On Thursday night Ben and I enlisted Tom to help us with a bit of Continuing Professional Development. We decided to drill the various carries and emergency evacuation techniques that are listed in the Mountain Leader Training Handbook (Hillwalking) and get a bit of night Navigation practice in. We drove up to Wrynose Pass in the Lake District and spent a couple of hours going through various carries. Seeing how far we could carry each other on rough ground either on our own or in pairs using 4 or 5 different methods (answer: not far). We found the Rope carry shown to be the best but it did take a bit of fiddling to get the rope set up correctly to make it comfortable for the injured party.
By 11 o'clock we were all pretty tired out and decided to go onto the main event of night navigation practice. We took it in turns to set each other a leg to navigate. One person would decide where we were going, one would navigate and the other would try and follow where we had gone and relocate at the end of the leg.
At about 2am we had a break under a crag and decided that we could probably scramble up it before continuing on our navigation exercise. We thought it was a bit like trying drive anti-clockwise around Leeds centre (the loop road runs clockwise), it was fairly easy but as we performed each move we had no idea what the next move would be and a mistake would have taken us back to where we had started very quickly.
We then navigated together to the top of a hill which was about an hours walk from the car and were tucked up in our bivi bags by 4:30 am. It had started to rain and rained constantly until about 8:30am. By 9:30 we decided that we had enjoyed ourselves enough and that it was time to get up and go home.
It was a great whistle-stop tour of the lakes and thanks to Tom for coming along to give us a hand.
Skye holiday 2013 report
On day 1 we decided to visit the Old Man of Storr; one of the most spectacular sites on Skye. This gives a good, fairly short walk, ideal to get us into the swing of things on the first day, especially given the less than perfect weather forecast. For those that wanted it, it also allowed for the option of a more energetic walk up The Storr (719m).
As it turned out the weather was even worse than the forecast with low cloud, rain and wind. As we emerged from the shelter of a hill at the high point of our walk a particularly strong gust of wind blew several of the party off their feet, and it became clear that continuing up The Storr was not an option! So, after a short but surprisingly adventurous walk, we called it a day and headed to the Edinbane Inn to dry off and enjoy their superb folk session, detouring to admire the Mealt Waterfall at Kilt Rocks en-route.
The mood was for a longer walk today and we decided upon Marsco (736m). Marsco is one of the Red Cuillin and a peak that we had had our eye on since the previous year’s holiday. The wind had dropped since Sunday and was now merely very strong. Marsco gave us the chance of getting in a great summit while staying out of the worst of the wind for most of the approach, and hopefully being well on the way back to the car by the time that heavy rain was forecast.
This proved to be the case, with our walk down Glen Sligachan and approach up Coire Dubh Measarroch being pleasantly sheltered. Things were a little more exciting on the summit ridge where there was no shelter from the wind. Luckily the skies were clear enough to give us some good views and we were able to pick out the lochans in the valley below which mark what was the centre of the Skye ice cap 12,000 years ago, when Marsco’s summit itself was beneath the ice.
We made our descent and while we didn’t manage to get to the car before the sleet and hail hit us, we didn’t have too far left to go. A satisfying day.
No trip to Skye is complete without walking some of its coastline. Today’s walk took in the ruins of the villages Boreraig and Suisnish, both forcibly evicted in the 1850s during the ‘highland clearances’.
The walk was followed by a visit to the spar cave on the Strathaird peninsula. This coastal cave can only be approached with a scramble at low tide. Its Gaelic name is Slochd Altrimen which translates as ‘cave of the nursling’. Various accounts exist to explain this name, all involving a child being hidden there to ensure its survival.
Sgurr na Stri and Glen Sligachan.
We split into two groups to do two different walks. The largest group headed to Sgurr na Stri, a fairly small but superbly situated peak with some of the best views of the Black Cuillin to be had. We approached it down Glen Sligachan and walked back by the same route. We had wanted a long day and this was what we got; in total we covered about 24 kilometres. The Black Cuillin remained shrouded in cloud depriving us of the classic view, but the rays of sunshine and momentary parting of the clouds, when we reached our summit, gave us atmospheric glimpses of the steep rock of the Black Cuillin, with the water of Loch Coruisk in the foreground.
Meanwhile the other group had visited the Quiraing for a shorter walk on the some of the most dramatic terrain on the island.
