Thursday, 22 December 2016

An Outlying Carnedd

I arrived at the Cwm Eigiau roadhead carpark, albeit a little later than planned, and was surprised that there were no spaces left.  I had expected this tucked away corner of the Carneddau to be less popular than this but perhaps quiet areas in the mountains are becoming increasingly difficult to find.

With more daylight I would probably have added Pen y Castell to the walk but the afternoon really only offered the option of a quick up-and-down of Craig Eigiau if I wanted a relaxing walk.  I started up the track leading to Melynllyn and as I turned the corner the highest tops showed off their snowy summits.  My objective was over 200 metres lower and held a lot less snow cover.

the northern Carneddau

At the fence which rises meridian-straight up towards Foel-fras, a faint path leads away leftwards from the track towards the ridgeline of Craig Eigiau.  It led up amongst the snowfields which, if steeper, would have needed crampons to safely cross.

My leisurely pace gave another walker the chance to catch me up and he said that he was heading for Carnedd Llewellyn, admitting that he may have left it a bit late in the day to reach the summit as it was almost mid-afternoon with only a couple of hours of good daylight remaining.  Although in his fifties, he said that his mother had coerced him into attending chapel earlier in the day, hence his late start.  Pleasantries completed, we wished each other well and he continued ahead of me.

Carnedd Llewellyn

Craig Eigiau’s summit ridge has some interesting terrain with rocky outcrops to explore.  The summit itself was a smooth sloping shelf of rock which, from a certain angle, replicated the outline of the main Carneddau ridge in front of it.  The clear skies allowed good views from the sea to the tops and after the obligatory summit shots I turned to retrace my steps.

Craig Eigiau summit rocks

The Welsh Matterhorn

There are many areas that claim a mountain or hill is their “Matterhorn” and Wales is no exception.  My one and only previous visit to Cnicht was 12 years ago and before I was actively ticking the Nuttalls.  I’d reached the summit on a misty day and there was a chance that I had also bagged the north top but as I hadn’t logged it, I may not have done.  But it gave me a good excuse to revisit this fine mountain.

Moel Hebog and the Nantlle Ridge

From Croesor it looks steep and intimidating, not unlike the Matterhorn, but in reality the ridge affords an fairly easy walk as the view is a classic example of foreshortening.  Easy to navigate and easy underfoot, only the top section of the route offers a change in character with some scrambling to reach the summit.  There were quite a few family parties enjoying a taste of adventure but the shoulders of mums and dads were being used to carry the toddlers !

At the small plateau below the scramble we saw a family with three small boys descending the face to the left of the normal route.  It looked a bit hairy so I kept myself ready to help just in case they needed it – luckily they didn’t.  At the same time a fellrunner took a direct line up the face and made it look easy !

From the summit we headed over to the north top.  As we got nearer it became clear that the path skirts the top and it was obvious that I hadn’t been to it on my previous visit.  A short detour bagged the summit and we walked to the top of Cwm-y-foel, dropping down beyond the few snow patches into the hanging valley to find a suitable spot for lunch.

Tremadoc Bay from Cwm-y-foel

The walk along the edge of the dammed tarn led to the descent into Cwm Croesor and an easy walk back to the car, ending an enjoyable day out in one of Snowdonia’s less popular corners.

Cnicht from Cwm Croesor

Friday, 25 November 2016

Raw Head

It’s not often I go on a walk to such a small hill that isn’t on my ticklist, but as this was the President’s Walk of the Merseyside Mountaineering Club on the day after the club’s Annual Dinner, I thought it would blow the cobwebs away.  The weather forecast was for good conditions and it thankfully lived up to expectations as the northern edge of Storm Angus made its way to our south.

We started at the Cheshire Workshops and joined the Sandstone Trail just north of Higher Burwardsley.  We reached Bulkeley Hill and enjoyed the views of the Cheshire Plain.  We left the Trail and passed Chiflik Farm to regain it, walking north along the sandstone escarpment and taking care not to slip as consequences of a fall had the potential to ruin your day as the drop was significant and steep in places.

Raw Head trig point

Raw Head is the highpoint of the Sandstone Trail from where the tallest buildings in Liverpool can be fairly easily identified.  Summit photos taken, we marked the end of the walk with a late lunch in The Pheasant Inn; the fish finger butty is recommended !

