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.

2017 MEET REPORTS

Summer Lake District Meet, George Starkey Hut, 14-18 August

Five of us made it to the hut for this week. Max arrived on the Monday and stayed most of the week, Heather, Dave and I were there from Wednesday to Friday and Howard joined us on the Thursday and stayed a few days. We had a very enjoyable time in excellent company and managed some very good days out in the hills. The weather was a mix of very good and partly wet days, better than might have been expected on the basis of this month so far, and almost always better than the forecast.

Dave
Dave on the way up Helvellyn, by Judy Renshaw

We woke on Thursday to bright sunshine and clear hills so Helvellyn had to be visited (Dave’s first time there!). We took the ridge route by Birkhouse Moor, which has some of my favourite views over Ullswater, up to Swirral Edge and were on top for an early lunch in the shelter. The crowds were amassing on Striding Edge, so we were glad not to be among them or queueing for the ‘bad step’.

top
the gang on top of Helvellyn, by Judy Renshaw

We continued over Nethermost and Dollywaggon Pikes then down to Grisedale Tarn. Although bright and sunny, there was a fairly strong wind and the ground was very wet from recent heavy rain. The becks were all very full, so crossing the normally small outflow from the tarn was quite challenging. We returned via St Sunday Crag, with more great views, just before the next bout of rain. We had been very lucky to have a dry and clear day.

The next morning was not nearly as good, with steady rain for some hours in the morning, so many changes of plan were made. After much discussion, Heather and Dave took the steamer to Howtown and walked back along the lake, Max took the bus to Pooley Bridge to walk back along the new lakeside path on the West side and Howard went to do one of more obscure Wainwright tops near Bassenthwaite. I put off the decision for a while by visiting the local art exhibition in Glenridding in which many of Marian’s paintings were on display; it was well worth a visit. Then I went over most of the various tops on Place Fell having gone up via the Hare Shaw path. The weather improved from about midday onwards, making it an enjoyable walk with pretty good views.

rainbow
Rainbow from the Hut, by Judy Renshaw

The evenings were almost busy as the days, with some work in the hut, including making decisions about the pictures on the walls. After a pub meal on Wednesday we played a new card game of Heather’s (a kind of complicated version of Snap) which was challenging and fun. The next evening saw us all sorting through all of the reading material on the bookshelves, sifting and deciding what to keep.

Present: Heather Eddowes, Dave Matthews, Max Peacock, Howard Templeton, Judy Renshaw

Report by Judy Renshaw




Summer Alpine Hotel Meet, Selva Gardena, June 30 - July 7

This year’s hotel meet based in Selva Gardena was attended by 34 members, the most on any hotel summer meet since the club’s centenary in 2009. Fortunately the sunshine stayed with us the whole week, and this, combined with the beautiful setting, variety of walks, and excellent hotel, made the meet a great success. Despite the attraction of Ötzi the Iceman being in the museum at nearby Bolzano, very few of us managed a visit, although some did go there in the days before or after the meet.

Brogles Hut
Brogles hut and peaks of the Odle, by Pamela Harris

The Val Gardena is a stunningly beautiful part of the Dolomites, with the rocky spire of Sasso Lungo towering over Selva, the highest village in the valley. Santa Cristina and Ortisei are slightly lower, and the three villages are linked by frequent buses, with lifts rising to above 2000m. With hardly any of the group still under 70, this meant that even those who no longer wanted to walk uphill, or who had difficulty with the downhill, could walk at a high altitude and enjoy the lovely views. The Cicerone and Kompass guide books, together with Doris at the hotel, gave us plenty of ideas of where to go, and with walks for all abilities we were spoilt for choice.

Alpe di Siusi
Up on the Alpe di Siusi, by Rick Saynor

The Hotel Astor proved a great find, in a central yet quiet location close to the bus stop, lifts and shops. It was a small family-run hotel, and apart from one other couple, we had it to ourselves. But despite its size, all the rooms were large, with lovely views onto the mountains, and the dining-room was airy and spacious. Doris and her parents were excellent hosts, and Doris was a fount of knowledge on the mountain trails, having run them since she was a teenager. Even 12-year old Lucas helped at the reception, and played the accordion for us on our last evening. The dining-room was run with impeccable efficiency by the friendly Romanian waiter Riki, who had been coming over to work at the hotel for several years, and we started every day with a copious breakfast, including eggs and bacon for those who wanted. Dinner was a 5-course marathon with lots of choice, culminating in a special Tyrolean meal on our last evening.

Hotel
Hotel Astor, by Rick Saynor

The Val Gardena was originally part of the Austrian South Tyrol, but was ceded to Italy in 1919 after the First World War. Although Italian is now the first language, German is still widely spoken, as is Ladin, a Latin based language similar to Romansch. This took a while to get used to as the road signs were in three languages, whereas the Tabacco maps used the Italian names, and the Kompass the German. Thus the Val Gardena is also known as Grödental, Selva as Wolkenstein and Ortisei as St Ulrich. But I found the names of the mountains and huts more difficult, as when I had previously visited the valley on Alasdair’s two Dolomites treks, we consistently used the German names. The two nearest and most dramatic mountains were then the Langkoffel and Plattkofel, although now the Italian names are more commonly used and they are referred to as Sasso Lungo and Sasso Piatto, while the Geisler are now known as the Odle. I never did quite come to terms with the names of the huts!

