I was working in Bowness on Friday so I took advantage of this and headed for Buttermere to bag 5 wainwrights while I was over that side of the country. I set the tent at the Skye Farm campsite and did my usual boycott of the Fish Inn and had a filling homemade chicken pie at the Bridge hotel.
The weather wasn’t great so we headed for Honnistsr slate mine and set off towards Grey Knotts, the cloud was covering the tops and the wind was high but hey Ho. Brandreth was the next top and then Green Gable. Getting up Great Gable was a pain in the cloud and on the way back down I lost the path and ended up dropping down some scree and then having to head back up towards windy gap. On the plus side i managed to practice some Bear Grylls scree sliding skills.
The last top of the day was Base Brown and we made a total hash of the descent, losing the path again and having to scramble down some dodgy ground down into Seathwaite. Good day out but rustiness with navigation skills made the day a lot harder than it should of been, thank god for memory map on the iPhone which saved the day a few times.
I camped at Skye Farm campsite, £8 per night, basic but in a great location and two pubs within 5 mins walk. Very uneven pitching ground for larger tents so beware.
My plan for the day was a route called the Buttermere marathon and what a great route this is. Highly recommended to anyone willing to go a little bit further to secure a few more hills. We had lucked out on the weather but a cool breeze made the going a lot easier.
The walk starts by taking a high path alongside the lake, it’s a long slog over boggy ground to reach Great Borne but the summit is easy enough and has great views to take in. After Great Bourne head to Starling Dodd, the wind on top of this hill was incredible considering how low the wind throughout the rest of the day. The climb to Red Pike gives you a chance to see the whole route laid out and we took the opportunity to shelter from the wind and eat lunch. We had covered quite a bit of ground but the best was still to come.
From High Crag you get amazing views of the ridge that leads to High Crag which beholds an amazing vantage point for viewing Haystacks, Wainwrights favourite hill. The only downside to the full day was the scree slope that descended High Crag but once past this annoying feature it was pure joy heading towards Haystacks.
Haystacks itself is a hill I had read plenty about and the Innominate Tarn was just special, I must come back here for a wild camp, quite literally stunning. We spent half and hour just taking in the surroundings in the warm sun.
There was one more Wainwright left to bag but Woodstock was looking a but tired so Paddy & Gill headed on down. It was a fair old slog up to Fleetwith Pike but again I was rewarded with an amazing view over the valley. I had plenty left in the tank so I jogged down to the valley and to head back to the campsite via a lakeside path rather than the road.
Trust me this walk is so great you must try it, 17 miles, 7 Wainwrights, 9 hours, job done.
Before I end my blog post I would just like to draw attention to the absolute muppet of a landlord from the Fish Hotel. I will never return to this pub again after customer service that beggared belief. Instead I would advise you head to the Bridge Hotel were the food was amazing with hospitality to match. Night night.
With a dull ache in the legs from last weekends hike I decided to bag all the Coniston Fells in one push. Coniston Hall provided the campsite for the weekend and the sun was in full force.
I was set off from the campsite and this added 3 miles to an already big day out in the hills. The route I decided on took in the Wainwright summits of Weatherlam, Swirl How, Great Carrs, Grey Friar, Brim Fell, Coniston Old Man and Dow Crag. The sun played a big part in the day and I was so glad I took a baseball cap with me as I would have burnt to a crisp.
This route is one of my favourites so far in the Lakes and comes highly recommended, I took a slightly different route up to Weatherlam ignoring the guidebook (Walking the Wainwrights) and taking in Kennel Crag which is a very interesting feature to play about on.
Dow Crag and Buck Pike also floated my boat and I will be coming back for a wild camp at either Blind Tarn or the summit of Kennel Crag.
Fitness wise I’m happy with the steady progress I am making and nailed the route in 6 hours dead with plenty to spare in the tank. 16 miles, 4400 feet and 7 Wainwrights, job done.
