Reports from 2016

Brecon Beacons Meet, Wales, October
Beer Meet, East Devon, September
Tatra Trek, Poland, September
Alpine Hotel Meet, Cogne, Italy, July
N Wales Meet, June
Skye Meet, May
Derbyshire Meet, Mayday Holiday weekend
New Members Meet, Patterdale, April
Fassfern Meet, Scotland, March
Annual Dinner Meet, Lake District, February

A Bimble in the Brecon Beacons and Black Mountains

ABMSAC held its first meet in the Brecon Beacons National Park for many years on a pleasant October weekend. This meet proved popular with many of the new club members attending. The meet centred on the Beacons Backpacker Bunkhouse in Bwlch. It's a charming Bunkhouse with ensuite pub, the New Inn.

The attendees arrived throughout Friday with the earliest of them heading out for afternoon treks after settling into the bunk rooms. Mike Goodyer and I set off along the ridge heading north from the Bunkhouse. This ridge takes in a section of the Brecons Way to Mynydd Llangorse and then on other paths towards Crocket Hill. The tops were clear but broken low cloud prevented continuos views down into the valley and only fleeting glimpses of Llangorse Lake. The ridge ended abruptly after Crocket Hill where it is interrupted by a small road over a pass. From the road we took a steeply ascending path to the summit of Mynydd Troed and then followed its ridge to the south. Just as the ridge starts to drop down to the valley we took a gradually descending line back to the valley floor and recrossed the road to join the path heading for Blaenau draw. We joined a bridleway which lead us back up onto the original ridge and retraced our steps to the Bunkhouse.

Paul on Crocket Hill with M. Troed behind. Photo by Mike Goodyer

A steady start to the weekend with 12 miles and over a 700m of ascent. Andy Burton and Tony Howard also walked along the ridge that afternoon. The members gathered for a very pleasant evening meal at the Bunkhouse.

An early Saturday morning start saw the convoy of cars travel to the relatively new car park near the Upper Neuadd reservoir. The planned route for the day was the Brecon Beacons famous horseshoe including the big three mountains in the region. We picked up the wide path heading from the car park and followed it to the col between Fan y Big and Cribyn. At the col the group made its way up the very recently renovated paths to the summit of Fan y Big. The usual photos were taken on the diving board overhanging rock.

Heather on the diving board. Photo by Mike Goodyer

The way up was reversed as we made our way back down to the col for the first coffee break of the morning.

At this point the main group pushed on with the ascent of Cribyn and Heather followed the path around the lower slopes of to the following col between Cribyn and Pen y Fan. By now the low cloud was beginning to show signs of breaking up as the breeze had increased slightly.

Looking towards Pen y Fan. Photo by Mike Goodyer

Fleeting glimpses of Pen y Fan were possible as we climbed Cribyn. However on arrival at the summit it was only possible to see the views down towards the town of Brecon.

Next up, Pen y Fan and lunch. The team found it difficult to find a spot on the Pen y Fan summit for lunch as it was very crowded and the best spots out of the wind had been taken. Eventually we settled on a rocky outcrop and the lunch break allowed the clouds to clear so on our descent of Pen y Fan we were starting to get views of the whole range.

the gang
Settling down for lunch on Pen y Fan. Photo by Mike Goodyer

The wind increased chasing all the clouds away which enabled us to get a few photographs of the route. The final ascent of the day was a short one to Corn Du.

On the ridge looking back towards Pen y Fan. Photo by Pete Bennett

After Corn Du we made our way down the long Craig Gwaun Taf ridge and sharp gully descent back to the reservoir and car park.

The group was reunited with Heather at the car park and made its way to the local tea rooms for some welcome tea and cake.

Paul, Heather, Rachel and Mary enjoy afternoon tea. Photo by Mike Goodyer

For the Saturday evening meal we were joined by Mike O’Dwyer. The ensuite pub was proving to be a major success.

Sundays walk started a little later than the previous day as we made our way through the country lanes to the walk start at Heol Llygoden. The weather was very encouraging with clear blue skies. The first pull of the day was up a very steep grassy hill to the site of Castell Dumas ruins.

Walking through Castell Dumas ruins. Photo by Pete Bennett

After taking in the spectacular views from the castle we made our way down to join a path leading towards Blaenau Uchaf. We soon arrived at the start of our second pull of the day up the side of Bwlch Bach a r Grib ridge.

the gang
Striding out!. Photo by Pete Bennett

After regrouping on the top we traversed the hillside to join the central ridge path leading to the summit of Waun Fach.
Quite a lot of work was taking place on the summit and adjoining paths with a helicopter making frequent bag drops.

Preparing for path repairs. Photo by Mike Goodyer

We followed the repaired path down the ridge Mynydd Llysiau and made our way across country to the walk start point to bid our farewells.

All together it had been a very productive weekend with some interesting walks, relatively good weather for the time of year, good company and enjoyable meals in our ensuite pub.

Attendees: Pete Bennett, Andy Burton, Heather Eddowes, Mary Eddowes, Celine Gagnon, Mike Goodyer, Tony Howard, Rachel Howlett, Mike O’Dwyer, Myles O’Reilly, Margaret Moore, Nicholas Moore, Paul Stock.
Report by Paul Stock.

Meet photos

Beer Meet, 16-18 September

We had the customary good weather for the meet at the East Devon seaside base between Seaton and Beer. The South West Coast path passes by some 200 meters from the cottage. We wished to walk along it on the Undercliffe between Seaton and Lyme Regis so we parked where we wanted to finish, met up with Margaret and caught a bus to the start. We had a look at Lyme Regis as lots of work has been done to prevent further cliff falls then set off. This part of the coast path has recently been reopened following a land slip. A new route has taken three years to sort out so only James and I had had the pleasure of seeing what it was like. The change is for the better as there is an optional deviation that took us out of the woodland path to meadows and a hidden away summerhouse with views to Portland Bill, just right for lunch. Further along another change from the woodland path took us to Goat Island. It is not an island but a raised mini plateau formed from a 19th century landslip this time giving us views to the west. After tea at the Golf Course we said goodbye to Margaret, when we reached the cars.

