witness the Marshmallow Man in the pictures. 

Maybe this had caused the mass exodus the previous day. The views all day were pretty awesome, from Ambleside to Helm Crag, to Striding Edge and Helvellyn, but the extended sunset over the gas rigs and right across Morecambe Bay were brilliant. The Close Lobsterswere pretty cool too.

The whole horseshoe wasn't too much agg at all once we'd summited the first peak, a few interesting climbs on the way down,but we were swigging hot chocolate well before dark (10 minutes).

Shower, curry and beers and another early night for a much needed sleep. That was the plan anyway until we happened upon a pub with the promise of 'Julio Geordie' appearing later....how can you resist that? We didn't. It was a very odd thing to see a bloke who thinks he's a bit JulioIglesias, singing Eagles songs in a geordie accent. Mind you if he had got three notes into American Pie I'd have wrapped a wrought iron bar stool round his Julio Smuggio chops.

And Relax - The Chesterfields

Next morning and still fighting fit we decided to tackle Wansfell (another Wainwright- not that I'm ticking (or now have a book) (and a poster). This was supposed to be the tester day, 'oh day three you'll be knackered' 'your legs will fall off' 'you'll have bones sticking through your feet' and other such things were said .......in my head. Well we fair flew up Wansfell and then another couple of peaks along the ridge and then headed down towards the lake. This now felt like the return leg as we were headed home............. nothing could stop us.......except

'The Horses of Doom'

ok maybe I'm overplaying their part but..

  1. They were roaming free on 'our' fell
  2. They were in our way with no route round
  3. They have teeth, are cloven hoofed, big hair and scary eyes (yeah...same as a Stoke nightclub)
It turned out that the biggest danger to my life and limbs was falling asleep and being trodden to death while waiting for Craig to flounce round like a big brother wannabee insisting on me taking photographs of him with every horse on the hillside. I was relieved when some dog walkers turned up and put him off his stride. One pout too many mate.

We were then faced with 'The Ice Road of Death', if I'd been carrying One Ring or had a hobbit with me then it would have been understandable but this was getting silly. (it was like this for half a mile)

The rest of the walk back to Ambleside was absolutely gorgeous, perfect sunshine,we could see for miles over lake Windermere and we were treated to a wild deer stalking us. I took the gun off Craig and managed to get a photo too. All we needed was one thousand violins (sorry but this is the best one)

Relaxed, a bit tired and extremely happy having spent three days in the hills I returned to my car. YIKES, I had to get it through the 1" gap again...........blood pressure back to normal.

Monday, 16 February 2009

Ingleborough Revisited

The whole new year resolution thing has always seemed a bit negative to me, who wants to spend their time giving up things? Ok murderers and smokers excepted it does seem to be the wrong way around. Having had prior discussion with my climb the big hill pal, he’s resoluting to do at least 2 walks per month. I’m going to resolute to do loads more than that as I like playing out.

To get a head start on the years’ resolutes we headed out on a three day trip on the 2nd of January. I was probably ok to pass a breath test at this point (a police one, as opposed to a ‘am I ok to snog horses’ one) since I’d stopped drinking just over 24 hours before. It may still have been a close call (not with the horses). With the days still being pretty short, a fairly sharpish 9am meeting in Clapham just outside of Ingleton was going to be needed.

 As Craig pulled into the car park at 8.55 am I nearly fell over in surprise, unfortunately Beechy had taken directions from his old man who seems to have less sense of direction than dill the dog. To make it worse Chris adopted classic taxi driver tactics, ‘yeah yeah I’ll be with you in 20 minutes’  2nd call, ‘no worries I’m just round the corner’, 3rd call ‘1 minute just pulling into the car park now’ ‘ Chris you are not, we are stood by the gate!’


Prompt at 9.40 we headed off to climb Ingleborough and view the magnificent Gaping Gill, the highest single drop waterfall in the UK. The immediate uphill climb certainly helped as it was a bit parky, I’m not sure Craig was as pleased with the sudden incline. Back down the hill and along the river to be greeted by a dead rabbit on a bench. Quite why it chose to pass off this earth while having a snooze on an old blokes bench is beyond me, not a mark on it. Craig then went through the whole pose with the dead thing rigmarole ‘by the feet mate’, that’s what the hunters do. Did I mention he kills owls?


It’s a great route up to gaping gill through crevices in rocks giving great protection from the wind. Gaping Gill on the other hand quite frankly left way too much to the imagination. Its was 98% imagination as we watched the stream pass into a small cave opening and then looked at the picture of the waterfall on the information board ‘ let’s see what you would’ve won’. I’m so pleased I didn’t bring my kids here I could just imagine the response ‘dad it’s a hole in the ground’ ‘yeah and not a very good one, can we go to the funfair now?’ us hardier souls nodded sagely (if I was a sage I think I’d do a lot of headshaking just to confuse people) and moved on towards the hilltop.


I know its supposed to be cold and windy at this time of year, but heck it was too. 

