Reports from 2014

Buffet Party George Starkey Hut, September
Dolomiti Via Ferrata Meet Cortina d’ Ampezzo, September
Beer Meet, Devon, September
Alpine Hotel Meet, Pontresina, July
Rhyd Ddu Meet, Wales, June
Locheil Meet, Scotland, March
Annual Dinner Meet, Lake District, February

Buffet Party George Starkey Hut, Patterdale, 27 - 28 September

With a scramble in mind, we set off on the Saturday morning up Grisedale to the base of Pinnacle ridge on St. Sunday crag. The weather was getting into autumn mood, with the temperature distinctly lower than it had been recently, and with patches of low cloud drifting around and up the valley. So much for clear visibility and warm dry rock. As ever, the pull up the old tracks onto the flanks of St. Sunday crag gives the body a good aerobic workout, as if one were needed, or desired, but before too long we are finding our way across the screes to the base of the route. The cannon rock is poking out of the grey gloom, confirming we have arrived at the base of the right buttress. ‘Take the right hand side’ comes the shout from Mike with his local knowledge, and we have soon finished battling with the scree to arrive at the base of the ridge.
on the ridge
The team on Pinnacle Ridge

The start of the ridge is easy scrambling, but the move up to the cannon give us our first food for thought, with some mantleshelf moves to make the feature proper. Further threading our way up rock, choosing to make it as hard or easy as we want, before we arrive at the main challenge on the ridge; the short wall cum corner. Avoiding the temptation to seek sanctuary in the corner, I take the cracks to the left of it, and after a couple of moves up the crack and wall, I’m at the next ledge, and the next person up is now sizing up the challenge. Threading the pinnacles follows soon after, with the interesting descent from the last pinnacle back onto the ridge proper. Always a place to pause for pictures back down the ridge. We move easily up the rest of the ridge until we are confronted by the last obstacle, a curious block at waist height that overhangs the route, and requires a bridging move combined with a western roll tactic to overcome it. Managed with at least a little style.
On the top, the cloud has closed in and we make our way along the ridge towards Fairfield, before descending to Grisedale tarn. As we near the tarn, the weather decides to relent and begins to brighten up, and as it’s not too late in the day, a group of us decide to press on to the top of Helvellyn, over Dollywagon and Nethermost Pikes. Descending Striding Edge, the weather keeps getting better all the time, and it’s great to have the very crest of the ridge almost to ourselves. We make good time moving along the various pinnacles, and it’s almost a shame when we come to the very end of the ridge. The remaining descent is almost a formality, but the improving afternoon light gives us great views on the way down.

memorial picture
Memorial photomontage

In the evening, we began the buffet party with an unveiling of a photomontage commemorating Mike Pinney, and we wee privileged that Mike’s sister Margaret and her husband, Nicholas are able to join us. As the montage was unveiled, we all paused for a couple of moments, to remember Mike in our thoughts.

after dinner
After dinner

The buffet was a grand affair, starting with a mixed fish salad and crusty bread. Main course was a mix of local pies, and I can personally commend the beef one, packed full of filling, with a rich shortcrust pastry. No surprise then that most of us had seconds, complete with home made gravy and all the trimmings. The dessert didn't disappoint either, with offerings of both Eton Mess and chocolate cake enough to salve the sweetest palate. No wonder that we all sink slowly into the settees, as the usual tales unfold.

on the ridge
The dam removed
On Sunday, Margaret and Nicholas join us for a walk in the locality, and we head towards Hayes Water, where the reservoir has recently been demolished and landscaped. We start with a variation to our usual route, wandering along the bank of the river, past the White Lion, until we meet the next road bridge. We follow the tracks through the hamlet on this side of the river, and eventually arrive at Hartsop. Following the track up, there is now a new bridge across the river, which joins up with the original right of way in this area.Hayes Water is no more, replaced by sculpted sloping banks and a stony river bed. It all looks raw now, but the plan is for it to return to its natural state in the coming months and years.
From the reservoir, we head up the hill towards Angle Tarn. Here again, local knowledge from Mike and Marian see us stood on a local top with great views down Bannerdale and across Angle Tarn. All the years I’ve been here, and I can’t recall visiting this particular vantage point before.

happy gang
Happy team on the hill Sunday afternoon

We wind our way to Boardale Hause, and the diagonal that is the descent back down to the valley. Back at the hut, we polish off the last of the local pie, and reflect over a cup of tea on what has been another great weekend out in the hills with friends.

