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.


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

This year’s hotel meet in Mayrhofen was a great success, with 35 members attending, the most since our centenary in 2009: these included several present and past committee members, with four presidents, three vice presidents and two secretaries. We were lucky with the weather too: although those who arrived early had been subjected to torrential rain, the first day of the meet dawned bright and sunny, and the sunshine stayed with us all week with just an occasional thunderstorm.

Mayrhofen is in a beautiful location at the heart of the Zillertal, with several side valleys branching off, and everyone was out every day exploring the endless variety of walks. A few of us knew the valley from Alasdair’s meet back in 2003, and others had been here even earlier: Dinah had spent several days in the Berliner hut climbing the surrounding 3000m peaks, while Pauline and Dick Murton had stayed here on a skiing holiday as children. However, for many this was a first visit to the Zillertal or even to Austria, and for Dave Matthews, his first visit to the Alps.

View from Penkenalm, by Ann Alari

The Hotel Kramerwirt in the town centre provided an excellent base, with large comfortable rooms and plentiful meals where we were spoilt for choice. Frau Kröll, the proprietor, had told me that the well-known alpinist Peter Habeler was a family friend, and the highlight of our week was when she arranged for him to come and talk to our group. Peter’s name hit the headlines in 1978 when, together with Reinhold Messner, he made the first ascent of Everest without supplemental oxygen. Until then most had deemed this impossible, and even today fewer than 200 of the 5000 who have summited the mountain have succeeded in this way.

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

Peter grew up in Mayrhofen and started exploring the local mountains at the age of six. When he was only ten he borrowed his grandfather’s ice-axe and set off to climb the highest peak in the Zillertal, the 3476m Olperer; by the age of twelve he had soloed all the surrounding 3000m summits. His love of the valley was evident in all he said, and he spoke passionately about the importance of the environment and how the creation of a Nature Park has helped preserve this area. Modest and unassuming, he spoke to us as friends and fellow-climbers, and was as interested to hear where we had been during our stay as we were to hear of his much more adventurous exploits. He is still regularly out in the mountains, and looked as lean and fit as when he had climbed Everest 40 years earlier. Only last year he became the oldest to climb the notorious Eiger Nordwand, which he had previously climbed with Messner in 1974 in the record time of only ten hours. At the age of 76, just two weeks younger than myself, he was an inspiration to us all.

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

The first day saw most of the group taking the Penken lift where a variety of walks awaited us. It was an easy way to gain height, although James and Belinda elected to walk up the 1200m from Mayrhofen and take the lift down. Dick cycled up here more than once, and unwittingly chose for his first ascent the day of the popular Zillertal Bike Challenge. At the top he was overtaken by hordes of ultra-fit mountain bikers before they disappeared on a steep track downhill, leaving him to take a less direct route down. There was a network of paths to explore up here, with such magnificent views of the surrounding mountains that it was easy to forget the number of ski-tows. This year none of our group set off up the 2900m Rastkogel, perhaps put off by my stories of missing the lift back down in 2003, but were satisfied with the lower Wanglspitze. From the summit we found a contouring path back to the lift, past a small alpine lake and the very modern “Granatkapelle” chapel, where an outside altar was decorated with candles for a wedding ceremony. Penken was a good place for shorter rambles too, and for Marian and Barbara to do some sketching, with alpine lakes to explore, a paddling pool to cool off in and the sunny terrace of the café to enjoy a drink or an apfelstrudel. An alternative way down was to take the lift to Finkenberg and return along the Tuxer gorge across the Devil’s bridge, a route taken by different groups on several occasions.

Gorge below Finkenberg, by Pauline Hammond

The other lift starting in Mayrhofen was the Ahorn which was taken by most of our group on different days, and by Niels and Guni more than once. Several walks started from here, the shortest being to the viewpoint at Filzenkogel, looking straight down to Mayrhofen far below. Even James and Belinda went up on this lift and accompanied the group to the delightfully positioned Edel hut, which Marian took time to sketch.

Edelhütte, sketch by Marian Parsons

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

Ahornspitze above the Edel hut, by Heather Eddowes

A large group of us had climbed the Ahornspitze back in 2003, but this year only five reached the summit, at 2973m the highest point of the meet: Bill and Rosie, Don, Richard and Rick. They had set off on an early cable car, and Richard has described their day. “After the Edelhütte the footpath rises steadily, first across grassy slopes before traversing a boulder field and some snow to the col which we reached in about another hour. From here the views are already magnificent but it was important to keep an eye on the red markers as we walked and scrambled up the final ridge to a preliminary top and then into an exposed gap to reach the main summit. The 360 degree view is spectacular and we shared it with half a dozen or so other climbers.

View from the summit, by Rick Saynor

We weren’t surprised later to discover that the Ahornspitze is Peter Habeler’s favourite mountain in the Zillertal region. A splendid excursion.”
Bill and Rosie on the Ahornspitze
The summit team back at the Kramerwirt, by Alan Norton

The main side valley to the west and south of Mayrhofen is the Tuxertal, leading to the snow-covered Tuxer glacier below the Olperer. Lifts and ski tows led up to slopes busy with summer skiers, but it was easy to get away from these, and from the top of the Sommerbergalm lift we soon reached the Tuxer Joch-Haus.

At the Tuxer Joch

James and Belinda took a higher lift and joined this by a more circuitous route, and on a later day Bill and Rosie climbed the small Pfannköpfl summit at the side, but most of us were content with a drink at the hut before setting off down the idyllic Weitental on what was one of the loveliest walks of the week. This remote valley is a haven for marmots, and we saw several family groups playing together, very close to the path.
A marmot family at play, by Rick Saynor
Moss campion, by Heather Eddowes

The flowers here were even more spectacular than on other walks, and the slopes were bright with pink alpenrose, several kinds of vivid blue gentians, delicate soldanellas, moss campions and a variety of tiny orchids. Further on a dramatic waterfall thundered down from high above, and it was here that several of us re-grouped for our picnic lunch.
Walking down the Weitental, by Heather Eddowes
Dinah at the waterfall, by Heather Eddowes

Lower down the Tuxertal a lift from Lanersbach took us up to Eggalm, from where it was a short but steep climb up the Grüblspitze where we met a young-looking grandmother from Berlin, together with her six-year old grandson, at the summit cross. The flowers were lovely here too, and we even found a tiny snow gentian growing at the side of the path. After several long days our group had made a later start than usual and, on seeing the clouds build up, decided not to attempt the long circuit we had planned. Instead, we headed off on a more straightforward descent route, reaching the top of the cable car just as the first drops of rain fell. We raced for the lift, realising that the storm which was about to break would stop it working, and it did in fact stop three times during John and Dinah’s descent only minutes later. By this time thunder was crashing overhead, with flashes of lightning and torrential rain, which got worse as we drove back down the valley.

