Thursday, 30 December 2010

Loose Ends

I've walked most of the paths round Redmires many times but there is one path that goes off from the upper reservoir, close to the start of the track up to Stanage Pole, that I've known about for quite a  while now (like a few years) but never walked.  I had planned to explore it yesterday but got sucked into Sheffield for the sales (I know, yuk).  I managed to get out this afternoon for a couple of hours.  It was noticeably warmer than two days ago, when I'd circumnavigated the top reservoir in near arctic conditions, and there was some very atmospheric cloud just hanging around.












End of Redmires Road







Redmires Top Reservoir from the road











The track heads southwest (ish) over some open access land on the area of the OS 1:50k map marked as White Stones.  After a bit of ascent, it branches.  East would have taken me back to the path which runs above the reservoirs on the flank of Rud Hill.  I've walked over there before so I took the western branch which after only a short distance turned down hill, back to where I had come from.  However, there are a series of sheep tracks continuing south and west, which are easy enough to follow for a while before they degenerate into alternate regions of tussocks and heather.  I suspect the open access agreement doesn't extend this far but I took advantage of the low light levels, the mist and my black 'stealth' goretex and pressed on, throwing caution and responsible hill walking to the winds. 





Redmires Top and Middle reservoirs from open access path


The open access path with the plantation and Stanage Pole in the distance













It was a truly fabulous bit of wild walking over open moorland.  I aimed for the Cowper Stone on the southern end of Stanage, which I estimated would take me 5 to 10 minutes to reach and probably took nearer 15 or 20.  Usually when it's misty I find things are often closer than they appear but I guess the tussocky terrain and the two streams I had to cross slowed me down.



Walking over tussocks towards Cowper Stone and the back side of Stanage Edge in the distance










Most of the snow had gone - such a contrast to two days ago but there was still quite a bit of ice around.


Interesting speckled ice pattern in natural (?) cup in rock on top of Stanage Edge













At the Cowper Stone, a sign dated 2005 says there is a Ring Ouzel's nest.  I guessed that even if they had returned in subsequent years, they probably wouldn't be in residence just now.  So I climbed up past the stone and headed for the trig point.

As I walked along the top of the Edge, I passed one or two folk who appeared out of the gloom and saw a couple of climbers topping out - they must have been desperate to climb as the rock could hardly be described by any sane person as 'in condition'.  I made my way along to Robin Hoods Cave area, where a track cuts over normally boggy moorland directly to Stanage Pole.  It appeared boggy today but I found that instead of sinking in, I  was walking on water - well a very thin layer of water covering a thicker layer of ice.  The mist lifted a little as I dropped down from the Pole and the clouds parted enough to show a ribbon of blue sky, which I completely failed to capture with the camera phone.

3.5 miles and about 500' of up.

Thursday, 23 December 2010

A funny thing happened on the way to the office...

Actually I just made that up.  I moved my office out to a new business centre in Hathersage last week.  In doing so I have swapped a 30-40 minute drive into Sheffield city centre every morning for a 15-20 minute drive over the moors.

This was the view from the down road into the Hope Valley this morning.




Now if only BT could get the broadband working, life would be complete.

Monday, 6 December 2010

Derwent Edge

Christine and I went out into Derbyshire yesterday.  Getting there was easy enough, the main roads are pretty clear now.  The problem is finding somewhere to park.  We gave up the idea of walking over Stanage and left the car near Cutthroat Bridge on the A57 to walk up onto Derwent Edge.  Not much to say really: lots of snow, blue skies, warmer lower down, nithering on the tops.  We hadn't gone far before we were passed by a runner and his dog, who Christine knew from years gone by (the runner, not the dog).  Just after that a couple of mountain bikers passed us.  It had taken them a long time to catch us up.  It's a lot slower when you have to push the bike.  Anyway, they eventually managed to pedal a a couple of hundred meters and then we overtook them again.  They rolled up at Whinstone Lee Tor and proceeded to throw themselves over a snow bank.  We enjoyed the spectacle.



We bimbled along through the snow as far as the Hurkling Stones and then hung a left at the Moscar-Derwent path, of which there was no evidence save for a solitary set of foot prints in the deep snow, which petered out after a few hundred meters.  I expect the body will be found in the spring.