The staycation habit had made it difficult to find an eating place for our supper. Beer was seething with visitors and we were forced to try a new venue and go upmarket, which worked out well. We enjoyed our bit of comfort at Steamers.

the beach
On the beach, photo by James Baldwin

On Sunday we set off from the top of Beer Hill northwards up and down through fields and woods giving views across the Axe Valley. When we reached Colyton we walked round the village and enjoyed the interior of the church. The village has lots of sitting areas and we settled for one by the River Coly. Dick had spent the morning on his bicycle so he was to return independently. The rest of us had the choice of the Seaton and District Tramway.

Passengers for the tram? Photo by James Baldwin

I made the analogy of cheating by using a lift even though the terrain was flat. Antonia and Lin chose to walk back and the rest of us took a ride on the upper deck. The tram goes along the Axe Estuary, famous for bird life but there was more chatter than twitching. As the tide was unusually low we were able to partly return along the beach to Seaton Hole and up Beer Hill.

Present: Antonia Barlen, John Dempster, Sylvia Mercer, Dick Merton, Dinah Nichols, Margaret Moore, Lin Warren, James and Belinda Baldwin.
Report by Belinda Baldwin

ABMSAC Take On The Tantalising Polish Tatras

On my last visit to the Polish Tatras we arrived a month later than the AMBSAC Trek held between 1 – 8 September 2016 and the whole range was covered in snow. This time the trek was planned to avoid the need to carry winter gear and to miss the Polish school holidays to avoid busy mountain tops. Nine intrepid adventurers made their way to Krakow on two separate days. Ed arrived in Krakow a day earlierthen the rest of us due to flight schedules from Leeds/Bradford and the rest of us flew from Terminal 5, Heathrow arriving. It was a late afternoon flight arriving in the dark at Krakow. Andy Burton had booked a taxi to take us to our hostel accommodation in the city centre. We met Ed at the hostel and made our way to two separate buildings for our bedrooms. The group was split with three in the main hostel and the rest of us in the annex a few streets away. Once the bags had been dropped off we made our way to an Italian restaurant for pizza and beer! At breakfast the following day it appeared that the main hostel was full of boisterous young people and Andy and Ed seem to have drawn the short straw, as they had to share a double bed.

The first day, Thursday, was spent travelling by bus to our base in the Tatras at Zakopane and investigating the bustling little town. It was a warm day and after settling into the hostel we made our way down to a nice restaurant which had an outside decked area with umbrellas for a late lunch.

Ed, Myles and Paul settling in at the Zakopane Hostel. Photo by Mike Goodyer

That evening we witnessed a serious fire in an adjacent building from our bedroom windows. The local fire service were busy for several hours.

An early start on Friday had us leaving the hostel after breakfast at around 8am. The route for the day was Giewont, one of the nearest mountains to the town. It is a striking peak with a large cross on the top which dominates the skyline from Zakopane. We walked from the hostel to the edge of the village were we bought a week long group pass from the kiosk at the entrance to the Tatras National Park. The weather started cloudy, but soon the sun came out and it remained predominantly sunny until early afternoon, when it clouded over for a while. The route was a long up through forest paths until, a little after 1310m, we emerged onto a ridge, and had views of the surrounding mountains. We contoured around, with a couple of rock steps, until the path rose steadily to a saddle.

the cross
The way up Giewont from the saddle. Photo by Ed Bramley

From there the path climbed more steeply and then divided into a one way system up the chained part to the summit of Giewont. We reach it by 11:30. The large scaffolding cross is really impressive close up. The descent back to the col also has some chained sections, parts of which are polished by a multitude of backsides.

On the summit of Giewont. Photo by Mike Goodyer

From the col, three of us go up onto the next peak (Kopa Kondracha, 2005m), which is higher, but much more rounded. From the summit there were fabulous views across to Orla Perc and other parts of the Tatras. A good stone step path takes us all the way down to a mountain hut where we meet up with the rest of the team. We had lemon tea and ginger cake. We descended to Kusnitze down a cobbled track and caught a minibus back into town.

Due to the hordes of folks on the summit of Giewont and the predicted weather forecast we decided to alter our plan for the whole week. You may remember that I stated that we planned to miss the school holidays. It appears that it makes no difference in Poland. So Saturday saw us set off early in a minibus at 7:45 to Morskie Oko. Another warm start to the day. The bus dropped us at the edge of the National Park. There were more parked cars than I have ever witnessed in a single place in a National Park and the associated passengers were all heading for our destination. We skipped the queues at the park entrance due to our weekly pass, result!

horse and cart
Ed, Paul and Andy enjoying the easy journey up to the hut. Photo by Judy Renshaw

To ensure that we beat some of the folks to the walk start point several kilometres further up hill we caught a horse and waggon up to the turning point – about a 50 minute journey. There was then about a half hour walk up to the hut at Morskie Oko, and the lake of the same name. This is the route start point for today's target Mount Rysy, the highest mountain in the Polish Tatras.

We traversed the lake and then ascended up to the second lake (Czarny Staw pod Rysami). From there the path climbed steeply round a bluff for several hundred metres (Hola pod Rysami 2054m). This was a good place to stop for a break, and eye up the second part of the route. From here, the route changed to rocky slabs, well jointed, with plenty of holds, and with protection (chains) for much of it.

On the way up Rhys, looking down on both lakes and the hut. Photo by Ed Bramley

Unfortunately there were still vast numbers of people on the route, and this slowed the pace in places, but we needed plenty of rest stops on our way up. The group were very spread out at this point and the first folks up there managed to visit both the Polish and Slovakian summits. The col before the summit was a massive bottleneck and it had long queues on both sides to cross the gap, which held us up for nearly half an hour. Four members of the group summited and others had to retreat as time was marching on and the vast numbers on the route had delayed progress.

Busy summit of Rhys, photo by Ed Bramley
Judy on the summit, photo by Judy Renshaw
Myles on the summit, photo by Ed Bramley

Surprisingly the way down didn't seem so busy and a descent pace saw us all manage to reach the horse and cart for the relaxing way down. Our journey down lasts half an hour, and we are on a bus to Zakopane almost immediately.