Monday, 17 October 2016

Sentries’ Ridge

“Sentries’ Ridge is certainly more serious than many Moderate or Difficult climbs, and can only sensibly be recommended to competent mountaineers.” (1)

“Craig y Bera does offer good views and interesting features to those able to cope with the capricious nature of the rock, which can be loose on both large and small scales.” (2)

“An ability to judge rock quality is more important than technical expertise.” (3)

“The huge screes below the cliffs indicate clearly enough the loose and fragile nature of these unfrequented rocks.” (4)

Over the years I have come across a number of references to Sentries’ Ridge on Mynydd Mawr but although most of them extol the adventure of this big-mountain route, all of them make specific note of the lack of quality of the rock.  And with good reason.

Following the track through the Beddgelert forest, we easily reached the open hillside and walked up Mynydd Mawr’s east ridge to the treeline before traversing to the start of the route at the bottom of Craig y Bera.  We donned harnesses and helmets and started the ridge up the faint path through the heather.  As the heather gave way to rock and incline to verticality, I called for a rope.  We split into three teams of two and made our way up, placing gear when a good placement presented itself, which wasn’t often.

Walk-in to Craig y Bera

We bypassed a pinnacle on the left – this was the route’s crux – and although the moves were straightforward, the exposure was significant and the consequences of a fall serious.  For the length of the route the rock definitely lived down to its reputation.  Huw Gilbert’s blog about the route adds some drama to the dangers of loose rock !

I read a few guidebooks to research the route before I stepped foot on it and there was no consensus about its grade, with opinions ranging from a grade 2 scramble, through 3 and 3S to a Diff rock climb !

Snowdon & Yr Aran from Sentries' Ridge

The good weather highlighted the vista – from Snowdon and Yr Aran to the full length of the Nantlle ridge and seawards to the Rivals.  At the top of the ridge we decided on a fast-and-light dash to the top of Mynydd Mawr, stashing the rucksacks in the heather.  The good views got better summit and even the summit of Tryfan could be seen over the col between Y Garn and Glyder Fawr.

Nantlle ridge from Sentries' Ridge

On a sunny bank holiday weekend we had manged to have an adventurous route to ourselves and basked in the smug self-congratulation on avoiding the inevitable bank holiday crowds on Snowdon, just over four miles away.

For anyone considering the ridge, harnesses and helmets are a must, but there is no need for rock shoes – stiff boots will serve you well.  Some big slings and a selection of nuts will be adequate for protection, but we thought that 2 or 3 mid-sized cams would have helped.  And take a rope of a decent length; 25 metres isn’t enough – consider something at least 40 metres long and it will keep the belays to a minimum.

(1)        quoted from     “The Ridges of England Wales and Ireland”
            author              Dan Bailey
            publisher         Cicerone Press (2009)

(2)        quoted from     “Cwm Silyn & Cwellyn”
            authors            Paul Jenkinson & Bob Wightman
            publisher         The Climbers’ Club (2003)

(3)        quoted from     “Scrambles in Snowdonia”
            author              Steve Ashton
            publisher         Cicerone Press (2010)

(4)        quoted from     “Scrambles & Easy Climbs in Snowdonia”
            authors            Jon Sparks, Tom Hutton, Jerry Rawson
            publisher         Grey Stone Books (2005) 

Monday, 1 August 2016


The beauty of having a ticklist is that it gives you variety; you don’t have to tread old ground and sometimes you are welcomed by a previously undiscovered gem.  But by continually looking at new areas to explore, I am less drawn to the hut my mountaineering club has, despite it being nestled in the foothills of Snowdon with easy access to some good walking and a variety of summits.  The thing is, there aren’t many summits on my ticklist near to the hut, I’ve been on the vast majority of them.

An exception is Llechog, a minor Nuttall summit on the ridge snaking north-west from Snowdon.  It doesn’t provide the biggest day out but I managed to muster a few companions to take it on without heading for Yr Wyddfa, mostly because of the poor weather and partially because of the annual Snowdon Race promising even more people to avoid on the Llanberis path.

We soon reached Hebron station and made a beeline for Derlwyn, the first top of the ridge.  Mostly untracked, we carried on over some varied terrain to gain the intermediate top of Tryfan, which is a lot less challenging than its Glyderau namesake.  The walk to Llechog was a straightforward stroll along the edge of the precipices plunging to the Llanberis Pass, but the low and billowing cloud denied us that view.