At the Grüblspitze summit cross, by Bill Westermeyer

Meanwhile, Jay and Caroline had taken an earlier lift and had set off on the long circuit taken by Mike earlier in the week, down and up to the Ramsjoch, and then downhill to the beautiful Torseen lakes, still a long way above the main valley. Mike had had good weather, but nevertheless reported the route as long and challenging, in a remote valley. Jay and Caroline were not so lucky for, after the farm buildings of the Nasser Tuxeralm, on the forest road leading downhill, Caroline wrote: “We felt the first ice-cold drops of rain or hail on the backs of our necks. Within minutes of us donning all our wet-weather gear, the sky had blackened and the rain was pouring down. Huge bolts of lightning lit up the sky while the thunder crashed directly over our heads and we walked rapidly through the forest as the road turned into a river. By the time we reached the Geislerhof farmhouse we were both soaked, and it rained all the way down to the bus stop at Vorderlanersbach.”

Ramsjoch: View from the Ramsjoch, by Caroline Thonger

Due south of Mayrhofen various side valleys led into the Nature Park, a beautiful area unspoilt by any ski installations. One of the loveliest valleys was the Zemmgrund, and our longest walk took us from the bus stop at Breitlahner up to the Berliner hut, 11kms away and 850m higher. The trail followed a narrow gorge into meadows of alpenrose before climbing up beside cliffs and waterfalls, the final ascent being up a steep, stone-slab path. This was a botanical paradise, and the only place all week where we found the rare edelweiss. There were two other huts en route, the Grawand and the aptly named Alpenrose, both of which provided welcome drinks stops, and at last, after three hours, our objective came into sight.

The Berliner Hut, by Geoff Causey

This large and imposing building was constructed by the Berlin section of the DAV in 1879, and has a beautifully carved wooden staircase in the entrance hall and chandeliers in the dining-room. It is in a spectacular position at the foot of glaciers below the Grosse Möseler and other 3000m peaks, and we later discovered that this is Peter Habeler’s favourite hut.

Grosse Möseler from the below the hut, by Alan Norton

We sat outside on the sunny terrace gazing at the magnificent view before us as we enjoyed a well-earned drink, and Richard and Katherine ordered a large portion of kaiserschmarrn which they had tasted first on their honeymoon nearly 50 years ago. Most of the group took a longer way down on the gletscherweg, contouring higher up to cross two streams and join the original path near the Alpenrose hut. It was a long but satisfying day.

Walking back on the gletscherweg, by Rick Saynor

Later in the week several of us took the bus past Breitlahner up the toll road to the Schlegeis dam and reservoir, from where we walked up the Zamsergrund to the Italian border at Pfitscher Joch-Haus. The Pfitscher Joch has been used as an alpine crossing for over 9,000 years, and traces have been found of Stone Age hunters who came here to hunt ibex and gather quartz rock crystal.

Walking past Lavitzalm, by Carol Saynor

The path rose gradually in a series of steps, through meadows of alpenrose and dwarf pine, past waterfalls and streams, to reach a small farm at Lavitzalm, where a diminutive stripey kitten was being manhandled by an equally diminutive child. It was a day for the young, for we caught up with three young mothers carrying babies of 3, 5 and 9 months, all smiling happily. There was a boundary stone at the pass telling us we were at the international border, and soon we reached the small hut. It was a spectacular viewpoint, surrounded by 3000m peaks, looking straight down the Pfitschertal into Italy. A road on the Italian side led to the Brenner Pass road and Val Gardena, where we had stayed on last year’s meet. This was one of the days which clouded over soon after lunch, and as the rain began and we donned our waterproof gear, we wondered if the babies were getting as wet as we were.

Pfitscher Joch border signs, by Rick Saynor

The Nature Park House at Ginzling was lower down the same valley, and several of us visited this with its fascinating multimedia exhibition exploring the world of glaciers. In search of a shorter walk on our last day, Alan and I continued from here into the Floitental and up to the Steinbock hut, its sunny terrace in flower-filled meadows providing an attractive drinks stop. It was a pleasant stroll, and although earlier in the week we might have continued another 800m up to the Greizer hut, for once we were content just to sit. Nearby was the Stilluptal, another lovely valley which Roger and Sheila were the only ones to explore when they drove as far as the waterfall near the reservoir.

Drinks at Gerlosstein, by Geoff Causey

Several of the group found walks northeast of Mayrhofen, exploring the paths around Brandberg. Geoff and Janet wandered up here on a rainy day before the meet started, and on what turned out to be an even rainier day later in the meet, James and Belinda set off from the hotel to walk up to Kotahorn-Alm and Karlalm below the Gerlossteinwand, taking the Panoramaweg back to Brandberg and Mayrhofen, an ascent of nearly 1200m and a distance of 18.5km. Others took the easier option of taking the Gerlosstein lift from Hainzenberg, leaving only 500m to climb to the summit of the Gerlossteinwand. With a vertiginous rock face looking down onto the village of Brandberg, this was a dramatic viewpoint. Most took the lift back down, but Caroline decided to walk all the way down to Zell, a total descent of 1600m and a distance of some 22km, perhaps even beating James and Belinda’s record.

Gerlossteinwand: Precipitous drops from Gerlossteinwand, by Caroline Thonger

Lin and Pauline were the only ones to explore the northwest side of Mayrhofen when they took the bus to Melchboden, above Ramsau. They walked up the Arbiskopf and along the ridge path leading to Kreuzjoch before dropping down to the Rastkogel hut, past slopes of numerous tall yellow gentians. They completed the circuit by walking back through flower filled meadows to Mösl where they picked up the bus again.

Dick went off on his bike, covering 30 – 40 miles each day, and one day Lin hired an e-bike to accompany him. They took the Zillertal cycleway down the valley to Strass near Jenbach which, to their surprise, proved rather too boring - at least on that sort of terrain. On the last day Dick took the cable car from Zell to the top of the Rosenalmbahn and followed one of the race routes down to the valley bottom. However, he seems to have been somewhat distracted at the top on finding, in his words: “a wonderful wooden castle with water engineering features, slides and various climbing frames - just needed to clear the kids off it to be able to have some proper fun!!”

Not many took a day off, and those who did went down to the lovely old town of Innsbruck, where a few of the group had stayed before the meet started. Geoff and Janet had stayed extra days in Mayrhofen beforehand, and Jay and Caroline had spent three rainy days exploring above Gerlos. After the meet Bill and Rosie headed off to Salzberg and Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest in the Bavarian Alps, Mike and Marian drove their campervan into the Stubaital, while James and Belinda spent a few days at the AAC’s 70th anniversary meet further east at Zell-am-See.

