JanuaryIt was an auspicious start to the year. At the end of 2007 I'd injured my left knee. I was wearing a knee brace and was concerned. I was heading New Zealand for a month in February and needed to be fit. I heeded my doctors advice and kept the walks short meausred as my knee heeled.
Mostly keeping to the lower hills near my home in the Lake District. The weather was generaly wet and cloudy. I did manage to get the following picture of suns raise through the trees on one walk in mid January.
The weekend before I went away I attempted the Kentmere Horshoe and was forced to stop part way due to pain in my knee. I was starting to get depressed about my holiday.
FebruaryFebruary was pretty much all spent in New Zealand. Fortunately my knee did improve and I was able to do a lot of fantastic hiking, as detailed in these other trip reports...
Trip Report: New Zealand 1: North Island
Trip Report: New Zealand 2: South Island
Despite it being the shortest month of the year I was able to do the most distance I've ever covered in a month - 550 km or 350 miles. That record stands till today (February 2009) and will most likely stand for a while to come...
MarchComing back from New Zealand meant going back to my home fells for a while. Having been hiking for weeks I should have been tired, but it acutally meant I kept going longer! The first couple of weekends I walked 17 and 18 mile daysm getting some great views including this one of Ennerdale Water - one of the most isolated lakes in the Lake District.
The same day I also grabbed this one of Buttermere.
Easter was early in 2008 and that meant that snow was still in place in Scotland. I still headed up despite a mixed forecast. The first day I nearly came a cropper. I climbed Beinn Chabhair in high winds and had to crawl up a snow rake for the last few hundred yards. Definitely one to add to the list of "don't do that again" walks...
The next day was much sunnier, however fresh snow had fallen overnight covering the minor roads. I arrived at the road to Fersit to find it slippery. Whilst parked up debated whether to go I saw anothe guy head on down. Half a mile in he skidded and smashed into a wall. I decided not to bother - and stuck to a long walk up the Great Glen.
The following day I head back into a spectacular Glen Coe, walking in both the Hidden Valley and on Beinn a'Chrulaiste where I got someone to take this picture of me. This was the best part of the day - the rest was pretty much a whiteout with GPS navigation being a must!
The next day the weather was better and I headed up Ben Ledi, a Corbett near Calander in the Southern Highlands. I donned my crampons for the last part of the ascent which was frozen snow.
AprilThe first weekend in April I headed to Snowdonia for a change. The first day I did a walk I've done a number of times before - over the highest of the Carneddau from the Ogwen valley. The cloud came and went, but of course dropped when I reached Carnedd Llywelyn. I've been up there three or four times before and never had a view.
I spent that night in a Bed & Breakfast in Betws y Coed. I was planning to go over Crib Goch on Snowdon the following day - an exciting knife edge ridge. Small problem, I woke up to an inch of snow on my car. A Grade 1 scramble had just become a Class II Mountaineering trip.
Change of plans! I headed to the south of snow - very gingerly on the snow - to do the Watkin Path. On the way up the cloud came lower and eventually it was a matter of trudging up through the snow with no view. Small problem however, I'd forgotten that the path is indistinct at the best of times at the top of this route (having done it as part of the Snowdon Horseshoe.) I and another walker found ourselves climbing a 45 degree loose snow slope to the summit.
Finally we crawled out to find the summit area. The summit station on Snowdon was in the process of being rebuilt so what did we find? The highest portacabins in the United Kingdom! The construction workers were still going, despite the several inches of snow on the summit.
I and my new companion went down the south ridge to the Rydd-ddu path. With that route done I had now completed every route up Snowdonm, all nine of them with over a dozen ascents done...
The rest of may involved better weather, with
MayThe first weekend in May was a Bank Holiday so that meant I was off to Scotland. The first day I did an easy Munro, Ben Chonzie and followed up with a Corbett in Creag Uchdag. Both were up a long Glen so were best done together. The next day I took a long (long) walk up Glen Tilt taking nearly four hours to reach Carn a'Chlamain. Mercifully the rain held off till I got back to car. It began to poor down at the moment I shut the car door.
The next day had a goog forecast so I bit the bullet. The alarm went off at 5:45 and I was walking at 7:20. Ben Starav was my objective and the day was glorious and very hot! I walked most of the day with a guy I met at the parking area. I had difficulty understanding him at first and assumed he just had a strong Scottish accent. It turned out he'd recently had an injury to his tongue. Suffice to say it involved an Ice Axe and everyone I've described it too has usually wished I hadn't.
It was an exceptionally hot day and by the end we were hiding under trees for a respite. I did however some great pictures of the snowfields.
The following weekend I visited my sister in North Yorkshire. At the end of the month I was up to Scotland again for a full week this time. This included a trip up the hardest Munro - the Innaccessible Pinnacle! This link shows the best of the photos from this trip.
Trip Report: The Northwest Highlands
JuneUnfortunately I couldn't find any breathtaking photos in June. This was largely due to poor weather. Overcast skies and rain don't make for great photos...
JulyI was ill for a period in July, keeping me off the hills. I did however make a weekend trip up to Scotland to do Ben Lui. There are four magnificent Munros in this group of hills and rather than tackle them two at a time I went for a big day and climbed all four. The cloud came down a while but largely was fine. During the day I managed to snap some shots of the wreckage of a plane that crashed on the South East Ridge during World War 2.
AugustAugust began with another weekend in Scotland. No pictures this time - it rained pretty consistently the whole weekend. Why did I go? It's a good question, and I did ask myself a number of times.
I also entertained myself by climbing Helvellyn seveal times. The first was again in wet conditions - a pattern for this time of year. The second was dry but undertaken in gale force winds. I went up and down Swirral / Striding Edges in those conditions - needings to keep my weight low to prevent myself from being blown off. Others were turning back, but it wasn't as bad as it looked. Gulp.
