16 April 2012

Another weekend off..

I've just returned to work after another short holiday, because on Sunday it was Phoebe's first birthday. We had made plans to head down to Stanage for a couple of days of climbing and camping fun. However, a combination of a poor weather forecast and some looming changes at work put an end to that. Instead we stayed at home and enjoyed what Cumbria has to offer.

Phoebe triking along the disused railway between Keswick and Threlkeld.

On the first day we headed over to Keswick to make use of the disused railway, which makes for excellent triking. The following day we headed a couple of miles east to Walby Farm Park to see the baby lambs, watch racing ferrets and piglets suckling.

Phoebe opening her presents on her first birthday.

On the final day of my short holiday, the day Phoebe turned one, we headed to the Bowderstone, late in the morning so we could have a Teddy Bear's picnic at the base of The Stone, whilst enjoying the sun and occasionally pulling on some holds in the hope of making upward progress.

Phoebe having a Teddy Bear's Picnic for her birthday whilst Daddy sets off on The Crack (V4).

Upward progress was successful on the usual problems and I managed a repeat of Picnic Sarcastic Sit Start Right Hand (V8) before looking at some other problems I've never attempted before. I looked at Power Pinch (V6) and had little success once the power pinch had been latched, I also considered Bloodsucker (V8) and Impropa Opera (V8), but had to sack it off due to the skin on on the finger's of my right hand deteriorating rapidly.

More pictures of the three days can be found here.

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

28 March 2012

Four Days of Mountain Adventures.

I've just returned to work after a short, five day holiday, in which I managed to get out into the mountains for four of those days. That in itself is impressive, but what is even more impressive was the Cumbrian weather; it was perfect.

Phoebe stood above Great Langdale Beck with the Langdale Pikes in the background.

On the first day we went for a walk around the Langdales with my mum (Phoebe's Nanna) and my brother (Phoebe's Uncle Dan). We started out from Elterwater and headed up the valley, and returned along the banks of Great Langdale Beck. Once back at Elterwater we continued on down to Skelwith Bridge before retracing our steps.

The tent pitched and Phoebe exploring.

The following day was a late start, but that was because we had a lot to pack; we were going to spend the night under canvas in the Eskdale Valley. The Eskdale Valley, in my opinion, is too far to drive in one day, from Carlisle, meaning I have never visited the valley. However, an overnight stay makes the long drive around the west coast of Cumbria more worthwhile.

Sat enjoying the spray being blown from Stanley Force.

We arrived at the Fisherground Campsite at mid-day, and after pitching the tent and lunching we headed out for a walk, which took in Stanley Ghyll, and ended at Dalegarth. This meant we could return to the campsite by the narrow gauge train, which runs up and down the valley. In the evening, I went for a boulder at Eskdale Fisherground's Diamond Area, which was twenty minutes from the tent.

Trying to get established on the slab of Problem 7 (V2, 6a), Animal Boulder.

The following day, after a cold start, we headed up to the Animal Boulder, which was only ten minutes walk from the tent, for an early morning boulder before packing up and headed further up the valley for a short walk around Hardknott Fort.

Phoebe having a walk around Hardknott Fort with the Scafell Range behind.

The final day of the four day mountain adventure saw me having an early start; the plan was to tick off a couple of routes on Esk Buttress. We walked in to the crag, which lies on the flanks of Scafell Pike and sits high up in Eskdale, from Seathwaite Farm in Borrowdale so we had a fair few miles and meters of ascent to cover. We managed to get it done in two, long, tiring and sweaty hours and were climbing the first pitches of Square Chimney by 10am.

Seconding the first pitch of Square Chimney (VS).

After ticking the first four pitches of Square Chimney we stepped across onto Medusa Wall and finished up that route's final two pitches. This gave us six pitches of stunning climbing, on some perfect Borrowdale Volcanics, on what has to be one of the remotest, and most beautiful crags in the Lake District.

Upper Eskdale as the sun sinks behind the Scafell Range.

More pictures of the four days can be found here.

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

19 March 2012

A Day at the Crag.

Looking out across the Langdale Valley to Pike o'Blisco.

I had a day off today, so headed out into the Langdale Valley with my rack in my bag, and a partner for the day. We headed to White Ghyll, which is close to the road, but still far enough away to get some solitude, peace and quiet.

Looking down on Stickle Barn.

We started out on Slip Knot (VS, 4b), before moving on to Laugh Not (HVS, 5b), which is an unrelenting climb that just keeps going. It's been a while since I've been on a rope, let alone on a rope outside, and to be honest you could tell. I didn't move across the rock with any elegance and climbing with double ropes added to the confusion.

Starting out on Slip Knot (VS, 4b).

However, it was nice to be out on the Lake District rock and it would be nice to be out with the rack and ropes more often. It's just a shame that it is so hard to do that, with everything else that has to be done, in order to live from day to day.

Nearly at the end of Laugh Not (HVS, 5b).

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

14 March 2012

Heading East

Phoebe climbing for the guidebook.