Participants: Ed Bramley, Andy Burton, Steve Caulton, Heather Eddowes, Mike Goodyer, Sheila Mercer, Marian Parsons, Mike Parsons, Myles O’Reilly, Paul Stock, plus Margaret and Nicholas.

Report by Ed Bramley
Meet photos.

Dolomiti Via Ferrata Week in Cortina d’ Ampezzo, 13 - 21 September


This meet was an opportunity to sample the Via Ferratta's and interesting history of the First World War front lines in the Cortina area. The meet was based at a local hotel, the Meuble Oasi which is situated close to the centre of Cortina. All five members met at the Marco Polo Airport in Venice and travelled together using a tightly packed hire car to Cortina, arriving early on Saturday evening. At the hotel the party were met by jovial owner, Giovanni, who was able to recommend several good eateries with the added bonus of 10% discount at each one.

On arrival it could be seen that there had been a recent snowfall. The snow level was at about 2800m which meant that the original itinerary carefully prepared by Andy had to be rejigged a little. A common occurrence it would seem with September Alp meets. However a new plan was soon formed over beers and pasta.

On the first day a short car journey led to the Passo Giau at 2236m. Today’s peak was to be the Nuvolau 2575m via the VF (Via Ferrata) Ra Gusela an easy grade Ferrata and a good introduction to the weeks climbing. The morning was clear and crisp and the views were panoramic with a particularly good vista of the Marmolada group and what is left of the glacier.

Ra Gusela from Passo Giau

The route started under the fine rock peak of the Ra Gusela and traversed path 443 around to a rock chimney which overlooked the Cinque Torri area. A short set of wires led to an interesting path through dolomitic boulders to a short ridge that lead via a short ladder to the summit of the Nuvolau. The summit has a preserved old style timber hut with reasonably priced food and beer.

on the ridge
Heather and Ed on the wires
on the ladders
Ed tackles the ladder
the Averau
the Averau from the top of the Nuvolau

At the hut, where the chef in traditional outfit cooked sausages on a griddle outside, decisions were made. The original plan had been to consider continuing on and climb the Averau, however a low black cloud began to descend so the party continued down to the Rifugio Averau before traversing back to the Passo Giau as the rain weakly tried its best. A pretty little Wallcreaper was spotted picking flies off the rock face at this time unbothered by its watchers.

Day two, Monday, was intended as a double peak day. The road to Passo Falzarego was taken until a left turn along a narrow road (Route 439) led to the Cinque Torri where the car was parked. A steady uphill path continuing on path 439 led to the base of the Averau where the previous day’s objective was to be concluded. The route chosen was the VF Averau. After donning harnesses, helmet and VF gear the route started up a steep wall before heading up chimneys, gullies and a ridge for about 20 minutes. Eventually a steep path climbed to the summit at 2649m. The view from the summit was particularly good across to the Tofana group which looked like it was on fire with the cloud hugging to its slopes and summit.
getting ready the summit steep wires

Via Ferrata Averau

The team descended the route by the same wires and a visit was made to the open air museum at the Cinque Torri.

gun emplacement
Gun emplacement at Cinque Torri

Harrowing accounts were read from the information boards about what life was like in the trenches as the Austrians and Italians exchanged shell and gunfire. The guns at Cinque Torri were regularly aimed at The Sas’ de Stria our next destination that afternoon.

A Marmot stood sentry in the rocks below the imposing rock faces of the Cinque Torri and posed nicely for the tourist cameras. It was assumed by all that it was a real Marmot and not stuffed as it did not move much!

After driving up to and past the Passo Falzarego the car was left at the Passo Valparola car park with the intention of nipping up the Sas’ de Stria. Unfortunately at that moment the heavens opened and a dash was made to the nearby museum situated in the remains of the Tre Sassi Fort built in 1897 by the Austro Hungarian army. An hour was spent viewing the huge amount of WWI exhibits and reading the accounts of the fighting. The soldiers of the area suffered terrible conditions with thousands being killed by the severe weather and avalanches. There was fierce fighting much of it hand to hand between former neighbours and friends. Upon exiting the museum it was decided to save the Sas’ de Stria for another day as it was getting late.

