Sunday 27 September 2015

Indian Summer Stroll from SunBiggin

Proper hot today! I could hardly believe it, we walked nice and slow to soak up the amazing views to both the Howgills and Pennines. Only saw one person and he was on a horse. Other than the C2C path this is a very rarely walked/cycled area by the lack of prints.

As we climbed away from Sunbiggin Farm the Shap Fells dominate the West.

Once the broad ridge is reached the Pennines are arrayed before you, Cross Fell the high point of course.

Barely a breath of wind as we sat beside this ancient cairn had our lunch and soaked up the views.

A descent on a little used bridleway followed by easy ground across access land brought us to Sunbiggin Tarn. The Howgills and Wild Boar Fell beyond.
More bridleways and quiet lanes took us back to the car West of Sunbiggin Farm.

Thursday 24 September 2015

Middleton Sands and Sunderland Point

Pouring down in the South Lakes this morning, so it was off to the seaside! I've done more than my fair share of seeing nowt! We parked on the shore at Middleton Sands, the wind was howling and rocking the car. But the sun was off we went.

Today was a "Big Sky Day", something of a novelty for a hill country dweller!

This is Sambo's Grave more details here for those who would like to know more about this poignant spot

We then cut through from the West coast to Sunderland Point along "The Lane"

Looking North from "First Terrace" towards Overton across the tidal road

The tide was out and the boats high and dry.

This is the site of the "Cotton Tree", actually a Poplar!

Old tidal defences and newer rock armour

Although I'd missed it on the outward walk, I noticed this second world war bunker on the way back.
We were soon back at the car it had been a bracing walk, and full of interest.

Tuesday 8 September 2015

Bikepacking a Cairngorm Loop

I'd planned to ride the Cairngorm Loop (details Here ) over the recent Bank Holiday weekend, but a heavy cold put paid to that idea :-( . However I had another opportunity to make an attempt over the weekend just gone. An early start, easy drive and 230 miles later I was unloading the bike from the car at Old Bridge of Tilt car park.  I should mention there's lots of photos here...many featuring a bicycle as foreground interest...Sorry!

So all loaded up, no rucksack needed 36hrs food ( I planned to buy more on route)...I set off at 10.40am. Would I make it back in under 56hrs?

Firstly through the grounds of  Blair Castle, taking Sustrans Route 7 Northwards ( This is the old A9) much of which I remembered from journeys up and down it as a child.
A feature of this long uphill drag was the headwind, this would be a menace for the much of the day.

I left the tarmac at Dalnacardoch and headed up the Gaick Pass track...good going at this point, except for the wind.

The double track finishes just beyond the ruinous Sronphadruig Lodge.

The path is little wider than a sheep/deer track as it contours above Loch an Duin on its Western side. The narrow glen funneling the Northerly wind. This is remote country, you're a long way from tarmac hereabouts.

The track improves again and the descent past Loch Bhrodainn and Gaick Lodge was easy going giving me the chance to take in the grandeur of my surroundings.

Looking back from whence I'd come, tarmac and Glen tromie were just round the corner.

Bhran Cottage, I was here in May on this years TGO alot of pain!

Off road again at Drumguish as I headed over to Glen feshie, the weather was certainly as forecast. Warm and dry.

Things certainly slowed down once I left Inshriach Forest and set off along the singletrack round Loch Gamha and Loch an Eileen

Over to the Cairngorm Club footbridge, and some easier tracks round Loch Morlich. I was looking forward to some food at the shop near the campsite. It was shut!! a bit of a blowand I knew I was behind the rough schedule I'd set myself. 

The bar was open at "Glenmore Lodge" though. I had a soup and snack in the comfort of the bar and realised that getting to the Fords of Avon before nightfall wasn't going to happen.

As I left "Glenmore Lodge" the cool of the evening hit me. I put plenty of effort in as I passed Lochan Uaine. Just past the junction to Ryvoan a reindeer hind and her calf wandered across the track in front of me. I could see lots of tents near Ryvoan Bothy...I hoped there would be space at the site of the old Bynack Stable......

I was lucky there was just 1 tent already there, I asked the guy if he minded me camping there....Ok "as long as I was Quiet"! He replied!!