Rifugio
Rifugio Vicenza and Forcella Sassolungo, by Rick Saynor

We were warned that it might rain on the afternoon of our first day, and so decided on a fairly short walk, in order to get acquainted with the area and to get acclimatised. Thus a group of 25 of us set off on the bus to Ortisei and the chair lifts up to Mont de Sëura. From there it was a fairly flat walk along to the Comici hut, with lovely views of Sassolungo towering above us and the peaks of the Odle on the opposite side of the valley. Some stopped for refreshments at the hut, but most of us continued to the Sella pass, arriving there at noon, before the rain set in. On seeing a strange-looking lift going up from there, several of us decided to take it. The cabins were small and pale yellow, only big enough for two when standing, and our arms were grabbed by two men who ran alongside to help each of us in. The lift moved very slowly up the steep rock face before ejecting us into a hail-storm at Forcella Sassolungo and the Toni Demetz hut at the top.

lift
The coffin lift approaching Forcella Sassolungo, by Pamela Harris

We later dubbed it the ‘coffin lift’, and most of the group took it on subsequent occasions just for the experience. Bill and Rosie Westermeyer swore we had gone up it on the 2001 Dolomites trek, but I must have taken a different route on that day as no-one who had been on that lift could ever forget it! The rocks at the top were covered in snow, but it was a wonderful view-point between the peaks of Sassolungo and Sasso Piatto, looking down to the Rifugio Vicenza on the other side, and the hut served welcome hot drinks.

walking
Walking down from the Forcella Sassolungo, by Geoff Causey

On a later date, Niels Doble and four others decided to walk up the stony slopes from the Rifugio Vicenza to Forcella Sassolungo, and then down the steep descent on other side, below the ‘coffins’. Both the ascent and descent were steep and stony, over rubble and scree, and Geoff and Pauline Causey elected to avoid the knee-jarring descent by taking the lift down to the Sella pass, arriving in time to have the excitement of bumping into Reinhold Messner, who lives in the area.

guess who?
Reinhold Messner at the Sella pass, by Geoff Causey

The weather was more settled on the second day, and we were almost as large a group who set off for the new funicular railway above Ortisei. We were speedily transported 800m up to 2107m, from where we set off westwards, past the Rasciesa hut, towards the small chapel and cross at Rasciesa di Fuori. From here the views were magnificent, looking northwards towards the Ortler, Cevedale and Adamello-Presanella, and south across to the Sciliar massif above Alpe di Siusi, Sassolungo and Sasso Piatto, with the Sella group to the east. From the cross a lovely balcony path, with the same glorious views, wound back to the east, but higher up, towards the Brogles pass and down to the Brogles hut for lunch.

lunch
Lunch at the Brogles hut, by Pamela Harris

This had also been the lunch stop on the first day of Alasdair’s 2006 Dolomites trek, and as we walked down to the mid-way station of the Seceda lift, Jim and Margaret Strachan had vivid memories of walking up this path eleven years before. Some of us took the lift down to Ortisei, while others took the lift up to the top of Seceda, for the views northwards over the Val di Funes, and then walked below the Odle peaks to take the Col Raiser lift down to Santa Cristina.

By the third day members had found their own walking pace, as well as working out the bus and lift systems, so from then on we set out in smaller groups. Many walks could be made from Selva itself, and there were lovely walks linking the three villages. One giving the best views was the high path between Santa Cristina and Ortisei, up to the crucifix on the plateau of Sëura-Sas-Alm. On the way up we found both wine-red martagon and delicate white St Bernard lilies, and a small clump of fragrant, ground-hugging daphne cneorum. Just below the high point was a café, even recommended by Tripadvisor, in an idyllic setting, an ideal lunch spot with delicious apfel strudel and glorious views across to the towering Sassolungo and Sciliar massif. The descent to Ortisei led past St Jakob’s church, the oldest in the valley, with lovely 12th century frescoes.

massif
Sciliar massif and Alpe di Siusi, by Pamela Harris

Several of us had been on Alasdair’s hut-to-hut treks in the valley, and for us it was a chance to re-visit places we had been to before. One of my best memories of the 2001 trek was walking on the beautiful Alpe di Siusi, the largest cultivated mountain pasture in Central Europe, and on different days several of us caught the chair lift from Ortisei up to the plateau. The complete circuit of 22 kms all round it was made by eight of us, a long though glorious day across grassy meadows, with lovely views and flowers all the way. We started by walking south towards the Sciliar massif and Kompatsch, where we had started the 2001 trek, and then turned east to skirt the northern slopes of Sasso Piatto, finally turning north towards the peaks of the Odle at the Zallinger hut, unfortunately not an option for a beer stop as it was being renovated. We arrived at Monte Pana just in time catch the last chair-lift of the day, and four of the group treated themselves to a taxi back to our hotel.

view
Sassolungo and Sasso Piatto from Alpe di Siusi, by Ann Alari

Another walk which followed part of our 2001 route was the Friedrich August Weg, created in 1911 to connect the Sella pass to the Alpe di Siusi. The path was named after the last king of Saxony, a renowned mountaineer who was a frequent visitor to the Dolomites before World War I, and there is a large wooden statue of him outside the hut bearing his name at the start of the walk. The path is very popular as it gives spectacular views of the huge rocky spires of Sasso Piatto as it skirts below them to reach the Sasso Piatto hut, a good lunch stop. After this the path turns northwards, with wonderful views towards the Alpe di Siusi. The whole tour continues back round to the Sella pass, but most of us cut it short, by-passing the Vicenza hut and returning to Santa Cristina on the Mont de Sëura lift, after a glorious day out.

on the weg
Walking along the Friedrich August Weg, by Jim Strachan

Bill and Rosie took the same route along the Friedrich August Weg as the rest of us, but in addition climbed the peak of Sasso Piatto, at 22954m the highest point reached on the meet. They described it as a steep and unrelenting climb of about 660 meters from the hut, up the south-west ridge, the only real difficulty being loose rock on the trail, which required a slow and careful descent. Views from the summit were spectacular, especially of Sassolungo to the northeast and of Alpe di Suisi to the west.