Tuesday dawned reasonably and the predicted thunderstorms for the week had still not materialised. Heading north the car was left at the car park at Valle di Fanes. A gentle walk along path 10 through woodland led to an impressive gorge, viewed from the Ponte Outo (Ladin for high bridge) with a modest 70 metre waterfall, the Cascate Val di Fanes tucked away a little to the east.

Ed going behind the waterfall

Gearing up with the usual VF kit a simple VF led along an exposed path and behind the impressive waterfall. The way continued along the VF Giovanni Barbara which eventually reached the bottom of the gorge by way of a steep slippery face equipped with cables and metal staples.

on the staples
Marcus and Heather descend the staples

The guidebook description stated that a bridge was to be crossed. As there was only the remains of a bridge and no way to cross, there followed a tricky fording of the fast flowing stream. The cross-ing led to the inevitable soaked leg for the careless and much laughing by the clever so and so’s who had managed to stay dry. There followed a slippery rock face to reach the start of the VF Lucio Dalaiti which climbed back out of the gorge to the starting point.

zig zag path
Marcus zigs zags to catch up with the team

After completing the gorge the first half of the VF was descended again to reach the stream before the other side of the gorge was climbed by a cleverly constructed zig zag path up a gully which led to a pleasant path back to the Pian de Loa.

All in all a very pleasant day with glimpses of birds of prey circling the peaks and many Dippers working the river.

A very gloomy Wednesday saw a return to the Passo Valperola and although marked as a Via Ferrata on the map, the peak of Sas’ de Stria does not require VF equipment. Notwithstanding the lack of climbing this is a lovely peak normally with stunning views. Only glimpses of surrounding peaks were had as cloud remained over the peak for much of the ascent that day.

WW1 gun site
gun emplacement high on mountain
in trench
Marcus on the ladder in trench
Marcus signing the summit book.

However the interest in this peak is enhanced by the WWI trenches which were followed virtually all the way to the summit where gun emplacements overlooked the valley. From here the Austrians traded shots with the Italians who were dug in at the Cinque Torri, visited earlier in the week.

the view
Marcus with view in 2010, not what we had!

After descending The Sas’ de Stria a further short car journey saw the group arrive at the Rifugio Dibona and lunch. After just over an hours steep climb and the Rifugio Giussani was reached. This hut lies in the middle of the Tofana range between the Tofana de Rozes and the Tofana di Mezzo. A developing temperature inversion was observed before everyone scuttled back inside as the temperature dropped quickly. A pleasant evening meal and a couple of drinks were enjoyed before everyone turned in.

Rif. Giussani early morning

Thursday dawned clear with again a photogenic inversion which got the cameras snapping away. Everyone headed off to the Tre Dita 2694m. This is at a point about two thirds up the VF Giovanni Lipella. The lower part of the route was completed by Marcus and Ian Mateer in 2010 but the two were unable to complete the route due to the cables and rock being iced.

Mike near Tre Dita
Mike close to the edge at Tre Dita
Marcus and Andy
Marcus and Andy set off on VF
on VF
Andy on the Giovanni Lipella

The group split at this point with Andy and Marcus completing the top half of the VF and the others heading for the summit of the Tofana de Rozes by the Normal (or “Common”) route. The VF was interesting and on the upper half which was running with water there were millions of small water fleas dancing around on the wet rock. Upon finishing the VF the group rejoined and descended via an unpleasant scramble through loose rock and the odd snow patch. Eventually all descended to the Rifugio Giussani. A snow finch pecked happily around our feet outside the hut, feeding on a few crumbs from Andys biscuits. The group then headed down to the Rifugio Dibona. On the descent a crack was heard like thunder as an avalanche of rock fell from the steep south facing side of the Tofana de Rozes. Fortunately the blocks a few of which were the size of cars missed the numerous parties traversing under the face at the end of the day.

Returning to the hotel at Cortina took only half an hour and the group were soon having the luxury of yet another meal in Cortina before turning in for the night back at the hotel.

