31 August 2009

Notes from an Exhibition

Nothing really to report. I've been busy working since my last post, which has meant that I have been unable to head for the hills or the rivers of Cumbria. For the past few days it has bucketed it down so hopefully when Wednesday comes around the rivers should be up and paddling should be a possibility.

However, today at work I stumbled across this book, in a bag, at the base of one of the trees besides our cabin. The bag said "Free Book" so I picked it up and checked it out. It was a book, which had been dumped as part of the Book Crossing movement, that I'll now read and dump in some other location.

The Book Crossing movement is a pretty cool thing. Basically you leave a book in a public place for it to be claimed and read by a complete stranger. This stranger then does the same and by logging onto the website you can see where the book has been and who it has been read by. It's kind of a recycling scheme for books which, I suppose, is good karma for you as you brighten up a strangers life when they stumble across a free book.

Good lines, stay safe and see you on the wet stuff...

28 August 2009

Carrying up the Caldew

Looking up the Caldew Valley with Bowscale Fell to the left and Carrock Fell to the right.

The Wednesday that has just gone was one of those Wednesday's. One of those Wednesday's where you do nothing for most of the day and then suddenly everything is all go. I had one very similar to this the other month and the result was pretty much the same; I went kayaking in the evening.

Walking along the Cumbria Way in the direction of Skiddaw House.

When plans were first hatched it was decided that we would head over to Mungrisdale to paddle the Caldew, then on reassessing the situation we changed plans to the old faithful, Aira Beck. To be honest I wasn't too chuffed with this change because my summer paddling has either consisted of Aira Beck or the stuff I did over in the Alps in June. However, when arriving at Aira Beck it was high, and we decided to head over to Mungrisdale in the hope of the Caldew being in a similar vain.

Breaking into the flow high up on the Caldew.

When we pulled up besides the Caldew it was flowing well and it was definitely going. This put a smile on my face and after gearing up and organising a shuttle I was able to strap the boat in and start walking up the Cumbria Way using the secret weapon.

On the lead-in to the Picnic Pool.

The half-an-hour walk up the valley was with out a doubt worth it, and to be honest I have had more gruelling, morale draining walk-in's before, but it seems that I have always been rewarded with memorable river descents.

Today was certainly one of those descents. The Caldew was fast paced, continuous, good humoured grade 3/4 fun, which provided plenty of excitement. There was just one rapid, which we had to think about, and this was the Picnic Pool, but a quick inspection and a smidgen of safety saw us through the rapid and on downstream.

Sliding down into the Picnic Pool in the hope of punching through the meaty stopper at the bottom.

Since then I've been busy working, hence such a late posting, and that's how it's going to be until Wednesday, where fingers crossed, the weather will prove as useful and allow me to get out and play.

Good lines, stay safe and see you on the wet stuff...

25 August 2009

Photo dump: An afternoon of mishaps

It's been a while since I've put more than one picture in a post so I've decided to dump a few shots, that have been snapped over the past few weeks, into this post before writing about this afternoon's antics.

The sunflower in our back garden that we have been augmenting over the past few month.

Looking up the second zip wire at work.

Today's day off coincided with a spell of beautiful weather, which meant I could get out climbing; like always I was without partner so I couldn't don a rope and head for a mountain crag, but instead I decided to head to St. Bees North Head. However, when making the dodgy descent down to the boulders I could see that tidal conditions weren't going to allow me the pleasure of this wonderful bouldering venue.

West Cumbrian farmers busy at work, in the fields, harvesting the wheat.

I quickly rehashed my plans and headed across the fields to Fleswick Bay, which is just along the coast from St Bees North Head, and more importantly not affected by the tide. By the time I had got down to the soft sandstone I was starting to lose motivation, but after playing around with my camera for ten minutes or so I slipped into my boots and started working some problems.

Looking south along the sandstone cliffs, which separates Cumbria from the Irish Sea.

A passer-by playing in Fleswick Bay's surf.

Fleswick Bay's ever changing shingle beach.

I ticked off a few problems that were in my normal grade range, but I still was not feeling it, so after a while I gave up and started to head back to the van to refuel before heading off in-land to the Borrowdale Valley.

Slapping for the slopper on Self Timer (V5), Fleswick Bay.

I had planned to make the most of my two days off by not returning to Carlisle this evening. I was going to boulder on the coast today and then go for a walk in the evening. I was then going to pitch my tent up somewhere so that I could continue walking tomorrow without the commute from Carlisle, thus saving money, time and fuel.

Looking across to Blencathra and Skiddaw from the western flanks of Glaramara.

However, the drop in motivation that appeared at Fleswick Bay seemed to make another appearance around 6:30pm when I was starting to approach the base of Hind Crag so I turned tail and headed back for the van, which was parked up at Seathwaite, before heading for home. On reflection I should have just forced myself onwards because as I tap out this post and look out of the window the night looks wonderful and it would have been absolutely delightful to spend the night under canvas around the summit of Glaramara.

Good lines, stay safe and see you on the wet stuff...

18 August 2009

The weather

How does that popular, and famous for that matter, song go by that ever so popular Irish group?
"It's just one more day
No one said
There would be rain again
Won't blame it on myself
I'll blame it on the weatherman"
Ah yes. B*Witched. Such a great musical talent and could always provide relevant lyrics for the outdoor enthusiast. If there's not enough rain to go paddling we'll do as B*Witched say; we'll blame it on the weatherman, and then, if there's rain so that the rock is too moist for climbing we'll do as B*Witched say: we'll blame it on the weatherman.

