Saturday, 26 December 2009

John Leigh Park and Dunham Park

Merry christmas and a happy new year to everyone!

THE SITUATION : I had the whole of last week of work. It snowed on Thursday 17th and the snow stuck, it has snowed several times since including a few heavy falls and a very heavy fall on Tuesday 22nd. The snow has been on the ground over a week now here and has accumulated since the 17th, only today has it started thawing! Oh and there is something called Christmas happening too this week.

THE PLAN : Stay well and fit. Drive to the Lake Disrtict, Peak District and North Wales on a few of my days off to go and climb some mountains in the snow and blue skies. Do house work in between when I can. Ignore christmas, don't spend to much money or time on it!


Thursday 17th I got extremely excited as the first snows fell while I was at work.

Friday 18th I was at work for my last day before having over a week off and work colleagues put on a buffet organised by staff as we were not having a proper one through work. I drowned my body with Red Wine, ended up doing some bad dancing.

Myself shamelessly pished

Saturday 19th spent most of the lovely blue sky and wintry day in bed hung over instead of in the Lakes.

Sunday 20th saturday night it snowed again and then froze over, we packed for a proper walk but got up not that early and looked at webcams and traffic info to see the Lakes and Peak cloud covered and roads blocked. The world outside our back door was blue skies and snow so decided on a local walk instead via the roof of our local multi storey car park for the views! The park was fantastic as here in Trafford our local park John Leigh Park provides the only hill for miles so every child with a sledge was there. We sat their watching as we ate home made Lochinver Pies which Nicky had postal ordered to our door as a chrismtas present. It started thundering as well as snowing heavilly so we went home and got the fire going.

Winter wonderland at John Leigh Park in Altrincham

Monday 21st I've got a horrid tooth in my mouth which since I had emergency root canal treatment on it eight years ago has been dying. The tooth has been filled several times and cracked in half so it was time to have it out. Only problen is that it was in such a state that I had to be sedated. This meant Nicky having the afternoon off and me being taken to the dentist and knocked out for nearly two hours. So the whole day again sunny and blue skies with snow was spent doing none hill activites.

Tuesday 22nd decided to stop being daft and get out to the hills. Packed a full winters day walking kit including Ice Axe and Crampons and headed towards the Peak District. As I set off it started snowing heavilly. I got to Glossop and the police had closed the Snake Pass so were not letting people into Glossop instead diverting them through hilly Hayfield which made no sense at all. A few dodgy moments in the car and watching others simply abandon their cars and walk made me realise I was best to turn round and go home. I headed back down the M67 which by this time after three hour blizzards was treacherous.

Scary road conditions on the M67 near Hyde

I headed back to Altrincham and decided to go for an easy but always enjoyable walk around Dunham Park our local National Trust house and deer park. It is a fantastic place and only a ten minute walk or drive from our back door. It continued to snow on and off but nothing like the blizzards of the morning. I saw dozens of young Fallow Deer in the park, the odd friendly one too. I sat and ate my lunch in the shelter of the Deer House where a Buck stood and watched me the whole time I was there. He was probably wondering if my Southern Fried Chicken Wrap was as tasty as the trees and ferns he had been munching on all morning.

Beautiful Fallow Deer at Dunham Park

While I was sat watching a Jay foraging in the snowy leaves for a grubby lunch I phoned my friend who organises our football on a Tuesday night and asked if the game was on or not, he told me there was a pitch inspection at 4pm. When I got home he phoned me and let me know that the place we play at said they have cleared the pitches and we could play as normal. It took me two hours of a frightening journey on sheet ice to get to the football. In Altrincham there had been a few accidents and the main roads were covered in ice so cars were sliding all over the place. We got to the pitches to find of the twenty plus pitches they had only cleared the snow off ours and sensibly told every other pitch booking not to bother risking their lives getting there! The snow on the pitch had been swept to the sides and also into the goal!! What kind of moron clears a pitch and puts the snow in the goals!!! They should never have told us to go down in the first place and gave us some sob story about loosing money, I won't even go into the finances of what they make in a normal night! We played a full hour as we'd all made the effort to get there...

Ridiculous playing conditions at The Pitz

Wednesday 23rd was spent mostly out on icy roads shopping for christmas presents. I started getting a cold during the day and had to nip out to get pain killers as my mouth and gums were also hurting from my tooth extraction.