Bill n Rosie
Bill and Rosie on the summit of Sasso Piatto, by Bill Westermeyer

The Dolomites are well known for the number of mountain huts which provide frequent refreshment stops on all the walks, and those of us on the 2001 trek will never forget Terry Shaw, on his first ABMSAC meet, stopping at every one he passed for a beer! This time we made somewhat less frequent refreshment stops at the huts we passed, but they also provided a destination for some of our walks. Several of us were keen to visit the Firenze hut, originally known as the Regensburger hut, built in 1888 and the oldest in the valley. This was due north of Selva, about 500m up an easy track winding above the village, although most of us walked down to it from the top of the Col Raiser lift.

walking
Walking up to Plan Ciautier, by Jim Strachan

From the hut there was a lovely walk up to Plan Ciautier below the rocky spires of the Odle, the grassy slopes covered with more edelweiss than I have seen anywhere before. We found a strategic bench for our picnic, and this was where we had our only close sight of a marmot as he stood on his hind-legs on a nearby rock, shrieking a warning to his friends, looking incredibly like a meerkat.

Edelweiss
A large clump of edelweiss, by Jim Strachan

Another hut, also due north of Selva in the Puez-Odle nature park, was the higher Stevia hut, discovered by James and Belinda Baldwin early in the week. They walked up to it from the valley, but others later in the week accessed it from the top of the Col Raiser lift. All who went there commented on its lovely location, looking straight down into the beautiful Val Lunga. Bill and Rosie took a much longer route from Col Raiser to reach the hut, turning east to climb their second peak of the week, the Col da la Piëres, 2,747m, col being the Ladin word for hill. They reported that although there was a good path to the summit, the final approach was steep and airy, with fixed cables along the most exposed stretches. The flat summit commanded a stunning 360° panorama, and from there a grassy ridge with abundant edelweiss led down to the Stevia hut.

summit
Summit of Col de la Piëres, by Bill Westermeyer

The whole of the Val Gardena was a flower-lovers paradise, the most frequently found being black vanilla and fragrant orchids, globe flowers, mountain avens, alpine asters, small blue bladder gentians and tiny pink alpine gysophila clinging to the rocks. One of the valleys with the greatest variety of flowers was the Val Chedul, also in the Puez-Odle park east of Selva. Some of us accessed the valley from the top of the Dantercëpies lift from Selva, while others reversed this route and walked up, taking the lift down. From the top of the lift the path contoured past Jimmy’s hut, visited by most of our group at one time or another, and then wound up a steep and stony scree slope, secured with wooden steps, to reach the Forcella Cir.

poppies
Rhaetian poppies, by Rick Saynor

To our surprise, this seemingly barren environment was the home of masses of bright yellow Rhaetian poppies, a welcome sight as we continued upwards to the dramatic crucifix on the Forcella Crespëina, at 2530m the highest point of the week for many of us. From here there was a glorious view down the Val Lunga towards the rocky spires of the Sassolungo, Sella and Sciliar massifs, with a rather muddy Lago Crespëina below and the Puez hut ahead, about the same height as we were, but still a long way across the stony plateau. The Puez hut had been our base for two nights on the 2006 trek, and from there we had climbed the Piz de Puez, just under 3000m. As we descended from the Forcella Crespëina into the Val Chedul, the terrain became progressively grassier, with more and more varieties of flowers. There were great quantities of attractive pink potentilla nitida, found only in the Dolomites, and as we were higher than we had been for most of the week, alpenrose and trumpet gentians were still in bloom, a few of them the curious blue and white striped form endemic to the Dolomites. After a long walk down the Val Chedul we finally came into the Val Lunga at the tiny chapel of St Silvester, and were back with the crowds of families and dogs.

view
View from the Forcella Crespëina, by Rick Saynor

On the final day of the meet Jay Turner led a fitter group on a long but exciting walk from the Gardena pass into the upper Val de Merscia. They started across flowery meadows, past lovely orange lilies, to the Forcelles hut for their first coffee of the day, and then cut off on a narrow path into the Stella Alpina valley and up stony slopes past the dried up lake bed of Lech Ciampëi to the Forcella di Ciampëi, the narrow separation between the Val de Merscia and Val Lunga. The stony path into the Val Lunga looked most uninviting, so they decided instead to cross the plateau to the Forcella Crespëina with its large crucifix, and to return via the Forcella Cir at the top of the Val Chedul. From there they took the same route they had taken on a previous day to Jimmy’s and the Dantercëpies lift back to Selva - a long but rewarding day.

the gang
Group at the Forcella Cir, by Rick Saynor

The nearest walk from the hotel was into the Val Lunga, and most of us walked at least part of the way up this lovely valley. One day we took the higher path from Selva, the ‘via crucis’, which contoured past 15 beautifully carved stations of the cross to the chapel. Half way along was Wolkenstein castle, now in ruins, which had once guarded the valley. Orange lilies grew here too, and it was here that Geoff and Janet Bone found the floral highlight of the week, the rare devil’s claw growing high on the cliff at the side of the castle. Geoff went back a few times to photograph its development, and by the end of our stay seven more of us had been to look at it, finding several more plants in flower as the week went on.

