Archive for the Hobbies Category

National Three Peaks

I thought it was about time to write something down about our National Three Peaks Challenge that we complete in May 2016. After climbing each of the peaks individually over the previous 6 months we decided it would be worth attempting to complete them all within 24 hours.

Me, Peter and Sam

Three Peaks Challenge (me, Peter and Sam)

We spent a bit of time trying to work out the best way to climb the 3, the common convention is to tackle them from north to south, but there is differing opinions on when to start the climbing. One of the options is to start climbing Ben Nevis in the early evening, allowing you to get down the mountain before total darkness, then travel onto Scafell during the night, starting the 2nd climb at day break. The downside we saw with this plan was the travel from Scafell to Snowdon, which would be around 7-9 am, perfect for hitting bad traffic around Manchester. We already knew we were going to be cutting it fine with all the travel and none of us wanted us to fail the challenge because of bad traffic. So the 2nd option was the start Ben Nevis at around 9 am, which means starting the Scafell climb at around 8-9 pm if traffic was kind (it wasn’t), which also means doing Scafell in the dark, but also means we miss any morning traffic heading to Snowdon.

Me & @Bonxy decided it would be worth doing Scafell in the dark in march, as a bit of practice to see if it was a viable option. Although the weather was dry it ended up being VERY windy and foggy at the summit, which made finding the route to the top difficult to say the least. Visibility was about 1-15 meters,  which was too short to be able to see the next cairn, luckily we had a handheld GPS which we followed to the top, but was a bit hairy. I think we would have had to turn back if we hadn’t had one, as there was no way of knowing which direction to go. To illustrate this, when setting off back down we knew the rough direction to head, but after 20 seconds we checked the GPS and found we had already veered quite a way of course and had no idea. Comparing our first attempt in the day with this night climb, it took us about another 30 minutes to complete it in the dark, almost all of the time was wasted on the summit trying to see through the fog.

Although not all plain sailing we decided that doing Scafell at night wouldn’t be too difficult, especially as it would be the 3rd time of climbing it in 6 months, and hopefully in May the weather would be a bit kinder.

The plan was simple, we’d rent a 9 seater minibus, ideally we’d have gone for 12 seats to give us more space but there were none available for our dates, which would give us lots of room for kit and hopefully some sleep. We needed a driver for the trip, luckily Jim stepped in for us, who probably single handedly kept us on track with his efficient driving. After setting off from Teesside we would arrive in Perth for tea and would allow us an early start at Ben Nevis, getting up at 6am. From there its only an hour or so drive to Forth William and the start of the challenge.

At 9am we started the challenge, cheered on by Jim and @Becks, the weather was kind to us, with it being fairly mild and dry, although from the start we knew there was heavy cloud cover from about the halfway mark. Which would mean this was the 2nd time we’d summit Ben Nevis with no visibility, a tad annoying.

We made good time, reaching the peak at xx, and as predicted covered in cloud and snow. The snow is always a massive pain when reaching the top, but makes for a fun and quick descent, as long as you don’t fall or lose your walking poles. Halfway down with xx on the clock we were making good time, and we all felt pretty good, we bumped into another group attempting the challenge on their way up, we would end up bumping into them again at the next climb.

Ben Nevis Stats

Ben Nevis was completed in 4hrs 50mins, much faster than me and Sam were expecting and made up very optimistic for the 24 hour limit. Unfortunately on the last mile or so the heavens opened and we all got a bit wet, luckily we had a 5 hour drive to Scafell in order to try and get everything dry. Now for the best tip I would give anyone attempting the challenge is try and do it in a minibus, the 3 of us ended up all sat in the back row with the middle rows seats lowered allowing us to all sit in comfort with our legs outstretched.

All was going well until we hit the outskirts of Glasgow, and the inevitable traffic, we lots around 30 mins in this traffic, which wasn’t too bad, to make matters worse, soon after turning off the M6 at Carlisle we hit traffic and several road closures, we started getting a bit worried, we’d lost over an hour simply due to traffic and closed roads. We made it to the Wasdale car park for around 8pm, weather was being kind to us again and we all still felt pretty good.

We knew Scafell Pike quite well, having done it twice before in previous months, but in my opinion is one of the harder initial climbs, the accent starts straight away and only gets worse until you finally scramble up the rocks for the final hike to the summit. The short scramble is even worse at night in the wind, and to be honest probably isnt the best route, but I’ve always round it quite fun and breaks up the monotony of the hike. After xx hours we made it to the summit in the dark, fog and wind, again we were making good time. The trip back down was uneventful, the optimism grew as we knew we only had one more mountain to go, we did notice a group of walkers that seemed to be coming down from Scafell straight off the side of the mountain, we watched the lights slowly moving down as we also made our decent.