We followed the railway and then the main path down to Halfway station where we found walking against the tide of the racers, most of them with heads down and heartrate up.  Soon we were approaching Hebron only to be overtaken by the race leaders, impressively striding over ankle-turning terrain towards their finish line.

But despite my misgivings about whether or not the hut helps me to pursue my ticklist, its drying room was soon working at full capacity as we relaxed with a welcoming mug of tea!

For those who seek routes that are (literally) off the beaten track, the Derlwyn-Tryfan-Llechog ridge would make an interesting and mostly crowd-free way to the roof of Wales.

Thursday, 9 June 2016

A Herd of Sleeping Elephants

The Howgills had long been a target of mine after countless trips past them to the northern Lake District and Scotland and with John and Anne Nuttall describing a route to tick all seven Nuttalls, I decided to make an attempt to complete all seven summits in one day and also to tick one of my #trail7summits objectives – The Calf.

Cautley Spout


Paths from the Cross Keys Hotel ease their way to higher ground with good views of Cautley Spout ahead if you.   The cliffs of Cautley Crag provide a contrasting landscape to rolling hills of the high tops and ridges that will come to dominate the day.  A faint path to Yarlside from Bowderdale Head was the first significant climb of the day leading to a vista of endless rounded summits.  The descent towards Kensgriff was a knee-jarring prelude to some easy promenading before the climb to the next Nuttall summit of Randygill Top.

Yarlside summit

Kensgriff and Yarlside

The path down to Bowderdale gave me a good view of the next ascent on the route – over Hazelgill Knott – and I didn’t fancy it at all as it was just a “short-cut” before another descent to gain the start of the walk up to Fell Head.  At the beck I got the map out to gauge my options and decided to walk up the bridleway leading up to the plateau of The Calf and leave the two Nuttalls of Fell Head and Bush Howe to another day, probably starting from the Howgill side of the fells.

The steady path reached a pool on the plateau and I spied some walkers heading for The Calf from the north-west and noticed that Bush Howe might be an easy tick, so I skirted the plateau and the path led directly to the nondescript summit of Bush Howe and its pitiful cairn.  The path to the TRAIL 100 summit of The Calf was an easy walk and I carried on towards Bram Rigg Top, making a beeline across the heather slopes to find the cairn – even less significant than the one topping Bush Howe.  Finding it amongst the grass was a bit of a challenge and in poor visibility it would be very hard to trace.  Bram Rigg Top has got to be one of the poorest summits I’ve ever reached.

The Calf summit

Calders, the day’s day’s Nuttall, was quickly ticked and I turned to traverse the edge of the Great Dummacks plateau before taking a direct aim over Lattera towards Cautley Beck.  The Nuttall’s route down takes in Cautley Spout but I wanted the shortest way back to the car, even though my knees didn’t thank me for it !

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

The Glaramara–Simpson Conundrum

After completing the Wainwrights my attention turned to new objectives, particularly but not exclusively the Nuttalls.  Online research led me to the Harold Street website where I stumbled upon the Simpsons, an older list of Lake District 2000ft summits.  FHF Simpson had published an article in the 1937 Wayfarers’ Club journal and as I was (and still am) a member of the Wayfarers’ I decided to add the Simpsons to my own To Do list.  I had already climbed many of the Simpson summits and I worked out which ones I hadn’t climbed using the Harold Street list.

Of those I hadn’t logged as climbed was Glaramara North Top which appeared to be the only summit on the Glaramara – Allen Crags ridge that I had not ticked.  It wasn’t until sometime later that I became uncomfortable with the fact that I hadn’t ticked the north top, particularly as I walked the length of the ridge in 2013 to tick all of the numerous Nuttalls that I had previously missed; so I did some research.

The Harold Street website gives a grid reference that places the north top at the north-east side of the summit dome.  The grid reference that it gives for Glaramara places that summit approximately 200 metres south-west of the north top.  This makes it clear where the north top is, but doesn’t describe what it is.

At this point, I started reading various guides to work out the topography of the summit area.

Database of British and Irish Hills (DoBIH), Glaramara (entry 2389), Observations:
“Nuttall summit; Wainwright summit (cairn) 160m NE at NY 24722 10561 and cairn 55m W are lower”
Although rather perfunctory, this description states that the summit of Glaramara is a Nuttall but the cairn that Wainwright regarded as the summit does not coincide with the high point and is lower.  As the Wainwright summit is described as north-east of the summit, the north top is probably the Wainwright summit.  There is no separate DoBIH entry for the Wainwright summit.

