Sunday, 3 October 2010

All change....

Autumn has arrived it seems, although I would need to check when autumn does officially arrive.....The last few weeks have seen changes in the weather, colour of the trees and the fields around here becoming empty as the grasses are cut and heaped in black polythene resting in rows against the stone walls.

I saw the telephone wires down the lane filled with swallows a few weeks ago, all in a frantic chatter, no doubt about the best time to leave and the route choice back to the coast of east Africa for the winter - that's a long way for such a small and fragile thing to travel.

Last Sunday Jude and I rode the cycles out to Bretton Hall park - the Yorkshire Sculpture park ( ) over coffee and lunch I looked out across the panorama of what is, and must have been in it's original state a magnificent view; mature trees, opening green fields, the walled nursery and lined with apple and pear trees - splayed in cruciform around the wall. David Nash has an exhibition there currently; large wood scultpures carved from huge trunks of ash, beech and more exotic trees.

I was really impressed by the short film he made showing the carved ball (which might have been oak or beech) he shaped from a local woodland; he then set the wooden ball free in the river nearby and traced it's journey over time into the estuary (which I think might be Bristol way....) before it was finally dragged out to sea on the tide currents - an amazing life metaphor as well as a great thought!

Take a look at some of the exhibits here:

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Potentials and Possibilities.....

Talking with friends on life, potentials and possibilities; an interesting conversation over wine and the noise of a civil partnership celebration...on creating a personal identity,who we are and it's limitations and benefits..rewriting the script by which we (I, they) live and exploring life and the things that it offers...or not.
Talking with friends on liberation, new challenges and moving onto things that are new and affirming - sounds somewhat cliched BUT a VERY interesting challenge to me on the what, how and why in some of the things in my life....I guess it's easy to live with what is comfortable and yet by doing so we may either a) not extend our view and potentials OR b) live a life that is balanced and realised - if that's not a contradiction on the premise of "get out and try new things..extend your view of life...."

I think I need to consider this a bit more...maybe!

Welcome to the new world .....

It's taken a while to get this underway. I had been thinking of taking the plunge for some time. Have come close to making it happen. I finally have. It's a new open space with lots of potential and full of possibility.

The Devil has his day.......

The weather forecast told us of high winds on the summits, gusting up to 70mph over the coming days; the morning was warm and the sky gave us sun and white cloud. We decided we'd run from near the ski station out to the Pools of Dee and look to climb to the Devils Point and run the ridge toward Sgor an Lochain Uaine (Angels Peak) at 1258m. When I'd seen the ridge a few days prior it was too good to miss in the conditions we were having conditions.

Given the forecast we packed a few more bits of kit, warm tops and waterproof and extra food in case the trip was hampered by slow going in the wind.

Our hitching spot proved lucky for us again; in 5 minutes we were heading up the road toward the Glenmore Forest and getting some good knowledge from a pair of local mountain bikers who told us that the route through the Chalamain Gap was tricky as it was marred by large boulders and it might be best to summit Creag Chalamain then drop over to the main path.

Out of the car and down the forest path to the start of the Chalamain route; the wind we felt as soon as the ground opened out, blowing down the valley making it a little hard as we picked our way across the pathway, at least the sun was out. Soon it was decision time, should we summit the path as suggested or stay low and use the shelter of "Lurcher Crag" on our right and Creag Chalamain on the other side to keep us from wind or run high and be in the wind? It seemed an easy choice, we pushed up the gap and hit the boulder field - a good 400m of large fallen boulders needed careful footing as the gaps and drops between some would've been tough to pull out of. The wind seemed more persistent and I pulled on a long sleeve top as I needed to slow my pace to wait for Jude to catch.

At the top of the boulder field we nipped over a small col and made a good decent on fast peaty ground down into the valley at Lairig Ghru; checking the map we decided that we'd follow the valley toward the Pools of Dee and then head down toward the Devils Point and make the climb up and run back of the ridge. The going was getting slower as the wind picked up; by now we had high crags each side of us, the rock shining wet almost mirror like in the sun which broke beams through the silver and increasingly leaden clouds.

Ahead looked attractive ground, the elevation rising gradually to the col at the valley top which would give us the run down to our climb. The running proved different though.

As we picked our way across well trodden paths making good progress we were soon slowed by more rocky terrain, I tip toed quickly in parts and took shelter behind large boulders to hide from the wind and to await Judes arrival. It felt like the ambition of the ridge was too much in the unfolding conditions; looking at the clag on the tops and speed at which it was moving the forecast of high winds and gusts had seemingly been right.

As we ran further up the valley we soon saw the Pools of Dee - a series of small pools cum Lochs perhaps and it was here we decided we needed to find some shelter from the wind that was running down the valley toward us tripping the heat off us. We found a stone shelter and climbed in; getting more gear on and now full body cover as the rain was starting to fall more persistently than the previous short showers. In talking about what to do, even I was doubting that it would be wise to progress over the Col into the valley beyond for the Devils Point - it would mean running into the headwind, getting colder without much prospect of a climb up to the ridge due to the wind speed - which was racing.

We agreed to retreat down the valley and once we'd had a bit of food off we set with the wind from Devils Point on our backs. The pace down was good, the path seeming different somehow to the run out - the wind helped us down and soon we were at the river crossing with the path over right toward the boulder field of Chalamain Gap. A route check showed we had options on running straight down the valley and through the woods to Rothiemurchas Lodge and then a path down to Loch Morlich. Our progress was quick and the wind abated to leave us warming in the sun as all seemed calmer down here a few hundred metres.

Once at the Lodge, we picked up a service road which was relentless as it twisted through the forest. The sun had now replaced the driving wind and we were back in our summer kit! What a difference a short distance and descent brings.

