About Me

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Way back in time before the onset of adulthood I enjoyed countless days heading into the hills of Yorkshire with nothing more than a squashed sandwich & youthful sense for adventure! Despite long past youthful and work commitments keeping me in the city, the sense of adventure and love for the outdoors never left me. After digging my boots out and returning to the hills I attended a number of courses to improve my hill knowledge and skill base, during one of these courses it was suggested I join the Mountain Leader Training scheme and was delighted go on to gain the MOUNTAIN LEADER Award in April 2012. As well as spending time on the hills and mountains of the UK I have also enjoyed trips to the Nepalese Himalaya, Swiss & French Alps, Mallorca’s Tramuntana, Andorran & French Pyrenees, Morocco’s High Atlas, Tanzania’s Mt Meru & Kilimanjaro, Argentinian & Chilean Patagonia and winter expeditions to Norway’s Hardangervidda. Since gaining the ML I have also gained the SINGLE PITCH AWARD, INTERNATIONAL MOUNTAIN LEADER AWARD and the WINTER MOUNTAIN LEADER AWARD. I am now enjoying working in a freelance role whilst trying to get out climbing as much as possible.

Friday, 16 September 2016

On The Dragons Back

Tuesday 13th & Wednesday 14th September.

Earlier this week I spent a couple of days with expedition roomie Simon Small looking at some navigation techniques for an upcoming race he has entered.
I can only assume Simon has taken a bang on the head at some point as he has gained a liking for multi day ultra marathon races, some of these have been in extreme environments such as the Arctic Circle and the Amazon rain forest.
May 2017 he will be participating in the 'Dragon Back', a 5 day race covering near on 300km on the mountains of Wales. Beginning in North Wales the route also includes around 16000m of ascent as the competitors head South down the spine of Wales from Snowdonia, into the Cambrian mountains and finishing 5 days later on the Brecon Beacons.  

The two days were a chance for Simon to refresh his existing navigational skills, look at using tick off and back stop features, using contour lines to interpret the landscape and also have brief recce of areas he hadn't previously visited.
Using tick off features on the route Simon will be able to keep a track of where he is on the course rather than having to take a map and compass out too often and lose precious time. The use of back stop features help as a warning that a change of direction or navigation point may have been missed and the interpretation of contour lines can be invaluable as man made features can change since the map was printed. 

Tuesday we spent on the Moelwyns and the area around Cnicht, the 'Welsh Matterhorn'.
The day started extremely misty which was perfect for practising following a bearing and pacing distance, we also looked at recognising distant features (when the mist had cleared).

My Mountain Leader Assessment had been held around this area and it is a good venue to practise navigation as the terrain is quite undulating rather than having massive features to navigate from.

Wednesday and we headed further South in Snowdonia and were fortunate enough to have some exceptional summer weather on Cadair Idris.
With the fine weather making visibility no problem we looked at using back stop features as well as the use of a number of features in the landscape to be able to confirm our position.

Summary - that running game isn't for me but I'm more than happy get out with a good mate on the mountains anytime, if I can help Simon in his preparation for this (mad!) event and it doesn't involve me doing any running then the jobs a good 'un!

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

De Javu vu

Monday 5th September.
Earlier this week myself and Danny Bond returned to the Yorkshire Dales as we had some unfinished business with the famous Yorkshire 3 Peaks.

 Arriving in the Dales at just after 6am Monday we had returned to walk the 24mile route, and this time complete it after I had called a halt to our attempt 2 weeks earlier under monsoon conditions!

 The weather was wet again but much improved on previously.

 Moving quickly, with few breaks and without the flood obstacles we made good time needing only a short burst of jogging to complete the route in a respectable 8hrs 49mins.

Well done to Danny for completing the challenge in poor conditions and for being keen to start again after I had called a halt just a couple of weeks ago.

National next......?

Friday, 26 August 2016

Definitely not De Javu!

Monday 22nd August 16

Monday saw me meet up with long time friend Danny Bond.
Danny had wanted to complete the Yorkshire 3 Peaks for a while and we had set this date as mutually convenient and definitely not, as it turned out, for the weather!

This would be my 16th circuit of the 23mile route, taking in Ingleborough, Pen y Ghent and Whernside. It could have been a bit De Javu if it wasn't for the by far the worst conditions I have set off in!

Leaving from the *'Old Hill Inn' with dark, thick clouds above and rain bouncing down we set off towards Ingleborough to be met by a stream where the footpath should be! This would be the format for the day as we encountered torrents flowing down off the hills and streams having burst their natural courses.
The weather was forcast to lift a little during the afternoon and it was most welcome when it did!

*N.B starting from the 'Old Hill Inn' near Chapel-le-Dale and walking in an anti clockwise direction is my preferred route for a number of reasons -
1, it offers the option of a toilet stop at Horton in Ribblesdale, an important consideration when there are females in the group.
2, a second toilet stop is available at 'The Station Inn' at Ribblehead for a charity donation.
3, if unsupported by a vehicle there is a 'get out' option of not doing Whernside and walking from Ribblehead along the road to the starting point (or waiting at the 'Station Inn' whilst someone else goes for the car!
4, participants on already tired legs seeing the ascent up Ingleborough via the 'Devils Staircase' before them can become somewhat demoralised and a bit 'moany' when done as 3rd peak.
5, generally the majority of participants are surprised to find they suffer more with aches and pains of descent rather than the exertions of ascent so the shorter, sharp shock of descending Whernside with the finish in sight is a lesser evil than the near 7km/4mile drawn out descent of Ingleborough. 