Enough of this pointless waffling. What I'm trying to say here is that my climbing plans were scuppered today as it rained, which meant that the dolerite of Crag Lough and Peel Crag was out of condition and instead I found myself on the plastic of Penrith Leisure Centre's climbing wall.

Good lines, stay safe and see you on the wet stuff...

17 August 2009

A bit of a ramble

Obstacles on the path along Stoneycroft Gill.

On Sunday I said I was off camping and walking around the Langdales and if I was being honest I'd say: that didn't happen. The main reason being the weather, but also a bit of laziness on my part, as it was forecast for 55mph gusts on the fell tops, which isn't the best conditions for wild camping besides Stickle Tarn.

Litter strewn across Grasmoor.

This meant that Sunday was, for me, a lazy day, but today saw me rambling around the Derwent Fells. I started out from the Newlands Valley and walked up the side of Stoneycroft Gill and then from here I made a summit of Sail before traversing along The Scar to the triangulation pillar at the top of Crag Hill. From here there was a descent to the col of Grasmoor and Crag Hill before making my way across to Grasmoor's 852m summit.

Panarom from NY 188 202.

I backtracked a wee bit so that I could then head off along Wandope and on across Whiteless Edge to the pike, which shares the same name as the edge. A descent was made, across country, down to Third Gill and Sail Beck, before ascending to the col east of Sail so that a final push could be made to Causey Pike and then back on down to the Newlands Valley.

Looking out over the Newlands Valley, Derwent Water, Borrowdale and beyond from Scar Crags.

I'm off climbing tomorrow so expect another post tomorrow evening before another period of inactivity as I'm back at work on Wednesday.

Good lines, stay safe and see you on the wet stuff...

16 August 2009

Isn't it great...

when everything falls into place, meaning that you get one great day of boating in after such a long spell without: that is what happened yesterday.

I have been blessed with four days off from work and on Friday whilst driving home from work, looking forward to the short break ahead, it started to rain, and when I got home I had an email asking about paddling the following day. I replied with a great big YES and when I awoke the next day, ready for my days boating, it was still raining. Great.

Approaching Crammel Linn on the Irthing.

Plans had been hatched to meet at 9am in Keswick besides the James Bond Museum, but they where changed; according to the Met Office, the majority of the rain had fallen over the borders. After rehashing the plan we soon found ourselves dragging boats through the moors in the general direction of Crammel Linn on the Irthing. I've mentioned this drop before and said, on that occasion, that it was one I wanted to do and to put it simply, it still is. On looking at the biggest fall in the region I didn't feel up to hucking my meat off the drop so I put on below and headed off downstream back to Gilsland.

Hucking off Crammel Linn.

Once off the Irthing it seemed rude to pack up and go home; there was so much water around. We called in on the Gelt, on the way back west, which looked a bit low so some phone calls where made in the hope of discovering what the Lakes had in store. We were greeted with the news that everything along the side of Ullswater was up and that is where we headed. Our first port of call was Aira Beck, a beck I have done twice before, where we were greeted with a raging torrent. Naturally we put on and headed off downstream.

At the bottom of the Seven Sisters.

Somewhere on Aira Beck.

As always with Aira Beck we had the mandatory portages and as always the tourists, admiring the falling cascades, asked whether we were going to paddle over them. We smiled, replied 'no' and continued our portage.

Fantasy lines on High Force, Aira Beck.

By the time we had finished Aira Beck it was late in the afternoon and energy levels were low. The day had been fantastic, made even better by the fact that the water had arrived just as I started a mini-break from work. This has now set me up for the remaining three days away from the trees; I think I'll head off walking this afternoon and camp up around Stickle Tarn and finish the walk off on Monday. Tuesday might see me get out on the rock for a spot of climbing.

More pictures can be found here.

Good lines, stay safe and see you on the wet stuff...

03 August 2009

Activity at Last

Needle Arete (V0, 5a).

Of late you may have noticed that posts have become less and less frequent, and those posts that have been published are, if you were being honest, of little interest. The reasons behind this are threefold:
  1. I've been busy working at Go Ape to replenish the funds before starting back at university at the end of September.
  2. I haven't really been getting out on my day's off because the weather has either been too rubbish for climbing or I've been unable to find people to go paddling with to make use of the weather which is recking the climbing.
  3. I've not had a fully functioning camera.
However, some of these factors have been cured. Obviously I'm still working over the summer, but I've been off today, and I've also got the day off tomorrow.

Problem 4, Warm-Up Area (V3).

Luckily the weather was just good enough to get a spot of bouldering in at Carrock Fell this afternoon. I managed to crack out ten problems at the North Central Group ranging from some simple V0's to some powerful V3's. It felt good to be on the rock again and it was made even better by the fact that my new camera is allowing me to get some good bouldering self-portraits. It does take a bit of setting up to get right, but it adds to the fun of it all. I've just got to perfect the technique now so I can rival these shots.

The Sound of One Al Slapping (V2, 5c).

I'm unsure of what I'll get up to tomorrow. There's a few jobs that need to be done in Carlisle, which will probably take little more than an hour, and then I'm free to do what I want. There could be a chance of getting out in a boat if the rain, which is promised, comes early enough to be of any use. It'll be nice if it does; I missed out on the boating opportunities at the end of last week.

Good lines, stay safe and see you on the wet stuff...