Friday night was spent in the ODG, the Cumberland sausage was a real let down and I don’t understand why they changed the old recipe. On Saturday I woke early, cooked breakfast and packed my gear into the car. We set off around 8:30am and the clouds were covering a view of the tops. The pull up to Pike of Blisco showed my lack of mountain legs and we were treated to a cloud inversion of sorts at the summit. Unfortunately that was the last view I would see until I was back in langdale valley.
Cold Pike didn’t cause any problems but navigation across the top of Crinkle Craggs was a nightmare, even so Pepper did rather well for a dog and quickly picked up the art of scrambling. Bow Fell was next and I must return here to tackle this in full winter conditions. Esk Pike was next and Angel Tarn looks like a top place for a wild camp. Pepper got thrown in the tarn after she decided to roll about in a pile of mud, lessons were earned by the young pup.
One more Wainwright completed the days bagging and it was quick stroll up Rossett Pike. By the time I reached the valley the sun was out and I took a quick video to capture the setting.
Legs are aching now which means one thing, I need to get my arse in gear with training for the Welsh 3000 challenge in July.
Time flies past and already its the 2nd anniversary of the FC Hikers. Its been quite a busy year for the guys and gals of Team FC which included several meet ups, a team of 4 completing the TGO Challenge , 5 National Trails being knocked off and many other mini adventures.
Quite a few people ask me about the name, Fight Club Hikers, it sounds like we are a crazy bunch of mentalists who battle it out on the hills of the UK. But the name itself came about as a wind up on the LFTO forum. The name goes against the kind of mundane stereotyping of folk who enjoy the outdoors, heck nothing winds we up more than the old adage of ramblers with wooly hats and flasks of tea.
Anyway a few people thought we were trolls stirring up trouble on an internet forum and hatched a plot the would see us all barred for the forum. To be fair we did play a few wind ups on that forum but it was all harmless and always in good humour. Mind you at the time if you dared to share a differing opinion from the all-wise and powerful Trail magazine team you were instantly labelled a trouble maker and we actually ended being barred from the LFTO forum. We took a lot of shit from others but it kind of bonded our friendships and actually motivated us to get out there and let our feet do the talking instead of sitting around glued to our PC’s arguing about whose got the best tent or which waterproof is the best.
Were not a secret club more a group of mates who enjoy getting out into the hills and having a good drink afterwards. We don’t take ourselves seriously and always try to have a laugh along the way. We bounce ideas off each other and more than often then lead to little adventures in the outdoors. That’s it really – FC Hikers, take us or leave us.
ANYWAY less of the history and more of the present. We met up at the Lakes over the weekend for our 2nd anniversary bash (any excuse to hit a pub). In attendance were Titanium Dude, Buzzingirly, Peter Crawford, Wibble69, Darksy, Pieman, Der Alte plus the 3 dogs Woodstock, Millie and Pepper.
The Swirral camping barn was our base camp for the weekend and we started to arrive at 3pm on the Friday and the beers were flowing by the time Paddy and Gill turned up at 8pm. It was good to see Darksy again who I met on my first ever forray into the hills about 4 years ago. Wibble arrived in style by getting his car stuck in a ditch, it took a few recruits from the Travellers Rest pub to free it. Pieman turned up clutching a box of red wine which made him an instant hit with Gill. We spent a cold night in the barn plotting our route and basically sharing banter into the small hours of the morning.
Waking up we were greeted to a snow-covered lakeland, brews and breakfast was consumed and we headed into the hills wrapped up well in winter gear. The walk itself took us up to Sticks Pass, Stybarrow Dodd ,Raise, Helvellyn, Nethermost Pike, Dollywagon Pike and back to The Travllers Rest pub via Grisedale. Darksy took an alternative route via Swirral edge. It was a prefect day for winter lakeland walking and we were treat to some amazing scenery from the uppermost slopes.
After the walk we headed into the Travellers Rest pub and spent the night filling ourselves with ale and fine food, Der Alte turned up after making a perilous journey from down South. Plans were hatched for new adventures and last orders were soon being called. We trudged back to the barn and I drifted off to sleep to sounds of others snoring.
Hope you enjoy the pictures.
