Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Climb, Walk, Run, Kayak

I have not posted for a while however it has been a fairly busy summer doing all the things I enjoy with some climbing in the Peak and in Langdale plus plenty of walking, running and last week a day kayaking. Since my chemotherapy I have found the climbing much more painful since the neuropathy in my fingers and feet mean I'm unable to tolerate standing or holding onto small holds for long. Having not climbed much over the last couple of years I have also lost some confidence and much of the thirst for climbing so I've dropped down the grades and intend just to enjoy it rather than freak myself out.
So here is a few days I can recall with a mix of activities


Easy climbing on Birchin Edge with Anne

Gimmer Crag with Pete and Pam Shawcross - Peter leading Main Wall

Bracket and Slab

On the 10th of August Hurricane Bertha came through but that did not stop me and another 500 competitors from running the Sherwood Pines 10k Trail Race. Running in torrential rain and through 12 inch deep puddles I came in in 217 place out of 450, managing it in just under 55 minutes. I'm now a MSV (Male Super Veteran) at 55!!!

Wet and bedraggled

Friday 12th September

Kayaking the river Idle with Wrighty and Mark from the Sheffield City Kayak Club.
15 miles of tranquil river from Markham Moor to Mattersey

Wrighty surfing the waves at Lound weir

Friday, 13 June 2014

FRCC Geology Meet in Glencoe

Friday 6th JUNE
You would think that after so many visits to Glencoe that I would be fed up of the place but it is not the case.
Loch Leven
John Moore and I arrived in Kinlochleven on Thursday evening after a reasonable  6 1/2 hour drive from Retford Station. The Geology Meet wasn't due to start until Saturday so we had Friday to go walking. I went out with Pam and Peter bagging a couple of Munroes in the Mamore range opposite our Cottage in Kinlochleven whilst John went out with Dave Stephenson to recce the geology in the area that we were going to visit the following day. We are late setting off for some reason - too much talking over breakfast I think!
So its up through the woods and onto the hillside to Sgor Eilde Beag. We were already in "geomode" checking out the schists along the path and the pink quartzite which the Mamores are famous for. From Sgor Eilde Beag the ridge to Binnein Mor is spot on with great views over to the Grey Corries and the Ben.
Peter and Pam on the summit of Binnein Mor
with Ben Nevis behind
The Glencoe peaks were looking alpine with the last of the winter snow lingering in the gullies. It was already 3pm by the time we got to the summit so we retraced our steps to the col and climbed to the summit of Na Gruagaichean.
A gentle decent via the South ridge followed by a couple of thousand feet of what felt like vertical  heather to the Mamore Lodge track. We were expecting to get back to the cottage at around 7pm but we lost height so quickly that we arrived back at 6pm.
No beer at the pub but the promise of a cold one from the fridge back at the cottage was enough to spur us on.

Looking towards Na Gruagaichean
After dinner Dave conducted a couple of caldera collapse simulations using a balloon covered with a cone of flour. The balloon was burst and the flour slowly collapsed into the void left by the balloon. This would be useful for the geology meet the following morning.

Saturday - Geology Meet
Field Trip to Glencoe and the Glencoe Caldera where theory suggests that caldera volcano erupted through older sedimentary rocks then once the magma chamber was empty the roof collapsed in on its self causing the surface volcanics to sink into the void left inside the older sedimentary rocks. The process is known as Cauldron Subsidence. This is why the area has younger volcanic rocks (420 Ma or Million yrs) within a distinct ring of older Dalradian sedimentary rocks. (650 Ma or million yrs)
Our group of seven novice geologists are exceptionally lucky to have this meet with Dave Stephenson (BGS) who has contributed to much of the published work in the area and retired Professor of Geology John M Moore.
Dave Stephenson describing the caldera

The first stop off was just below the Chasm of An t Sron which has been identified as the actual caldera boundary. The boundary has been traced as running along the summit ridge of Bidean nam Bian, down the Chasm of An t Sron before swinging up towards the pinnacles of the Aonach Eagach and along the ridge to Stob Mhic Mhartuin. It then drops to Rannoch Moor and around the base of Buachaille Etive Mor, after which I'm not sure where it goes

For the clearest evidence of the rocks of the caldera fault line we parked near the Devil's Staircase and walked up the track to the col where we split off to the small summit of Stob Mhic Mhartuin which is where we found evidence of the fault intrusion and friction melt rock comprising of the black "Flinty crush rock" Dave said that this site was the Holy Grail of Glencoe geology.