It was good to have with us again the long-standing members of the club who had not been on the summer meet for several years, and to see how much everyone enjoyed their week’s stay in this beautiful valley.

Participants: Pamela Harris & Alan Norton, James & Belinda Baldwin, Geoff & Janet Bone, Derek Buckley & Ann Alari, Geoff & Pauline Causey, John Dempster & Dinah Nichols, Niels & Guni Doble, Heather Eddowes & Dave Matthews, Pauline Hammond, Don Hardy, Richard & Katherine Heery, Dick Murton & Lin Warriss, Roger Newson & Sheila Coates, Mike & Marian Parsons, Rick & Carol Saynor, Jim & Margaret Strachan, Barbara Swindin, Caroline Thonger, Jay Turner, Bill & Rosie Westermeyer.
Report by Pamela Harris

Meet photos

Wales meet – 8-10 June

The President had issued his challenge – “Andy managed to organise good weather for the Derbyshire meet. Can you manage the same for yours?” A hard act to follow, but Someone must have been listening, as we were blessed with another weekend of glorious weather. Too hot for some, as the train track from Beddgelert to Rhyd Ddu had buckled in the heat on Sunday, and those wanting to avail themselves of a train ride were in for a long walk back.

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

On Friday, the early contingent set the mood for the weekend with a walk along the Nantle ridge from the hut, taking in all the tops, to a lunch stop by the monument on Mynydd Tal-y-mignedd, before dropping down the ridge and returning to Rhyd Ddu.

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

Saturday saw activities a plenty, from a days’ climbing on the slabs and a full round of the Snowdon horseshoe, to more leisurely strolls. A sizeable contingent chose the annual visit to the top of Wales, up the Rhyd Ddu path of course.

More people coming up by train, photo by Mike Goodyer

Many others had decided this was the thing to do, and numbers added to even more by an adventure event starting from the car park near the cottage.

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

The summit itself was half hidden by a sea of bodies, and the slopes beneath the hut were also well covered with people enjoying the good weather and taking their lunch break. A small world as Ed bumped into the Communications manager at Leeds Rhinos, and was interviewed for a future article in the fans magazine. The way down the Snowdon Ranger path was equally busy at first, but with many people either continuing down into Llanberis, or turning down the Pyg track. The route back to the cottage through the quarry was straightforward, and everyone was back in time for a late afternoon tea (or beer), before evening meal.

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

Nearly record numbers, including three guests from the Oread club, sat down to the communal Saturday evening meal. Starters were field mushrooms stuffed with cheese, bacon and rosemary, followed by steak pie with gravy (courtesy of Ed’s next-door neighbour, Tim), accompanied by green beans, peas and new potatoes. The meal was rounded off with a choice of apple pie, trifle or tiramisu. In the words of one well known plate cleaner, there was little left over for either the dog or cat. With the wine flowing, the stories got longer and louder, and lasted well into the evening.

The weather kept up its marathon performance on Sunday, with further wall to wall sunshine. Another wide spread of activities, from the café direct route to Beddgelert and excursion to the ice-cream stall, to more energetic options around Cnicht, and even wild swimming in Llyn Gwynant.

Paul n Ed
Bwlch-y-ddwr-elor quarries, photo by Mike Goodyer

Our route took us from the cottage and into the abandoned quarries of Bwlch-y-ddwy-elor, before heading east over the next ridge and joining the tracks into Beddgelert. The café and ice cream shop lived up to its usual expectations, with blackcurrant a favourite of mine. A brisk stroll along the path and causeway back to the cottage saw us back in good time for afternoon tea and the slow road home.

Meet attendees: Belinda Baldwin, James Baldwin, Ed Bramley, Andy Burton, Steve Caulton, Heather Eddowes, Mary Eddowes, Celine Gagnon, Natasha Geere, Mike Goodyer John & Freda Gregson, Don Hodge, Tony Howard, Steve Hunt, Chris Lund, Maggie O’Dwyer, Mike O’Dwyer, Michele Pulford, Judy Renshaw, Paul Stock, Marcus Tierney.
Report by Ed Bramley

Meet photos

Ullapool Meet, 19-25 May

This year’s Scotland meet was excellent, with mainly good weather and plenty of munros and other summits climbed, as well as some scrambles. Unfortunately, several people who had expressed interest could not attend for various reasons, leaving just two of us to enjoy it. Max had already spent a few days on Skye then went on to the comfortable Forest Way bunkhouse near Braemore Junction, a few miles south of Ullapool, and I joined him on the Sunday, having flown to Inverness and driven from there.

The forecast for Sunday, the first day, was for low cloud and possible rain so we had considered a low walk. However, as the morning looked bright, we headed towards Stac Pollaidh, which was out of the cloud at 613m. We were early enough to have it to ourselves until late morning, so we took the path to the eastern end, did an unnecessary but fun scramble on the two end sections then traversed most of the ridge. Luckily it was dry and fairly warm so the rock was pleasant. The final scramble to the summit could be done either via a small chimney or on the face of a rock pillar – so it had to be done twice, just to make sure all routes were explored, before we returned to the descent via the full ridge. The traverse path around the base was also worthwhile as the views were wonderful. Since there was still plenty of time to spare, we did a short walk to the coast on the way back, where we saw stone chats and heard plenty of cuckoos.

Judy on Stac Pollaidh, photo by Max Peacock

The next day saw classic Scottish cloud down to almost sea level and steady rain all day, so there was no hurry to get out. I wanted to visit a longstanding friend of my brother who lives near Dundonnell and luckily this was the only day she was free. Before going to visit her, we walked along the north side of Little Loch Broom to the village of Scoraig. The village is very interesting as it has no road access at all, though it houses some 70 people and includes a school, an information point in a lighthouse and a jetty. All of the 25 houses have wind generators and some people run businesses such as violin making from there, as well as crofting. Later we visited my brother’s friend on the other side of the loch, who also keeps sheep, spins and dyes the wool and has had a house built with timber from her own patch of forest.

The following day was dry, but with cloud on the higher tops, so we chose Cul Mor, the lowest of our intended summits (849m). Getting there and ascending to the main summit was very straightforward, but the cloud came down just before we reached the top. So some messing about with compass in the mist was required to find a secondary summit along the ridge (which gave the opportunity for minor scrambling on some slabby sandstone shelves) and the descent. We descended a different way, across to another peak (An Laogh) and saw a mountain hare on the way, as well as a group of about eight deer. No other people were around all day. We finished in good time, so visited the gear shop in Ullapool and later the Dundonnell hotel, which had lovely views of hills bathed in sunshine. The late evening sun is one of the joys of being this far north at this time of year.