After that it was the second foreign holiday of the year, off to Colorado in the US. Including the objective of climbing the highest mountain in the Rocky Mountains...
Trip Report: Colorado and Utah
August also marked my most ascent in a month - 80,000 ft!
SeptemberI returned home from the US full of beans. Two and half weeks hiking at high altitude had left me in great spirits. It also made hiking at low altitude pretty easy!
The first weekend I was able to snap the following picture from Orrest Head as the sun went down. I needed to use a head torch to get down. Orrest Head is the small hill in behind where I live and hence have climbed it more than a few times. As of the end of 2008 I had climbed it 120 times...
The following day I was meeting a friend of mine to go hiking. She, her husband and brother in law were up in the lakes and I took them round to Wasdale where the following classic snap was taken.
That day we headed round to Black Sail Pass and up towards Pillar via the High Level Route. Only two of us continued all the way to the summit as the terrain deteriorated. We then pressed on round the full Mosedale Horseshoe before returning to the Wasdale Head Inn for a brief stop!
The weekend after the forecast was good so I headed down to Snowdonia. Fortunately the weather was good so I was able to go and tackle a walk I would have done in April (if it hadn't snowed) - The Snowdon Horseshoe. Unfortunately I was too late to park at Pen-y-pass, the small car park with easiest access. I had to go and park a mile further down the road.
The walk is easy enough until you turn right up to Crib Goch - one of the UK's classic scrambles. The ascent is tricky with some scrambling, but the real fun is on the main ridge.
The ridge is exceptionally narrow and once complete you traverse a set of pinnacles to reach Bwlch Goch. After this you ascend another narrow ridge before dropping down to join the herds (and I do mean herds) of tourists. Reaching the summit I was able to get a picture of the new summit buildings. Better than what was before - but I would rather they had torn it down and landscaped it...
Leaving the summit you head off to visit the other half of the horseshoe. This means traversing the three summits of Y Lliwedd.
The final weekend of the month was a visit to Cardiff to see a University friend. He had to work on the Saturday and I had the opportunity to walk the Carmarthen Fan, a high escarpment in the Brecon Beacons. The walk was beautiful and a great day was had. The only problem was that I got badly sunburnt!
OctoberThe first Saturday of the year was torrential rain. All day. Fortunately the Sunday was an excellent forecast. I decided to go visit the Lord's Rake - one of the more "interesting" routes in the Lake District. There are only three ways from Scafell Pike to Scafell. The first is Broad Stand - a rock climb. The second is foxes tarn gully - down which a huge boulder rolled down and crshed someone last year. The third is the Lord's Rake. This is a narrow gully full of loose stones. This is difficult enough, but for the last six years a huge boulder has been perched at the top - and its only a matter of time before it rolls down...
As I walked back over Scafell Pike I began to consider the possibility of breaking my personal ascent record, so pressed on as fast as I could. The day was sunny yet cool - perfect conditions for such an attempt. By the end of the day I had clocked up 10,300 ft. I had beaten my record!
Later in October the Lake District received torrential rain for a repeated period. The day after the worst of the rain I got this photo of Lake Windermere. The road is on the right and you can see park benches on the left....
NovemberOctober had been a hard month at work and I had accrued two days in lieu from working a weekend. I took the them at the beginning of November, heading up to Scotland following a period of heavy snow. The first day I climbed Cruch Ardrain from near Crianlarich. The second I headed north from Fort William to climb Beinn a'Chaorainn and Beinn Teallach. The views back towards the Grey Corries is spectacular.
The views to Creag Meagaidh showed a deep carpet of snow.
At the end of the day I went for another short walk and then visited the Commando Memorial to get some photos of Ben Nevis...
The following day I headed out to climb a couple of the peaks I failed to climb back in Easter, Stob Coire Sgriodain and Chno Dearg. From the summit of the first Munro I was able to take the following picture of Loch Treig.
On the way back I climbed Beinn Achaladair and Beinn a'Chreachain from Achallader Farm. On the way back I had the misfortune to fall in a river. On the way back to the farm I failed to cross a bridge. I ended up the other side of the river from the farm. Deciding I'd already got very wet I waded the river, it was only a foot or so deep!
A couple of weeks later a guy I work with was coming up to the Lake District with his friends. I offered to take them for a hike...
Trip Report: Jack's Rake and Mickleden
In the middle of the month I headed up High Stile from Buttermere. Unfortunately I dropped my camera and broke the screen, which is a bit of a problem without a viewfinder. Amazingly it still took photos. Note that from now on for the year each photo was taken by pointing the camera in the right direction!
Later in the month snow began to arrive in the Lake District. On the last weekend of the month I had two spectacular days. The first day I headed up to Crinkle Crags and Bowfell from Langdale, the second to go up Great Gable and the Scafells from Borrowdale.
DecemberThe next weekend the weather was again spectacular with snow on the hills. I headed up the Old Man of Coniston, with a few minor difficulties. On the summit of the Old Man I was unfortunately too late to get a shot of a light aircraft - which buzzed no more than 15 feet over the summit!
I was ill in the middle of December - a wonderful bought of norovirus!Later in the month however I got back on the hills, and at Christmas had some spectacular days on the hills. On Christmas Day I visited the Newlands Valley and took a walk on Latrigg from where great views of Skiddaw could be had.
The 26th was my birthday and I headed out to Ennerdale before driving over to the North East. My sister had been on a night shift on Christmas Day so we were doing family Christmas at hers. My parents gave me a new Digital Camera so I was able to get some good shots. The camera also stitched together panoramas automatically - including this one of Mardale.
The weather was great for the rest of the year. I headed up to Scotland for the New Year, but that will have to wait for next years photos...