Looking towards Mam Tor and Kinder Scout

The scene was positively alpine and I wished I'd had some skis.  We met a couple of skiers later in the day and actually it looked more trouble than it was worth.  On the other hand, we both agreed that snow shoes would have been useful.

There were stunning views across to Mam Tor and Kinder Scout and down to Derwent Reservoir

Just below the gate on the track down to High House Farm is a stone bus shelter.  Well it looks like a bus shelter but the service is rubbish and so the National Trust converted it to a place to eat yer butties on a rainy day.  I'd been sat on the seat for, well quite a long time, before I noticed the arms (must have been snow blindness)

How cool is that? 

The shelter also offers the visitor an absolute treat in the form of small ceramics, designed by kids from a local school, set into the stone.  Here's a few but you need to go and see them for yourself really.



The track leads steeply down to a gate onto the road and an idyll...

Isn't that just the stuff of Christmas cards?

Reflections above and the bridge over Ladybower Reservoir below















6 miles and 1300' ascent.  Not far and not fast but just a splendid day's walking. 

(We went to a burlesque show in the evening but that's another story and this is a walking blog after all)



Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Snow in South Yorkshire

I came back from Rotterdam on the ferry this morning.  Left Hull docks at 7:30 am and eventually got back home tto Sheffield at 2:30 this afternoon having sat for a few hours on the M18 because of a jack-knifed wagon on the M1, as far as I can tell.  I'm sure it was harrowing for the driver but surely if he had left enough space in front of him he would have had time to react and all the hours of disruption could all have been avoided.  Why can't folk just drive more carefully in the snow?  I had a number of cars tailgating me on the M62.  It's madness.  One chap in a sports car overtook me, then had to brake quickly when he hit deeper snow in the outside lane, causing the snow on his roof to cover his windscreen, so he had to stop completely while he got out and cleared it.  Then he overtook me a scond time.

Unlike the halloween misadventure, I set off on this trip prepared with food, water, sleeping bag and warm clothes in the car.  I also had a boot full of duty free wine and chocolate, which would have help the night pass, had it come to that - not that I'm suggesting I would have consumed alcohol on the Queens highway!


When the traffic eventually started to move again, I pulled off at junction 3 and stopped at the retail park just outside Doncaster.  Everywhere was shut except for MacDonalds but xmas music was playing over the speakers and there were just three other people walking around.  It was quite surreal.  A bit like being in Second Life (that's a virtual world on the internet, for all you non-geeky types)

Anyway, this was all quite a bit of a contrast to yesterday afternoon, when I spent a couple of hours in the Mauritshuis, in the centre of The Hague and home to the Girl with a Pearl Earring.  She's quite nice looking but must have dry skin as it's very cracked!



Mauritshuis, The Hague
















The Girl with the Pearl - in need of some expensive skin care product for xmas.  (This image scanned from a postcard I bought at Mauritshuis but probably subject to some copyright law)

Sunday, 28 November 2010

A walk around Burbage

Drove up to Burbage with Joe and one of his mates this morning.  Ringinglow Road was gritted up to the boundary with Derbyshire whereupon the driving became quite exciting.  Fewer people out than one might have expected when we set off - we were passed by a group of fell runners - but busier by the time we got back to the car, including quite a few climbers out with bouldering mats.

Here are a few pictures from our walk.



Looking back towards Burbage Brook and Ringinglow Road


Burbage Edge


Higgar Tor



Moon


Stanage Edge
  
Ice Crystals

Ice Crystals

Icicles






Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Filling up a weekend

I'd planned to go to the climbing wall with my son on Saturday but he'd had a late night with his mates (teenagers, what are they like?), which left me at a loose end.  Realising I needed to fight the urge to tick off a few jobs on the 'to do' list and make the most of such a fine autumn day, I quickly pumped the tyres up on the bike and cycled out to Hathersage. 

