It's been a while. A while since I've blogged about walking that is. And well, it's mainly because it's been a while since I've hill walked. I've been doing lot's of local walks recently, but yesterday was my first hill of the year.

B & W Gate near the top of the wood above Fairholmes

Wood near Derwent Reservoir

The plan this year is for a decent Peak District or similar walk every other week, and yesterday Cheryl and I walked from the Fairholmes car park on the edge of the Derwent Reservoir up to Alport Castles - my first time to the Castles and my first time walking up this side of the reservoir. It was a really pleasant day. Yeah, it rained at the stop, and just after lunch, but it wasn't too warm or cold, and the varying weather made for great photos. Being our first hill walk for a while, we deliberately kept the miles low but were fine at the end.

The highlight of the day for me was seeing the water fall over both dams on the reservoir. The sound was impressive, and I was hoping to try some slow shutter speed photography, but I had forgotten my ND filters and there was just too much light for this. The walk along the eastern shores was much more interesting than the other side, with lots of interest; waterfalls, still ponds and old village ruins. We agreed that we must revisit in April to see the rhododendrons blossom.

Sun behind cloud

The walk up from the reservoir to the castles wasn't too bad, and we enjoyed sandwiches on the edge, looking over the next valley. Even spotted some wildcampers in the valley below, though at midday, this was a little late to strike pitch!

I've uploaded some photos from the day, and promise to both hill walk, and update this site more frequently. I promise!!!

Alport Castles from Fairholmes

It's been a while. A while since I've blogged about walking that is. And well, it's mainly because it's been a while since I've hill walked. I've been doing lot's of local walks recently, but yesterday was my first hill of the year. The plan this year is for a…

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Decided on a bike ride in the Peak District for Saturday. A quick scan through my White Peaks book led to a planned Cromford Circuit ride - about 21k. As I was on my own for the day, and in such a beautiful place, I decidied to get up their early and have a play with the camera over at Black Rocks which was good.I finished with the camera about 9 so changed, padded up and started riding about 9:30. This is where my first navigational blunder occurred. I cycled about 2 miles the wrong way down the High Peak Trail. Doh! Having realised my mistake, I climbed onto the A6 and backtracked to Cromford to start the second loop of the figure of eight route. This was fairly uneventful, lots of climbing and descending easy, but pretty trails and a few cow pat scattered fields.

On completing this loop, I continues to start again, from Black Rocks. Having joined up on the High Peak Trail again, things got a little tougher. My first climb that I couldn't complete on the singlespeed was embarrasing - especially when some older people overtooks me as I pushed - they did have gears though!!

Then, just having overtaken some walkers, I realised that I had overshot the bridleway exit from this trail. So, I had to backtrack again, past the walkers. Doh again! By this time, with my errors, time was getting on, so I needed to pick up the pace. It's a vicious circle however, the less I look at the route guide / map, the more I missed turns etc. I was reminded of a couple of the negatives to natural trail riding - navigation and farm gates spoil 'the flow' of the ride no end - especially during fast descents.

There was one more lesson to learn however - keep your mouth closed when descending fast tarmac after riding through cow pats. I forgot at one point, and was reminded when a sugar cube piece of turd flew off my front tyre straight into my gob. I was travelling too fast and concentrating too hard to spit. Mind, I did need the calories. To add injury to insult, the final descent into Matlock included a 'cheeky trail' comprising of singletrack through a nettle field. My ankles are still itchy now...

All in all, it was a good day. My legs and arms ache, still not fit enough for singlespeeding in the Peaks really. And the photography was  more successful than the navigation. But I did have some big (yes, the open mouth again) grins on the descents! I wonder what next weekend will deliver.

Yesterdays Matlock biking epic

Decided on a bike ride in the Peak District for Saturday. A quick scan through my White Peaks book led to a planned Cromford Circuit ride - about 21k. As I was on my own for the day, and in such a beautiful place, I decidied to get up their…

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Gear's ain't working

My last post on Friday suggested that Chris and I rode at least the Crackpot loop from the Dales Bike Centre on Saturday. Well, about 10 minutes after I posted, Chris arrived at my home, we swiftly transfered his stuff to my car and off with shot. Well, for about 20 minutes until we hit traffic at Nottingham, Mansfield, Chesterfield, Sheffield, you get the picture. Things weren't looking good for early arrival and pub meal up in Grinton. However, after passing Sheffield, suddely the traffic dispersed and we motored on through the Dales.