Location 3 - VOLCANICS
Into the heart of the caldera near the queen's cairn to look at the younger volcanic rocks which subsided into the empty magma chamber. Noting that all of the craggy peaks in Glencoe like Buachaille Etive Mor and the Three Sisters are all comprised of volcanic rocks

Flowbanding of the much younger Andesite lava
withing the Caldera

Glencoe - Don't you just love it?

Sunday -
The second day was looking at the sedimentary and metamorphosed sedimentary rocks surrounding the caldera.

Location 4 - BEDDING
Quarztite bedding and dyke in the river bed
Besides the bridge over the river Leven there are good exposures or quartzites which are metamorphic sandstone which have cross bedding features that can establish which way up the sediments were originally deposited. Also cutting through the quartzite was a dyke from the Caledonian orogeny which can also be seen outcropping on the other side of the river.

Location 5 - FOLDING
At the next location we saw fantastic examples of the intense folding which occurred during the Caledonian orogeny 400 - 425 Ma. The folding, bedding and cleavage gave an indication of the direction of earth movements

Closeup of the folded mud and sandstone 

Basalt Dyke within the folded sandstone
on the shore of the Loch Leven

At the same location there was a fine example of another basalt dyke cutting through the 600 ma sedimentary rocks.

A quote from one of JMs university students- "The Bigger The Cleavage the Better The Bedding"

Location 6 - SLATE

Basalt Dyke cutting through the Balachulish
Slate at the Balachulish Slate Quarry
Into the Balachulish slate quarry  to check out the cleavage of the slates which were produced as a result of the intense pressure acting on the mudstones. Within the slates were iron pyrites which are thought to be from precipitated minerals from a nearby pluton of magma. Again we have dykes cutting through the the rocks which has a visible effect around the margin area.

The final location was on the shore of Loch Linnhe just past North Balachulish where we could see evidence of the hinge of the Appin Syncline which is basically a gigantic fold creating a trough at its base. There were several distinctive rock types layered one upon another ranging from Sandstone, Mudstone and Magnesium Limestone (Dolomite) Observing the bedding plane and the present angle to its deposition we could work out position of the hinge of the syncline, noting that the same layers of rock would be repeated on the other side of the hinge point. 

Tracing the Appin Syncline at Balachulish

Scrambling over rocks 100 metres along the beach towards Fort William we came to the Hinge point passing mixed layers of sandstone and buff coloured dolomite which could be distinguished not only by the colour but by the  pockmarks caused by acid rain dissolving the limestone.

Tiger Rock in the "Hinge" of the Geosyncline

Dolomite layers in the sandstone

Loch Linnhe

Monday, 12 May 2014

Hadrians Wall - the longest Pub Crawl

Sue and I had a long weekend in February at Chollerford and traveled the roads around Hadrian's Wall from Hexham to Housesteads, which inspired me to get on with walking the National Trail. Since I had an impending CT scan for my cancer and with niggles which I could rightly or wrongly associate with it I decided to get on with it sooner rather than later just in case I needed further treatment so laid plans to do it starting on the 2nd of May since there was a Bank Holiday weekend to help with holiday entitlement. Mentioning it to Paddy Sherwood his eyes lit up so I asked him to join me along with my stepson Andy. Two days before the start day I had been in the USA for eight days with work so it was a quick turn around once I got home. Luckily Paddy had done most of the planning and booking of campsites so there was little for me to do with the exception of arranging baggage transport between campsites for which I contacted Hadrian's Haul.
Day 1 - Wallsend to Heddon on the Wall - Distance 15 miles
The Wall at Wallsend
Setting off from Worksop at 06.45 we drove straight for Heddon on the Wall where we parked the car and then caught the bus to Newcastle followed by the Metro to Wallsend. The train stop was only a short way from the start of the path so we were soon walking. We all wore walking shoes for this section following the sign of the acorn and the Sustrans 72 Cycle route which also runs along or parallel to Hadrian's Wall.

Andy and Paddy with the Millennium Bridge
 and Tyne Bridge behind 

I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed the first section along the river, the weather was good and we soon walked up a thirst so stopped at lunchtime at the first Witherspoon pub. Only one beer mind you! Ducko's voice communicating with my conscience saying "You'll Regret it" 
Once the path moved away from the river we were walking through parks, housing estates before crossing the A1 then along a dismantled train line  back to the river. 
Heddon on the Wall became visible on the hill above the golf course. Celebratory beer was had in the  Swan then we drove down to Ovingham to the High Hermitage Camp Site. Tents up and then its down to the Swan for dinner.

