Saturday, 8 December 2007


We went on the walk on Sutton Bank again, this time with Mikey, and this time in the snow! It was threatening sleet, but we thought that it would be fun anyway, and although it was very cold, it was very fun!

Highland Cattle

The White Horse

A proper snowy Christmas tree!

Sunday, 14 October 2007

More mist

The BBC lies! They said that it would be white cloud with sun, and it really wasn't!

But first thing in the morning, we didn't realise that they were being so unrealistic and so decided to go for a walk at Sutton Bank (a steep inland cliff-thing). We managed to forget the camera, which means that we have no more pictures of us disappearing into the mist, but if we had remembered it, we would have taken pictures of:

- highland cattle with big horns and shaggy fringes looking at us in a bemused fashion
- gorse bushes covered in millions of spiders' webs glittering with water droplets
- the ruins of Byland Abbey emerging from the mist
- the lack of visibilty on Sutton Bank
- tiny little chapel built in the middle of nowehere to commemerate four Ampleforth students killed in the war
- the white horse eclipsed by the mist
- several rather nice looking pubs

Our walk:

Sunday, 9 September 2007


We went to Canada!
(a brief synopsis)

We flew into Seattle, checked into the hotel and then went swimming in the deserted swimming pool, which was particularly welcome after a 9 hour flight, even if our body clocks did think it was 4am!!!

Early next morning, we met our group and set off. Our group was actually doing the Trek in parallel with another group, so we has two vans of people staying in the same place each night and doing a lot of the same activities in the day. Having two vans did mean however that the groups had more flexibility over what we did as there was effectively more options, which was good.

First day was a long drive from Seattle up into Canada to get to Pinantan Lake in British Columbia. To set the scence for the whole trip, the lake looked like this first thing the next morning:

Next day we went on towards Yoho National Park, via Revelstoke. We camped at Beaverfoot Lodge, which is on the floor of a wide valley, with the steep mountains climbing up at either side. It was a really atmospheric location.

This was further increased by the LOUDEST thunderstorm we've ever experienced which happened during the night! The thunderclaps actaully made the ground shake (we noticed as we were obviously sleeping on the floor) but the noise went on for literally 20-30 seconds each time - basically because the sound was bouncing back & forth between the two sides of the valley.

The next day we went on a hike from Takakawa Falls through Yoho pass. It was a spectacular day and we saw some of the most fantastic scenery.

View as we came out of the pass:

to the left as we came down...

and across the lake at the bottom:

Having compelted this hot trek, we jumped back into the van to head back to the camp to go horse riding. This took along the side of the valley, but ended not quite as expected when the guide's horse got stung by a hornet and freaked out all the other horses, who decided they were going home, regardless of what people wanted them to do!! Taz & I weren't too phased by this, but that wasn't the case for some others in the group who found the whole thing a little too exciting. We just thought it added to the interest!

The next day we went on to Lake Louise, where we did another hike. This started of with a steep climp up to the tea house by Lake Agnus.

Lake Agnus, with the teahouse just visible:

We then went round the lake and up the Big Beehive. This is the view from the top down over Lake Louise and the famous Chateau:

We then decended down the other side (at a gallop in our case) which brings you out half way down Lake Louise. We then made a very brisk dash to the far end of the lake, up towards the Plain of Six Galciers. We got as far as we could before time meant we had to head back, which we did via the medium of running the length of the lake. (We'd already decided to do this when on the Beehive to give us maximum time to get up to the Six Glaciers - the others thought we were crazy!!)

At the end of the Plain of Six Glaciers, with Lake Louise behind:

To be continued....

More Canada

On leaving Lake Louise we headed for Banff and returned to the Tunnel Mountain campground (6 years on!), where we would spend three nights. We set up camp in the sunshine and revelled in having returned to such an idyllic setting.

This looks like a pic from the brouchure...

We spent a happy evening around the campfire and then had the next day to mooch around banff. The next morning was simply beautifu; clear, crips, still and quiet. This was the view out from our camp:

It was a beautifully sunny day and we had a most relaxing day.


In the evening we went back into town for a meal, where I had an Elk Burger, which was very fine. We then went to another bar for a few beverages, before calling it a night.

The next day we went to Johnstone Canyon in the morning and took a short(ish) walk up to the waterfalls. It was another beautifully sunny day (this was now a theme which continued for the majorty of our trip!)