A Wainwright – A Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells, Book 4, The Southern Fells, Glaramara, The Summit:
“Twin summits of rock rise from a surrounding ocean of grass, each within its own circle of crags.  They are much alike, and of similar elevation, but indisputably the finer is that to the north-east...”
Wainwright makes it clear that there are two summits and he regards the north-east summit as the true summit.

Mark Richards – Lakeland Fellranger, The Mid-Western Fells, Glaramara, The Summit:
“The name Glaramara belongs to the summit.  Which summit you ask?  Well the more northerly.”
Richards agrees with Wainwright which is not surprising as he was friends with the original chronicler of the Lakeland fells.

John and Anne Nuttall – The Mountains of England and Wales, Volume 2: England, Walk 5.4:
“Descend to a grassy col and follow the main path to the west top of the twin summits.  Wainwright prefers the east top for its better position and view, but the west one is the higher of the two.  The highest point is the cairn set a little back from the edge, though another cairn on the edge itself marks a better vantage point.”
The Nuttalls also agree that there are twin summits and acknowledge Wainwright’s opinion although they stick to the convention that the highest point is the true summit, reinforcing the DoBIH position that the (south-)westerly is the actual summit.

Bill Birkett – Complete Lakeland Fells, walk BOR2:
“Next to be ascended and lying dead ahead is the middle top of Glaramara – Looking Steads.  Two rocky points rise above the summit; the north easterly of these is the Glaramara summit.”
Birkett also acknowledged the twin summits of Glaramara and agrees with Wainwright and Richards that the north-eastern summit should be regarded as the true top.

It is obvious that the summit area of Glaramara has two distinct tops and that Wainwright, Richards and Birkett take an opposing view to the Nuttalls and the DoBIH as to which should be considered the true summit.  As the DoBIH is a data-based source and not swayed by opinion, the south-western top should be regarded as the true summit.  It is unfortunate that the DoBIH does not have a separate entry for the north-eastern top as such an entry would have prevented my confusion.

At this point, the summits had been identified, but had I actually climbed the North Top?

As Wainwright regards it as the summit, surely I must have done as I’ve completed the Wainwrights!  But it wouldn’t do any harm to double-check.  Reading my blog entry for the day that I walked the length of the ridge, I found this:
“The top of Glaramara has 3 obvious summits which was a surprise to me as I was only expecting two!  Not far beyond the 20-foot rock step is the Wainwright summit.  A little further away is the Nuttall summit which is higher and slightly beyond that is another top which looks almost as high – I ticked all three!”

And that’s about as conclusive as it gets; I have ticked both tops and now I can remove Glaramara North Top from my list of unclimbed Simpsons.

It’s not often that I find a summit that I can tick as a result of some detective work rather than putting on my boots, which means that, almost inevitably, I have joined the ranks of Armchair Mountaineers!

Thursday, 7 April 2016

The Joy of Old Friends

My first time up The Old Man of Coniston was almost 31 years ago and I’ve been to the top a couple of times since then, but never in the company of so many good friends.  Eight of us started walking from opposite the Coniston MRT headquarters and headed for the quarries.  The good weather had brought out the crowds and we saw plenty of families making the most of their day out.

Low Water and Wetherlam

As we reached the zigzags we encountered some snow patches but they were soft and avoidable.  Some youngsters were running down them to quicken their descent and some of the older heads amongst us commented that they may just be hastening a mountain rescue callout!

Old Man summit approach

Brim Fell from the Old Man

At the summit we sat and ate lunch with the rest of the crowds.  For most, the way down is simply retracing their footsteps but for those who are a bit more serious about their hillwalking, there are quieter options.  As we headed towards Brim Fell I sought out Buckbarrow Crag; a Simpson summit.  I found a point on the edge of the cliffs which met the listed description but not the grid reference which would have been a point on the footpath with no prominence.  I’m claiming the tick!

Although a Wainwright, Brim Fell is not really a major summit and we quickly reached it and turned our attention towards Dow Crag.  A small snowfield led to a snowball fight before we started the ascent from Goat’s Hawse and the scramble to the very highest point.  There were a lot less people here than on the Old Man, which we could see still had crowds on the top.

