Thursday, 31 December 2015

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Well I've gone and done it now.......

I've finally made the jump and paid out for a Welsh Winter Mountaineering course with Plas Y Brenin. I know that a course in Scotland would have a higher guarantee of snow, but I also want to book a scrambling course in Wales with Plas Y Brenin later in the year.
The information for the course can be found here:
I'm looking forward to the course more than Christmas. I'm off to do the course the first week in February 2016 and will feedback my experiences on here. I've gone for the full bag of mashings; the course, accommodation and insurance. The pricing is on the site, and I think it is very reasonable when taking into account five nights stay and all the meals. But like most things, proof of the pudding is in the eating.
One positive already is communication. I asked a question via email and the response took a couple of days, but was very good and exactly what I needed.
If you have experienced a Plas Y Brenin course please feel free to pass on your comments below.

Friday, 27 November 2015

What I keep running into........

Besides helping improve my fitness, my early morning runs have another advantage.

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Time for change

Possibly not quite as dramatic as it may sound, but I have decided I am too sedentary and started on a road to improved fitness. Or, possibly more accurate, a trail to improved fitness. From 1991 for almost twenty years I studied and trained in the martial art of Taekwondo, including 3-4 workouts at the gym every week. I was as fit as the proverbial ‘butchers dog’. After the ‘almost twenty years’ I had to give it up due to other priorities having, by then, reached the grade of 5th Dan Master. Although I have done a fair amount of walking since my accident back in 2010, I haven’t been as fit as I had liked. I have found the hills harder work than I should have. So several months ago I began a plan to improve my hill fitness.

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Eagle Crag: A Tough Old Bird

“How the chuffnell do I get up there?” (Marc: September 2015)
Those were my first words when I looked at Eagle Crag, not for the first time, but certainly for the first time with intent to ascend it. Having decided to start and look at new challenges, not quite so traditional, I had read about Eagle Crag in ‘Scrambles in the Lake District - North: Volume 2: Northern Lakes’. I then saw a Tweet by Alan Hinkes about his ascent of Eagle Crag, Nethermost Ridge onto Nethermost Pike. I decided that this might make a good step up onto tougher walks.

Saturday, 19 September 2015

Oxford Crag, A Place of Learning (Grade 2 Scramble Number 3)

Located on the northern slopes of Arnison Crag, Oxford Crag is referred to as a grade 2 scramble in the Cicerone book ‘Scrambles in the Lake District - North: Volume 2: Northern Lakes’. I had a morning free during my most recent visit to the Lake District, so I called into Patterdale to check it out.

Friday, 18 September 2015

DMM Locking Carabiner Recall

There is a recall notice for particular models of DMM Locking Carabiners. I thought I had better pass this information on as I had to check one of mine that happens to be one of the models potentially affected. Fortunately mine is okay, but yours may not be.
Link for information from DMM:

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Liked the Crag, Loved the Pike

Have you ever had a particular summit in mind and ended up finding something better in the process? I have. I’d spotted St Sunday Crag (841m) while heading up Helvellyn earlier in the year. St Sunday Crag has a bit of reputation for the crags on its North West flanks; the Chockstone Gullies and Pinnacle Ridge. I decided I had to give it a go.

Sunday, 13 September 2015

King Kong Climbing Centre: Loads of fun for all Apes

While having a conversation with an experienced climber in Needle Sports of Keswick a few weeks ago, particularly with respect to my right arms limitations (which are constantly improving, but may have a limit) I was advised to go to a climbing wall. This would allow for a safe environment where I could work with an instructor and find my current limitations. I’ve had some climbing experience, but things have changed considerably since then.

Monday, 31 August 2015

Wilderness Gully East: Grade 2 Scramble Number 2 in the bag.

It may only be around 250 feet from bottom to top, but Wilderness Gully East has the most fun packed into such a small space I have yet come across scrambling. If you look around on the Internet you will find it referred to as a classic, I have to totally agree. It is easily on par with Wildboar Clough, if considerably smaller.

