Reports on club meets from members who took part. If you would like to send in a report please mail it to the Hon. Editor at the e-mail address on the home page.

2019 MEET REPORTS

Alpine Hotel Meet, Klosters, Switzerland: 5 - 15 July

This was the first meet to be held in Klosters since 1989 and, with such a wealth of walking trails amidst beautiful mountain scenery, it was difficult to understand why the club had not returned in the intervening years. Six of this year’s group had attended the earlier meet during which John D, Jim and Margaret had climbed the Piz Buin, and Heather and Sheila the Silvrettahorn, but age had taken its toll, and thirty years on no one even attempted these giants.

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Silvrettahorn from the glacier, by Pamela Harris

Since 2019 was the 110th anniversary of the club, it was decided that the customary seven night stay should be extended to ten, to accommodate a celebratory dinner on the last Saturday. Most welcomed the additional days, and the meet attracted a grand total of 41. Klosters had experienced temperatures of over 30°C in the week prior to our visit, and we were somewhat relieved when it cooled down after our first two days, and even welcomed the occasional shower. We were all out walking every day, mostly in sunshine, returning with wet boots after walking through snow patches rather than with wet rain-jackets.


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Landquart river, by Alan Norton


The 4* Hotel Piz Buin proved an exceptional find, in a central yet quiet location by the Landquart river, which was torrential with snow melt when we arrived. There was a bus stop outside the door, and the train station, Gotschna lift and shops were just a short walk up the road. Monsieur Huber and his team went out of their way to make our stay a success, and nothing was too much trouble for them. The rooms were large, well-appointed suites, and the complimentary mini-bar was re-stocked every day: a pleasant surprise. The balconies overlooking the mountains and river were a welcome place to relax at the end of a day’s walk, as was the swimming pool and fitness centre, both much appreciated. We started each day with a copious buffet breakfast featuring such delicacies as smoked salmon and eggs cooked to order, and the evening meals were equally delicious and beautifully presented.

The Klosters and Davos tourist offices work together, and the guest card included free use of buses, trains and lifts in both resorts, though we quickly decided that the smaller Klosters was much more attractive than the larger, glitzy Davos. As the first morning dawned bright and sunny, most of us headed for the nearby cable-car heading to Gotschnaboden and Gotschnagrat at 2285m, but an unpleasant surprise awaited us, for the lift was more than half filled with mountain bikes and their owners.

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Sharing the Gotschnagrat path with cyclists, by Ann Alari

Fortunately these headed off directly downhill from the top station, leaving us to wander along the aptly named Panoramaweg in peace. As we neared the Parsenn hut there were spectacular views across to the peaks of the Silvretta Alps in Austria and down onto the waters of the Davosersee below.

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Davos lake from the Panoramaweg, by Alan Norton

The flowers were equally spectacular, with the alpine favourites of blue trumpet gentians, red alpenrose and white edelweiss, as well as several varieties of primulas and other gentians, including a tiny white snow gentian. Those who took a later lift turned off at the middle station of the cable railway and took it up to its highest point at the Weissflüjoch to enjoy the views before returning down to Davos-Dorf and taking the train back to Klosters. After a brief picnic lunch, the rest of us continued along to the Strela pass where there was a welcome café, and then steeply down to Schatzalp which boasted an immense hotel, formerly a sanatorium, and two alpine gardens. Most visited the gardens later in the week, where we were delighted to find a Tibetan slipper orchid in full bloom. One day Alan and I took the funicular up to Schatzalp and continued southwards along the contouring trail to Stafelalp, through meadows full of flowers and grazing cows, from where we dropped down to Frauenkirch and the bus back to Davos.

The other lift starting at Klosters went up to Madrisa, and Bill, Rosie and Don took this on their first day to ascend the steep rocky slopes of Calanda to the Rätschenhorn, 2703m, returning via the Rätschenjoch on gentler slopes.

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Summit of the Rätschenhorn

Jim and Margaret repeated this route later in the week, but most of us found easier and equally scenic trails to explore there. The lift was a gondola which thankfully was too small for the ubiquitous bicycles, and we enjoyed being free of their annoying presence both in the cabin and on the trails. On taking the lift a few days later, a group of us headed eastwards towards Schlappinerjoch on the Austrian border. The slopes here were red with alpenrose, and the views of the Silvretta Alps were glorious. But before long it began to cloud over, and we reached the col in thick mist as a helicopter with equipment for the small building nearby landed near us. Fortunately the cloud lifted as we got lower, and as we passed the signpost leading down to Schlappin, we decided to take that route rather than retracing our steps to the gondola. It was a delightful path winding down through flowery slopes to the small lake below. A café awaited us on its shores, and here we chose the luxury of a taxi back to Klosters to avoid a further 500m descent. James and Belinda, however, were made of stronger stuff for they walked all the way back to the hotel.

Two walks using minibus transport on private roads had been included in the meet planning, in the hope that the majority of the group would join in. These proved a great success, though the crossing of the Jöriflüelafurgga from the Flüela pass road to the Berghaus Vereina had to be postponed for a day due to the closure of the Vereina road for the annual ‘alpage’, when cows from as far away as Basel were to be trucked up for their summer vacation.

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Berghaus Vereina, by Alan Norton

Reports indicated that so far this season no one had made the crossing, and all anyone seemed to know was that there would be snow on the higher north-facing slopes. So it was with some trepidation that a diminished group of eleven set off from Wägerhüs on the Flüela side, with another group of twenty opting to go directly to Vereina, hoping to meet up at the Jöriseen lakes for a picnic lunch.

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Frozen lakes, by Bill Westermeyer

Despite having to negotiate snow on the rocks and a loose protective cable, the first team of Don, Jim and John F. raced down past the lakes long before we had a chance to get anywhere near them. The others made a more leisurely descent, stopping at the still frozen lakes to admire the magical sight of myriad soldanellas pushing up where the snow had just melted.

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Soldanellas below the pass, by Rick Saynor

Although not all of us reached the lakes – partly due to the circuitous route we took after missing a crucial signpost – we were content just to enjoy being in this wonderfully unspoilt valley, enjoying the flowers and the views, free of all bikers.

The other walk we made using minibus transport was also beyond Monbiel, this time to Alp Sardasca, into another lovely unspoilt valley. We were a group of 15, and most of us walked from here up to the Silvretta hut, although Mike and Marian elected to climb to the Seetal hut and lake instead. Our path led alongside a stream and then steeply upwards, through slopes of alpenrose and other flowers, over narrow bridges across streams.

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Silvretta hut, by Alan Norton

After a fork leading right towards the easier drovers’ path, we could see the hut above us and zigzagged up the final slope to reach it, guarded by a seemingly tame marmot. Once there we continued higher up onto the glacier trail, which gave spectacular views of the Silvrettahorn ahead. We took the same route down, and while waiting for the return minibus, it was a pleasure to relax at the delightful self-service café at Alp Sardasca, with cold beers and soft drinks on offer in the trough of the outside fountain, comparing injuries incurred on the descent. We all agreed that it had been another splendid day.

There were other lifts to explore too, and later in the week we took the cable car to the Jakobshorn, again accompanied by mountain bikers. Fortunately they avoided the dramatic ridge walk up to the Jatzhorn, enjoyed by many of our group on different occasions, with spectacular views and flowers. Unfortunately, the steep path taken by some of us down to Sertig Dörfli was too narrow to be enjoyable, with groups of bikers continuously hurtling down behind us.

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Jatzhorn summit, by Jim Strachan

Another ridge walk, saved for our last day, was the Rinerhorn circuit from the lift above Davos-Glaris further down the valley. It was another sunny day, and a group of nine of us set out to do the circuit in different directions, even managing to meet up on the summit for our picnic. We saw no other walkers all day apart from a couple with two dogs, and this time there were no bikers to spoil our enjoyment. We were not far from the Jatzhorn, and Margaret looked across in eager anticipation, hoping to see Jim who had gone up there on a second occasion, this time with John F.

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Rinerhorn circuit, by Katherine Heery

With so many free transport options, most of us with cars were happy to leave them in the hotel car park for the duration of the meet, although on occasions some did use them to go further afield. Bill, Rosie, Don and Caroline set off one day in search of a 3000m peak, driving over the Flüela pass to the base of the Flüela Schwarzhorn. Only Bill and Don made it to the summit at 3146m, though Rosie and Caroline reached the ridge at 2880m. It was a steep ascent, but in a wild and beautiful valley, and they reported that the views from the summit were well worth the effort. John and Dinah set off later in the week to attempt the same peak, but in less clement weather, and after driving into the mist, decided that lunch in Italy was a better option. Caroline and Don were the only ones to drive up the Dischma valley to Dürrboden, from where they climbed up through the snow to the Chamanna da Grialetsch, which Caroline had last visited with her family as a teenager. Mark set off in his car one day to take Geoff on a tour of the passes, thus living up to his record of arriving late for at least one dinner – his excuse was that the Umbrail pass was unexpectedly closed, necessitating a very long detour back.

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Alpine meadows above Klosters, by Marian Parsons

We all found plenty to do on less energetic days too, with shorter walks from Klosters up to unspoilt alpine meadows, along the river to Monbiel suspension bridge, or around Davos lake. Some went to the lovely painted houses at Serneus, the Kirchner Museum at Davos, the heritage museum in an old wooden house in Klosters, and the churches at Klosters and Davos, both of which boasted stained glass windows designed by the Swiss artist Augusto Giacometti, older cousin of the world famous Alberto. The most popular option for a less strenuous day was to take the historic Rhaetian train from Davos to Filisur, with its original wooden seats and open carriages.

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Wiesner viaduct, by Rick Saynor

Those who did this came back with tales of the impressive Wiesner viaduct, 210m long and towering 88m above the gorge, with various nearby viewpoints to access, as well as the gorge itself to walk through, which Dick and Lin did.