The run up to Stanage Pole from the house is easy enough and then the track follows the causeway parallel to the edge before plunging down below High Neb.  I only cycle this section every few years.  Well I say cycle but it's more of a walk - the large cobbles and big drops are too technical for me - and each time I go this way, I vow not to do it again.  Apart from that, it's a fab ride with a fast, level off-road section before hitting the road and hurtling down into Hathersage.  I stopped for a brew at Longlands before heading back.  Of course all that downhill fun comes at a cost and the way back home is somewhat more of a grunt - 1450' of it, in fact.  I forgot to take the camera but I did get this view of Stanage with the phone




17 miles, 2200' ascent

On Sunday I spent some time at the Climbing Works.  I really like this place. It's a big shed full of bouldering walls and crash mats, good coffee, music and people with big arms.  After my first visit a few months ago, I had so little strength left in my arms, I couldn't grip the knife to slice an onion when I got back home.  Now I just come away with sore elbows and shoulders.  Many of the problems are stupidly difficult but there is so much on offer, it's easy to while away an hour or two and come away on an endorphin high and feeling you've had some exercise.

I went back again later for the Free Rock Tour 2010 film evening, featuring some inspiring big wall climbing, seemingly pointless bouldering routes comprising a handful of stupidly difficult moves and an American called Dean Potters who has pioneered the new sport of base climbing, where you solo something hard and steep until you fall off and then rely on your parachute to save you.  Of course it only works if you're good enough to get high enough before you fall off.  Here's the trailer.



In this one, Dean Potters doesn't fall off El Cap but it's still impressive to watch.


The final film of the evening was about Ueli Steck, who solo'd the Eiger North Wall in 2hrs 47 minutes, knocking more than an hour off his previous record.

Monday, 8 November 2010

WooHoo

No, not the call of a rutting owl but a small expression of excitement - Christine and I are on the 2011 Challenge (woohoo - again).

My old mate Steve Gough, who I did this with in 2009, is number 4 on the reserve list, so I expect we'll be crossing paths at some point.

Fellow Peeb-Mofflers and bloggers, Alan, Shirl, Phil and Martin are there, as is Humphrey, who has seen us off from Peebles both times.

A few other bloggers, who I've not met yet are in the list, including Helen Fisher, also from Sheffield.  So if we don't bump into you around Burbage or tarping at Lawrencefield, Helen, we may at least see you in Montrose.

I think it's time for a small celebratory beverage and then blow the dust off the maps.

Woooohoooo!

And now for a few pictures from 2009...



Steve and I at Ratagan - the start of our 2009 Challenge


Near the top of the Corrieyairick Pass



















Me at Garva Bridge

A long day on the Monadhliath














Stalkers bothy above Newtonmore where we spent a night













A miserably wet day on the track from Glen Muick to Glen Clova

Monday, 1 November 2010

When the clocks change in October it gets dark early

Every few months, things catch up on me and my body just refuses to do anything.  When this happens and if I have no reason not to, I give in to it and spend the weekend watching DVDs and ignoring the list of jobs.  So it was with this weekend just gone.  On Sunday we were wrapped in fog all day.  My attempt to cook Bara Brith, from a recipe in a book I bought last weekend in S Wales, was a total disaster.  I need to learn about yeast.  It's always given me problems.

By late afternoon, I was feeling I should at least step outside the front door.  It was quite warm.  I grabbed the car keys and a cag and drove up to Redmires reservoirs, at the end of the road. It was about 4.30 and the light was fading but I reckoned I could get in a quick walk up the track to the old shooting lodge and back.  There are two routes but my preferred one goes across some open moorland to reach the other route, a track bounded by the old water works conduit on one side and a wall on the other.

It was quite boggy underfoot.  A grouse made me jump with its characteristic cuk cuk cuk call from out of the gloom.  I was feeling disoriented - to begin with I thought it was a dog.  Dogs make me anxious.

Anyway, I reached the shooting hut, walked round it, stared in the doors, shouted hello.  The local tramp wasn't there.  Then I set off back down the track.  Hmm, it really was quite dark.  Not 'in a cave' dark but certainly 'stumble, trip' dark.  I reached the gate where the track over the moor meets the easy to follow one.  It'll be reight, I thought.  There's only one short section where it's gets a bit vague and if I veered right there, I'd meet the boggy bit and then I'd be able to follow the wall up over the hill.  In any case, if I can't find the way, I could just turn round and go back to the easy path. 