On arrival at about 8, a quick call to the Dales Bike Centre's owner got us the key, and entry to a 4 bunk room - luckily we managed to get this to ourselves as there was only two other people in the whole place that night. A quick walk upto the Bridge Inn got us some decent pub grub washed down with my first Oxford Gold and a Thatchers Gold.

Hello there!

After an early to bed, and rise, we enjoyed a nice bacon sarnie for carb loading before setting off on the bikes about 9:30. The bridleway that parrallels the River Swale was easy to follow, although provided some fun where the Swale has broken it's banks and swalled some of the path. Water was getting on for a foot deep; great fun to ride through, though hub bearings probably didn't feel that way.

Only once the river is left does the real work begin, climbing (sometimes riding, sometimes pushing) through Crackpot, then Summer Lodge and finally to the singletrack road at the top of the hill. As we were knackered at this point, it seemed a good idea to break for lunch. Bad mistake, gloves off meant hands got very cold due to driving wind, ~5 degrees temp and drizzle. Infact, it took a good 45 minutes for them to finally warm enough to use brakes properly and getting feeling back into them.

Unfortunately, about 2 miles after the road section, we took a slight detour from the plan; following the first distinct path up towards High Harker Hill. This was a mistake, it was not the bridleway, but rather a grouse shooting track, and wound steeply for 1/2 a mile before terminating at a peat bog. We didn't want to backtrack and lose the height we had gained, so we treked for about a mile across the bog to re-join the bridleway correctly to High Harker Hill.

From here, some decent fast rocky, then moorland descents contoured down the hill, finally arriving at the road we had driven down the night before. A sharp climb up this took us to a fairly boring farmland descent back to Grinton.

Getting wet feet

Once back, we used the bike wash facilities, scrubbed up and left with cameras, bound for Reeth for some photography. This didn't really work out, although we did visit a great outdoors shop - Swaledale Outdoors. They had a good mix of lightweight clothes and equipment and tried on some Inov-8 Terroc 330s - my next walking trainers when I start wearing trainers again (maybe next spring).

After the walk around Reeth, we returned to the bike centre, jumped in my car and headed off to Hawes for a curry, stopping off at the large cairn on Buttertubs for some late evening photography. I enjoyed my Chicken Tikka Saag and the return to the Bridge Inn for a pint of Crag Rat and a whiskey. We returned to the bike centre early, maybe 10ish, to grab some sleep before getting up at 3:30am  Sunday to beeline over to Stanage Edge in the Peak District to get some sunrise photos - much better results than Saturday's photographic exploits. Then home.

Crackpot done

My last post on Friday suggested that Chris and I rode at least the Crackpot loop from the Dales Bike Centre on Saturday. Well, about 10 minutes after I posted, Chris arrived at my home, we swiftly transfered his stuff to my car and off with shot. Well, for about…

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Here we go, first natural mountain bike ride for a couple of months. Been talking about a weekender with Chris, an ex colleage and fellow mtber for a while. Snowdonia was a comman theme, but in the end, Chris suggested a circuit of Swaledale, Yorkshire as detailed in a magazine. He also mentioned the Dales Bike Centre at Grinton as the obvious place to stay. So with about 2 seconds of thought, we booked up for this weekend.

I have been trying to train for this circuit, as my bike is currently in singlespeed mode; not ideal for any Dales ride, and the Peak District Hope Triple 8 circuit was a great start.  Similar gradients, abeit smaller hills were a challenge, but I did clean 2 of the 6, and rode significant portions of another 2. However, since then, I have suffered a little with the knee, but after some physio and Cannock Follow the Dog / Monkey Trail laps, I think I am just about ready.

The last couple of weeks, a little further planning has been done. After the Dales Bike Centre suggested few singlespeed compatible circuits, we have decided on the southern loop of the Booze and Crackpot round of Swaledale, possibly extending to the northern loop if legs, backs and cake supplies allow.  Of particular interest to me will be my recent conversion to flat pedals; hopefully a little caution and my 661 pads will get me down in one piece...

We'll be leaving the Midlands this evening, and hopefully dining at the Bridge Inn, Grinton this evening. Returning Sunday afternoon, with the non biking gaps filled with some photography, and beer drinking - well, we do have to rehydrate!!

