Saturday, 31 March 2012

Catterblog Review Jan - March 2012

I kept myself busy in 2012 with my work in the voluntary sector of the court service, amateur radio, running my weather station and organising walks and holidays with Judy my wife, for myself, and for my friends in Ryedale Walking Group. As I started my blog in the middle of the year I thought I would write up a run down of the early part of my year:

Wild pony seen on the Naddle Horseshoe
8th/9th Shap Fells

Phil & Geoff:

I met up with my friend Geoff who now lives in Malvern and we started a campaign to climb Wainwright's 116 Outlying Fells in 2012 and make contacts from all the summits for WOTA. We met up in the Shap Fells for a one night / two day walking break staying overnight at the Riverside Hotel in Kendal. We completed the Bannisdale Horseshoe on the Sunday (9 fells) and the Naddle Horseshoe on the Monday (7 fells). 

17/18th/19th Newby Bridge

Phil & Judy: 

After getting a taste for bagging the Outliers my campaign continued with my wife (XYL) Judy when we stayed at the Newby Bridge Hotel for two nights with Treacle our dog. Concentrating on the South Lakes and Grange areas we climbed 8 Outlying Fells including the Marilyn summit of Whitbarrow Scar and the lowest of the 116 fells which is Humphrey Head above Morecambe Bay. 

Judy with Treacle getting blown on Wool Knott overlooking Beacon Tarn

27/28/29th Shap Fells and Pooley Bridge

Phil, Judy & Geoff: 
Geoff and Judy near Saddle Crags Shap Fells 29 January 2012
One of our favourite places to stay is the Patterdale Hotel which is located in the area of the Lake District I know best, between Wainwright's Eastern and Far Eastern Fells. On this trip we were again concentrating on climbing the Outlying Fells. There are almost thirty of these outliers to the east of Haweswater in the Lake District. There are paths, but often one has to use rough and boggy moorland to get from peak to peak. It isn't easy country to walk in, especially when there are snow drifts. A six mile walk feels like you've done twelve miles by the end of the day....

Geoff in a blizzard - Little Mell Fell trig point on 27 Jan 2012 
There was plenty of lying snow over the three days which made for some gruelling walks, however we managed to climb 12 Outlying Fells around Shap and Pooley Bridge. For good measure Geoff and I added Little Mell Fell for some SOTA points. 


15th Solo:

I returned to Patterdale for one of my favourite solo walks. This is what I and my ham radio friends who climb the summits call the "44 point Fairfield Horseshoe".  The name comes from the Summits On The Air winter bonus points score which can be accrued on the walk.  So this walk must be done in the midst of winter to get the extra benefit of winter bonus points. As the nights were drawing out I added several Wainwrights to my walk. After the walk, if there was time, I intended driving to Brownrigg Farm to climb Great Mell Fell for another five points.

I'd started the day at Patterdale Post Office at 7.10am feeling quite ill after an early morning drive from Pickering.

Thornhow End gate overlooking Patterdale 7.45am on 15th February 2012
Phil with no mates - a picture I took of
myself on Seat Sandal
By the time I was half way to St Sunday Crag climbing Thornhow End I felt invigorated and ready for anything after breathing the fresh lakeland air. This was an amazing recovery having almost turned back at one stage as I felt really unwell. I think it is what comes from sitting in a stuffy car for over two hours. The snow was patchy but not deep and I returned to my car at 4.50pm having climbed and activated on ham radio the summits of St Sunday Crag, Fairfield, Seat Sandal, Helvellyn, Nethermost Pike and Dollywagon Pike. 

The icing on surfaces and lying snow on high ground forced me into omitting a traverse of both Swirral Edge and Striding Edge on safety grounds, so I took the safer route down to a frozen Grisedale Tarn and Ruthwaite Lodge.  This meant I had a much longer walk back to Patterdale. 

Cornicing on  Nethermost Pike 15 February 2012
I ended up walking 15 miles with 5300 feet of ascent. After food and drink at dusk I headed for Brownrigg Farm to climb Great Mell Fell for SOTA to gain a further 5 points for the day. This was a round trip of 67 minutes and another two miles walked with 900 feet of ascent.

I felt good driving back to Pickering that I had achieved my objectives.  Apart from this epic walk, February was a quiet month for me. 

March - a very busy month

2nd/3rd Wales 

Phil (G4OBK) & Nick (G4OOE)

Our plan was to spend two nights in Chester and three days on the fells, however this short break was cut short as we had to return early due to a problem at home.
Phil GW4OBK/P Calling CQ from Tal-y-fan
After an early 6.00am start with me driving, we found ourselves in Snowdonia crossing the moorland to the summit of Mwdwl-eithin, which is  532m high. 

Mwdwl-eithin summit on 2nd February 2012
Nick had identified this summit and the more popular summit of Tal-y-Fan (610m) which we climbed in the afternoon.  We finished off our day with a visit to The Great Orme (207m) near Llandudno. This one is a "drive on" summit and a short stroll takes you to the very top.  After a meal in Llandudno we returned to Chester for the night to prepare for the next days epic (for us). 
Approaching sunset - Nick on the summit of Great Orme operating for SOTA
This was Snowdon followed by Y Lliwedd.  We left the Pen-y-pass car park (£10 fee) for Snowdon at exactly 8.00am and returned there at 5.10pm after a gruelling walk. We walked just short of 9 miles with 3700ft of ascent.