the claw
Devil’s claw, by Geoff Bone

Another flower-studded walk was Farrer’s Bindelweg, starting at the Pordoi pass. Elizabeth Wells had taken the bus here earlier in the week, having visited in past years, and after the meet had ended, a small group of those who stayed on caught the bus here too. While John Dempster and Dinah, together with Geoff and Janet, took a lift up towards Piz Boè, which John and Dinah had climbed in 2006 from the Pisciadü hut, Alan and I turned south towards the Col de Cuch and then east along the Vièl dal Pan, the old ‘bread’ route used by grain smugglers in the Middle Ages to avoid taxes of the Venetian Republic. This was the Bindelweg, and Farrer had written of the extraordinary variety of flowers here in his 1913 book on the Dolomites. We discovered many of those he spoke of, including Monte Baldo’s anemone and Moretti’s bellflower, rare even in the Dolomites. We were no longer in the Val Gardena but on the other side of the Sella group, and as we walked along we had glorious views of the snow-covered Marmolada, the highest peak in the Dolomites.

lilies
Orange lilies, by Rick Saynor

It was good to have with us again the long-standing members of the club who had not been on the summer meet for a few years, and to see much everyone enjoyed their week’s stay in this beautiful valley. As we drove away, many of us were already planning to return in the not so distant future.

Participants: Pamela Harris & Alan Norton, James & Belinda Baldwin, Geoff & Janet Bone, Ian Brebner & Morag MacDonald, Derek Buckley & Ann Alari, Geoff & Pauline Causey, John Dempster & Dinah Nichols, Niels & Guni Doble, Richard & Katherine Heery, Sylvia Mercer, Roger Newson & Sheila Coates, Rick & Carol Saynor, Jim & Margaret Strachan, Barbara Swindin, Jay Turner, Elizabeth Wells, Bill & Rosie Westermeyer, Brian & Ursula Woodhouse, Dick & Karen Yorke.

Report by Pamela Harris




Scotland meet report, 14-20 May

The meet was based in two locations, with four nights at the Sligachan bunkhouse on the Isle of Skye and two at Kintail, in the SYHA at Ratagan. We had a mix of weather, gradually improving throughout the week and were able to achieve something every day. Several of us flew to Inverness and hired cars, which made the journey much quicker and less tiring than driving all the way from the south. In both sites there were bar meals available nearby.

The initial weather problem was very strong wind of up to 55mph, making it difficult, if not unsafe, to go up high onto ridges. The first day was forecast for rain as well as strong wind so most of us did a coastal walk on the peninsula from Glen Brittle. We investigated the remains of a fairly extensive Iron Age settlement, and burial chamber and were able to enjoy good views of the wildlife, including seals, gannets, oystercatchers, cormorants, lapwings and orchids. Ed managed to take good photos of some of them. Don explored other areas of the island, such as the Quiraing in the north and, on other days, the coral beaches north of Dunvegan.

Tuesday morning saw horizontal waves of rain and continuing strong wind, keeping us indoors until almost midday. The Red Cuillin range looked a better option than others, being lower. Max and I ran out of patience first, so we set off in rain, up the Drum na Ruaige ridge to the tops of Beinn Dearg Mheadhonach (651m) and Beinn Dearg Mhor (731m). The wind was so strong that I was often unable to walk or stay upright, it felt like trying to walk upstream in a raging river, with gusts pushing you over now and again. We managed the two lower tops but had to leave Glamaig for another day. The rain and cloud did stop later, so we had lovely views to the mainland and other islands. Ed, Andy, Mike and Howard went along the valley behind and up to the col between the same tops, so also had good views in the afternoon.

The Wednesday forecast was better so Max and I attempted a route on the Black Cuillin ridge, hoping for the clearing of summits that had been forecast. We set off from Glen Brittle SYHA towards the ridge, initially on a good path into the coire then on steep scree towards An Dorus gap. The cloud never lifted in our area, so we were unable to find the direct way across to Sgurr Mhadaidh, so we attempted the gully on wet, slippy rock and eventually found a way around on the south side towards Sgurr a Ghreadaich (973m). Since the visibility was very limited, we opted not to go back to Mhaidadh but to continue south over 2 tops to Sgurr na Banachdich (965m), from where there was a good descent route. Route finding was not easy, despite it being a ridge, and we had to backtrack several times to find a reasonable way along, as some serious scrambling was involved and no one else was up there that day. It was inevitably slow going, but the way off Banachdich was easy and we were soon down into sunshine, with the welcome sight of green grass and lambs. The others went to the Quiraing and enjoyed a sunny but windy day there.

on the ridge
Judy on Bruach na Frithe. Photo by Max Peacock

Thursday saw altogether better weather so most of us did a pleasant, non-technical route up Bruach na Frithe (958m) in good conditions. We heard the first (for me) cuckoos of the year in the valley on the approach. Rain showers lasted on and off for a couple of hours but once we were up to the ridge it all cleared to give us great views. Several other groups were up there, including people from America and Australia. We descended into Coire a Bhasteir, down some scree and over boilerplate slabs, with a section of interesting route finding, back to the car, then drove to the SYHA at Ratagan on the mainland.