So I set off into the blackness.  Lighter patches of short grass looked like rocks and the skyline looked like walls but I used the heather to tell me when I was going off route.  Then every direction seemed to be heather.  Bother, how did this happen?  Ok, I must need to go a bit to the right here to pick up the track.  Yes, here's a wall but which one is it?  There are two around here that run parallel to each other.  Ok, It doesn't matter.  If I head uphill by this one, it will either be right or will turn towards the one I want.  After a few minutes climbing over tussocks, I realised the wall was no longer there.  I'd been following the skyline.  Bugger.  Ok, maybe I'm still too far to the left.  I headed mfurther right and then things got more serious.  I realised I might be a bit lost.  No torch, no compass, no phone.  How was I going to fix this one?

If I went north I would hit the conduit, west would take me to Stanage ultimately but I ought to recognise something before that.  With luck  I'd hit the plantation first.  South was where I wanted and it was uphill but so was west.  East would also take me to another section of the conduit or the field with the horses in and there'd be some walls on the way.  That boxed maybe 4 or 5 square miles - possibly a bit more, possibly a bit less.

I turned round and walked back in what I thought was the direction I had come from.  Hang on.  I should be going downhill and I'm not.  There was a slight breeze and I remembered  feeling this on my face on the way out to the shooting lodge.  It was warm as well, which made sense if it was coming from the west.  Great, I'll turn 90 degrees right and head north.  That should take me back to the wall that runs alongside the conduit down from the small reservoir and I can follow that to the gate and pick up the easy track.

I was losing track of time and tripping over tussocks more frequently.  I just managed to avoid a couple of face plants but it felt like it was only a matter of time before I did myself an injury.  I needed to calm down and slow down.  The only noises were planes to and from Manchester and the occasional grouse call, which made me jump every time.  I tried hard to forget it was Halloween. 

I didn't seem to be getting anywhere. The breeze was back in my face. I must have turned to the left. It seemed brighter over in one direction.  Maybe it was lights from Sheffield  but if it was, I'd have expected them to be yellow.  It started to rain gently.  I put my hood up and briefly contemplated what it would be like to spend the night out here and that the beef bourgingon in the oven would be dried out by the time I got home.  I told myself that the only things that would stop me getting off this moor tonight would be serious injury or running out of energy.  There were no big drops to worry about.  I was no Joe Simpson but then this was hardly 'Touching the Void'

Then I felt the ground dropping down in one direction.  Great.  At last I've found the edge of the hill and I groped my way down the fall line.  It wasn't long before the slope changed and went up again.  I knew by now I must have turned full circle a few times, so my only navigational aids were the breeze or the slope.  The slope still felt the more reliable choice, as down most likely meant east or north, both of which were better options than heading towards Stanage.  I wandered around some more and picked up the lost slope.  When it levelled out again, I carried on in what I thought was a straight line and eventually I found a wall. 

The wall was mostly broken down, so it had to be the one that runs east-west over the moor but which side had I come at it from?  The terrain was pretty flat here so I was back to using the breeze to determine direction but now that seemed to be blowing across the wall rather than along it.  I reasoned that I would have crossed the wall earlier if I had gone south of it, where I ultimately wanted to be, so I must be coming from the north side.  It was 50/50 but either way I should reach somewhere I recognised and as long as I didn't lose this handrail, I could turn round and go in the other direction.  I turned right.  It was a long wall, made longer by the dark and the rough ground and I wasn't letting it out of my sight.  A few times, I had to leave it briefly to get round patches of sedge and I groped my way back anxiously, relieved to find it still there.  After some time (each minute stretching into ten) I met another wall crossing at ninety degrees to mine.  Ok.  I hadn't expected that.  I'll go straight on.  And then a short distance later I reached a second wall crossing mine and some white objects moving on the other side of it.  They were sheep, not ghosts!  And there was a boggy patch with some stones lain across forming a makeshift causeway.  I was pretty sure I knew where I was now.   With guarded optimism, I turned right and soon started to rise up and the wall was on my left and I reached the stile and all that was left was to stumble down to the car.  It was pouring with rain by now.  I'd been concentrating so much on finding a way off that I hadn't noticed.  When I got back home it was 6.45.  I'd only been lost for about an hour although it had seemed longer than that.

