Seven acres, Nannycatch gate and the Coffin road, Loweswater

With the summer holidays upon us I have returned to my bicycle and cycled sons to get wheels rolling again. Last week we kicked off with the seven acres loop followed by a loop through Uldale, this week we have headed for Loweswater with son 2.

The Seven Acres loop runs counterclockwise from Gosforth, out through Fleming Hall and Seascale hall and crosses at cross lanes. After negotiating Whitriggs Beck at Panope it then crosses again at the caravan site heading for Bleng bridge. The weather was sunny, the track was hard and dusty and we bowled along glad to get our legs back into spin. At Bolton Head you can elect to add an extra loop into the Bleng; we declined. Nipping back into Gosforth we called at the Red Admiral (closed!) and then the Stanley Arms – effort in fitting new doors, keeping the garden sweet and good beer.

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After a dentist appointment Thursday we ended up in Cleator with bikes and so drove up to the Nannycatch Road gate. Bikes off we dropped over the shoulder of Flat Fell skirting Raven crag. Even without the bonus ford we crossed the river eight times, an extra loop has been added. We ummed and ahhed about a return considering Lowther but elected to cut alongside the Uldale plantation returning via Cobra Castle. Again fast and furious due to the dry conditions. The final challenge was the climb back up Nanny catch road; I struggled to keep up with J.

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Today, the first Sunday of the holidays proper we headed to Fangs Brow. This is an anticlockwise loop skirting the heights of Loweswater to the south and returning beside the water. The double climb up to Burnbank Fell was hard for H and although we enjoyed the swoops he was clearly not dialled in.

20140720-185358.jpgAt the Holme Wood Gate we decided to descend on the single track and cut short Maggies Bridge. We turned left past Holme force, a new location for me.

20140720-185817.jpg We cut left at Hudson Farm and back onto Tarmac clibing the 1 in 4 back to the car; refreshment was provided at the Brook.

Following the snake

Unusually, I am blogging this in my Ollismark blog rather than the aberrantbee blog. My outdoor ramblings have declined of late, not due to a lack of activities but rather an increase in outdoor time.

The upper Esk is a great trip but we avoid it as it is used by lots of outdoor groups. Today, to improve my logbook I was with one. There are plenty of cowboys out there but Andy Brown runs one of the slickest operations and I was glad to be inboard.

Changing on the green, we unloaded his trailer and dressed into Johns, BAs and spray tops. I opted for a summer rig which went well buts I was a little cold. Three groups were run; we won the fastest up the fell contest and so went first entering the second section at the Roman Bath house (picnic rock) and beginning with a jump river left into the slot canyon (dead sheep jump, below the pinnacle. I had jumped this river right before but Andy always puts the environment first and the right bank is getting overused.

All of our group jumped, some twice swimming upstream the second round the climb the staircase. A rope was dropped into the upper stair river right and left for the other groups. Some kids split here, opting for a scramble out rather than the second ascent, the cream were establishing themselves. Up from here options exist, either a water level traverse or exit onto the right bank. The group were divided.

The lavatory pan was at a good level and so we had a swimming competition before working up the gorge into the green pool. I rigged the climb on a boss, small tree and block thread before bringing up the group and crossing them into the triple jump pool. This was escalated into the ladder climb before jumping into bridge pool and heading for the sphincter.

Just over half jumped this, one lad over rotated, a reminder that the top rock is still quite uneven but smiled at his ‘man of the match’ award.

We caught the piñacle on the way down (a temple to all things house) and my favourite jump at 7 meters. The offside sycamore is slightly higher at 7.5 but the jump into a slot between submerged boulders harder. The same height as the triple but for me just as satisfying as the take off is cleaner.

We returned to pack up, clear off and slip a slippery one at the Boot beer festival.

A great day out and plenty learnt from Chris. On a personal level I felt no mor inclined to jump the sphincter than normally and think is should be on a continuos Baker loop. After all, as Andy said, they can make there own minds up at 18.