On the last full day most of us did the Forcan Ridge and The Saddle at Kintail. Since Max and I had done this last year, he opted not to join us but did a route towards the falls of Glomach. Don went up towards the Bealach an Sgairne and met up with Max later (at the ice cream shop!). The rest of us took a very good path around Meallan Odhar to a col, after a minor difficulty on starting on the right route, then up the rocky ridge. The day was warm and sunny, with nice dry rock, so most of us enjoyed the scramble sections up the ridge and on to the top of the Saddle. We briefly saw a bird that was identified as a Ring Ouzel, quite rare so we were very pleased to see that. Lunch on top followed by a leisurely descent made for a pleasant afternoon and enabled us to get back for tea and cake. We all enjoyed dinner at the Kintail Lodge hotel as a good finish to an excellent week.

Some people had to leave early in the morning to drive back while others, including Don and I, took our time, visited Eilean Donan Castle then drove to the airport and were home by early evening. We had always done the long journey by car in the past, but the option of a flight and hire car is certainly less taxing.

Present: Andy Burton, Don Hodge, Ed Bramley, Howard Telford, Judy Renshaw, Max Peacock, Mike Goodyer
Report byJudy Renshaw




May Day Meet, Hurdlow, Derbyshire

Fourteen attendees again this year, many regulars and some first timers, and three day visitors.

Friday afternoon saw the organiser rock up at the Royal Oak mid afternoon, but due to an accident on the M5 the other couple of early birds failed to land until the evening. So a short cycle ride along the High Peak Trail in a loop through the farmland onto the Tissington Trail, provided a close up encounter with two lapwings walking away from their nest site in the fallow field to my right. A downhill stretch into Biggin to avail myself of the facilities at the pub and campsite, and then a little pull back up onto the trail to finish the last 5 miles on the 1 in 100 railway gradient, essentially flat to you proper cyclists out there, saw me back in time to assume the position as the attendees started to arrive.

Friday evening saw most of us 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 must be one of the finest unspoilt views in Derbyshire and neighbouring Staffordshire. You should read nothing into the fact that one of the bridges over the River Dove in this area is called Glutton Bridge.
A cheeky pint in the Packhorse on our way back allowed me to speak to Mick the licensee, and book us in for dinner on Sunday night, as the organiser had run out of time to bring all the foodstuff required for a BBQ on the Sunday evening.

Saturday saw Michele Pulford and Marcus Tierney join us for breakfast and beef up the Manifold Way cycle group numbers.

cyclists
All ready to go after a tea break!. Photo by Mike Goodyer

The Yew Tree Inn at Cauldon did not disappoint at lunch, and with judicious use of cafestops enroute, all managed the 20 mile ride, with some doing the extra 12 miles to cycle from the Royal and back.

Ed Bramley and Howard Telford set off for a day's climbing at Froggatt edge, and decided to make sure the day was full of exercise, by parking at Grindleford cafe, and then walking in. There was method in the madness, as will be revealed. The rock was clean and dry and soon the old classic Heather Wall was being enjoyed, with it's simple, well fitting jams, and a spacious balcony just below the top, to belay out of the wind.
Other routes, including Terrace Crack and Sunset Crack (both now HS 4b) soon followed in leads from Ed, but with a cautious top rope on Sunset Slab ( now HVS 4b) it still remains effectively runner less, despite all the advances in friends. More routes followed in a great day of climbing, but with The crux on Trapeze Direct (VS 4c) still having the last laugh, as Ed tried unsuccessfully to negotiate the bulge and pull over. Probably should have gone up left to start, not right.
Now the sense in parking next the café came into play as the pair made it down for a late afternoon tea and cake, before returning to the VS of eating, back at the Royal.

We were also joined early Saturday evening by Mike O’Dwyer as part of his post heart op recovery plan, which as I write this report culminated in him completing his first Brutal 10 race. Your Mum and Dad didn’t raise no quitter, that’s for sure. Thanks for making the effort to attend mate.
All rounded off with a late feast in the Oak Room, once Mary had been collected from Buxton railway station by Rachel and Karen, maintaining another fine ABM tradition of never being late for dinner, well almost.

Sunday 30th April we were joined at breakfast by Steve Caulton, and after a short drive to ‘The Street’ car park at the northwest corner of Errwood Reservoir, we commenced a 9 mile long, varied ridge walk from the wild open moorland of Shining Tor (559 metres), 1833 feet in real money, and 50 metres higher than Shutlingsloe to the south, to the edge of Windgather Rocks, where we tarried a while for lunch, followed by the descent and return into the famed Goyt Valley.

the top
Shining Tor looking towards Shutlingsloe. Photo by Mike Goodyer

Fourteen of us enjoyed dinner at the Packhorse Arms at Crowdecote, another great pub sat almost on the Staffordshire/Derbyshire border, but one bridge downriver from the gluttonous one.

Bank Holiday Monday saw most attendees pack up and go home. Just the Class of 66, Tony Howard and Paul Stock braved the initial light shower on our way over to Grindleford Station where free parking on a Bank Holiday Monday was still to be had. This allowed us to enjoy a 7 mile walk, past the Old Mill and ancient Catholic Chapel in the conservation area of Upper Padley across the railway line that links Sheffield and Manchester (New Mills) down to the River Derwent, continuing through the mix of large deciduous woodland interspersed with river-banked grassy meadows full of flowering wild garlic and bluebells, and the occasional clumps of marsh marigolds.

the gang
Hotfooting it to Hathersage. Photo by Mike Goodyer

As Hathersage was rammed we carried on past the lovely cafes and gear shops (not easy for some of us) out of the village and across the A 625, to walk underneath Scraperlow, another impressive stand of open beech woodland and bluebells onto Mitchell Field, enjoying the sound and flight of a pair of curlews as we negotiated the open moorside, before crossing the little B road to the left of Winyards Nick, which brings you back out onto the moor between Higgar Tor and the old Iron Age fort of Carl Wark, which clearly has provided a great vantage point for this part of the Peak District for thousands of years.
group
Mike, Andy and Paul at Carl Wark. Photo by Ed Bramley

With views of Stanage, Burbage and down towards Froggatt, a large swathe of the Derbyshire Gritstone Edges can be seen. The Sheffield City owned conifer plantation in the valley below is now almost all felled and gone, and to provide HGV access the path had to be upgraded from the main road. Now with good car parks at either end, larger wheel chair friendly gates and a firm level base any person can make their way along the path that runs from under Burbage South all the way to Burbage North End. I watch with interest how the next phase of the work of the Eastern Moors Partnership between the National Trust and the RSPB takes shape in this area.

