My first sighting of the Montserrat massif was from the bus bringing us into Barcelona from Esterri d’Aneu at the end of Ed Bramley’s 2011 Trek along the Chemin de Liberte (Freedom Trail) from France into Spain across the Pyrenees.
A subsequent return with Marcus Tierney in early November 2015 convinced me that it would make a great venue for a long weekend Club Meet.
The first three to arrive were Mary, Martha and Abby who arrived on Wednesday 31st October at the Hostal Guilliemes in Monistrol, the little town situated above the el Llobregat river, and right beneath the mountain, where the railway from Barcelona meets with the rack railway that goes up to the monastery at Montserrat.
On Thursday, Abby, Martha and Mary ventured, via Creu de Sant Miguel at 774 metres, up to the viewpoint near Santa Magdelena at 1132metres, where they watched couples dressed in smart clothes posing for photos, and taking selfies on the top. On the way down they bumped into Margaret, Mike, Steve and Andy.
Margaret, Mike, Steve and Andy had met at Barcelona El Prat airport a little after midday on 31st, and after collecting our Aerobus and Trans Montserrat tickets, made their way into the El Born district of Barcelona. A quick freshen up saw them back out into this area of the city, pulling in visits to the Museum of Culture, where remains of this part of the city from over three centuries ago have been excavated and preserved, the impressive Santa Maria del Mar church, and the Fossar de les Moreres Eternal flame memorial to the fallen Catalans of the Spanish War of Succession ending in 1714.
As the evening progressed it became apparent that the locals celebrated Halloween quite seriously, and as we left the last bar they were treated to a firework display by bands of locals of all ages known as the ‘corre foc’ (Catalan for fire run) in the square in front of the museum.
Thursday, All Saints Day in Spain, saw Andy and team make their way to Monistrol, in time to see Mary and gang hopping on the Cremallera rack train. After dropping off their travel luggage, and made their way up on the rack railway too. As he left Monistrol - Vila Heather and Dave get off the back of the train with their luggage and make their way to the Hostal.
Andy and team walked the Cami de les Ermites to Pla de les Tarantules at 971 metres, where the Funicular de Sant Joan comes up from the monastery. Then along the Cami de Sant Joan to the ruins of some hermit dwellings under the cliffs beneath the Santa Magdalena viewpoint at about 1050 metres, returning in the late afternoon sun back to the train. Great views of many of the unusual rock formations further into the massif on one side, and out towards Barcelona and the coast on the other.
By the time we arrived back at the Hostal and enjoyed a beer, all the remaining attendees had arrived in time for dinner. Alison, Helen and Rick arrived in time to walk up to the Monestir de Sant Benet on a pleasant little path straight up from the town.
Friday morning saw two distinct groups set out for the highest point on the whole massif.
Alison, Helen, Rick and Mike started the same way but continued on to the Monestir de Santa Cecilia before crossing the road to take a very steep and treacherous path up one of the main northern gullies. There was a lot of evidence of recent rockfall and landslide, and the guide books listed a via ferrata route, Ferrada de la Teresina, up it, which was closed because of the damage. They spent the day wandering the paths on the top of the mountain, gawping at amazing rock towers and very impressive groups of Ibex. The latter were so obviously swifter and surer of foot than us that they were not afraid to be just a few yards away. They only ever looked more fearful a few days later when we heard some gunshots. They finished a longish day by walking down from the main monastery, Monestir de Montserrat, back to a well-earned dinner.
The rest made their way up to the monastery by rack train, and set off up the steep path that leads into the gorge at the back of the whole complex, past the remains of various hermit dwellings tucked into the rocks, and on various vantage points which lead into a box tree-lined path dotted with the occasional holm oak trees, and lots of signs of wild boar activity, joining up with the main path at 1083 metres and wending our way up to the summit viewing platform, Miranda de Sant Jeroni at 1237 metres, and into the sunshine.
the top of Sant Jeroni
on the viewing platform
which way now?
After lunch near the top the group split up again with Mary, Celine and Martha coming down from Sant Juan to the south of the range, on little used paths. It was very peaceful and the views were stunning. They didn’t walk past anyone until they rejoined the main path again.
Rick and his team walked on a higher traversing path above where we had come up in the morning, and we all walked on the opposite side of the gorge affording great views of many of the Serrats, very different rock shapes that make this little mountain area so unique, and on the other side long views out towards Vinya Nova, el Bruc and Collbato.
On Saturday Helen's partner Xav joined us and with Alison and Rick drove round to Vinya Nova to do the Via Ferrata des Dames, a gentle name which they felt might reflect its severity. How wrong they were! Between them they’ve done a few via ferratas, usually great fun, with staples or steps for the feet and hands, and a cable to clip into for security. By contrast this one was an absolute pig, where in places there were vertical sections with virtually no foot- or hand-holds, and one had to resort to pulling up on the cable with feet braced on the cliff, extremely strenuous! They got up it eventually with no serious incidents, but the sense of achievement was marred somewhat, as they felt cheated of a pleasant outing in the mountains and forced to work like hell for it instead! Michele and Marcus also enjoyed their own little adventure on this thuggish little route too.
Alison and Xav had to leave on Sunday, but Helen and Rick had several days more to enjoy themselves. There was a cold wind and occasional showers, but they managed a couple of days climbing at Montserrat before moving on to other crags. The rock at Montserrat is a very tightly packed conglomerate, and a lot of the routes there are bolted, the spacing of the bolts varying from every metre on some routes, to whole pitches unbolted on others. They had trad gear with them, and although there are very few cracks or fissures, there are occasional pockets and some protuberances like chicken heads to use for protection between bolts. Anyway the challenges of climbing on this unfamiliar weird rock provided some fun on a couple of multi-pitch routes, the last one especially. It was a route up the trunk of a formation called l'Elefant, and the first pitch was not particularly hard or steep, but had almost no protection available on it, certainly no bolts. The crux pitch though was steep and hard, and very satisfying, luckily with very frequent bolts, otherwise they may have backed off.