Thursday 24th took my grannie across to my aunties where she was spending the next few days for christmas. The roads were still covered in snow and ice so we had to stick to the main roads. I got a text during the morning from my sister asking i I wanted to go round to theirs and help my brother in law and nine month old nephew build a snowman! Hmm now let me think... YUP!!!! It took us just over two hours to build our five foot tall snowman, depsite having by now a really bad cold and aching mouth...

Christmas Day snowman in my sisters garden

Friday 25th had a fantastic christmas day at my sisters with the family, amazing meal, we didn't leave until 1:30am last night. It was my little nephews first christmas and great for it to be a white one! We had a game of Trivial Pursuit which was taken very seriously, it went on for three hours and forty five minutes and Nicky and I won! The only bad thing was having a cold, sore mouth and had ache for most of the day but pain killers sorted that out, not being able to taste the delicous meal was not great though :-(

Saturday 26th stuck in bed with bad cold and sore mouth :-(

I have uploaded the photos from the John Leigh Park walk here.

I have uploaded the photos from the Dunham Park walk here.

Route Map...

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Meall nan Sleac via Glen Feshie

I travelled up to Aviemore on Sunday with the intention of bagging a few Munros in the Cairngorms National Park. I have only walked in the Cairngorms once before when I did a three day backpacking trip from Linn of Dee to Corrour Bothy and did the four mountains along the Braeriach ridge in stunning weather several years ago now. That trip was originally a plan to walk the Lairig Ghru from Braemar to Aviemore and back but as is often the way on my planned trips, I am very versitile and don't mind changing the plan at the last minute or from day to day. I did the same on this trip and after planning to do something from the Cairn Gorm ski car park or Linn of Dee again, I instead opted for the more desolate wilderness of Glen Feshie which so many locals rave about and for good reason.

River Feshie
The journey up on Sunday took about six hours and the weather was pretty awful most of the way. The only snow I spotted on the way up was on Kidsty Pike and Cross Fell from the M6 near Shap, that was until I reached the Drumochter Pass when to my delight the rain turned to sleet and then snow for a few miles before returning to rain again on the descent to Aviemore. I arrived and read my email on my phone to find some useful advice from Scott who said that the Rothiemurchus campsite could be closed as it was a fortnight ago due to refurbishments. I found the lovely Kila Guest House for a bargain £20 in Aviemore. The Guest House owners were friendly, the rooms were nice and the breakfast was great and all for just £20. They did say it is that cheap as it is quiet season but even at there usual £25 to £35 they are good value. I was hungry so went across the road to the Roo's Leap restaurant by the railway station which has a mixed reputation but I can confirm that the Nacho's and in particular the Quesadillas are spot on and reasonably priced.

Red Squirrel
Monday morning I woke up to find I hadn't packed any boxer shorts! I had a fantastic breakfast at the Guest House and left to find some non cotton boxers in one of the many outdoor shops. The only thing I could find in all but one of the shops was the Ice Breaker or should that be Mortgage Breaker ones and I refused to pay £35 for soemthing I'd basically be making wiping against my backside for the rest of the day! Luckilly Cairngorm Mountain Sports had some cheaper Patagonia jobbies that I was happy with. I was really excited as I set off as from Aviemore as I could see snow topped mountains, blue skies and sunshine. I drove along the minor road from Aviemore to Feshie Bridge and on the way spotted a lovely young Red Squirrel in the trees so stopped to take some a shot. I reached the car park by Achlean and started gettting all my gear ready. Once ready I set off with a route already in my head and the map round my neck. I took my new Montane North Star down jacket on this trip which I had brought just in case the temperature got too low for my Rab Generator jacket to handle which I left at home. The North Star really was one of the heroes of the trip, I hardly took it off.

Badan Mosach Waterfalls
I passed by Achlean Farm, not through it as the map would indicate, and found myself on one side of the Allt Fhearnagan at a place marked on the map as a ford. Hmm for a car maybe, I headed down stream as I saw the initials FB at the point where the Allt Fhearnagan meets the River Feshie, was it there was it buggery. So I headed off once again this time up stream and followed it all the way into the beautiful Badan Mosach woods and its huge and stunning waterfalls. I had to go uphill from the impressive waterfalls to reach a point in the stream where I could finally cross. I then headed downstream again to reach the other side of the original ford. Passing through the forest I saw two red deer that I startled run off into the protection of the dark gloomy forestry to my left. As I reached the dam area I heared a noise as a Dipper flew upstream not at all happy at my presence in its neighbourhood. I crossed three streams in the two days and on each was a Dipper, fantastic!

