Month: December 2014

Year’s achievements


OK, so I can’t really light candles with my fingers.

I can however achieve pretty amazing things, by simply planning and writing down what I want to happen.

It’s Christmas eve and I’m reviewing my mindmap (I do one each year, with various goals and projects for the year and once its complete, I’ll finalise the new one for 2015).

I’m struck by what a superb year its been. Hard to choose, but I think the years 5 most significant achievements were…

nikki Nikki – I celebrated my 2nd year together with Nikki. I’m as happy today as the first evening we went out as a couple.
races_house House – Has new doors, windows & a new boiler. It’s also had loads of decorating and laminate flooring. More work to do, but it looks the way it always should have.
moneypenny_glenn Moneypenny – Changed job. Happy at Phonak, but learned in 2008 what happens when you don’t continually adapt and change (think surfboard and big wave 🙂
cuba Cuba – Only 1 overseas trip this year, but what a trip. A return to long haul touring with 2 weeks in Cuba where I saw the whole country.
xray_me Medical – I’ve sorted out my knee and polycythaema.

I also realised that there were loads of things on a “should have done by now” or “I really should do that/go there again” list:

Wepre Woods

Wepre Woods

Background: It was a Monday morning in 2006 and I was at my desk in Morris & Co, when a girl I worked with called Angie came in.

I asked her if she’d had a nice weekend, and she told me she’d spent the afternoon with her boyfriend walking around Wepre Woods and that it was a great place to go walking and explore.

A seed was planted and I decided I wanted to go.

Goal: To visit Wepre woods and go exploring.

Outcome: Success. I lead a walk there with the Chester and District Walking group.

It was quite a challenge, as the walk was expected to be 8 miles long, and Wepre Woods is only a mile according to Ordnance Survey !.

I completed it by doing a wide circle and zig zagging. Everyone seemed to enjoy the day, and it was as lovely as Angie had said all those years ago.

The Monsal Trail

One of the Monsal trail tunnels

Background: Before Frank settled in Thailand in 2005 we used to go walking regularly, and he loved Derbyshire.

The Monsal Trail and the Limestone Way were his favourites. The Monsal trail followed the path of a disused railway line from Buxton to Bakewell. All the tunnels were closed in 1967 so the path snaked over hills and under viaducts.

May 2011 – the tunnels are re-opened  and for the first time in almost 50 years you could walk the original route.

Goal: To walk the full length of the Monsal trail, recapturing old times and exploring a route relatively few people have experienced.

Outcome: Success. With a possy of women and Nikki at the wheel we head for Buxton, complete the walk and get the bus back to the car.

Sadly, I have to say I enjoyed the “mountain” version of the walk more, but I only know that now that I’ve done the “rail” route.

Solo hostelling and walking around Castleton.

Two days hostel/walking around Castleton

Background:  Brian and I attended the YHA AGM at Castleton, their flagship Youth hostel.

Got me thinking how fun it would be to just jump on a train, travel to the peak district, do some walking and try out the youth hostel.

I’ve stayed in youth hostels before, but usually with friends in our own dorm, not really as a solo traveler. I wanted to try it, as I was struck most by how much freedom, travelling like this would provide.

Goal: Do 2 days walking around Castleton and stay over in the youth hostel with pie and chips in a local pub for dinner.

Outcome: Success. Train to Bamford, 21 miles walking (including standadge edge) in appalling weather but fantastic scenery.

Youth hostel was lovely. Got showered and changed, and then pint and Steak and Ale pie in a pub in the town centre.

Retired to bed, annoying Chinese tourist’s kept me awake most of the night talking and turning lights on. More walking next day, then train home.

Complete all 9 of the hills from Julie Bredbury’s Wainwright walks series.

Julia Bradbury 16 peaks

Background: In the basement of Cotswalds Chester, I was looking for outdoor things for a trip I was doing.

A dvd was on at the time, Julia Bredbury talking about a hill called Catbells in the lake district.

When I got home I googled it, and realised it formed part of a series of programes she’d made about Alfred Wainwright and his quest to map and walk the lakeland fells.

