TGOC 2017

Well, since other people seem to post their routes, here’s my planned route for the Challenge, so feel free to have a look if you’re interested.

I’m sure it’s a basic, first-timer type route, which is absolutely fine by me. I have other variations in my head if I suddenly decide the weather is brill and it would be a nice idea to change some bits, but I’m also quite happy if I end up doing it exactly as planned.

Hope the link works….

Click here!


Posted in Backpacking Trips | 29 Comments

Annual Pieman Visit To The Dark, Dark Peak

It was that time of year again. The time when the TGOC folk hold the annual Snake Inn Gathering, and the Pieman – being one of The Gatherers – ventures south.


A few years back whilst in the area, he visited us when I was immobilised with a broken leg in a pot. And for the last couple of years, he has joined us for a wander on the Saturday of The Weekend in question.



Usually, he has some Tump or something he wants to bag and gives us forewarning of the relevant top so we can plan a route.



This year, he was after two Tumps. Mt Famine and South Head.



A route was duly plotted and gorgeous, spring type weather was ordered, and an excellent day was had.



And this year, on the Saturday evening, Geoff and I also drove over to The Snake Inn and joined in with the TGOC Gathering.



A very convivial time was had, meeting up with lots of lovely people and partaking of delicious food. I’m looking forward to meeting up with everyone again on the actual Challenge, in May. Not long now……



Unfortunately, one of The Gatherers had earlier in the day had a mishap whilst out on the hill, but GMRT had professionally organised his rescue and he was helicoptered off to hospital. We understand he suffered a fractured ankle and wish him a speedy recovery.

Posted in Bits and Pieces | 13 Comments

Trying Out The Southern Cross 2

The weather forecasts have been rather windy of late, and even though last night’s was not in the same category as Storm Doris, it seemed prudent to keep right off the tops. I settled for half way up Kinder instead.



I was expecting to be putting the tent up in windy, heavy rain, but then taking it down the next morning in windy dry. And this is, in fact, exactly what happened.

As I journeyed upwards, Kinder Downfall could clearly be seen blowing upwards in all its magnificent glory.


Pebbles was left at home for a change. She’s not totally recuperated from her spaying operation about ten days ago, but is nevertheless well on the way. Maybe next trip.


The spot I was aiming for was not too far away. I’d not been there before, but Geoff had spent a night there with Islay, last year. I’ve been trying to Google some information about it, but haven’t come up with much. There’s obviously a ruined farmhouse, with the obligatory small group of sheltering trees around it, and its own, personal stream complete with mini waterfall, for water. The only bit of social history I have discovered, is that the farmhouse was definitely in existence and lived in, in the 1200s.


Very pleasant, it offered a reasonable amount of shelter from the worst of the gusts and rain overnight, although did have a somewhat spooky air in the fog when venturing outside in the dark, for toileting purposes.


Considering that this was the first time I’d erected the tent on my own, and despite the rain and wind, it was pretty quick and easy. I’d split it to make it easier to pack, so the outer went up first, keeping the inner nice and dry.


It’s specced for two, so there’s oodles of space inside, plus two large porches. One either side. I only used the one though, most of my gear going straight into the inner. It also has a really nifty way of clipping open the outer door, to the external poles.


What impressed me even more about this system, is that this clipping and unclipping can be done really easily without exiting the tent. Perfect for inclement weather.



The headroom is absolutely brilliant and the only thing I regretted, was not taking my Thermarest Chair Kit with me. There’d be ample space for using that inside and thereby watching I-Player in total decadence.


The wind and rain continued for most of the night, in the form of heavy showers and the occasional mad gust slamming into the side of the tent. It felt very stable. I slept pretty well, finally waking properly around 7am.


It was fresh and breezy, but no longer raining. Lovely and bracing really. I thoroughly enjoyed my walk back home, taking a different and longer route to the one I’d walked in on. Looking back at the Downfall occasionally, it was still spectacularly blowing upwards.


Logic suggests that I might well eventually find something I don’t like so much about the tent, but nothing obvious came to mind last night.



In fact, I’m rather wishing I had the money to buy the one person version, as well!





Posted in Backpacking Trips | 30 Comments

Arctic Sweden Videos

Currently mooching about a bit and suffering from man-flu as I am, I thought I’d put a couple of videos up that I made of my Arctic Sweden trips.

This is the one of my first trip – to Sarek in 2015, with James:

And this is the one of my second trip – to the Nallo/Kungsleden area in 2016, with Geoff:

Geoff and I have got a trip planned to Sarek too, for this coming August. Can’t wait – although I have got the TGOC to come first, which is also pretty exciting!

Posted in Backpacking Trips, Trips Abroad | 9 Comments

Pebbles On Kinder

Pebbles had received some very nifty new panniers at Christmas, but hadn’t yet tried them out properly. It was time we made the effort.


After studying the MWIS forecast in some detail, Friday night looked like a good bet. The weather was getting colder and drier, and some forecast foggy stuff wasn’t due to come in until Saturday lunchtime. So, a last minute decision was made on Friday morning and we packed up.

I wasn’t fussed about walking any great distances, but had a spot in mind only a few miles from us, that I thought might fit the bill.

The weather was indeed blue-sky-gorgeous in the afternoon,  with just a hint of a fresh breeze as we got higher up.




I had been careful not to load the panniers up too much. Some people say that dogs should be able to carry a third of their body weight, others say it should be no more than a quarter. At around 25kg, I have no intention of ever asking Pebbles to carry more than 5kg, and she did in fact, only have 1.2kg in her panniers this day.  She had no trouble with that, so I decided she could carry her bed (830g) as well, on the homeward journey.