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Decorated room, by Rosie Westermeyer

The climax of the meet was the dinner on the last Saturday to celebrate the 110th anniversary of the club, which provided a fitting end to a memorable meet. Everyone at the hotel went out of their way to make this a special occasion, helping us decorate the dining room with Swiss and cantonal flags to add to the union jack bunting that Heather had brought over, and designing a special menu card with photos of the ABM logo and banner, and the Britannia hut. We were served drinks and nibbles beforehand, followed by a delicious four-course meal where the chef excelled himself.


mountainsChristiane with the ABMSAC shirt, by Rosie Westermeyer

It was an honour to have Christiane and Bernard Ody of the Geneva section as our guests, and Christiane spoke after the meal about the importance of the club’s link with the Britannia hut since its foundation more than a century ago, showing photos of past celebrations and present improvements. We were reminded by James of the 110 years of the club’s history and by Pamela of past alpine meets, and we all agreed that, although our club has diminished in size, time has if anything increased our enjoyment of the mountain environment

Participants: Pamela Harris & Alan Norton, James & Belinda Baldwin, Geoff & Janet Bone, Derek Buckley & Ann Alari, Geoff & Pauline Causey, Mark Davison, John Dempster & Dinah Nichols, Niels & Guni Doble, Heather Eddowes & Dave Matthews, Marj & John Foster, Mike & Anne Goodyer, Don Hardy, Richard & Katherine Heery, Sylvia Mercer, Dick Murton & Lin Warriss, Roger Newson & Sheila Coates, Mike & Marian Parsons, Rick & Carol Saynor, Jim & Margaret Strachan, Caroline Thonger, Elizabeth Wells, Bill & Rosie Westermeyer, Dick & Karen Yorke.

Report by Pamela Harris

Photos of the Celebratory dinner




North Wales meet: 28-29 June

With a number of recent meets having been blessed with good weather, the question was whether it would hold for our annual return to Rhyd Ddu for our North Wales meet. For an early arrival contingent, Thursday afternoon was set fair, and so they made most of the good weather and headed up to Snowdon summit to take in the views, returning via the Snowdon Ranger path to make a circuit of the outing.

By Friday morning, more of us had arrived, with a variety of aims in mind. The challenge was to avoid the masses on top of Snowdon, so a variety of routes were devised. One group headed out to Llanberis via the pass at Foel Goch to Llanberis, then returning via the halfway house near Clogwyn. Another chose the climbing option, including Central Route on Carnedd Y Filiast. We decided to head for the Glyders, parking near the PYG hotel.

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Ed heading for Glyder Fach, photo by Mike Goodyer

We followed the miners track onto Glyder Fach, and posed for the obligatory picture atop the Cantilever stone.

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Dave, Dave, Paul and Ed, photo by Mike Goodyer

Already the day was warm, and we were drinking our way through lots of water. Past the Castle of the Winds and onto Glyder Fawr for some lunch, before making the decision to descend the Devils Kitchen and into Ogwen Valley.

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Across the Glyders, photo by Ed Bramley

By this time, we have all got through our first filling of our water supplies, so it was with some relief we descended to the café at Ogwen Cottage, to refill and also to enjoy a cooling ice cream. By now it was well into the afternoon, and it made a long pull back to the col next to Tryfan, before returning to the car at the PYG. A hot and exhausting day.

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Paul, Mike and Judy, note the gate, photo by Ed Bramley

On the Saturday, the weather was kinder for us, with low clouds rolling round the Nantle ridge.

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Cloud on the ridge, photo by Mike Goodyer

Whilst we hadn’t planned it that way, it seemed that most of us ended up at the monument for an early lunch, admiring the clouds rolling in from the sea, a complete change from the day before. Whilst some opted for a fuller day, pressing on to Craig Cwm Silyn, we opted for the gentle return down one of the ridges, connecting onto the forest tracks from Beddgelert.

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Looking across the ridge, photo by Ed Bramley

In the evening, we did our usual Tardis approach to Tan yr Wyddfa, managing to seat 18 of us around the table, including those stopping at the nearby pub, and in their camper van. Given our recent Moroccan trek, the Moroccan theme was continued for part of the communal meal, with Harira soups for starters, followed by lamb tagine. The usual assortment of puddings including apple pie and trifle rounded off the refreshments.

Sunday saw a range of options for routes, including Moel Siabod, and Sentries ridge, as well as a more leisurely walk to Beddglert and the Aber Glaslyn gorge, before the obligatory ice cream and short train ride back.


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Paul on a cloudy M. Siabod, photo by Mike Goodyer


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The Train, photo by Ed Bramley

With a few people stopping on longer at the pub, opportunities to get out continued to abound, with Moel Siabod being visited again on the Monday, along with Mynydd Mawr, whilst on the Tuesday there was still time left for climbing on Idwal slabs, including Faith.


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Michelle on Sentires Ridge.
photo by Marcus Tierney


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Marcus on Faith.
photo by Michelle Pulford

We had hoped for good weather, and more than our fair share of it, even if the clouds did roll in for a while on the one day.

Participants: Belinda Baldwin, James Baldwin, David Blackett, Ed Bramley, Andy Burton, Steve Caulton, David Clear, Mike Goodyer, Don Hodge, Tony Howard, Ian Mateer, Margaret O’Dwyer, Mike O’Dwyer, Michele Pulford, Judy Renshaw, Paul Stock, Howard Telford & Annette, Marcus Tierney

Report by Ed Bramley

Meet photos




Trekking in the land of the Berbers, 8-15 June

We’ve been travelling to the start of our trek for over four hours now, and the road is indicative of our progress. At first, it was wide, tarmac surfaced, with a white line. As we turned off, it narrowed noticeably, and the white line disappeared. Now, as we near Agouti, even the tarmac has gone, and our driver cautiously skirts the potholes. Then we are there, on the edge of the Ait Bouguemez valley, otherwise known throughout Morocco as the Happy Valley, a point emphasised further by our guide, Rachid, who comes from these parts. In Agouti we meet up with our muleteers and the process of loading commences. For us, we can now start to stretch our legs and feel how well, or otherwise, we move. This first afternoon is a gradual introduction to the scenery, altitude and heat. The track is wide and distinct, and takes us slowly upward through farmland, to our first evening’s camp at Arous. We follow the river upstream through fertile farmlands and the occasional profusion of wild flowers, including orchids. At our camp, as the sun sinks and the shadows lengthen on the close of the first day, we’re aware both of the tranquillity of our surroundings, and the contrasting night time temperatures.

We rise at just after seven, with the sun touching the tops of the nearby peaks, and within half an hour the campsite is warming in the morning light. Our trail today is straightforward, ascending over two passes, before descending to a high plateau, but that would belie both the beauty of the area, and the increasing exertion required as we slowly but surely ascend to over 3,000m. On our way up to the first col, a number of runners come jogging down past us, making light work of it all, and we look enviously on. Our first pass, more of a ridge line really, is the Tizi-m-Oumskiyg pass (2,910m). From here, the vistas of the Central Atlas start to open up around us. The hillside around is covered with myriads of plants, resplendent in their blues and yellows, looking like an ornate scattering of cushions on the hillside. Upwards we go, increasingly slowly, to the second pass, Aghouixni Est (3,400m), which offers a grandstand view of the whole of the M’Goun range. To keep us fuelled, Rachid produces a container of trail mix, and those of us who have been before know the delight that is coming. A mix of brittle coated nuts, peanuts, mini breadsticks and dates provide just the right boost. A steady descent takes us to our overnight camp on the beautiful high plateau of Tilibiyt N'Tarkeddit which overlooks the Tessaout Valley. On the way down, we pass a nomadic Berber tented encampment used by the herdsmen. Our campsite on the plateau is on a lush green area, and our mules and those of several other parties are frolicking around, the occasional cloud of dust rising up as one of the mules rolls over and takes a dry bath. It feels timeless here, and many of us enjoy the afternoon taking in the remoteness and beauty of the plateau and the surrounding mountains. That enjoyment is tempered by the knowledge that it’s a pre-dawn start tomorrow, and the effects of altitude are tapping away at everyone, which makes for a restless night for many of us.

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Early start for the Mgoun summit, photo by Ed Bramley

Tuesday is Big Day in all senses of the word, and we’re up just after 4am, so we can be off soon after 5. We fumble around the camp in the torchlight, trying to take on board some breakfast before we set off. It’s easy rolling countryside at first, and the first alpenglow is not long in lighting up the nearby peaks. Along the way, we encounter a group of wild camels, probably owned by one of the local herdsmen. As our route swings into a side valley, we lose the sun, and the drop in temperature is marked, with hands cold to the point of hot aches, despite wearing gloves. The scenery has changed as well. No longer the clumps of pincushion flowers, we’re now in scree central, although it is still remarkably stable underfoot. Slowly, as we climb higher, the sun is on us again, and the body immediately feels the welcoming warmth. We are now at the start of a series of broad ridges that sweep round the skyline for nearly a mile, rising slowly but surely to the summit of M’Goun (4,068m), the third highest peak in the Atlas Mountains. We’re at over 3,800m now, and all feeling the effects of altitude. Small ascents that would be straightforward in the Lake District now require major focus. The ridge itself is great, with one section looking like it’s been paved, the rock formation is so regular. More effort, just to climb those final few feet, despite the heaving lungs and the constant headache. The view from the summit is incredible, like nothing we’ve seen before. Great tilted rock strata interspersed with whole valleys of scree, and ridge line after ridge line of mountains, receding into the distance. Great weather to have been on the ridge, as it can be “fun” in windy weather. We’ve just had a few zephyrs on the summit, exchanging the warm still air for something altogether cooler. Down now, and our route off is initially down a steep scree slope, which means we can lose altitude quickly, before a much longer descent to our overnight camp. As we reach the valley proper again, we pick up the signs of habitation, from the shepherd on the hillside, to the cave dwellings in the valley. And it’s pancakes and honey for late afternoon tea. Just the thing to help revive tired limbs.