Friday, 28 August 2015

High Cup Nick: If I could only do one walk…..

High Cup Nick is a glacial valley situated near the village of Dufton, in Cumbria, on the western edge of the Pennines. The Pennine Way literally passes along the edge of the valley. I’ve read that is considered a geological wonder, and I would have to totally agree. For me, it is like The Roaches, one of England’s natural wonders. The valley is an almost perfectly symmetrical ‘U’ shape that I have never seen before.

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Ashton Clough: A C47 Dakota and A B29 Superfortress

Located in the Peak District Ashton Clough is a narrow clough that goes from the path of the old Roman Road (at the point of Doctor's Gate) up to Shelf Moor and the Lower and Higher Shelf Stones. I accessed the clough from the top end of the snake pass just over three miles east of the little town of Glossop.
Ashton Clough is not really the subject of this post, the two wrecks are. The first is a C47 Dakota Skytrain ( The second wreck is that of a B29 Superfortress, a huge quad engine bomber of the Second World War era (

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Black Diamond Speed 22: A Little Gem

Trying to get a spot on pack for scrambling is quite tough. Smaller packs tend to be a little short, not comfortable or not designed for the purpose. I recently reviewed the Lowe Alpine Illusion 16 that punches above its weight, but not always large enough. So I wanted a reasonably priced, narrow, comfortable pack of around 20 litres or slightly above. After a lot of research and looking around I settled on the Black Diamond Speed 22.

Thursday, 13 August 2015

Wildboar Clough: My First Grade 2 Scramble

Situated right along Torside Reservoir in the Peak District, Wildboar Clough is a popular Grade 2 scramble. I’ve heard it can be quite dangerous in the wet, so waited for an extended dry period before giving it a try. The descriptions I’m giving are of how tackled the crux sections, routes and techniques I chose to use. If you have limited experience I would advise going on a course. I’ve had some rock climbing experience and this comes in handy on tougher sections. Smart people walk away from something they don’t think they can do, especially when serious injury would be the result.

Thursday, 6 August 2015

Red Pike with Stile on a High

There are two fells with the name Red Pike in the Lake District. One resides by Buttermere, while the other sits on the opposite side of Pillar, near Wast Water. The Red Pike I’m covering in this post is the one near Buttermere. I’d spotted Comb Crags, part of the ridge that is formed by the three peaks of Red Pike, High Stile and High Crag the year before while on my way up Haystacks. This intrigued me and I had to have a look. I’d been told that you can see the Isle of Man from up there and was looking forward to some good views. Unfortunately the Lake District weather had other ideas.

Friday, 24 July 2015

Helvellyn of a lot of fun!

Helvellyn, a very Scandinavian sounding name to me, standing at 949 meters (3113 feet) is England’s third highest peak after Scafell Pike and Scafell. The Helvellyn massif was originally formed volcanically around 450 million years ago. The shape of Helvellyn as it is known today was formed from several glacial valleys. One of these glaciers formed what we know as Striding Edge and Swirral Edge. This naturally occurring terrain makes for some interesting challenges, and a lot of fun.

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Helm Crag: A Wainwright with Pride

With a prominence of only 405 meters (1329 feet), Helm Crag sits overlooking the village of Grasmere in the Lake District. It’s not very high, but will give more than higher fells if you time it right. It really is worth a visit.

Friday, 12 June 2015

Fleetwith Edge…, fun, fun.

Fleetwith Pike is a very busy location in the Lake District. It is the home of the Honister Slate Mine and their via ferrata courses. But all this happens on the eastern side of the mountain. On it’s western side is Fleetwith Edge. I spotted this from Haystacks last year and vowed to return to go up it. In May I did just that, but it wasn’t quite what it seemed.
From the side the ridge that forms Fleetwith Edge looks quite narrow and exposed, but this is quite deceptive. I thought that it would offer a serious scramble, but up close and personal things changed.
A montage of two photographs of Fleetwith Edge

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Lowe Alpine Illusion 16: A review

It’s no longer on Lowe Alpine’s website, but the Illusion 16 can be picked up for as little as £15. It started out life as a rope bag, but has been adopted by some as a lightweight day-sack. So what makes the Illusion a good pack?

