The Deverills, north of the A303.

After a week of getting ready for a triathlon that never happened (too expensive) I was still in run, bike mode this morning.  I had arranged to mountain bike pm, this time heading towards Salisbury plain.  My early morning run didn’t help my legs later.

Jacob arranged the route, an anti-clockwise 14 km circuit from opposite Stourhead.  We turned off at the Red Lion, gained some height before spotting our first corn circle of the year.

Climbing onto the chalk ridges was tiresome but at least paved and the track up from White Sheet Lane a warming start.  We were heading to the Deverills but the most surprising find was an airfield perched atop the ridge.  Dropping into Kingston there had been some realignment of the bridleway but a traditional village pond made up for our quickly forgotten confusion.

We tracked west on Tarmac again dropping back onto bridleway by the dairy farm.  This second part was less enjoyable, the nettles were high, gates poorly maintained and sign warned of cows and calves and bulls.  We escaped onto the road once we were back at the byway.

On the way home we visited Alfred’s tower and the Nog Inn in Wincanton finishing in traditional style.

Into Scotland

After a seamless journey with stops at Westmorland and Loch Lomond for bait we arrived at about five in Fort William.  The boxes of dried provisions were unloaded and whilst some made brews other shopped or built packed lunches.  After some down time to repack our sacks we then briefed the students on route, issued some kit and ate a fantastic meal.

The plan tomorrow is to ascend from the North Face car park and then  onto Carn Beagh Deargh.  Lots of options are available …

And so the long journey north commences; across the ridge to Bridgewater and then up and over the Avon.  A quick stop at Gloucester services for some farm food and thence to the accidents of the city.  The motorway to Telford was quieter before descending into Ironbridge Gorge and our first overnight stop.

Some Links …

@SherborneTrips on Twitter

Hashtag #3Pthw 3 peaks; the hard way.

Just given?


Getting everything in order

Yesterday evening my mind turned to packing for our epic journey.  We have moved recently and so all of my pre packed bags had been tidied away leaving a clean slate. 

My man cave now has a work surface, separate places for boots, and rucksacks and all of the smaller kit is in compartments.  This meant that I was able to lay out each of the items checking them off and carefully thinking though their use and weights.

Apart from the essential waterproofs I also needed warm kit as the Ben is likely to still be cold.  My first aid kit has recently been up dated to ensue all items are in date and my 4-6 person shelter was checked.  

We are staying in hostels which negates the need for sleeping bags but I have sorted more tech than usual both as a GPS back up and the sat nav to get us between mountains they way we wish.

A slight change of act over the next few days as we begin the build to 3 peaks the hard way.  I will be blogging our journey live and adding images to Twitter – search for ollismark or Sherbornegeogaphy.  The ethos of this adventure is to top the three highest peaks in S, E & W, whilst adding in an alternative challenge on each occasion.  AMD arête, Broad crag and Ill crag and then the Clogwyn ridge onto Snowdon.  To keep the travel green we will by twilight driving and using local services in three locations.  With the additional challenges this will become 3peaks the Hard Way; no tourist tracks for us!

The final link

Mid week caving always feels a little special but at the very end of a three week holiday with work tomorrow the effect is intensified.  Having recently rediscovered OFD the chance of a trip from 2 to Cwm Dwr just had to be taken.

IMG_3156Meeting up with Richard initially and then Tarn and her two American friends at Penwyllt the night before we planned and then made a good start by reaching the cave gate at 1020.

Armed with both laminated survey and Donald and Rust we made good progress through the system with few mistakes.  From the Brick Yard and Wedding Cake Salubrious was accessed via the corkscrew.  Downstream after the normal diversions for pretties Richard navigated and I followed on the coloured survey.  Eventually the 10meter climb  was approached and descended using a variety of methods.  Maypole inlets provides the step down into the stream way.

Water levels were not high but the flow was fast and eventually the inevitable call to the front was made.  Dwarf trap ahead. We enjoyed the bracing challenge of the pots before bypassing via the Oxbows; some serenity before the roar returned.

Back in the stream way the pots increased and a false shower was mistaken for marble showers, this was later.  We egressed via Piccadilly before finding the way through the Smithy relatively easily.  Book and survey in tandem seemed to work well.  Soon Cwm Dwr choke was upon us and a shiny path through followed.  The accessed the upper reaches and the eventual crawl above Jama.  Very soon I was checking routes out of SAS chamber and the final climb to the gate was being made.  Just under 5 hours.

IMG_3116 (1)Great to have Dan and Ellen on board, we worked well together considering it was a group of five.

Thanks to Tarn for inviting me, great little club the Shepton.