With a Grindleford Café chip buttie and mug of tea to finish, the 2017 Derbyshire Meet came to a close in good time, to allow all the remaining attendees to escape the Peak ahead of most of the Bank Holiday traffic.

Thanks to all the attendees and day visitors without whom there would be no Meet at all!

The attendees were Rachel Howlett, Mary Eddowes, Karen Dickinson, Margaret and Nicholas Moore, Mike Goodyer, Heather Eddowes, Dave Matthews, Paul Stock, Tony Howard, Ed Bramley, Howard Telford, Myles O’Reilly, and the Meet organiser Andy Burton.
Report by Andy Burton




Isle of Man Meet, April 27 - May 1

We spent four nights on the Isle of Man and stayed in Douglas, the capital, in an inexpensive hotel on the promenade, though some people arrived a day or so earlier. Douglas is a fairly old fashioned seaside town with large hotels along the seafront, many of which retain their Victorian style. Overall the weather was good, with a fair amount of sunshine, only a little rain but some cloud on the higher hills and strong winds at times.

team
The group at Port Erin Beach. Photo by Judy Renshaw

There is plenty to do, as the island has a more-or-less continuous coastal path of 95 miles all the way round and several summits, the highest of which is Snaefell at 620m. Although this is not high by Lake District standards, it can be pretty wild at times with cloud, rain and wind, as we experienced. There are various interesting transport options from Douglas to most parts of the island, including steam trains, the Manx Electric Railway (Victorian), horse-drawn trams along the seafront, buses to most places and a mountain railway up Snaefell. There are also a few steam railways in other places. We bought 3-day travel cards (‘Go Explore’) which allow unlimited travel on everything and proved very good value. The timetables are a bit complicated so it is worth taking time to study them.

transport
Horse tram on Douglas Promanade. Photo by Don Hodge

The first day, six of us took the steam train to Port Erin on the south west coast and walked along the coast path around the peninsula to Port St Mary. The scenery was similar to the wilder parts of the coast path in Devon and Cornwall, but with Ireland visible to the West. There were lovely views of coves, sea birds including oystercatchers, and wild flowers, including bluebells and wild garlic growing everywhere. We also saw seals in the water near the sound between the main island and the Calf of Man island. I went on further along the coast and caught the train back at Colby, luckily managing to get the same train back as the others. In the evening we met up with Ann and Derek, who had been exploring elsewhere.

coast path
On the coast path with Calf of Man in the background. Photo by Judy Renshaw

Snaefell had to be done the next day, so most of us took the Manx Electric Railway to Laxey on the East coast. Janet and Maureen took advantage of an immediate departure on the mountain railway while Don and I attempted to find the way up on foot. We were intercepted by a kindly postman who told us that the obvious paths on the OS map do not exist on the ground, so we had to go a couple of miles further along a small road, up a track to a ridge then over some minor tops where there is a path, though not shown on any map.

Although it was cloudy much of the way up, the path was easy to follow and I was at the top in time for lunch. There is a café for shelter, which was very welcome as it was cold, wet, windy and in total cloud. Don followed some time later, taking the train up to the final summit, by which time it had begun to clear but was still very windy. I took the easy option to descend on the train, which gave me time to visit the Laxey wheel, the remains of the mines (with a mine shaft you can enter) and a miniature steam train, all of which were very interesting and well worth a visit. Most of the others visited Ramsey on the east coast and we all returned to Douglas on the train.

Laxey Wheel
Laxey Wheel with mine workings. Photo by Judy Renshaw

On our last day we all went to the West coast, intending to avoid the very strong easterly wind which had been forecast. This was partially successful as some places were sheltered but others quite exposed. Don and I did the section of coast that goes north from Port Erin, while the others went to Peel to visit the castle and do a circular walk near there. We followed the path farthest out towards the sea and took in the top of the tower overlooking the bay. The path continued through a few trees (with goldfinches) and bluebells over to the deserted Fleshwick Bay where we stopped for lunch. I continued on over a couple of headlands to the summit of Cronk ny Arrey Laa at 437m, then back via an inland path. Although mainly sunny, the wind was strong enough at times to make progress difficult and I had to crouch down to avoid being blown over. Don went over the first headland and joined the same return path. By chance we were in Port Erin just in time to catch the same bus to Douglas.

team
Don on the cost path near Port Erin. Photo by Judy Renshaw

We all returned from various parts of the island that evening and had a good final dinner in a hotel not far from ours, before flying back to Gatwick in the morning.

dinner
Dinner on the last evening. Photo by Ana Cikos

We all thought the Isle of Man was a wonderful place to visit and most of the group would like to go back there later this year, some wanting to complete the full coastal path. There was certainly more than enough for us to see and do in a few days. We found the people very friendly and helpful, the scenery lovely and varied and the wildlife interesting.