Friday saw a return to one of the original intended routes on the itinerary as most of the snow seen earlier in the week had now disappeared. The peak of Cima di Meso, 3154 metres, was to be ascended by the VF Marino Bianchi. Two cable cars are used to get to the Rifugio Lorenzi, which was in the process of being shut down as the season was coming to a close. Great fun was had leaping on and off the different type of cars used on the cables before arriving at the hut. The cloud was going up and down all day and there was an inversion below. Peaks popped in and out of view and the suspension bridge of the VF Ivano Dibona was seen clearly a few times whetting the appetite for a return to complete that particular route.

suspension bridge
Suspension bridge on the Via Feratta Ivano Dibona

The VF Marino Bianchi begins by stepping straight off from the wooden platform outside the hut. The route rose steadily following ridges, gullies and steep faces with continued interest. Several steep ladders, one in particular having a tricky exit were followed before the top was reached after about two hours. The route could have been completed quicker but with the clouds parting to give great views many photos were taken and time was taken to enjoy the route which had very little traffic on it.

on the ridge
The team on the wires
Andy and Heather on summit of VF Marino Bianchi

Descent was again via the cable cars stopping only for refreshment at the Rifugio Son Forca. A superb end to the weeks ascents. The predicted thunderstorms never arrived and the only soaking that was had was whilst walking to the restaurant that night when a sudden downpour caught everyone out.

The evening meal was at El Bronsin, a particular favourite restaurant discovered early in the week, recommended by Giovanni as one where the dishes were like his mother used to make. The food was typically local and we were well looked after there. As we walked dripping wet into the restaurant the two Chefs were sharing a bottle of wine at a table. One Chef saw us and quipped “With water you should have wine”. A glass of Merlot was promptly offered to us. This was typical of the friendly welcome that we had received all week.

Andy and the waitress of the week
Team on the last night - cheers!
Cortina rarely disappoints. A great weeks Via Ferrata climbing was enjoyed by all. The evenings were fun in the town with good food and drink. A very comfortable hotel meant that the whole trip was a relaxing mountaineering event without the hardships relished by some. Apres climbing perhaps?

The end of the week saw the team head to Venice for an afternoon sightseeing which included thousands of tourists, huge cruise ships and not surprisingly one or two canals. We learn lots in the hills on each new adventure. On this trip we learnt that if you have not tried a lemon Sorbet with Prosecco and vodka then you really should.

grand canal
The Grand Canal

Participants: Ed Bramley, Andy Burton, Heather Eddowes, Mike Goodyer and Marcus Tierney.

Report by Marcus Tierney
Meet photos.

Beer Meet, Devon, 5 - 8 September

This was Beer Meet number ten with mostly returnees except for Sylvia Mercer, Graham and Alison Daniels. The earlier date than usual provided us with summer weather so that for those who think a visit to the seaside means a dip in the sea had them. For those who wish for hillwalking, as we are a mountaineering club, we did that too but only reaching a height of 1750ft. on Dartmoor.

the team and ponies
On the way to Hameldown Tor

Saturday started beside Bonehill Rocks near Widecombe. We had caught up with Mike Goodyer on route who had joined us for the day. We had a glorious up and down walk in the sunshine going over Hameldown, Honeybag, Chinkwell and Bell Tors. We walked through to Widecombe and up the Two Moors Way, passing ponies on the way. We had lunch on the way down from Hameldown Tor overlooking Grimspound Stone Circle. On the return via Honeybag Tor we passed the monument to the RAF bomber from Scampton that crashed on the moor returning from operations in France in March 1941.

Sunday was a local walk straight from the house. It did include some fixed rope work and a bit of a drop as we descended to the beach at Littlecome. Then it was a bit like scree as we walked about one mile to Branscombe mouth. So our mountaineering experiences came in handy. It was hot and so Sylvia and Sheila had their first dip but it was a bit rocky and not much fun. John D and John F decided sitting on the beach was not their thing and proceeded on to Beer for a beer in the Anchor Garden overlooking the sea, where the rest of us caught up with them. Beer beach is good for bathing so Sheila and Sylvia had a successful bathe.

The two official days were busy but there was added value either side for some. On Friday John F and James headed off to the Tank Museum in Dorset whilst Marge and I went to Peco Pleasure Gardens in Beer, where we enjoyed the flowers and had a trip on the miniature railway. On Monday Alison, Graham, James and I had a walk along Monmouth Beach at Lyme Regis to the Ammonite Graveyard and Devil’s Pavement.