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On the Mgoun summit, photo by Ed Bramley

Our overnight camp was in a sheltered valley, and to keep us company, we had a cacophony of frogs who wanted to serenade one another at random times throughout the night. Ah, the sounds of the country. Up at our normal 7am time this morning, but with a long distance day in front of us. Our route takes us out of one valley system, through landscapes that looked like pit slag heaps, before reaching the start of the cultivated part of the valley. On the hillsides roundabout is wormwood, with its distinctive smell, and also some patches of sage. Rachid expertly navigates us round different sets of field systems and water channels, before resting under a walnut grove for our lunch. As we sit in the cool shade, we tuck slowly into helpings of salad and pasta, and we marvel at the skill of Ali our cook, who had produced all of this, and carried there on two of the mules. We are now in the start of a cultivated area, and pass round several more water channels after lunch. Again, there is a profusion of smells, from juniper wood, to the many roses that are growing in this, the rose valley. At one point we cross a small waterfall, which brings out the playful in all of us, and a welcome cooling as well. Further down the valley there is serious construction underway as a new road is being built between the Rose Valley and the markets in the Ait Bouguemez valley. We see several strange sights on the way, including a pick-up full of mules, part of another trek returning home. Today has been a long day, over 16 miles, and we are relieved when we reach our overnight camp at Tiguitine (2,700m), on the edge of a set of gorges. Hot too, with top temperatures not far short of 40 Celsius. Late afternoon mint tea and doughnut type samosas with honey further help to restore the aching limbs and combat our dehydration.

We start our last day descending the first of two gorges, the Amsekar gorge. Big towering sandstone walls and, at one point, a concrete ramp which the mules skitter down. Emerging out of the first gorge, we are immediately into cultivated land, and the meadows we pass through are loud with the sound of bees. By the river, the local ladies are doing the village washing, a scene that is repeated several times throughout the day. We pass into a second, larger Petites Gorges du Mgoun, which has many oleander plants blossoming. Fish swim in parts of the river and frogs plop into the water as we pass, whilst swallows and other birds provide the flypast to our nature extravaganza. We are treated to another open air feast for our lunch, before we head out into the sun again, and the last part of the walk. In the villages we pass through, we see several examples of Kasbahs; Ancient fortified grain stores, akin to our Pele towers. To give us a last piece of excitement, at one point our trail follows a water channel, and we promenade along its outer edge, perched some feet above the main river. A short distance further on we reach the village of Boutaghar, our final destination and our gite, where we can enjoy a warm shower and chill out on the terrace whilst we reflect on another great trek.

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Farewell supper in Marrakesh, photo by Ed Bramley

Report by Ed Bramley

Photos of the trek will be posted soon..... (Editor)




Glenfinnan Meet, 19-25 May

This year’s May meet in Scotland was based in a bunkhouse with a difference, the sleeping car at the Glenfinnan Station Museum. This is a converted railway carriage in which the dining area and the bunks are original train fittings. It was well equipped and comfortable for the five of us who stayed most of the week but would have been a bit too cosy if another two or three had attended. Karen Dickinson and Rachel Howlett had to change their plans at the last minute but did turn up for the last night, so were able to get at least a taste of it. The rest of us arrived on Sunday afternoon, Steve and Andy having driven from Nottingham and Mansfield, Max and Judy from Inverness airport and David had been staying in the area for a week or so beforehand. The nearest pub/hotel was very close and provided excellent food and a friendly, relaxed atmosphere so this became our dining place almost every evening.

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Our bunkhouse, photo by Judy Renshaw

Steve Caulton and I signed up for Judy’s 2019 Glenfinnan Meet because it was an area we wished to return to after spending a foul weather day in March on one of John Dempster’s Meets at Fassfern House, driving around this area of Scotland, so inextricably linked with Bonnie Prince Charlie, and some of our more recent military history. After a steady and enjoyable 9 hour drive up from Nottinghamshire, we arrived at Glenfinnan Station in time to introduce ourselves to the lady manning the station/tourist office and find a bunk in our own railway carriage for the week.

Everyone made themselves comfortable, plans were made for the next day, and that evening’s meal, which was taken at the Prince House Hotel, about 250 yards walk away. A post dinner walk to the nearest viewpoint above the Station afforded Steve and me some great views of Loch Shiel and the surrounding hills in the gloaming.

The first day saw very low cloud, although not much rain, so we all decided to begin by exploring the local area and to head up Glenfinnan. From the bunkhouse we took the scenic path towards the monument and visitor centre, with Dave pushing his mountain bike, initially above the 21-arched Glenfinnan Viaduct.

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The team on the first day, photo by Andy Burton

There we had lovely views, giving me the sudden realisation that I was in the highlands, after yesterday’s quick journey. Here there were bluebells in profusion (which had finished long before at home), deer close to the village and calls of the first cuckoos of the year. Later we heard and saw stone chats. From the path there were good views of the famous viaduct, including the classic one above its curved span, as seen in the Harry Potter films. The ‘Jacobite’ steam train was due some time around 11.15, so a large number of people were gathered, waiting to see it from various vantage points.

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The famous Viaduct, photo by Andy Burton

Max, David and I continued up the valley to the bothy near Glenfinnan Lodge, to the col towards Gleann Cuirnan. There were several parties of backpackers heading north, many of whom had stayed overnight in the bothy. The cloud was still down to the level of the col, so we did not go any higher this time, but returned on a slightly different path, watched the afternoon steam train (about 3pm) and investigated the lakeside area.

We all traversed underneath, and then back through the viaduct and made our way up Glen Finnan itself. Here we got separated from Judy, Max and Dave because Steve kept stopping to try and re-calibrate his E-Trex Garmin satnav. My shouts of ‘there’s iron in them their hills’ did not appear to help much either.

With our first sightings of red deer, other than the venison I enjoyed the night before, coming as we approached the Corryhully bothy, situated by a discreet mere, and close to a beck, and Steve still chuntering about his device, we entered my first bothy. The previous night's incumbents had left a fire glowing in the grate, there was electricity in the form of a light switch and a kettle. I was pleasantly surprised at the level of amenities, but later conversations with Munro and Corbett veterans within our group, assured me that this was not the norm.

Steve appeared to be coming to terms with managing just with a map, and as we were not going where the others were heading, we left the bothy and crossed the River Finnan by a plank placed across some stones a few yards from the bothy door. As I crossed the river, I heard a shout and turned around in time to see Steve lying flat on his back on the plank, and as I watched he proceeded to roll off to his left into the water, completely soaking his left-hand side. At this point I thought our plans were going to change considerably, but Steve was adamant we carry on and that he would soon dry off. At this point we struck pretty much straight uphill, first along the side of a watercourse and forestry edge to our right then out onto open hillside with no obvious path.

After about an hour and a bit we stopped in the lee of a couple of large rocks and had a drink and a bite to eat, then continued our ascent to the Bealach and up the last 150 metres to the top of Bheinn an Tuim at 810 metres. Here we sat enjoying the last of our food and drink in a cloud ceiling which covered all the tops that morning. As we got up to start going down on the Loch Shiel side the clouds parted and we were treated to one of those views that in my opinion make Scotland so special, as Loch Shiel and the surrounding hills opened up and stretched out before us.

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Looking down to Loch Shiel from Bheinn an Tuim, photo by Andy Burton

Slowly the afternoon sun began to work its magic and light up the loch from the monument and viaduct right out as far as the eye could see towards Acharacle.


loch shielSteve, Viaduct and the Loch, photo by Andy Burton

After a suitable time of paying photographic homage we set off downhill picking our own way across the land as best as we could, finally exiting out of a steep watercourse onto a rough but recognisable path in full sunshine, with an amazing view out to the viaduct and beyond.

I have so far not made any reference to the current interest for many people in this location, but at that moment I fully understood why the director of the Harry Potter films chose this magical location, and by the number of people gathering at the various newly prepared viewpoints, courtesy of the National Trust and teams of local workers, for the afternoon return of the steam train from Mallaig, they understood it too.

With everyone regrouping at the railway carriage kitchen for tea and cakes, plans were made for the next day, and dinner again enjoyed at the Princes House, with a sighting of a large red deer doe within the maintained land at the side of the station on our return.

The next day dawned sunny and clear so the three of us did an excellent round on the opposite side of Loch Shiel, including the Corbett, Sgurr Ghuibh Sachain and two other tops of similar height. We left early, taking a dubious path across the river to the other side of Loch Shiel (we found the right way coming back!) and a track alongside the loch, past a salmon farm, to the bottom of a ridge. This gave us a lovely way up, with great views all the way and several opportunities for rock scrambling.

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Max on the ridge of Sgurr Ghuibh Sachain, photo by Judy Renshaw

It seemed a long way, as there were a number of false summits before we reached the true top around 12.15. Since it rained briefly just at that time, we descended towards a col for a lunch stop. The next top also had a rocky summit to scramble up which was good fun. The final top was lower, so did not take too long. We descended into a valley to the east, picking up a path back to the head of the loch, making about 8 hours in all to return to the bunkhouse, glad to have tea and a rest.

summit
David and Max on the summit of Sgurr Ghuibh Sachain, photo by Judy Renshaw

The following morning was beautifully sunny and demanding to be enjoyed. I was out of action, laid low by whatever evil microbeast has taken up residence in the Burton inner parts so Steve, having ensured I was replete and not likely to succumb in his absence, set of in sunshine to explore Glenfinnan village and its delights.

