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Forest Of Bowland Weekend 22/23 May 2004

“Where’s that?” is the oft-uttered question when one names one’s destination for the weekend as Forest Of Bowland. For those who remain unenlightened this consists of those lumpy bits of land on your right as you head up to Lancaster past Preston, on the M6. It is just west of the Yorkshire Dales and this is one of the reasons why no-one knows what it is as they pass through it on the way to the Dales. That’s a shame as it is one of the most spectacular parts of the country.

A dozen of us found ourselves domiciled in the highly attractive village of Slaidburn at the fine old former-coaching inn youth hostel, conveniently located in the square opposite the village stores (which did some trade when several of our party realised that the hostel didn’t do breakfast) and the pub “Hark To Bounty” – a hunting reference apparently.

Y Garn The first day’s walk consisted of a tour of the pasture lands around the village environs. The Group Secretary was dubious of deriving any pleasure out it since he suffers from “Can’t Be Good Because It Hasn’t Got Any Hills In It Syndrome”. He was to be pleasantly surprised. In fact as we strode a route along Gaughy Hill, Harrop Hall & Fold and up to Far Brown Hill (he couldn’t completely leave them out), he found all the fields of buttercups lovely. The view of Pendle Hill from Brown Hill was particularly rewarding as it should have been given its steepness. It had been pointed out by the Publicity Person that is was supposed to be a moderate weekend and that this hill constituted “hard” in our ratings. The walk leader was therefore forced to placate everyone by calling in at the Parkers Arms in the adjacent hamlet, where some most excellent pints of Copper Dragon were procured. This helped the remaining walk back by the river drift along quite admirably. So much full of the milk of human kindness were we that we even assisted Mrs Slaidburn Village Stores Lady in hauling her fridge into a trailer for the village fair the next day, whilst the Group Secretary and resident refrigeration engineer called out helpful advice like, mind the compressor and gentle with that expansion valve (terms he’d read in a book once and uses when the need to impress lay-people is felt). Mrs SVSL offered to buy us all a pint, but we declined her kind offer on account of needing to sober up prior to getting drunk again in the pub.

The evening slid by in fine style as a handsome cornucopia of victuals was provided by Hark To Bounty, notably a superb game pie (though I didn’t see any bats or balls in it) and other things. The highlight of the evening was a the presentation to our Chairman of a highly grown up chocolate caterpillar cake for his 33rd birthday (kindly presented by the pub people themselves and flouting the concept of no consumption of one’s own food on the premises) and some whisky. He shared the cake.

The next sunny morning got off in fine style with breakfast in the hostel courtyard to the accompaniment of swallows, martins and swifts swooping overhead. It felt so nice, I didn’t want to leave. Sadly, a few people didn’t share my sentiments as work commitments etc forced them home early. Never mind, they were in our thoughts as we seven remaining commenced the day’s linear walk, driving up the superb Trough of Bowland to park half of our cars up at the jubilee tower (carefully keeping our backs to the view until we’d earned it some six hours later) and then return in the other half to Tower Lodge.

This route took us up onto the skyline we’d seen the previous day. Here was Great Brennand Hill (where Nick lost the Group Secretary’s bung – off his walking pole), Grey Crag, Ward’s Stone and Grit Fell in glorious succession, passing wolf-hole crag where the last wolf in England was ignominiously killed in the 17th century. Pen-y-gent, Ingleborough & Whernside dominated the view for most of the ridge. The fact that no-one knows the Forest Of Bowland exists is shown by the fact that such a spectacularly route in the Lakes or Peaks would be marked by a furrow of boots marks, but this one was much more ill trod. We never saw anyone all day, save three lads we’d met at the hostel.

To round off the weekend, and to satisfy the Group Secretary’s chip habit, we finished at Morecambe, where inspite of constant moaning from our education representative, we found a superb, classic British chip shop, whose wares we munched while gazing at the southern Lakes across the bay in the evening sun, assisted by a sculpture showing their silhouettes and names. A fine end to a fine weekend.

Thanks to everyone who came.