Participants: Antonia Barlen, Sheila Coates, Alison and Graham Daniels, Mike Goodyer, Marge and John Foster, Sylvia Mercer, Rosemary and John Percival, James and Belinda Baldwin.

Report by Belinda Baldwin

Meet photos.

Alpine Hotel Meet, Pontresina, Switzerland, 5 - 12 July

Although this year’s hotel meet was officially for one week only, several of us extended our stay in the Engadine by arriving a few days early or staying on for a few days at the end. Those who did so were rewarded by more sunshine than we saw during the days of the meet itself, which locals remembered as the cloudiest week that Pontresina had experienced in decades. But although we were unable to do some of the high level walks that we had on the summer meet in 2000 – perhaps also due to the passing of years! – we were out on the hills every day, the only real downside being the lack of views of the highest peaks.

St Moritz and the Corviglia funicular train, photo by Bill Westermeyer

A much appreciated part of our hotel deal was the free lift, train and bus pass, and everyone made the most of this. On more than one occasion we set out in cloud and rain, only to be rewarded at 3000m by a brief glimpse of snow-covered summits before the clouds drifted over again and the snow began gently to fall. But in general the rain was intermittent, and we got really wet on only one day. On the other days we were able to complete long walks giving views of the lower hills and the string of lakes in the valley, the drifting cloud providing subtle contrasts of light and shade. The alpine flowers seemed in more profusion than in previous years, and the slopes everywhere were a riot of colour, including the bright orange of the rare Fire lily.

alpine flower
Fire Lily, photo by Pamela Harris-Andrews
Animals were less in evidence though, apart from a few marmots, and the ibex promised by a local guide on a high level hike above Alp Languard failed to materialise.

view from hut
View from the Sergantini Hut, photo by Pamela Harris-Andrews

The meet started with a large group of us catching the funicular railway up to Muottas Muragl and walking up to the Segantini Hut, some of us taking the higher route via Lej Muragl. The painter Segantini died here in 1899 aged only 41, and a few of his paintings were displayed in the hut. On the following day the same group took the cable car up to 3300m on Piz Corvatsch above Silvaplana, and then walked from the middle station up to Fuorcla Surlej and all the way down Val Roseg back to Pontresina. Piz Nair above St Moritz should have been another scenic viewpoint, but once again there was only cloud and snow at the top. One damp day a group walked up to the Morteratsch Glacier where a series of posts marks the dramatic rate of the glacier’s recession, and although several started up the trail to the Boval Hut, Roger Newson was the only one to actually reach there.

On different occasions we all took the small train up to the Bernina Pass, where a variety of walks started. A few of us explored the Val Minor at the foot of Piz Lagalb, where we found a myriad of dark purple primulas and pale purple soldanellas. Others went on to Alp Grum, south of the pass, where the sun shone at Lej Palu and Lago Bianco. Some went even further, by train or bike as far as Tirano in Italy, making for an invigorating 2000m descent. The scenic bus ride along the lakes past Silvaplana to Sils Maria enabled us to explore the remote Val Fex, like Val Roseg accessible only by horse-drawn carriage, where the mountain torrents were almost impassable after all the rain. Some of us went as far as the edge of the National Park, visiting Zuoz and S-Chanf with their painted houses, while those with bikes were able to go further down the valley as far as Scuol, almost at the Austrian border.

down the valley

Included in our free pass was Val Bregaglia, location of the pre-meet trek in 2000 which six of us on this year’s meet had participated in. Some took the bus down from the Maloja Pass as far as the medieval town of Chiavenna in Italy, or up to the village of Soglio, described by Segantini as “the threshold of paradise”. Alan and I spent three days in this idyllic setting before the meet started, and had a glorious walk along the Sentiero Panoramico high above the valley, with cloudless skies and spectacular views across to the peaks of the Val Bondasca.