Suilven from Cul Mor, photo by Judy Renshaw

After this the weather improved markedly, with clear tops and much sunshine. Our next objective was a group of munros in the Fannich range, just south of the bunkhouse. Max had done the Western ridge previously, so we headed for those on the East side of the same valley (Sgurr nan Each 923m., Sgurr nan Clach Geala 1093m. and Meall a Chrasgaidh 934m.) which comprise about half of the long day described in the Cicerone guide. We added another one, Sgurr Mor (1110m.), making a total of four munros that day. The hardest part was the long walk up the valley to start the ascent. We were supposed to follow a track and then a stalkers’ path but missed a river crossing (which was not very obvious), so had to stumble through rough ground and peat groughs to reach the saddle. Once onto the ridge it became much easier, and we were able to do the first couple of munros by lunchtime and take in the other two without any difficulty. There were large patches of snow remaining on the north side but we only needed to walk across some small sections (though one of us chose to find extra snow to wade in just for fun!). The views were extensive in all directions, including the distinctive shapes of An Teallach and Suilven. The descent off the final hillside was acceptable, through grass and heather, then we found the river crossing we had missed earlier. This was not without interest, and it was hard to imaging crossing there in wetter conditions when the river was higher. That evening we went to a waterfront pub in Ullapool which had live music and a good atmosphere, as well as a view of the harbour and hills.

Fannichs from Sgurr Mor, photo by Judy Renshaw

The last full day was warm and sunny throughout, so we both needed to take extra water. The initial plan was to do Ben More Assynt (998m) and Conival (987m), but Max added the suggestion of a scramble on the south ridge of Conival to make a more interesting approach. We made an early start and parked at Inchnadamp, taking a track then a good path up the valley. The main path heads up to a col on the left, but we crossed the river Traligill towards the col between Conival and Breabag. This took longer than expected, as the valley narrowed into a rocky cleft, through which we had to find a route, crossing the stream at intervals.

Ptarmigan, photo by Judy Renshaw

On the way we saw a couple of ptarmigan quite close by and a lone deer. At the col, nothing resembled the guidebook description so we carried on for a while, looking at the ridge above, and stopped for a snack at a viewpoint. On approaching the ridge from there, we suddenly found the pools and shelf described in the book and were able to start up the scramble. Just as described, there were sections of nice warm rock, with good holds and friction and a few ‘delicate’ moves. Later it led over three towers, one with an interesting slab and the others with ways over the crest. The ridge finished just at the top of the mountain, a very suitable place for lunch with views over the far north-western area of Scotland.

Max on Conival scramble, photo by Judy Renshaw

The top of Conival was a different world, as there were several groups of people, who had come up by the main path, making it quite busy by northern Scotland standards. We found a good viewpoint for a lunch stop, then continued along the ridge to the two summits of Ben More Assynt. These tops are covered in broken white quartzite rocks, which were quite dazzling in the strong sunlight. We took pictures of the views all around before returning to the top of Conival and following the main descent path. We managed to miss part of the ridge path when it went over a small outcrop so had a more difficult descent to the valley path than intended. We finally reached the car after 8½ hours, feeling suitably tired, but very satisfied.

Max on Ben More Assynt, photo by Judy Renshaw

In the morning I just had time to take a short walk along the river near the bunkhouse, as we had been advised to look at a few bridges that had been designed and built by the engineer who built the Forth rail bridge, who used these as design models. This made an interesting diversion before setting off for the airport.

We were lucky to have such good weather this year, as northern Scotland was warm and dry for weeks on end. Those who could not come missed out on a great experience. We are already discussing the possibilities for next year, so hope that more people will attend.

Present: Max Peacock, Judy Renshaw.
Report by Judy Renshaw

Derbyshire May Day Meet Royal Oak, Sparklow

Fourteen attendees at the Bunkbarn and adjacent pub this year, plus two in a good B&B billet near Buxton, and two on a caravan site the other side of the hill. The usual eclectic mix of regulars and first timers, plus three day visitors.
The attendees were James and Belinda Baldwin, Margaret and Mike O'Dwyer, Dick Murton and Lyn Warriss, Judy Renshaw, Don Hodge, Margaret Moore, Mike Goodyer, Heather Eddowes, Dave Matthews, Paul Stock, Ed Bramley, Myles O’Reilly, Andy Hayes, Andy Burton, and a potential new full member Chris Lund.

Friday afternoon saw the O'Dwyers and I arrive at the Royal Oak mid afternoon, and set off to organise Margaret a bike from Parsley Hay cycle hire. There followed a short 12 mile cycle ride along the Tissington Trail to Hartington signal box and beyond, before returning to Parsley Hay for handlebar and seat adjustment, and then ontp the pub to await the arrival of the others.
Between 6pm and 7pm members began to gather at the Royal Oak in time for a beer, and the dash to the ever welcoming fish and chip shop at Longnor.
The view of the upper Dove valley as you negotiate the first hairpin bend down towards Crowdecote is still one of the finest unspoilt road views of this part of Derbyshire and neighbouring Staffordshire. A pint in the Packhorse Arms at Crowdecote on our way back allowed me to speak to Mick the licensee, and provisionally book us in for dinner on Sunday night.

Saturday saw Ed and Chris join us early doors at the Bunkbarn, and for the various parties to decide what they were doing over ablutions and breakfast. Mike and Ed (on his new bike) set off on a 60 miler, James, Belinda and Lyn set off for a walk along the Roaches, Paul, Myles and Chris did a 20k walk from the pub over towards Monyash.(See separate reports at the end, Editor) Marcus and Michele climbed at Birchens Edge, and the rest of us set off on a 20 mile bike ride from the pub onto the Monsal Trail, taking a cross country route down to Ashford in the Water, where we sat and had lunch on the riverbank, and back over the hill by Sheldon village to Parsley Hay for Margaret 'O' to return her bike, and MJG to have a broken spoke replaced. The young man doing the repair described Mike's bike wheel as a bit of a pringle which he managed to retrue for a fiver.

Back to the Royal Oak for tea and cake and to hear what others had been up to. The usual suspects assisted me in putting up my old eight berth Vango family tent flysheet on the campsite, and everyone gathered there for a drink in the evening sun before adjoining to the Oak Room for our dinner and a couple of beers to finish. (For those who have helped me put up this tent over the years, friends and family included, you will all be pleased to know that it has gone to my charity NPAC for some lucky refugee far far away to toil over. Lucky them someone said?)