It thoroughly put them in their place later when they saw a small group of three Ibex casually strolling across our first pitch as if it were flat!
All in all they thoroughly enjoyed the meet, it's an extraordinary place.
A group of 10 (Mary, Celine, Abby, Martha, Heather, Dave, Mike O, Mags O, Margaret and Nicholas) went up on the tram to the Monastery and then up to Santa Anna. They took the trail around to Sant Bene, past la Trumfa and Sant Salvador and around the south side of l’Elefant. Then traversed the Serra de les Lluernes (although they took a few wrong turns here and there on the path as it wasn’t always easy to see the markings) and then ventured up to highest point again for lunch and views.
They all took slightly different routes back down. Celine, Martha, Mike O and Mary walked all the way down to the hostel on the G96 trail whilst the others took it easy on the tram. Steve and Andy visited the museum and art gallery at the monastery and went into the Basilica i Mare de Deu to see the wood carving of La Moreneta, the reason many people make the trip up here. They then walked along the Els Degotalls path which faces north-east affording great views of the substantially snow covered Pyrenees, and down into the el Llobregat valley, and lies in the shade of one of the large rock walls on this side of the mountain.
In Barcelona the group all did slightly different things. Mary and her team visited the Picasso museum, the Sagrada Familia, Parc Guell, the gothic quarter, went swimming in the sea and ate gelato on the beach, drank cava in Barcelonetta, walked up to Montjuic, viewed the Miro gallery and ate lots of delicious food in La Ribera.
on the beach
Heather and Dave made it up Mount Tibidabo. Steve and Andy also went up to Montjuic and managed to visit the Sagrada Familia in the fading daylight as the heavy rain returned and before it closed.
As this is likely to be my last Meet as Meets Secretary I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has helped me in this role over the last four years.
You all know who you are and how much you have contributed to keeping our Club thriving through its programme of Meets.
It has been a pleasure to have been involved in the hills and mountains with you all.
Meet attendees: Mary Eddowes, Celine Gagnon, Martha King, Abby Dyke, Heather Eddowes, Dave Matthews, Michele Pulford, Marcus Tierney, Margaret and Nicholas Moore, Rick Snell, Alison Henry, Helen Snell, Xavier Fally, Margaret and Mike O’Dwyer, Steve Caulton and Andy Burton.
Report by Andy Burton and thanks to Rick Snell and Mary Eddowes for their help with preparing this report.
The eleven participants gathered on the Friday evening at the Highland Hotel in Strathpeffer.
Saturday morning dawned bright and frosty with the promise of good weather so we were all anxious to head for the hills after breakfast.
Jim and Margaret Strachan, John Dempster and Peter Farrington drove up Strathconnon to
Inverchoran Farm from where they climbed Meall na Faochaig. The ascent was more or
less pathless and quite a pull up heathery slopes, covered with a dusting of snow.
On reaching the ridge they were rewarded with magnificent views to the west including the
Achnashellach, Torridon and Dundonnell hills, sparkling with snow against blue skies. A
short walk along the ridge brought them to the summit cairn, where they didn’t linger as the
slight breeze and temperature around -5 degrees soon cooled them. The party then dropped
below the ridge into shelter from the wind for lunch before descending to the car.
John and Marj Foster and Susan Chapman did a 10 mile walk along the shores of Loch Glass.
Hugh,Chapman, John Gregson, Roger James and myself set off from Inverchoran Farm in
Strathconon to climb the Corbett, Bac an Eich in bright sunshine with a covering of fresh
overnight snow. On reaching the southeast shoulder leading to the summit ridge, we quickly
became aware that this could be a bit tricky, a steep face of heather and a covering of snow.
Hugh and I decide that “discretion is the better part of valour” and decided to turn back,
leaving John and Roger to continue to the summit.
One could compare the pitch where Hugh and I turned back to “The Hillary Step” but with snow on heather - even trickier!
On the Sunday Jim and Margaret Strachan and John Dempster climbed the Munro, Fionn
Bheinn from Achnasheen. At about 500 metres the snow deepened and in places was knee
deep. They encountered a couple of other parties enroute, one, with a large dog that showed
unwanted interest! Luckily its owner managed to hold it on a long lead. Again the summit
views in all directions were superb with bright sunshine, snow and blue skies. The descent
was long and the lower part tiresome in trackless slippery heather. They arrived back at the
car about four o'clock and briefly visited the Ledgowan hotel for a well earned small libation.
John Foster and Peter Farrington climbed Beinn Bhragaidh from Golspie, making a traverse of the hill and meandering down a fine woodland walk.
Marj Foster climbed the local Strathpeffer hill, Knock Farrell.
Roger James and I climbed the Corbett, Beinn Tharsuinn from Achnashellach in Glen Carron. Another superb day of blue sky with extensive views and snow that deepened as we gained height. The snow impeded our progress, which meant a return in the dark on the last leg of the walk.
On the Monday, Jim and Margaret Strachan and John Dempster headed south and east along the Moray coast towards Elgin, stopping at Findhorn for coffee and a walk round the jetty area and village. Towards Elgin, they turned south west up the Spey valley, where they took a tour of a cooperage and learning the craft of barrel making in some detail. Then on to Edinburgh in good time for John's 6.30 p.m. train to London.