In the evening we went to the hot springs and then spent the evening around the campfire again. The next morning we started with a great breakfast of bacon & eggs and Tassy excelled at cooking perfect scrambled eggs for 24 people! I think the trek leaders expected it to be a big lump of rubber, based on previous experiences!

We loaded the vans and headed off north...

The roads up through alberta we're superb and run past numerous stunning bits of scenery. We also saw an enormous moose wading across a river.

The Majestic Moose...

Probably the most famous stretch is the Icefields Parkway, which runs past the Columbia Icefield. This is the edge of a huge mountain ice feild, which you can walk a little way up to on one of the galciers. This is pretty cool, although it has now become a little touristy. It was ok when we were there but I'd hate to be there in season.

We happened to be there as the sun was going down as well, so it diappeared behind the nearby mountain whilst we were on the glacier and it was amazing how quickly the temperature dropped when we were plunged into the shade!

Once we were off the glacier we made a leisurely return to the van (despite it being already quite late in the day) and header off further north up to Jasper.

To Be Continued...

More More Canada

We arrived at Jasper and set up camp in the rapidly descending dusk. A key feature of the trek was that our entire group was very laid back and we were never in a hurry to get anywhere and hence took great pleasure in just enjoying the journey and stopping to see anything of interest along the way. The flip side of this is that we often set up camp quite late in the day, but we coped!

We had another evening around the campfire and after a long day went to bed relatively early. We were then woken rather early by Elk barking in the woods around the camp. In the end we got up early and enjoyed another beautiful Canada dawn...

As everyone gradually emerged (some had had a rather later night...!) we set to breakfast and then headed off into Jasper.


Our group decided to go for a hike at mt Edith Cavell in the morning, with the plan to come back to Jasper early afternoon to go to the swimming pool! The hike was again great and we got the sense of being really quite remote, despite the other people around. We walked up to the lake which had the galcier carving into it - we heard the roar of bits breaking off and falling into the water whilst we were walking.

View down the valley from near the top

After some lunch at the top with a view of the "Angel Glacier", which is perched precariously on the side of a mountain, we headed back down and returned to Jasper.

Lunch and Angel Glacier

On an iceberg in the lake.

Chris tests the water and finds it a little cold for his liking!

In Jasper we all took great delight in going to the swimming pool complex, which was complete with water slide, inflatables, water polo nets steam room and large jacuzzi! The group of us spent about 2 hours in there exploring all the activities and thoroughly relaxing. It was great!

After, we took a walk back along the main (and really the only!) street to the local brewery pub, where we sampled a selection of the local wares...! We then wandered back along the street to the pizza & pool bar, where we ate pizza, drank beer and played free pool whilst doing so. Then we decamped to a local bar/club where we hustled some more pool and some of us (me not included!) graced the dance floor.

The next morning we packed up and headed across to Clearwater and the Lake on which we would spend the next two day and a half. The roads looked largely like this...

To be continued...

More More More Canada

We arrived in the town of Clearwater, where we met our guides and transferred all our gear into waterproof bags. We then headed off down about 45mins of winding backroad to the edge of Clearwater Lake itself. This place was already pretty remote but across on the other side of the lake there was no habitation for miles & miles. If you want to travel anywhere from the other side you apparently needed to beat your own trail!

Excitedly, we packed our stuff into our canoe, along with some group bits from the van. Interestingly, several of the group were really nervous about the canoes - I guess we forgot that not everyone is most at home on the water! And so, we set off...

Clearwater Lake lives up to its name - the water was icy cold and crystal clear. It's also clean enough to drink, so we all enjoyed paddling along, dipping our mugs over the side. The scenery was superb and it was so quiet (apart from all of us calling across the water to each other!)

After a couple of hours of paddling we reached our camping spot and pulled up on the beach... literally:

We set up camp amongst the trees along the edge of the lake. It was simply idyllic. That night there was a monstrous campfire and lots of tasty real ale and Fireball was consumed. After some increasingly silly campfire games, we all suddenly decided to go for a midnight paddle on the lake! This was SOOOOO much fun - paddling around in the PITCH black. All we could see were the stars straight up through a haze of low cloud and the faint glow of the campfire between the trees. In many ways, this was when you felt most remote - drifting silently in the middle of nowhere and not even being able to see the middle of nowhere. It also made it ideal for sneaking up on people...!