Mount Rysy is a brutal mountain with very steep up sections and it had taken its toll on the group so the next day we decided to opt for a relaxing day. We take the funicular at the edge of the village up to Gubalowka. There were some great views back to the Tatras on a beautiful Sunday morning. The ridge initially had lots of little gift and food stalls and Ed and I tried a mini cheese pasty with cranberry sauce – like Halloumi – it was ok in small quantities.

above the funicular at Gubalowka looking across to the High Tatras, photo by Mike Goodyer

At the edge of the ridge we descend through a forest area, and after a couple of detours eventually arrive in Kiry, where we had a very nice lunch break. After lunch we headed over the road into the National Park and followed the first part of Dolina Koscieliska. The path crossed a saddle before dropping back down to join the road back to Zakopane. Ed and Judy decided to trek along another path which joined with our route up Giewont (1310m).

Monday morning started and continued with rain, generally drizzly, but occasionally heavier. In the morning we revisited the shops on the main street, and had a mid-morning coffee and cake, but then returned to the land of diaries and crossword puzzles. After lunch, Ed, Judy, Myles and I headed over to the thermal spa by taxi for the afternoon. As well as a big indoor pool, there was an undercover hot pool, complete with jet beds, a small pool for ups and downs, and another with a current that takes you through an artificial cave. Then there were the slides – big blue, the highest, which is enclosed but has strobe lighting. Mid yellow was fast and threw you about like a washing machine, and the red chute, a straight steep slide which sent you half way across the pool. Also in the plunge pool is a seesaw circle which we watched others using later. Back in the main pool, there was an aqua aerobics session on the go. A great afternoon, and back on the local bus to rejoin the group for evening meal.

Tuesdays weather began where it left off the day before – drizzle, occasionally heavier, and low cloud. We passed the time reading, doing puzzles, or catching up on emails. After checking the weather forecast it appeared that there would be some improvement for the afternoon. So after lunch we walked up from the hostel to the Bogowka ski jump area. From there, we traversed the hillside to to hole cave at Jaskinia Dziura and descend back to the main path and to go further round the hillside to a limestone valley (Dol za Bamka) reminiscent of Dovedale. The route up to the waterfall was closed part way up the track, so we returned to the main Park entrance, where we enjoyed a coffee before walking back into Zakopane.

small valley up to Jaskinia Dziura
Andy and Ed study the rocks in Dol za Bamka, photos by Mike Goodyer

As Wednesday is our last walking day we make the most of it by getting away at 7:30 by taxi round to the cable car at Kusnitze. The weather was superb. There were large queues waiting to catch the uplift, but we were still at the top station by 9am. We had a quick coffee, before we admired the views across to Swinica and Orla Perc. There was some cloud in the valleys, but we were in the sun with very little wind.
the gang
At top of cable car - Paul, Dave, Mike and Myles.
photo by Paul Stock
Towards Orla Perc from top of cable car.
photo by Ed Bramley

We head away from Kasprowy Wierch westwards along the ridge.

looking along the ridge, photo by Ed Bramley

It was generally straightforward, but with one rock step that required a little more care. We passed the summits of Kondracha Kapa and Malolaczniak, before having lunch on the summit of Krzesanica. This summit had a multitude of mini cairns. The whole of the ridge from the cable car station formed the border with Slovakia, so we had zig zagged between the countries on our journey.
the team on the ridge with Giewont behind.
Photo by Ed Bramley
Nun walking along the ridge.
Photo by Ed Bramley
After lunch we pulled up to the last peak on the ridge, Ciemniak, from where we began our descent. The path initially ran along a ridge before reaching the forest line and the valley of Dolina Koscieliska, and back along a path we had used a couple of days previously. Stop on the edge of the park for an ice cream, before taking the bus into Zakopane.

The final day saw Ed leave at an ungodly hour to catch a bus back to Krakow for his early flight home. The rest of us had a more relaxed trip back to Krakow where we explored the city for a few hours before our delayed flight home.

Central square in Karkow.
Photo by Judy Renshaw
Modern spulture in Karkow.
Photo by Judy Renshaw

A good trip was had by all and many of the group planned to return to the Tatras again at some point in the future.

Participants: Ed Bramley, Andy Burton, Steve Caulton, Mike Goodyer, Mike O’Dwyer, Myles O’Reilly, Judy Renshaw, Dave Seddon, Paul Stock.
Report by Paul Stock (with thanks to Ed)
Meet photos

ABMSAC Hotel Meet, Cogne, 1 – 8 July

Although most of us had been to the Val d’Aosta before, either at Brooke’s meets based at his house near Morgex in the main valley, or in 2012 at Gressoney at the head of the Lys valley below the summits of Lyskamm and Monte Rosa, this was the first hotel meet to be held at Cogne, and everyone loved the small, unspoilt town which had escaped the invasive ski installations of so many Alpine resorts.

Rooftops of Cogne, photo by Rick Saynor

Cogne lies in the Gran Paradiso National Park, a beautiful area of remote valleys and high mountains which includes the Gran Paradiso, at 4061m the highest mountain wholly in Italy. The park was created in 1922 to replace the Royal Hunting Reserve, and ibex and chamois have been protected there for decades. The king had hunting lodges and tracks constructed throughout the park, and the trails are now well maintained for walkers. As well as being a haven for ibex and chamois, the park is also home to many species of alpine flora, and these were a delight on all our walks.

Chamois at Alpe Money, photo by Pamela Harris

We stayed at the Hotel Sant’Orso, where Filippo and his team looked after us well. The bedrooms were large and comfortable, the dinners copious and delicious, and the swimming pool and sauna much appreciated at the end of a hot day’s walk. Aperol spritz was still a favourite apéritif, enjoyed in the hotel grounds by most of us before dinner each evening. But what was most appreciated was the location of the hotel, for the grounds were south-facing, and looked straight across the Sant’Orso meadows towards the snows of the Gran Paradiso.

Across the Sant’Orso meadows, photo by Katherine Heery

What made the meet so successful was the perfect weather - it was so good, in fact, that no one even visited the Roman remains at Aosta, our default plan for a wet-weather day. We set out day after day in glorious sunshine, with a light rain shower only on the first afternoon, and it got hotter as the week progressed, even high up. Fortunately the free buses enabled us to gain some altitude at the start of each day, and we made the most of this to explore a variety of walks from the nearby villages of Valnontey, Lillaz and Gimillan. Those with a GPS tracked our daily distances and height gains, the greatest distance being 17kms on the first day’s walk, and the greatest height gain being the 1000m ascents to the lakes above the Vittorio Sella hut and Grauson.