John and Marj Foster visited the Falls of Shin and walked along Dornoch beach before continuing home.
Roger James and I climbed the Corbett, Sgurr na Feartaig, again from Achnashellach.
Another glorious day with superb views but this time with spindrift in a biting wind on the
The weather could not have been better on this weekend and was enjoyed by all.
Attendees: Hughand Susan Chapman, John Dempster, Peter Farrington, Marj and John Foster, John Gregson, Roger James, Margaret and Jim Strachan and Philip Hands.
Report by Philip Hands
The President and Belinda finally arrived on Saturday afternoon in time for a superb dinner cooked by Andy Hayes with assistance from a team of helpers including Ed, Andy Burton, Paul Hudson, Heather and Judy. The late arrival, partially due to Belinda having slipped and broken her fibula the previous week, resulted in arriving after all the hard work had been done.
The hut management committee meeting was to start at 1.30pm, so some members had time for a short walk but those not involved in the meeting were able to have a full day on the hills. The cloud level was very low but it was not cold at hut level.
It had been agreed that in addition to ABMSAC members, AC members of the Hut Management Committee could join the meet. The committee meeting agenda included the hut booking system and future upgrades to the hut and this was scheduled for Saturday afternoon.
In all 20 people sat down to dinner and 16 stayed the night in the hut. The three course meal started with:
three sets of prawns each with a different dressing, laid out decoratively with mashed avocado, lambs lettuce, Japanese seaweed and a fresh tomato sauce
main course comprised slices of roast pork cooked with garlic and rosemary, served with new potatoes, roasted squash, broccoli with almonds and baby carrots
The vegetarian option was a roasted pepper with a filling of pine nuts, olives, parsley and raisins.
For dessert, apple strudel was served with a brandy sauce (What no photo!, Editor).
If people had any space left, a selection of fine cheeses was available. All this was accompanied by some good wine.
The ABMSAC committee meeting scheduled for Sunday morning ran to time and some members made for the hills shortly after 10:15.
across the fields to St Patricks Church, Patterdale, by Andy Burton
autumn arrives, by Ed Bramley
Rainbow over Ullswater, by Andy Hayes
With our committee meeting, Sunday was a shorter day, but good for the old favourite of Beda Fell, Howtown and the ferry back. The weather seemed to have exhausted itself on the Saturday, as it was that benign pastel monotones that greeted us for much of the day. The pull up to Boardale hause got the system warmed up, as usual, with the long out onto Beda Fell. Easy if unspectacular walking all the way along the ridge, and in at Howtown in good time for the afternoon ferry back. Several other sets of walkers out as well, the most noticeable being a pair of whippets in coats, complete with snoods!
Another party went towards Place Fell via the Hare Shaw route, then on to Martindale and Sandwick, before returning on the path back to the hut.
Attendees: Andy Hayes, Don Hodge, Judy Renshaw, Ed Bramley, Ian Mateer, Simon Perrins, Rachel, Dick Murton, Heather Eddowes, Howard Telford, Morag Mc Donald, Andy Burton, Mike and Marian Parsons, James and Belinda Baldwin, Tony and Fiona Westcott AC, Paul Hudson AC, Tim Radcliff AC.
Report by James Baldwin, Ed Bramley and Don Hodge.
The meet was held once again at the New Inn at Bwlch which is perfectly placed between the Black Mountains and the Brecon Beacons. The Friday afternoon walk participants arrived at the Bunkhouse around 12:00 and once we had deposited our bags in the rooms we set off on the Friday afternoon fixture walk. This walk involves the ridge which passes to the east of Llangors Lake. The ridge is approximately 5km in length from Bwlch to the pass at the far end.
On Saturday we awoke to some of the wet stuff which was forecasted to abate around 11:00. The group broke up into two walks. One group left early, in the rain, to do a lap of Llangors Lake and then ascend the ridge from the Friday walk at the pass end and walk back to the Bunkhouse.
On Sunday morning we were greeted with a typical autumnal day, bright sunshine but cold to start off. After breakfast we made our way to a very small car park in a tight bend in the road near Neuadd-fawr. Amazingly we got all the cars in without blocking the road. The planned walk is called the Crickhowell skyline and involved a visit to Crug Howell fort which was very impressive with some amazing views.
Present: Paul Stock, Andy Burton, Steve Caulton, Ed Bramley, Mike Goodyer, James and Belinda Baldwin, Myles O'Reilly, Mike and Marian Parsons, Judy Renshaw, Don Hodge, Rick Snell, Alison Henry.
Report by Paul Stock
The good weather of 2018 was still happening for us. On Saturday we set of from Eype parking area near Bridport.
We had a good age spread and a cliff walk that could be as long as chosen. When we reached Seatown we had our customary lunch at sea level rather than above 2500 feet in the mountains. Mary was the only one to brave the sea and apparently it was lovely in but the rest of us were happy to be out enjoying the sunshine.
Three decided to start back inland with the plan to meet up for tea at Downlands Farm a local hotspot. The rest of the party carried on westwards to Golden Cap, the highest point on the South Coast. The views were wonderful and three decided that was enough and made their return.
|The remainder went down to St Gabriel’s Chapel, which is a charming ruin seemingly far from anywhere but once upon a time it was beside a major coach route.|
Photo by Mike Goodyer
Mike enjoying a cream tea! Photo by Julie Freemantle
|Arrivals for tea were in order of turning back east. The first two groups experiencing service akin to Faulty Towers, whilst those who did the full stretch were rewarded for doing so by excellent service and ‘what were we moaning about?’|
Those stopping for Sunday had a new venue for supper in Beer producing an element of change. The Smuggler’s Kitchen did us well. On Sunday we drove a short way to Colyton and walked to the Iron Age Fort at Musbury overlooking the Axe Estuary again being rewarded with great views. At least we had to climb to the top of a hill to eat our lunch. We returned alongside the River Coly. It was a great weekend with new and old faces but we were sorry that some old hands couldn’t make it.
