Saturday, 28 September 2019

Two day walk

This was a walk of two halves, our first attempt at wild camping and our first weekend trip to the lakes. I could only persuade Isabelle to give this a try, which did at least mean we could do the driving in the Lotus.  We'd discussed kit list and how to split it between us, which was a great chance to buy some more equipment.  I think we ended up taking too much food though, so could have travelled quite a bit lighter.

Outbound Difficulty: 8.0
Walkers: Tim, Isabelle (17)
9:18, 0.0km 0h00 0m, Start (84)
11:23, 5.9km 2h04 428m, Great Crag (449, Wainwright)
14:08, 11.3km 4h50 907m, Eagle Crag (525, Wainwright)
14:35, 12.3km 5h17 979m, Sergeant's Crag (571, Wainwright)
16:00, 15.1km 6h42 1220m, High Raise (High White Stones) (762, Wainwright, Hewitt)
16:23, 16.7km 7h05 1260m, Thunacar Knott (723, Wainwright)
16:38, 17.4km 7h20 1265m, Pavey Ark (700, Wainwright)
17:20, 19.4km 8h02 1323m, Sergeant Man (736, Wainwright)
18:10, 21.2km 8h51 1340m, End (467)

We drove up on Friday evening, staying at The Leathes Head.  We had a great breakfast, and were planning to leave the car at Watendlath car park, but the hotel were happy to have the car overnight so we left it there as we set off.

We set off full of optimism with an easy start along the valley floor before starting to climb up.

First Wainwright of the day, Great Crag.

Setting off to find the way back down to the valley floor again so we could cross over, our route choice at Dock Tarn wasn't great so it did take a little longer then planned.

Now up the other side of the valley to Eagle Crag, and a great view up Borrowdale.

While I took photos Isabelle took her chance for a rest.

Now over to Sergeant's Crag, looking south. 

Isabelle wisely taking her chance for another rest.

High Raise brought out the big guns, Chocolate Hobnobs.

Another shot of High Raise, looking west.

Over to Thunacar Knott.

Pavey Ark, it seemed a bit rude not to sweep up a few of these that Isabelle had missed on previous trips. 

Finally Sergeant Man.  We very briefly considered a few more, but it was now getting close enough to lights down where we should make a move to our destination.

As we descended it hove into view: Codale Tarn, mercifully without any evidence of other tents, just nestling into the surrounding hills.

A brief look around for the best site picked out the grassy knoll, so we brought out the tent and made a start on dinner.

For a first wild camping trip I'm quite happy.  The return journey was a bit miserable with the weather and a couple of niggling injuries, but everything worked, we were comfortable enough in the tent (for one night), and we certainly didn't run out of food!

Return Difficulty: 4.0
Walkers: Tim, Isabelle (17)
9:25, 0.0km 0h00 0m, Start (467)
15:05, 14.4km 5h40 393m, End (84)

The route back was mainly in the rain, so we optimised for the return car journey, taking the short route back to allow enough time for a cafe stop in Keswick for tea & cake.  I didn't take any pictures on the return journey, but here's the route map.

Thursday, 30 May 2019

Meagaidh Munros

For our final walk for this trip we were not looking so lucky with the weather, but determined to make the best of our opportunity to get more high walking in.  We were down to three with this walk.

Difficulty: 7.0
Walkers: Tim, Caroline, Poppy (8)
11:21, 0.0km 0h00 0m, Start (254)
13:29, 4.6km 2h08 749m, Carn Liath (1006, Munro)
15:18, 10.1km 3h57 965m, Stob Poite Coire Ardair (1054, Munro)
16:16, 12.6km 4h55 1155m, Creag Meagaidh (1128, Munro)
19:08, 20.8km 7h46 1251m, End (253)

We drove up to Loch Laggan and parked at the large car park on the north side at the Creag Meagaidh Nature Reserve.

For the start of this walk it was quite clear and flat.  This wasn't to last.

Commemorative photo of dry walkers.

As we climbed through up out of the nature reserve it started to get misty.

The view up ahead didn't look any less misty.

Final view of walkers before the rain set in.

And now on the way back, we started to see the loch again!  In between we'd walked quite a long way, lots of climbing, three munros, navigating by compass work across a featureless field after Creag Meagaidh, and many instances of trying to find a path to lose height on the way down.  Sadly none of this was dry enough for me to take my phone out to take photos, and even with a GoPro I suspect the photos wouldn't have looked that impressive!