With the hotel grounds looking across the meadows towards Valnontey, this seemed the obvious place to start our first walk. So a group of eighteen of us set off southwards on a wide easy track, and then turned up on a steep climb, the path protected by cables in the exposed sections. The views opened up as we gained height, with snow-capped peaks ahead and a narrow stream far below us in the valley. The slopes were covered in flowers: bright pink alpenrose, white paradise lilies and small pink primulas. Eventually we were high enough to see the shepherds’ huts of Alpe Money ahead which we reached in time for our picnic, just as the sky began to cloud over and the first shower began. A lone and very tame chamois joined us there, coming so close that it seemed to want to share our food – we never saw another so close all week.

Lunch at Alpe Money, photo by Pamela Harris

We had decided not to return the way we had come, but to make the walk a circuit by continuing on and descending to the stream at the southern end of the upper valley. This route crosses several small streams as well as a much larger one at the bottom, so we had checked the previous day that, after a very wet spring, the bridges were in place. All went well until most of us had crossed what we thought was the last large stream when we were confronted by yet another stream, this time with no bridge.

Stream crossing below Alpe Money, photo by Pamela Harris

The Scottish walkers in the group were unfazed, assuring us that river crossings like this were normal in Scotland, but many of us appreciated Rick’s long legs and helping hand. It was then that we realized that at least two of the group were a long way behind, so Geoff and Richard headed back up on a search party and rescue mission. It was still a long way down the valley back to the hourly bus at Valnontey, and we didn’t all make this. Back at the hotel Pauline Causey and Niels headed off up the valley in their cars to meet the stragglers, and Pauline even managed to drive beyond Valnontey to collect the rescue party. It had been a long day of nearly 17kms, and we realised that the times on the signposts were totally unrealistic, especially for a group of our age. However, most of us still got back in time for a drink before dinner, and on waking to brilliant sunshine the next day after a good night’s sleep, we were ready to set out on the next adventure.

An obvious place to visit at Valnontey was the Paradisia Alpine Garden, a large area with over 1000 plant species.

Orange lilies at the Paradisia Alpine Garden, photo by Carol Saynor

The path up to the Rifugio Vittorio Sella starts here, and wine-red martagon lilies, and even a solitary white one, had escaped from the garden onto our trail. Although the walk to the hut involved a height gain of 900m, many of us found it easier to keep to the signpost timing on this than on some of the walks with less height gain as it was a wide, well-graded mule track, originally constructed to take supplies to the king’s hunting lodge and still used by the pack horse that carries supplies up to the hut.

King’s hunting lodge, photo by Carol Saynor

After passing a picturesque waterfall, we gained height steadily in wide zigzags, the scattered larches providing welcome shade, to reach an alpage with a few ruined huts. The path continued up, with moss campions and mountain avens growing at the side of the trail, and even a tiny white orchid. We then reached a bridge over a rushing stream, and started on the last steep section, up the shoulder of the hill. We finally came out at a small settlement, and just over the brow was the picturesque old hunting lodge, now home to the park rangers, with the Rifugio Vittorio Sella just beyond, in the two buildings which were once the stables of the lodge.

Rifugio Vittorio Sella, photo by Alan Norton

The welcoming hut warden provided gigantic bowls of soup, and we sat there over lunch, watching two ibex playing on the opposite slopes and a helicopter hovering overhead. It was a lovely spot to rest, and only three were tempted to continue the short distance to the Lago di Lauson, another beautiful spot. They were fewer people on the return path in the afternoon, and we saw chamois and marmots as we wound our way steadily downwards.

Lago di Lauson, photo by Rick Saynor

Lillaz was another starting point for walks, just a short bus ride away but also a lovely walk beside the river. At one point or another everyone in the group visited the dramatic waterfalls, where torrents of foaming water crashed down the rocks. A well-maintained path leads up beside the lowest fall, past slopes of martagon lilies, to reach a series of lookout points protected by guard rails. At the top is a bridge over the torrent, with views down onto crystal clear pools at the foot of the rocks. The path goes further up, through a meadow of fragrant orchids, to reach the highest fall thundering out from a rocky cleft in a truly spectacular fashion.

Dick and Lin at Lillaz waterfalls, photo by Pauline Hammond

An especially lovely walk starting at Lillaz was the Lago di Loie circuit. After an initial steep climb of 600m in the woods, we came out onto the open pasture of Alpe Loie, with glorious views behind us of the south slopes of Mont Blanc. From there it was a short ascent to the Lago di Loie, nestling in a flowery basin.

Mont Blanc above the Lago di Loie, photo by Rick Saynor

We were surprised to find no café here as it was an ideal spot for a pause and a swim, so after a quick picnic we continued on our circular route towards Alpe Bardoney. The flowers on this section were spectacular, with bright blue trumpet gentians, white mountain avens and black vanilla orchids carpeting the meadows, interspersed with delicate soldanellas and pink primulas. Bypassing the shallow marshland and the farm itself, we descended towards the Torrente d’Urtier to join up with the Alta Via 2, the long-distance route that traverses the southern flanks of the Val d’Aosta. A few mountain bikers raced past us on the steeper sections, but apart from these, it was a tranquil descent, made memorable by a slope of large pale blue aquilegias and alpine clematis, a truly wonderful sight.

Aquilegias near Lillaz, photo by Roger Newson

Gimillan was the third of the nearby villages, situated to the north of Cogne. A lovely walk wound up to the northeast into the Vallone del Grauson, alongside a stream. We could see a higher route winding up on the other side which looked much more difficult, corroborated by Pauline Hammond and Lin who tried it later in the week. We climbed up beside a dramatic waterfall and then reached the lower of the two Grauson settlements.

Lunch at Grauson, photo by Rick Saynor

As we gained height the views of the Gran Paradiso got better and better and we could see the summit itself, not just the lower peaks. The slopes here were covered with the rarely seen purple pasque flowers, several varieties of primulas, many different saxifrages and dianthus, and a clump of white spring gentians, a first for most of us. The flowers were so glorious and the weather so hot that most of us relaxed in the sunshine at the huts of upper Grauson, and only a few continued up to the Lussert lakes. They got as far as the middle lake, still covered by floating ice, but had been warned that the snow level was not far off and that the highest lake was completely ice-bound, so stopped there. We all agreed that this had been a delightful walk, even without going higher.

