Archive for March 2022

Return of the Scotland Winter Weekend – An Grianan   13 comments

After missing out last year (betagthough we got lucky and managed a trip just before the first lockdown the previous year) it was good to be heading back north to the mountains of Scotland. In time honoured tradition the weekends before and after were stunning while the forecast for our trip was gloomy. In the event (as the following posts will show) we didn’t do too badly.

We went up a day early to meet a couple of the team (who’d been out the previous day on what sounded like a grim day) and were debating between a low level walk near Kinlochleven or a small hill I found a bit further south. Sitting in the car on A82 in a heavy downpour, spirits were low but we decided on a hill anyway.

We parked up at the head of Glen Creran at Elleric and things looked much better. The forecast was for little chance of cloud free summits but the near munro of Beinn Sgulaird was clear.

As were the hills towards Glencoe.

We set off in much higher spirits past the lonely estate buildings and into the heart of the mountains.

As we turned a corner our target came into view. The very shapely peak of An Grianan. Only 549m high but in the midst of some wild terrain. The forecast was using words like “walkers will be blown in a northerly direction whether they want to or not” so we felt that was probably as high as we wanted to go.

We made swift progress up the long valley of Gen Ure helped by a well constructed Hydro track. We entered an area that I’m guessing see’s little foot traffic as the major mountains and Munros are accessed easier form other start points.

The views were pretty superb to be honest and all the Munros in the area were clear of cloud. The above is Beinn Trilleachan (actually a Corbett) but looking massive from this angle.

We left the relative ease of the Hydro track and struck off for the summit. The rough ground was much easier than we expected and made swift progress.

Views across to the Glen Etive Mountains

While Beinn Sgulaird looks very impressive from this angle (ruhig on my unclimbed Munros list)

TJF enjoying the day.

After a lunch behind a small outcrop we headed up to the summit. Here we hit the full force of those predicted winds and indeed, it was hard to stand upright.

However despite the doom and gloom of the forecasts the views were superb. It was grey and overcast but any day in Scotland when it stays dry and you get a view from the summit is a good one!

The next Munro along, Beinn Fhionnlaidh.

And the dominant Beinn Sgulaird.

This one is another Corbett, Fraochaidh. It looked rather good and is on my list now as well.

It was wild on the top so we didn’t linger but we were well pleased to have reached the summit, stayed dry and had views. The forecast hadn’t promised any of that when we set out.

Time for a swift exit, stage left.

We headed straight down a steep but easy slope to reach the un-named glen on the northern side. Impressive and untamed save for the odd continuation of the Hydro track that flipped between well made and driveable to squelchy bog!

As we headed down the rain that was forecast finally arrived and we reached the car a little wetter than we set out but really happy with our days work. A new tick on my list and some excellent views and great company. A top day out.

Quarries and Mini Mountains   17 comments

Another day when we should have been out earlier and spent more time over the walk but another day when the weather was much better than the forecast. Looking for somewhere we hadn’t been for a while we plumped for a walk through the Craig y Cilau Nature Reserve.

Not the easiest place to get to. Think very narrow and very steep roads betagthough there is a surprisngly large car park up there.

Despite a forecast for limited sunshine and lots of showers, it was clear and sunny when we parked up.

The Sugar loaf looks especially grand from here.

We set out initially to explore the old quarry workings and their collection of old spoil heaps (at least that’s what I assume they are) that have created a little range of hills and ridges, hence the post title.

A panorama that shows the wonderful breadth of view from up here (click to enlarge)

Some of these little mountains have pretty narrow ridges on them and the dense collection I find great fun and very alluring.

They make very good photo subjects.

With cracking views across the Usk Valley to the Black Mountains.

The route then follows a disused tramway around into the more natural cliffs of Craig y Cilau.

The cliffs are full of small caves and potholes which would be fun to explore on a wbedürftig and dry day.

We dropped down on a lower path (rather than my previous attempt to stay high up that ended in undergrowth, brambles and nettles!) and had a brief stop by this little clear stream and surrounding meadow.