Present: Antonia Barlen, Andy Burton, John Dempster, Mary Eddowes, Julie Fremantle, Mike Goodyer, Margaret Moore, Dick Murton, Celine Gagnon, Lin Warriss, James and Belinda Baldwin.
Report by Belinda Baldwin
This year’s hotel meet in Mayrhofen was a great success, with 35 members attending, the most since our centenary in 2009: these included several present and past committee members, with four presidents, three vice presidents and two secretaries. We were lucky with the weather too: although those who arrived early had been subjected to torrential rain, the first day of the meet dawned bright and sunny, and the sunshine stayed with us all week with just an occasional thunderstorm.
Mayrhofen is in a beautiful location at the heart of the Zillertal, with several side valleys branching off, and everyone was out every day exploring the endless variety of walks. A few of us knew the valley from Alasdair’s meet back in 2003, and others had been here even earlier: Dinah had spent several days in the Berliner hut climbing the surrounding 3000m peaks, while Pauline and Dick Murton had stayed here on a skiing holiday as children. However, for many this was a first visit to the Zillertal or even to Austria, and for Dave Matthews, his first visit to the Alps.
The Hotel Kramerwirt in the town centre provided an excellent base, with large comfortable rooms and plentiful meals where we were spoilt for choice. Frau Kröll, the proprietor, had told me that the well-known alpinist Peter Habeler was a family friend, and the highlight of our week was when she arranged for him to come and talk to our group. Peter’s name hit the headlines in 1978 when, together with Reinhold Messner, he made the first ascent of Everest without supplemental oxygen. Until then most had deemed this impossible, and even today fewer than 200 of the 5000 who have summited the mountain have succeeded in this way.
Peter grew up in Mayrhofen and started exploring the local mountains at the age of six. When he was only ten he borrowed his grandfather’s ice-axe and set off to climb the highest peak in the Zillertal, the 3476m Olperer; by the age of twelve he had soloed all the surrounding 3000m summits. His love of the valley was evident in all he said, and he spoke passionately about the importance of the environment and how the creation of a Nature Park has helped preserve this area. Modest and unassuming, he spoke to us as friends and fellow-climbers, and was as interested to hear where we had been during our stay as we were to hear of his much more adventurous exploits. He is still regularly out in the mountains, and looked as lean and fit as when he had climbed Everest 40 years earlier. Only last year he became the oldest to climb the notorious Eiger Nordwand, which he had previously climbed with Messner in 1974 in the record time of only ten hours. At the age of 76, just two weeks younger than myself, he was an inspiration to us all.
The first day saw most of the group taking the Penken lift where a variety of walks awaited us. It was an easy way to gain height, although James and Belinda elected to walk up the 1200m from Mayrhofen and take the lift down. Dick cycled up here more than once, and unwittingly chose for his first ascent the day of the popular Zillertal Bike Challenge. At the top he was overtaken by hordes of ultra-fit mountain bikers before they disappeared on a steep track downhill, leaving him to take a less direct route down. There was a network of paths to explore up here, with such magnificent views of the surrounding mountains that it was easy to forget the number of ski-tows. This year none of our group set off up the 2900m Rastkogel, perhaps put off by my stories of missing the lift back down in 2003, but were satisfied with the lower Wanglspitze. From the summit we found a contouring path back to the lift, past a small alpine lake and the very modern “Granatkapelle” chapel, where an outside altar was decorated with candles for a wedding ceremony. Penken was a good place for shorter rambles too, and for Marian and Barbara to do some sketching, with alpine lakes to explore, a paddling pool to cool off in and the sunny terrace of the café to enjoy a drink or an apfelstrudel. An alternative way down was to take the lift to Finkenberg and return along the Tuxer gorge across the Devil’s bridge, a route taken by different groups on several occasions.
The other lift starting in Mayrhofen was the Ahorn which was taken by most of our group on different days, and by Niels and Guni more than once. Several walks started from here, the shortest being to the viewpoint at Filzenkogel, looking straight down to Mayrhofen far below. Even James and Belinda went up on this lift and accompanied the group to the delightfully positioned Edel hut, which Marian took time to sketch.
A higher objective was Am Glatzer directly below the Ahornspitze, which Heather and Dave reported as their highlight of the week.
A large group of us had climbed the Ahornspitze back in 2003, but this year only five reached the summit, at 2973m the highest point of the meet: Bill and Rosie, Don, Richard and Rick. They had set off on an early cable car, and Richard has described their day. “After the Edelhütte the footpath rises steadily, first across grassy slopes before traversing a boulder field and some snow to the col which we reached in about another hour. From here the views are already magnificent but it was important to keep an eye on the red markers as we walked and scrambled up the final ridge to a preliminary top and then into an exposed gap to reach the main summit. The 360 degree view is spectacular and we shared it with half a dozen or so other climbers.
We weren’t surprised later to discover that the Ahornspitze is Peter Habeler’s favourite mountain in the Zillertal region. A splendid excursion.”