Frozen lake at Lussert, photo by Rick Saynor

Some of us returned to Gimillan later in the week to do the long circuit to the northwest, up to the Alpeggio Arpisson. There was some welcome shade for most of this walk, much needed as the week got hotter. The path looked straight down onto the chalets and church of Gimillan, and as we headed further west, onto the roofs of the villages of Cretaz and Epinel. The alpine flowers began once we came out of the woods, and again the slopes were covered with alpenrose and black vanilla orchids. After a short exposed section on the ridge we reached the farm buildings at Arpisson, our destination. The cows had not yet been brought up to the alpage, but there were still signs of the previous year’s occupants in the stables there, and just below the buildings was a stream of delicious clear water to quench our thirst. The way down did not seem nearly so long, and we had time for a welcome drink in one of the small cafés before wending our way back to the hotel for our evening swim and apéritif.

Walking above Gimillan, photo by Rick Saynor

There were several possibilities for easier days, one of the most popular being to take the cable car from Cogne up to the Belvedere, which provided spectacular views of the Gran Paradiso and the south face of Mont Blanc. From here a circular walk went up to Montseuc 300m higher, and round an interesting nature trail. A few walked into the Vallone di Valleille, due south of Lillaz, up a gentle path beside a stream, with butterflies flitting amidst the flowers and little height gain. And most of us walked from Cogne itself up to Valnontey and Lillaz, both lovely walks through trees beside the stream, or from Gimillan down to Epinel.

Two excursions were made further afield, the first by Dick, Lin and Pauline to Courmayeur and up the spectacular Mont Blanc Skyway, completed just a year ago. After stopping half way at the Saussurea Alpine Garden, where the flowers were not yet at their best after the winter snows, the revolving cablecar went up to 3,466m at the Pointe Helbronner. From here there are close views of Mont Blanc and of the Matterhorn, Monte Rosa and the Gran Paradiso further away, but unfortunately it was rather cloudy on that day, and they reported that a wedding party up there looked decidedly cold!

The second expedition was by the Heerys and Causeys into the nearby Val de Rhêmes, a beautiful and unspoilt valley with few other walkers.

In the Val di Rhêmes, photo by Katherine Heery

From Rhêmes-Notre-Dame they set off through delightful larch forests into the Vallone di Sort, with lovely flowers at the side of the trail and chamois on the snow patches. After an 850m climb they reached the Col Gollien, with a spectacular 360° panorama. They met no other walkers on the ascent, this solitariness giving the valley a really wild atmosphere, although there were more people on the descent into the Vallone di Entrelor. Then it was back on a gentle contouring path through meadows and woods to Rhêmes, a most enjoyable day on a highly recommended walk.

While the rest of us were walking, Dick had hired a mountain bike and covered much longer distances. His most strenuous day was 42kms with an ascent of 1400m, from Cogne to Lillaz and eastwards along the Vallone del Urtier to the new Rifugio Berdzé at 2560m, with a detour to Alpeggio Taveronna on the way back. En route he passed a group of English who had stopped to admire a large clump of edelweiss which otherwise he would have missed - we were all very envious, as no one else found any. On another day he persuaded the driver to take his bike on the bus to Gimillan from where he headed up towards the snowbound Passo d’Invergneux at 2900m. Having failed to reach the pass on his first attempt, he returned the following day to succeed, starting from Cogne and cycling through Lillaz into the Vallone d’Urtier again and up via the Alpeggio Invergneux to reach the pass, another ascent of 1400m.

Snow at Passo d’Invergneux, photo by Dick Murton

A large group of Jeudistes from the Geneva Section of the SAC were staying at the hotel when we arrived, although they were nearing the end of their week’s meet. Some had never met any ABMSAC members before, and were delighted to finally make contact with the club which had been responsible for gifting their section the Britannia Hut over one hundred years ago. Amongst the group was Hans Jungen, previous President of the Huts Committee, whom I had met several times in the past, first when helping to organise the celebrations at the Britannia Hut for our centenary back in 2009, and then at the hut’s centenary in 2012. We enjoyed reminiscing about those celebrations and comparing notes on our walks from Cogne. All in their group were past retirement age but many were still strong walkers and had had some very long days, including one of eight hours involving the airy traverse from the Rifugio Vittorio Sella to the Casolari dell’Herbetet and back to Valnontey.

All too soon the week came to a close and it was our last evening. We regretfully said our goodbyes and thanks to the hotel staff, hoping that before too long we will return to this beautiful valley.

Participants: Pamela Harris & Alan Norton, Geoff & Janet Bone, Derek Buckley & Ann Alari, Geoff & Pauline Causey, Sheila Coates, John Dempster & Dinah Nichols, Niels & Guni Doble, Pauline Hammond, Richard & Katherine Heery, Sylvia Mercer, Dick Murton & Lin Warriss, Roger Newson, Rick & Carol Saynor, Barbara Swindin, Caroline Thonger, Jay Turner.
Report by Pamela Harris

N Wales meet, 11 - 12 June

As always, the Welsh meet offers something for all, whether that is long or short walks, opportunities for food stops, and even a train to the front door for those with weary legs (or who just like trains). Whilst Tan yr Wyddfa cottage and the surrounding area are now well known to us, it doesn’t stop us from coming up with new possibilities for walks, and this year was no exception.