It's unusual for me to have a Wednesday off, but I did, and thank god I did. Firstly Starbucks were giving away free Latte's all morning so I was able to get one of those, but more importantly, the sun was shining. We therefore headed east into The County (Northumberland) for a spot of bouldering at Shaftoe.

About to be spat off Mini Power (Font 6c).

Shaftoe is an amazing bouldering venue with well over 300 problems graded from Font 3 through to Font 8b and is also perfect for my entourage and their accompanying vehicles. We headed over to the Pudding Stone and then worked our way south down to Arete Land, which isn't far at all, but still, there are twenty four problems in this section and I ticked just under 50% of them.

Starting out on Slapper (Font 7a).

I feel that I should have ticked more, but I seem to struggle on The County's sandstone and have to make a real effort just to get up the low graded problems. However, I did tick a Font 7a today, the first time I have done this in The County, and despite this, I still got spat off a couple of easier problems.

On reflection I think the height of the problems subconsciously discourages me in trying really hard; instead of using momentum to get me through moves I try them statically, and at times, this approach does not work. The County top-outs also put me off some of the higher problems, as one wrong slip means gravity will take effect, resulting in some degree of pain; it is inevitable that I would land on my back, which is something I do not cherish, especially as I tend to boulder with out any spotters.

Phoebe exploring her cave.

This may seem strange as I tend to visit crags these days with my two girls in tow. I suppose one of them is eleven months old (tomorrow) and the other is too busy entertaining the former. However, we struck lucky today. We found a friendly cave at Arete Land, where we could attach some of Phoebe's toys and what followed was something to behold; Phoebe clambered up, down and around the cave so she could get at her toys.

Topping out on Classic Arete (Font 6a).

Back to work tomorrow.

More pcitures can be found here.

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

10 March 2012

Unusual Items at the Crag and a Personal Best

We've just got back from an afternoon at the Bowderstone. I've been slightly apprehensive about returning to The Stone; my last visit was back in early June 2011, and I've not been climbing much since then. However, I have been racking up the hours on the Beastmaker so I had some confidence in my finger strength, but was still concerned; The Stone isn't the friendliest of venues for someone out of climbing shape.

Phoebe exploring the Bowderstone and it's surroundings.

Phoebe came with us, so the walk-in from the small lay-by, off the Borrowdale road, was fairly brutal. The Mountain Buggy doesn't cope that well with bedrock steps and microwave size boulders so we had to carry Phoebe (in her pushchair), Phoebe's accessories, my rock shoes and bouldering mats the five hundred meters or so to the base of The Stone. I suppose we were lucky that we could also carry the V-Tech so Phoebe could be kept entertained for the two hour session, by exploring the base of The Stone, whilst pushing it along.

Phoebe is looking at the ladder to the top of The Stone whilst Daddy climbs Statstick (V6). She's probably thinking the ladder would be an easier way to get to the top.

At the start and on the second to last move of Picnic Sarcastic Sit Start Right Hand (V8).

I did however surprise myself, despite all my apprehensions. I ticked, what were my five warm-up problems a year ago, on my first attempts and then got Statstick (V6) on the third or fourth go. This problem had previously taken me countless attempts over several sessions to tick. I then moved onto Picnic Sarcastic (V7), which I got on the first go, again, a problem that took me several sessions to get, and then the tour de force was ticking Picnic Sarcastic Sit Start Right Hand (V8) on my first go. I did get on this problem during my last couple of visits, and probably only had ten attempts at the line, but had little success.

I certainly surprised myself, and perhaps I should have a bit more confidence in my abilities. I suppose the countless sessions on the fingerboard, has been the key to maintaining a base level of strength, so I can make the most of those small windows of opportunity to try something that requires you to pull hard on small holds.

Tomorrow I'm back to work and who knows when I'll be back out on the rock.

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

14 February 2012

It's been a while...

I will show you all how it is done.

It's been a while since I've been out on the rock. I think it might have been over half a year since I pulled my climbing shoes on and scaled a rock. However, that changed today. The three of us headed down into the South Lakes to explore the Kentmere Valley and the bouldering it has on offer.

Daddy checking out another problem.

We started out at Badger Rock, which I have visited before, and I ticked off a number of problems that I had done on that previous visit. I certainly felt rusty when it came to moving over the rock. I still had the strength to pull on the small holds, but that has been slowly improving since working out a couple of times a week on a fingerboard, however my technique had certainly deteriorated. I was relying on pulling hard to get me through moves rather than good footwork and body positioning.

Daddy sticking the last move on a problem.

I ticked a dozen problems at Badger Rock before we decided to move across the road to Little Font. However, we never did get to Little Font as Phoebe was starting to get tired, hungry and fed up so instead we gave it up and headed back to the car and the north.

More pictures of the day can be seen here.

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

30 January 2012

Wheeling along the Bridleways

Looking up the Grizedale Valley.

