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

2019 MEET REPORTS

Fort William Meet, 18 - 21 October

Fourteen participants gathered on the Friday evening at the Caledonian Hotel Fort William.

The weather forecast was not particularly good for the weekend. Saturday morning dawned dull and cool but dry.

uphill
Looking North towards Corpach from Stob Ban

Jim and Margaret Strachan, John Dempster and I drove down Glen Nevis and climbed the Munro, Stob Ban in the Mamores, from there, retracing our steps back to the car.

uphill
Looking West over Mullach nan Coirean (939m) from summit of Stob Ban (999m)

John and Marj Foster took a scenic drive around Ardgour, Graham and Allison Daniels opted for a walk into upper Glen Nevis as far as Steall Bridge. John Gregson also took a low level walk in Glen Nevis whilst Peter Farrington did a low level walk in Glen Etive.

Roger James and Shirley Mackay took it easy in the hotel watching the Rugby International and the Brexit vote on television!

Sunday dawned sunny but windy and cooler with a light dusting of snow on the high tops.

team
The team setting off in Glencoe

Jim and Margaret Strachan, John Dempster, Peter Farrington and I set off to climb the Corbett, Meall Lighiche from Glen Coe. I parted company with the group at the foot of the hill to climb solo. The summit views were superb and on the descent I rejoined the group for the walk back to the start and a pint in the Clachaig Inn.

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Aonach Eagach, Glencoe

Roger James and Shirley Mackay drove to Ardnamurchan and climbed Ben Hiant, described by the SMC as a “superb viewpoint” despite its modest height.

uphill
Jim with Beinn A' Bheithir behind

Graham and Allison Daniels and John Gregson opted for a walk in Glen Etive.Unfortunately, we had another casualty in Graham Daniels who fell just before setting off on their walk. Fortunately, a paramedic was camping nearby who was able to administer first aid before Graham went to the hospital in Fort William for treatment.

group
Peter, Margaret and John enjoying the view

I hope all our casualties are recovered, including Marj Foster who had undergone a hip operation just before our meet!

Apologies if this report is more akin to a medical bulletin than a meet report!

Attendeees: John Dempster, Graham and Allison Daniels, Peter Farrington, Marj and John Foster, John Gregson, Roger James, Shirley Mackay, Margaret and Jim Strachan, Hugh and Susan Chapman’s son and grandson, Alex and Richard and myself. (Alex and Richard took Hugh and Susan’s place as unfortunately, they had to return home early as Hugh was feeling unwell)
Photos by Jim Strachan.
Report by: Philip Hands




Presidents Meet, George Starkey Hut, 18 - 20 October

The euphemistically called Presidents Meet has turned into a gastronomic tour de force with Andy Hayes preparing yet another banquet on Saturday evening, the highlight of which was the chocolate coated strawberries on top of poached pears, thanks Andy.

The meet started on Thursday with a stalwart party arriving early to warm up the George Starkey Hut and bag a few hills. The remainder of us arrived on Friday with one latecomer on Saturday in time for dinner. Many routes were attempted in fairly indifferent weather.

uphill
Andy on the way up to Great Dodd with Blencathra behind

Friday was bright and sunny, but with a cold breeze. The early birds of Ed, Andy, Mike and Paul travelled round to Threkeld and parked at the old station. After some interesting navigation to actually get on the fell the team headed across the boggy ground to Great Dodd, for a lunch stop and then onto Stybarrow Dodd by way of Watson's Dodd.

the team
The team on Watson's Dodd

From Stybarrow the team continued along the ridge to Raise and then back to Glenridding via the zigzags and then to the hut. Fish n chips awaited at the White Lion. A great day across the unfrequented Dodds.

The weather on Saturday was mixed and yesterdays team ,accompanied by Judy, set off for Pooley Bridge via the south side of Ullswater.

uphill
Andy and Mike in deep conversation!

The tops were shrouded in low cloud and rain never looked far away.

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Making use of the new bench on the Ullswater Way, what fun!

We continued along the path, stopping for refreshments at the cafe in Howtown, with lovely views down to the lake.