Soglio and Val Bondasca, photo by Pamela Harris-Andrews

Another popular cable car destination was Diavolezza, just under 3000m, followed by a trudge through the snow to the nearby Sass Queder. Only those who stayed for an extra day at the end of the meet had sunshine here and were able to enjoy clear views of Piz Palu, Piz Bernina and the Biancograt, bringing back memories of earlier climbs. Despite notices warning that the descent path was closed, a couple who had taken it reported that there was “only one difficult passage”, so John and Dinah set off down the snow, followed by a group of Japanese schoolteachers. The “difficult passage” turned out to be a steepish ledge above a snow slope, protected by a wire handrail mostly buried in snow. They slithered down this, narrowly missing the rocks at the bottom and wishing they had brought their ice axes with them.

There was time for cultural activities too, with visits to the Segantini Gallery in St Moritz, the Alpine Museum in Pontresina, the cathedral in Chur, and the string quartet concerts in Pontresina church. Edward and Sue Coales disappeared one evening to the palatial Kulm Hotel in St Moritz for a special performance of Rossini’s opera La Gazetta, which they reported as an amazing experience. On another level, we had our own cultural evening back at the hotel, with Sue showing us her flower paintings and others talking about books they had written or helped publish.
flowers flowers

Oxeye daisies looking towards Silvaplana and poppies at Morteratsch, water colours by Sue Coale

One of the highlights of the meet was the hotel itself, the Engadinerhof, used previously by the club for the summer meet of 2000 and the winter meet of 2008 – for Geoff and Janet Bone, it was their third visit. The bedrooms were comfortable and the reception rooms had plenty of space for all who wanted to watch the Wimbledon finals and World Cup matches. The breakfasts and dinners were copious and delicious, and we especially enjoyed the Mövenpick ice-creams and Thursday buffet, which included a whole roast pig! But the proprietor, Herr Hissung, did more than run his hotel with efficiency; he included extras which helped make our stay so memorable. There were welcome and farewell drinks, a “wet weather” cocktail, and a fascinating tour of the hotel behind the scenes which included a visit to the pizzeria and wine cellars, where we were offered local wines and all sorts of delicious savouries.

And so, a good time was had by all, with good walks, good accommodation, good food, and most important of all, good company.

Participants: Pamela Harris-Andrews & Alan Norton, Geoff & Janet Bone, Derek Buckley & Ann Alari, Geoff & Pauline Causey, Edward & Sue Coales, Sheila Coates, John Dempster & Dinah Nichols, Niels & Guni Doble, Buff Dolling, Richard & Katherine Heery, Dick & Lin Murton, Roger Newson, Rick & Carol Saynor, Jim & Margaret Strachan, Caroline Thonger, Jay Turner, Bill & Rosie Westermeyer, Dick & Karen Yorke.

Report by Pamela Harris-Andrews
Meet photos.

Rhyd Ddu Meet, 14-15 June

For the second year in a row, after several weeks of changeable conditions, the weather finally put in a good appearance for the Wales meet, with a series of dry and largely sunny days.

Friday saw the advance party of Andy, Ed, Paul and Steve making a leisurely ascent of Mynydd Mawr (which literally means Big Mountain), that mountain on the shores of Llyn Cwellyn that many of us pass by on the way to the hut. After climbing up the minor road heading west out of Rhyd Ddu, we then strike off northwards at Llyn-y-dwarchen, part of what once was a much larger reservoir (A tip for anyone wanting to repeat the route – follow the path round the east shore of the lake, as this eventually joins the edge of the forest and the distinct path up the east ridge). After a modicum of toil and a couple of false summits, the path then levels out into a summit plateau. From the top, there is a great view of the top of the crags of Craig y Bera, including the classic scramble of Sentries ridge. The views from the summit are superb all round, whether it is across to Snowdon and Tyfan peeping out behind, across to Caernarfon castle and Anglesey behind, or the peaks on the edge of the Lleyn peninsula. We take the path off the summit north westwards, and eventually the path heading northeastwards through the woods to the main road at Salem. A long trek back along the road to the hut, but we break the journey at the Snowdon Ranger hostel for afternoon refreshment, whilst the only rain of the weekend puts in a very short appearance.