After getting cleaned up, I went onto the Met Office website to check the wind direction. It was coming from slightly east of north, so when I though I was going north, I was in fact going east, which went to explain why I failed to pick up the down slope to begin with. 

Sorry, lots of words and no pictures.  It was dark.  No camera.  Not a lot of sense either.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

A Weekend in South Wales

I hadn't intended to go to South Wales last weekend. I thought we might go to the Dales but on Thursday night my son rang me to say he'd just bought a kayak on eBay and would I go and collect it for him.

"OK. Great. Where is it?"

"Cwmbran. Is that far from Sheffield, Dad?"

"God, I wish you were doing geography A-Level!"

So I rang Christine....

"You know this weekend?" and so it went on.

We got down to the Usk valley late on Friday night with the campervan and parked up at The Chain Bridge Inn which seems to be run by folk who are a totally barking.

"Oh we're all a bit mad down here", they said.

The next morning dawned gray and cold. Don't you just hate it when the weather forecast is right? So not so much seizing the day as gently tickling it, we started with a cup of tea in bed followed by a large cooked breakfast and looked at the maps.

"Crickhowell must have a tea shop" , I said.

"And gear shops!", said Christine

So we drove to Crickhowell where SatNav girl, in one of her premenstrual outbursts, led us up a hill into a housing estate on the edge of town. I switched her off and we went 'old skool' to get to the car park. Then we set off to look for a coffee shop. So it was 1.30 before we set off up the road to Table Mountain.

"I think it's that way", said Christine, pointing up at the flat topped hill behind the car park. "I remember from the map that it had a bit of a lip on it"

"What, you mean it's sarcastic and answers back? The Basil Fawlty of mountains."

Our route took us back up the road that SatNav girl had led us on the way in, which was slightly scary. Did she actually know better than me after all?



Table Mountain












We'd just started to settle into the walk when we arrived at a field of young bullocks. I sent Christine out in front because she used to go out with a cowboy (err, herdsman). Impressively, she got the one with the most menacing look to back off and that left the rest of the group with an expression of uncertainty and wonder at this fearless woman and they just watched us as we walked between them.

It was cold on Table Mountain and the views were intermittent as the cloud, at around 650m, came and went. We had no definite objective but this seemed a bit early to stop, given there were sandwiches and pork pies to be eaten, so we headed up into the 'death zone' for Pen Cerrig-calch at 701.




Summit of Pen Cerrig-calch














After consuming the said sarnies in the imperfect shelter offered by a pile of rocks just below the summit, we walked to the trig point, took some photos in the mist and turned round. As we came back down to Table Mountain, the clouds cleared and we got some better views across Crickhowell to Mynydd Llangatwg, a region of limestone honeycombed with some of the UK's longest cave systems, and across to the south-east to a fine looking mountain called Sugar Loaf.



Sugar Loaf











Back in Crickhowell, we went the pub for a shandy and Christine got out the two 1:25,000 maps she'd bought earlier in the day, only to find she got two the same. Doh! Let's face it -it hadn't been an easy day.

Back at the Chain Bridge Inn, there was a choice of various endangered species on the menu, which included ostrich, bison, kangaroo, crocodile and zebra. I went for bison as I'd seen some in a field on the way to Betws-y-Coed last year, so I thought there was half a chance that it hadn't come from Bristol Zoo. Christine had Sea Bass, her first two choices having run out (or run off).

Stats: About 5miles and 2000' of ascent

Sunday

On Sunday, after picking up the kayak, we went down Big Pit at Blaenavon.





Big Pit













This was a working coal mine until it closed in 1980, re-opening 3 years later as a visitor centre. The main levels and shaft are 300' deep and the winding gear and cages as well as around 2000' of walking and stooping passage are maintained in good working order for guided trips. It is a proper coalmine and although I suspect the risk of explosive gasses is minimal, you have to leave anything with a battery in up top, including cameras, mobile phones and even car key fobs. You're provided with a hard hat and miners electric lamp as well as an emergency rebreather, developed for use in U-Boats apparently.