With that in mind, a group of us set of from the cottage on the Saturday morning, initially on the Rhyd Ddu path, and then straight on to the base of the most southerly ridge extending from Snowdon and the col at Bwlch Cwm Llan. We haven’t got a definite plan of campaign in mind, other than a map that shows some very level tacks traversing around from the old slate quarries next to the Watkin path, around the side of Yr Aran. The weather has been kind for the ascent – good enough for clear views of the surroundings, but not too hot for the ascent to the col. As we cross over the col, there is a most definite level track lower down the valley, contouring around the hillside – an old quarry tramway. We drop down to it, and we are soon moving along the old flat, dry trackbed. This takes us way around the hillside, with views over and down onto the Watkin path, before abruptly coming to a halt at the top of an incline which has now partly fallen away, which at one time would have connected right the way down to Nantgwynant. We retrace our last steps and join up with the Watkin path for a while, before picking up another set of trails around the hillside that take us all the way around to Craflwyn Hall, and a giant seat on the way, with a perfect view of the valley.

the gang
Judy, Mike, Daniel and Howard on the old quarry tramway, photo by Ed Bramley

From there, it’s only a short walk along the back lanes into Beddgelert, and the temptations of the ice cream shop. Whether it’s the ice cream or the afternoon sun, we’re all keen to keep on walking, and for most of us, that means the trail back through the woods to Rhyd Ddu. For a few hardy souls however, if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing to excess, and we head off to the top of Moel Hebog, before catching the tracks back to the cottage.
The evening meal starts with cantaloupe melon and Parma ham, with sausage, mustard mash and onion gravy back by popular demand for main course. A variety of puddings fill in any last gaps and digestion is aided by a selection of red and white wines.

On the Sunday, we return to the route we enjoyed so much last year. Starting in Beddgelert, we walk along the back lanes and tracks to Llyn Dinas and the Sygun copper mine. From there, our track climbs steadily upwards, eventually reaching a hidden valley at the back of Grib Ddu. At several points, there is evidence of the mining that took place, including the remnants of the aerial ropeway that descend towards the valley. Once down, we follow the Aberglaslyn gorge back to Beddgelert, and are even greeted by a photo opportunity as the afternoon steam train pulls its way up the slope.

afternoon steam train, photo by Ed Bramley

Most of us head off on the Sunday night, but a few hang on for an extra day, and we make a simple ascent of Snowdon, up onto the ridge at Bwlch Main and back via the Rhyd Ddu path. The weather has been a somewhat murky Monday, but nothing that the multi-cultural delights of a Cornish pasty on the top of the highest mountain in Wales won’t address.

Participants: Daniel Albert, Ed Bramley, Andy Burton, Steve Caulton, David Christmas, Don Hodge, Tony Howard, Mike O’Dwyer, Judy Renshaw, Howard Telford and Richard Winter.
Report by Ed Bramley
Meet photos

Skye Meet, 14-20 May

Steve and I travelled up from Robin Hood country to Ed’s late Saturday afternoon, giving Ed ample time to replace his garage roof, ably assisted by his son Simon and son-in-law Stuart. A quick comfort break and a chat with Janet before resuming our journey northwest. The evening drive afforded us great views from the A65 of the Yorkshire Dales, and the Southern Lakes, all the way up to the George Starkey Hut in Patterdale. Whale and chips and a pint or two in the White Lion rounded off the day.

After a good night’s sleep on the new bunks, and recharging of all devices using the newly installed powerpoints, followed by an early breakfast with the Mensa group who were booked in for the weekend, we enjoyed a lovely drive back along the lake, and out to the M6, Richtung Scotland.
Lunch saw us safely through the Trossachs along Loch Lomond, and pull in at the artisan cafe sign, good spot Ed, which turned out to be in the delightful Strathfillan church. Replete with haddock chowder and a cheese scone, we carried on up over Rannoch Moor and through Glencoe, fueling up on the outskirts of Fort William, before stopping off at the Spean Bridge Commando Memorial.

Steve pointed out the Well of the Seven Heads on the A82 south of Invergarry along the west shore of Loch Oich, and afternoon tea was taken in the garden room of the Glengarry House Hotel, with a view of the loch, where Steve regaled us with some of the Jacobite history of the Invergarry Castle ruins situated within the grounds, and the origins of the Well, steeped in clan traditions. Shortly after 4 o'clock we arrived at Ratagan Youth Hostel on the shores of Loch Duich.
The other three reprobates flew from Bristol to Inverness and hired a car, and within about an hour a message landed on my phone to say they were in the Kinloch Lodge Hotel having a pint. We were left with no choice but to join them.
Remembering that Scotland has the much lower EU drink driving limit I had to make do with a shandy, but with a quick glance at the menu and a bit of banter with the licensee, we booked a table for 6 for ron, drained our pints and made our way back to the Youth Hostel.

Steve outside the Hostel, photo by Mike Goodyer

The location of this hostel alone makes it worth a visit, but couple this with good rooms and showers, good bottled beers to buy, a breakfast thrown in, and a map of the area supplied by the ever helpful young Warden -because most of us had not brought - quickly convinces you that this is a place worth revisiting.

Our first days walking in Kintail had us walking from a small forestry car park beyond Morvich up Gleann Choinnecchain onto Beinn Fhada/Ben Attow, 3385ft./1032metres, and onto Meall an Fuarain Mhoir at 3136 ft./956metres.

the top
Summit of Beinn Fhada, photo by Paul Stock

The large upper plateau with some snow remnants lead to the Sgurr a’Choire Ghaibh ridge, and some interesting scrambling leading us back down over Beinn Bhuidhe with improving views all round particularly out along Loch Duich towards Skye.

Tuesday we took our leave of Ratagan, and drove back to the same car park, and made our way up and over to the impressive Falls of Glomach, returning back to the cars just as the forecast rain took hold.
High tea/coffee was taken at the iconic 13th century Eilean Donan Castle cafe, where three lochs meet near Dornie, before making our way over the bridge at Kyle of Lochalsh onto the Isle of Skye.

Our accommodation for the next three nights was at the Glenbrittle Youth Hostel, much improved since Ed and I were last there in 2008, with another friendly warden running the show. Evening meal was taken at the Sligachan Inn with its own microbrewery, and such interesting local fare as haggis bonbons, clapshot and whisky jus.

Wednesday started with poor weather so we took a leisurely drive to Elgol, where we booked on the next boat to Loch Coruisk. Sightings of a dolphin and several harbour seals and the coastal Bad Step enroute led to us disembarking in the sun and walking from the end of the loch up Sgurr na Stri, the Hill of Strife, with intermittent views of the Cuillin Ridge including the Inn Pin.