towards Snowdon
View towards Snowdon from Mynydd Mawr, photo by Ed Bramley

Saturday sees groups heading off in different directions, and eight of us choose the tried but tested Nantlle ridge. The climb up to the ridge is stern, but thankfully relatively short, and we are soon working our way along the ridge proper. Not long, but interesting moves give us glimpses down the eastern face and the rock architecture of the ridge. We continue onto the steep but grass slopes of Trum y Ddysgyl and then pause for dinner at the large cairn on the summit of Mynydd Tal-y-mignedd. Whilst there, a group of fell runners come past on their way to Moel Hebog and beyond. After dinner, we head off down the southern ridge of the mountain, which eventually brings us out at one of the many old slate quarries in the valley, and an old incline takes us down to a tramway that traverses the lower slopes of the mountain. With a bit of a cut off, we then meet up with the main quarries in cwm Trwsgl, which we have been past on many previous occasions. We pause and look at how extensive the tramways in the area are, eventually heading off south to the port at Porthmadog. From the quarries, it’s a relatively good set of forestry tracks back round the hillside to Rhyd Ddu. On the way, we heard about a café in the village run by a Dutch couple, so we call in for a Welsh cream tea, complete with Barra Brith, and drop scones. We can heartily recommend it, but do leave space for dinner!

We’ve twenty of us for evening meal, and this year the weekend coincides with Sheila’s birthday, so we surprise her with cake and aperitif. When she asks what the fuss is about, we have to remind her that it is her birthday in the morning! The communal meal starts with a pasta salad with asparagus, celeriac and a variety of cheeses, followed by Spanish chicken with butter beans and new potatoes, rounded off with a variety of seasonal tarts. We slowly wind our way through the evening, swapping stories of the day and the world in general.

Sunday sees the good weather holding, so Mike and I head back up our descent route of the previous day up to the quarries, and then onto the ridges leading up to Moel Hebog. The path to the top of Moel Lefn is surprisingly clear on the ground, and again we’re enjoying the sunshine. To the north, and over Snowdon, blankets of clouds are tumbling down the side of the mountains, looking for all the world like the edge of a giant duvet. We progress over the various ridges, with the good weather continuing, and it’s not until we reach the summit of Moel Hebog that we meet anyone else. The descent is a great piece of cerebral exercise, testing us as we move from rock to rock on the way down. Good practice for the Dolomites later in the year. Our progress has been so good that we make Beddgelert by dinner time, and top up on tea and ice cream. We take the new track back to Rhyd Ddu, which is now complete, and makes a very fast journey back to the hut. Our friends on the train are surprised that we’re back not long after them.

Panarama from Moel Hebog, photo by Mike Goodyer

After a final brew at the hut and suitable comestibles, we pack the gear up and head slowly for home after a great weekend.

Participants: Belinda Baldwin, James Baldwin, Ed Bramley, Andy Burton, Sheila Coates, Steve Caulton, Heather Eddowes, Mike Goodyer, Don Hodge, Ian Mateer, Sylvia Mercer, Myles O’Reilly, Judy Renshaw, Paul Stock, Suzanne Strawther, Tony Strawther, Marcus Tierney, Paul Tierney, Richard Winter, Dick Yorke

Report by Ed Bramley. Meet photos.

A personal report from Heather Eddowes

On Friday I collected Sheila and Sylvia from Warrington Station. En route to Rhyd Ddu we stopped for a paddle at Penmaenmawr. It turned into quite a long walk as the tide was right out. Good foot massage had by all! Arrived cottage followed by dinner at Beddgelert.
On Saturday Sylvia and I joined the group ascending Y Garn and part of the Nantlle Ridge. Phew, we made it!
On Sunday James, Belinda, Sheila, Sylvia and I headed north from the cottage along the lower flanks of Snowdon, through an old slate quarry to cross the Snowdon Rangers path. Sylvia, Sheila and I ascended Foel Goch and then returned by the same route. J & B continued through the col and took a path up to Snowdon summit and then down to Rhyd Ddu.
Sheila, Silvia and I, after a cuppa ,returned through a heavy storm to Warrington and so back to Knutsford and London.
We 'girls' thoroughly enjoyed ourselves along with everyone else. Excellent food by Ed chef and a happy birthday for Sheila.

Locheil Meet 21st-24th March

As we discovered last year, Fassfern House by Locheil is warm, comfortable, well appointed and an ideal centre for Munro and Corbett collectors.

We all assembled on the Friday night after an interesting drive over Drumochter in a blizzard. On Saturday we awoke to a winter wonderland, with snow down to sea level, ideal for photographers but less so for hill walkers. Two of the party set off for Glen Roy but were unable to drive up the road which had not been cleared. The rest of us enjoyed a walk along the shore of Loch Morar with excellent views when the hail showers allowed.