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Autumn colours across the lake.

By the time we reached "The Cockpit" stone circle the rain had settled in and we had all put our overtrousers on - yes even Mike! We pulled into town and had over an hour wait for the next boat. Andy whistled up a local taxi and we were all back at the hut in time for tea and cake - and to help in the meal prepartions.

Saturday Evening Dinner, menu designed and cooked by Andy H, ably assisted by several volunteers, was a great treat.

dinner
Tucking into the meal

dinner
Pudding now arrived

The menu:

Starter: Goats cheese with figs, cardamom and smoked bacon, on a bed of rocket with balsamic glaze.
Main: Chicken Cacciatore with samphire with chantenay carrots, red & yellow peppers, chestnut mushrooms, olives with herbs, tomatoes, white wine vinegar and vermouth, served on a bed of tagliatelle and topped with asparagus.
Pudding: Pears poached in red wine, with strawberry and cream shortbread and strawberries dipped in dark chocolate.
Cheese: A selection of British and continental cheeses.

yum
Starter

chicken
Main course

pud
Pudding

cheddar
Cheese course

Many thanks to Don for the culinary pictures.

The Committee met on Sunday morning and concentrated on hut upgrade proposals with the views being fed back to the George Starkey Hut company directors.
After an energetic meeting we were ready for some fresh air. So it was a quick dash up to Lanty's Tarn and along the watercourse to the Greenside Mines in poor weather. Once back at the hut we had afternoon tea and headed off home.

Belinda and James had the pleasure of visiting Mary Boulter and her daughter on Sunday afternoon before returning to Devon. Mary passes on her best wishes to club members.

Attendees: James and Belinda Baldwin, Ed Bramley, Andy Burton, Mike Goodyer, Andy Hayes, Don Hodge, Ian Mateer, Dick Murton, Judy Renshaw, Paul Stock and for Saturday evening, Ann Jago, Mike and Marian Parsons.

Report by James Baldwin, with additional reporting from Mike Goodyer and Don Hodge.

Photos




Brecon Beacons Meet 4-6 October

This year we broke from our traditional Friday afternoon walk and decided to attempt a crossing of the River Usk and onwards to the summit of Tor y Foel. However, after walking over Buckland Hill we dropped down to a foot bridge clearly marked on the map only to find that it was impassable due to being situated on private property and protected by a coded gate. So we adjusted our route accordingly and set off for the 13th century bridge across the river at Llangynidr. Once across that bridge we took the waymarked path alongside the river bank. This path was quite challenging as the rain which had fallen heavily for the previous week meant the river level was very high and in places had flooded the path. After about 1 km along the path it was completely blocked by a fence. So once again we had to alter our route to reach the base of Tor y Foel. Eventually we reached the summit of Tan y Foel which gave some fantastic views over Talybont reservoir and the higher range beyond.

the team
Mike and the Daves on summit of Tan y Foel

All of the weekend participants had arrived in time for the Friday evening meal which was up to the usual New Inn high standards. Plans were made for Saturday during the evening. The weather forecast was improving at every inspection. On Saturday morning we had a brief visit from Wendell Jones and his wife who were staying locally. They also agreed to meet us for the Saturday evening meal.

Three teams set off on Saturday morning with different objectives in mind.

bridgeThe bridge over the Usk

steveSteve getting in the mood for the canal towpath

Steve Caulton and Andy Burton set off to complete a walk to the top of Tor y Foel via the Usk Valley path, Brecon Beacons Way and a bit of canal towpath. I believe that it may have been punctuated with a pub lunch and afternoon tea.

on the way up
Bags of stone ready for the path upgrade on the way up to Carn Pica

The rest of the group set off on two variations of the same walk around the skyline of the Talybont reservoir. One involved a shorter linear walk (9km) involving the use of two cars and the rest of the team completed a longer (21km) whole circumnavigation. The race was on for the teams to complete their walks before the rain which was due in around 5pm.

the top
The team at Carn Pica in the low cloud

The longer walk team just made it as the heavens opened. The morning views were slightly spoiled with low cloud but after lunch it cleared away to give quite extensive views across the ranges.