Dow Crag

Windermere behind the Old Man

Old Man summit crowds

Walking down towards the Walna Scar pass was a promenade of easy terrain and turned out to be one of the most enjoyable miles I’ve walked in Lakeland.  Although I’ve walked up this way before, I was taken aback as to how good it was.

Goat's Water

Above Buck Pike I tried to locate Dow Crag South Top, another Simpson, and walked over every minor prominence that was a candidate.  Again I found a location that met the description but not the grid reference but I was confident that I could claim the tick.

Goat's Water from above the Dow Crag gullies

Dow Crag from the south ridge

Crowds on Coniston Old Man

Blind Tarn under Brown Pike

From the pass, it was a relaxing stroll down the Walna Scar road in the afternoon sun to the cars where we stowed our sacks and boots.  The obligatory post-perambulatory beverages were provided by the welcoming Sun Hotel, the headquarters of Donald Campbell’s doomed attempt to break the world water speed record.

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Fountains Fell

The potential to tick three Yorkshire Dales Nuttalls in a relatively short walk and its proximity to home was the reason I chose this walk because I only had a limited amount of time to commit.  My variation of Naismith’s Rule said it should have taken 3¾ hours, but maps don’t take into account the conditions underfoot and just over 5 hours later, I was rushing home.

I parked near Blishmire House and followed the Pennine Way onto the summit plateau of Fountains Fell.  The snow patches were mostly avoidable and those that weren’t had been fortuitously stepped out by a couple walking ahead of me.  The last rise was banked out with snow and walking to the cairns required some cautious route-finding.  Despite this I still stepped knee-deep into a bog, the water overflowing the top of my gaiter and leaving me with a wet and cold right foot for the rest of the walk.

Crossing the wall was easy because of the banked snow and started a descent towards Darnbrook Fell.  Instead of following the wall, I took a beeline towards the summit but this mistake became obvious in just a couple of hundred yards.  The soft heather was ankle-deep, the spring snow was calf-deep and the bogs had the potential to be deeper still!  Progress was slow.

The trig pillar came into sight and similar to other moorland pillars, it exhibited an isolation found on these flat peaty plateaus, exaggerated by it being mounted on a deep stone base which was clearly above the ground, probably the result of years of erosion.

Darnbrook Fell summit cairn & trig point

I kept close to the wall on the return towards Fountains Fell but progress wasn’t much quicker as the terrain was not ideal.  Walking became a little easier from the Pennine Way towards the broad ridge, passing to the north of Fountains Fell Tarn.  The ridge itself had the most pleasurable ground of the day and I was soon at the south top of Fountains Fell where a small cairn marked the true highpoint.

Fountains Fell Tarn

Pen-y-ghent & Fountains Fell from the south top

The walk along the broad ridge to Fountains Fell was an enjoyably easy stroll, particularly after the heather and bog that had characterised Darnbrook Fell.  The summit cairn was obviously marked by a large cairn and the view ahead to Pen-y-ghent was the best of the day.

Fountains Fell summit

I can’t find anything to commend Darnbrook Fell with all of its bog-trotting and heather-bashing, but the ridge between the two summits of Fountains Fell would be well-worth seeking out, particularly on a sunny summer’s day.

Thursday, 11 February 2016

Garbh Bheinn of Ardgour

“Gharbh Bheinn is a magnificent mountain.” (1)

“Gharbh Bheinn of Ardgour is one of the finest mountains in the western Highlands.” (2)

The MWIS predicted a “rare benign day” as Storm Gertrude had passed and Storm Henry was heading towards us, due to arrive that night.  Garbh Bheinn was my major objective for the weekend and the calmer conditions forecast gave me the chance to reach it.  We made a relatively early start to catch the first ferry at Corran and after a short drive to Inversanda we were walking by just after 9’o’clock.

From where we were staying at Onich, there is a good view of the mountain when the weather is cooperative, but there was little chance of seeing it this weekend.  It is as a Corbett that Garbh Bheinn is best known but it was on my ticklist because of its inclusion in the TRAIL 100 list and it was my first attempt at a summit listed on my #trail7summits challenge.