As we approach the plateau at the top of Ingleborough and headed across it to the trig point it must have been minus 15C. We’re coming back in the summer to play cricket up here though, one hit over the side is going to go miles. Spicy parsnip soup again and a bit of shelter did the trick and it was off back down via the longcut (no songs this year). 

Simons path is a gentle stroll really, well without the ice it is, with the ice I was suddenly doing Tucker impressions down to a nearly full splits (9 out of 10 judges please). Am I the only person who doesn’t get this whole celebs not being able to dance on ice thing, I made exception to this nonsense once when we won our medal in the winter Olympics but it should have been strangled at birth. (even the scots playing shove h’penny on ice have more merit in their meddle). It’s not that it’s just crap, and even more crap when you put people who can’t skate out to do it but there is no real marking. A bunch of nomarks giving no marks to nomarks , no thanks. And a youtube video of said nomark mark/tucker whatever bloke gets 1,000,000 hits……shakes head sagely.

 Here it is

The strange thing about this walk was we never once got off track, we had a few doubts and a few, ‘where the hell is the stile’ moments but 100% on track. I’d have this down as a bit dull normally but we had misjudged one thing, Beechy being late, my time and distant planning and Craig’s post party sluggishness had combined perfectly to make it a race against the oncoming gloom. 

We nearly lost Craig to a dead ovine colleague and then nearly lost him to a bit of a fall or so we thought, he was having a sit down in a spot where we couldn’t see him. Fortunately we hit a small road just as it was getting dark and then had a lengthy pitch black tunnel to negotiate. 

It was probably the childish woooooo—ing that caused the girl at the far end to give us a very strange look, either that or the fact we were all looking a bit knackered, bedraggled and were seriously in need of a drink.

Monday, 2 February 2009

Not Moel Arthur Dad

Moel Arthur not looking too big?

I'm good with books, particularly non fiction and more specifically development , learning advice sort of books. We read every 'how to bring a baby up in 3 days' guide that there was. It still doesn't stop you bouncing them on the concrete floor once or twice, perhaps the idea is to cover the floor in books. I digress, having read the 'how to get your kids hill walking' book, or at least a section in Trail Magazine I was a world expert.

As usual I followed the experts advice to a tee.

1) Choose a short distance
2) Pick good weather
3) Make sure there's lots to see
4) Choose easy terrain

And I'm very happy if you copy all of the above and use it with your children, not you Craig, if you could bring Tom with us when we head up Scafell, in wind chill minus 10, in the fog in his flip flops it'll serve him right for stuffing me at air hockey. (not that I'm competive or harbour grudges).

Having said all that Jess didnt fair too much better,

1)It was about 9 miles (the book had said about 2 miles)
2)It really was windchill-10C
3) There were loads of fields to look at
4) the MASSIVE uphill at the start was probably a mistake

But at least I had Shad with me so it was bound to turn out nice. Actually it could have been even worse, I had planned a quick warm up 3 miles over Moel Arthur as a bit of a preamble. I was ganged up on in the car park, they took one look at the Moel to our right and basically said

'No Chance - Loser'

Now I'm sure even all this would have been ok had Jess not had crisps for breakfast swished down with fizzy pop.....standard teenage fare I would have thought. Well the standard except on the hills where even the slightly less steep first hill we chose had a more than nausious effect on the stomach. 95% of the time, Jess is a pretty happy person, somewhat understandably jolliness had now left the hillside. Ten minutes later though she was back 'up and attem' and biased as I am I think that despite her lack of sporting prowess, a Duke of Edinburgh may be attained on willpower alone.
I'm pretty sure I would have cried off, I've seen Craig cry off cos his boot was a bit tight!

And so we headed along the ridge into the bitterest of winds, luckily me and Jess were buffed up, I think the pink buff was actually the key to getting Jess out..exercise meets fashion. It got to the point where Shad actually put his gloves on.....thats really freakin cold. Slight aside

Shads birthday and he never gets any presents except another crap jumper off his mum from Boys stores or the Welsh equivalent. The latest one actually has leaves on the shoulder, its so bad I was lost for words so havent mentioned it yet. BLUE leaves. At work the whole team decided to club together to get him a pressie this year and having a hefty collection, amongst other things he gets a top of the range pair of Thinsulate gloves. The ungrateful so and so then comes out on a walk a week later and says ' I don't know why the girls got me these I never wear gloves'. Two issues mate 1)Me and Ric chucked some cash in too and 2) it could have been another bloody jumper. It turned out he spoke too soon though and has now taken to wearing them....sometimes!

There was a bizarre women (sixty ish) we passed who had a chat with Shad(they all do) and claimed to have been dropped off by her hubby and was walking 30 miles to the pub on the coast where he was watching the football. Odd behaviour.

Well we made it too the top without too much cajolling and it was all pretty successful, reasonable views, warm drinks a bit of food. I did have to do a bit of explaining about the fact we could have parked around the corner, rather than in the carpark 5 miles away with one other car. I think the other 40 people at the top were the main giveaway, still what doesn't kill em...etc etc.

Luckily I decided not to check if the bouncing on the head technique was still working or not.