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Sunday, 16 September 2007

The Taming of The Great Moss, The Shrew and Scafell

Mid September and Good forecast for Saturday inspired us to a walk up Scafell Pike. Rather than join the hordes of weekend walkers the route we chose would hopefully be quiet. In fact it was deserted apart from one other walker with the same idea and a few people out for a camping trip.

Starting from Cockley Beck (at the head of the Duddon Valley between Wrynose and Hardknott Passes we headed North towards Scafell, up Moasdale, a rather boggy place even after a dry September. An hour of steady walking brought us to the short descent to Lingcove Beck and then some undulating ground on a feint track to "The Great Moss". I think this is one of the greatest features in the Lakes, a 500 M by 500M square of perfectly flat boggy ground. Although in most weathers you can walk straight across it as it seems to be able to soak up a lot of water and you walk across the vegetation without sinking into the depths!

Rather than head straight up to Broad Stand we then headed past Esk Buttress up Little Narrowcove up a steep almost canyon like gully with brooding crags on either side. This took us up to 877 Metres and then just 90 Metres more of ascent would see us on the summit.

At around 800 Metres a mouse like creature scurried across our path, we tracked it down in a small grass hollow and it turned out to be a shrew. Amazing how such small warm blooded creatures can survive in such harsh climates. We were already suffering from cold hands in a harsh wind that had struck up.

Joining the main path meant actually meeting other people, lots of them. On the short section over the summit probably a couple of hundred, maybe more. After being the highest people in England for a while we dropped back down to Broadstand and then the steep descent under East Buttress of Scafell with its impressive cliffs.

The final scramble down the side of Howbeck Waterfalls brought us back to the Great Moss and we took a direct route over it. All that remained was the long walk back to the road at Cockley Beck, enjoying the peace and solitude, how the Lakes should be!



The Great Moss


Slide Show
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Tuesday, 11 September 2007

Helvellyn Triathlon 2007




Here I am in orange shorts on the last section of the Kirkstone Pass - about half way through the event.
1 mile swim in lake (40 mins)
38 mile bike ride (rather hilly - 2.04 hours)
"run" up and down Helvellyn (very hilly - 2.15 hours)

This took me just over 5 hours this year, but I actually quite enjoyed it! Alistair - a training partner is on the yellow bike here, he finished in front of me eventually after a couple of exchanges of leads beween us on the run.

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Sunday, 2 September 2007

Via Ferrata in the Ecrin Alps


It was my first experience of a via ferrata and the ease of movement over the vertical rock faces linked by exciting traverses and fragile looking suspension bridges were certainly a big thrill. Via Ferratas (paths of iron) were originally developed by the Italians during the last war as a way of scaling the rock faces of the dolomites and othwer areas without detection. One can imagine secret hideaways and stores of armaments in inpregnable positions in the Mountains.


Since then there has been a gradual but steady increase in their popularity as a leisure pursuit in their own right. In more recent years there has been a dramatic increase in their numbers as villages and tourist areas have seen their potential as a wasy of luring summer tourists into the ski resorts.

The Briancon area alone has 20 to 30 routes of varying dificulty, certainly enough for a couple of weeks holiday. Some can be combined with walks and mountain summits to make a full day's outing.

The basic techniques are very easy. Just follow the continous cable and keep clipped in at all times. You can make up your own "lanyards" using a friction plate or buy ready put together kit (which do seem rather expensive). All these kits do is provide some shock absorbing capacity in case you fall and load your harness with a heavy load. You do risk internal injuries, broken pelvis, etc without this equipment.


You also need a helmet of course and stout footwear.

The easier routes are an ideal way of introducing children annd beginners to moutaineering/climbing and it is of course possible to rope people up as you would on a climb if they are short of confidence.

Some of the more recent Via Ferratas have amazing cable bridges, Tyrolean traverses across exposed gorges, climbs up the slides of spectacular waterfalls and even routes up massively overhanging walls via ladders where you have to face outwards from the rock face!

There are many guidebooks available as well as free guides produced by the tourist boards.




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