The south-east ridge has a reputation of being “interesting” and with a liberal coating of snow, that interest became obvious.  Careful route finding was needed to avoid the icy rock steps and we had to resort to ascending smaller snowed-up gullies, plunging knee-deep to make progress.  As we moved up, I was thinking that returning this way would be a challenge late in the day as it would mean reversing some awkward moves.

the way up - Sron a' Gharbh Choire Mhoir 

Although there was no particular need to do so, we dug a snow pit and discovered a layer of graupel about five inches below the top layer of unconsolidated snow.  There wasn’t much risk of avalanche as there were no continuously big areas of snow cover and we were plunging to a level below the graupel layer.  That was lucky as a consolidated top layer would have given us pause for thought.

We continued up to the lower summit of Sron a’ Gharbh Choire Mhoir where we had something to eat and put on our crampons.  Although visibility had not been extensive – good enough to select a sensible route but poor enough to mask views of hills further afield – a quick break in the cloud gave us a tantalising view of the Garbh Bheinn cliffs looming above us.

ethereal Garbh Bheinn

A descent to the col was much easier now that we were wearing spikes, before picking our way up the final slopes to the top.  We took the obligatory summit photos and made our way back down to the col where we discussed the way down and agreed that finding a way down Garbh Choire Mor was a better option as it would lead to a much easier walk out down Coire an Iubhair.

Garbh Bheinn summit cliffs with hanging boulder

Sticking to the right of the corrie, an opportunity to bumslide down the first couple of hundred metres was gleefully taken and it saved us quite a bit of time.  An inch-deep layer of windslab was sliding away at the top of the slope but this dissipated as we lost height and the terrain became slightly rockier.  The rocks brought the fun to a halt and marked the start of footstep roulette, not knowing whether we would be stepping on rocks below the surface or plunging thigh-deep.  The croak of a ptarmigan became louder as we were obviously approaching it but its camouflage was hugely effective and despite looking around the corrie below us, we never saw it.

It was becoming obviously warmer as we reached the lower slopes with the debris of many small slough avalanches below the more significant crags.  We reached the track but after a mile on the very boggy, and sometimes indistinct, path we realised that rushing for an earlier ferry was pointless and we eased off the pace.

It’s not often that having climbed a mountain I would want to do it again, but I suspect that a summer ascent in good  weather would give a superb day out.  Not that today wasn’t, of course !

(1)        quoted from     “Walking the Corbetts Volume 2: North of the Great Glen”
            author              Brian Johnson
            publisher         Cicerone Press

(2)        quoted from     “The Corbetts & Other Scottish Hills”
            editors             Rob Milne & Hamish Brown
            publisher         Scottish Mountaineering Club

With Gertrude in Lochaber

As Storm Gertrude hit Scotland our motivation to get amongst the hills was lacking.  The MWIS forecast of sustained winds of at least 60mph on Munro summits put paid to any idea of heading high, so the only realistic option was a lower-level walk.

Decision made, and starting at Kinlochleven, seven of us were soon heading up past the Grey Mare’s Tail waterfall on the way to Loch Eilde Mor.  We and soon reached the snowline as well as increasing winds and had to cross a couple of streams, trying our best to avoid a soaking.  At Allt Coire nan Laogh the decision was taken to head towards the loch below us instead of a tentative plan to climb another 1000 feet up to Coire an Lochain at the eastern end of the Mamores.  The wind had reached over 35mph, not many of us had brought crampons and the chance of reaching any summit was considered so low that the option to head higher was quickly dismissed.

Pap of Glencoe and Loch Leven

We descended to the shore of Loch Eilde Mor and followed the path around to the dam to take some shelter before following the pipeline path above Allt na h-Eilde.  As we turned a corner into a natural amphitheatre, the wind speed reached a sustained 40mph giving us reason to appreciate our goggles in the increasing rain and sleet.

The walk down to and through the woods coincided with heavier rain and we all ended up soaking as we reached the cars.  Thankfully the drying room at the hut successfully lived up to its job description and gave us some wearable gear for us to take full advantage of the following day’s gap between storms.

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

2016 Targets

Lists to tick

My target ticklist has grown since this time last year as I have incorporated the Simpsons – a little known list of Lake District 2000-foot summits – to my existing combination of Nuttalls, TRAIL 100s, WASHIS, Bridges and Buxton & Lewis summits.  At the start of 2016 there are 349 individual summits on my ticklist and my goal of completing them in 2023 leaves 8 years to reach the target.

Still to be ticked at the start of this year are 215 of the 443 Nuttalls and 41 of the TRAIL 100 summits.