Crossing the A830 opposite the sleeping car a leisurely stroll down an off-road path took him past a mix of houses and cottages set amongst their own numerous trees, some clearly having been there a long time from when they served more of a purpose to the community than just today's enviable homes. The rustic architecture, cottage gardens and the unsophisticated aspect of a charming bygone era, all bathed that morning in dappled sunlight, made for a thoroughly pleasant walk towards the shore of Loch Shiel. There he found a panorama of blue sky reflected in the still waters of the loch, the green hillsides of Moidart and Ardgour all around, and a magnificent view northeast taking in the famous Glenfinnan viaduct and the previous day's summit of Bheinn An Tuim. Just across the head of the waters, on his 18-metre column stood the Highlander figure who has stared inland since 1815. (Well it is a nice view).

The Glenfinnan House Hotel was nearby, situated on the shore itself. A building with some history of its own. It was built by the local Alexander MacDonald who had thrown in his lot with Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Jacobites. (He must have seen him rowing up the loch). All he got for his troubles apparently was a musket ball as a souvenir. An inn since 1755 it has been added to over the years to what we see today. Steve felt compelled to relieve the place of a pot of morning coffee whilst he took in the magnificent view down Loch Shiel towards distant Acharacle and contemplated taking one of the varied boat trips along its 18-mile length. Birdwatching and wildlife spotting excursions of various durations make for a tempting outing. Steve says a future visit to Glenfinnan will see him take the opportunity for walkers and cyclists to alight at the new pontoon at Polloch for a few hours and catch the boat back later.

plantInsectivorous plant, photo by Andy Burton

plantSpotted orchid, photo by Andy Burton

From over his coffee cup he could see to the south, a classic view of the imposing summits of Sgurr Ghiubhsachain at 849 metres, and Sgorr Cradbh A Chaorainn at 775 metres, nestling on the Ardgour side of Loch Shiel. By all accounts steep and rugged slopes with little in the way of paths keep walkers to a minimum and Steve admitted he couldn't help but feel a little pride that even as he finished his last cup, Judy, Dave and Max were on the slopes of Ghiubhsachain somewhere upholding the honour of the club.

Now reinvigorated, Steve took the short walk to the beautiful village church of St Mary and St Finnan standing close by the main road. Designed by Edward Pugin, famous Victorian architect, it is regarded as being of outstanding architectural excellence. Smallish and intimate this church has stood for 140 years. Sadly, those years have taken their toll. All that harsh Highlands snow and rain battering the roof and stonework found its way into the plasterwork, and the damage is still being repaired. That aside the interior is airy and bright, with ornate columns, intricate carvings and timber roof beams all adding to a grandeur seemingly out of place in a parish church. With its large rose window and arched doorways this mini Cathedral is well worth a return visit to see what some TLC has achieved.

A walk around Glenfinnan wouldn't have been complete without Steve scratching his itch for all things historical so his next call was to the Glenfinnan visitor centre and monument. Always a busy place it is a tourist hot spot but he got around the exhibition and once again soaked up the tragic saga of Bonnie Prince Charlie's futile and bloody campaign to put the Stuart's back on the throne. He had rallied the clans in this very spot in 1745 and the Highlander monument Steve had spied earlier paid tribute to a promising start. Disappointingly, and contrary to popular belief, the kilted figure with the bonnet atop the monument itself is not Bonnie Prince Charlie.

So, spiritually refreshed and steeped in the history of Loch Shiel it was time for a proper leg stretch. Directly across the road from the visitor centre Steve took the lengthy wooden walkway which wound its way over unwelcome ground to cross the River Callop where it joins Loch Shiel. From there,in glorious warmth and sunshine he walked along the very good metalled roadway southwest on the Ardgour side of the water.The scenery was spectacular and the water blue and sparkling in contrast to the day before's cool greyness. There was some interesting boating activity along the loch, courtesy of the Salmon Farming Industry there, who were tending the several very obvious farming pens to be seen. All very picturesque and apparently a good use of such a natural amenity it might seem but a chat with a local told Steve a different story.The locals, fishermen in particular and now the Scottish government itself, are less than happy with this new industry. It would seem the Salmon Farm 'lost' thousands of young fish which have interbred with the native Salmon causing an ecological catastrophe. What they look like now is anyone's guess. Next year we may be asking for fried leg of Salmon, who knows?

loch shiel
Sgurr Ghuibh Sachain from Loch Shiel, photo by Judy Renshaw

Still it didn't spoil his walk and he soon found himself having lunch way down the loch at the foot of the previously mentioned Sgurr Ghiubhsachain. The afternoon turned into a glorious ramble until it was prudent to turn back and enjoy the walk from another direction before fetching up at the station and the predictable tea and cake finale.

A beautiful area in which to simply wander. Many more paths to explore and much more to do. It would be a pity just to berth there and not take advantage of such a wonderfully scenic and varied landscape. I'm sure we shall find ourselves there again and we won't be wondering what to do.

steam train
Steam train on the Viaduct, photo by Judy Renshaw

Since the conditions were good, we planned to do the Munros above Glenfinnan the next day. Max and I arranged to hire bikes from the bunkhouse to reduce the time to walk in and out, as David already had his bike with him. However, the next day went back to very low cloud and drizzle so we deferred the bike hire and found a pleasant walk near the coast at Arisaig.

red deerLocal red deer, photo by Judy Renshaw

As we were back early I investigated the local area, visited the museum and visitor centre, took photos of the steam train on the viaduct and attempted to make friends with the deer that live near the churchyard.

The next day Steve and I made our way to Arisaig, somewhere Steve had explored with Carol the previous year whilst on holiday.

houseInverailort House, photo by Andy Burton

Enroute we looked for an old house I remembered staying at with the family when I was a teenager on the shores of Loch Ailort. We found it fairly quickly, although it is now part boarded up, and all the access gates are locked. Armed with its correct name, Inverailort House, we visited the combined museum and tourist office in Arisaig, where we established it had been the first home of the SOE at the start of the Second World War, before being handed over to the Royal Navy in 1942, when it became known as HMS Lochailort, and used as a Combined Operations training centre for naval ratings and cadets in preparation for D-Day.

With further excursions to the café, church and harbour, a clear view out to Eigg from the end of the quay, a plan for the next day began to form. A quick look at the map coupled with some knowledge imparted by the museum about characterful locals, we set off along the single-track road further into the Rough Bounds up to where the public road ends. Here lies the old ferry house and store with remnants of the concrete quay and various rusting old mooring rings still visible among the rocks, and a clear view of Eigg and Rhum directly across the wide straights.

Rhum
Across to Rhum, photo by Andy Burton

A couple of bird watchers appeared behind us looking inland at a large bird. Once I had collected my bins, it turned out to be a white-tailed eagle which we watched until it flew out of sight. Steve and I then walked along the gated road to a footpath which led us to a secluded beach and camping spot, where a group of kayakers had pitched up and where making ready for the night. From here we had a long distance, but with the binoculars, clear view of the Ardnamurchan lighthouse, which Steve had last seen whilst sailing by on one of his sail training weeks in these waters.

That pretty much sealed what we would be doing the next day, and with a ticket for two to Eigg on the morning sailing of the M.V. Sheerwater in our pocket we returned to join the others back at Glenfinnan Station.

Although the next day continued with low cloud and some rain, the three of us all felt it was time to have a go at the Munros anyway as we risked running out of days in the week. This did mean that we ended up doing the hardest route on the worst day for weather! Max and I took the hire bikes, with David on his own bike, to ride up the valley just beyond the lodge and bothy, then hid and locked them behind a hillock. The path towards the first Munro, Sgurr nan Coireachan, began a short way afterwards and was straightforward to start with. We lost the path for a while the found it again on the way up the ridge. Soon after, we were well into the cloud and the rain became heavier. Higher up, the path disappeared more seriously so we wasted a fair amount of time, going around the mountain, backtracking and eventually finding a way up that was one of the options, as there seemed to be no consistent main path at all. Our route involved some scrambling, not hard but slightly intimidating in the wet, misty conditions, combined with uncertainty about where we should be. We had seen no one else on the mountain until the top, where 3 people appeared, one of whom appeared to be guiding the others. They had also lost the path on the way up, but managed to start heading down rapidly before we could follow.

After a quick lunch stop, we all agreed to go down instead of attempting the full round along the ridge. When someone said ‘We’ll be down in a couple of hours’ I kept my scepticism to myself, but later it proved justified. At first we managed to take more or less the route the others had done but soon became unsure before reaching the lower top which is a ‘false summit’ on this mountain. In retrospect we should have gone up and over it, but instead we attempted to circuit round it to reach our initial ridge, thus ending up far too far West. When we were low enough to see anything we gradually realised that we were heading down the wrong valley that could have taken us many miles from our start point, with ridges and valleys in between. Checking all the maps we had between us, we realised that we had to ascend again, over a tall ridge, then get into a western valley that linked with Glenfinnan. Once we had accepted the need to do this, it did not actually take too long, and eventually we could see a river and path in the right direction. When down near the bothy, it was easy to cut across country to collect the bikes and have the pleasure of an easy ride down to our destination – even though it did rain again on the way down. Fortunately, having the bikes had enabled us to make only a 7.5 hour day out of what could have been 9.5 hours, which was much appreciated.

ferryFerry at Arisaig for the Small Isles, photo by Andy Burton

Thursday morning Steve and I arrived in good time to secure a decent parking place in Arisaig, and after a quick coffee we boarded the ferry for the ten-mile sailing to Eigg.

We were dropped off and given a time 5 hours later to be back ready to board for the one and only daily return sailing. With that Steve set off at a cracking pace uphill heading for An Sgurr, 393 metres/1289 feet, the sharks fin like peak that dominates the island. This large lump of volcanic rock is virtually sheer on three sides and is accessed by a couple of footpaths that skirt round its sides.