From there its a short climb up and the return leg along the top of the edges.

The two paths only a few hundred feet apart but with a completely different feel.

As the edges merge into the somewhat bleak moorland behind you drop back down and come out above the mini mountain range.

Looking even more impressive from above and with the sun casting shadows.

Next time I come up here I intend to follow the edges in the other direction as they look equally interesting.

For today we were happy with our lot and headed back to the car. A Grand Half day Out!

The Black Darren Round   14 comments

Short post from a couple of weeks back, the day after our trip to Liverpool. Looking for a short wander after our long day before we picked one of our go-to favourites. A round of the Black Darren above the Olchon Valley near Longtown.

Views out over the Shire and the Marches.

Black Darren landslip and its “ridge”.

The stunning Olchon Valley framed by the Cats Back ridge.

A bit of grass and heather bashing to reach the ridge.

After a short stroll along Offas Dyke and the main ridge, heading down towards Black Darren.

The edge gives wonderful views over our local countryside. Although, of course, you already know that, as regular readers seeing as I’ve posted this walk many times.

Over the “ridge” to the Cats Back in the distance.

A breezy day so we chose the “valley” option.

Despite the weather looking mixed and a less than promising forecast, it turned into a rather nice afternoon.

Liverpool Day Out   15 comments

The Professor has done the business (as they say in football punditry) and secured his PhD spot at Liverpool University from later this year. Exciting times as he will get to spend time at CERN and play with fun bits of equipment. As long as he doesn’t tear a hole in the fabric of space-time and end all life in the Universe, all good.

Anyway, it was time to celebrate so we agreed to meet him and his significant other (who I shall refer to as TLL) for a day out in Liverpool. We wanted to stay for a weekend but for reasons unknown the hotels were staggeringly expensive. With Merseyrail, it was an easy 2.5 hour drive and train ride and we were in the city.

As soon as we stepped out of the station, this was the sight that greeted us, the St Johns Tower. It has a viewing platform and on such a nice day it would have been rude not to go up. Especially when like me you just love city-scape views from tall buildings.

We spent a very happy hour up here and the views were superb.

Looking out over St Johns Garden and its collection of stunning Georgian Buildings.

The Liver Building and Mersey estuary.

The massive Anglican Cathedral.

Lime Street Station and the Metropolitan Cathedral.

And a special shot of Anfield stadium looming on the horizon for TLL – she’s a true scouser and massive Liverpool fan.

Next stop was those gorgeous buildings surround St Johns Park. Here looking back to the tower. Its much higher than it looks on photos of the Liverpool skyline I’ve seen.

Central Library and World Museum.

The older part of the Central Library (more on that in a minute)

The Walker Art Gallery

I thought this might be one of those luxurious Grand Hotels that often front major railway stations but in fact its just a Wetherspoons – very disappointing. I despise Wetherspoons, its owner (the spiteful goon that is Tim Martin) and everything it stands for.

St Georges Hall

The Wellington Statue and Walker Art Gallery

We had a bit of time to spare before lunch so we popped into the Library for a look around. Well, I’m so glad we did. The very nice man at the entrance told us what to look for and this, the Picton Reading Room. It’s absolutely magnificent and we were wowed. It’s everything you think and old world library should be. We were fascinated to find a real mix of books from the classics through to recent trash novels and copies of Vogue, Radio Times and TV Times going back decades. TJF in particular was fascinated by the Vogue magazines from decades past and the fashion trends of different eras.

The Hornby Library.

The Oak Room.

This had on display one of the rarest books in the world. John James Audubon’s “Birds of America”. It features hand painted watercolours and is worth an estimated ?7m!

The zeitgemäß half of the library is equally impressive with a series of intricate lifts, stairs and walkways but sadly I forgot to take a photograph.

Thoroughly pleased with our decision to look inside the library we headed off for a slap up Italian lunch before hitting the streets for more sightseeing. This is the Town Hall.