Today was the last day of my holidays; tomorrow I return to the hectic world of retail, and to top it off the weather was on form. We headed out into the Lake District National Park, leaving the car at Patterdale and headed up the Grizedale Valley, on a recommendation from our good friends Ruth and Richard Irons.

At the head of the Grizedale Valley with Nethermost Pike, Eagle Crag and Dollywagon Pike behind.

The path on the east of the valley is suitable for a Mountain Buggy so we pushed Phoebe along until it started to narrow and ascend to Grizedale Tarn. However we were treated to some spectacular views of the Helvellyn massif; for the entirety of the walk we were in a natural amphitheater with St Sunday Crag, Dollywagon Pike, High Crag, High and Low Spying How and Bleaberry Crags towering overhead with their snow capped tops glistening in the sun.

Mr Peter Rabbit.

More pictures of this walk and many other walks in January can be found here.

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

29 January 2012

In Search of the Northern Lights

Yesterday we got back from a short stay in Scotland, on the shores of Loch Lomond, after hearing that there was a chance of seeing the Northern Lights. We had originally started making plans to head for the Isle of Skye, even though the Aurora Borealis had been witnessed as far south as North Yorkshire, which is extremely unusual. However, as the week progressed, the idea of heading to the Isle of Skye, for three days, in the hope of seeing an unpredictable natural event seemed slightly optimistic.

Looking across the Loch from Rowardennan.

However, we still wanted to head north so we settled on a hotel in a small village called Drymen, under the premise that we may still see the Northern Lights, but if we didn't at least we hadn't wasted hours upon hours of a short break driving on a whim. We ended up spending our time exploring the shores of Loch Lomond with Phoebe, either in her pushchair, or on my back, and didn't once see a glimmer of the Aurora Borealis.

Looking down on Loch Lomond some where near Toll a' Bhruit.

Ben Vorlich.

Phoebe all snugly and warm with a chilling Ben Vorlich behind.

More pictures of the short break can be seen here.

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

23 January 2012

Some more walking...

Sycamore Gap.

We headed out for a quick walk this afternoon. Instead of making the usual drive south into the Lake District National Park, we headed east, into the Northumberland National Park, for a short walk along Hadrian's Wall.

We started from Steel Rigg and walked east, besides the wall to Sycamore Gap, which was made famous by appearing in the 1991 film, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.

Peel Crag and Crag Lough.

We've also made some recent additions to our book shelves to accommodate our walking activities with Phoebe. After a recommendation from a work colleague we purchased the two All Terrain Pushchair walking books covering the North Lakes and the South Lakes as well as a book for when Phoebe is that bit bigger and is navigating her way through the fells.

More pictures of all of January's walks can be found here.

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

16 January 2012

Some more walking...

Parked up in Whinlatter Forest with Skiddaw in the background.

The weather did hold out until today so the three of us headed to Whinlatter Forest Park, where I used to work, so that Phoebe could explore the forest trails from the comfort of her pushchair.

To say I had worked in the forest for the past three summers I had not really gone further than the area covered by the Go Ape course, which I am slightly embarrassed by. Whilst working for Go Ape I certainly didn't see the best of the forest; there are some spectacular views out over the Northern Lake District.

More pictures of this walk and the previous two walks can be found here.

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

14 January 2012

What a difference a week makes...

Letting my vehicle rest.

It's amazing what a difference a week makes; last week it was blowing a gale and absolutely chucking it down. This week there wasn't a cloud in the sky. However, there was the slightest of breezes but when in the sun, it was pleasantly warm, meaning the three of us headed to the hills once again.

Having a wee nap.

On this occasion, we ventured slightly higher up the fells in the hope of having some nice scenery to admire and we weren't disappointed; the crystal clear blue skies allowed us to admire the many peaks of the Lake District's western fells.

Having a bread stick to keep my energy up.

However, we did cheat slightly as our walk started from Watendlath Tarn, meaning the majority of our height was gained whilst sat in a car. Our walk took in Dock Tarn and then, after retracing our steps, headed up Joppelty How allowing us to admire a high ball project that was climbed last year by Carlisle resident Pete Gunn.

Looking down to Watendlath, with Skiddaw in the distance.

It's back to work tomorrow, but I'm off on Monday and supposedly this spell of weather is set to last a little longer so we may be able to get out and about sooner rather than later.

My mummy, daddy and me, obviously.

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

07 January 2012

Blowing in the Wind

On the path from the New Dungeon Ghyll to the Old Dungeon Ghyll.

The opportunities to get out into the mountains are few and far between at the minute, but this year I am trying to make a conscious effort to resolve this issue. It does mean that I'll have to change the objectives for a days mountain adventure, but the underlying rational for mountain exploration will still be there.

It was all a bit to much work for our little Feebs.

Today the three of us explored Great Langdale's valley floor. From the New Dungeon Ghyll we walked up to the Old Dungeon Ghyll and then on into Mickleden. We eventually turned around and retraced our steps when the driving wind and rain got a bit too much for Phoebe, who soon after fell asleep on my back.

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