Day 2 - Heddon on the Wall to Chollerford - 15 Miles
We awoke to the tents covered in frost and got a brew on. Instant porridge in a pot for breakfast then pack the rucksacks ready for Hadrian's Haul to collect and transport to the campsite at Chollerford. The owner of High Hermitage allowed us to leave the car there for the week and even took us back to the Heddon to the place where we ended the previous day! Brilliant!
The first decent section of wall can be seen at Heddon and it was our plan to see as much of the wall, forts and towers as possible whilst still hitting the mileage.

The first part of the wall at Heddon
To start with it was walking besides the road until we started to get into the countryside where the footpath went through fields. Lunch was a pint in the Robin Hood Inn near East Wallhouses with a cheese cob and some digestive biscuits with Primula squirty cheese.

Once we crossed the A68 the path was good, Nice comfortable walking on grazed grass following the North Ditch. The views were good on the high ground and we were beginning to see some of the wall features. Highlight of the day was tea and a snack in St Oswald's Tearoom which was excellent. The path then went down to the village of Wall then down the road to Chollerford.

The lads at Brunton Tower
We called in at Brunton Tower which was the most substantial part of the wall that we had seen up to that point.
Camping was at the Waterside Campsite in Chollerford and for our evening beer and dinner we walked up to the Hadrian Inn at Wall where the food was excellent.
Returning back to the site we came to the rescue of two girls attempting to erect their tent. So that is how we met Danielle and Bexy. The two were a breath of fresh air, hilariously funny and walking the wall in 5 days for the Ronald MacDonald House charity.
WWBGDN - What Would Bear Grylls Do Now!

Day 3 Chollerford to Once Brewed - 13 miles
Being Sunday the cafe wasn't open until 10 so it was more porridge, well in my case Readybrek with mixed nuts and raisins, we were packed ready to walk by 9.15 and saying goodbye to the girls. The path from here follows the road past Chesters Roman Fort and up to the top of the hill where it then moved off road and into the fields.

Now we were really getting into wall country with good long sections of the wall and visible foundations of the towers.
Temple to Mithras

One of the more interesting places that we came across was the Mithraeum at Brocolitia which is a temple to the Roman god Mithras. From our guide book we learned that visitors occasionally leave offerings so in the Duckmanton tradition and search for good karma I made and left a reed dolly. Would it give us luck?

The Whin Sill Just beyond Housesteads

 From here we could see the great Whin Sill ridge which the wall follows, gently rising. The Whin Sill a a sheet of  ingenious rock injected in between other rocks Whilst cooling at depth the rock formed columnar joints a little like the Giants Causeway. The Whin Sill also forms Holy Island, the Farne Islands and High Cup Nick in the Pennines. The ridge carries on for several miles passing Housesteads Fort which we eventually arrived at. Cheeky as we are we climbed the fence to gain free entry to the ruins and a quick look around
Leaving the crowds behind it was onward.
Crag Lough

The dramatic Whin Sill

Looking back to Sycamore Gap

The path is a bit of a roller coaster which adds to the interest and burns some of those beer calories off. One of the highlights of the wall is the famous Sycamore Gap as seen in the Kevin Costner version of Robin Hood on his journey from Dover to Nottingham - obviously they took a very long detour! So a few pics from the usual viewpoint (not included on this blog) and the Before long we were at the trig point overlooking Windshields Farm at Once brewed where we descended, pitched tents, showered and went to the pub for dinner and a few beers at Twice Brewed.

Day 4 - Once Brewed to Banks - 13 miles
The view onward from Once Brewed
We are up early since Iona the site owner is preparing breakfast at 08.00. so whilst the tents and sleeping bags are airing its bacon and eggs cobs with brown sauce "Luxury". Tents packed away ready for Hadrians Haul to collect then its the climb back up the hill to the trig point on Peel Crag and on to Steel Rigg.
From then on its gently rolling hills steadily dropping down from the Whin Sill towards the lowlands with a detour to Greenhead for teas. Since we knew that there wasn't anywhere for a meal at our campsite at Banks we found the only pub open in Gilsland which was the Samson Inn and they had just finished cooking, Bollocks!! Anyway they were good enough to fire up the cooker once again to sort us out with a meal, meanwhile we quenched our thirst on the first pint of the day and that nagging voice at the back of my head saying "You'll Regret It". Well we didn't!!
Near the river before the climb up to Birdoswald
Onwards once again through fields to the river and up to Birdoswald, pausing only briefly to look over the fence (not as impressive as Housesteads!) More fields took us to Banks and a very basic campsite with just a tap and a portaloo in a field. With little to do but mash tea we had an early night during which it rained and the wind blew. By morning we had had about 10 hours sleep and the rain had stopped. Readybrek for breakfast with plenty of sugar and a couple of mugs of tea - winter warming for kids! I'm ready for anything! Tents were packed away wet and for the last time on this trip.