A report on Piemans blog http://northernpies.blogspot.com/2010/11/helvellyn-weekend-with-fight-club.html
An opportunity cam about to visit the Brecon Beacons last week but it meant i had very little time to plan anything and had to look to google for a walk. So without a map (shock horror) I set my satnav to Neuadd Resevior. When I arrived it was raining heavily and I wondered if it really was a good idea to head out without a map.
The quick pull up to Graig Fan Ddu warmed the legs and i managed to catch up to two walkers who I joined for the day, Richard and Ted had come prepared with a map. The walk took us around the valley taking in Cord Du, Pen y Fan and Cribyn. Cloud ruined the first part of the walk but the cloud lifted on Pen y Fan and revealed some quite stunning views of the Brecon’s. The landscape is unique and I hope the photos do the area the justice. I will be back again to visit this area, its well worth a look !
This weekend saw myself, paddy, Peter and gill walk half of the welsh 3000 in bad conditions. We set off towards foel fras and the wind picked up. This was not going to be a day for views of the carneddau, luckily the rain held out but we spent the whole day locked in the clouds.
The foel grach refuge hut gave the only respite from the high gusting winds which hampered our progress. After a late start we decided to setup camp at the shores of llyn lloer at around 2000feet. The tents took a battering during the night with swirling winds meaning a perfect pitch arse end into the wind was not possible, I came away with a bent tent pole and memories of the wildest/windy night I have yet to experience.
I will be returning to Wales soon for part 2 and then again for the full challenge in due course.
Kit wise my new iPhone performed really well with the memory map app and was exactly what I was looking for, it was also cool to be able to watch a movie in the tent. My new innov8 race pro 30 pack was the real winner though, it just seemed to tick all the right boxes for me and was a pleasure to carry, plenty more trips to do before I give it the thumbs up though.
Attached are a few photos taken on the iPhone and my first blog post using the wordpress app.
A few extracts and thoughs of the trip from the Peaceful Hiker forum.
I set myself the target of pushing myself through the pain barrier this weekend in an attempt to forget England’s woeful performance in South Africa. The challenge had to be quite close to home so I could return on Saturday evening for my birthday meal with my family.
I programmed Horton in Ribbleside into the sat nav and set off wondering what time I could achieve on the Y3P. I had previously recorded a time of just over 12hours with friends but I suspected I could make a large dent into this time.
My pitch for the night was the Golden Lion field which was full of folks all attempting the walk. I eat a hearty meal of Sirloin steak and chips which was enjoyed in the warm evening sun before settling down for the night with Great Expectations……the Charles Dicken’s novel that is.
I was woken at about 5:30am, the campsite was alive with people all gearing up for the walk, I had planned on setting off at 8am but I took advantage and got up early. I cooked my breakfast then broke camp to head for the cafe which is the official starting point of the walk. It was closed so I posted my details through the door and set off at 6:30am.
The route was jam packed with around 300 charity walkers all doing their bit, this made navigation a doddle. The morning mist had settled on top of Pen-y-ghent where a werwolf was clocking in the charity walkers. I gave myself a minute or two to rest then headed off into the mist. The path splits into two and about 40 walkers were all scratching their heads, a group of older walkers were adamant people should take the left path, after checking the map I ignored the turnoff and assured a group of walkers it was the right path. I decided to jog the easy downhill sections to cover some ground, it was a tactic that did not leave me tired and it paid off in the end.
I walked to the food van near the viaduct with a lad from Grimsby called Paul who was walking for charity with a group of work mates, he was dealing quite well with the effects of the previous nights drinking session and we shared some good banter. On the way up Whernside I pushed on solo and made sure I did not stop on the uphill sections to keep up my chance of getting a reasonable time. On the top of Whernside I stopped for 15 minutes to eat lunch, the views from the top were perfect and I was really enjoying myself.Looking at my times I estimated I was on for between 8 and 9 hours which was better than I had hoped for.