Our chosen option on the northern side continues under the cliff until an access gap appears in its side, and we climb up and into the interior and back up to the summit. As we spent the whole time in and around this lump in mizzling low cloud, and ate our lunch in the rain with one other solitary walker from Yorkshire on the summit, there are no photos from what must be a great viewpoint on a clear day.


the gapSteve at the gap ascending An Sgurr, photo by Andy Burton

A brief encounter having strayed from the footpath as we escaped out from under the cloud cover with a large bull provided both of us with enough excitement, and impetus to get back in time to visit the harbour café and be ready for the ferry returning from Rhum. The return sailing once we sailed out from the protection of the island was a much rougher affair until we were back in among the outlying islands on the approach to Arisaig. Here we saw several seals sat on the rocks, and close to the original ferry site we visited the day before, the white-tailed eagle appeared again much to the delight of the passengers.

A quick stop on the way back to identify where Bonnie Prince Charlie traditionally departed for France, where a fairly recent cairn monument has been erected very close to the road. We arrived back in time to join the others for our last evening meal at the Prince House as Steve and I were heading back home the next morning.

Friday was our last day with much changeover of people. Max left for the weekend with Vivien and her sister, Andy and Steve set off for home and David decided to leave too, having spent almost 3 weeks in Scotland. The day was dry but, again, low cloud on the hills so I drove to Acheracle at the south end of Loch Shiel and found a very nice walk across to a sea loch with good views and an unexpected castle on a small island. After exploring that, I was back at Glenfinnan before Max and Vivien left. They had just been in time to take the best pictures of the steam train on the viaduct, so were very happy about that. Quite soon after they left Rachel and Karen arrived, as they had booked a weekend nearby to follow the meet but illness had prevented them from participating in the main event. We had a convivial evening together with lively discussion of mountaineering and much else too.

We had had an enjoyable week, despite mixed weather, and managed to do a number of summits and other walks. The area was very interesting and the bunkhouse comfortable for 5 of us, though it would have been a squeeze if many more had come. We are considering the Cairngorms near Braemar for next year’s meet, so I hope that a number of people will want to attend.

Present: Andy Burton, Steve Caulton, David Seddon, Max Peacock, Judy Renshaw – with Karen Dickinson and Rachel Howlett Report by: Judy Renshaw and Andy Burton (Andy’s sections in italic)

Meet photos




Derbyshire May Day Meet, Royal Oak, Sparklow, 3 - 6 May

Thirteen attendees at the Bunkbarn and adjacent pub this year, plus two in the Premier Inn at Buxton, and two on a caravan site the other side of the hill, plus five day visitors, and one extra for Saturday's evening meal.

Friday afternoon saw Mike, Paul, Ed and I arrive at the Royal Oak shortly after midday. We drove to Hartington and set off along the River Dove through Beresford Dale and Wolfscote Dale.

duck

Here we saw the first of three pairs of Mandarin ducks spotted on each of the river systems visited during the meet.
Ed spent some time capturing the photo of the gaudy male


We then hung a left at Iron Tors, skirting the edge of the woodland up back out onto the hilltop passing between the Liffs and its tumulus, at 1128ft, and Johnson's Knoll, at 1215ft, with its disused mines, before joining a little lane that lead us back over the hilltop to Biggin, and onto Hartington past the Hall, which is now one of the finest YHA properties in this part of the world.

team
On the way to Biggin, rain stopped yet? Photo by Mike Goodyer

A quick visit to the Village Stores to purchase some supplies and back to the bunk barn for late afternoon tea, put us in good stead for meeting other members as they began to gather at the Royal Oak for a beer, and the dash to the ever-welcoming fish and chip shop at Longnor. A pint in the Packhorse Arms at Crowdecote on our way back completed the usual Friday night round this year, as in many of the previous years!

Saturday for Ed and Myles, was a bike ride of ridges and dales. Heading north on the back roads, they passed the Hade Edge raceway before emerging onto the main Leek road at Axe Edge, the high point of the route, and turned south. After four miles, they were back on the minor roads again, on the long moor ridge road which offered both a great slow descent, and superlative views of Ramshaw Rocks and the surrounding countryside. Crossing the Hamps valley for the first time, they then ascended Ipstones Edge, which offered a different perspective on this southern part of the Peak District. After a short rejoining of the Hamps valley at Waterhouses, their route again took them up the quiet roads, with a stiff climb up to Calton, before crossing the pasture land around Throwley Hall, a timeless part of the Manifold valley. Here, the road for all the world looked like the farm yard, complete with cattle, and it was only when one of the farm hands proffered that it was indeed the road, did they venture through the gates and cattle. Sure enough, a road sign tucked away further on confirmed the fact. Lovely run outs into the Manifold valley, past Ilam to meet the Dove at Thorpe, where a further climb took them out of the valley and on to Tissington. Myles was pleased he had the advantage of a third chain ring on his bike for such occasions. A welcome respite for a late lunch at the café there, before descending to the watersplash, and around to the delightful village of Parwich. Beyond the village the route ascends several limestone dales, all tucked away with their own displays of nature, and are gifted with names such as Liffs Road and Hardings Lane, before entering the aptly named Long Dale, just outside Hartington. Its four miles up the dale to the top of the climb, and the weather is starting to spit now, so we’re pleased that it stays dry for the final couple of miles back to the Royal.

Paul, Mike, Heather, Dave, Margaret, Dick and Lin, Don and I cycled and/or drove to Parsley Hay, where those without bikes rented one. Here we were informed that the High Peak Trail was closed somewhere near Longcliffe, due to a bridge having been damaged by a lorry strike. A quick change of direction, and off we all rode down the Tissington Trail to its namesake village, where elevenses was enjoyed in the cafe built into the wall surrounding the Hall. Here lycra clad cyclists sat cheek by jowl with wedding guests gathering for a 12.30pm service at the church across the road.

ford
Heather going through the ford, photo by Mike Goodyer

Paul and Margaret decided to start their return, as everyone else agreed to extend the ride out to Carsington Reservoir, before looking to negotiate our way round the damaged bridge back onto the High Peak trail and return to the Royal. Some fun was had riding through the ford as you exit the Tissington Hall estate on its eastern edge, and a new bit of cycle path avoided having to use the busy main road before continuing up the hill into Bradbourne, one of this country's few Doubly Thankful villages.
A picnic lunch was taken on the northern shore of Carsington Reservoir, before cycling around the lake which was looking much more established than when I had last passed this way. I particularly like the grass-roofed viewing hide.

Don

Up through Carsington and Hopton and under Harboro Rocks saw us riding a series of deeply rutted green lanes in our quest to rejoin the High Peak trail. Don seemed to enjoy and cope with this terrain better than any of us. For the rest of us rejoining the 1/100 railway gradient and reliable track surface came as a blessed relief, and allowed as all to finish in good order.

Marcus, Michele, James, Belinda, Howard, Judy and Chris walked from The Royal Oak along the High Peak trail before heading southwest to the upper Dove valley. They then continued to Longnor,where some had a pint, via Pilsbury Castle, an ancient motte and bailey monument, before heading back towards Parkhouse Hill. They traversed under the hill to get to Earl Sterndale and then returned to The Royal Oak.

team
The Saturday walkers. Photo by Marcus Tierney

The Saturday evening meal in the Oak Room at the Royal provided everyone with a righteous portion of whatever they had ordered. I don't think anyone left hungry anyway, so my thanks go to Josh and Paul and the team for looking after us all so well yet again.

Sunday morning saw Steve Caulton and Michele and Marcus arrive, and tuck into a Royal Oak breakfast cob, before we all car shared our way to Taddington, where we met up with Andy Hayes and Ian Mateer, and an equally large contingent of the Castle Mountaineering Club, led by their walk organiser, Pete Hammond (also an ABM member).

big group
The large group snake across the fields, photo by Andy Burton.

Once Pete had got to grips with the size of the group, he led us all on a cracking 9 mile walk along Millers Dale, into Chee Dale, Wye Dale, Deepdale, Horseshoe Dale, returning via the village of Chelmorton. Total ascent 820ft.
Chelmorton claims to be both Englands highest parish, and village, at 1209ft above sea level. The church is the highest with a spire, the top of which is adorned with a gilded golden locust weather vane. Remnants of the ancient water supply from the spring at the top of the village, known as the 'troughs' can still be seen from the footpath. The village sports a stone telephone box, and a pub, the Church Inn, which comes highly recommended by a local licensee who runs a great pub himself.

Bank Holiday Monday morning your Committee convened at 9am 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 explored the footpaths between the northern end of the trail and Buxton.

mine
We inspect the Magpie Mine, photo by Andy Burton.

Ed, Mike, Paul, and I drove to Monyash and walked across the fields to the Magpie Mine near Sheldon. Then over a couple of hills crossing the B5055, where Mike's spoke broke last year, and into Over Haddon, before walking down into Lathkill Dale, and out by the Old Quarry back to Monyash.


Here we finished the meet with the second of Lin's most excellent suggestions, the first being the meet up with Pete Hammond and joining his walk on the Sunday, and the second being the home-made apple pie and ice cream at the Olde Smithy cafe, just round the corner from the cars. Having had an ample sufficiency, the four of us wended our separate ways home.

The attendees were James and Belinda Baldwin, Dick Murton and Lin Warriss, Judy Renshaw, Don Hodge, Margaret Moore, Mike Goodyer, Heather Eddowes, Dave Matthews, Paul Stock, Ed Bramley, Myles O’Reilly, Chris Lund, Howard Telford, Marcus Tierney, Michele Pulford and Andy Burton.

Report by Andy Burton.




New Members Meet, George Starkey Hut, 12 - 14 April

This was the fifth new members meet and we were delighted that 20 people came along for the fantastic spring weekend up in Patterdale.