If you do intend to go up Snaefell, it is best either to use a guide book or ask people for directions, as the OS maps cannot be relied on completely and there are none at 25,000 scale. There appear to be 3 routes, we did the one from ‘Windy Corner’.

Present: Ana Cikos, Ann Alari, Derek Buckley, Don Hodge, Janet Haber, Judy Renshaw, Mark Vine, Maureen Stiller
Report by Judy Renshaw




New Members Meet, George Starkey Hut, March 31 - April 2

Twenty keen walkers journeyed from all corners of the UK for the third new members meet in Patterdale, Cumbria. Andy, Mike G and Steve went up on the Thursday to make the most of the weekend, enjoying a nice day up Place Fell on the Friday.
On Friday afternoon the M5 and M6 car parks made for a challenging drive but we all made it safely to the White Lion for a substantial dinner and then to the George Starkey Hut for an early bed ready for Saturday’s walk.

A grey, drizzly morning made our decision to ride the Ullswater steamer from Glenridding to Pooley Bridge. We took the new Ullswater Way along the west of the lake as the morning slowly brightened into a beautiful sunny afternoon.

team
The gang on the steamer to Pooley Bridge. Photo by Mary Eddowes

The group crossed the fields via waterfoot (we know why it got it’s name), past Bennet head and along pretty lanes, to avoid the muddy waterlogged fields.

We had a long relaxing lunch in the brightening weather on Gate Crags. We then made our way to the top of Airy Crag and down the wild watery falls of Aira force. A quick paddle and by the lake and tea in the café, before the group began the lovely lakeside walk home.
Mary and Sabrina hitched back to the hut with some friendly methodists to start on the big potato peel of 2017. They were joined in the kitchen by Jo, Bert, Jonny and James for the vegetarian meal preparations. Dinner was Sabrina’s potato cakes, butterbean and kale stew, rice salad and greens followed by Jonny’s famous apple crumble. Delicious! Thank you to the chefs! And thanks to the washer uppers!

dinner
Saturday evening meal at the hut. Photo by Mike Goodyer

After dinner, the tables were moved aside to make space for a raucous ceilidh, with dances led by Mary, Nan, Simone and Heather. The beer/wine and long walk made for many mistakes and high speed crashes, much to everyone’s amusement!

Nanette had once again prepared her genius easter egg hunt, with clues and chocolate along the way. And an easter chicken hiding in the kitchen. Brilliant post-ceilidh fun!

Nursing slightly sore heads, on Sunday morning a smaller group drove to Hartsop to begin their walk up Hayeswater gill and to the Knott for lovely sunny views across to Helvellyn. After a blustery walk along Highstreet, we lunched at the Beacon at Thornthwaite crag enjoying fantastic views over to Morecombe Bay and Windermere. Then it was back down through Pasture Bottom to the car and onwards to home.

From this meet the ABM has gained 9 new members! Testament to the beauty of the Lake District, the good company and support of the older members of the club. Welcome to Jo, Nanette, Bert, James, Martha, Karen, Lydia, Dave and Jonny. We look forward to seeing you at future meets!

Report by Mary Eddowes
More photos will be added soon, Editor




Blacklunans Meet, March 18 - 21

Following four successful meets at Fassfern House we decided on a different venue for our 2017 March Scottish meet, and chose the Whitehouse near Blacklunans, a short way off the main road to Glenshee. Whitehouse proved to be a suitable, if slightly quirky, venue. In particular the kitchen was large and well equipped (provided you knew how to use the Aga) which allowed us to enjoy a convivial dinner on the Sunday night.

The hills and glens of Angus have less mountaineering interest than Lochaber, but they are attractive in their own way. The weather over the weekend was “interesting”, with continual fluctuations between snow, sun, rain and hail, always accompanied by a brisk wind. There was surprisingly little snow underfoot for the time of year.

On the first day the main party reached the summit of Tree Hill, 604m, above Glen Damff, hardly one of the better known Scottish hills, but with good views of the Glen Clova hills and the southern Cairngorms.

team
Striding out on the fells. Photo by Jim Strachan

On the following day we walked up to the head of Glen Isla but the wind was too strong to allow us to venture onto the tops. An interesting bridge crossing (which the meet organiser undertook on his hands and knees) compensated for the lack of climbing interest.

on the hill
The team. Photo by Jim Strachan

On the final day Jim, Margaret and I enjoyed a bracing ascent of Arthur’s Seat with splendid views over the Forth and the city.
Roger and Phil, the avid Corbett collectors, drove over to Glen Lyon and climbed Cam Creag on the first day, but the wind defeated them in their subsequent endeavours.

Present: James and Belinda Baldwin, John Dempster, John and Marj Foster, Phil Hands, Roger James, Jim and Margaret Strachan, Jay Turner.
We were also delighted to see Bill Peebles, who joined us for our walk on the Sunday.
Report by John Dempster




ABMSAC Annual Dinner Meet at the Inn on the Lake Glenridding

A doubtful benefit of ageing is memory loss, I hope you agree and can’t recall the past few years’ reports or repeat the same old thing. Must try harder seems to ring a bell.