PS Esk is short for esker, a sinuos snake like glacial feature.

Lingmell nose and col

A quick wander last weekend with the intention of circumnavigating to Pen. The weather was poor and as I was solo I decided on a ‘yellow brick road’ return.

Thursday 20th Feb;

Finding the outdoors

I have neglected this blog. The reasons are simple: work. Both paid and voluntary. The latter makes me tick, the former has become burdensome,

As spring smokes it’s daffodils suddenly some clarity returns. Work has tied me to a desk; never the reason I entered teaching whilst my voluntary work frees me from it. Whether it is water, underground or mountain ( my personal ‘Rescue 3′ the key ingredient here is the Great outdoors.

This week I have stepped out four times, all under the rescue umbrella.

Sunday I walked with Ryan around Eskdale fell; a fantastic parempleth of Birketts and crags, waterways and sheep scores. We hopped from Goat to ring contours, outfalls to kettle holes and as altitude increased the cloud base fell. This was precisely the end we needed for poor visibility navigation was our assessment objective. We finished on Catgill crags a place I had only to do list. Smothered with Juniper it beckoned me in. I promised, at that point to take Ryan back sometime.

Tuesday a stretcher was delivered to Dave at Scouts and we searched for Andy up on Tomlin. Six micro outdoorsmen then carried our casualty back to the coast and brightened his evening,

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Carling Knott and Loweswater End, my missing Birketts

Inspired by the conversations on the new Facebook group – Cairns and Trig points, I headed to one of my outstanding Birketts. I downloaded the map square onto my phone at home but stopping to spot tops on the way across I realised it had only partly downloaded. Therefore I opted to approach from Fangs Brow rather than the planned Maggies bridge as I had the western map tiles.

I headed through the gates and up the hill. After the fourth gate (with the large bolt) look up to the three bends in the wall above. At the middle bend the final gate turns the path leftwards. Three options are available, the main path drops but a horizontal contour around passes old spoil and heads towards a flat below the Burnbank ridge.

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From here I contoured around dropping down the fence line before climbing up the beck and onto Loweswater End, Carling Knott.

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Walking along the edge a much better shelter exists at 544m, this is the top Birkett call Carling Knott. I veered rightwards from here curving downwards thought the saddle and up onto Burnbank.

The descent back to the car was direct rather than following the ridge but wet underfoot but not as wet as the pint in the Stork; a new venue for me but friendly, good value and real ale.

Final Week in Devon

    Thursday 22nd August – Chudleigh: Green mantle / Tar Baby, Wogs

I had arranged to meet John Baker at the crag at six but he was delayed so Harry and I headed to the cave to kit up and start climbing. Tar Baby seemed a good place to begin, I had done it years previously with Nicky but didn’t remember it being so polished. I led out with H secured to the cave gate but felt insecure at the mantle shelf move left and so opted for Green Mantle instead. It was green, there was a small tree to follow and I made the belay ledge easily. Two solid pieces of gear and H followed me up dropping the first bit of kit and struggling with the next. Very soon he was in his groove and Johnny appeared below. I led on around the tree and up into Tar baby and H and Johnny followed up; a nice little route.

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After some instruction in Alpine descent techniques by John we descended the tree routes and took up station at the bottom of Wogs. As John stated ‘I don’t think anyone would object if this was to be renamed’. This was his baby and he led all three pitches coaxing Harry up fabulously. It is a straightforward and direct line and deserves the stars; as we climbed night wore on.

The descent experience in dark was a new one for H but a worthwhile event.

    Friday 23rd August – Zig Zag wood, Kenton Hill, Mamhead.

After Tom’s return from work we sussed out a circular tour of the edge of Ziz Zag wood keeping to the cliff edge where possible. Although flat, the first part was overgrown and so necessitated some technical tree canopy skills. Crossing the coming up from Westley Manor Farm at the chevron the character changes and you open onto a flinty forest track.