Sunday morning saw Steve Caulton and Michele and Marcus arrive and tuck into a Royal Oak big breakfast, and Andy Hayes joined us at short notice too. Michele and Marcus went climbing at Harboro Rocks, whilst the rest of us drove over to just below Mam Tor and walked half of the Edale Horseshoe. Turning left up onto Rushup Edge meant we weren't walking with the crowds. What ensued in my opinion was a classic Edale skyline walk in nigh on perfect weather in the company of friends who I have tromped these hills with many times in our formative years.
The boggy path as you turn towards the Jacobs ladder area has been stone-slabbed out as have some of the more worn parts heading up onto the edge of the Kinder Scout plateau,and after a short lunchstop sat on the heather in full sun we joined many more walkers enjoying the rock outcrops dotted all along this part of Kinder, all with individual names like the Pagoda and the aptly named Woolpacks.
Negotiating our way past Crowden Tower and the brook of the same name we made our way down the Grindsbrook which I have never seen so empty of water in its upper reaches, and on into Edale village past the Nags Head (traditional start of the Pennine Way), Paul had a look in but it was rammed, so an ice cream and a cold drink sufficed for most. Heather and Dave set the gold standard by fitting in afternoon tea and cake in Coopers Barn cafe.
We then all pressed on up underneath Mam Tor to the road gap and down to the cars. The drivers got us back in good time to get cleaned up and ready for dinner at the Packhorse where we all sat in the back garden looking across the Dove valley towards Longnor enjoying some of Mick's fine selection of ales until we were called for dinner.

Bank Holiday Monday morning saw Mike O'Dwyer celebrate his 65th Birthday, and your Committee locked in the Oak Room in earnest deliberation for a little over an hour before everyone went their separate ways. Dave and Heather went off cycling again, James and Belinda walked on Parkhouse and Chrome Hill, and Ed, Mike, Paul, Myles and I walked from the pub north along the High Peak trail to where an enterprising young farmer from Pomeroy had set himself up with a modern ice-cream van in the neighbouring field selling his farms homemade ice-creams to passersby. Onto High Wheeldon top for its 360 degree views of the area, down to the BMC owned limestone crag, Aldery Cliff, and into Earl Sterndale for a pint sat outside the Quiet Woman pub, before walking back across the fields to Hurdlow Grange and back onto the trail to the pub. A quick decamp, tea and cake to finish the weekend and home we all went.

Report by Andy Burton

Additional thoughts from attendees:

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

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

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

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

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

Dinner time

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

John in full flow

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

Aprroaching Sriding Edge

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

Sheila and Heather enjoying the view

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

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

Report by Mike Goodyer
Meet photos

Killin Meet 16 - 19 January

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

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

A snowy Hotel, photo by Margaret Strachan

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

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

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

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

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

Views to the west over Pitlochry, photo by Margaret Strachan

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

Present: John Dempster, Jim & Margaret Strachan

Report by Jim Strachan


‘Twixmas’ Meet, George Starkey Hut, Patterdale 2017/18

We had a convivial gathering of members and friends in the days between Christmas and New Year. As usual, people arrived and left on different days but for a time there were some 9 or 10 people in the hut, with Mike and Marian also popping in occasionally. It rained a fair amount while we were there, but on some other days it was clearer and enabled people to get onto the higher fells.

Howard and Richard did a local walk towards Brotherswater one day before the rest of us arrived, then Andy and friends from Nottinghamshire were there for a couple of days, as were Don and I.

Brotherswater, photo by Andy Burton

On the Saturday Richard, Don and I went over some lower hills in St John’s in the Vale, which is a good option for a wet and windy day as it is low but has interesting views and makes a good circuit.

Don and Richard below High Rigg, photo by Judy Renshaw

We parked at the north end of Low Rigg, went over both this top and also High Rigg, including numerous intermediate summits, and returned by a path on the East side. In this area the wind was not overly strong, and the rain only intermittent. At times we saw several groups of local people walking and Landrovers parked on the road, then later saw a pack of hounds out on the fell.

Brief sun on Blencathra from base of Low Rigg, photo by Judy Renshaw

Andy and company went up to Angle Tarn in rain and wind and descended via Hayeswater. We heard later that 12 year old Ruby was one of the strongest walkers in the group!

Angle Tarn
Wintry Angle Tarn, photo by Andy Burton

The next day Don and I investigated part of the newly marked ‘Ullswater Way’ along the West side of the lake. In the main, this links together existing paths with regular waymark posts. The southern section includes a long established path close to the lake and continues with a newly created section beyond Glenridding to Aira Force. It then goes over Gowbarrow, following at some distance away from the lake, to below Little Mell Fell.

We began just south of this point, taking another footpath to join the main route, as we had already explored the earlier sections on various occasions. Once we had found our way through the campsite (with some difficulty) and through a wet field, we were on the waymarked path through Bennethead and Wray to Waterfoot Farm. After this there was a new section of path to Pooley Bridge. Although direction finding was easy, due to the markers, most of the path was extremely muddy, with some sections going up and down very slippery fields. The few people that we met along the way also commented on the mud and one person was covered in it, having slid down a particularly muddy field. Since it was still raining when we reached Pooley Bridge, we took advantage of the very good bus shelter in the centre to have our sandwiches and watch the activities of the town. As often happens, the ferries were cancelled due to high winds. We returned on a path closer to the lake, below several hotels and activity centres, which was less muddy but not continuous as you have to walk along short stretches of road. It made an interesting day out without going too far or too high.

Hartsop Dodd
Looking towards Hartsop Dodd, photo by Andy Burton

Most of the others did indoor activities that day, except Howard who went up to Red tarn and back via Glenridding and Patterdale. John Kentish of AC and his friend Diana arrived before we left, and went out with Marian and Mike the next day.

Overall, the meet was relaxed, friendly and everyone enjoyed themselves, making a good opportunity for a break from the Christmas and New Year festivities.

Present: Richard Hampshire, Howard Telford, Andy Burton, Claire, Ruby, Jane, Jos, Don Hodge, Judy Renshaw. (Also John Kentish (AC) and Diana, Mike and Marian)

Report by Judy Renshaw

Strathpeffer Meet 13 - 16 October

Eight participants gathered on the Friday evening at the Highland Hotel in Strathpeffer. Saturday morning dawned with the appearance of promising weather so we were all anxious to “head for the hills” soon after breakfast.

On the Saturday, Margaret and Jim drove west to Glen Carron and climbed Moruisg (928m) in fair weather, until reaching the summit ridge where they encountered very strong winds making walking difficult. Rain on the descent ensured they arrived back at the car in a rather damp state. They had a good day nonetheless.