Shortly before the car park we bumped into a large group of lads also doing the challenge, it turned out they were the source of the lights and had in fact got totally lost, misread their maps, and just had to simply walk straight down in the dark and hope they met up with the trail. This is where we were very grateful to have our GPS unit to prevent the same happening to us.

Scafell Pike was completed in 3hrs 30mins, bringing our challenge time to 15 hours, that meant 9 hours to get to Snowdon and complete the climb, it seemed quite possible. A change of clothes, some food and water in us we set off at around 12am, we quickly realised something wasn’t quite right with the minibus, turns out we had a flat tyre. So there we were pitch darkness, 5 of us running round the minibus trying to find the spare tyre, the jack and the locking wheel nut. The wheel was finally changed after about 20 minutes, but we were now even more tired, covered in mud and oil and a bit pissed off. The icing on the cake was yet more road closures in the lakes, the chance of finishing the challenge in time was seeming less and less likely, it was better to try and get some kip and hope for the best.

Puncture

Somehow we got Pen-y-Pass at around 4:45am, giving us 4  hours to complete the hike, which normally would be very possible, but we were tired and feeling a bit weak, well 2 of us were, Peter (who was doing this challenge for some training before a 54 mile ‘run’ later in the year) was looking like he’d just started the challenge. The Snowdon climb was very uneventful, there wasn’t many people about, and the 3 of us weren’t that chatty, we made it to the summit 2 hours in, meaning we had 2 hours todo the decent, which looked quite achievable, I was starting to feel very tired and weak by this point, I realised I hadn’t had enough to eat after Scafell and with struggling to sleep in the minibus, not had enough sleep at all.

Snowdon Summit

We did however make it down with 31 minutes spare, which with the road closures, traffic and flat tyre I think was a pretty good time. After having some sleep and food I started to feel pretty good, in fact by the next day I was surprised at how good I felt, I was expecting to ache for the following week.

Now just the Yorkshire Three Peaks to complete next.

Gallery: youtube

Video: flickr

Ben Nevis: route

Scafell Pike: route

Snowdon: route

Ben Nevis [1/3]

Me and @Bonxy have just got back from climbing Britain’s highest mountain, Ben Nevis. With little to no training we decided to tackle the biggest out of the 3 peaks, which probably wasn’t the best idea.

Me & Sam

Me & Sam at the summit

We drove up Friday afternoon, and got to Fort William for around 8pm, took about 5hrs 30. At around 6am we got up and started preparing for the climb, but the midges in Scotland like to get up early as well, so before we got bitten to death we set off.

It wasn’t the best of days for the weather, there was lots of clouds obscuring the mountains around us, which didn’t bode well for us getting some good views at the top. We made the quick walk to the Glen Nevis Visitor Centre and crossed the footbridge to start the climb, by this point I was already too warm and starting to sweat.

Me and @Bonxy decided we would try and stop every 40 mins or so to catch our breath and take on some water, which worked out quite well, after around an hour we were in the clouds, and getting rained on, but I still wasn’t putting my jacket on due to how much I was sweating, we made it to the half way point with no real problems.

Halfway Point

Me at the halfway point

One of the worries I had before the walk was about getting lost as we got up higher, but I needn’t have worried as there was two different charity events going on, plus plenty of people doing the three peak challenge, so there was a constant stream of people going up and down, plus the occasional traffic jam on the narrower sections.

Soon after we hit the first of 8 switchbacks, these seemed to go on and on, but we could take a quick 2 min break at the top of each. On the final couple of switchbacks we started to see the snow, which at first was a welcome site, as it meant we were near the top, but with the lack of walking poles the going was tough as we kept slipping on the fresh snow and ice.

Finally we reach the top and saw the crowd of people hiding from the wind around the stone shelter. Unfortunately due to the bad weather there wasnt much to look at, we had no reward from our hard walk apart from our quick lunch. A few picture later we were on our way back down.

Route

For me the walk down was worse, two and a half hours of trekking down the hill killed my knees, so I was very happy when we finally left the clouds behind and could see the valley floor. We decided to take the more direct route down which brings you out at the hostel, which might not of been the best idea with my dodgy knees, but it did get us down quicker.

The whole walk took us around 6hrs 30, which I was quite happy with, we covered 16km in total, and my fitbit reckoned I took 35,000 steps and burnt around 5500Kcal.

Elevation

Next on the list are Sca Fell and Snowden to complete the three peaks.

ROC Osmotherley

I always like a bit of an explore, whether it be Geocaching or finding some caves to climb through. After my friend linked me to a few articles about the old ROC posts (they were built in the 50′s and were used to gather information about a nuclear attack) dotted around the UK, I decided to see if there were any near me. There were a few, some knocked down, some locked down on private land, but there was one at Osmotherley, about 15 mile away, and this one was in fairly good nick, to say it was left in 1968!