Over 2 series, she visited 9 fells and mountains, and I put them in a list to complete. I did 2 last year, and this year I was going to complete them all. Instead of the Wainwrights, I called them the Julia’s.

Goal: To climb all 7 of the remaining peaks.

Outcome: Fail. After visiting the lakes 4 times this year, I’ve done them all except Castle Crag. Top of the list for 2015.

Climb Haystacks and visit Inominate tarn, the final resting place of Alfred Wainwright.

Haystacks - the final resting place of Wainwright

Background: While watching Julia Bredbury’s Wainwright Walks, it mentioned Wainwright’s last wishes.

In his book he’d described how someone who knew him in life, should scatter his ashes over inominate tarn near a fell called Haystacks.

I was going on a hostelling weekend to Derwent water so decided I’d go walking on my own, and go there on my way to Pillar.

Goal: Pay my respects at Inominate tarn, and stand on the top of Haystacks.

Outcome: Success. Visited the tarn and stood on both peaks of Haystacks.

A visit to the Eden project and fish & chips from Rich Steine’s famous chippy.

The eden project

Rick Stein's chippy

Background: After seeing it featured in the James Bond film Die another day, I was determined to go and see the Eden project…

… and 10 years later I still hadn’t been. I’d heard that Rick Stein had a chippy in the area so while there, I wanted to try his fish and chips.

We’d received a wine tasting event at a vinyard in Cornwall as a Christmas gift, so it made sense spend a few days camping in the area and put it all together.

Goal: Spend the day at the Eden project and eat fish & chips from Rick Stein’s chippy.

Outcome: Success – Eden project was quite simply amazing and I would recommend it to everyone. Fish & chips were a little expensive, but divine.

Were going back to Cornwall camping next year, it was that good.

Have a pint at Pen Y Gwryd.

Pen-Y-Gwryd - hotel where Everest was planned

Background: A magazine I receive from Rohan told the story of Pen Y Gwryd hotel in Snowdonia and its place in history.

The first ascent of Everest had been planned here.

The mountaineers spent long evenings organising their trip and in the daytime did lots of fitness/training walks around the area.

Still open to this day, its a living museum of the golden age of mountaineering.

I’d unwittingly driven past it dozens of times and never realised.

Nikki and I were off to climb Tryfan, and I was determined to pay a visit whilst there.

Goal: Have a pint and soak up the atmosphere of Pen Y Gwryd.

Outcome: Success. I sat in the famous boot room. The pint wasn’t bad either.

 Complete all 6 routes up Snowdon.

Ryd Du path in heavy fog

Background: I’ve climbed/walked Snowdon (highest mountain in Wales) on numerous occasions.

I decided this year, I would make a point of walking up all 6 recognised routes.

Goal: To stand on the top of Snowdon, having ascended it by all 6 routes.

Outcome: Fail. I did 5, but failed to complete the Watkin path.

Stand on Kinder Scout – highest mountain in the peak district.

Kinder Scout - highest mountain in the Peak District

Background: After being a keen hill walker for over 30 years, how can it be that I’ve never been to Kinder Scout.

Kinder Scout is the highest peak in the peak district and the location of the famous mass trespass which led to the foundation of the National Trust.

Goal: To stand on top of Kinder Scout.

Outcome: Success. With a few friends from the walking group, we spend a day out walking and reach the summit.

Climb Tryfan.


Background: In 2004 I did a mountaineering course at Plas Y Brenin. Whilst there we did some outdoor work near a place called Tryfan.

It seemed such a perfect spot, I decided I’d go back there at some point and climb to the top of it.

Couple of years later, Nikki ends up leading a walk there. Challenge accepted.

Goal: To stand on top of Tryfan.

Outcome: Success. Its quite a hard slog, but we all get to the top.

We even made the most of the weekend, by having a camping trip to Beddgelert.

Visit Greenfield, my childhood adventure playground.

My boyhood adventure home, Greenfield

Background: As a lad, I spent frequent day trips and weekends camping to a place near Oldham, called Greenfields.

It’s full of childhood memories and I’d always been determined to back there.

New Years eve 2012 visit to Patterdale Youth Hostel and a chance copy of a walking magazine with an article about it spurs me on.

Goal: To visit Greenfield and have some lunch in the forest.

