Saturday, 21 March 2015

A short evening over Long Top

It has been a few years since I was last on the undulating ridge running south from Bowfell over Crinkle Crags but with a vague plan to include it as part of a more significant run in the spring and a couple of hours light to play with now the days have started to lengthen, I was keen to get reacquainted.
Working up towards Cold Pike, on this day from the Three Shires Stone - considering the options for the next trip. The route I have in mind will start at the bridge over Cockley Beck, taking in the Scafell summits first before completing the horseshoe over Great End, Esk Pike, Bowfell and Crinkle Crags descending to the Three Shire Stone and following the beck back to the bridge. It's a fairly obvious circuit, unremarkable in its length or difficulty as far as fell running goes, but it remains one I have wanted to run for years now and having got a little of the old hill-fitness back, is one I'm looking forward to completing in a month or so.
Back to the moment - and a moment's rest with the clag clinging to Crinkle Crags beyond, Long Top the highest of the crinkles.
Climbing the so-called bad-step. Now completely clean if rather polished, with a profusion of positive holds, it barely warrants the title, though this and the steep ground above remain a particularly enjoyable section of the ridge. Beyond, the clag thickened and with visibility down to a few yards in places there was little reason to linger on the summit of Bowfell.
Retracing my steps over Long Top and down towards Great Knott...
...where visibility improved giving a clear view of the descent to Red Tarn after which the route turns and drops once again to Wrynose Pass to complete a respectable 13km* with 800m* ascent in total.
*Two very approximate measurements

Friday, 20 March 2015

Solar eclipse

I remember well the last time I didn't see an eclipse. Standing on a pier on Shetland Mainland in 1999, there was the vaguest suggestion of darkness, though it might just have been a cloud marginally thicker than the last rolling across the sky - there was little to be seen so far north that year, unlike this morning, the best images I've seen so far having been taken on the Svalbard Islands.
Clouds obscured the main event...
...But I managed a few pictures...
...the high contrast of these images suggesting a more complete loss of light than was the case, but still, an impressive event and worth watching - I'll be long gone it seems by the time the next one occurs.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Just rewards

If anything, our second morning on the beach at Aberdaron was colder than the first, leading to a notable absence of enthusiasm for what appeared at first glance to be small and irregular waves. 
But having brought the proper tools for the job, the promise of a 14 second period proved too much for some...
...while a boarder appeared to be suffering from similar delusions.
But a little faith was justly rewarded with some clean waves...
...a few fast rides...
...and entirely predictable ice-cream headaches that prompted a rapid retreat to the warmth of the pub. Not bad for a cold weekend in March.

Suited and booted for Bardsey

Despite an early dose of the usual springtime delusions involving shorty cags and sunshine brought on by an optimistic forecast for the Lleyn Peninsula and Bardsey Island, there was a notable absence of debate about the dress code before setting off from Aberdaron. A bitter breeze from the east saw everyone suitably dry-suited and booted on the beach, keen to get moving in the chill air.
In fact the sun did make an all-too-brief appearance as we crossed the sound, rising on gentle swells running across the tide.
Beneath the cliffs of Mynydd Enlli on the eastern side of this enigmatic island, we paddled close in, using the eddies to work our way south.
In places the race was unavoidable, playful waves making for a sporting passage towards the calm of Henllwyn and its sheltered landing.
Here the usual suspects were gathered among the kelp beds, watching our departure lazily as we moved out of the bay to round Pen Diban. It is a name I doubt I will forget, my first experience of this headland involving a 2m swell which, on colliding with the not insignificant tidal flows, led to one of those character building moments that remains clear in the mind's eye for many years.
Turning the north-eastern corner of Bardsey, before heading directly to Pen y cil - the four km crossing took around 45 minutes - a brisk headwind and surprisingly little tidal assistance slowed our passage before turning into the broad reach of Aberdaron Bay.
A clear cold night left the tents wet, though the high level cloud formed again soon after dawn resulting in some desperate measures to get the tents dry...
...before heading back to the beach to check out the surf - another optimistic forecast had called for 3ft at 14 seconds - and sunshine. Of the latter there had so far been precious little, but it seemed worthwhile checking out the former.

Sunday, 15 March 2015