The potential camping spot we were aiming for delivered a large flat ledge, lots of soft heather and a tiny stream nearby for water.




I generally tie Pebbles to my full rucksack whilst I’m putting the tent up, but in the cold wind that was starting to materialise, she insisted on barking at me to make her displeasure known at having to suffer that indignity.

I just ignored her. Things were soon sorted though and a brew on the go.



I had downloaded some stuff to watch on I-Player for the evening, so sat and enjoyed the Bluestone 42 Christmas Special before cooking tea.

And looking out over Manchester and Stockport a bit later, I was pleasantly surprised at both the sunset and the city lights. Even the lights seemed quite spectacular in the crystal clear night. For once, I wished I’d had a better camera with me.



By now, I was quite surprised at how windy it was getting. It was touching on being strong enough to hinder walking a little. I was sure I hadn’t seen anything about this on the forecast!

The tent is very stable though and I eventually slept surprisingly well – given that I was woken several times by the noise of some particularly gusty periods.

I woke properly at about 7-ish and lay there until it started to look a bit lighter outside. When Pebbles and I finally did have to go out – for toileting purposes – it was absolutely bitter. Her drinking water was frozen, the tent was covered in frost and the wind chill effect was God knows what. I was really pleased I’d lugged my big Rab duvet jacket up for the night!

It was also decidedly murky.




We breakfasted at leisure before tackling the packing up routine. It was far too cold and wild to take stuff outside, so both my rucksack and Pebbles’ panniers had to be sorted in the tent. We’ve practiced this before in good weather, and she was a little star, sitting quietly while I faffed with stuff all around her.

The time came though, when we just had to go out. You can’t pack a tent away while you’re still in it. She came in and helped while I dropped the inner, but I just had to tie her to the rucksack again while I sorted the outer. It was a bit of a wrestle in the wind and I was slightly stressed knowing that Pebbles wasn’t happy at this point. By the time I’d finished, she had managed to make herself into the tiniest curl-up imagineable, in the ‘shelter’ of my pack. She’d also managed to tie her legs up with her lead..

For the first half hour of the descent, the wind made walking a little challenging, but then suddenly, we dropped into a calm day, and even passed people on their way up Kinder in shorts. They would get a shock later.

And Pebbles had no trouble with the extra weight of her bed on the way back, even having spare energy to keep jumping into icy puddles, just ’cause it was fun.





Posted in Bits and Pieces | 18 Comments

Nights Out In 2016

Kinder - Pebbles' first wild camp

Kinder – Pebbles’ first wild camp

Pennine Bridleway

Pennine Bridleway

Near Black Hill

Near Black Hill


Yorkshire Dales

Yorkshire Dales

Yorkshire Dales

Yorkshire Dales

Yorkshire Dales

Yorkshire Dales

Outside Ben Alder Cottage

Outside Ben Alder Cottage

Rob Roy Way, near Killin

Rob Roy Way, near Killin

Glen Ey

Glen Ey

White Peak

White Peak

White Peak

White Peak

Arctic Sweden

Arctic Sweden

Arctic Sweden

Arctic Sweden

Arctic Sweden

Arctic Sweden

Arctic Sweden

Arctic Sweden

Arctic Sweden

Arctic Sweden

Arctic Sweden

Arctic Sweden


Arctic Sweden

Arctic Sweden

Arctic Sweden

Arctic Sweden

High Cup Nick

High Cup Nick

Outside the Lingy Hut

Outside the Lingy Hut

Angle Tarn

Angle Tarn




Posted in Backpacking Trips | 23 Comments

Mt Whitney – 1997

At 14,505ft, Mt Whitney is the highest peak in the contiguous United States. This makes it Very Popular. The normal way of tackling it is from the east side, over three days. On the first day you make your way from Whitney Portal (at 8,360ft) up to Trail Camp (12,000ft). The night is spent there, then the second day sees you summiting and then returning to Trail Camp for another night, before finally dropping back down to Whitney Portal on the third day.

In August of 1997, we managed to obtain a permit for this climb, which allowed us to summit on the 3rd of the month. In those days, permits were issued on a first come, first served basis. A few years after our trip, the system was changed to a lottery instead, making it almost impossible to get the necessary permit – the peak being so immensely popular.


Of course, there are some nutters people who attempt to do it all in one day, but that’s certainly not for us!

We set off on our trip with high hopes, after spending a few days in Yosemite – supposedly acclimatising to the altitude. This was our first ever trip to anything this high and unfortunately we didn’t get it quite right. Since then, we have had many trips to the High Sierra without any problems, but have learnt to take the acclimatisation process much more slowly.


We did, however, have an amazing experience. We made it to Trail Camp in good time (in reality, climbing too quickly) and were treated to an almighty thunderstorm which rattled and circled around us all afternoon and most of the evening.


I did suffer, though. Up to press, this has still been the longest night of my life. I spent the whole time with a headache which felt like it was threatening to explode my head into little pieces, and a stomach which constantly threatened to throw its contents all over the floor.


I was no better the next morning. The weather had improved greatly – although there was forecast to be more thunderstorms that afternoon – but we made the decision to descend. And almost by magic, we only needed to descend around 1,000ft before I once again felt absolutely fine.


But we’d lost our permit slot. If it says 3rd August, then you can’t summit on the 2nd or the 4th – the 3rd it has to be. And they do have Rangers at random spots on the trail, checking up on you….


A lot was learnt, however, and this paved the way for many more wonderful trips to the High Sierra in California.

Apologies for the lack of photos. At that time we used to use slides and I’ve only ever had a handful converted to prints.

Posted in Backpacking Trips, Trips Abroad | 8 Comments