Carnachuin Bridge collapsed after floods
I crossed the fields to the surviving footbridge over the River Feshie. The bridge further up stream at Carnachuin was washed away a few months ago in a flood. I suspect that the huge up rooted tree I saw on the rivers banks a few hundred metres down may well have had something to do with it. I had to stop and think here as I had difficulty crossing the ford over Allt Fhearnagan and if I stayed on this side of the River Feshie I would have to cross another stream Allt Garbhlach which appeared wider than the other on the map. I didn't cross the footbridge and instead chanced the east side and walked a lovely path clinging to the river. This path literally skirts the bank of the river in places and I would imagine is probably impassable at times though a higher track on a strange ridge of the flood plain takes just as good a route with even better views. The Allt Garbhlach wasn't as wide as the map illustrated luckilly. I reached the ruined bridge at Carnachuin then had to make a decision, do I go for the ascent of the Munro Mullach Clach a' Bhlair or do I just go to the Bothy or find a camp. I chose to give it a go, despite the snow visible under the dark looming clouds and the forecasted 60mph winds on the MWIS forecast. I ascended the easiest of land rover tracks but only got as far as Cadh na Coin Duibh before the reality hit that it would go dark soon, I had only three season boots and no crampons, the snow was getting deeper and I could hardly stand up as the winds were so strong. When I looked over the edge of the cliffs into the incredible ravine of Coire Garbhlach, I had to throw myself down quickly as I felt my pack rise and try to push me over the edge.

Coire Garnhlach from Meall nan Sleac
I decided to bag the Corbett summit of Meall nan Sleac on the way back down, simply for the sheer sake of standing on the top of a mountain. The views down into Coire Garnhlach were well worth the tiny detour. I descended the landrover track to Glen Feshie and set about finding the bothy. The Ruigh Aiteachain bothy was like a small piece of heaven. The last visitors, the RAF Squadron from Lossiemouth on a training exercise, had left a plentiful pile of wood for me to burn all night long. The main room of the bothy was candle lit and a cozy place to be on this cold winters night. After making a cup of tea and the delicous Mountain House Chicken Tikka meal on my new White Box Solo stove, I sat for hours reading the often hillarious bothy book entries.

Glen Feshie Bothy
After six hours of chilling by the fire I settled down for the night and was happy until about 15 minutes later when the noises started. I've been in a bothy before and had a mouse run across me at Corrour but this was the most persistant I'd ever experienced. I had to listen to my MP3 player eventually to drown out the noise as the little sod would not stop playing around with my gear and ripping shreds out of a chair in the bothy which I presume it used for its bedding. At 1am a loud crashing noise woke me and scared the living daylights out of me, the little sod had knocked over my titanium mug onto the stone floor of the bothy. I'm a big softy when it comes to the dark as it is, so you can imagine what I was like. At 6am after much interupted sleep I really had had enough so I set about making a fire as I just couldn't sleep anymore. It was pitch black outside until about 6:30am when all of a sudden a light appeared, at first I though it was a fellow walker but it was a bright moon. With the brightness of the moon a view opened up through the bothy window of a pure white and sparkly Glen Feshie. I went outside just to see the sparkling effect, it was awesome.

Myself in the cold morning outside Glen Feshie Bothy
As light came at dawn I went out to find replacement firewood and did a good job finding enough dead wood on the ground for the next lucky wanderer to experience the warm cosy bothy I did. The weather started well in the morning and I even pondered over another attempt at Mullach Clach a' Bhlair but just an hour later a few light showers, cold easterly breeze and clouds rolling in made my mind up to head back out to the car. On the walk out I passed the wild horses I had seen round the bothy at night. The streams seemed easier to cross though maybe that was because the fear of crossing them had gone from my head. I have to admit that if I hadn't taken my Pacer Poles with me I would never have been able to ford any of the streams so they were the real heroes of the weekend, I don't know how I walked without these poles in the past. Before I reached the end of the glen I sat by the River Feshie and contemplated my last few days and life in general like I often do at the end of such experiences. I was glad I was in the middle of nowhere and hadn't seen anyone for 28 hours but I was also missing home so after I reached the car and chilled out over a cuppa I then set off home to see Nicky and Bonnie the cat. I was home by 6pm, at the kebab shop by 6:45pm and sat watching the United match by 7:45pm. It is amazing what you can do in just 48 hours!