I slept well, hardly any surprise bearing in mind the effort I'd put in yesterday. The highest section of the Loop was next.

Its a long climb up over the shoulder of Bynack More, very little of the path is least by me!
The views to the North compensated for my toils though.

A short descent into Coire Odhar followed by a gentle climb to this point. Then its pretty much rideable down to and beside Loch a Bhainne.

Although these boulders weren't! Good view of the Barns of Bynack from here.

Fords of Avon refuge...I'd never have got here in daylight, so a it had been a good decision to camp when I did.

The river was low thank goodness, it was still well above knee height and dragging/pushing a bike through water that depth and strong flow is difficult.

The climb up to the top of the Lairaig an Laoigh was purgatory :-( it took an age...The only time on the trip I questioned my sanity.
Roughly in the centre of this photograph is the Hutchinson Hut for scale...Big Country!

The descent was great, almost all rideable if very technical.
Last time I was here these trees were behind a fence for protection from deer browsing, they've grown well.

The new footbridge at Derry Lodge, 2pm and it was time for a re-assessment of my goals. I was way behind now, with no real chance of finishing within 56hrs.
Time to take the pressure off and take an easier route back to Blair Atholl, and enjoy the moment.

The heather was amazing, as good as I've ever seen it.

I just touched the tarmac at Linn of Dee before heading out into the wilds again on my way to White Bridge and beyond.

Socks off to cross the Geldie Burn, in hindsight I shouldn't have bothered it was so warm they would have dried quickly anyway. Beinn a Ghlo in the background, I'd soon be riding down Glen Tilt below its steep flanks.

Upper Glen Tilt a lot of this is rideable although not all of it by any means.

Fall of Tarf, I knew it was all good from here. Its not all downhill mind...not by any means!

Falls in Lower Glen Tilt.
From here I was soon back at the car at Old Bridge of Tilt. So the "Cairngorm Loop" had defeated me on this occasion. An earlier start by a couple of hours would have made a big difference I think?
I did of course complete " A Cairngorm Loop" and enjoyed 95% of the trip....the Hike-A-Bike up to Lairaig an Loaigh I could do without!
For those interested in my exact route a Strava log is here 

Wednesday 2 September 2015

Bikepack...A Circuit of Coniston Water

As so often with my rides and walks I left home with no fixed plan, other than I knew I was heading for the Lakes with a bike and bikepacking gear! These trips seem to produce some of the best one else to consider, just go where I selfish and indulgent!!

Once beyond Windermere the rain started...But we don't melt!
I parked at Waterhead and headed up the bridleway over Loughrigg, the rain eased...things looked good.

A plan formed as I rode along the permissive bridleway round Loughrigg tarn. I would head towards Coniston and the Walna Scar Road and find a wild camp.

More tracks led into Little Langdale, I took the bridge rather than the ford :-)

The evening was improving as I carried on through Coniston, and pushed the steep road past the old station onto the open fell.

There wasn't much light left as I dropped off the Walna Scar Road and found a good flat spot close to the disused quarries above Tranearth. I'd brought the Deschutes Tarp expecting a wet night.

But it was dry all night as far as I could tell! The dawn brought good views I seemed to take an age to get organised.

Tarp and bike...quite how all that stuff fits in two small bags I'm not quite sure....approx 25litres in total?

I decided a circuit of Coniston Water would be a good idea so headed South beside a flat calm lake.

From Nibthwaite its a fair old drag up the Parkamoor track, the views across the lake to the Coniston fells meant lots of stops to take them in...the rests were welcome as well!

I left the main track to pass through the old farmstead of Parkamoor.

Beyond there the eastern Fells filled the horizon. Shortly after this you enter Grizedale Forest, there's some good singletrack on that stretch, although getting a little overgrown. 

I left Grizedale Forest by the bridleway down past walker Ground which brings you right into the centre of Hawkshead.

A short stretch of tarmac to Outgate and then bridleway and recently improved multi-use track took me all the way back to Clappersgate. Just a mile or so from the car at Waterhead.
I had to be back home for lunchtime...I'd not even been out for seemed like ages tho!
A grand wee trip!