Sunday, 10 July 2011

The Martindale Round.

My mate Stef and I went to the Lake District so he could tick off a few more Wainwrights from his diminishing list.

We met up by the church just past the Howtown Hotel on the east of Ullswater late Friday, just as Stef had knocked off Hallin Fell. It started to rain. Warm fine rain...Having decided to travel light, wearing shorts,  I reasoned if it stopped raining I would dry out soon rather than wearing hot and sweaty waterproofs.... it didn't stop raining.

We bashed up the 'path' through the bracken for 1.5m past Brownthwaite Crag to get up high for our first nights camp at Gowk Hill.... [memo.. don't wear shorts in the wet when going through bracken paths; nettles grow in amongst them, your calves get stung and yer boots and socks get wet....doh.]
Thankfully the rain stopped, there was a fast flowing beck for fresh water, and apart from a few midgies we had a pleasant night and telling a few yarns and I extolled the virtues of Sudocrem.

Day 2

No rush today, weather getting better and after brekkie we walked up onto High Street over Red Crag and over to High Raise. Great views and finally a nice bit of rock under the boots rather than mud, grass and bog.

self portrait..

High Raise

We could have gone up Kidsty Pike but 'been there done that' so pushed on, popping up onto the Knott with great views over Hayeswater, then down towards Satura Crag and our camp at Angle Tarn.

On the way I spent an hour snoozing in the sun, occasionally passing the time of day with the people making their way down to Patterdale or Hartsop whilst Stef sweated his way up and down Rest Dodd to bag another WR.

Looking down to Hartsop

Stef photographing small things with a big thing.

I had not been to Angle Tarn before and it is a superb wild camp site. Great views, good level places to pitch up, and after wolfing down my evening meal we sat and watched the water, Stef spotting the trout in the tarn, and telling some very entertaining fishing stories, whilst a few geese and their young patrolled the banks.

Angle Tarn from above

View from Camp Blug

Towards Camp Clarke...

The sun went down and the moon came out and it was just so peaceful...tired... zzzzz......

Early the following morning Stef saw some of the red deer from the deer forest in Bannerdale up on the ridge behind us, however I missed out as my tent faced in a different direction and I didn't see any the next day either.

It got quite chilly around 3am and I only got to sleep well after putting on my insulated jacket, fleece leggings and socks because I had left my lovely down sleeping bag in Wales and was using a ME Ultralight synthetic bag... Ultralight=Coldatnight... especially when camping by water in a valley.
Stef snored happily away in his Lifeventure down bag.

Day 3

Up early, packs a lot lighter now we went straight up the slope from Angle Tarn to Heckbeck Head [...feckin' love that name...] Stef going on across Beda Fell to knock off some more WR’s whilst I descended down Martindale Common to walk the road back to the car.

Looking south to Bannerdale.

About an hour later Stef was hollering down to me whilst  making his way down the bracken[ugh]path from Raven Crag. We walked the last km back to the cars where I produced the best moment of the entire trip....not Sudocrem but..........

Cold... really, really cold Becks Blue beer fresh from the coolie box that Go Outdoors sent to me to review.
Unbelievable. The car had been in the hot July sun for 2 days, There was still ice in the frozen bottles of water and lovely lovely cold beer and sandwiches.
And as it was non alcoholic we could have a few and drive home safely! Brilliant!

It was a great trip, only 11miles [not counting the ups and downs], we're not mountain marathon men, we stop frequently to take in the views, get our breath back, take pictures have a laugh and a chat with other walkers and on occasion a quick snooze!

Monday, 4 July 2011

Abersoch, the Tudwals and a rant..

A trip with my friend Ian setting off from Machroes at the far end of Abersoch beach to Porth Ceiriad, a short top of around 7 miles. Ian has purchased a 'Formby Finger' Greenland paddle from me and was keen to try it out on the sea, after an initial demo on the River Dee.

We paddled over to the Tudwals, 2 small rocky islands 1km offshore, and quickly went round them, quite a few birds still nesting on the ledges, and young cormorants practising their diving skills all around us. A few seals spotted, and unfortunately one dead pup floating in the water.

We decided to go straight across and round the headland at Trwyn yr Wylfa and have lunch at Porth Ceiriad, and do some rock hopping on the way back. The fine weather had brought plenty of people to the beach; unfortunately some of them also decided to bring their speedboats and jetskis and at the same time leave the part of their brain that controls sensibility at home.

It really does beggar belief how unobservant some people are when behind the wheel of a fast boat, we had to wave our paddles several times at boats that threatened to collide with us, and we constantly saw adults and children without lifejackets.

After a quick lunch and pitstop at Porth Ceiriad we followed the coast back round to Machroes, sticking our noses into some of the caves, and taking in the geology. We were going against the ebb, but it was easy paddling.

We both agreed it would be a a far better midweek trip and best done at the crack of dawn.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

The Formby Finger..building a Greenland paddle

A few days ago with some time to spare I decided to build a Greenland style kayak paddle.
The main reason being that the low angle paddling style might alleviate some of my back and shoulder problems.
I bought the Western Red Cedar from the same supplier as usual, a bit shocked at how much timber has gone up in price, but 2 x 2.44m lengths of 140 x 25mm would be enough to build 2 paddles.

As the working thickness I needed was 40mm I had to cut the boards into strips and used West System Epoxy to join them together to produce a 100 x 40mm blank.

I used Chuck Holst's GP design, which is a very clear and concise instruction manual to building a paddle and I found it easy to follow after converting to metric. I won't go into discussion of paddle length, technique etc.. it's all in Chuck's article.