I'd post a picture but, well... it was dark.

The next morning I was awake early and watched the sun rise over the opposite sure. Again, it's impossible to describe. Everything was just so serene and beautiful. This was the view out of our tent...!

After a peaceful walk on the beach, others began to stir and breakfast began...

I have to say that this is probably my favourite campground ever - it would take quite a lot to beat it. Though, I guess the facilities were pretty primitive (toilet = hut up the hill with a stinky hole in it and sharing the whole area with bears!) Even so, it takes some beating!

After an extensive pancake breakfast, with many accoutrements, Taz and I decided to paddle across to the other side of the lake and catch up with the rest of the group later, who were going for a short hike in the next bay. On the opposite beach, we met two older ladies from Salmon Arm, who'd been travelling up the lake in their canoes and camping in on various beaches for the previous 4 days. One of them turned out to be English, which was slightly random! That was one of the fun things - meeting random people in random places.

We paddled back to the beach where the others had set off for their walk, had some lunch and took the obligatory canoeing picture:

Chris then suggested people should go for a swim in the lake. Having drunk and dipped hands/feet in already, we were aware that it was VERY cold: certainly single figures centigrade and we thought probably only a couple of degrees above freezing. Chris & Lori plunged in (the latter screaming) and I then decided that I'd probably only ever be there once, so why not. Swimming shorts on an CHARGE...!

Let's just say there was swearing and it was cold! Worth it, though!

To be continued...

Friday, 31 August 2007

The Maize Maze

The maize maze in York (this year in the shape of Roger Moore and his Aston Martin), had two evening events when you could play in the maze after dark. It was still dusk when we arrived, but even so, we couldn't really see the ground and spent the first few minutes tripping over our feet on the uneven ground.

Jim charges up Ian's glow in the dark t-shirt

It turned out to be pretty spooky. You could hear the voices of other people in the maze, and occasionally see their torch light darting out of the corn and hitting trees, but you didn't actually see anyone until their shadowy forms were right on top of you. We played the game properly for a bit - trying to get to each of the numbered posts and answering the Bond-themed questions at each, but it quickly became more fun to try and stalk each other.

"Where are they?"

After we had been there for quite a while and had decided that our last task was to get to post number one, Vicki and I hid around a corner waiting to jump put and surprise Ian and Jim. They shone a torch at us and then walked straight on and it was a few minutes before we realised that they hadn't seen us. We still suspected that they were lying in wait for us, so we crept onwards using the bent leg approach which is essential if you are not to be seen over the top of some of the shorter bits of corn. But after a while we realised that they really had gone on, and so we moved a bit faster, hoping to ambush them round the post. More than once, a poor sweedish guy, whose voice had a similar timbre to Ian's was stalked round the paths. Once we had circled around the post, moving in slowly and from an odd direction, and found them not there, we started to wonder how we were actually going to find them. Assuming that they were hiding in wait for us, we tried phoning Jim's mobile in the hope that the ring tone would give away their position. But it was on silent and so we prowled around, all the time on the alert for their faint rustling or whispered voices.

If Jim hadn't phoned back to ask where we were, we would probably still be stealthily following each other round and round and round.

Sunday, 26 August 2007

Whernside too

The weather looked better for this week's expedition to the peaks, and as we set off to Whernside past the Ribblehead viaduct, there was even sun!

But as we climbed the gentle slope up onto Whernside, the mist rolled in, and soon, once again, we were unable to see anything beyond the path!

There had been quite a few people on the path (tempted by the better weather), but on the way down they started to gather.

By the time we got back down to the valley there was a fair old queue of old people and dogs tentatively stepping down the rocky path.

Ingleborough was totally in mist, but we figured it was worth going up anyway so that we could explore the route that we hadn't seen yet, and maybe even see the summit! We enjoyed some superb limestone pavement on the way, and the path which went straight up the steep side of the hill wasn't too awful. But the summit was again thick with mist and we could hardly see a thing. We were better prepared this time, but we still would have probably given up if a random sneeze hadn't drawn out eyes to a faint darkness which was the trig point!