It was a long slog along the forest road, the white hardcore was unforgiving but soon we cut through trees to the edge of Loch Morlich - a welcome on what was here by the shore a warm late summer afternoon.

Well, the Devil had made his point perhaps further up the valley to us - but I'm confident we'll be back there and will traverse the ridge to the Angels Peak and beyond.

A testing day, full of scenery and consideration for the place and it's elements.

Friday, 17 September 2010

And we ran like crazy things.....

Warm wake up, breakfasted as we looked across to the Cairn Gorm and neighbouring ridges. Kit sorted in a small day sac and we headed for the road that winds up to the funicular rail station that rides day trippers to the Ptarmigian ski station at the foot of the Cairn. We hitched a lift to the car park with 2 climbers who were lookng to climb in the Coire.

Dropping over the edge of the car park down to a well defined path we meandered a route toward the side of  Creag an Leth - Choin (Lurcher Crag) which stood as a strong shoulder on the left. The burns were running fast and fresh and a few scoops of the cold water felt right and off we went again.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Paddling against the tide.....

Late August and a final summer trip for Jude and me. We journeyed up to the Cairngorms; travelled to Aviemore with the canoe and a car full of gear for running, camping and paddling.
We had a few days prior to meeting Mike and Martine who would join us for the river Spey trip to the sea; the weather was truely great, clear blue skies, sunshine and views that seemed to stretch for miles across the Cairngorms and out to far away Munro tops.
Camping near to Loch Morlich we were in easy reach of the Cairngorm ranges and decided on views from the tent that we'd run and bag a few tops whilst the weather held.....and we ran like crazy things..

Simple BUT good

Lazy evening. Full of head cold, at this time of year too!!! Maybe start taking Zinc and Echi.....supper is simple, purple soft aubergine, sweet peppers, small toms lovely fresh Halumi and humous with pittas........

Monday, 30 August 2010

Sun stream...

Early morning wake up call with the warmth of streaming sun, the day ahead looks good and feels as though it will be a time with family and cherished ones....quick spring clean and prep' food - let's all relax and enjoy the sun stream.

Sunday, 29 August 2010

The way the wind blows....

Let the sun shine and let the wind blow...we expected both on the Cumbrian Traverse run in the Lake District. When we met at Broughton Mill the morning was fresh and all around was green and the morning unfolded the presence of nature was felt quickly and with much attention. Heavy rain and gusting winds marked our way across the fell tops toward the Old Man of Coniston and beyond to the county stone at Wrynose Pass.

Gathered as a cluster; shielding ourselves from wind and rain and trying to regain body heat to our core, a few decided enough had been seen and touched. Three of us decided to press on ward; into wind, rain and breaking sun light shafts toward Borrowdale. Onward.

As we climb toward Cold Pike and Crinkle Crags my energy was sapped as the rain fell and the wind came back to buffet us as we crossed soggy turks heads and looked the ascent; I was at the point of closing the day, walking off the hill and hitting the road and hitching back to camp. I soon realised that I was committed, that the opportunity of a lift would be thin and the long walk down the tarmac pas would be unpleasant. So, getting some food in, a quick conversation with myself and I was on Cold Pike and moving to the slippery rocks of Crickle Crags and Bowfell.

Our conversations were relaxed as we agreed the day would unfold as it would, that the options of skipping Greta Gable was our choice - although to me would mean an incomplete Traverse!. Pushed on by the wind on our backs for a while we headed into Borrowdale and Great and Green Gable. The elements must have recognised our fatigue and perseverance as without warning the skies cleared and the range of fells opened up for us. I know this range to be my favourite lakeland place; it always seems so wild and remote, giving me a sense of really being out there, exposed and in a wild place. These thoughts picked up my spirits as we dropped toward Styehead and up the climb past the emergency box, upwards.

The grace of the elements was taken away as the wind gathered dark clouds and clag from the West encouraging us to move quickly toward windy gap and Aarron Slack, the renowned red scar.

I'm sure now we realised we'd cracked the Traverse, we knew the ground and were pushing across Brandreth out on the BG line to Grey Knots and down to the slate mines at Honister.

Seeing friends gathered at the usual spot, at first coloured specks against the black slate carpark but soon waving and familiar faces. We stopped for as long as we liked, had hot tea, changed clothes for a warmer and fresher feel and chatted about the route up across Dale Head and across to the final ridge; High Spy, Maiden Moor and the drop off Cat Bells. Joined by Bernice Nixon who I said was the mermaid of Honister and Dale Head! Always there on the final leg of the BG for many attempts - encouraging folk on and upward.

Early evening, gusting winds from the West knocking us up onto High Spy, chatting on life, the past and what matters.

And so the final drop; off a steep descent with the white houses of Keswick now is view. Soon we see Nick Cable astride his mountain bike dishing out his usual humour "I've been waiting, what took you so long!...." a welcome face as he cycled along side us, opening gates along the woodland section toward Keswick.

We run in together but with the clear intention of being there before 8pm. It's a great feeling coming up the main road onto the High Street and Market Square. The towns busy with bank holiday makers, strolling and getting out on the town. As usual some folk clap us whilst others looked puzzled, we step up the pace as the green door of Moot Hall is in sight. Done. Embraces and hand shakes, kisses even. 21 Lakeland peaks, 21000 feet of ascent and a tough day on the hill. It's all worth it, it always is as the feeling I have of accomplishment and being able to do this gives me a good sense of personal achievement and camaraderie. These days make a contribution to defining who I'am and points of meaning in my life.

Thanks for the company and the conversation and most of all the encouragement.