Bill and Rosie on the Ahornspitze
The summit team back at the Kramerwirt, by Alan Norton
The main side valley to the west and south of Mayrhofen is the Tuxertal, leading to the snow-covered Tuxer glacier below the Olperer. Lifts and ski tows led up to slopes busy with summer skiers, but it was easy to get away from these, and from the top of the Sommerbergalm lift we soon reached the Tuxer Joch-Haus.
James and Belinda took a higher lift and joined this by a more circuitous route, and on a later day Bill and Rosie climbed the small Pfannköpfl summit at the side, but most of us were content with a drink at the hut before setting off down the idyllic Weitental on what was one of the loveliest walks of the week. This remote valley is a haven for marmots, and we saw several family groups playing together, very close to the path.
A marmot family at play, by Rick Saynor
Moss campion, by Heather Eddowes
The flowers here were even more spectacular than on other walks, and the slopes were bright with pink alpenrose, several kinds of vivid blue gentians, delicate soldanellas, moss campions and a variety of tiny orchids. Further on a dramatic waterfall thundered down from high above, and it was here that several of us re-grouped for our picnic lunch.
Walking down the Weitental, by Heather Eddowes
Dinah at the waterfall, by Heather Eddowes
Lower down the Tuxertal a lift from Lanersbach took us up to Eggalm, from where it was a short but steep climb up the Grüblspitze where we met a young-looking grandmother from Berlin, together with her six-year old grandson, at the summit cross. The flowers were lovely here too, and we even found a tiny snow gentian growing at the side of the path. After several long days our group had made a later start than usual and, on seeing the clouds build up, decided not to attempt the long circuit we had planned. Instead, we headed off on a more straightforward descent route, reaching the top of the cable car just as the first drops of rain fell. We raced for the lift, realising that the storm which was about to break would stop it working, and it did in fact stop three times during John and Dinah’s descent only minutes later. By this time thunder was crashing overhead, with flashes of lightning and torrential rain, which got worse as we drove back down the valley.
Meanwhile, Jay and Caroline had taken an earlier lift and had set off on the long circuit taken by Mike earlier in the week, down and up to the Ramsjoch, and then downhill to the beautiful Torseen lakes, still a long way above the main valley. Mike had had good weather, but nevertheless reported the route as long and challenging, in a remote valley. Jay and Caroline were not so lucky for, after the farm buildings of the Nasser Tuxeralm, on the forest road leading downhill, Caroline wrote: “We felt the first ice-cold drops of rain or hail on the backs of our necks. Within minutes of us donning all our wet-weather gear, the sky had blackened and the rain was pouring down. Huge bolts of lightning lit up the sky while the thunder crashed directly over our heads and we walked rapidly through the forest as the road turned into a river. By the time we reached the Geislerhof farmhouse we were both soaked, and it rained all the way down to the bus stop at Vorderlanersbach.”
Due south of Mayrhofen various side valleys led into the Nature Park, a beautiful area unspoilt by any ski installations. One of the loveliest valleys was the Zemmgrund, and our longest walk took us from the bus stop at Breitlahner up to the Berliner hut, 11kms away and 850m higher. The trail followed a narrow gorge into meadows of alpenrose before climbing up beside cliffs and waterfalls, the final ascent being up a steep, stone-slab path. This was a botanical paradise, and the only place all week where we found the rare edelweiss. There were two other huts en route, the Grawand and the aptly named Alpenrose, both of which provided welcome drinks stops, and at last, after three hours, our objective came into sight.
This large and imposing building was constructed by the Berlin section of the DAV in 1879, and has a beautifully carved wooden staircase in the entrance hall and chandeliers in the dining-room. It is in a spectacular position at the foot of glaciers below the Grosse Möseler and other 3000m peaks, and we later discovered that this is Peter Habeler’s favourite hut.
We sat outside on the sunny terrace gazing at the magnificent view before us as we enjoyed a well-earned drink, and Richard and Katherine ordered a large portion of kaiserschmarrn which they had tasted first on their honeymoon nearly 50 years ago. Most of the group took a longer way down on the gletscherweg, contouring higher up to cross two streams and join the original path near the Alpenrose hut. It was a long but satisfying day.
Later in the week several of us took the bus past Breitlahner up the toll road to the Schlegeis dam and reservoir, from where we walked up the Zamsergrund to the Italian border at Pfitscher Joch-Haus. The Pfitscher Joch has been used as an alpine crossing for over 9,000 years, and traces have been found of Stone Age hunters who came here to hunt ibex and gather quartz rock crystal.
The path rose gradually in a series of steps, through meadows of alpenrose and dwarf pine, past waterfalls and streams, to reach a small farm at Lavitzalm, where a diminutive stripey kitten was being manhandled by an equally diminutive child. It was a day for the young, for we caught up with three young mothers carrying babies of 3, 5 and 9 months, all smiling happily. There was a boundary stone at the pass telling us we were at the international border, and soon we reached the small hut. It was a spectacular viewpoint, surrounded by 3000m peaks, looking straight down the Pfitschertal into Italy. A road on the Italian side led to the Brenner Pass road and Val Gardena, where we had stayed on last year’s meet. This was one of the days which clouded over soon after lunch, and as the rain began and we donned our waterproof gear, we wondered if the babies were getting as wet as we were.
The Nature Park House at Ginzling was lower down the same valley, and several of us visited this with its fascinating multimedia exhibition exploring the world of glaciers. In search of a shorter walk on our last day, Alan and I continued from here into the Floitental and up to the Steinbock hut, its sunny terrace in flower-filled meadows providing an attractive drinks stop. It was a pleasant stroll, and although earlier in the week we might have continued another 800m up to the Greizer hut, for once we were content just to sit. Nearby was the Stilluptal, another lovely valley which Roger and Sheila were the only ones to explore when they drove as far as the waterfall near the reservoir.