The walk down was hard work as I was really tired, but the scrambly bit was much easier on the way down, and we got to see all the crazy people who were just embarking on the last of the three Yorkshire peaks for the day. They all looked exhausted and made us feel less tired!

The rain, which had held out from actually falling all day, rolled in as we got back into the car, and so we sat and watched it with a big mug of tea!

Sunday, 19 August 2007

Ingleborough as well!

This weekend we had no gigs to distract us, so we went back to the Dales to do a bit more peak. It couldn't have been more delicious weather! The cloud was low and heavy and the carpark was correspondingly empty. But this didn't bother us as we started the walk towards Ingleborough.It was a bit disconcerting, 10 minutes in, to discover that walking through the damp grass had tranfered enough water to soak through my walking boots and into my socks, but we were not deterred and enjoyed the limestone pavement, boggy puddles, and gentle climbs on well made paths which were provided by the path. After an hour we started to wonder whether we would know when we got there - the climb had been so gentle, and the top of the ridge so totally obscured by cloud that we had no idea how far we had come.

What does the summit of Ingleborough actually look like?

The last bit was excellent - the path suddenly turned into small boulders and then into a well laid path of giant flatish yellow stones, and then climbed steeply into the lee of the peak. The wind (which had been growing steadily) immediately subsided and we were in an eerie silence where we could only see 1o feet in front or behind us.

We got to the top with little difficulty but were then lost as to where on the plataeux the trig point was! In our silliness we had not brought a compass with us (don't worry parentis, we will never do that again), so we had to make do by steering by cairns and laying paterans as we tried to explore the shrouded interior. After one last foray into the mist where we placing ourselves at the extremes of our visibility, we decided that we had got to the highest point, even if we hadn't found the marker, so we had nothing to prove! We set off on our way down and felt smug that we had noticed and marked carefully the route across the top to the path (there were lots of people looking faintly confused).

The way down was marred by realising that all my clothes underneath my waterproofs were soaked through (in addition to my feet which were now warming up the water that was sloshing around my boots), but after a quick break for tea, we pressed on to Pen-y-ghent.

This time we went up it the other way, confident that the path was obvious even in fog. We met pretty much no-one and enjoyed the scramble at the end where we kept disappearing into the mist. The way down dragged out - lots of fields to go past and our feet were starting to get a bit tired. I whiled away the last twenty minutes by irritating singing the themes to well known films!

A bit of fog

But despite the precipitation, it was a wonderful walk - once you have resigned yourself to being wet, it doesn't really matter in the summer, and the joy of putting on dry clothes and drinking tea in the car at the end was marvellous!

Sunday, 12 August 2007

Trotting up hills

After more hills, we poddled over to Pen-y-ghent today. I had a vague notion of doing both Pen-y-ghent and Inglebrough, but had forgotten that we’d have to walk between them, and as we had to be back in reasonable time to have a leisurely supper and go out to a gig, it didn’t really feel like there was enough time.

When we got there the rain was only just letting off from a seriously wet shower – the sort where you have to drive at 40mph because its so hard to see the road – and the top of Pen-y-ghent was shrouded in cloud.

We weren’t entirely sure how much fun scrambling on wet rock with no visibility was going to be, so we set off the wrong way – up the gentle incline which is the Pennine Way.

It was very pleasant – lots of dry stone walls with rolling dales as far as the eye could see, and as we got closer to the top, the cloud cleared a bit, so although there was still banks of mist rolling over the top, the visibility was pretty good. We didn’t stop at the top, but started down the rocks, trying to avoid the various panting dogs, old people and chavs with no shoes climbing up. The sun started to appear as we ambled down the fields at the bottom and apart from a last sudden flurry of big fat wet rain, by the time we got to the car, there were blue skies populated by simpsons-esque clouds. A very pleasant 2.5hr trot.

After the leisurely supper we went to see Fightstar at Fibbers. They were, well, rubbish. Their songs were formulaic, singing tuneless (he did say that he had ragged his voice), bass sound messy, drums untidy and excessively complicated and guitars inaudible. Though it was fun watching middle-aged women shriek at the lead singer!

Saturday, 4 August 2007

Fountains Abbey

Click on the image below to go to some of the photos that we took. If you want to keep any, you can download them from there. They are mainly people - the light was all wrong for pictures of stone. We'll have to go back at twlight!
Fountains Abbey