The pre-meet crew of Mary, Celine, Andy, Ed and prospective new member Steve arrived on Thursday evening and planned their route for Friday in the White Lion over a pint (or two). The next morning we set off early for a stride out along Striding Edge in the sunshine. It was a perfect day for such a walk, with low winds, blue skies and not too many people on the ridge.

Ed led the way along the top, springing from rock to rock like a Yorkshire Ibex. We took our time to and take in the stunning scenery and the clear views over to Ullswater, enjoying the challenge of the final steep ascend before a lovely lunch at the summit of Helvellyn altogether. We descended via Dolly Wagon Pike and Grisedale Tarn to get home to the hut just in time for the rest of the weekend travellers to arrive.


on edge
Ed on Striding Edge

on edge
Celine and Andy on Striding Edge

People arrived from all over the country during the evening - from Kent, London, Glasgow, Bristol, Nottingham and of course a few locals made appearances during the weekend. Our Friday night White Lion dinner was a hearty treat, as usual. Friends new and old said hellos and settled into the hut in chilly Patterdale under the starry sky and a big bright moon.

group
Gang ready for the off on Saturday morning

The focus of the meet was to delve into navigation and map reading skills with the prospective and less experienced members.


mapping
Map reading training with Ed

Ed and Andy planned exercises for the group, to brush up on forgotten skills and learn new ones. They gave excellent pointers and set little challenges throughout both the Saturday and Sunday walks. This informal training was thoroughly enjoyed by all and plans are afoot for further training courses in the summer/autumn.


mapping
Map reading training with Andy

Saturday saw the group head up the Grisedale valley before zigzagging up the side of St Sunday Crag, up onto Fairfield, looping back around via Hart crag and down over Hartsop above How.

crag
On the way up St Sunday Crag

summit
Group on top of Fairfield

panorama
Fairfield to Helvellyn panorama, by Pete Bennett

The wind brought some chills high up but lovely sunny moments out of the gusts for lunch and tea were welcomed. A few people also relished a quick sun/nature bathe on top of Cofa Pike.


dinner
The Saturday Feast

We naturally split into two groups and the faster folks headed back to the hut to prep for the big communal dinner.


A menu of sweet potato and butternut squash curry, followed by Jonny’s famous crumble was a feast for all.
Post dinner, Nan’s eggcellent Easter egg hunt with cryptic clues and lots of chocolate provided a lot of fun for everyone!


steamer
On the boat, by Pete Bennett

Sunday was a windier day and so we opted for a lower altitude option. We navigating our way up Place Fell, with a few mini map tests from Ed, and then continued along various routes to Howtown for tasty afternoon teas at the cafe.

We took the steamer back to Glenridding, gulping in the wind as we sped back up the lake, just in time for people to head home in the new British summertime light.

A few of us stayed on Sunday for an extra night and enjoyed leftovers, no phone signal and resting our tired legs with some relaxing horizontal time by the fire.

Thank you George Starkey hut for hosting us once again!




Alison
Alison with her new member goodies!

This year we welcome five new members to the club. A warm welcome to Steve, Nan, Anna, Claire and Alison. We look forward to seeing you on some more of the ABM 2019 meets. Also a big thanks to Ed and Andy for being so generous with their time and sharing their knowledge of the mountains with us all.

Report by Mary Eddowes




Pitlochry Meet, 22-25 March

Eleven participants attended the meet, at the comfortable Pitlochry Hydro Hotel.

Saturday was partly a tale of groups losing their way! As the forecast for the day was good, four people - Margaret and Jim, John Dempster and Richard set off to Glen Lyon to climb Meall Buidhe at 931 metres, a 90 minute drive. After the group had parked and climbed a couple of hundred feet, it was realised that they had set off from the wrong dam - Loch Lyon - and therefore indeed the wrong hill! Retracing their steps to the car, they set off for the correct location. Following some confusion, they arrived at the dam on Loch an Daimh . It was by then late morning when they finally set off for Meall Buidhe, and having arrived on the summit ridge with about another half hour necessary to reach the cairn, they decided to turn back, mindful of the long drive back, and arriving at the hotel at 6.00 p.m.

Philip Hands and John Foster were rather more successful, climbing the Sow of Atholl from Dalnaspidal, with good views of distant Munros from the summit though it was cold and windy. Having decided not to descend then ascend the Boar of Badenoch, they then walked along the track beside Loch Garry.

Philip
Philip Hands on Sow of Atholl, photo by John Foster

Geoff, Janet and Marj. opted for an easy morning walk up via Black Spout to Edradour, then missed the road junction for Aberfeldy after lunch, resulting in getting caught in a traffic jam, so when they finally reached Aberfeldy intending to climb to the top of the Birks, time also eventually ran out for them! Meanwhile John and Frieda-who was recovering from injuries- drove to Glenshee, had a short walk then drove on to Braemar.

On the Sunday, bad weather was forecast. However, Margaret, Jim, John Dempster, Richard and Philip drove over to the Spittal of Glenshee and climbed a Corbett, Ben Gulabin. Although the weather was surprisingly bright and clear, giving good views from the summit, there was a strong wind blowing which increased towards the summit.
John and Marj, after initially abandoning the idea due to a torrential shower, finally decided to walk along Glen Garry from west of Kinloch Rannoch, but eventually turned round because of a stream in spate, then got caught in another torrential downpour before deciding to drive across Rannoch Moor to the station instead. Geoff and Janet opted to visit Queens View and explore Pitlochry, while John and Frieda drove across Loch Rannoch and had a walk near Rannoch Station.

On the Monday, several participants headed straight for home, while others visited the Loch of the Lowes to view the ospreys. Margaret, Jim and John Dempster climbed the old favourite Ben Vrackie, again with a strong wind blowing and grey skies, so they did not remain for long on the summit.

summit
Margaret and John D below summit of Ben Vrackie

summit
Jim and John on summit of Ben Vrackie

In all, an enjoyable weekend in good company.

Present: Margaret and Jim Strachan, John Dempster, Richard Forrest, Philip Hands, Janet and Geoff Bone, Frieda and John Gregson, Marj. and John Foster

Report by Marj. Foster


Annual Dinner and AGM Weekend, Glenridding, Lake District, 1 - 3 February

The Annual Dinner and AGM weekend meet 2019 was attended by 55 members who enjoyed a great weekend.

Five stalwarts of the Club (Ed, Andy, Mike, Myles, Paul) set off from as far south as Southampton on Wednesday 30th January. Both cars made the decision to go over Kirkstone Pass, and it is a tribute to the local services that the road was clear and passable with care, despite being blocked with snow 36 hours previous.
The later party, Ed and Andy, found the Hut warm and welcoming with the fire stove glowing well at 9pm.
They all met up with Mike G., Paul and Myles in the White Lion and also a group of guys who none of them had met before but who turned out to be ABM members and guests.

Thursday saw the two David’s from the Northeast join the group in time to pick up Ed, and in two cars they drove over via the Dockray road to Braithwaite. The seven of them set off up Grisedale Pike via Sleet How in bright cold clear snowy conditions with great views all around.

snowy
Grisedale Pike, by Mike Goodyer

A quick reassessment on the sunny leeside at the top, based on a slow uphill pace saw them traverse off through the snowy lefthand flank down to Coledale Hause, under Eel Crag, past the Force Crag Mine, (now a joint Environmental Project with Newcastle University) back to the village via the mine road paralleling Coledale Beck.

On Friday Ed, Mike, Myles, Andy and Paul walked from Kentmere village to the bottom of Nan Bield pass via the Kentmere reservoir and back.

snowy
The gang in Kentmere, by Mike Goodyer

Also on Friday some members took advantage of Jonathan and Lesley Williams kind invite to join them for an informative publishers afternoon tea, tour and talk at Cicerone Press. Our Honorary Editor was quite pleased to find that their lead editor used a very similar publishing software system to him.

Friday night saw 23 members gathered around the fire in the White Lion for the usual food, drink and banter. Great for everyone to catch up with some old and new friends.

Saturday morning saw a variety of different walks taking place.
Mike Parsons, Heather, Dave, Rachel, Celine, Karen, Mary, Steve Bowse, Mary, two Daves, Chris, John and Paul Stock decided to take a walk up to Kepple Cove and have a look at Raise.
Instead of taking a path to the right just after the YHA, they mistakenly carried on following the path they were on and crossed a footbridge now with Glenridding Beck and Glenridding Common on the right and Birkhouse Moor to the left. Mike Parsons assembled everyone and explained that perhaps Red Tarn was now a more achievable goal and from then on the snow was about knee deep.
Red Tarn was reached around lunchtime where the group stopped for about 20 minutes and the girls shared out some tasty Tunnocks teacakes.

red tarn
The group at Red Tarn, by Heather Eddowes

The temperature must have been a degree or so below zero and the wind was strong and very bitter so everyone was glad of the newly received club buffs.
The girls decided to return to the village by way of The Hole in the Wall (obviously to get some cash for the evening's binge session at the AGM).

snowy
Catstycam and Helvellyn from Raise, by Mike Goodyer

The remaining gents ascended Catstycam to be rewarded with spectacular clear but bitterly cold views of the whole panorama including High Street to the South East, Swirral Edge, Striding Edge, Raise to the North and Ullswater to the North East.
Some of the group were so cold and tired as they the village that they were forced to seek refreshment at the pub for a short while!

Ed, Mike G, Myles and Andy took a slightly different route and made their way up into the snow and sunshine under Stang End, lunching on the path in deep snow just below Sticks Pass with a most expansive view of High Street. A great walk with spirits only slightly dampeded for Myles who managed to slip up and fall on the way back – definitely Yaktracks on next time!

Jim Strachan and his party of Margaret, John, Dinah, Stuart Beere, Hugh Chapman, started out up Glenridding towards Stakes pass. Margaret, Hugh and Jim continued up to the ridge and over the Raise then down the Zig Zag path back to the valley below Catstycam enjoying an excellent day and perfect weather.

walking
Margaret and Dinah on the Fell, by Jim Starchan

James and Belinda Baldwin took a walk to Aira Force and around the falls and back and up towards the Mines.