Pit head winding gear



















The descent takes a couple of minutes - it's slower than the GG winch - and the guided tour lasts about 45 minutes, in which you learn how there used to be kids as young as 6, doing 12 hour shifts without a light, opening doors, that horses were used to drag trucks underground until 1972 and the place used to be plagued by rats as a result of the horse poo, feed and miners butties. There is plenty of industrial archaeology in the form of trucks (they have a special name I can't remember now), conveyor belts and a massive chain saw known as the 'window maker'! Imagine getting that job on your first day. "Now then boy-o, you're single. 'av a go on that thing but mind your fingers, look you". 



They still use canaries to test for bad air. They have two, called Maggie and Arthur.



















There's a lot of interesting exhibits above ground also. It's well worth a visit if you're down that way and it's free to go down.

From there we drove down the road to the old ironworks dating from the 18'th century. Of the 6 original furnaces, only one is any real state of preservation and the most striking feature of the place is probably the Balance Tower, which was used to lift trucks full of ore to the top of the furnaces.



Blast Furnaces






The Balance Tower

Thursday, 30 September 2010

Mike's Handrailing Masterclass or Peebles to Moffat - the rematch

Regular and attentive readers may recall that last Easter weekend four of us were snowed off in an attempt at backpacking between Peebles and Moffat in the Scottish Southern Uplands.

Well this was to be the rematch. Women, men and dog versus nature.  The team this time comprised three of the previous four: Mike (Northern Pies) Knipe, Alan Sloman and myself plus Shirley (Peewiglet) Worral, Martin (Phreerunner) Banfield, John Jocys, Andrew Walker, Mike Pope and Christine King, seven of the nine having completed the TGO Challenge with a combined number of  (I think it came to) 45 successful crossings.  With such a scorecard, you would think we should have greater success this time round. We were also to be accompanied by Piglet, Shirl's dog.  Or maybe we were accompanied by Shirl, Piglet's provider - I'm never sure with dogs, how the relationship works.

Martin, Mike P and Mike K in The Bridge















As has now become tradition (can you have a tradition after only one previous occasion?) we met up in The Bridge in Peebles with David Albon and Hmp3 Weightman.  The latter handed over a substantial quantity of pie like materials to our eponymous leader, which were never seen again.  Shame on you, you naughty pieman (I feel a limerick coming on here).

"We're going to start with the low route this time and follow the river up Glen Sax.  After that, we'll be following fences and walls for the next two days", explained Mike.  "It's called handrailing".

And so we did.  Everyone was well behaved and vacated the Bridge after only one drink and David walked some way up the glen with us to bless us on our journey before dancing his way back to Moffat.  Don't ask.


The team (L-R): Martin, John, The Pieman, Andrew, Mike P, Christine, me and Alan with Piglet and Shirl at front












We strolled up the glen crossing and re-crossing the stream (for the practice, I assume). 



Glen Sax
















As we approached the upper reaches there was some suggestion of sending a Ranger to scout out a camping spot on the saddle at Glenrath Heights but I ignored this crazy talk and suggested the vaguely flattish area about 10m above where we were stopped.  To reinforce this proposal, I got my tent out.  It turned out this was a good decision. Further up would have been less comodious and colder, 'cos it was quite nippy that night on account of clear skies.



Saturday night's wild camp















Day 2: Upper Glen Sax to Megget Stone

Sunday dawned at it's usual time for a largely cloudless 26'th September but it was still too early and we were walking by 8 (ish).  We continued upstream to our first fence.  Martin and Shirl went for a little detour up Dun Rig (it's tickable, I think) and one or two others went off for walks through the heather clutching little trowels. 



Looking for a hand rail or a towel rail or maybe a hand towel. 














We handrailed along the ridge line, in a generally south-easterly direction, high-stepping over heather, and I started to wonder where the footpath had gone.  I'd just assumed at Easter that it had been covered by the snow.  By the time we reached Moffat, at the end of the following day, I finally accepted there wasn't going to be one.