Nick negotiates a slippy slab on the Pyg track up Snowdon
Phil  continues on the Pyg track

It was not so much the distance and ascent but the atrocious conditions of cold rain, mist and wind we had to endure. If we had just climbed Snowdon via the Pyg track, returning on the Miners track, then this would have been a relatively easy walk, but with Y Lliwedd added it was arduous.

Nick at the Snowdon Topograph in bad conditions

The things we do for SOTA. I will return to climb Snowdon another day with Judy as she hasn't yet climbed it. In fact this was my first serious walk in Snowdonia. After a brief call into Chester to visit Nick's son Dom we headed for the Burger King near Helsby for some fast food and then we drove straight back to Yorkshire to sort out a problem which had arisen. It had been a long day and our planned expedition for Sunday was cancelled. 

11th-15th Riga in Latvia

Phil & Judy

We took a flight from Leeds Bradford to Riga to stay in the capital of Latvia. It was cold needless to say as you would expect in March, but we really enjoyed our tours of the city, sightseeing and shopping.

The presidential palace in Riga 

Monika Centrum - our hotel booked through Cities Direct based in Cheltenham
We stayed at the Monika Centrum Hotel which was of a very good standard on the outskirts of the city, but within walking distance of the centre. 

View from the Church Tower in Riga - one of the highest points
The Daugava River which passes through the city was frozen. 

We were particularly impressed with the huge market in Riga which is situated in the hangars formerly used to house Zeppelin airships. 

Zeppelin hangars where an enormous market is held every day
Riga was an interesting city to visit.  I would recommend a visit to the Russian Orthodox Church, a trip on the Riga Tour Bus with running commentary, and a close look at all the bronze statues and monuments around the city. 

Changing of the guard at the substantial Freedom Monument
In particular the museum which is housed in the House of Blackheads tells the story of Latvia and how it has been invaded by other countries throughout the centuries.

Judy outside The House of Blackheads

I particularly enjoyed looking at the photographs of the demise of Russian domination depicted by the demonstrations and meetings which took place just after the fall of the Berlin wall.  That revolution  means that Latvia now identifies more with Scandinavia than with Russia and is now a truly free country. 

I'd like to visit more of the countries that were part of the old Russian Empire should I get the chance. Poland is next on my list. 

27th - 31st Southern Lake District

Phil (G4OBK), Geoff, Nick (G4OOE), Terry (G0VWP)

We really dropped lucky on this trip. I'd booked two double/twin rooms in the Travelodge winter sale at their Kendal lodge for the princely sum of £15 per room per night. That meant our total accommodation cost was £7.50 each per night. On top of that we enjoyed a cheap but good cooked breakfast each morning at Morrison's in Kendal, where we also purchased a packed lunch to take with us on our tour of the Outlying Fells. I had planned out 4 frenetic days of activating covering all the south eastern Outliers and we finished up having a great time. 

The Likely Lads on holiday - Phil Geoff Terry Nick  at the shelter on Scout Scar above Kendal
1960s Groover - Geoff
As well as fellwalking and the ham radio operations we met up with several of our friends for WOTA activations and for evening meals on two nights. On the last night we headed into Kendal to watch several live bands in the Bootleggers Bar, which Geoff really enjoyed as this picture on the right shows! 

Whilst in Kendal we visited the museum (which took some finding without GPS!) and looked at the Wainwright archive which is being added to all the time. We also went round the market the same day and enjoyed lunch at a great cafe in the square. 

Going back to the Outlying Fells - it had been a fantastic week. Sunshine every day, no rain and we were down to T shirts most days. Although I say it myself the itinerary planned was superb and we met our objective of bagging 23 Outlying Fells, 1 SOTA Summit (Lambrigg Fell) and 1 HuMP (Sleddale Forest).  In addition we attended the AGM of the Wainwright Society in Staveley which is now something we do every year. 

On our arrival day we enjoyed walking the circuit of Devoke Water with our friends from Annan, Geoff (GM4WHA) and Mark (MM1MPB). We split up into two groups and that allowed us to make summit to summit contacts with each other as well as the usual contacts with the chasers who are scattered all over the North West, Cumbria, Scotland and Wales. Here we are lining up with antennas at the ready prior to starting the walk over the 8 Wainwrights which make up this superb walk.

Geoff - Geoff - Phil - Mark - Terry - Nick on our way to the 8 summits around Devoke Water
(Fred Carno's Army?)

As the picture shows the weather was fabulous and after a dry winter, especially in the south, the water authorities were introducing hose pipe bans. Needless to say that all changed come April and we had the wettest year overall for many a year.  Here are Terry and Phil enjoying a break on White Pike above Devoke Water in the sunshine:

All in all we had five good days. We took 100s of photos and made 100s of contacts for WOTA. I think it will be difficult to better such a week of good comradeship and excellent weather. 

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