I jogged along the long ridge of Whernside and then descended the painful steps going down from the summit, be warned this is prime blister territory. The sun was out and I decided to record a few video diary entries, these failed miserably and have since bene deleted, an external microphone could be a good idea for my new phone. I stopped for a quick orange juice at a local farm before heading to the base of the last peak Ingleborough.
I gave myself 5 minutes to rest before tackling the steep stone steps which take you to the top of Ingleborough, I paced myself and kept going until I was finally at the cairn sat on top of the summit. I was now wondering if I could actually make 8 hours. Heading down I was walking at quite a fast pace and passed many walkers, but two older walkers were on my heals and I couldn’t shake them. I ended up chatting with them and it turned out they were members of the LDWA which explained how quickly they covered the ground. They passed me and I made sure I kept their pace although they pushed me beyond what I would call a comfortable walking pace, it was closer to jogging than walking however when I reached the cafe the decision to tail these two had paid off ……7hours 16 minutes was my official time, nothing amazing but respectable for a walker.
The drive home was enjoyable and a family meal at a tapas ended an eventful day, well not quite…..a few drinks with the lads turned into an all nighter !!
With the new tent ready for action we headed for Braithwaite and the Scotgate campsite. This campsite comes highly recommended if you are taking the family, the facilities/shower block are the best I have come across.
We got up early on Saturday morning and headed off towards Skelgill bank car park. Thomas and Pepper made light work of the climb up Skelgill bank and we were soon tackling Catbells. This is a great summit for kids and Thomas enjoyed scrambling up his own little route to the summit. Thomas wore his new boots his nana bought him from Aldi -£8.99, perfect for fast growing feet and apparently really comfy. We had a bit of lunch and Thomas and Leanne headed back for the car, Keswick swimming baths were calling and the route I had planned was a bit of a beast.
I took my new walking poles out and decided to bomb along the trail. Everything was going great and Pepper was perfect off the lead, until she spotted her first group of sheep. All the dog training went out of the window and natural instinct kicked in and off she shot down the side of Maiden Moor. 10 minutes later i finally found her, and popped her back on the lead.
With Catbells and Maiden Morr behind us we were soon on top of High Spy, no time to relax though and we made light work of the steep climb up the impressive Dale head. Hindscarth saw the last of the good weather and i popped on my fleece on top of Robsinson. My guide book advised of two routes down from Robinson, one into Buttermere and aa huge diversion, the other was a steep descent down towards Newlands Hause. This route is harder to find – top tip it’s just West of Moss Force.
By the time we reached Newlands Hause the heavens had started to open and hail was falling. Out came the waterproofs and we pulled ourselves up the climb to Knott Rigg, by the time we reached the top it was lashing down with rain and sleet, the wind had whipped up and visibility was minimal. There was no sign in Peppers energy levels dropping but I don’t think she was impressed when she reached Ard Craggs drenched through. Scar Craggs and Causey Pike were the last 2 wainwrights of the day and by the time we reached the car park back at Skelgill we knew we had done a “biggie”. I thought Pepper may of tired slightly but she still bounced along the final mile back to the car keeping a close eye of all the sheep. Leanne was waiting at the car park and a hot shower was calling for my aching body. A bottle of red and some camping stories ended a perfect day.
Sunday gave me a an hour to play with as Thomas wanted to go swimming again and I was on dog minding duty. So looking at the map I headed for Latrigg for a quick jog to the summit with Pepper. The views over Keswick are really worth it for this easy little summit and I would recommend this one for younger children. After SUnday lunch at Braithwaite we headed home, a great weekend for everyone.
I thought i would start to add a few of my older trips to my blog…so here is the first one.
After an early morning flight from Luton costing around £140 return with Ryanair we arrived at Marrakech airport. First post of call was to obtain some local currency as you cannot obtain it outside of Morocco. The next port of call should of been to the duty free shop to get some drink supplies but we passed on this which would later haunt us.
Our Moroccan host Mohammed Aztat had arranged for a taxi to pick us up from the airport to take us to our mountain base camp in Imlil which was about 90minutes away. We played a game of taxi cab bingo on the plane which I proudly declare myself the winner of, a 1970s brown Mercedes, often seen in many foreign countries.