So a few google searches later I had the location of the ROC post, but couldnt work out how we’d be able to walk there, so a quick look at a OS map, I saw part of the Cleveland Way went right by it. So armed with some torches, the gps and my camera me and Mike went off on walk. I thought I’d get a few caches while on the way (would be rude not to).

Finally after a 4 mile walk, we went the long way, we were within touching distance of the post, we just had to figure out how to climb up to it, after a few fruitless attempts to wade through the bracken and other foliage we found the right path up to the top, and the ROC was in view!

A quick dash over the field and we were there, the iron lid was just lying on top, not locked down, good news! :) We removed the lid and got a view of the bunker, now we were a bit apprehensive, neither of us wanting to go down first, after a bit of “you go, no you go” I decided I best head down first. The bunker is just 2 rooms, the larger bedroom and a small toilet, i imagine there would of been more equipment down there back in the 60′s, but all that was left apart from the rubbish was the old beds and a massive battery.

When we got out of the bunker we were met by a big thunderstorm, although my picture taking skills doesn’t do it justice :p

More photos can be found in my Flickr set.

Isle of Skye

Having got back at the beginning of the week from the Isle of Skye, we camped for a week up there, I’ve finally managed to sort through a few of the pictures I took (over 450), so as well as posting a few of them on my flickr account, I thought I’d put a few up in a blog post.

We set off early on the Saturday morning, heading for Fort William, about 1.5/2 hours north of Glasgow, we spent two nights here. The original plan was for me and my dad to climb to the top of Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in Britain, 1344m, but we seriously underestimated the height and the length of the climb, so decided against it. I still want to climb to the top, so will need to go back in the summer one time ( with @Bonxy ;)).

So instead we did a MUCH tamer walk from our campsite up to old fort, Dun Deardail ( 350metres ) which took around 2 hours ish. You got some great views of Glen Nevis and other surrounding hills/mountains.

On monday we packed up and headed for Portree on the Isle of Skye, we camped here for the rest of the week. We managed todo a few good walks while we were here, there was a great coastal walk from the campsite into the town which added on maybe 2 miles or so, but again the scenery was great, and i managed to get a few good pictures during this walk.

Later in the week we headed up to Staffin to have a walk on the beach, turned out there isnt much of a beach here, just a bit of sand, plenty of rocks and a jetty. But the area is famous for all the dinosaur remains that have been found nearby, plus there are some dinosaur footprints on the rocks by the sea, there was a sign with a map pointing out where they were but having a good look for 15 minutes I couldnt spot them :(

On our last day we headed up to see the ‘Old Man of Storr‘ which is basically a big rock spire sticking up out of the ground that is apart of the Storr hills, again we underestimated how steep the climb/walk up would be, so about 30 minutes in my mam and jamie turned back, leaving my dad to press on. The first part of the walk you are surrounded by trees, so you dont get to see anything above or where the path is going, eventually me and my dad emerged from the trees with a great view of the Storr hills and the Old Man.

Old Man of Storr

Unfortunately my dad didnt fancy walking up to the old man, so leaving my dad with my bag and the dog I set off up by myself. After 20 mins of walking the steep path then another scary(fun) scramble/climb I got to the base of the Old Man, and the views were pretty spectacular.

Unfortunately my photo taking skills with my new camera are not much to shout about, so the few pictures I did take of the view, don’t really do it justice. Another thing I realised i need is a bigger lens, well one that’ll let me zoom in more :p I knew I’d want to get one eventually, but there were plenty of photos I wanted to take while i was away where I couldn’t zoom in enough to pick out the detail, still my birthday is only a month or so away :D

I gots a new camera!

After wanting one for a while, but deciding they were too expensive, I then got to play with @RebekahEmse‘s DSLR the other weekend, this made my mind up, I had to have one. :)

To please @Bonxy

So I got the Nikon D3000, its a few years old now, 2009 I think, but I didn’t fancy paying too much, I managed to get this for £310 from Argos. There’s lots to figure out, and i’m only just getting the hang of it after a few days, still loads to learn. I’ve mainly been playing with the shutter speed, seeing what happens, when not doing that I’ve got it happily in auto mode :p

Gym

Having just started to go to the gym, i thought i’d make a quick post to say what kind of distances/times i’m currently achieving, then I can look back in a month or two to see if i’m improving.

Treadmill:

I can happily run/jog for 15 mins at about 11Kph.

My aim is to increase the speed and more importantly the time. I’m not really sure what a ‘good’ pace and time is tbh.

Currently I do a walk/run warm up on the treadmill for 15 mins, followed by 15 mins on the Cross Trainer, followed by another 15 mins on a bike. Then I spend about 20-30 mins doing weights, ‘leg press’ things (haven’t a clue what you call them things.) Finally I go back to the treadmill for a 15 minute jog/run.