Marj, John, Jay and Peter climbed a Graham, Carn na Coinnic (673m), by a good estate road from Bridgend in Strathconon that was followed up to around 600m then a traverse up boggy ground to the summit. Descent was by the same route. The weather was warm and windy, but manageable except near summit where the wind was cold and strong but the group found shelter just below the summit for lunch.
They then drove to the end of the public road and walked along the glen westwards and back for a mile or so.

Roger and I climbed a Corbett, An Sidhean (814m), from the Monar dam in upper Glen Strathfarrar. This hill is situated in very remote country north of Loch Monar and the summit area does have that feeling of remoteness. Our route was along Loch Monar’s north shore past Monar Lodge. Very wet underfoot and windy on the summit.

This area is the location for Iain Thomson’s book, “Isolation Shepherd”. He moved to Strathmore on Loch Monar in the 1950s with his young family and the book is a moving and interesting account of the shepherd’s life. Well worth reading. Alas, his home was submerged under the waters of Loch Monar when it was later dammed for a hydro scheme.

On the Sunday Margaret, Jim, Jay and Peter had a pleasant drive up Strathconon to just short of Inverchoran Farm, where they left the car. The party climbed another Graham, Beinn Mheadhoin (663m), by a stalker’s path and very old cairns all the way to the summit, again in fair weather and with extensive views from the summit. A strong buffeting wind soon brought in heavy rain clouds and a hurried descent. Again, they had a very wet interlude necessitating the donning of over-trousers after they were already wet, this was a more prolonged episode of wind and rain. Wet and soggy, they drove back down the glen taking a detour over the dam on a small side road to Contin.
Then a walk around upper Strathpeffer to admire the architecture of the Victorian villas, before supper.

Marj and John opted for a “low level” excursion on the Sunday, they took a lovely, windy walk on Dornoch beach.

Roger and I climbed another Corbett, Little Wyvis (764m), on the Sunday. The weather would best be described as “gloomy” with the top shrouded in cloud and a very strong, cold wind which hastened our descent from the summit cairn. Very wet underfoot.

An excellent weekend where the walking, the accommodation and the company was most agreeable despite the mixed weather.

Present: Peter Farrington, Marj and John Foster, Roger James, Margaret and Jim Strachan, Jay Turner, Philip Hands

Report by Philip Hands

Brecon Beacons Meet, October

I can’t believe that it’s a year already since our last visit to the Brecon Beacons, but there we were to enjoy them again. The meet was held once again at the New Inn at Bwlch which is a Bunkhouse with ensuite pub!

As if by magic the Friday afternoon walk participants all arrived at the Bunkhouse within five minutes of one another. Amazing considering they were coming from Devon, Hampshire, Wiltshire and Nottinghamshire. Once we had deposited our bags in the rooms we set off on what is fast becoming a Friday afternoon fixture walk. This walk leaves Bwlch via a path past the old church, now someone’s home, to reach the ridge which passes to the east of Llangors Lake. The weather was kind with sun and clouds allowing us to view the north edge of the Brecon Beacons winding its way to the west and the Black Mountains to the east. The ridge is approximately 5km in length from Bwlch to the pass at the far end. We stopped for lunch at the small pond just off the summit of Mynydd Llangorse.

After lunch walking along the ridge, photo by Mike Goodyer

There are splendid views across to southern Herefordshire countryside. At the pass at the far end of the ridge we took the rather muddy bridleway south along the bottom of eastern slope of the ridge until we could regain the ridge via a steep path. We retraced our steps back to the Bunkhouse for the evening meal and some refreshments with the remaining weekend participants.

On Saturday we decided to try a different approach to ascending the major Beacons peaks. We drove to the car park at the northern end of the Celn Cwm Llwch ridge, just south of Brecon.

Heading through the bracken to the Pen y Fan path, photo by Mike Goodyer

After a dodgy start (my fault) we made our way onto the ridge and followed it to the top of Pen y Fan. Once again the weather had been reasonably kind with an overcast day but still giving cloud free summits. The view from the top of this very popular mountain is amazing in all directions. However, you have to share it with around 50 or so like minded individuals.

Leaving the busy top of Pen y Fan, photo by Mike Goodyer

We followed the normal Brecon Beacons horseshoe path to the summit of Cribyn. At the summit the team split with the majority following the horseshoe path to Fan y Big and three intrepid adventurers (gluttons for punishment) who went down the Bryn Teg ridge for a while before cutting down to the old roman road to follow it back to the pass between Cribyn and Fan y Big. The group rejoined on the summit of Fan y Big and then descended the Cefn Cyff ridge to its northern end.

walking down the Cefn Cyff ridge, photo by Mike Goodyer

Unfortunately the group split by accident taking two routes back to the car park. One via the roads with occasional footpaths and the others via a longer path which followed the tips of the northern ridges. The later route involved a very dodgy “ford” crossing. Once reunited at the car park we returned to the Bunkhouse for some much needed sustenance.

On Sunday we left the Bunkhouse to travel to Gospel Pass for a walk involving Offas Dyke. Amazingly we managed to get all our cars parked in the small upper car park and set off towards Hay Bluff.

Group at Hay Bluff, photo by Mike Goodyer

At the summit we headed south east along the Offas Dyke path. After approximately 4.5km we reached the pile of stones and headed west on the path to the bottom of the valley containing Llanthony Priory.

Lunch time! Photo by Mike Goodyer

Lunch was taken in the valley and then we followed the path up to the western ridge at Blacksmiths Stones. The well trodden path north east passes Twyn Talycefn and allows views of the Grwyne Fawr reservoir. Once we reached the northern edge of the Black Mountains we made our way to the summit of Twmpa (Lord Herefords Knob). On arrival at the summit we were met by the most spectacular view of the suns rays shining through the clouds which had drawn quite a crowd.

Spectacular view from Twmpa, photo by Mike Goodyer

We made our way back to the car park at Gospel Pass for our fond farewells after an extremely busy weekend which had culminated in quite a late finish. I would like to thank all of the meet participants and thank them for their enjoyable company. I’m already looking forward to our next Brecon Beacons meet but how do I manage to top those walks?

Present: Paul Stock, Andy Burton, Steve Caulton, Mike Goodyer, Belinda and James Baldwin, Heather Eddowes, Mary Eddowes, Myles O'Reilly, Jonny Dixon, Daniel Albert, Rachel Howlett, Dave Matthews, Nanette Archer

Report by Paul Stock

Beer Meet, 15-17 September

It was decided that we would not do too much travelling to reach the starts of the two walks. On Saturday we took the picturesque bus ride from Beer to Sidmouth. This is no ordinary bus ride as it goes via Branscombe, which involves narrow lanes with about 6 inches space between the bus and hedges. This problem is compounded by bends and steep hills so not much fun for approaching vehicles but entertaining to us passengers admiring the driver’s negotiating skills.

