Sunday, 28 November 2010

A walk around Burbage

Drove up to Burbage with Joe and one of his mates this morning.  Ringinglow Road was gritted up to the boundary with Derbyshire whereupon the driving became quite exciting.  Fewer people out than one might have expected when we set off - we were passed by a group of fell runners - but busier by the time we got back to the car, including quite a few climbers out with bouldering mats.

Here are a few pictures from our walk.

Looking back towards Burbage Brook and Ringinglow Road

Burbage Edge

Higgar Tor


Stanage Edge
Ice Crystals

Ice Crystals


Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Filling up a weekend

I'd planned to go to the climbing wall with my son on Saturday but he'd had a late night with his mates (teenagers, what are they like?), which left me at a loose end.  Realising I needed to fight the urge to tick off a few jobs on the 'to do' list and make the most of such a fine autumn day, I quickly pumped the tyres up on the bike and cycled out to Hathersage. 

The run up to Stanage Pole from the house is easy enough and then the track follows the causeway parallel to the edge before plunging down below High Neb.  I only cycle this section every few years.  Well I say cycle but it's more of a walk - the large cobbles and big drops are too technical for me - and each time I go this way, I vow not to do it again.  Apart from that, it's a fab ride with a fast, level off-road section before hitting the road and hurtling down into Hathersage.  I stopped for a brew at Longlands before heading back.  Of course all that downhill fun comes at a cost and the way back home is somewhat more of a grunt - 1450' of it, in fact.  I forgot to take the camera but I did get this view of Stanage with the phone

17 miles, 2200' ascent

On Sunday I spent some time at the Climbing Works.  I really like this place. It's a big shed full of bouldering walls and crash mats, good coffee, music and people with big arms.  After my first visit a few months ago, I had so little strength left in my arms, I couldn't grip the knife to slice an onion when I got back home.  Now I just come away with sore elbows and shoulders.  Many of the problems are stupidly difficult but there is so much on offer, it's easy to while away an hour or two and come away on an endorphin high and feeling you've had some exercise.

I went back again later for the Free Rock Tour 2010 film evening, featuring some inspiring big wall climbing, seemingly pointless bouldering routes comprising a handful of stupidly difficult moves and an American called Dean Potters who has pioneered the new sport of base climbing, where you solo something hard and steep until you fall off and then rely on your parachute to save you.  Of course it only works if you're good enough to get high enough before you fall off.  Here's the trailer.

In this one, Dean Potters doesn't fall off El Cap but it's still impressive to watch.

The final film of the evening was about Ueli Steck, who solo'd the Eiger North Wall in 2hrs 47 minutes, knocking more than an hour off his previous record.

Monday, 8 November 2010


No, not the call of a rutting owl but a small expression of excitement - Christine and I are on the 2011 Challenge (woohoo - again).

My old mate Steve Gough, who I did this with in 2009, is number 4 on the reserve list, so I expect we'll be crossing paths at some point.

Fellow Peeb-Mofflers and bloggers, Alan, Shirl, Phil and Martin are there, as is Humphrey, who has seen us off from Peebles both times.

A few other bloggers, who I've not met yet are in the list, including Helen Fisher, also from Sheffield.  So if we don't bump into you around Burbage or tarping at Lawrencefield, Helen, we may at least see you in Montrose.

I think it's time for a small celebratory beverage and then blow the dust off the maps.


And now for a few pictures from 2009...

Steve and I at Ratagan - the start of our 2009 Challenge

Near the top of the Corrieyairick Pass

Me at Garva Bridge

A long day on the Monadhliath

Stalkers bothy above Newtonmore where we spent a night

A miserably wet day on the track from Glen Muick to Glen Clova

Monday, 1 November 2010

When the clocks change in October it gets dark early

Every few months, things catch up on me and my body just refuses to do anything.  When this happens and if I have no reason not to, I give in to it and spend the weekend watching DVDs and ignoring the list of jobs.  So it was with this weekend just gone.  On Sunday we were wrapped in fog all day.  My attempt to cook Bara Brith, from a recipe in a book I bought last weekend in S Wales, was a total disaster.  I need to learn about yeast.  It's always given me problems.

By late afternoon, I was feeling I should at least step outside the front door.  It was quite warm.  I grabbed the car keys and a cag and drove up to Redmires reservoirs, at the end of the road. It was about 4.30 and the light was fading but I reckoned I could get in a quick walk up the track to the old shooting lodge and back.  There are two routes but my preferred one goes across some open moorland to reach the other route, a track bounded by the old water works conduit on one side and a wall on the other.

It was quite boggy underfoot.  A grouse made me jump with its characteristic cuk cuk cuk call from out of the gloom.  I was feeling disoriented - to begin with I thought it was a dog.  Dogs make me anxious.