Thursday, 7 May 2015

LYO Freeze Dried Foods Traditional Polish Saurkraut: A Review

If you look up the process of freeze drying on the internet you will come across the word lyophilisation. This is one of several technical terms for the process. I can only presume that this is where the company LYO Foods and their co-operation partners Lyovit got their names from. They have been producing freeze dried meals since 1998 and received ‘The Gold Outdoor Industry Award’ in 2013. I’ve been looking for a UK supplier for 12 months or so and have finally found one. Base Camp Foods are based in Warrington, to the west of Manchester. I’ve had a couple of orders with the company and experienced their customer service. But more on them later, firstly I will cover the review of LYO Foods Traditional Polish Saurkraut.

Monday, 4 May 2015

Crowden Clough, the best so far!

I own the Cicerone book 'Scramble in the Dark Peak' and have been looking at the picture on the front of the book on a regular basis. I eventually looked in the front covers of the book and found it was part of Crowden Clough. Not found in the Crowden area of Woodhead, but in fact sitting between Grindsbrook Clough and The Cloughs in Edale. The picture is of a particularly challenging section of Crowden Clough found near its top. And I knew I had to give it a crack. It seemed like an appropriate progressive step from Wilderness Gully West that I did last week. So last Saturday, after finishing a night shift at work, I went straight to Edale with my gear in the car.

Thursday, 30 April 2015

Wilderness Gully West, a scramble with fun thrown in.

In my pursuit of steadily increasing my outdoor challenges I have been looking at going up Wilderness Gully West for a few months. I've been checking it out at every opportunity to weigh up what level of challenge it may be. After Torside Clough I decided that this had to be next in line. So last Saturday I dropped on a window in the weather and headed out.


Sunday, 19 April 2015

Winter Has Gone, Spring 2015 is here.

It looks like we are well into Spring with the snow in the past....maybe. But we have fantastic walking weather at the moment. And typical, I have a bad cold that seems to be catching up with a lot of people. I'm off to the Lake District in three weeks, so as my cold is clearing I can get out for some exercise this week. But while I'm in the house, I've dug out my photographs from the winter and found some photographs of a crampon practise sessions I had on 4th February this year.

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

North Ridge Onyx Smock: A Review

When I bought this smock, it was with reservations. I had been looking at picking up a Montane Fireball, but felt hat the pricing was a bit high. Looking at the Go Outdoors website I spotted the North Ridge Onyx Smock. My requirements for the top were pretty specific. Most of my insulated jackets have been purchased to be worn over the top of other layers on a stop/break or if the weather turns particularly cold. My mid-layer insulation pieces are generally fleece in nature, something I find only useful as a mid-layer. Fleeces let the wind through unless they are extremely thick, and I wanted something that was light and could be compressed to a small size. I required something quite close fitting, to be used as a mid-layer in the winter, and an outer layer in the summer. This is were the Onyx comes in because it uses Primaloft Infinity (Black Series) as it’s insulation.

Friday, 27 March 2015

Ram's Clough - A Quick Visit

I'm lucky to live on the fringes of the Peak District, and even better, a few areas with pretty good scrambles. So Saturday morning, following an eight hour shift at work, I headed out to Dove Stone Reservoir. My target was Ram's Clough, a little documented Clough that leads up onto Wimberry Moss.

Monday, 9 March 2015

Torside Clough, how tough?

Torside Clough is a glacial formed feature to the south of Torside Reservoir with a car park only a few hundred yards away. I haven't found very much information about the clough as it appears to be less popular or just not written about to the same extent as others such as Crowden Clough. And it was also my next choice for a scramble challenge.

Friday, 30 January 2015

Alpkit BruKit – Part 2

As mentioned in part one, I’ve been out to the Peak District and tested the BruKit in more extreme conditions. The temperature where I tested was at around 2C. Factoring in a wind of 15-20 mph and the temperature was running at about -5C to -7C.