Several of the group found walks northeast of Mayrhofen, exploring the paths around Brandberg. Geoff and Janet wandered up here on a rainy day before the meet started, and on what turned out to be an even rainier day later in the meet, James and Belinda set off from the hotel to walk up to Kotahorn-Alm and Karlalm below the Gerlossteinwand, taking the Panoramaweg back to Brandberg and Mayrhofen, an ascent of nearly 1200m and a distance of 18.5km. Others took the easier option of taking the Gerlosstein lift from Hainzenberg, leaving only 500m to climb to the summit of the Gerlossteinwand. With a vertiginous rock face looking down onto the village of Brandberg, this was a dramatic viewpoint. Most took the lift back down, but Caroline decided to walk all the way down to Zell, a total descent of 1600m and a distance of some 22km, perhaps even beating James and Belinda’s record.
Lin and Pauline were the only ones to explore the northwest side of Mayrhofen when they took the bus to Melchboden, above Ramsau. They walked up the Arbiskopf and along the ridge path leading to Kreuzjoch before dropping down to the Rastkogel hut, past slopes of numerous tall yellow gentians. They completed the circuit by walking back through flower filled meadows to Mösl where they picked up the bus again.
Dick went off on his bike, covering 30 – 40 miles each day, and one day Lin hired an e-bike to accompany him. They took the Zillertal cycleway down the valley to Strass near Jenbach which, to their surprise, proved rather too boring - at least on that sort of terrain. On the last day Dick took the cable car from Zell to the top of the Rosenalmbahn and followed one of the race routes down to the valley bottom. However, he seems to have been somewhat distracted at the top on finding, in his words: “a wonderful wooden castle with water engineering features, slides and various climbing frames - just needed to clear the kids off it to be able to have some proper fun!!”
Not many took a day off, and those who did went down to the lovely old town of Innsbruck, where a few of the group had stayed before the meet started. Geoff and Janet had stayed extra days in Mayrhofen beforehand, and Jay and Caroline had spent three rainy days exploring above Gerlos. After the meet Bill and Rosie headed off to Salzberg and Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest in the Bavarian Alps, Mike and Marian drove their campervan into the Stubaital, while James and Belinda spent a few days at the AAC’s 70th anniversary meet further east at Zell-am-See.
It was good to have with us again the long-standing members of the club who had not been on the summer meet for several years, and to see how much everyone enjoyed their week’s stay in this beautiful valley.
Participants: Pamela Harris & Alan Norton, James & Belinda Baldwin, Geoff & Janet Bone, Derek Buckley & Ann Alari, Geoff & Pauline Causey, John Dempster & Dinah Nichols, Niels & Guni Doble, Heather Eddowes & Dave Matthews, Pauline Hammond, Don Hardy, Richard & Katherine Heery, Dick Murton & Lin Warriss, Roger Newson & Sheila Coates, Mike & Marian Parsons, Rick & Carol Saynor, Jim & Margaret Strachan, Barbara Swindin, Caroline Thonger, Jay Turner, Bill & Rosie Westermeyer.
Report by Pamela Harris
The President had issued his challenge – “Andy managed to organise good weather for the Derbyshire meet. Can you manage the same for yours?” A hard act to follow, but Someone must have been listening, as we were blessed with another weekend of glorious weather. Too hot for some, as the train track from Beddgelert to Rhyd Ddu had buckled in the heat on Sunday, and those wanting to avail themselves of a train ride were in for a long walk back.
On Friday, the early contingent set the mood for the weekend with a walk along the Nantle ridge from the hut, taking in all the tops, to a lunch stop by the monument on Mynydd Tal-y-mignedd, before dropping down the ridge and returning to Rhyd Ddu.
Saturday saw activities a plenty, from a days’ climbing on the slabs and a full round of the Snowdon horseshoe, to more leisurely strolls. A sizeable contingent chose the annual visit to the top of Wales, up the Rhyd Ddu path of course.
Many others had decided this was the thing to do, and numbers added to even more by an adventure event starting from the car park near the cottage.
The summit itself was half hidden by a sea of bodies, and the slopes beneath the hut were also well covered with people enjoying the good weather and taking their lunch break. A small world as Ed bumped into the Communications manager at Leeds Rhinos, and was interviewed for a future article in the fans magazine. The way down the Snowdon Ranger path was equally busy at first, but with many people either continuing down into Llanberis, or turning down the Pyg track. The route back to the cottage through the quarry was straightforward, and everyone was back in time for a late afternoon tea (or beer), before evening meal.
Nearly record numbers, including three guests from the Oread club, sat down to the communal Saturday evening meal. Starters were field mushrooms stuffed with cheese, bacon and rosemary, followed by steak pie with gravy (courtesy of Ed’s next-door neighbour, Tim), accompanied by green beans, peas and new potatoes. The meal was rounded off with a choice of apple pie, trifle or tiramisu. In the words of one well known plate cleaner, there was little left over for either the dog or cat. With the wine flowing, the stories got longer and louder, and lasted well into the evening.
The weather kept up its marathon performance on Sunday, with further wall to wall sunshine. Another wide spread of activities, from the café direct route to Beddgelert and excursion to the ice-cream stall, to more energetic options around Cnicht, and even wild swimming in Llyn Gwynant.
Our route took us from the cottage and into the abandoned quarries of Bwlch-y-ddwy-elor, before heading east over the next ridge and joining the tracks into Beddgelert. The café and ice cream shop lived up to its usual expectations, with blackcurrant a favourite of mine. A brisk stroll along the path and causeway back to the cottage saw us back in good time for afternoon tea and the slow road home.