The cloud base had been as low as 300m for most of the day but started to lift as we reached the road section of the route, personally this is the worst and most dangerous part. Worst as walking on the Tarmac takes it out on the feet and joints, dangerous because of the chance of being hit by a vehicle.

Hats off to Danny for digging in and getting to Ribblehead Viaduct in soaking wet boots. He was in good spirits as we chatted (which can be a giveaway of someone suffering) and physically seemed strong other than the soreness of his feet. I could hear the squelching of his wet boots as we neared the 'Station Inn' and decided it best to call an early finish and return to do the route another day rather than continuing on and risk Danny doing any long term damage to his feet, though the main reason was the annoying squelch, squelch, squelch that would have driven me insane (more so than presently) over a further 3hrs!!

Date already set!

That'll be the footpath/stream.

August on Pen y Ghent....

Summary - wet, damn wet!
This was one of those days when I speak to the client about reasons for possibly postponing until another time as I want them to have a good experience and not a day spent suffering. Despite the 'inclement' conditions and my suggestion of postponing Danny was unperturbed and keen to get on with it.
As somebody who spends a lot of time outdoors all year round I would grade this as 'sh*te' conditions so much respect to Danny for not being put off, surely has to be better next time....!?

A Path Less Traveled.

Sunday 14th & Monday 15th August.

Sunday 14th and I was out with Gemma and Jonathan on the Howgill Fells as a 'hill walking' taster/introduction trip.

I had chosen the Howgill Fells as they tend to be less busy than their neighbouring and more famous Lakeland Fells and Yorkshire Dales, but have an interesting landscape and offer great views of their neighbours (on a clear day!).

We took a circular route from Brunt Sike across Long Rigg, Fell Head, Bush Howe and up on to The Calf before descending down White Fell.

Monday - After a night spent camping in the small Dales town of Dent we took a route to the summit of Whernside from Dentdale.
Again this was a route less popular than the sometimes busy route from Ribblehead.

Following the The Dales Way before joining the The Dales Highway, then heading to the summit on the 'A Penine Journey' footpath we were rewarded by stunning views on all sides under a clear blue sky.

We descended into Deepdale and followed the footpath through farmland and past cottages back into Dentdale.

Summary - whilst I love my climbing, ridges, scrambling and mountain routes it was really good to get out and do some hillwalking with Gemma and Jonathan.
Whilst Jonathan has some previous hillwalking Gemma hadn't since the Duke of Edingburgh Award 'a couple' of years ago, hopefully being out in such stunning surroundings may see them getting out more frequently in the future.

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Balmy Irish Summer Days!

1st & 2nd August 2016.

I have been in Ireland with Wayne and Chris sampling the delights of Connemara and Mayo, and the Irish summer.

Down from Croagh Patrick and all is good!
This week I have travelled to Ireland to spend a couple of days introducing Wayne and Chris to the delights of mountain walking as well as taking a look at the mountains of Ireland for future trips.

We travelled to Connemara on Sunday and took a walk up onto the 'Twelve Bens' circuit on Monday.
I chose a challenging route up to the circuit proper, this meant I could look at how the boys were moving and coping with the terrain to get an idea of how they may handle the main circuit.
They were fine and with much determination, banter and plenty of 'craic' got on with the job in hand. Unfortunately the weather wasn't in such good spirits!
The forecast had been on the doubtful side to start with and only got worse as we gained height so after a leg burning ascent, a recce of the terrain that lay before us and having to be the barer of bad news I took the decision to retrace our steps and descend.

We would have spent the rest of the day looking at the inside of a cloud which wouldn't have been productive as a way of introducing the lads to mountain walking. 
Connemara in high spirits.
From the mist they came....
Happy to be on flat ground despite the weather.

On Tuesday with a deteriorating weather forecast for mid week we drove up to County Mayo to walk the famous pilgrimage route to the summit of Croagh Patrick.
An estimated 1 million people make the ascent each year, some in an act of penance climb the steep rocky path barefoot!!😳

Leaving the car park in full waterproofs we gained a few funny looks as the weather was fairly good, the weather further up the mountain was rather less so and it was ourselves giving the solo barefoot guy and the countless people we saw in jeans, or shorts and T shirts the funny looks.

I have been fortunate to walk many mountains but I found this an unbelievably busy mountain track considering the only the satisfaction to be gained was that of reaching the summit and seeing the church before heading back down the steep rocky path through the wind, mist & rain.
Fortunately the wether cleared as we made the descent and we had some stunning views over Clew Bay.

Wayne and Chris both dug deep on the route and have hopefully paid penance for a couple of previous misdemeanours....?

With the weather leaving them wetter than the front pocket of an otters dungarees they both showed proper character and determination to reach the top in poor conditions when they could have easily sacked it off.

Good job boys!
Starting Croagh Patrick and all is well.
The Irish summer can be changeable!
If looks could kill I'd probably not be here!
This isn't McDonalds!!!!!
Lads done well.
Outstanding beauty of Clew Bay on descent.
Possibly the first smile of the route!