Weather wise it was quite warm and cloud free. The taxi was soon leaving Marrakech and heading South towards the High Atlas mountains. We did get a quick sight of the old city as we passed the city gates of the Medina. The taxi ride was interesting and these Moroccans certainly don’t mess about when it comes to driver etiquette. Through the warm hazy air we could soon see the mountain range that and its snow capped peaks. The taxi soon began gaining height as we winded up and around the mountain roads towards Imlil, closer to our destination the car slowed as we had to pass a boulder the size of caravan which had fell from the mountain side on the previous afternoon, several locals were out with pick axes and sledgehammers trying to break up the obstruction. Soon we reached the end of the road Imlil were our host was waiting for us with a pack donkey to take our luggage to his home. The taxi cost around £20 each way. Man of the locals had come out to have a look although I suspect they were eyeing us up for future bartering in their shops.
We entered the Dar Adrar (full details of our accommodation can be found here www.daradrar.com). Mint tea was quickly offered and after a quick tour of the building we realised we had fell on our feet with this place. Later we ventured into the village for supplies and a spot of shopping, be prepared for some very persuasive individuals in these remote Berber villages, stay strong and stick to your guns and you should come away with a reasonable deal. Our host had also popped to the shop for supplies for tea which I was assured was going to be chicken or at least I thought this after doing my excellent chicken noise impression. On returning we were given a huge 3 course meal which was comprised of the main dish omelette (the chicken impression was taken in the wrong context), saying that though I hate Egg but still got a decent feed out of it. We eat on the roof terrace and enjoyed one of the most breath taking views I have seen, this place is beautiful and deserved more attention than our climb could give it. We arranged a local guide through Mohammed and retired to the living area were we met a Dutch couple Cor and Susan, after a chat about Toubkal they decided to join us on the trip but would meet up with us at the mountain hut as they needed to rent some gear. We retired to the bedroom and got our heads down for the early start we had planned.
Up early and after a hearty breakfast we were on the trail to the mountain refuge, the walk would take about 6 hours. The weather was hot and clear, the scenery amazing and the hike manageable. On the way up we slowly gained height and we reached the snowline at the holy site of Sidi Chamarouch there is a white roofed mosque. This is a popular pilgrimage place for local inhabitants since the source of water, which emerges from the rocks here, is reputed to have healing powers,
incidentally the place were the donkeys stopped (maybe they drink the water). We rested with a cold fizzy drink and chilled out with the friendly locals. The snow line proved and added difficulty and we fell through the snow countless times. About 2 miles from the refuge the path disappeared and we were in the valley that led up to the gorge. At this point I realised not packing sun tan lotion was a mistake, the problem was multiplied because there was literally no cover from the sun for the last hour and the snow reflected it . By the time we reached the refuge I had a cracking headache and was burnt to a crisp. In the refuge we eat well and chatted with our Dutch friends Cor and Suzanne. Mohammed our guide came into his own in the refuge and arranged all our food, there was plenty to go around.
We hit the hay around 10 in a dorm like room, the united nation of hikers, climbers and skiers got treat to a bohemian rhapsody of snoring from the UK boys. Fell asleep wondering if my cold would disappear and wondering if I had caught too much sun.
7am start and a splitting headache, first things first, 4 ibroprofin tablets in a desperate attempt to get me through the day. A quick breakfast and brew then we ditched all the gear we didn’t need, the backpacks were light the weather conditions were overcast (result for me, I could take no more sun) and the team was ready.
We set off up the mountain and the initial drag up the mountain side took its toll, we slowed our pace accordingly and took our time. Pete struggled at the start and didn’t fancy it but after a bit of a pep talk and a rest he kept going, later it would be me who struggled, but at this point I felt great and ready for it.
After the initial pull up the first slope the gradient decreased slightly and a bit further up the mountain it opens out into a bowl like shape , Mohammed told us that at the top of this next slope was the ridge that led to the summit which was out of sight behind clouds.