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Nant Bwrefwr waterfalls just before lunch.

The evening meal was a very convivial affair with Wendell’s visit.

On Sunday we decided to walk up a very sunny Sugar Loaf as it enabled everyone to take routes of varying lengths according to the time required to depart for home. We gathered at a car park above Abergavenny and set of as one group to the summit via a long ridge.

the team
Top of the Sugar Loaf on a sunny morning, by Heather Eddowes

At the summit we all said our goodbyes and went our separate ways back to the cars and onwards to end a very successful meet. A select group continued around to Ysgyrd Fawr before returning to Abergavenny for afternoon tea.


topWho are you looking at? The team on Ysgyrd Fawr

trainSugar Loaf from Ysgyrd Fawr

Attendees: Andy Burton, Steve Carlton, Mike Goodyer, Heather Eddowes, Myles O’Reilly, Rick Snell, Alison Henry, James and Belinda Baldwin, Dave Clear, Dave Blackett and Paul Stock.

Report by Paul Stock




Beer Meet, Devon: 13 -15 September

This was our final and fifteenth Beer Meet. This year we were blessed with continual sunshine unlike the inaugural one, when the Saturday was a washout and we managed the shortest route to Branscombe for a pub lunch sitting in soggy clothes. We did the walk along cliffs, when it brightened up a bit.

the team
Just before the off on Saturday morning, by Dinah Nicholls

This year we set off along those cliffs with the sea looking Mediterranean at a leisurely pace and stopped by the Branscombe beach for coffee and cake.

beach break
Enjoying the morning sun at Branscombe, by Andy Burton

A decision was made that we would walk just beyond the village to the Fountain Head before turning back to follow inland footpaths back to Beer.

coast
On the way home, by Andy Burton

It was warm enough to tempt some ladies into the sea as that is what the seaside is for. I was glad not to join them.

We dined at The Smuggler’s Kitchen, where we were joined by Debbie and Michael Owen, who were on a meet at Saas Fee in 1988 with their baby son. They live further west in Devon. James has been working with Michael on the Dartmoor Way, a new route around Dartmoor. John, who was on the Sunday of the first meet and has been at many more said some very kind words to us. It has been a great pleasure. There have been many laughs and no tears that we are aware of. We have always looked forward to being able to hold a meet for a climbing club without a mountain in sight.

coast
Seascape towards Seaton, by Mike Goodyer

On Sunday we walked from base again to Colyton over undulating landscape. There two decided that a tram ride was a good way to get back to Seaton, whilst the rest us wandered back beside the Axe. The tram riders were given a tour of the works on their return. Ice creams were consumed on the Esplanade and Sheila was tempted back into the sea. This year’s outings were a far cry from when we would walk briskly over Dartmoor or eight miles over cliffs and returning on foot inland.

Antonia, Penny and Sheila were present at for the whole of the first meet. John and Dinah plus Dick and Lin have become regulars. We have seen many come and sadly go. We are looking forward to Paul Stock’s meet further east but still in the south away from any mountains with zero responsibility.

Participants: Penny Austen, Antonia Barlen, Andy Burton, Sheila Coates, John Dempster, Heather Eddowes, Mike Goodyer, Sylvia Mercer, Dick and Lin Murton, Dinah Nicholls, James and Belinda Baldwin.