Meet attendees: Belinda Baldwin, James Baldwin, Ed Bramley, Andy Burton, Steve Caulton, Heather Eddowes, Mary Eddowes, Celine Gagnon, Natasha Geere, Mike Goodyer John & Freda Gregson, Don Hodge, Tony Howard, Steve Hunt, Chris Lund, Maggie O’Dwyer, Mike O’Dwyer, Michele Pulford, Judy Renshaw, Paul Stock, Marcus Tierney.
Report by Ed Bramley
This year’s Scotland meet was excellent, with mainly good weather and plenty of munros and other summits climbed, as well as some scrambles. Unfortunately, several people who had expressed interest could not attend for various reasons, leaving just two of us to enjoy it. Max had already spent a few days on Skye then went on to the comfortable Forest Way bunkhouse near Braemore Junction, a few miles south of Ullapool, and I joined him on the Sunday, having flown to Inverness and driven from there.
The forecast for Sunday, the first day, was for low cloud and possible rain so we had considered a low walk. However, as the morning looked bright, we headed towards Stac Pollaidh, which was out of the cloud at 613m. We were early enough to have it to ourselves until late morning, so we took the path to the eastern end, did an unnecessary but fun scramble on the two end sections then traversed most of the ridge. Luckily it was dry and fairly warm so the rock was pleasant. The final scramble to the summit could be done either via a small chimney or on the face of a rock pillar – so it had to be done twice, just to make sure all routes were explored, before we returned to the descent via the full ridge. The traverse path around the base was also worthwhile as the views were wonderful. Since there was still plenty of time to spare, we did a short walk to the coast on the way back, where we saw stone chats and heard plenty of cuckoos.
The next day saw classic Scottish cloud down to almost sea level and steady rain all day, so there was no hurry to get out. I wanted to visit a longstanding friend of my brother who lives near Dundonnell and luckily this was the only day she was free. Before going to visit her, we walked along the north side of Little Loch Broom to the village of Scoraig. The village is very interesting as it has no road access at all, though it houses some 70 people and includes a school, an information point in a lighthouse and a jetty. All of the 25 houses have wind generators and some people run businesses such as violin making from there, as well as crofting. Later we visited my brother’s friend on the other side of the loch, who also keeps sheep, spins and dyes the wool and has had a house built with timber from her own patch of forest.
The following day was dry, but with cloud on the higher tops, so we chose Cul Mor, the lowest of our intended summits (849m). Getting there and ascending to the main summit was very straightforward, but the cloud came down just before we reached the top. So some messing about with compass in the mist was required to find a secondary summit along the ridge (which gave the opportunity for minor scrambling on some slabby sandstone shelves) and the descent. We descended a different way, across to another peak (An Laogh) and saw a mountain hare on the way, as well as a group of about eight deer. No other people were around all day. We finished in good time, so visited the gear shop in Ullapool and later the Dundonnell hotel, which had lovely views of hills bathed in sunshine. The late evening sun is one of the joys of being this far north at this time of year.
After this the weather improved markedly, with clear tops and much sunshine. Our next objective was a group of munros in the Fannich range, just south of the bunkhouse. Max had done the Western ridge previously, so we headed for those on the East side of the same valley (Sgurr nan Each 923m., Sgurr nan Clach Geala 1093m. and Meall a Chrasgaidh 934m.) which comprise about half of the long day described in the Cicerone guide. We added another one, Sgurr Mor (1110m.), making a total of four munros that day. The hardest part was the long walk up the valley to start the ascent. We were supposed to follow a track and then a stalkers’ path but missed a river crossing (which was not very obvious), so had to stumble through rough ground and peat groughs to reach the saddle. Once onto the ridge it became much easier, and we were able to do the first couple of munros by lunchtime and take in the other two without any difficulty. There were large patches of snow remaining on the north side but we only needed to walk across some small sections (though one of us chose to find extra snow to wade in just for fun!). The views were extensive in all directions, including the distinctive shapes of An Teallach and Suilven. The descent off the final hillside was acceptable, through grass and heather, then we found the river crossing we had missed earlier. This was not without interest, and it was hard to imaging crossing there in wetter conditions when the river was higher. That evening we went to a waterfront pub in Ullapool which had live music and a good atmosphere, as well as a view of the harbour and hills.
The last full day was warm and sunny throughout, so we both needed to take extra water. The initial plan was to do Ben More Assynt (998m) and Conival (987m), but Max added the suggestion of a scramble on the south ridge of Conival to make a more interesting approach. We made an early start and parked at Inchnadamp, taking a track then a good path up the valley. The main path heads up to a col on the left, but we crossed the river Traligill towards the col between Conival and Breabag. This took longer than expected, as the valley narrowed into a rocky cleft, through which we had to find a route, crossing the stream at intervals.
On the way we saw a couple of ptarmigan quite close by and a lone deer. At the col, nothing resembled the guidebook description so we carried on for a while, looking at the ridge above, and stopped for a snack at a viewpoint. On approaching the ridge from there, we suddenly found the pools and shelf described in the book and were able to start up the scramble. Just as described, there were sections of nice warm rock, with good holds and friction and a few ‘delicate’ moves. Later it led over three towers, one with an interesting slab and the others with ways over the crest. The ridge finished just at the top of the mountain, a very suitable place for lunch with views over the far north-western area of Scotland.