Phil

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Carnedd Llewellyn, 29th May 2004

A Chip Off The Old Block

At 8:00, six bleary eyed travellers congregated at Roland’s house prior to setting forth on our expedition. The weather forecast, according not to Shefali but the BBC weather page said that North Wales would be resplendent in sunshine and showers. However, as we set off, it seemed mainly showers of the long variety as we drove out. But, by the time we got to Chester they had gone, leaving us with a cool but clear day. The only excitement of the journey being the amusing way that Roland’s car seemed to be on a road climbing above us as we instead plunged on into the amazing coastal road tunnel under the Conwy estuary. “I don’t remember the Great Orme coming after Conwy” exclaimed Neil T, “Just keep driving. And we’ll make a U-Turn when this traffic queue’s ended” came the reply. (The walk leader can’t even navigate on a sign-posted road – Heaven help us in the mountain fog).

Negotiating a very narrow lane up from Tal-Y-Caefn, where we met five more of our group, we arrived at the foot of the Llyn Eiriau reservoir, or what remained of it. A thick high wall, which seemed rather excessive for a sheep fold turned out to be the remnants of a dam that once held back a much bigger body of water, but, the gaping holes in it told the tragic story of a 1930’s catastrophe for the unfortunates downstream of it. A sombre start.

However, we were soon more concerned about our own health as we instantly started ascending towards Pen Llithrig y Wrach, wet witch mountain. Cool name. The walk leader shrugged off cries of derision every time he took out his map and strode on to the top, confidently.

We had one or two members of our crew who weren’t sure of their ability to climb the eventual 1064m to the top of Llewelyn, however, this worry seemed unnecessary as they hared up to the top, ably assist by labrador, Bliss, who thought it was all great sport. We munched a sandwich at the top before dropping again, so as to get more benefit from climbing Pen Yr Helgi Du’s lofty heights, the next pinnacle of our achievements.

Y Garn Another sharp drop then ensued and not a little stimulating as we made our way down the rocky ridge of Bwlch Eryl Farchog, with Bliss proving to all that acceleration due to gravity can exceed 32.2ft/s2 when you’re attached to the handler’s end of a dog lead. However, we were soon all assembled, fears of steep drops confronted and vanquished, preparing ourselves for “The Objective”. In fact the climb up Carnedd Llewelyn seemed positively leisurely compared with the 45o inclines of its two predecessors.

Y Garn Across to the west, we could see the majestic peak of Snowdon. To me, it looks more like an Yr Wyddfa than a Snowdon. The former of these two names, and its traditional one, is more appropriate to its imposing size. I still thought that it was still a git though, as, once more, I gazed frustratedly at it, knowing that if I’d led a walk up there instead, I might actually, after seven attempts, see something from the top, other than clouds.

We made our way down via Foel Grach and the Melynllyn Reservoir and along Clogwyn Maldy to the cars.

As we let the other five run off, the remainder of us set off for Conwy, and the whole point of the expedition, which was to enjoy one the excellent fish, chips, peas, bread and butter and cup of tea suppers at the equally excellent chippy/cafe there. Yum.

Another enjoyable day’s walking and thanks to all who came.

Phil

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Wastwater, 13-15th August 2004

The long and the short of it

Y Garn A fine summer evening in Wasdale saw the party assembling in the local pub at various times. Those who'd sneaked the day off work enjoyed a meal of the local Cumberland sausage and a selection of fine ales. Others made it up the motorway just in time for last orders.

Y Garn A long, hot day seemed likely as we drove up to Wasdale Head to start the ascent of Pillar. Much glowing, perspiring and not a little sweating took place as we climbed up from Mosedale to the top of the Black Sail Pass. Little did we know that the sun was about to disappear for most of the day. A cooler traverse of the north side of the mountain followed (with some members "enjoying" the scrambly terrain more than others), and by the time the summit was reached we were completely surrounded by cloud. The route continued over Scoat Fell and Red Pike followed by a descent to Dore Head. A few energetic people completed the intended route with a scramble up Stirrup Crag and over Yewbarrow, while the rest followed the leader's example and descended down the valley so as to get back to the pub that much sooner.

Sunday's weather was altogether different with a cloudy start. Members with some energy left opted for the "long" walk over Great Gable. A "short" option over Wasdale Screes was offered by our illustrious secretary. Strangely those doing the long walk managed to complete their route, have a pint and still get back to the hostel before the others. Which obviously proves that the length of a walk is just the same as a piece of string, or something like that.

Roland

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