Report by Belinda Baldwin




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

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

mountains
Silvrettahorn from the glacier, by Pamela Harris

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


mountains

Landquart river, by Alan Norton


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

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

cyclists
Sharing the Gotschnagrat path with cyclists, by Ann Alari

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

lake
Davos lake from the Panoramaweg, by Alan Norton

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

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

summit
Summit of the Rätschenhorn

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

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

hut
Berghaus Vereina, by Alan Norton

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

lakes
Frozen lakes, by Bill Westermeyer

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

flowers
Soldanellas below the pass, by Rick Saynor

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

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

hut
Silvretta hut, by Alan Norton

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

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

summit
Jatzhorn summit, by Jim Strachan

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

mountains
Rinerhorn circuit, by Katherine Heery

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

meadows
Alpine meadows above Klosters, by Marian Parsons

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

viaduct
Wiesner viaduct, by Rick Saynor

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

dinner
Decorated room, by Rosie Westermeyer

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


mountainsChristiane with the ABMSAC shirt, by Rosie Westermeyer

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

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

Report by Pamela Harris

Photos of the Celebratory dinner




North Wales meet: 28-29 June

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

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

glyders
Ed heading for Glyder Fach, photo by Mike Goodyer

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

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

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

panorama
Across the Glyders, photo by Ed Bramley

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

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

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

cloud
Cloud on the ridge, photo by Mike Goodyer

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

ridge
Looking across the ridge, photo by Ed Bramley

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

meal
Enjoying the evening meal, photo by Don Hodge

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


paul

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


train

The Train, photo by Ed Bramley

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


paul

Michelle on Sentries Ridge.
photo by Marcus Tierney


train

Marcus on Faith.
photo by Michelle Pulford

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

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

Report by Ed Bramley

Meet photos




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

We’ve been travelling to the start of our trek for over four hours now, and the road is indicative of our progress. At first, it was wide, tarmac surfaced, with a white line. As we turned off, it narrowed noticeably, and the white line disappeared. Now, as we near Agouti, even the tarmac has gone, and our driver cautiously skirts the potholes. Then we are there, on the edge of the Ait Bouguemez valley, otherwise known throughout Morocco as the Happy Valley, a point emphasised further by our guide, Rachid, who comes from these parts. In Agouti we meet up with our muleteers and the process of loading commences.

setting up
Agouti and now packing up ready for the off, photo by Mike Goodyer

For us, we can now start to stretch our legs and feel how well, or otherwise, we move. This first afternoon is a gradual introduction to the scenery, altitude and heat. The track is wide and distinct, and takes us slowly upward through farmland, to our first evening’s camp at Arous. We follow the river upstream through fertile farmlands and the occasional profusion of wild flowers, including orchids. At our camp, as the sun sinks and the shadows lengthen on the close of the first day, we’re aware both of the tranquillity of our surroundings, and the contrasting night time temperatures.

track
On the way to Arous, our first camp, photo by Mike Goodyer

We rise at just after seven, with the sun touching the tops of the nearby peaks, and within half an hour the campsite is warming in the morning light.

on up
Day 2 start for the first pass, photo by Mike Goodyer

Our trail today is straightforward, ascending over two passes, before descending to a high plateau, but that would belie both the beauty of the area, and the increasing exertion required as we slowly but surely ascend to over 3,000m. On our way up to the first col, a number of runners come jogging down past us, making light work of it all, and we look enviously on. Our first pass, more of a ridge line really, is the Tizi-m-Oumskiyg pass (2,910m). From here, the vistas of the Central Atlas start to open up around us. The hillside around is covered with myriads of plants, resplendent in their blues and yellows, looking like an ornate scattering of cushions on the hillside.

upwards
Crossing the hillside of cushions, photo by Ed Bramley

Upwards we go, increasingly slowly, to the second pass, Aghouixni Est (3,400m), which offers a grandstand view of the whole of the M’Goun range.

team
At the second pass, photo by Mike Goodyer

To keep us fuelled, Rachid produces a container of trail mix, and those of us who have been before know the delight that is coming. A mix of brittle coated nuts, peanuts, mini breadsticks and dates provide just the right boost. A steady descent takes us to our overnight camp on the beautiful high plateau of Tilibiyt N'Tarkeddit which overlooks the Tessaout Valley. On the way down, we pass a nomadic Berber tented encampment used by the herdsmen.

descent
On the descent to the plateau, photo by Ed Bramley

Our campsite on the plateau is on a lush green area, and our mules and those of several other parties are frolicking around, the occasional cloud of dust rising up as one of the mules rolls over and takes a dry bath.