It was time to head into the Black Cuillin. Our choice was Sgurr na Banachdich (965m), a Munro on the famous Cuillin Ridge. We set off from Glen Brittle Youth Hostel and walked up Coir an Eich. Above the coir we made our way to the summit through snow and cloud before descending by the same route.
The walk for the last day was Sgurr Alasdair; the highest peak on the Cuillin Ridge, and on Skye as a whole.
After 5 days of weather which had ranged from mixed to downright terrible, we were finally treated to warm sun and clear blue skies. This was one of those truly great days to be in the mountains, made all the better by having ‘earned it’ after the weather of the last few days.
We walked from Glen Brittle into Coire Lagan and scrambled up to the lochan in the upper coire. From here we continued up the Great Stone Chute, with towering cliffs on either side, blue skies above and patches of snow on the ground.
At the top of the chute we stopped in the sun for lunch, and then made our way along the short, but very exposed, ridge to the summit, before making our way down by the same route. A fine finale for the week.
That evening, after dinner, we went out for our traditional evening of otter watching followed by a drink in the Pier Hotel on the harbour.
Thanks to the participants on the recent Advanced Navigation Course for a great weekend.
The course began with a briefing and a cuppa in the great Bilbos cafe in Ambleside before we headed into Langdale and up to Stickle Tarn, our campsite for the night. The walk in was used to recap many of the skills from the Standard course.
Having established our camp we headed out for a challenging micro nav session nearby. Some of the terrain was complex to say the least and there were some impressive feats of relocation before we completed the session and made our way back to the tents.
The night nav session later that evening was for me the highlight of the course. Our route took us up above Pavey Arc where the group were set a variety of points to find their way to or relocate at. The stars were out and the standard of nav was again impressive. Thanks to Daryl for his top tip on gaining maximum info from the land around you when relocating: Try switching off your headtorch for a while in order to get a better view of the skyline and therefore the shape of the land around you.
The next day we walked out via the Pike of Stickle, concentrating on accurate and efficient route finding and planning of legs, with regular stops to challenge ourselves on contour interpretation and relocation.
The weekend finished with a ‘debrief’ in the hard-to-walk-past Old Dungeon Ghyll!
Info on our Advanced Nav Courses can be found here.
We had our autumn meeting in Wales this week. We've set our priorities, assigned our budgets, tweaked our membership commitment and defined our 50, 40 and 30,000 ft aspirations (ask Ben).
We also did a bit of climbing while we were doing all this. This is Marshy taking a tumble from Heading the Shot F7a+ at the crux of a discussion on whether we were fulfilling the fifth co-operative principle as best we could.
Twice a year we have a Lupine Adventure Co-op general meeting. These meeting involve as much, if not more, playing about on hill sides or rock faces than they do sitting around a table with a pen and paper in hand. We usually go somewhere to do something fun and outdoory while talking tangentially and at crossed purposes for a day before sitting down and doing the whole thing again in a structured way where hopefully we've already got a good idea where everyone is coming from. This autumn Ben and I decided to do a couple of extra days before the meeting. The first day involved a relatively unclimbed Very Severe route called Maverick at Gogarth.
Day 2 of our pre General Meeting mountain days involved a trip up Tryfan to do another esoteric VS called Long Chimney, which is not particularly long, not a chimney and not (arguably) a VS. To be fair for me to back off a mountain VS is all par for the course but Ben went up and didn't like the look of it either. After a bit of trouble sticking to the Severe to the left we ended up binning the guide book for the day and forcing a route up the face.
We encountered these rather magnificent goats (anarchists of the hills according to Jim Perrin) on the way up and way down the track.
Lake District 2011 Holiday Report
All photographs on this page (and more) can be viewed on our Lake District 2011 Photo Gallery.
Our holiday home this year was right in the middle of Keswick. When booking I was a bit unsure if it would be OK as on Skye we have always been in the middle of nowhere. However, the house was lovely and being in town didn't detract from the holiday at all, we even got to go to the puzzle museum.
Sunday 10th July 2011
We started off the holiday (as we always do) with everyone going out together. Last year on Skye the first walk was a long one. This year, because the weather forecast was good we opted for a short walk (only 7.5 km) but with a lot of ascent to reach the top of Red Pike above Borrowdale. Little did we know that we'd be blessed with good weather all week so our early peak and fine view bagging was unnecessary.
I think that people come on our holidays for a number of reasons, some are obvious like the social side of a group holiday or to be shown around an area that we know well but our guests may never have been to. Others are not so obvious, on this walk we were able to take out guests to a place that some of them would not have attempted unless assisted by Mountain Leaders. On this route one of our guests exclaimed 'if my children could see me now!' as we negotiated a short rocky step.