Close to 2/3 of the way up this slope Pete took the lead and shook off his earlier problems, it was a this time I started to lose my breath very quickly, it was weird because Paddy has literally told me about 5 minutes earlier that we were over 4000m. At this point I felt totally shattered, my legs were failing after about a minutes effort and the recovery time slowed. At this point I decided to let Paddy know I was goosed, instead of whinging and whining I decided to just laugh at the situation and myself and Paddy had a right laugh at me dropping to my knees every 20 steps or so.
When we reached the top of the slope we knew all we had was a traverse of a narrow ridge and a few hundred metres to the summit. I popped a quick peek over the ridge and seen the biggest drop I have ever seen, this focused me in the mountain and I knew I was so close to reaching the summit.
10minutes later and we were all stood on the summit of North Africa’s Highest Mountain, a small achecivement for a real mountaineer but in just under 2 years I had gone from nothing to this and done it with some great mates. All I wanted now was a view from the summit height of 13,671 ft, we waited about for about half an hour but the cloud did not lift.
The descent I cannot write much about because frankly I cant remember much, apart from sliding on my arse down a massive snow slope and thinking I hope this ice axe stops me. Ohh the other thing I remember is wondering how they got rid of all the human waste from the refuge, well we found out on the way down when we saw the back of the building……basically it looked as if was just thrown out of the window…..it looked like the biggest, messiest skid mark you have ever seen.
A quick snack in the refuge refuelled us and he repacked our rucksacks, setting off back on the trail back to our base camp I felt really good, the walk home was a long one but it was a piece of cake compared to the walk in. Stopping just once to barter with the locals for a second hand tagine we reached the Dar’Adar just as night closed in. A hearty meal and an unlikely internet fix in a locals humble home topped off a perfect day. Mohammed Aztat arranged a taxi for us in the morning and recommended a hotel, this bloke is top notch by the way and comes highly recommended. After some late night banter with Suzanne and Cor we hit the hay..mission accomplished….tomorrow, time to celebrate.
Goodbye’s were said to Mohammed and his staff and we shared a 4×4 taxi with our Dutch friends back to Marrakech. The taxi ride again brought a few worried looks from its passengers but hats off to the bloke he got us there, although I cant see the logic in blind overtaking on mountain corners when the drop spells certain death.
Our hotel was basic but well placed, we soon found a bar that served beer and hit the sauce, I can honestly say it was the best tasting pint of lager I have ever drank, all though it may of been the sweet taste of success.
Marrakech has the largest traditional market (souk) in Morocco and also has one of the busiest squares in Africa and the world, Djemaa el Fna. The square bustles with acrobats, story-tellers, water sellers, dancers, and musicians. By night, the square turns into food stalls, becoming a huge open-air restaurant with busy life. The Medina of Marrakech is also on the List of World Heritage Sites.
Pete wanted a picture of us with a snake charmer, no chance…!!! We wandered around the Souks and sampled some real Moroccan culture. After running out of bars in the old town we headed for the new town and ended up in a local working mans club, here we met some characters including an ex Moroccan boxing champ who had stories about working as movie extra and we chatted about football and their love for Liverpool. As day turned into night we lost Pete who headed back to the digs, myself and Paddy found ourselves sipping cocktails in one of the cities most up market bars, this was bliss, and as Paddy will tell you the young bar maid took a shining to me and kept our table filled with free bar snacks. We headed back to the square and wandered around aimlessly taking in the night bazaar’s, we bumped into Pete again and hit the bar for a night cap.
The hazy return home, pretty lame really, flight sound, no hiccups and Gill (superstar) waiting at the airport.
In summary this was one of the best things I have ever done, I recommend it to anyone.
Tips for others:-
Take your own booze as there is none in Berber villages
Get BMC membership for insurance and discount in the mountain refuge
You don’t need a guide but they come highly recommended especially Mohammed Aztat
Ice axe, crampons and mountain clothing is needed
When bartering go low, very low and slowly work up to your price
Flights £140, Taxi £20, Accommodation/food £50, guide £30 knowing that you have done it all for half that of a popular walking magazine sells this trip for…….priceless