I have uploaded the photos from the adventure here.

Route Map...

Kinder Downfall from Hayfield Trip Report

I had a planned trip to Scotland this last weekend but a few weeks ago injured my knee ligament playing football so as I had the Friday before the weekend off I thought I'd best go check my knee was okay for it. I decided I would go to the Lakes if I was up early enough or the Peak for something less time consuming. Of course lazy as I am I got up quite late so had to go to the Peak District instead! Other than climbing Snowdon which I do on a regular basis, the Kinder Downfall from Hayfield walk is the one I do most often, mainly because its not only a great place but its only 30 to 40 minutes from my house to the start of the walk.

Kinder Reservoir

I arrived at the Bowden Bridge car park to find I could either park for free on the road or pay something close to a fiver for several hours at the quarry car park, bet you can guess what I did! If it was something reasonable like a pound then I would probably have paid the money as I do like to support the areas I visit, but I refuse to pay such extortionate prices so unfortunately the area loses out instead. I set off along the usual route to the dam and climbed the path to the level of the reservoir. The Kinder Reservoir was deadly still and I managed to get some great shots of the water reflecting the surrounding hills that sweep away from the Kinder Plateau. After a Grouse scared the hell out of me, like they always do jumping out from heather making the usual racket, I got to the gate at the bottom of William Clough where I have always made my way up the popular but well worn William Clough path. I decided instead that I cut the walk short and take the less trodden route via open moorland over Hollin Head to the South West ridge that heads out from Sandy Heys. I've often looked down this ridge from on the plateau path itself as it looks interesting with its random mini boulder field that seems to defend its ridge crest like a set of road speed humps. It was a different, easy and much quiter ascent, I wouldn't recommend everyone go that way as it'll end up a mess but for those of us on the quiet days like this day its well worth doing.

Grouse on Sandy Heys

I followed the plateau path along the edge to Kinder Downfall. By now the weather wasn't the best as I was totally surrounded by thick cloud and could hardly see a thing. My glasses did the usual thing of steaming up and fogging on one eye only which is really really annoying. I could hear the downfall waterfall but not see it which was a shame as I'd never been here when it is in full flow. After the downfall I followed the path to Kinder Low with the cloud breaking eventually the views opened up. I even managed to find a bit of snow still lingering around which always puts a smile on my face no matter how little.

Kinder Low summit cairns

At Kinder Low the skies were open and the day was looking good. I descended via the Kinderlow End ridge and ate my lunch and flask of hot chocolate sat on the rocks on Kinderlow End. I sat and thought of the madness of city life going on in the distance that I was not at all sad about missing as Grouse and Mountain Hares joined me for lunch. I descended the steep path on Kinderlow End and found myself in the usual frustrating situation at the bottom of that descent where the footpath signs and rights of way through the farmland are not at all clear. Disappointing considering how popular the route is. I still get annoyed when farmers and land owners don't make it easier for people to find their way around their land, it would benefit everyone in the equation if they had more signs and signs that actually pointed the right way. To make things worse it was getting much darker so I reached into my hip belt pocket to grab my normal glasses as I'd been wearing my darker prescription sunglasses most of the day, to my horror my normal glasses were not there! I knew that within half an hour or less it would be completely dark and I was already starting to struggle. I completely mis-read the map and ended up sharing large fields with sheep and descending found myself just above a farm called The Ashes where no doubt an angry farmer would be coming 'with his gun gun gun' as the nursery rhymes used to say! I detoured away from the farm and heading over stone walls and fences managed to find the bridleway near Coldwell Clough. I got back to my car in pitch blackness and did the last kilometre back to Bowden Bridge in sun glasses and complete darkness which really wasn't fun. Lesson most certainly learned! Had a great day though as I love Kinder.

I have uploaded the photos from the day here.

Route Map...