Loch Morar
View across Loch Morar, photo by Jim Strachan

On Sunday the weather seemed more settled and the snow level had risen to about 250m. Peter, Phil and Roger climbed Braigh nan Uamhachan (765m) by its long South ridge. It took them over 8 hours which was a good time in the conditions. The rest of us climbed Sgurr an Utha (798m). It was slow going in the soft snow but fortunately we were overtaken by a group of younger climbers who made a trail to the summit. We were rewarded by spectacular views stretching from Eigg and Rhum in the West, round to the Nevis range in the East, all covered in new snow.

On the summit of Sgurr an Utha, photo by Jim Strachan

On Monday morning the weather was even better but most of us only had time for a walk near Spean Bridge along the line of the disused Fort Augustus railway, but again the views of the Nevis range were superb.

the Ben
Ben Nevis from Fasfern House, photo by Jim Strachan

It was a very successful meet but it was overshadowed by the recent deaths of Bert Bowes and Mike Pinney. In his younger days Bert was a regular attender at the Scottish meets and several of us attended his funeral at Hartlepool on the Thursday. We were all sorry that logistics prevented us from getting to Mike’s on the Monday, but at our dinner on the Saturday evening we drank a toast to Absent Friends.

Present: Hugh Chapman, John Dempster, John and Marj Foster, Peter Goodwin, Phil Hands, Roger James, Dinah Nichols, David Seddon, Jim and Margaret Strachan.

Report by John Dempster. Meet photos.

Annual Dinner Meet, Lake District, 31 January - 2 February

“You should have been here yesterday”. So the early arrivals, Ed and Andy greeted everybody who had braved the elements to join the hardy at the Annual Dinner. It was only the Thursday before the dinner that showed what the Lakes could be like, offering a suitably winter ascent of Jack’s Rake on Pavey Ark, complete with several moves coated with verglas, and a sting in the tail, as the exit slab was coated in ice. With a few short intakes of breath, we were both across and enjoying dinner on the top, with a very friendly raven. A variation of the descent down Rossett Ghyll saw us back in the Old Dungeon Ghyll for a refreshing pint and a day stolen from the elements.

Friday saw the elements get the upper hand, which meant that anything up high was going to be an endurance struggle. Even the low level walk around Ullswater from the Howtown ferry to Patterdale turned into a survival exercise as snow blasted across the lake in lumps. For those trying to travel on Friday, the situation was even worse. Kirkstone Pass was closed on Friday afternoon by a combination of snow, gale force winds, sleet and an eleven vehicle accident which included the ambulance. The mountain rescue team had to evacuate the two injured and also the other occupants. Various members had their journeys extended in mileage and time. It was a good day to stay indoors – some didn’t and got – unsurprisingly very cold and wet.

wintery walk
Low level walk around Ullswater, photo by Ed Bramley

Saturday was less snowy but possibly somewhat wetter. Virtually all the members went out onto the hills and got spectacularly wet. There were no reports of great routes being completed or even attempted, which is just as well as it would have stretched credulity a mite too far. Even going out was more foolish than brave (Brooke’s opinion and sour grapes!). The hills would have been empty in the afternoon as the bars were full of rugby fans.
Even our guest speaker, Professor David Collins, was caught up in the travel chaos and only arrived shortly before we went into dinner, causing a shortening of Ed and Brooke’s fingernails. Whilst only 42 sat down to dinner, it was probably one of the best annual dinner meals we’ve had in years. Professor Collins dinner speech on alpine glaciers was humorous and interesting. His slide show after dinner not only had some great pictures of Swiss mountains, but provided a real insight into what has been happening with glaciers in the alps and beyond over the last century. Such was the interest that many members had an uncharacteristically late night that evening. As alternative interest, Professor Collins was even able to conjur up photos of our President in his student years working on the Gorner glacier, which rightfully attracted both laughs and cheers from the audience.

Given the weather, it could have been a disastrous weekend, but the Annual Dinner meant that it was anything but, and the noise level in the dining room, and in the bar afterwards, was a sure indication that all is well in the club.

Meet report by Brooke Midgley and Ed Bramley