Tuesday, 28 May 2019

Ben Nevis the fun way

Having already claimed the highest peaks in England and Wales, part of our objective this holiday was to finish the set with Ben Nevis.  Not quite in 24 hours, but comfortably within 12 months of each other...  We had identified what looked like the best day to get to the top to maximise the chance of a good view.

Difficulty: 8.0
Walkers: Tim, Grace (14), Poppy (8)
10:32, 0.0km 0h00 0m, Start (14)
14:47, 9.6km 4h14 1359m, Carn Mor Dearg (1220, Munro)
16:44, 11.8km 6h12 1695m, Ben Nevis (Beinn Nibheis) (1345, Munro)
19:35, 20.6km 9h03 1747m, End (14)

Now we'd thought carefully about route choice, and I had researched a few options.  However to keep things reasonable we did relent and pick the busy way up.  Well most of the way up.

Poppy putting on a good astonished face on hearing we're going up there.  However that girl is made of sterner stuff and was quite interested when I dropped hints that I might want to find a more interesting way up.

The route up the first 600m of ascent is fairly unremarkable, but the views kept getting better.

At this point we hit decision point, and split the party.  Caroline took charge of Isabelle and Evie, taking the express route to the top.  Grace and Poppy were keen to do the more fun way up, even after impressing on them that it was further, more climbing, and they had to be sensible.

Turning the corner we had the first view up the valley to the north of Ben Nevis, with the plan to cross over and find out way up the other side.

Stopping for a bite of lunch before the climb, Grace was trying hard to avoid the camera.

Views of the north face of Ben Nevis were pretty awesome.

Finally we gave up trying to find anything more than random sheep tracks and made our way up the slope.  It probably would have been faster to head further north first and get to the top of the ridge further back.

Grace didn't quite get out of shot fast enough at Carn Dearg Meadhonach.  Not isolated enough for a Munro, but still quite a view down to Fort William.

Looking the other way, this time towards our two Munros, and the walk in between.

Grace at the top of Carn Mor Dearg, with the famous arete leading to Ben Nevis.

Now on the ridge, most of the way the top was a good few boulders wide, before the steep drop on either side.

And the fun just keeps going!

Here's a brief 360 video from here, showing Grace & Poppy sneakily taking the path just off the top of the ridge.

Last one of the ridge, promise.

Okay, not quite the last one.  I was wearing a GoPro head mount and edited the footage to get this highlight reel.

Stopping for a quick snack after the ridge, before the last climb up a boulder field to the top.

Looking back across the arete.

And at the top of Ben Nevis.  

This shows Loch Lochy and our walk from the previous day. 

Caroline and other others had beaten us by quite a way and were on the way back down, so we just took a few more photos before starting to make our way down.

More stunning views on the way down, this time looking south west.

Monday, 27 May 2019

Our first Munros

After spending our first full day in Scotland on a fairly relaxed birthday trip to Castle Urquhart & strolling to Foyers Falls, we set off on day two with the aim of our first Munros, leaving Grace and Isabelle at the house with the excuse of urgent revision.

Difficulty: 7.0
Walkers: Tim, Caroline, Evie (11), Poppy (8)
9:56, 0.0km 0h00 0m, Start (51)
12:47, 8.4km 2h51 939m, Sron a' Choire Ghairbh (937, Munro)
14:20, 11.6km 4h24 1236m, Meall na Teanga (917, Munro)
17:17, 20.4km 7h21 1345m, End (52)

We drove to the top of Loch Lochy, parking in a small area at Kilfinnan before crossing the bridge on foot.
The first section was along forest tracks alongside the loch, before turning right and beginning to climb up.  Evie brought her latin book and spent much of the walk (and the entire trip) teaching all about the adventures of Caecillius.

Climbing out of the trees we got the first view looking back to Loch Lochy.

Still plenty of walking left as we headed up the valley.  First target was on the right hand side.

Most of the climbing now complete, Caroline looks towards Loch Ness in the distance.  Our house was on the far side.

Top of Sron a' Choire Ghairbh, I think looking south east.  First Munro completed!

Just the small matter of going back down one side and up the other...  dropping around 300m of our hard won gain.

Stunning views from the top of Meall na Teanga, looking down to Loch Lochy.

Evie finally joining us along the ridge.

Swapping positions with Evie, now looking to the south west with Ben Nevis in the centre.

Finally returning down the valley, no chance of a circular walk here.

And our intrepid explorers return back to the car.