Day 5 - Banks to Carlisle - 13 Miles

Fields and lanes took us to Walton which had the first tea shop en route, arriving there at 10.00 which was half an hour before it was due to open. The cheeky monkey managed an early opening special for us. Wow tea and fruit slice sat in the early morning sun and I hadn't even had a proper wash but I did have clean socks and underpants!
More fields and roads took us to Crosby on Eden where we stopped at the Stag pub for lunch and of course our first beer. Lunch for Paddy and Andy was Fishfinger sandwich, which was obviously a craving for their youth whilst I had the best snack ever a Sexy Sandwich - a chorizo and mozzarella ciabatta  all with chips, salad and a second beer.
Onwards again to the river Eden which we followed almost all the way to Carlisle.
Our stay in Carlisle was at the City Hostel which is next to the Cathedral. The room was excellent with a set of bunks and a double bed - for a change being the oldest had the benefit of the double bed to myself whilst the young ones had the bunks, well kids love bunk beds, don't they?. First job was a shower and then a nice cuppa. Out for dinner to the Sportsman for real ale and a chilli con carne. I think that we visited two further pubs that night.

Day 6 - Carlisle to Bowness on Solway - 15 miles
We are up early and the forecast is for heavy showers by about lunch time so we need to be off. Full English breakfast in the cafe just around the corner then we are back to the hostel and to tidy up and we are off back to the river and where we left the route. We had heard from others that the last leg was a real ball ache with road walking for about 5 miles so we wasn't looking forward to it. So we followed the river to Beaumont then inland to Burgh on Sands where we managed to find a posh little tea shop.
The Solway Estuary
 A sharp shower reminds us that the weather is changing. from the tea shop we are on the long straight road beside the estuary to Drumburgh. If you expect the worse then it can only get better and it did as we walked on top of the grass flood defenses rather than the road. The rain came later than expected at around 2.00 but hey isn't that why we had carried the waterproofs for 6 days?
 From Drumburgh the path went inland for a couple of miles probably to avoid the roads however we were soon back to the estuary with the sweet coconut smell and vibrant yellows of the gorse bushes.
We were soon onto a nice path beside the old canal which is now overgrown and then onto the last leg on the road into Bowness on Solway. A quick visit to the end of the path then on to our digs in the Old Chapel B&B which was fantastic. Maureen the owner offered as much Tea, Coffee and biscuits as we wanted and I got the double bed again. Maureen had arrange a pub meal for us and had already booked the taxibus back to Carlisle the following morning, Brilliant!!

 washed and dressed we are off the King's Arms and guess who is there when we walk through the door? Yes it's Danielle and Bexy. As you can imagine we had a great evening chatting, playing darts and later talking bollocks. Bexy said that we were "Three lovely Nob Heads" which was supposed to be a compliment in their home town of Chorley. We arranged to meet the following morning for a photo shoot at the end of the path before catching the taxibus to Carlisle and the train back to Prudhoe.
Thanks to Paddy, Andy and all the other great people that we had met during the walk. All in all a brilliant week!

If anyone wants to sponsor Danielle and Rebecca the go to their Just Giving site

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Winter has Been and Gone

Yes winter has been and gone and with no sign of decent snow around the Peak, Lakes or Snowdonia, Did I miss it. So just to remind myself that I have been out I have looked through some of my best photos.

Charnwood Forrest
Bradgate Park in the Charnwood Forrest where we walked the 15 mile Charnwood Peaks Walk walking on some of the oldest rocks in the country, serching for the illusive Charnia fossils.
Bradgate Park

Beacon Hill

Stanton Moor - Nine Ladies and Doll Tor
A walk around Stanton Moor following in the footsteps of Bronze Age farmers

The Kylie Circle at Doll Tor- Small but perfectly formed

 Langdale - Lake District
Rain and more Rain - A wet weekend in the Lake District with Graham, staying low and out of the clouds
Cathedral Quarry

Bronze age Rock art on the Langdale Boulders