This coming year

In simple numbers, 12½% of my remaining summits based on my remaining 8-year target should be a reasonable goal for 2016.

Which means I’m aiming for 44 summits, amongst which should be 27 Nuttalls and 5 TRAIL 100s.

Included again this year are specific targets that have not been met in the last 2 years despite me highlighting them – the 6 Cheviot Nuttalls and Pillar Rock.  Despite its technicality, I’ve spoken to a couple of mates who are keen to join me on a trip to climb the Slab and Notch route of Pillar Rock, so hopefully I’ll actually get it done this year !

TRAIL magazine 7 summits challenge

The January 2016 issue of TRAIL magazine issued a challenge to its readers to list 7 summits that they would like to tick in 2016.  So for a bit of fun, I took it up and published my list on Twitter under the hashtag #trail7summits – keep an eye on this year’s blog entries will chronicle to see how I progress.

Saturday, 16 January 2016

A 2015 Summary

At the start of 2015 I had 307 summits on my combined ticklist of TRAIL 100 summits, Nuttalls, WASHIS, Bridges and Buxton & Lewis summits.  2015 was the second year of my 10-year completion target and had aimed to tick 34 summits on my combined list which would include 26 Nuttalls and 6 TRAIL 100s.

For the second year in a row I fell short, but not by so much.

Overall I :
            went on             17                                walks
            walked              118.5                            miles
            ascended          34,304                          feet
            walked for         70 hrs 36 mins             (including rest stops !)
            reached             29                                individual summits that I hadn’t been to before
            reached             12                                individual summits that I had been to before
            reached             25                                summits on my combined ticklist
            reached             8                                  previously unclimbed TRAIL 100 summits
            reached             15                                previously unclimbed Nuttall summits
            drove                 4254                            miles on trips to and from walks

As the year progressed and the numbers of targeted summits decreased, a Nuttall was demoted following a survey and a WASHIS was added due to a list compilation oversight.  But I added a number of unclimbed Scottish 4000-foot  and Irish 3000-foot summits as well as some Lake District 2000-foot summits from a historic list known as the Simpsons.

So following a demotion, an addition, the ticking of 29 summits as well as the expansion of my target list, what started as 307 summits ended as a list of 349 !  Still quite a bit of walking needed !

Of the specific summits that I stated were 2015 targets, I did manage to tick the 3 Dartmoor summits and Worcestershire Beacon which was quite a challenge to do on a single day out from just north of Liverpool !  And again I didn’t manage to get near the 6 Cheviot Nuttalls and Pillar Rock.

Although 2015’s figures are quite a bit better than 2014’s, it didn’t feel that I’d got out very much and the high mileage was due to a couple of family holidays being taken advantage of to get a single hill day on both of them.  Highlights of the year were Suilven, Pen y Fan, Cross Fell and Merrick – all well-worth the travelling and except for Pen y Fan, devoid of crowds.

Now let’s see what 2016 brings.

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Christmas Carneddau

It’s not often I head into the hills without any previously unclimbed summits as targets, but this was one of those rare days.  My club had organised a day out in the northern Carneddau and had touched lucky with quite good weather following the country’s battering by Storm Eva over Christmas – it was the only day that was forecast to have a lull in summit windspeeds.

We started from Abergwyngregyn and walked up the road to the North Wales Path, following it eastwards before turning right up the track that led to the summit of Drum.  I’ve rarely reached any hill as easily as this, with the sun shining and no wind.

The ridge to Foel-fras was a different matter and my post-Christmas fitness was sorely tested.  I slowed down significantly and reached the top quite some time after the rest of the group.  From here though, it was mostly downhill all the way.  We descended to the col below Llwytmor and walked up the short rise to the summit which was a new Nuttall for me.

I had hoped to tick Llwytmor but wasn’t necessarily expecting it as walking with a group tends to lead to a route defined either by “follow-my-leader” or consensus.  With today’s company I would have been happy with just getting out on some high summits – which I hadn’t visited for over 27 years!

From the summit a spiked tor beckoned us to the far side of the plateau before we avoided Llwytmor Bach in the increasing wind and decided to take a beeline to the Afon Goch above Aber Falls.  The path to the side of the falls needed some care to traverse as the tributaries made the exposed rock somewhat slippery but after what turned out to be the crux of the route, the easy path led us back to the road for the last mile to the car park.