Anyway, I reached the shooting hut, walked round it, stared in the doors, shouted hello.  The local tramp wasn't there.  Then I set off back down the track.  Hmm, it really was quite dark.  Not 'in a cave' dark but certainly 'stumble, trip' dark.  I reached the gate where the track over the moor meets the easy to follow one.  It'll be reight, I thought.  There's only one short section where it's gets a bit vague and if I veered right there, I'd meet the boggy bit and then I'd be able to follow the wall up over the hill.  In any case, if I can't find the way, I could just turn round and go back to the easy path. 

So I set off into the blackness.  Lighter patches of short grass looked like rocks and the skyline looked like walls but I used the heather to tell me when I was going off route.  Then every direction seemed to be heather.  Bother, how did this happen?  Ok, I must need to go a bit to the right here to pick up the track.  Yes, here's a wall but which one is it?  There are two around here that run parallel to each other.  Ok, It doesn't matter.  If I head uphill by this one, it will either be right or will turn towards the one I want.  After a few minutes climbing over tussocks, I realised the wall was no longer there.  I'd been following the skyline.  Bugger.  Ok, maybe I'm still too far to the left.  I headed mfurther right and then things got more serious.  I realised I might be a bit lost.  No torch, no compass, no phone.  How was I going to fix this one?

If I went north I would hit the conduit, west would take me to Stanage ultimately but I ought to recognise something before that.  With luck  I'd hit the plantation first.  South was where I wanted and it was uphill but so was west.  East would also take me to another section of the conduit or the field with the horses in and there'd be some walls on the way.  That boxed maybe 4 or 5 square miles - possibly a bit more, possibly a bit less.

I turned round and walked back in what I thought was the direction I had come from.  Hang on.  I should be going downhill and I'm not.  There was a slight breeze and I remembered  feeling this on my face on the way out to the shooting lodge.  It was warm as well, which made sense if it was coming from the west.  Great, I'll turn 90 degrees right and head north.  That should take me back to the wall that runs alongside the conduit down from the small reservoir and I can follow that to the gate and pick up the easy track.

I was losing track of time and tripping over tussocks more frequently.  I just managed to avoid a couple of face plants but it felt like it was only a matter of time before I did myself an injury.  I needed to calm down and slow down.  The only noises were planes to and from Manchester and the occasional grouse call, which made me jump every time.  I tried hard to forget it was Halloween. 

I didn't seem to be getting anywhere. The breeze was back in my face. I must have turned to the left. It seemed brighter over in one direction.  Maybe it was lights from Sheffield  but if it was, I'd have expected them to be yellow.  It started to rain gently.  I put my hood up and briefly contemplated what it would be like to spend the night out here and that the beef bourgingon in the oven would be dried out by the time I got home.  I told myself that the only things that would stop me getting off this moor tonight would be serious injury or running out of energy.  There were no big drops to worry about.  I was no Joe Simpson but then this was hardly 'Touching the Void'

Then I felt the ground dropping down in one direction.  Great.  At last I've found the edge of the hill and I groped my way down the fall line.  It wasn't long before the slope changed and went up again.  I knew by now I must have turned full circle a few times, so my only navigational aids were the breeze or the slope.  The slope still felt the more reliable choice, as down most likely meant east or north, both of which were better options than heading towards Stanage.  I wandered around some more and picked up the lost slope.  When it levelled out again, I carried on in what I thought was a straight line and eventually I found a wall. 

The wall was mostly broken down, so it had to be the one that runs east-west over the moor but which side had I come at it from?  The terrain was pretty flat here so I was back to using the breeze to determine direction but now that seemed to be blowing across the wall rather than along it.  I reasoned that I would have crossed the wall earlier if I had gone south of it, where I ultimately wanted to be, so I must be coming from the north side.  It was 50/50 but either way I should reach somewhere I recognised and as long as I didn't lose this handrail, I could turn round and go in the other direction.  I turned right.  It was a long wall, made longer by the dark and the rough ground and I wasn't letting it out of my sight.  A few times, I had to leave it briefly to get round patches of sedge and I groped my way back anxiously, relieved to find it still there.  After some time (each minute stretching into ten) I met another wall crossing at ninety degrees to mine.  Ok.  I hadn't expected that.  I'll go straight on.  And then a short distance later I reached a second wall crossing mine and some white objects moving on the other side of it.  They were sheep, not ghosts!  And there was a boggy patch with some stones lain across forming a makeshift causeway.  I was pretty sure I knew where I was now.   With guarded optimism, I turned right and soon started to rise up and the wall was on my left and I reached the stile and all that was left was to stumble down to the car.  It was pouring with rain by now.  I'd been concentrating so much on finding a way off that I hadn't noticed.  When I got back home it was 6.45.  I'd only been lost for about an hour although it had seemed longer than that.

After getting cleaned up, I went onto the Met Office website to check the wind direction. It was coming from slightly east of north, so when I though I was going north, I was in fact going east, which went to explain why I failed to pick up the down slope to begin with. 

Sorry, lots of words and no pictures.  It was dark.  No camera.  Not a lot of sense either.