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