After the first cuts to remove surplus timber to form the blades, some careful marking for the loom and blade tips. The paddle is 12mm thick at the tips.

All cut out on a bandsaw, then a couple of hours whittling in the garden...

A remarkable amount of wood shavings resulted from extensive work with a block plane and a few sharp knives, great for lighting the bbq later on..

Blade tips after sanding.

Main tools used [no bandsaw in garden]
And finally a lovely smooth paddle.

After couple of coats of Danish Oil to seal it I joined some friends in Wales for a trip on the Menai Strait to try it out. Very different from a Euro paddle; at first the low angle style of paddling felt very strange, but after 10 mins it started to feel quite natural, and I didn't notice the lack of feather compared to my usual Lendal carbon fibre paddle. It has a 'soft' feel and after going into the wind and tide for 6 miles I felt like I could have kept going all day, and my friends gave it a favourable review too.
Only minus point is that the high front of the Rockpool Alaw's cockpit doesn't allow a true Greenland paddling style.

Many thanks to my friend Ray McCarthy, builder of the 'Wirral Wand' for his advice and support. I hope the 'Formby Finger' meets his expectations.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Liverpool Docks

A pleasant easy paddle with a group of friends from Liverpool Canoe Club, I took a tour around the Docks, setting off from Liverpool Marina Harbour Club slipway at Coburg Dock.

New iron work but old stone work which has withstood the sea and the bombs in WW2

At various points around the docks there are depth gauges carved into the stone; this one in Roman numerals is the only one I have seen, but there may be more. The water seemed to be around 20-22' in all the docks we paddled in

I wonder if these are the original timbers at the entrance to the Albert Dock?

The new bridge across Dukes Dock.

The Liverpool Waterfront has changed immensely over the last 5 years, not long ago the skyline was dominated by cranes, and the surrounding roads were a nightmare as the city struggled to finish work for the 'City of Culture' year. Three years on it is just about back to normal.
There are many pontoons around most of the docks to attract houseboat and barge owners, and the Marina itself is full of craft old and new.

One of the oldest ships in the Albert Dock.
The Liverpool Wheel and the Echo Arena.

And finally the most bizarre craft we saw all day..WaterWalkers..

Sunday, 27 February 2011

The leaving of Liverpool..

HMS Liverpool 1980-2011

Today I went to visit HMS Liverpool, which is berthed at Liverpool docks for the very last time with Dan and my nephew Stan.

Launched in 1980, Liverpool will be decommissioned [ie scrapped under government defence cuts] later this year after an illustrious service history, this is despite a full refit in 2009 which cost millions of pounds.

HMS Liverpool's nickname is "The Crazy Red Chick" derived from the Liver Bird which appears on her funnel badge which, in common with other ships of this class, features some aspect of the crest of the namesake city.

She was part of the Naval Task Group 03 (NTG03), intended to take part in exercises in the Far East as part of the Five Power Defence Arrangement. The task force was, instead, sent to the Persian Gulf where they took part in the 2003 Iraq War and later in the Caribbean.

The number of people queueing to visit the ship showed the affection the people of Liverpool have for 'their' ship and talking with the crew and some of the old seafarers and ex crew who were present today justifiably proud to have served this ship or her predecessor, there will be a few tears shed when she slips her mooring and leaves the Mersey for the last time tomorrow.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Irton Pike to Boot

My friend Karen and I enjoyed a grand hike today whilst on holiday in Eskdale.

We were rewarded with some great views of Scafell, Yewbarrow, Pillar and Great Gable.
The Mountain Rescue helicopter was hovering around Scafell, hopefully all involved are safe.

We walked from Irton Pike up to Whin Rigg, along Illgill Head and swooped down to
Burnmoor Tarn and thence to Boot where we refreshed in the excellent Boot Inn.

My lovely wife Francie and Karen's partner Nigel joined us at the start of the walk and met us at the pub!

Great news when we got back to hear that the Forestry Woods sell-off has been cancelled.
The Government are taking notice of some the people in this country at last .

Day 2

A short 4m trip, we walked up the River Esk from Brotherikeld Farm to Lingcove Bridge and back.
With all the recent rainfall the waterfalls along the route were at their best, and at the bridge you get magnificent views of some of Englands finest mountains.

I used a Lumix DFC-FZ38 camera for these pics; it's a 'bridge' camera, ie not compact or SLR, with an 18x optical zoom, and I am very impressed with it so far. The zoom is sharp at its maximum, and the built in 'anti-shake' function works well.

The Scafell Massif from Hardknott Fort

Sunday, 2 January 2011

A wet start to the New Year!

Happy New Year all..

So off I went to Craig-y don near Llandudno with the new Rockpool Alaw, to meet up with a few hardy souls with the intention of a wee trip around the Great Orme and a bit of rock hopping.
Bearing in mind I bought the Alaw after a very satisfactory demo session in Scotland last year, I got a bit of a shock when I found it really twitchy and was dumped out of it about 15 seconds of launching, because I a) got turned by a wave and b) hadn't put me spraydeck on. Cue huge embarrassment all round.
Right onto me gammy shoulder, which complained, but after a couple of Voltarol kicked in I relaunched and joined up with the guys for a brief trip from one end of the bay to the pier and returned back on my own.
Pleased to say that my Gul cag with the latex neck seal performed admirably, [see post 2009/10/rubber-me-up], and I remained dry after dunking.
Hopefully things will improve on my next outing.

A Rockpool gathering..