Once at the top we split into a group of fast descenders and a group of slow descenders to get back to the cottage.
Monday 11th July 2011
After the somewhat difficult trip up Red Pike the day before we opted for a lower level walk. Setting off from Grange, on the shore of Derwent Water, we walked to Seatoller and then back along the riverside path via the tea room at Rosthwaite. Some of the group detoured up to Castle Crag on the outward journey while others took a break in the pass below.
The walk was not without its challenges as we found on the return journey when the gentle riverside path suddenly gave way to a stretch of rock that needed to be traversed until the path resumed a few metres further on.
This walk took us through several stretches of beautiful old woodland, including some of the best for seeing red squirrels. Sadly they remained hidden on this occasion, the only sign of them being a pine cone bearing the distinctive signs of nibbling by a squirrel.
Tuesday 12th July 2011
The group decided to take a day to walk around Derwent Water. Ben and I tagged along for a couple of miles before deciding to check out a gill scramble up Cat Gill. A couple of the group had indicated that they may want to do a bit of scrambling later in the week so we thought we'd do a reccy on this one. I can't really say how the walk around Derwent Water went but the gill scramble was enjoyable. The water was quite low and while it was very, very slippery in places it was fairly simple.
In the evening we went to see Castlerigg Stone Circle, one of the most visually impressive prehistoric monuments in Britain (for its dramatic location rather than its size).
Wednesday 13th July
As this was due to be the best weather of the week we thought we'd go up Langstrath and incorporate a swim in Black Moss Pot into the day. Unfortunately it was a bit cloudier than expected but 3 of us still braved the waters while the more sensible members of the group remained on solid ground.
After the swim we continued up the valley where half the group made a bee line for the ridge by Linings Crag and came back along the tops while the other half crossed the water to the other side of the valley for the return trip.
Thursday 14th July 2011
The group split today with some of us going up Scafell Pike, and the others taking a walk up Latrigg before going to the Whinlatter Forest Centre to view the Ospreys.
The Scafell Pike team were successful making the top by 2pm. We took the path from Seathwaite up past Styhead Tarn and along Corridor Route and returned via Esk Hause. The total distance was about 15 km with over 1km in ascent.
The other group walked from the house to the top of Latrigg, a lovely hill which for a fairly straightforward ascent gives great views and a real sense of height, then back along the old railway line to the house. After a break for tea and cake we drove up to Whinlatter where the local nesting ospreys can usually be viewed on a video screen. Sadly they had recently moved their nest and could no longer be seen, but the informative display and staff made the visit worthwhile.
Friday 15th July 2011
After the big day on Scafell Pike we all decided to go to see Aira Force over by Ullswater. This short walk was lengthened by some to take in the summit of nearby Gowbarrow.
We were back in Keswick in time to visit the shops, and of course the puzzle museum.
Skye 2010 Holiday Report
All photographs on this page (and more) can be seen on our main Skye 2010 gallery page.
Saturday 15th May 2010
Our first pick-up was in Glasgow at 14:00. Last year we picked up in Glasgow at noon but this year we had to make it a bit later as 2 people couldn't make it before 2pm. We had 8 guests this year and decided to take 3 of us to host the week. How good is that. How many other walking holiday companies give you 3 qualified Mountain Leaders to 8 clients for a £600 week long holiday. In truth there was only really 2.5 staff as Dave was going to do his own thing most days and do a bit of the cooking.
Marshy, who was traveling further than Dave and I had set off the night before and was close to Fort William as we were picking up in Glasgow. We weren't sure of the amount of luggage space so he met up with the Fort William people and took their luggage off them while we picked them up in the people carrier.
Marshy then hung around in the Kyle of Lochalsh for an hour or so for our last guest while we continued through to Skye to get dinner on.
Dave got to work immediately on the dinner and about an hour later everyone was around the table in the chalet eating our first vegan feast.
Day 1 - Sunday 16th May 2010 - Glen Creitheach and Glen Sligachan
We decided that everyone would go out together on the first day and do a fairly long, but not too demanding (as in not many hills) walk. It is a wonderful walk embracing the remoteness of the Cullin range. We drove round to close to our base last year in Torrin and started off by walking over the hill to the Camasunary bothy before stopping for lunch. I then collected any rubbish I could find in the bothy and returned to the van and drove back to base. The group continued along the 9 mile walk back to Sligachan. We got our first Golden Eagle sighting of the week, which was nice, but not that surprising. I got back to Sligachan and had barely finished making a cake and flapjack when the first of the walkers came striding in. Some of our customers were fast, that was apparent, it would take careful planning and of course our large number of mountain leaders to give everyone a full and enjoyable holiday. That evening we had veggie sausage, mushroom and ale pie (savory pie of the year 2009 at Dr Chatterton's annual pie and ale party).