We filled the hut and nearly half the hotel but for illness we would have exceeded 60 at the dinner. We had 57. The best attendance for 5 years, which was due to an influx of youngsters introduced by Mary Eddowes. She even brought her mother.

dinner
The top table. Photo by Don Hodge

The dinner, for the second year running, was at The Inn on the Lake in a new dining room. The setting was impressive; a sort of Alpine chalet and looked splendid bedecked with Swiss flags and canton bunting. Heather displayed some of the Association trophies. Paul Everett, who was guest speaker in 2011, brought an album of photos of a celebration at the Britannia Hut. (He is trying to obtain information on some of those named on the photos. Can anyone help? See membership list for Paul’s details)

The speaker was Lindsey Griffiths (Past President of the AC), who had been a member of the ABMSAC from 1968 to 1975. He features in James Bogles book History of the ABMSAC for a climb of the Aig. Moir on Mt Blanc. (It also features the meet leader’s photo). Lindsay’s talk was good and rather too brief so maybe we should invite him again. The usual toasts and responses were enacted and judging from the noise levels members enjoyed the event. The hotel catered with the food and watering with the latter still being enjoyed at midnight.

The weather was better than forecast with members making the best of the hills, which had a light covering of snow.

A selection of photos of folks on the fells over the weekend
Howard
Howard in Langstrath
Mike
Mike in Langstrath
Andy
Andy in Langstrath
Mike
President in Langstrath
Ed
Ed in Langstrath
Mike
Celine, Mary, Rachel and Pete
Andy
Paul, Ed and Judy in Grisedale
Ed
On Hellvelyn
Howard
Alison and Margaret on Place Fell
Mike
Gang near Silver Crag
Andy
Julie near Lantys Tarn
Early arrivals, accompanied by the President, made use of the good weather on Friday with a foray into Borrowdale to explore Langstrath and Glaramara, returning in heavy rain and in the dark!

dale
Looking down Langstrath. Photo by Mike Goodyer

Expeditions were made to the Newlands/Buttermere area, Lantys Tarn and Sheffield Pike and over Helvellyn and Place Fell on Saturday.

Helvellyn
Helvellyn summit plateau. Photo by Pete Bennett

group
On the way down to Greenside mines. Photo by Ed Bramley

On Sunday several groups walked to Aira Force and made that their destination and enjoying the café, whilst others went on for a longer low level walk getting back to the hotel after dark.

Over the weekend several attendees visted the Henry Iddon photographic exhibition at the Keswick Museum (see home page for details).

Come and join us at the Annual Dinner next February.

Report by Brooke Midgley, with extra reporting from Belinda Baldwin and Mike Goodyer.






2016 MEET REPORTS

A Bimble in the Brecon Beacons and Black Mountains

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

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

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

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

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

Heather
Heather on the diving board. Photo by Mike Goodyer

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

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

hill
Looking towards Pen y Fan. Photo by Mike Goodyer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

castle
Walking through Castell Dumas ruins. Photo by Pete Bennett

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

the gang
Striding out!. Photo by Pete Bennett

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

heli
Preparing for path repairs. Photo by Mike Goodyer

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

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

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

Meet photos



Beer Meet, 16-18 September

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

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

the beach
On the beach, photo by James Baldwin

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

tramway
Passengers for the tram? Photo by James Baldwin

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

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



ABMSAC Take On The Tantalising Polish Tatras

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

summit
On the summit of Giewont. Photo by Mike Goodyer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We head away from Kasprowy Wierch westwards along the ridge.

view
looking along the ridge, photo by Ed Bramley

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

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

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

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

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



ABMSAC Hotel Meet, Cogne, 1 – 8 July

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

Cogne
Rooftops of Cogne, photo by Rick Saynor

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

Chamois
Chamois at Alpe Money, photo by Pamela Harris

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

meadows
Across the Sant’Orso meadows, photo by Katherine Heery

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

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

lunch
Lunch at Alpe Money, photo by Pamela Harris

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

meadows
Stream crossing below Alpe Money, photo by Pamela Harris

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

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

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

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

lodge
King’s hunting lodge, photo by Carol Saynor

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

hut
Rifugio Vittorio Sella, photo by Alan Norton

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

lake
Lago di Lauson, photo by Rick Saynor

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

waterfalls
Dick and Lin at Lillaz waterfalls, photo by Pauline Hammond

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

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

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

flowers
Aquilegias near Lillaz, photo by Roger Newson

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

lunch
Lunch at Grauson, photo by Rick Saynor

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

lake
Frozen lake at Lussert, photo by Rick Saynor

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

lake
Walking above Gimillan, photo by Rick Saynor

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

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

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

valley
In the Val di Rhêmes, photo by Katherine Heery

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

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

snow
Snow at Passo d’Invergneux, photo by Dick Murton

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

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

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



N Wales meet, 11 - 12 June

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

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

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

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

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

train
afternoon steam train, photo by Ed Bramley

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

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



Skye Meet, 14-20 May

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

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

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

Steve
Steve outside the Hostel, photo by Mike Goodyer

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

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

the top
Summit of Beinn Fhada, photo by Paul Stock

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Royal Oak, Hurdlow Derbyshire May Day Meet

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

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

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

edge
Birchens Edge, photo by Mike Goodyer

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

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

the gang
Matterhorn of Cheshire, photo by Mike Goodyer

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

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

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



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

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

the gang
Setting off from the hut on Saturday morning.

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

moonscape?
the lunar landscape above the greenside Mines.

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

headstand
Kips snowy headstand near White Stones.

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

jump
Jump!!

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

dinner
Saturay night in the hut. Photo by Mike Goodyer

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

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

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

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

bedafell
The team on Beda head. Photo by Mike Goodyer

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

descent
Descending towards the lake.

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

posing
Strike a pose!

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

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



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

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

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

dinner
Saturday night evening meal, photo by Jim Strachan

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

dinner
Lincoln regaling us with a story, photo by Mike Goodyer

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

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

Report by Brooke Midgley
Meet photos


Archived reports from 2001 to 2015.