Christine demonstrates eXtreme Handrailing














We dropped down somewhere for lunch and held our ground when some off-road bikers came past.  I believe the front one had expected Mike to open the gate for him but soon got the hint when the Pieman outstared him.  Then after lunch we climbed up some more, without the security of a fence for a while, before Martin disappeared for some considerable time to tick off some more roundy lumps.  It was hard to tell who had more energy, Piglet or Martin.  Piglet was doing most of the walk three times over, running up and down the line, checking we were all there, whilst Martin did the route the rest of us were walking whilst throwing in a few extra klicks and tops for good measure.  Duracell bunnies would have been hard pressed to better either if them.   



Shirl picks heather from Piglet's fluffy belly.  In deference to social conventions borne out of 30,0000 years of human evolution, the rest of us (sadly) didn't get similar treatment.















We followed some more fences and the heather mercifully gave way to short grass and easier walking, with Broad Law appearing in the far, far distance.  "Oh look, it's not far now", I said to Christine encouragingly but I could tell she didn't believe me.



Broad Law in the distance (and a fence in the foreground!)










The ascent to the summit of Broad Law was a bit of a grunty one, coming towards the end of the day, and the descent was interminable.  Well actually of course it wasn't because it did eventually end and we found ourselves at (or at least somewhere close to) The Megget Stone.  John, whose knee was well dodgy, had taken a different route and was already camped by the time we got there.

Unlike the previous night, the wild camp at the Megget Stone was level and benefited from some tins of beer and a bottle of wine, which Mike had cached the previous afternoon,  accompanied by Saucisson sec, assorted cheeses and other nibbles from Shirl and digestifs in the form of whisky based beverages from Alan and Mike P.  How absolutely splendid it all was.  The world seemed a good place and I remember looking out of the tent door around 10:30 to see Jupiter shining brightly in the eastern night sky.



Megget Stone wild camp - the team enjoying an aperatif and crudites











Day 3: Megget Stone to Moffat

I looked out of the tent door and was faced with clag.  The other tents were still there but someone had stolen the tops of the hills from about 30m up.  We packed up and were away by 8:30.  The day started with a stream crossing and a 300m climb, following the fence up the shoulder onto Molls Cleuch Dodd.  (No, I've no idea how you are supposed to pronounce that middle word.)  This may have been a convenient hand-rail but quite honestly, a Stannah stair lift would have been more useful.

At the top there was a showdown with men and compasses and we all 'aimed off' for different points on the same fence.  Successfully regrouped, we trudged through the clag to Rotten Bottom, where we stopped for some lunch, which was made less rotten by blagging some cheese and salami off Christine, who had taken on board my previous comments in July about needing more protein on these walks, whilst I had completely forgotten. Well duh!

After lunch, we set off into some horrific splodging territory and seemingly endless miles of clag and barren moorland and to break the monotony, Andrew started up a game of I-Spy and we felt like a proper rambling group.  F for fence was relatively easy to guess but W for wire proved troublesome, which was odd since we had been following it for miles.


I spy Fences and Wire


















Shirl demonstrates splodging














The last big ascent of the trip was Hart Fell, which left the group a bit spread out for a while before regrouping on the summit.




Summit of Hart Fell














From the top of Hart Fell, we dropped down towards Moffat, the cloud lifted and we got to see some fine views.  We stopped at Greygill Head for a snack before the final steep descent by the side of a wood. 



Greygill Head











Descent from Greygill Head














And this was where things went bad and Alan, in crossing a particularly nasty and unnecessary barbed wire fence, lost his footing and cut his hand open, really quite badly.  The full and gory detail can be found on PeeWiglet's plog.  Suffice to say there was a lot of blood and Andrew and Shirl did some first class first aid stuff while Martin jogged back to Moffat to bring a car up to the end of the track.





Alan in an unreasonably chirpy mood


















It was an unfortunate end to what had been a fabulous trip.  What I brought away from this incident is that I should go on a first aid course, so that I know a bit more than how to open a band-aid.

For other accounts of this adventure, see

http://phreerunner.blogspot.com/
http://northernpies.blogspot.com/
http://peewiglet.wordpress.com/

Doubtless Alan will one day be able to type again as well as hold a glass of beer and scratch his nuts, so check here as well http://alansloman.blogspot.com/

Total distance about 34 miles and around 7,200 ft of upness (by my reckoning).