The top of Conival was a different world, as there were several groups of people, who had come up by the main path, making it quite busy by northern Scotland standards. We found a good viewpoint for a lunch stop, then continued along the ridge to the two summits of Ben More Assynt. These tops are covered in broken white quartzite rocks, which were quite dazzling in the strong sunlight. We took pictures of the views all around before returning to the top of Conival and following the main descent path. We managed to miss part of the ridge path when it went over a small outcrop so had a more difficult descent to the valley path than intended. We finally reached the car after 8½ hours, feeling suitably tired, but very satisfied.
In the morning I just had time to take a short walk along the river near the bunkhouse, as we had been advised to look at a few bridges that had been designed and built by the engineer who built the Forth rail bridge, who used these as design models. This made an interesting diversion before setting off for the airport.
We were lucky to have such good weather this year, as northern Scotland was warm and dry for weeks on end. Those who could not come missed out on a great experience. We are already discussing the possibilities for next year, so hope that more people will attend.
Present: Max Peacock, Judy Renshaw.
Report by Judy Renshaw
Fourteen attendees at the Bunkbarn and adjacent pub this year, plus two in a good B&B billet near Buxton, and two on a caravan site the other side of the hill. The usual eclectic mix of regulars and first timers, plus three day visitors.
The attendees were James and Belinda Baldwin, Margaret and Mike O'Dwyer, Dick Murton and Lyn Warriss, Judy Renshaw, Don Hodge, Margaret Moore, Mike Goodyer, Heather Eddowes, Dave Matthews, Paul Stock, Ed Bramley, Myles O’Reilly, Andy Hayes, Andy Burton, and a potential new full member Chris Lund.
Friday afternoon saw the O'Dwyers and I arrive at the Royal Oak mid afternoon, and set off to organise Margaret a bike from Parsley Hay cycle hire. There followed a short 12 mile cycle ride along the Tissington Trail to Hartington signal box and beyond, before returning to Parsley Hay for handlebar and seat adjustment, and then ontp the pub to await the arrival of the others.
Between 6pm and 7pm members began to gather at the Royal Oak in time for a beer, and the dash to the ever welcoming fish and chip shop at Longnor.
The view of the upper Dove valley as you negotiate the first hairpin bend down towards Crowdecote is still one of the finest unspoilt road views of this part of Derbyshire and neighbouring Staffordshire. A pint in the Packhorse Arms at Crowdecote on our way back allowed me to speak to Mick the licensee, and provisionally book us in for dinner on Sunday night.
Saturday saw Ed and Chris join us early doors at the Bunkbarn, and for the various parties to decide what they were doing over ablutions and breakfast. Mike and Ed (on his new bike) set off on a 60 miler, James, Belinda and Lyn set off for a walk along the Roaches, Paul, Myles and Chris did a 20k walk from the pub over towards Monyash.(See separate reports at the end, Editor) Marcus and Michele climbed at Birchens Edge, and the rest of us set off on a 20 mile bike ride from the pub onto the Monsal Trail, taking a cross country route down to Ashford in the Water, where we sat and had lunch on the riverbank, and back over the hill by Sheldon village to Parsley Hay for Margaret 'O' to return her bike, and MJG to have a broken spoke replaced. The young man doing the repair described Mike's bike wheel as a bit of a pringle which he managed to retrue for a fiver.
Back to the Royal Oak for tea and cake and to hear what others had been up to. The usual suspects assisted me in putting up my old eight berth Vango family tent flysheet on the campsite, and everyone gathered there for a drink in the evening sun before adjoining to the Oak Room for our dinner and a couple of beers to finish. (For those who have helped me put up this tent over the years, friends and family included, you will all be pleased to know that it has gone to my charity NPAC for some lucky refugee far far away to toil over. Lucky them someone said?)
Sunday morning saw Steve Caulton and Michele and Marcus arrive and tuck into a Royal Oak big breakfast, and Andy Hayes joined us at short notice too. Michele and Marcus went climbing at Harboro Rocks, whilst the rest of us drove over to just below Mam Tor and walked half of the Edale Horseshoe.
Turning left up onto Rushup Edge meant we weren't walking with the crowds. What ensued in my opinion was a classic Edale skyline walk in nigh on perfect weather in the company of friends who I have tromped these hills with many times in our formative years.
The boggy path as you turn towards the Jacobs ladder area has been stone-slabbed out as have some of the more worn parts heading up onto the edge of the Kinder Scout plateau,and after a short lunchstop sat on the heather in full sun we joined many more walkers enjoying the rock outcrops dotted all along this part of Kinder, all with individual names like the Pagoda and the aptly named Woolpacks.
Negotiating our way past Crowden Tower and the brook of the same name we made our way down the Grindsbrook which I have never seen so empty of water in its upper reaches, and on into Edale village past the Nags Head (traditional start of the Pennine Way), Paul had a look in but it was rammed, so an ice cream and a cold drink sufficed for most. Heather and Dave set the gold standard by fitting in afternoon tea and cake in Coopers Barn cafe.
We then all pressed on up underneath Mam Tor to the road gap and down to the cars. The drivers got us back in good time to get cleaned up and ready for dinner at the Packhorse where we all sat in the back garden looking across the Dove valley towards Longnor enjoying some of Mick's fine selection of ales until we were called for dinner.
Bank Holiday Monday morning saw Mike O'Dwyer celebrate his 65th Birthday, and your Committee locked in the Oak Room in earnest deliberation for a little over an hour before everyone went their separate ways. Dave and Heather went off cycling again, James and Belinda walked on Parkhouse and Chrome Hill, and Ed, Mike, Paul, Myles and I walked from the pub north along the High Peak trail to where an enterprising young farmer from Pomeroy had set himself up with a modern ice-cream van in the neighbouring field selling his farms homemade ice-creams to passersby.