camp
Idyllic camp on the high plateau

It feels timeless here, and many of us enjoy the afternoon taking in the remoteness and beauty of the plateau and the surrounding mountains. That enjoyment is tempered by the knowledge that it’s a pre-dawn start tomorrow, and the effects of altitude are tapping away at everyone, which makes for a restless night for many of us.

team
Early start for the Mgoun summit, photo by Ed Bramley

Tuesday is Big Day in all senses of the word, and we’re up just after 4am, so we can be off soon after 5. We fumble around the camp in the torchlight, trying to take on board some breakfast before we set off. It’s easy rolling countryside at first, and the first alpenglow is not long in lighting up the nearby peaks. Along the way, we encounter a group of wild camels, probably owned by one of the local herdsmen. As our route swings into a side valley, we lose the sun, and the drop in temperature is marked, with hands cold to the point of hot aches, despite wearing gloves. The scenery has changed as well. No longer the clumps of pincushion flowers, we’re now in scree central, although it is still remarkably stable underfoot. Slowly, as we climb higher, the sun is on us again, and the body immediately feels the welcoming warmth.

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The ridge to the summit

We are now at the start of a series of broad ridges that sweep round the skyline for nearly a mile, rising slowly but surely to the summit of M’Goun (4,068m), the third highest peak in the Atlas Mountains. We’re at over 3,800m now, and all feeling the effects of altitude. Small ascents that would be straightforward in the Lake District now require major focus. The ridge itself is great, with one section looking like it’s been paved, the rock formation is so regular. More effort, just to climb those final few feet, despite the heaving lungs and the constant headache.

team
On the Mgoun summit, photo by Ed Bramley

The view from the summit is incredible, like nothing we’ve seen before. Great tilted rock strata interspersed with whole valleys of scree, and ridge line after ridge line of mountains, receding into the distance. Great weather to have been on the ridge, as it can be “fun” in windy weather. We’ve just had a few zephyrs on the summit, exchanging the warm still air for something altogether cooler.

Down now, and our route off is initially down a steep scree slope, which means we can lose altitude quickly, before a much longer descent to our overnight camp.

scree
On the Mgoun summit, photo by Ed Bramley

As we reach the valley proper again, we pick up the signs of habitation, from the shepherd on the hillside, to the cave dwellings in the valley. And it’s pancakes and honey for late afternoon tea. Just the thing to help revive tired limbs.

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Riverside campsite

Our overnight camp was in a sheltered valley, and to keep us company, we had a cacophony of frogs who wanted to serenade one another at random times throughout the night. Ah, the sounds of the country. Up at our normal 7am time this morning, but with a long distance day in front of us. Our route takes us out of one valley system, through landscapes that looked like pit slag heaps, before reaching the start of the cultivated part of the valley. On the hillsides roundabout is wormwood, with its distinctive smell, and also some patches of sage. Rachid expertly navigates us round different sets of field systems and water channels, before resting under a walnut grove for our lunch.

lunch
Welcome break!

As we sit in the cool shade, we tuck slowly into helpings of salad and pasta, and we marvel at the skill of Ali our cook, who had produced all of this, and carried there on two of the mules. We are now in the start of a cultivated area, and pass round several more water channels after lunch. Again, there is a profusion of smells, from juniper wood, to the many roses that are growing in this, the rose valley. At one point we cross a small waterfall, which brings out the playful in all of us, and a welcome cooling as well. Further down the valley there is serious construction underway as a new road is being built between the Rose Valley and the markets in the Ait Bouguemez valley. We see several strange sights on the way, including a pick-up full of mules, part of another trek returning home.

new road
Hitting civilisation again

Today has been a long day, over 16 miles, and we are relieved when we reach our overnight camp at Tiguitine (2,700m), on the edge of a set of gorges. Hot too, with top temperatures not far short of 40 Celsius. Late afternoon mint tea and doughnut type samosas with honey further help to restore the aching limbs and combat our dehydration.

We start our last day descending the first of two gorges, the Amsekar gorge. Big towering sandstone walls and, at one point, a concrete ramp which the mules skitter down. Emerging out of the first gorge, we are immediately into cultivated land, and the meadows we pass through are loud with the sound of bees. By the river, the local ladies are doing the village washing, a scene that is repeated several times throughout the day. We pass into a second, larger Petites Gorges du Mgoun, which has many oleander plants blossoming.