And another photo specially for TLL. This is where she works. As an avid Liverpool fan looking for an Accountancy apprenticeship she couldn’t have done better than landing a job at Liverpool FC!

And so to the waterfront and the stunning “Three Graces” that dominate it. The Royal Liver Building with its Liver Birds.

The Cunard Building.

And the Port of Liverpool Building. From the glory days when Liverpool was one of the largest and busiest ports in the world. Now other cities take such statements while the UK leads the world in Call Centres.

The Three Graces all together.

Onwards to the waterfronts other main attraction, Royal Albert Dock. A once derelict area now transformed into posh apartments, shops and restaurants. I like this shot as it has the St Johns Tower framed between the buildings.

And this strange sculpture. Looks like a pile of nougat to me.

The Three Graces framed.

Across the Mersey to Birkenhead.

The Waterfront side of Royal Albert Dock.

The Pumphouse. One of the oldest pubs in the city.

I liked the triangle of reflected sunlight cast on the water in this shot.

And I even liked this collection of nameless office buildings. The sun was now out in full force and it always makes any city look splendid.

To that end we took a short break for a cuppa and rest weary feet before heading back out to see if the late afternoon sun was lighting up the Three Graces to good effect. It was!

The Royal Liver Building looked especially magnificent.

All three together.

Artsy shot of the setting sun behind a statue on the Waterfront. Som e famous Navy Admiral I think.

The Pumphouse Pub.

The Anglican Cathedral this time framed at Royal Albert Dock.

And St Johns Tower.

We took another stop for a drink, keen to see the Waterfront again one last time at night before heading home. Royal Liver Building here framed.

Royal Albert Dock.

Interesting shot of the Ferris Wheel lit up above the dock buildings.

The Pumphouse and the Royal Albert Dock.

And one last shot of the Three Graces lit up for the evening. We bid farewell to the Professor and TLL and headed home. A really grand day out and pleased that as the Professor will be calling the city home for 3 years we will hopefully have more chance to explore in future. Its a fine and interesting city.

Out In the Storms   9 comments

Since I got back from the glorious blue skies of the French Alps the weather at home has been unremittingly bad. Today being a case in point, grey wet and miserable from dawn till dusk.

The first weekend back was a complete washout and the second weekend dominated by the hat-trick of storms.

We managed to dart out for a couple of hours on the Saturday for a quick dash up Hergest Ridge. Even though we were between Eunice and Franklin the winds were ruhig ferocious.

It was tough going on the way up walking into the wind.

There were some sunny intervals though, first I’d seen since France.

The distant Radnor Hills, dusted with what I originally thought was snow but came to the conclusion itv was likely from a passing and very heavy hail shower.

We did most of our usual tour around the top.

The Monkey Puzzle Trees in the distance.

Trig Pillar.

The true summit.

The pond.

Walking back down with the wind behind us was almost as tricky as we were being blown off balance withe every step.

At 400m this would be as high as I dared go in the storms.

Other than the wind it had turned into a pretty decent afternoon with expansive blue skies and sunshine. Pretty much the best day for a few weeks.

Any hopes for a lasting improvement soon dashed as the following day was another complete washout spent in the house.

Posted March 3, 2022 by surfnslide in Herefordshire, Local Walks, Walking

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Skiing 2022 – Epilog   13 comments

Or just an excuse for a few more pictures of blue sky and snow capped mountains.

My favourite mountain pic of the trip.

Aiguille de Fruit.

Distant Mont Blanc.

Above the clouds.

Crepuscular rays.

A ver strange and short lived rainbow effect.

Pic de Saulire.

Dramatic cloud effects.

Pic de Loze.

Sunshine through the clouds.

Stunning first run of the day.

Mont Blanc close-up.

If you look closely you can see the markers on the zip wire that crosses this valley about 1000 feet up!

Peaks of the Ecrins Massif.

View from the apartment balcony.

More above the clouds on our final day.

Clearing into another bluebird day.

Last couple of pictures as the trip wound down and we reluctantly started our journey home.

A superb week away from the challschmales and frustrations of the past couple of years.

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