Loch Coruisk
Cullin Ridge from Sgurr na Stri, photo by Ed Bramley

On making our way down the eastern side we found the bridge across the river had gone, so several of us got wet feet, before negotiating the at times quite exciting coastal path back to Elgol, interspersing looking out west to the Small isles of Eigg, Muck and Canna backlit by the evening sun, with looking at the largest drifts of primroses we had seen, interlaced with the occasional orchids and bluebells with their elusive scent.
Shortly before 6.30pm Steve spotted a pair of eagles, so my little binos which I had carried most of the day finally came into their own.
Around 8pm saw us back in the Sligachan Inn to try some more hearty food and beers with everyone content with what they had seen today. On the way back to the hostel the three of us in my car were treated to the sight of a small group of Red deer running along the firebreak close to the trees easily keeping pace with us, until as one they all jinked right into the trees and vanished.

Thursday was a typical Skye day with low cloud and rain, so we donned our tourist hats. Visits to the Talisker Distillery in Carbost, and the Batik shop in Portree, where Ed purchased a new set of ‘Wickeds’, led to second breakfast in the centre of Portree.
Then more driving in the rain north along the coast road past the Old Man of Stour, and up towards the Quirrang with no let up in the weather, forced the decision to return to Broadford and regroup in the Pizza restaurant on the main drag, before returning to Glenbrittle.
Our final evenings dining took place in the Old Inn at Carbost, recommended and booked for us by the Hostel warden earlier on in the day. Just as well as by the time we got there it was rammed, but our table quickly became free with a view out across the loch only a few yards away, and in short order the six of us were back in my favourite comfort zone, so much so that I ordered my main meal, squat lobsters, on the strength of the fact that no-one knew what it was, good choice and as much visual entertainment as good grub.

Friday morning saw the group starburst out of the hostel and head home, with the weather improving the further east we travelled, finally popping out into full sun as we drove round the back of the Dalwhinnie distillery out onto the A9.
What followed was a beautiful leisure drive all down the eastern side of this part of the country, with me finally conking out at Berwick on Tweed. Ed took over driving to his abode, where we enjoyed the normal Bramley hospitality, before continuing on our journey home.
By the time I arrived at my flat we had been travelling for over 13 hours, and flying seemed all of a sudden to be much the preferred option! I must be getting older, but it was most certainly worth it.
Editors note: those that flew back to Bristol arrived around 4pm after a light lunch and a pleasant flight. Will do this in future!

Participants:Andy Burton, Mike Goodyer, Ed Bramley, Mike O’Dwyer, Steve Caulton and Paul Stock.
Report by Andy Burton
Meet photos

Royal Oak, Hurdlow Derbyshire May Day Meet

Fourteen attendees this year, some regulars and some first timers.

Friday evening saw most of us gather at the Royal Oak in time for a beer and the dash to Longnor to the ever welcoming fish and chip shop, with a sighting of a barn owl on the way. The view of the upper Dove valley as you negotiate the first hairpin bend down towards Crowdecote must be one of the finest unspoilt views in both Counties.
A cheeky pint in the Packhorse on our way back allowed me to speak to Mick the licensee, and book us in for dinner on Sunday night, as none of the forecasts shouted out BBQ weather.

Saturday saw the usual split between the Manifold Way cycle group, where Alison added some industrial archaeology to the day by showing us the newly restored hoppers at the Ecton Hill copper mine, and Ed and Judy and Paul climbing at Birchens Edge, and the others embarked on a 10km walk from the pub/bunkbarn. All rounded off with a late feast in the Oak Room.

Birchens Edge, photo by Mike Goodyer

On Sunday two walking groups set off from Hurdlow. One group to do Parkhouse and Chrome Hill from the Quiet Woman in Earl Sterndale, and the other group walking over the Roaches to Luds Church, and then on under the Hanging Stone to the Wincle Brewery just in Cheshire. Thanks to Tony Howard for the extension making it a three counties day.
Thirteen of us enjoyed dinner at the Packhorse Arms at Crowdecote, another great pub sat almost on the Staffordshire/Derbyshire border.

Bank Holiday Monday saw most attendees pack up and go home. Just the Class of 66 and their recently retired Matelot matey, Paul Stock, stayed on. Having seen glimpses of the Matterhorn of Cheshire from the Roaches we set off for Wildboarclough. Parking not far from the Crag Inn we climbed Shutlingsloe in good order, enjoyed a reasonable view across the Cheshire Plain to the west, including the Jodrell Bank radio telescope, and the Staffordshire High moorland to the east.

the gang
Matterhorn of Cheshire, photo by Mike Goodyer

On returning to the cars we quickly made our way to Blaze Farm café for savoury Staffordshire oatcakes and homemade dairy ice cream to finish, before starbursting in full rain out of the car park home.

Great weekend despite the weather, thanks to all the attendees, and Paul White, the licensee at the Royal Oak for redressing the issues of last year.
The chosen charity this year is Challenge Derbyshire run by the High Peak Radio DJ Danny Hopkins, which supports three North Derbyshire charities, and your kind donations were gratefully received.
Next year I think we will hold the Meet here where BBQ weather is more assured!

Participants: Ed Bramley, Andy Burton, Heather Eddowes, Mike Goodyer, Duncan Hogg, Tony Howard, Margaret and Nicholas Moore, Myles O’Reilly, Paul Stock, Judy Renshaw and Don Hodge, Rick Snell and Alison Henry.
Report by Andy Burton
More photos will be posted soon, Editor

New Members Meet, George Starkey Hut, Patterdale, 1 - 3 April

For the second year running the meet was at the George Starkey hut, the idea was to encourage new people to become members of the ABMSAC. This year a hearty group of sixteen ventured up North, travelling from across the UK to get into the hills of the Lake District. On arrival we had a delicious (as always!) pub dinner in the White Lion. It was great to see familiar faces and also greet new people who were interested in joining the club.

the gang
Setting off from the hut on Saturday morning.

We woke on Saturday to wet and dim day, but determined to summit we set off on foot, first to Lanty's Tarn and then crossing the Glenridding valley and into the fog of the Stybarrow Dodd ascent.

the lunar landscape above the greenside Mines.

As we climbed, snow patches made for perfect headstand spots and figures loomed in and out of the fog.

Kips snowy headstand near White Stones.