Julie Freemantle, Julie Jones and Jeff Harris intended to walk from the hut up to Angletarn Pikes. However the track was very slippy and as none of them had crampons it was decided that it would be more sensible to head back down and walk along to the Brotherswaters Inn and then back through Low Wood to the hut. Highlight of the day was being cajoled by a local farmer into herding some runaway sheep back into a field!

Everyone gathered later in the day at the Inn on the Lake in Glenridding for the AGM at 5-45pm and then the Annual Dinner at 7.30.
The dinner commenced with a welcome glass of wine courtesy of the Club to celebrate the 110th anniversary.

dinner
Guest Jonathon in full flow, by Julie Freemantle

Both formal gatherings were adroitly managed by President, James Baldwin, ably supported by the two guest speakers Jonathan and Lesley Williams, and all those who worked in the background to make it all happen so smoothly.
Don Hodge also supplied a rolling slide show of photographs in the hut, which was enjoyed by many of the members staying there.

Sunday morning started early at 9am when a a group of ABMSAC members met with members of the Patterdale Mountain Rescue Team at their base, and James presented them with a cheque for £450 for the purchase of a new summer weight Cas Bag.

cas bag
President hands over the cheque, by Mike Goodyer

This was followed by the post AGM Committee Meeting.

Some members did manage to get out for a walk on the Sunday with Judy Renshaw setting out early to walk towards Raise, Don Hodge walking a route via Boredale House and James and Belinda walking to Patterdale and back.
Jon Gregson and Chris Lund went into Kendal and visited the climbing wall where Jon spent some time dragging rope and knot work out of the dark recesses of Chris’s mind as it had been many years since Chris had climbed – he also taught him about those new fangled 'Belay Devices'!

Report by Julie Freemantle
Meet photos



2018 MEET REPORTS

Montserrat Meet, Spain 1- 4 November

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.

monastery
Monastery at Montserrat, by Nicholas Moore

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.

monastery
Monistrol and the rock formations, by Mary Eddowes

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.

Margaret
Margaret on the tops, by Andy Burton

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.

Steve
Steve admiring the view, by Andy Burton

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.

on the way
On the way to Sant Jeroni, by Mary Eddowes

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.


summit
the top of Sant Jeroni

summit
on the viewing platform

summitn
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.

group
Xav, Alison and Helen enjoying themselves, by Rick Snell

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.

climber
One of the nimble Ibex, by Rick Snell

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.

having fun
on the beach

having fun
gelato!

having fun
breakfast

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.

sunset
Sunset across the mountains, by Marcus Tierney

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.




Strathpeffer Meet 26 - 28 October

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.

team
The Strachans and John Dempster on Meall na Faochaig near Inverchoran

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.

summit
John Gregson at the summit of Bac an Eich

One could compare the pitch where Hugh and I turned back to “The Hillary Step” but with snow on heather - even trickier!

view
From the summit of Bac an Eich

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.

summit
Roger James at the summit of Beinn Tharsuinn

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 summit plateau.

Philip
Philip crossing Allt a Chonais en route to Sgurr na Feartaig

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




Presidents Meet, George Starkey Hut, Patterdale 20 - 21 October

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.

'A' team
Judy and Ed descending from Fairfield, by Andy Burton

Saturday was a day that was good for navigational practice, low cloud, wind and that mizzling rain that just gets down the back of your neck. Some hardy souls set out to explore the environs of Helvellyn, whilst Ed, Andy and Judy ventured out onto the less frequented slopes of Hart Crag. Good navigational practice - now was that two or three low mounds we've just passed over. All on track though and we popped out onto the tops, and headed for Fairfield, also shrouded in mist. We weren't alone though, as several hundred fell runners came up out of the gloom from Grasmere and then headed for Deepdale hause. Definitely a hare and tortoise moment as the faster fell runners slowed down to descend the mixed steep ground, whilst we were in our element. As the day progressed the cloud slowly lifted, so that by the time we had reached St. Sunday crag, the cloud had lifted and the worst of the wind had abated, giving us glimpses of Ullswater and Place Fell. Down in good time for afternoon tea, and cake, courtesy of Don's baking - Yum. Others did a low level walk in the area of Hartsop and Brothers Water. Another member went over to Buttermere to continue doing the "Wainwrights".

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:

starter
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
main course comprised slices of roast pork cooked with garlic and rosemary, served with new potatoes, roasted squash, broccoli with almonds and baby carrots
veggie option
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).

'eat up
Cheers Andy, by Don Hodge

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.


church
across the fields to St Patricks Church, Patterdale, by Andy Burton

berries
autumn arrives, by Ed Bramley
rainbow
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.




Brecon Beacons Meet, Wales, 5-7 October

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.

lake
Lake at Pen Tir, by Mike Goodyer

As we arrived at the pass at the far end of the ridge we took a different return route from previous years involving a faint path along the eastern escarpment to Pen Tir. The plan was to follow the path off the ridge at the southern end and make our way back up the slopes of Cefn Moel. However, during the decent we made a choice to wander down through some heavy heather and cross a stream to add some entertainment to the day! We regained the original ridge which took us back to the Bunkhouse for the evening meal and some refreshments with the remainder of the weekend participants.

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.

brecons
Crepusular clouds over the Brecons, by Marian Parsons

The remaining group decided to allow most of the rain to pass before driving via Brecon to a car park on the A470 near the Llwyn-y-celyn YHA. By the time we togged up the weather was starting to improve with only a light drizzle for the first half an hour followed by cloudy but blustery conditions. We left the car park / picnic spot on a path leading south west which then turned northwards towards Twyn Dylluan-ddu. Here we picked up a track leading up the south west ridge of Fan Frynych. We then took the path along the escarpment leading south east and then followed a path across a peat plateau to the base of Fan Fawr. Before the ascent we took a lunch break and then made a bee line for the summit up some steep heather slopes.
summit
The gang on top of Fan Fawr, by Mike Goodyer

From the summit we took the path back to the Storey Arms car park. During the decent we were passed by a fell race to the top of Fan Fawr. After a short tea break at the roadside café we watched the fell racers return. From there we followed the Taff Trail back down the pass towards the cars in the sunshine.

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.

path up
On the way up Pen Cerrig-calch, hill fort behind, by Judy Renshaw

From the fort we took the path to Pen Cerrig-calch summit and along the ridge northwards to Pen Allt-mawr summit where we stopped for lunch. The low level shelter allowed for brilliant views across the Black Mountains and the Brecon Beacons.
summit lunch stop
Lunch at the top, by Ed Bramley

Our return path came down the valley below the summit of Pen Allt-mawr and followed the fence line to where the cars were parked. After a brief tea and cake stop in Crickhowell we departed for home. I must thank Mike Goodyer for his walk planning as I had been distracted by my recent home move and subsequent refurbishment work.

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
Meet photos




Beer Meet, Devon, 14 - 16 September

The good weather of 2018 was still happening for us. On Saturday we set of from Eype parking area near Bridport.

the route
View along the coast, by Mike Goodyer

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.

beach
Beach at Seatown, by Andy Burton

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.

trig point
Golden Cap, by Andy Burton
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. church
Photo by Mike Goodyer
cream tea
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
Meet photos




Summer Hotel Meet, Mayrhofen, Zillertal, 29 June - 6 July

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.

Penenalm
View from Penkenalm, by Ann Alari

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
Peter Habeler with Pamela, James and Mike, by Alan Norton

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.

view
Penken panorama: a seat with a view, by Geoff Causey

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.

gorge
Gorge below Finkenberg, by Pauline Hammond

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.

sketch
Edelhütte, sketch by Marian Parsons

A higher objective was Am Glatzer directly below the Ahornspitze, which Heather and Dave reported as their highlight of the week.

team
Ahornspitze above the Edel hut, by Heather Eddowes

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.

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View from the summit, by Rick Saynor

We weren’t surprised later to discover that the Ahornspitze is Peter Habeler’s favourite mountain in the Zillertal region. A splendid excursion.”
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Bill and Rosie on the Ahornspitze
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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.

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At the Tuxer Joch

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.
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A marmot family at play, by Rick Saynor
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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.
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Walking down the Weitental, by Heather Eddowes
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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.

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At the Grüblspitze summit cross, by Bill Westermeyer

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.”

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Ramsjoch: View from the Ramsjoch, by Caroline Thonger

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.

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The Berliner Hut, by Geoff Causey

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.

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Grosse Möseler from the below the hut, by Alan Norton

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.

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Walking back on the gletscherweg, by Rick Saynor

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.

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Walking past Lavitzalm, by Carol Saynor

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.

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Pfitscher Joch border signs, by Rick Saynor

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.

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Drinks at Gerlosstein, by Geoff Causey

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.

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Gerlossteinwand: Precipitous drops from Gerlossteinwand, by Caroline Thonger

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

Meet photos




Wales meet – 8-10 June

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.

Paul
Editor note: Paul and I had an early start to the meet and visited Cader Idris on the way to the hut on the Thursday.
A great horseshoe walk, photo by Mike Goodyer

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.

the team
On the way to the lunch stop at the monument, photo by Mike Goodyer

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.

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More people coming up by train, photo by Mike Goodyer

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.

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Taking a well earned rest in the heat, photo by Ed Bramley

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.

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View from top of Cloggy on the way down, photo by Mike Goodyer

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.

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Bwlch-y-ddwr-elor quarries, photo by Mike Goodyer

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

Meet photos




Ullapool Meet, 19-25 May

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.

Judy
Judy on Stac Pollaidh, photo by Max Peacock

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.

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Suilven from Cul Mor, photo by Judy Renshaw

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.