Sidmouth, photo by Dinah Nichols

We took the coastal path back to Beer a distance of 9 miles so not far but described in the guide as severe then strenuous as there are high cliffs intersected by deep narrow valleys. In all we climbed 925 metres so quite like a mountain day. Unlike a mountain day we enjoyed our sandwiches on the beach.

Ready for lunch, photo by Heather Eddowes

The shore at Weston Mouth is pebbled with a solitary abandoned house and high wooded cliffs and just us. A far cry from the lively Sidmouth we had left behind. It’s not surprising that few go there as the steep gradients down and up are not for the feint hearted. There was talk of a possible let out at Branscombe for a bus or a wait to be picked up later but we all decide what was needed was a tea break at the Sea Shanty. We were entertained by a wedding reception taking place by the beach before the penultimate climb. Back in Beer some took refreshment at the Anchor before the last pull and easiest up to Beer Hill.

On Sunday we drove westwards to Bowd north of Sidmouth for a shorter walk up to Harpford Common enabling those with time to make the journey on. There were many fine views of coast and countryside. Hedges and pasture were still in their summer glory so we were surrounded by splendid greenness as well as blackberries to keep our energy up.

We had clearness on both days. On Saturday we did have to don waterproofs for a little while but the rain was nothing like that forecasted. It had been yet another good ABM Meet.

Present: Antonia Barlen, John Dempster, Heather Eddowes, David, Margaret Moore, Max and Vivien Peacock, Dinah Nichols, James and Belinda Baldwin

Report by Belinda Baldwin

Meet photos

Pirin Mountains, Bulgaria, 9-16 September

I had previously visited the Pirin mountains with a friend who has an apartment in Bansko, the main town, and had met Liz Alderson who has recently set up a new company for trekking and other activities, Pirin Adventures. It seemed like an ideal opportunity for ABMSAC members to experience these mountains with people who know them, who could provide support, logistics and accommodation.

Marian and Mike spent a couple of days in Sofia, the capital, to recover from the early morning flight and look around, before most of us went out to Bulgaria. Liz met us at Sofia airport, picked up Marian and Mike then took us to Bansko where we stayed in comfortable rooms in apartments adjacent to hers. Some people had a look around town that afternoon (and managed to find a suitable bar) while the rest of us settled in, had tea and cake and went over the itinerary for the week. We were provided with excellent dinners every night, a more than adequate breakfast and food to pack up for lunch every day, as well as tea and cake in the afternoons.

Bansko main square, photo by Ed Bramley

Every day but one was sunny and warm, so most people wore shorts much of the time. The first day turned out to be the longest, as we went quite slowly with many stops and it all took longer than anticipated. We started at the Vihren hut at the top of a long mountain road. There were many people and cars, as it was a Sunday, but they gradually dispersed as we went further away from the road. A good path took us up into a valley with several beautiful lakes, then up to a col. Liz and her dog, Charlie, came with us part of the way before turning back but the two people working with her, Niki and Hristo, came with us all the way.

Rest stop on the way to Todorka (Hristo, Niki, Marian, Mike and Myles), photo by Judy Renshaw

Four of us continued up the ridge to Todorka which has a couple of minor tops and the summit at 2746m. The summit area was a mass of boulders, not dissimilar to the Glyders in North Wales. The views were spectacular, allowing us to see a panorama of the Pirin range in all directions. Mike and Marian took a traverse path below the top and we met up with them again at the Demyanitsa hut in the next valley. The sting in the tail was a long trail of another hour and a half down to a parking area where Liz met us. It was good to get back for showers, rest and a lovely dinner later on.

Panarama from Todorka, photo by Ed Bramley

The next day was an easier walk so we managed to be better organised, with an informal split into a faster and a slower group, with Niki and Hristo taking turns to join each group. We started lower down near the west side of Bansko at Predel, where Liz dropped us off, then she took one car round and walked across with Charlie to collect the other one later. We went up through forest for a few hours, had several rest stops in sunny places and found masses of raspberries near a river. Ed managed to get a photo of an eagle in flight, which had been circling above. We came to a col with views and descended to a valley then over a saddle to the Yavarov hut, where we all tried the local Bulgarian tea. Liz had driven up a long track and took most people down in the car. Ed, Niki, Hristo and I did a rapid descent on a forest path for 45 minutes to collect the second car and managed to arrive back at base just before the others.

Gang of 6 plus Niki head off into the mist..... photo by Liz Alderson

We had intended to do a challenging route the next day along the Concheto ridge from Yavarov, but the weather prevented us from achieving this. The forecast was for very strong wind and low cloud but it kept changing so we headed up to the Vihren hut to attempt it from the other end. The cloud was very low, obscuring the ridge and all the main peaks and the wind strong. This was the only day we needed warm clothes and waterproofs. Ed and I set off with Niki and Charlie the dog (but Charlie was determined to go back from the start so Niki had to go down to return him to Liz). As it turned out, he had made the right decision, since we only managed to get as far as the saddle, where the wind was blowing us over and gusting even more strongly, with horizontal rain in our faces making it hard to see. We went up the first part then turned back, meeting the others somewhere below the saddle. The only other group we had met attempting to go up had also turned back. Lower down it was pleasant enough to stop for lunch in a sheltered place, before meeting up with Marian who had done some sketching from a viewpoint nearby. Back in Bansko it was still warm and sunny so a relaxing afternoon was had by all, reading, sketching and drying clothes in the sun.

On the summit of Vihren, photo by Ed Bramley

The following day was intended to be a rest day but, since we had rested a fair amount already and had failed to do Vihren, the highest peak (2914m), four of us felt like having a go at it. Liz very kindly lent us her second car and Ed volunteered to drive it up the mountain road, so we set off at our usual early time. Since it was a weekday there were no crowds at the hut this time. We went up the path that was already familiar, now with sunshine and views, and made good time to the summit, 15 minutes less than the guide time, including several rests. We descended part way and found a good sheltered spot for lunch near the saddle. We then explored the next minor peak, Hvoynati (2635m), and its ridge before returning down the main path. Marian and Mike had taken the cable car and walked from there to a hut at Bandaritsa for lunch. That evening we ate at a very nice restaurant in town, where we had some typical Bulgarian dishes, plenty of salads and side dishes, wine and beer for an absurdly cheap price.

