31 August 2014

Grange Fell, Fungi, a wee snake and a buzzard.......

Short walk today to mainly break in my new walking boots.  My beloved Scarpa's have gone to the big walk in the sky after a Scottish river attacked them last weekend.  My new Scarpa's (identical to the old ones) needed a good walk out before we head to Italy next week.

So it was Grange Fell that was chosen as the short but steepish walk to test the new boots and what a lovely walk it was.  Wandering up through the trees the light was amazing and at a little plateau area we found several types of mushroom all growing in and about each other.

Further up through the Ferns we went, not really a path to speak of but a faint line through the ferns of what seemed to be a way through.
A bit further on through the ferns and looking down I spotted a Slow Worm just sitting there on the path.  As soon as I'd reached to my side for my camera it darted off so I only caught the tail end  of it and even that was a bit shakey - Can you spot it???

After the excitement of the Slow worm we continued up through the glade area and followed a wall for a while and once through, looking back down the light was incredible.

The weather was fantastic, cloudy but with sunny periods.  It made for terrific skies and the views around us once we'd come out of the tree area were fantastic.  From the summit we could see right over to Derwent water to Skiddaw, Blencathra in the other direction and back over to Dale Head behind us.  A light breeze at the top was pleasing and with a piece of tablet we were were off on our way back down.

The path downwards was clear and easy in some places but with that loose shaley rock in other areas which slowed me down a bit.  I'd forgotten my stick so was a bit unbalanced on the steeper sections but I took my time and we made it down in no time.
We'd hoped to spot some wildlife today but so far had only managed a Slow Worm and the only evidence of that was a shakey far away picture.  Not really anything to write home about.

Back on the road we were making our way back round to where the car was parked following the river and past the village of Grange.  We heard a cry overhead and Chris shouted, look, there's a buzzard, floating right over our heads.  As with everything thats moving you have to be quick to capture it.  I pointed my lens towards the sky and only managed another very far away picture but here it is..........
Not the longest walk in the world but a nice one all the same.  Boots well and truely broken in and heels just a little bit tender.

Great sunny day !

23 August 2014

Soggy socks on the Ring of Steall !

A bank holiday in August in Scotland sounded like the perfect idea and it was.  Regardless of the iffy weather predictions and the threat of sleet and worse we headed north and after a day of basking in the wonder that is Glencoe and dining out at our favourite watering hole – The Clachaig Inn we woke early on Saturday morning for a big day out in the hills.

The Ring of Steall was our target and we knew it was going to be a toughie but first we had to contend with the metal rope bridge but what a reward behind it with the Steall Falls falling from what looked like the sky to the ground.

Metal bridge dealt with (achy arms after for me) and then we had to contend with crossing the river.  Much hilarity ensued and after a wet foot, split walking boot, hat that floated away down the river and a tree that had to be climbed we were over the other side and wading through the marshy bog to the path that would start our climb up to the first summit.

It was tough, shale and loose rocks on most of the path with steepness that spun my head.  It was cold but not freezing and the sun was in and out of the clouds.  I was a little uncomfortable as I’d bruised my leg earlier and having had a dip in the river was now walking with wet feet.  Not the best conditions but onwards and upwards.
 We stopped at a little plateau where I changed into some dry socks and we had a quick snack.  It was then we could see the full splendor of the Ring in front of us including the tasty devils ridge.
However there was still a long way to go and we were only 1/3 of the way up the first summit.
Trudging upwards trying not to complain about the steepness we finally (albeit a good while after we’d intended) made it to the summit of the first munro  An Gearanach.  The top was a cairn but nothing significant.  What was significant was the views all around – spectacular.  Ben Nevis behind us still had its hat on but hopefully later we’d get to see it in all is glory. 

We didn’t stick around long but skipped down off the summit ready to tackle the next incline which indeed was a delight.  A rocky little ridge line between the 2 first munros with some hairy narrow bits which took a little bit of navigation but to be honest this is my favourite type of walking and I love the logistical aspect of working out where to go up and over the rocks with not very much below on either side. 
At the other side we were met with the next target smack bang in front of us with a zig zag path to the summit.  Nothing else for it but a head down and march on tactic and to make things easier I got my poles out.  What didn’t make it easier was the sudden hail shower which battered us from the right and coupled with the sudden wind made the conditions suddenly interesting.  Waterproofs on, cameras away and we ventured upwards to the summit of Stob Core a Chairn.  At the top the weather was closing in a little and we were starting to get conscious of the time. 

The rest of the route was ahead of us and we still had 2 biggies and the devils ridge but only about 6 hrs left to play with.  Now 6 hrs on a normal walk would be sufficient but this was no normal walk and towards the base of Stob Core a Chairn we decided to abandon the ring and head back.  Extremely disappointing but safer and definitely the right decision.

Back over Stob Core a Chairn we went and then at the base decided on a path to the right which would take us round the other 2 peaks rather than back over.  

It was a long plod round the side of the hills but the reward was that the Big Ben almost lost his hat so we could see the summit.  The views throughout the day had been amazing and the weather for the best part had been kind.

It wasn’t looking too clever at this point and by the time we had retraced our steps to the point we met with the path we’d come up on it was getting very overcast indeed.

On the downward path I realised that we’d have to do the metal rope bridge again but with wobbly legs and wet feet I wasn’t sure I had it in me so we decided to look for a place to cross the river before we even got to the bridge.  This would mean we’d miss out the boggy bit too.

Once we’d reached the river finding a place to cross was proving more difficult and it was at that point the rain started.  Heavy rain, you know, the kind that wets you.  Well my feet were already wet from the mornings escapade so I ended up just wading through the river.  Sod it, I wasn’t going to get any wetter really.

One last look at the falls and we were back along the path towards the car.  It was 7pm by this time and there were loads of people on the path heading for the falls.  After dinner walk?  Who knows.
The Ring of Steall had beaten us today but we’d be ready for it another time.  Its certainly not one for the faint hearted but with a little more preparation and a little less flaffing about at the river early doors and we might have stood a chance.

Next time …… afterall those gorgeous hills aren’t going anywhere.