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Fannichs from Sgurr Mor, photo by Judy Renshaw

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.

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Ptarmigan, photo by Judy Renshaw

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.

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Max on Conival scramble, photo by Judy Renshaw

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.

Max
Max on Ben More Assynt, photo by Judy Renshaw

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




Derbyshire May Day Meet Royal Oak, Sparklow

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.

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Having a welcome break before entering the Monsal tunnel, photo by Andy Burton

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.

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On the way to Rushup Edge, photo by Mike Goodyer

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.

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Coming down Grindsbrook, photo by Mike Goodyer

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.

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Made it to the top of High Wheeldon, photo by Andy Burton

Onto High Wheeldon top for its 360 degree views of the area, down to the BMC owned limestone crag, Aldery Cliff, and into Earl Sterndale for a pint sat outside the Quiet Woman pub, before walking back across the fields to Hurdlow Grange and back onto the trail to the pub.
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Looking down on Aldery Cliff and over to Earl Sterndale, photo by Mike Goodyer

A quick decamp, tea and cake to finish the weekend and home we all went.

Report by Andy Burton

Additional thoughts from attendees:

Mike O'Dwyer writes:
On the Saturday Ed Bramley and I set off on a 65 mile circular route, with 10,000 feet gain in high over the ride. The weather was very pleasant, warm, with a light breeze, the breeze became a headwind irrespective of the direction of travel. The route was fantastic showing Derbyshire off, with rolling hills, beautiful valleys and of course some steep, in fact very steep climbs.
The route took in: Chelmorton, Taddington, Millers Dale, Wheston, Peak Forrest, Perry Foot, Castleton, Bradwell, Wardlow, Little Longstone, Ashford, Youlgreave, Brassington, Bradbourne, Parwich and Hartington.

The ride took about 6.5 hours and the Royal Oak showers were very much appreciated.

From James Baldwin:
Arrived Thursday as had booked 5 days in a studio approximately 5 miles closer to Buxton, great billet and hope to be able to book again next year.
Thursday afternoon walk around Buxton via the Solomon’s Temple and HSE quarries (4 miles).
Friday, Walk around the Dovedale circuit. A nostalgia trip last done 50 years ago with Maurice and Betty Freeman. (9 miles). Editor: Paul and I were in Dovedale in the mid afternoon, but didn't bump into the President!
Saturday, with Lyn walked over and around the Roaches, super views and another nostalgia trip from 10 years ago when leading a Ramblers Group based in Castleton. (10 miles)
Sunday, Joined the party for circular walk to Kinder Scout. Very hot but ice-cream stop in Edale. (10.7 miles) Monday, Walk over and around Chrome Hill. (7.7 miles)
Great weekend, good company, incredible weather and billet!

Meet photos


New Members Meet, George Starkey Hut, Lake District, 24-26 March

The usual convening of a very merry bunch in the White Lion kicked off the weekend of the forth new members meet.
A few members, Heather, Dave and guest Michel and new member John Gregson had arrived on Thursday, climbed Place Fell in wind and sleet on Friday (and warmed the hut of course!)

The large group of 21 set off from the hut and up Grizedale, but were soon to split into two groups for ease and different routes.

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Group Photo outside the Hut

One group, led by Mike Parsons, traversed the Patterdale common path and headed for the hole in the wall. They went up and over, taking their time to talk geology, mountaineering and mountain safety along the way. The other group, led by Ed, carried on up Grizedale and ascended via a short scramble up and over Eagle crag and then up the ridge to summit Nethermost pike. Then on to Hellvelyn taking the gentler path above Red screes and Glenridding common to descend into the valley. The two groups aligned again on the main path back down from the mines to Glenridding ending up in the Travellers Rest for a well earned ale.

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On the top of Hellvelyn - Carrie, Pete, Mary, Abby, Yas, Jo and Jonny

Dinner was a tasty affair, with two different stews, veggie and chorizo, homebaked bread from Keren’s bakery and the traditional Heather Eddowes/Jonny Dixon apple crumble. Thank you 2017 autumn apples!

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Tucking in!

Sunday saw most of the group walking up to Angle Tarn before joining High Street and taking in the views and some lunch at the Beacon. Then we descended taking the Hartsop path in the valley and headed back to the hut to have afternoon tea and say some farewells.

Twelve of the group were having such a nice time that they decided to make the most of it and stay an extra night, playing games and enjoying the log burner into the night.

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Relaxing at Ullswater

Monday morning saw the group take a relaxed walk to Ullswater (and a lake dip from some) before the friends and mountain lovers departed and made their long journeys home.

Thank you all for making the meet so memorable and a big welcome to our new members!

Attendees: John Gregson, Ed Bramley, Heather Eddowes, Dave Matthews, Michel Crabol, Mike Parsons, Martha King, Celine Ganyon, Abby Dyke, Pete Bennet, Carrie Brassley, Becca Rose, Jo Hellier, Yas Clarke, Jonny Dixon, Rachel Howlett, Karen Dickenson, Mary Eddowes, David Clear, Brendan Lennox, David Blackett, Alice Quigley, John Stevens, Keren Kossow, Ellen Wilkinson, Wojtek Rusin.

Report by Mary Eddowes

Meet photos


Annual Dinner and AGM weekend, Glenridding, Lake District, 2-3 February

The Annual Dinner and AGM was a great success. The club AGM and the George Starkey Hut Limited AGM were held before the dinner on the Saturday night. At the club AGM James Baldwin was elected President and Heather Eddowes was elected Vice President. Many thanks to Mike Parsons and Jim Strachan for their time as President and VP respectively.
As you are all aware Brooke passed away in September and a new member, Julie Freemantle, took up the task of organising the dinner. Arline was invited to the dinner as our guest.

dinner
Dinner time

Once again the club dinner was at the Inn on the Lake, the room was decorated with our Swiss flags and Canton bunting. After a fine dinner was were regaled with mountaineering anecdotes from our guest speaker John Cleare.

guest
John in full flow

The early birds on the Friday were rewarded with blue sky and sunshine and snow covered tops.

snowy
Aprroaching Sriding Edge

A group went up Striding Edge (no queues!), across the top of Helvellyn and down into Glenridding for a pint in the Travellers. Another group, arriving a little later on the Friday enjoyed an ascent of Red Screes from Kirkstone Pass.

Kirkstone
Sheila and Heather enjoying the view

On the Saturday the weather had changed and lower level plans were the order of the day. In true Annual Dinner form the weather improved on the Sunday and folks were able to get into the high fells.

Many thanks to the organisers of the dinner and AGM weekend. Looking forward to next years already.

Report by Mike Goodyer
Meet photos



Killin Meet 16 - 19 January

The meet was initially all but cancelled. Roger and Phillip rightly deciding not to attempt the road north from Manchester via Shap Fell and the M74 both of which were seriously advised against by police and motoring organisations.

John on the other hand flying up from London could bypass this initial obstacle and our intention was to collect John at Edinburgh Airport in the late afternoon and set off up north for Killin. The weather forecast indicated heavy snow that evening with low temperatures giving rise to poor driving conditions. As the prospect of driving in the dark with heavy snow on possibly untreated roads did not appeal, we decided to abort and spend the night at home in East Lothian. Although the Edinburgh bypass had been clear on the way over to the airport to collect John it was covered in about one or two inches of snow on the way back and reduced to a single track each way with swirling heavy snow in the dark making driving difficult.

Hotel
A snowy Hotel, photo by Margaret Strachan

After our unscheduled hold up, we set off next morning with reasonable driving conditions up the A9, to keep to the east of the worst weather, however conditions steadily deteriorated after passing through Aberfeldy heading west. The road along the north side of Loch Tay had barely been tracked, single track most of the way. Passing any vehicles from the opposite direction was done at low speed, running into the thick cover at the sides of the road. After a pleasant light lunch in Killin we walked round to the bridge on the Falls of Dochart then on round the opposite bank of the river returning to Killin via the old railway viaduct and hence on to the hotel. (Bridge of Lochay Hotel).The day was terminated with an excellent dinner followed by nightcaps in a comfortable small lounge by a roaring fire.

winter sun
Winter sun over Glen Lochay, photo by Jim Strachan

Next morning with a temperature of around -5 degrees, necessitating a bit of scraping of windscreen we headed off for the hills. All the side roads were blocked by thick snow and ice making it difficult to access the hills so we returned to the hotel, left the car and headed off up Glen Lochay on foot. We took a side road which rose up through the trees and eventually enabled us to get on to the hills. We made reasonable progress after leaving the track up to one of the lower ridges giving us fair views over the surrounding Glen and the tops on the West end of the Tarmachan ridge. The sky was broken with blue and the odd snow flurry, but no wind. We observed several herds of Red Deer on the hill, easy to spot against the snow. Returning we took the alternative west road back down the Glen arriving back at the hotel as the light almost faded. We did see a further two large stags helping themselves to fodder put out for the sheep. We had been out for more than five hours.

Ben V
Summit of Ben Vrackie from lower down the track, photo by Margaret Strachan

On Friday morning we awoke to an overnight dump of snow and again low temperatures. We had intended returning home via the Glen Ogle pass to Lochearnhead and then south. Doing a walk on route. However we learned that a lorry had jack-knifed closing the road. We therefore decided to head east along Loch Tay to Pitlochry, and head for Ben Vrackie. The going was slow at first but the roads improved further east. We walked up the track from which we had good views to the west and of the summit against a blue sky. On reaching the lochan the summit now looked less than inviting with mist enveloping it. As we were running out of time to ensure John could catch his flight south we retraced our steps to the car and headed for Edinburgh.

view
Views to the west over Pitlochry, photo by Margaret Strachan

An enjoyable few days with good weather in the main and some exciting driving.

Present: John Dempster, Jim & Margaret Strachan

Report by Jim Strachan




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