Day 2 - Monday 16th May 2010 - The Quiraing
Because the previous day had been a bit of a yomp and the pace had been a bit fast we decided to slow it down a bit and do a walk around the Quiraing. The entire length of the walk is only 5km but there is a fair bit of climbing to do and lots of exploration possibilities on the way. We were planning to go up to the Old man of Storr on the way back but some how we spent the entire day at the Quiraing and there was no time for a second walk. Most of us went up onto the top of 'The Prison' and 3 of us made the trek up onto 'The Table'. The Table is a flattish piece of ground completely surrounded by rock pinnacles and cliffs. It is kind of cool.
Whereas last year we just walked down the track to the road this year we decided to walk back to where we started over the top. This is something I hadn't done before but it was a wonderful walk. The sky was clear giving beautiful sea views. On the way home we stopped off in Portree for an hour or so before going back to Sligachan for the dinner that Dave was preparing.
Day 3 - Sea Eagles and Cullin peaks
On day 3 the group split. Marshy took a group of three up Bruach Na Frithe (958m). Not everyone (understandably) wanted to do the grueling 958m of climbing, some of which was scrambling so while Marshy took 3 of the party up the Munro I took the other 5 back to Portree to go on a boat trip to try and see some sea eagles. After the boat trip where they got to see their nesting sites and a few eagles in flight I dropped the group of 5 off for a 6 km coastal walk back along Loch Sligachan back to Sligachan. Before heading back to base to cook the evening meal.
I cooked my favourite party piece of a mushroom wellington. I got a bit confused with the quantities and made a bit much of the filling but we managed to use it in pasties and as a kind of mushroom and nut pate for lunches over the next couple of days.
Day 4 - Waternish point
The weather had seemed to finally turn against us in Sligachan so we decided to head to do a coastal walk at the north of the island. We parked up at Trumpan, the site of a particularly brutal massacre in 1578 as a part of a feud between the MacLeods and MacDonalds. We set off and had walked the 6 km to the lighthouse in no time. Once there we sat about for an hour or so watching Seals, Minke Whales, Oyster Catchers and loads of diving Gannets before heading back to the van and driving home. Against all predictions when we got back Marshy wasn't standing outside the smouldering wreck of a chalet with a guilty look on his face but had made a rather good mushroom and spinach lasagna for dinner.
While we were out there Dave had a great idea for next year, we'll bring some camping equipment up and if some of our guests want to we can hang out there all evening, have a fire on the beach and head back the next day. I'm so up for that.
While on the boat trip the previous day when asked about otters the people running the trip mentioned that some of the fishermen leave fish out for them on their boats at the end of the day and if we wanted to see any then we should go down to the quay at dusk. Last year we didn't get to see any otters so I for one was quite keen on this. We headed out to Portree that evening and rather than the odd glimpse were treated to half an hour of watching otters running over the fishing boats, playing in the nets and munching fish.
Day 5 - Glen Brittle and Fairy Pools
The day started with a potter along Glen Brittle Beach then after a trip over a rickety bridge (it is a lot more rickety than it looked) everyone took a walk through the woods up towards the fairy pools car park. We were treated to another Golden Eagle sighting. Fairy pools is meant to be one of the best wild swimming spots in the UK.
Unfortunately we didn’t have the best of weather and so declined from taking a dip. We kept stopping, thinking we were pretty much at the end of the series of mini water falls and plunge pools but every time we took a few more steps up the hill we were confronted with more beautiful little spots. When we were sure we were at the top we turned back to the van and returned home.
Day 6 - Corrie Lagan and the Glen Brittle Peninsula
Our last day. All week Rich had been wanting to go to see the Eas Mor waterfall that he had seen in our photos from last year. We all took the short walk upto the waterfall (it is only about 800 meters from the road). After posing for the obligatory group photo we split into two groups. One group went up to Corie Lagan and the other went down to walk out along the coastline of the peninsular.
The group who went up took their lunch at the top by the Lochan in the Bowl of Corie Lagan watching an intrepid snorkeler.