Monthly Archives: April 2017

‘CLIMBING ON A SUNNY AFTERNOON’ – King’s Meaburn.

Haven’t climbed with ‘Batesieman’ for a while so it was great to meet up for a trip to the southern Eden Valley. The best way to start a visit here is to come off the motorway at Tebay  [J38] and enjoy a coffee or even breakfast in the Truckstop cafe. This morning, being a Sunday with few trucks,  they were virtually empty. Quite roads lead through sleepy villages to King’s Meaburn where a lane drops down to a ford which at present is still suffering damage from last years floods. The concrete has been washed away and only 4x4s risk a crossing of the River Lyvennet. Apparently in 1745  Bonnie Prince Charlie crossed here to rendezvous with his troops in Shap, but he does seem to have been everywhere.There is parking and a short walk past an idyllic cottage brings you to the crag hidden in the trees above the river. The crags real name is Jackdaw Scar which becomes apparent as the raucous birds greeted us, occasionally one would fly out of a crack and there was excrement everywhere.The crag is unusual in that there is a base of eroded sandstone below the steep limestone walls. There are several bays which made for easy orientation even for us and we soon spied out possible lines.

A flake for later.

The sun was just coming round onto the faces and all fears, mainly mine, of a cold hands day disappeared. In fact the weather turned out perfect for climbing in this lovely setting. What followed was a great afternoon romping up a variety of routes. Juggy cracks of all widths, flakes  and blocky walls on steep solid limestone which seemed to give excellent friction, the sandstone band at the base adding to the interest. A couple and child arrived and set up camp below the crag, whilst the couple climbed the boy entertained himself in the trees and stream – an ideal family venue. We lunched by the ford and rounded the afternoon off with an exciting ascent of that flake.

The top of Bay Rum.

TD Corner – roots.

The arete of Scarlet Lyvenett.

The classic Marik.

Even completed the day with a pint and a curry.                                                                                    Perfect.

For the record…

Bay Rum VD   TD Corner VD   Percy Throwup VD   Kirsten Wall HS 4b   Scarlet Lyvenett MVS 4b    The Flake  VS 4c.

EASTER DISTRACTIONS ON THE GUILD WHEEL.

The garage where I bought my car from last year lies on The Guild Wheel circuit. When I phoned to arrange the yearly service I was surprised the appointment, they have become very clinical in garages, was on Easter Monday, so rather than waste the day in went the bike. The receptionist, very clinical, was taken aback by my Lycra and helmet and doubted I would be back within the 2 hours the service would take. I set off on the Wheel in an anticlockwise direction and after a couple of miles I was investigating the lock gates from the Ribble into Preston docks when a familiar voice caught my ear and there was one of my sons and his partner cycling the opposite way. They were visiting from Manchester and doing a quick circuit before dining with family. I was invited to join them and soon was retracing my ride past the garage I had left a short while ago. I meant to mention that this garage is part of a multi motor showroom complex – there are cars and salesmen everywhere.

The day was cool and dry, we made good progress around the northern half of the Wheel. I managed to keep up with their youthful pace but was glad of a coffee stop in, say it quietly, Starbucks.That reminded me of a picture I took in Bethlehem a couple of years ago.

Onwards and down through the woods at Redscar where the bluebells were just colouring up. Now the fact it was Easter Monday hit home as all the way through Brockholes the path was thronged with families enjoying the sunshine. Slow progress. The pace quickened on the stretch by the river and after that my companions took a different route up into Preston. From here the crowds thickened again and I realised it was the famousegg rolling day in Avenham Park so it was simpler and safer to dismount and walk with the crowds. There was a great party atmosphere – egg-rollers, fair goers, music and dance entertainment and general family happiness. I tarried to absorb it all.

Even after leaving the park the route through the docks was thronged with people, the steam train was running. I arrived back at the garage after three hours to collect my car, complete with its clinical diagnostic sheet. I complemented the receptionist on their efficiency and enthused how easily I fitted the cycle into the boot.

Everyone seemed happy on this sunny Easter Monday.

Around the block.

I can’t believe I was climbing a few days ago in a T shirt as this morning the cold dull weather continues towards Easter. I rouse myself to do a favourite short walk from home to see what is happening in the countryside. Longridge Fell looks broodingly down on the start of my walk into a field full of seagulls, they are unusual so they must be feeding on something – possibly recent muck spreading.

