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,


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.

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


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.

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.


    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.


    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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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.

Devon Adventures WEEK1

Our annual holiday this year was again with Tom and Debbie and included horses, bicycles, walking and climbing gear. We took real advantage of Haldon Forest, gradually increasing the ride intensity and lengths and improving out off road fitness again. This began on the day after we arrived with a ride from home up to the Blue loop.

Thursday 8th August

Keen to get into the forest we rode from Rydon Farm up the two hills and broke onto the trail on the wrought iron corner. This puts you into the loop at about a quarter to the hour. We rode up to the cafe, refreshed and then hit the berms proper. Dropping out at the butterfly corner we descended the steep hill before navigating back through forest to emerge below the farm. This could be an alternative climb in in the future.


Friday 9th August

Staying just up the road from Chudleigh we were up early and went on a scoping trip to the limestone rock climbing. I’ve climbed here, a long time ago and parking on the lane down from the police station it all seemed familiar. We descended to Pixies Cave and went around he corner to look up at Sarcophagus, an awesome overhang. My intention was to climb on the minor crag used by groups and we set up a top rope to climb Eeny, Meenie and Miney. H got on well and enjoyed his self but had had enough and so wanted to head back after this. This left the line from the bottom of the crag for another day.


Saturday 10th August

Back at Haldon this time we had a much bigger group. Carol had not cycled for a few years and we also hadn’t been out with Joel for a while. Much encouragement was needed on the double climb up the hills out of the farm and with Tom on board we had quite a group. We got onto the trail at the forest track to the pylons, riding up the butterfly hill and evryone had a good craic at the climb.


This was Carol’s first time on blue and so after some beverages she teetered the remainder of the course and did very well. It was great to be on good single-track within 30 minutes riding of home.

Sunday 11th August

Today’s adventure was water based and involved sit-on kayaks. I own open canoes and white water kayaks but never really saw the point in this alternative. We paddled from Stoke Gabriel down to Dittisham on the River Dart hiring the boats from Totnes Kayaks. With seven in the group we had three doubles and a single and I headed out initially with Debbie.


This was a great little paddle with plenty to see and we even were visited by a seal. Both banks are interesting and the navigation along with lobster nets, floating boats and passing traffic make it varied. the sit on kayaks were easy to access and had something of a keel. We made better time than under canoe but you were stuck in one position and my paddle had a rotting section which wore a blister.

We landed in Dittisham for refreshments and ate out sandwiches on the sea wall. The Ferry Boat Inn was rammed but still managed to produce good beer!


The return journey upstream was harder as a headwind had built and the tide had not fully turned. I paired up with H on the way back and although we beat the rest back they got involved in rescuing motor boaters. We chilled afterwards at the cafe on the dam at Stoke Gabriel, excellent value and a good atmosphere.

Monday 12th August

I headed back to Haldon today armed with the orienteering map. There is a choice available from the net or the maps from the ranger are only a pound. Permanent markers are in the wood and so I drove up to the iron gates entering the course part way round. II took my time attacking from obvious directions but the three first makers [from the beginning are the hardest]. This took me to different parts of the woods and after a couple of hours I had found them all and returned to the car satisfied.


Tuesday 13th August

Inspired by the blue routes both boys wanted to head for red. Jacob had run this before but for H it was a new experience. We parked roadside and warmed up in the skills park before heading to the ridge. Once you leave the edge and start riding westwards the swoops begin. These are committing in places with rocks at the troughs but the real fun starts when you cut eastwards again. In three sections the ride remains technical, narrow and involves bouts of acceleration. The final descent is great and ends at black.


From here the climb back up the forest track is steady and beyond this, once the road is crossed some good technical riding reappears. The ride back to the centre is flat.

Back in Haldon

Riding from the farm we climbed back up the yellow road towards the Belvedere. We hopped onto the blue course at Westwood farm climbing clockwise to the cafe. The rest of the loop ran fast and furious until we reached the butterfly corner where we peeled off dropping back down the hill. This was new territory but by persevering we found a new way through the woods, emerging close to Trusham. One climb later we were back at the farm.



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