Upon reaching the summit we took the obligatory 'jumping' photo - Ed Bramley proving that he really does have the longest right arm in the club!


A few of the old timers opted for a second summit, but the majority of the group chose to head back to via the mine to the warmth and dry of aptly named Travellers Rest. A wild and rather boisterous card game of Dobble commenced as we dried off and thawed out. Heather Eddowes and Dave Matthews were missed and seemed to be taking a very long time to get to the pub. But we discovered that they had had a cheeky lift back on a trailer beating us back to the hut.

Saturay night in the hut. Photo by Mike Goodyer

The evening saw gourmet chef Sabrina and her kitchen team, Mary, Yas and Jo cook a splendid vegetarian meal on a very low budget. Roasted vegetable tart, with butternut squash and goats cheese salad, minted new potatoes and a spinach salad surprise. Followed of course by Heather and Jonny's special apple crumble and custard. Thoroughly enjoyed by all!

Whilst dinner was being cooked Nan was devising her bespoke easter egg hunt... After dinner the egg hunt began. Clues led us around the hut. To co-ordintaes on a map, into the drying room, into the bunk rooms, to find little eggs and the next clue. There were the main enthusiasts for the game, but often upon hearing a clue, a back bench player would suddenly jump up and rush off to discover an ingenious hiding place.

egg hunt
The final huge golden chocolate egg was found and then broken up by Heather with the ABM ice axe.
Lots of merriment and laughter throughout the evening. A great end to a great day!

Sunday was sunny and bright, with only a few fuzzy heads emerging from the dorms. Nothing a brisk walk up to Boredale Hause wouldn't shake.

The team on Beda head. Photo by Mike Goodyer

A swift climb to summit BedaFell, then loop around the east of High Dodd, past Sleet Fell down to the lake, taking in the views and enjoying the beautiful spring weather.

Descending towards the lake.

We walked back along the lakeside path to the hut, chatting, singing and generally having a lovely time.

Strike a pose!

Pop band pose at Silver Crag. Car packing and farewells. And some new members signed up! Hurrah! Time to head home and look forward to the next ABM meet.

Report by Mary Eddowes
All photos by Mary, unless otherwise credited.

Fassfern Meet, Loch Eil, Scotland, 11 to 14 March

This was our fourth visit in succession to Fassfern House and it proved as warm and comfortable as ever. Numbers had grown to 13 but fortunately there were no accidents.

On Saturday morning we awoke to the kind of soft gentle rain for which the West Highlands are famous. Most of us settled for a lowish level walk heading for the bothy at Glasnacardoch, but the going was rough and the conditions unpleasant so we turned back before the final descent to the coast, allowing us time to prepare for a most enjoyable evening meal at the house. Roger and Phil, the determined Corbett collectors, climbed Meall na h-Aisre in the Monadh Liath which they described as “navigationally challenging”, arriving back just in time for dinner.

Saturday night evening meal, photo by Jim Strachan

The weather improved on Sunday. Two parties climbed Stob Coire a’Chearcail (the prominent Corbett directly opposite Fassfern across Loch Eil) by different routes. Margaret, Dinah, Jim and I followed the footsteps of Mike, Steve and Andy the previous year, and headed for Carn Mhor Dearg starting by following the excellent new path from Torlundy. We enjoyed splendid views of the North face of the Ben, but we found the long ascent so arduous that we didn’t get beyond the first summit. Roger, on his own, notched up two more Corbetts in Morven, Fuar Bheinn and Creach Bheinn.

the ben
Margaret, Dinah and John on the way to Carn Mohr Dearg, photo by Jim Strachan

Monday was a beautiful day as we dispersed in different directions. David headed for Aonach Mhor for what proved to be an excellent day’s ski-ing. Roger and Phil climbed Creagh Mac Ranaich above Glen Ogle which turned out to be anything but the “easy day” described in the guide book. The organiser’s party limited themselves to exploring the disused railway in Glen Ogle before returning to Edinburgh in time for the late train back to London.

Although (with the conspicuous exception of Roger and Phil) we didn’t achieve a great deal, I think we all enjoyed the meet, and once again Fassfern House proved to be an excellent and comfortable base.

Those attending:- High and Susan Chapman, John Dempster, Peter Farrington, John and Marj Foster, Phil Hands, Roger James, Dinah Nichols, David Seddon, Jim and Margaret Strachan, Jay Turner.
Report by John Dempster

Annual Dinner, Inn on the Lake, Glenridding, 5 - 7 February

After the floods and mayhem in Glenridding at Christmas and New Year, we were lucky to have our dinner this year. The organiser had no magic foresight, nor did he (as I overheard) have 'Dealings With Dark Forces': he's had no contact with the ABMSAC committee for years!

No; it was a combination of serendipity and economics. The Glenridding Hotel wanted £12 per head more than the Inn on the Lake: QED! But the Glenridding Hotel truly did not deserve the damage they received in the floods. The devastation is still very visible all around the village.

Those of you who didn't come missed some dreadful wet weather which was amply compensated for by the comfort of the hotel – numerous lounges and bars with gorgeous log fires. Even the Hut was warmed by a new multi-fuel stove. Outside was very wet and with gale force winds, not hospitable. Members did go out and did get very very wet and cold. There was a sprinkling of snow on the tops – not often seen.

Ed Bramley, Duncan Hogg, Judy Renshaw and Paul Stock on a windy Place Fell on the Friday, photo by Mike Goodyer

The AGMs were held to a very 'full house'. They were conducted at near record speed, with both completed within an hour. Details are recorded elsewhere. We had 44 attend the Dinner. Our guest speaker was Lincoln Rowe, an artist who professed not to be a mountaineer, but has climbed to 7000m in the Himalaya, also serious hills in the Alps and elsewhere. He had brought a selection of his paintings of mountains, sea and ships which were displayed around the dining room. His talk was humorous and interesting as it covered a lot of experiences on ships as well as mountains. It was definitely entertaining.

Lincoln regaling us with a story, photo by Mike Goodyer

The President (Mike Parsons) responded and included thanks to the hotel staff plus others. There was no slide show – leaving time for much socialising, basically a good do!

For your diary: Annual Dinner 4 Febraury 2017, same venue. Book early to avoid disappointment!

Report by Brooke Midgley
Meet photos