We followed this again keeping on the edge but H was running out of puff so that as it started raining we returned to the car. It was great to be in a new area but the quality of the riding was a little wanting.

    Saturday 24th August – Go Ape, Haldon Hill

Horray, at last Harry is tall enough and we had fun on the slides, obstacles and swings.

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    Sunday 25th August – Endurance Horse Ride, Brentor, Dartmoor.

Debbie and Sarah met up with Anthony to ride the 64km challenge up the western flanks of Dartmoor whilst we crewed. They all passed vetting, a relief for Debbie who now just needs an 80km ride to qualify for advanced.

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    Monday 26th August – Woodlands Theme Park

My worst nightmare! as it happened a nice balanced day out with assault course, falcons and watery rides. We packed Tuesday and returned on Wednesday to the Wild West.

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A million thank yous to Tum and Dobbie for putting up with us putting them down and them putting us up.

Devon Adventures WEEK 2

Tuesday 13th August pm – Climbing Blackingstone Rock

Tom had spotted this out crewing the horse with Carol and further inspection revealed it was in the guide book. Two V diff routes follow either side of the main [northwards facing] face about 100ft long. We arrived and walked up to the face kitting out on the rightwards trending side. H quickly kitted up and was keen to surmount the initial harder section; he moved up over the difficult start and waited for me on the ledge. I arrived with lead gear, set up a belay, flaked out the ropes [with bottom ends buried] and headed off up the pitch.

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I hadn’t climbed for a while and had forgotten how rounded granite can be. There seemed a lack of nut placements and very soon I had used up all of my cams. The hand holes were few and far between but it was grippy rock and the angle was slab like. Eventually I got to the top overhang and as suggested moved right around into the gully, this was largely unprotected. The crowds had increased and the noise levels with them so I couldn’t hear H below. I shouted ‘safe’ and took in the ropes unbeknown that H had not tied on. I traversed around the back of the block and up onto the summit whilst below me H was soloing up to the first bits of gear where the ropes had snagged. Needless to say his mind was a little confused once he began to climb and didn’t enjoy the climb as he might.

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Wednesday 14th August – Dartmeet and Princetown

Keen to get up on the moor we headed to Ashburton and drove in a longer way to Dartmeet. It was wet but we had planned a walk up beside the river crossing at the clapper bridge we walked up the right bank keeping low towards Babeny returning on the west side up the bridleway.

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This was a lovely beckside walk which captured the charm of Dartmoor nicely.

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Crossing at the bridge we counted field boundaries before climbing back up gradually to the farm. We cut back down to the river bank and crossed the beck again before some tea in Badgers Halt. you could easily cross the road to return via fields rather than walk back down the B road.

Thursday 15th August – Exeter and Exwick Weir

We had an explore of Exeter and then visited the automated sluices which divert water into a spill way . I’ve made a powerpoint of this for teachers which I will upload to Slideshare at some point.

Friday 16th August

Had a wander over Tom’s land looking at quarries.

Saturday 17th August – Haldon Hill Red Loop Tom

The boys led Tom around the Red loop at Haldon hill, we had talked about doing this with the blue and Tom had not done red before. The weather was wet but we all rode well, made mistakes and to run blue straight afterwards made a great little outing.

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Sunday 18th August – Exe Estuary Ride

We parked up at Starcross, taking the ferry across to Exmouth and the rode up the left [north] bank of the river on the recently commissioned cycle path. This utilises unclassified roads but also a lot of board walk and purpose built paths and is superb. Near Topsham a new bridge is being built and yo are diverted up to Dart farm but above this the path diverts alongside main roads and through housing estates losing its charm.

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We crossed at the swing bridge, shifting onto tarmaced track beside the canal and cycled down to the Turf Lock for a beer and a hot dog. Below this a bank top ride competes with walkers but this is due to be upgraded soon. Eventually you return to a metalled section around the foot of Powderham Castle and Starcross is around the corner. A lovely little loop but save the best bit till last.

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