A glance at the 1:25000 map shows many small ponds in these fields, they are the remains of Marl Pits dug in the 19th century to provide lime rich clay for spreading on the fields to improve the soil. They now provide an interesting habitat for wildlife and plants. One near here unfortunately is used by the duck shooting fraternity, today the mallards were paddling happily. A couple of larger ponds used to keep my children happy for hours fishing for god knows what.

I passed a few metal gates which are for access to a line of aqueducts crossing this area, the Thirlmere aqueduct to Manchester and the Hodder aqueduct to Blackpool. Generally the former has black gates whilst the latter green. A useless bit of information.

On the lanes Blackthorn was in flower before its leaves appeared, the reverse of the Hawthorn, May Blossom. The phrase “Ne’er cast a clout till May be out” was particularly pertinent today in the cold wind.  Better information.

Blackthorn.

Sheep were with lambs and the cattle were being let out into the fields. I came across a particularly threatening breed of sheep.

Pit Bull sheep.

Since I was last this way a memorial seat has been erected – “he loved this farm” a lovely sentiment.

Passing three popular hostelries …

Ferraris Country Hotel.

Derby Arms.

The Alston.

… shunning them all I arrived home in under a couple of hours. The weather shows no sign of improving but at least I’ve had some exercise.

 

THE GARDEN IN MARCH.

From the first day of March the frogs were busy mating in my pond and bats started flying round my house at dusk. There are lambs in the field at the back of my garden. Feels like the year has started at last and we have had a few sunny days at the beginning of the month.

Spring bulbs continue to appear, Muscari, Anemone blanda, Iris reticulata and Snake’s Head Fritillaries all were a joy to see again. The taller daffodils come into their own for picking for the house.The low lying Pulmonaria brighten several gloomy areas – officinalis , Pink Dawn and Azurea.

This pretty little blue flower seeds itself around the borders – Cardamine pentaphylla…Of course the cherries have come into flower, lets hope there is not too much wind which destroys their petals… as has the Magnolia stellata…

The delicate primrose flowers of my Corylopsis shrub soon fade…… and the petals of Camellia are susceptible to the morning sun on frosty days.I’m just back from the Canary Islands and looking forward to April’s offerings but first there is some hard work to do on the lawn and those weeds have started growing.

FUERTEVENTURIA – Puerto del Rosario.

How to pass a day away.

I had a day to spare but was unable easily to get back up into the mountains so I decided on a leisurely day in town. Puerto del Rosario is the working capital of the Island and is based on its busy port. First impressions are of a self contained town with the locals going about there business away from the general tourist traffic. My hotel  http://www.hoteltamasite.com/ was a typical Spanish town centre option – basic and practical. Centrally situated, Spanish speaking staff, small room, noisy evenings, as a plus this hotel had a sun roof with views over the harbour. There are always bars around for breakfast and supper.

Hotel Tamasite – the blue one!

From my window I looked down onto a courtyard that had been blocked off – including an old ‘dormobile’ left in situ.

Spot the wreck.

After a wander down to the small TI office on the harbour in the morning I was armed with a street map of a sculpture trail. There are more than 50 installations created in the last decade or so as part of an International Sculpture Symposium held every year.  So off I went, on the sea front the sculptures had a marine theme – shells and fishermen, in the streets above local characters, abstract objects and goats. The number of goat statues was puzzling until I read that the town was formally called Puerto de Cabras [goats] until it was thought in 1957 the new name [rosary] was more attractive. Several of the installations were on roundabouts making photography dangerous.  I called in at the museum based on the house where philosopher Miguel de Unamuno lived while in exile in 1924, I’d seen his statue in the hills yesterday. Next door was the simple Señora del Rosario church and that was it for tourism here. I regret not seeing the massive barracks of the Foreign Lesion which was moved here in 1975 and apparently are still used on a smaller scale.

I only had my phone for the poor quality pictures.

Unamuno outside his house.

Senora del Rosario Church.

According to a well known review site two of the better restaurants on the Island are within a short distance of my hotel so I chose one for lunch. La Jaira de Demain lies up a side street above the harbour and is simply decorated with an outside terrace. I went for the menu – octopus and squid vinaigrette starter and than hake with mojo sauce for the main. Plus a sweet and wine 12euros.  Beautifully presented and delicious.

Needed a lie down on Playa Chico, the town’s beach, before my afternoon swim.

Later in the evening popped round the corner to El Bounty del Muella another small restaurant. Run by Italians the menu is Mediterranean/Canarian and is a little bit over the top presentation wise, I don’t like slate slabs to dine off. I chose ‘catch of the day’  grilled vieja [parrot fish] which was exceptionally tasty, an expensive end to my short stay on Fuerteventura.