Pics and report to follow...

Yorkshire bound for Booze and Crackpot

Here we go, first natural mountain bike ride for a couple of months. Been talking about a weekender with Chris, an ex colleage and fellow mtber for a while. Snowdonia was a comman theme, but in the end, Chris suggested a circuit of Swaledale, Yorkshire as detailed in a magazine.…

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Well, here's a post about photography but with no photos... I am currently thinking about how to organise my Flickr account to acheive two goals:

1) To support my blog's stories about hill walking, wildcamping etc.

2) To showcase my hopefully improving photographic skills.

The problem is that often, these goals are at odds....

To fulfil a showcase, I should only publish photos that I believe to be both technically good, and also aesthetically pleasing. The problem with this is that for example, during my recent weekend in Snowdonia, only 5 or six photos taken met these characteristics.

Now, on the other hand, to support my hill walking posts, I often want to upload most photos from a day. Even if I don't embed the photos in a post, I would probably be best to link to a Flickr collection at the bottom of the post. Now, many of these photos are only snaps, sometimes only from the iPhone, in the midday sun with little thought to photography.

Oh hum, maybe another glass of wine and a sleep will shed some light on this problem...

How to organize my Flickr photos

Well, here's a post about photography but with no photos... I am currently thinking about how to organise my Flickr account to acheive two goals: 1) To support my blog's stories about hill walking, wildcamping etc. 2) To showcase my hopefully improving photographic skills. The problem is that often, these…

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Well, what a wonderful weekend. Sun didn't stop shining and worst weather related problem was the air conditioning failing on my car when driving to Snowdonia - must get it recharged. Anyhow, plan for the weekend was to scoot over to Caernarfon Friday afternoon and have a go at Snowdon Saturday.

It would be rude to drive through Betws-y-Coed without doing a little outdoors shopping, and I surprised myself by only coming away with a Mountain Hardware shirt. The drive then across the A5 cheered us up - only a little snow was left on Snowdon so all looked good for Saturday. We rounded the day off with a pleasant meal in Caernarfon and an early night.

Yachts in Doc Fictoria, Caernarfon

Saturday morning, we fueled up at Macdonalds, then drove over to Llamberis parking right at the foot of Snowdon. Think we got the last spot in the car park. Then was started the walk. It was real hot, and I always struggle in the heat. Sure enough, by the half way house, I was pleased with my choice of shorts and short sleeved t-shirt given the mocking I had all morning.

A quick stop at the Halfway House for more water, and we continued to climb eventually reaching snow level at the higher tunnel under the railway. The snow was easily overcome, or sidestepped; I wish I had tried my fell running shoes for the first time this year. Before we summited, we found amusement at how people were tackling the icy shoot between the plateau and the top of the Pyg Track - mainly on their bottoms.

People slidding down to descend Pyg Track / Miner's Path

We summited about 13:00 and dropped over the other side of the hill towards the Snowdon Rangers path to find some tranquility to enjoy lunch. It really did feel like summer, even at the top.

We then returned over the summit, but as we dropped past the new building, we saw a search and rescue helicopter hovering above Crib Goch. We feared the worst, but speculated that it would be OK - the helicopter seemed to be right over the ridge rather than to a side - and thus a fall. Unfortunately, Sunday morning we learned that a guy had a suspected heart attack - our sympathies go out to his family and friends. A little subdued, we continued the descent which went pretty quickly and uneventfully.

Tree on Snowdon

On arrival at Llamberis, we quickly dispatched ice creams and drove back to Caernarfon for a MASSIVE chinese banquet. I am sure we undid all the good work done, but it was worth it.

Log above river

Sunday morning saw a more leisurely walk along the Afon Llugwy to Swallow Falls from Betws-y-Coed. I must be getting better as I entered Cotswold Outdoors and I didn't even buy anything!!! The weekend was rounded off with burger and chips at a pub in the village. All in all, a great weekend though we must surely pay for the great weather with some rain...

Tributary of Afon Llugwy

Snowdon training prep - done!!!

Well, what a wonderful weekend. Sun didn't stop shining and worst weather related problem was the air conditioning failing on my car when driving to Snowdonia - must get it recharged. Anyhow, plan for the weekend was to scoot over to Caernarfon Friday afternoon and have a go at Snowdon…

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