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The oleander plants at the entrance to the gorge

Fish swim in parts of the river and frogs plop into the water as we pass, whilst swallows and other birds provide the flypast to our nature extravaganza. We are treated to another open air feast for our lunch, before we head out into the sun again, and the last part of the walk. In the villages we pass through, we see several examples of Kasbahs; Ancient fortified grain stores, akin to our Pele towers.

village
Walking through a village

To give us a last piece of excitement, at one point our trail follows a water channel, and we promenade along its outer edge, perched some feet above the main river. A short distance further on we reach the village of Boutaghar, our final destination and our gite, where we can enjoy a warm shower and chill out on the terrace whilst we reflect on another great trek.

team
Farewell supper in Marrakesh, photo by Ed Bramley

Participants: Ed Bramley, Simon Bramley, Andy Burton, Steve Caulton, Mike Goodyer, Mike O’Dwyer, Myles O'Rielly, Judy Renshaw and Rick Snell

Report by Ed Bramley

Meet photos




Glenfinnan Meet, 19-25 May

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

bunkhouse
Our bunkhouse, photo by Judy Renshaw

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

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

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

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The team on the first day, photo by Andy Burton

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

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The famous Viaduct, photo by Andy Burton

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


loch shiel
Steve, Viaduct and the Loch, photo by Andy Burton

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Insectivorous plant, photo by Andy Burton

plant
Spotted orchid, photo by Andy Burton

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

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

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

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

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Sgurr Ghuibh Sachain from Loch Shiel, photo by Judy Renshaw

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

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

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Steam train on the Viaduct, photo by Judy Renshaw

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

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Local red deer, photo by Judy Renshaw

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

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

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Inverailort House, photo by Andy Burton

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

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

Rhum
Across to Rhum, photo by Andy Burton

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Meet photos




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

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

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

duck

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


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

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

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

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

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

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Heather going through the ford, photo by Mike Goodyer

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

Don

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

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

team
The Saturday walkers. Photo by Marcus Tierney

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

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

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

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

Bank Holiday Monday morning your Committee convened at 9am in the Oak Room in earnest deliberation for a little over an hour before everyone went their separate ways. Dave and Heather went off cycling again, James and Belinda explored the footpaths between the northern end of the trail and Buxton.

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

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


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

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

Report by Andy Burton.




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

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

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

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


on edge
Ed on Striding Edge

on edge
Celine and Andy on Striding Edge

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

group
Gang ready for the off on Saturday morning

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


mapping
Map reading training with Ed

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


mapping
Map reading training with Andy

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

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On the way up St Sunday Crag

summit
Group on top of Fairfield

panorama
Fairfield to Helvellyn panorama, by Pete Bennett

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


dinner
The Saturday Feast

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


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


steamer
On the boat, by Pete Bennett

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

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

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

Thank you George Starkey hut for hosting us once again!




Alison
Alison with her new member goodies!

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

Report by Mary Eddowes




Pitlochry Meet, 22-25 March

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

summit
Margaret and John D below summit of Ben Vrackie

summit
Jim and John on summit of Ben Vrackie

In all, an enjoyable weekend in good company.

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

Report by Marj. Foster


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

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

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

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

snowy
Grisedale Pike, by Mike Goodyer

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

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

snowy
The gang in Kentmere, by Mike Goodyer

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

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

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

red tarn
The group at Red Tarn, by Heather Eddowes

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

snowy
Catstycam and Helvellyn from Raise, by Mike Goodyer

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

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

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

walking
Margaret and Dinah on the Fell, by Jim Starchan

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

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

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

dinner
Guest Jonathon in full flow, by Julie Freemantle

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

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

cas bag
President hands over the cheque, by Mike Goodyer

This was followed by the post AGM Committee Meeting.

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

Report by Julie Freemantle
Meet photos




Archived reports from 2001 to 2018.