For the last two days we did an excursion to a more remote area of the Pirin and stayed overnight in the Tevno Esero Hut. We set off once again from the Vihren hut, with Liz and Charlie accompanying us as far as the main ridge above the lakes. The weather was great, sunshine and a little cloud. We took a path past the ‘frog lake’ and a long lake, and stopped for an early lunch before ascending a couple of boulder fields to the ridge.

Niki starting up the boulder field from Long Lake on the way to Tevno Esero Hut,
photo by Judy Renshaw

Views of the larger peaks were good, and the lakes picturesque. We continued along the ridge, sometimes up and down and occasionally narrow and rocky, for several hours before reaching the hut about 4.30 in the afternoon.

Niki, Dave and Ed on the way to Tevno Esero Hut with Vihren behind, photo by Judy Renshaw

The more ‘leisurely’ group arrived only about an hour later. We were lucky to have a nice bunk room for just our group (my previous visit had been on a crowded matratzenlager with a lot of school kids).

Tevno Esero Hut in the afternoon sun, photo by Ed Bramley

The hut is in a spectacular position among the high mountains, on the edge of a small lake. What it lacks in facilities it makes up for in the setting, so people took plenty of photos, including some of the stars at night. There were a couple of other groups at the hut but it was not full. Dinner in the hut was adequate but unexciting.

the gang
Group with the Hut warden at Tevno Esero Hut in the morning, photo by Liz Alderson (Niki)

The morning temperature was not far above freezing so a cold wash was somewhat bracing. After a fairly early start and breakfast of sort-of fried dough breads with honey, a Bulgarian hut speciality (I opted to eat supplies I had brought with me instead), we set off up to a ridge on the other side. There were some boulder fields to cross but shorter than yesterday’s. We passed more lakes and through valleys, below the peak of Bezbog to the lake and hut of the same name, in time for lunch.

Approaching the Bezbog Hut, photo by Ed Bramley

After a rest, it was a leisurely walk down through forest to a lower hut, where Liz and Charlie were waiting for us. That evening we had a very jovial dinner, with excellent food as usual, and said our goodbyes to Hristo, Niki and Liz, who had organised such a great week for us.

The last supper with Liz and Niki, photo by Ed Bramley

We gave them some bottles of vodka as a thank you and hope we may meet again some time.

Present: Mike Parsons, Marian Parsons, Ed Bramley, David Seddon, Myles O’Reilly, Judy Renshaw
Support provided by Liz Alderson and Pirin Adventures, with assistance from Niki and Hristo. Hristo also provides accommodation in the Rhodope mountains (see website for ‘visitRhodopes’).

Report by Judy Renshaw

Meet photos

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 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’.

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 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 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 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.

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 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 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.

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.

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 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.

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 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.

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 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.

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

Meet photos

Wales Meet report, June

“What do you mean, the Café’s shut?” came the plaintive voice of Andy, out of the mist. It was the Friday morning, so the early contingent had ventured out onto Snowdon, in those conditions that prevent you seeing anything, but manages to drip down everywhere. “It’s shut – Come and have a look for yourself if you don’t believe me” my reply echoed out of the gloom. Sure enough, on a Friday in June, the Snowdon summit café was shut, and our dreams of large warm pasties inside an equally warm building had disappeared faster than the summit views. So we sat there in the café doorway, a series of wet and bedraggled gargoyles, eating the meagre fare we had brought with us. Even the summit birds were wishing they were elsewhere, and only made half-hearted attempts to persuade our food away from us.

Our routes were simple and tried and tested. Up from the cottage on the start of the Rhyd Ddu path, and then straight on at the path junction, to Bwlch Cwm Llan. Sharp left and upwards onto Allt Maenderyn, before ascending to Bwlch main and Snowdon summit itself. And a descent following the Rhyd Ddu path in its entirety back to the cottage. Only from passing the first of the old slate quarries onwards, the view became restricted to those few feet around us, with all the colours muted. Still, we were all out, and giving the body an airing. Tomorrow would be another day.

And to prove that even Welsh weather cannot be miserable all the time, Saturday did at least lift the cloud base to a reasonable level, so we could enjoy some views before we were back to the grey shrouds again. Following Friday’s route to start, we reached Bwlch Cwm Llan again, and this time turned right, to head up the less frequented peak of Yr Aran. Taking a set of bearings down, and several altercations with clumps of gorse and heather later, we joined the lower level path on the south of the mountain, in Afon y Cwm. Following the track round, we passed into the grounds of Craflwyn hall, complete with its carving of a dragon in the grounds. From there, the route headed unerringly into Beddgelert and the ice cream shop, even despite the unseasonal temperatures.
For those who didn’t want the luxury of a train ride, the walk back through the forest is becoming a familiar track, and we all made good time back to the cottage, just right for our communal evening meal.

Sunday was another dank affair, which didn’t inspire most people for a day of derring do, but Don and Judy, not to be put off, made a foray onto Anglesey, and part of the coast path round from the Menai bridge. Others found low level walks around from Beddgelert that both led around the hillsides and took them nearer the various eateries. For those like Marcus and Michele who played the waiting game well, Monday started to show promise again, and they were rewarded with an ascent of the north ridge of Tryfan and Bristly ridge. All in all, not bad for a weekend of very varied weather.

Participants: Daniel Albert, Ed Bramley, Andy Burton, Steve Caulton, Heather Eddowes, Mike Goodyer, Don Hodge, Tony Howard, Mike O’Dwyer, Marian Parsons, Mike Parsons, Michele Pulford, Maggie O’Dwyer, Mike O’Dwyer, Judy Renshaw, Howard Telford, Marcus Tierney and Richard Winter.

Report by Ed Bramley

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.

burial chamber
Chambered cairn. Photo by Mike Goodyer

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 Coire na Sgairde and up to the Beaiach na Sgairde between the same tops, so also had good views in the afternoon.

Andy, Ed and Howard at the col. Photo by Mike Goodyer

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 two 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 around to the Flora Macdonald monument on the NW coast and enjoyed a sunny but windy day.

The Quiraing. Photo by Mike Goodyer

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 ridge
Judy on Bruach na Frithe. Photo by Max Peacock

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.

Mike on the ridge. Photo by Judy Renshaw

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.

Eilean Donan Castle in the gloom. Photo by Mike Goodyer

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

Report by Judy Renshaw

Meet photos

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.

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.
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.

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.

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.

Don on the coast 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 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.

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!

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.

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.

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 in Langstrath
Mike in Langstrath
Andy in Langstrath
President in Langstrath
Ed in Langstrath
Celine, Mary, Rachel and Pete
Paul, Ed and Judy in Grisedale
On Hellvelyn
Alison and Margaret on Place Fell
Gang near Silver Crag
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!

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 summit plateau. Photo by Pete Bennett

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.

Archived reports from 2001 to 2016.