Outcome: Success. I spend the day there, with spectacular weather.

Get my own dinner jacket.

My dinner jacket

Background: I’ve been to several black tie dinners over the years.

I’ve usually rented the clothes and everything, and after a time, I thought I really should buy my own stuff.

Not just that, but once purchased, I wanted to take it for a test drive.

Goal: Buy a dinner jacket and wear it to an event.

Outcome: I get a cracking suit by M&S on ebay for £10. I get the other bits and pieces and attend a charity dinner organised by Rowson Digital.

Go to Frodsham for a curry and a few pints.

Afternoon curry in Frodsham

Background: Frodsham is a place about 10 minutes from Chester on the train.

Its a place I visit frequently, as its hills, fields and forests make for great walking walking.

Additionally, Frodsham has some great pubs, and some great places to eat.

I’ve always felt it would make a brilliant venue for a sort of Saturday afternoon “few pints and a curry” of the kind we used to do back home in Manchester.

What do you know, those adventure hounds at IVC organise one in complete isolation, and I’m invited.

Goal: I spend a Saturday around the pubs in Frodsham and then have a nice curry to finish off.

Outcome: Success. Its that good that I decide I’m going to do it every summer from now on.

Scramble Crib Goch.

Crib Goch

Background: I’d always wanted to walk/scramble Crib Goch.

All of my friends have done it (although I’d later find out, it was more than 20 years ago for most of them !) and its a piece of real mountaineering, relatively on the doorstep.

Goal: To complete the Crib Goch walk from the Youth Hostel to the Summit of Snowdon.

Outcome: Fail. The intel I used wasn’t very accurate. Although the weather was superb, due to poor logistics (buses) we didn’t start the walk until 1 in the afternoon).

Its on next years list, and I’m going to do it this time.

Climb Helvelyn.

Helvelyn - a mountain I've dreamed of climbing for 2 decades

Background: A classic lake district walk, which for 15 years had evaded me. This year I was determined to crack it.

Goal: To stand on the top of Helvelyn.

Outcome: Success. A bit easier than I thought, just got in front of a single group of 40 people, otherwise would have taken 3 hours longer.


Looking forward to joining some of you in 2015’s adventures.

Near and far, the search for adventure continues…

CDWG Xmas do


After much procrastination, 3 and a half years ago, I finally attended a walk organised by the Chester and District Walking group.

Not long after I became a full member, and since then I’ve joined the committee as weekend events co-ordinator. It also enabled me to meet/make some great friends and meet the love of my life Nikki.

As well as a varied list of activities throughout the year, there are 3 annual events which the group organise.

The walk the walls summer pub crawl, the Christmas curry and the Christmas weekend away.

This year it was my 4th Christmas weekend away, and I was really looking forward to it.

Nikki and I took Friday off, and decided to head out early and do a walk on our own on the Friday, before meeting up with everyone in the evening to start the event “proper”.


After studying walking world  we decided to do a varied route up Pendle Hill.

As we drove up, we stopped at the motorway services for coffee and to buy a map. Annoyingly, the only OS maps that they had were for the lake district.

No put off, we continued on. When it came to doing the walk, we had a description of the walk with colour photographs (far from ideal) and as the route constantly referred to compass points.

We didn’t have my Suunto compass, so we ended up using this small thing from my first aid kit (connected to a torch and whistle for emergency’s).

We experienced all 4 seasons in the 4 hours we were on the hill and had to keep our wits about us, so as not to get lost.

In the end, we completed the walk and I was quite proud of our improvised navigation technique stalwart composure.

The picture above is our “equipment” and the one above, is me at the top of Pendle Hill (exhausted after being pelted with hale).


We arrived at the hostel and got organised.

We had 2 nights there, the first night we would be dining in the local pub, the following night having Christmas dinner together in the hostel.

Malham is quite a small village, so we headed for the Lister arms. Food and drink were superb, if the £4.70 per pint was a little expensive.

We had dinner with Dave and Amanda and an unfortunate incident where I fell over a cushion, before we had back to the hostel and off to bed.

Although I’m 6 foot 1, and theyre completely impractical, there’s something rather exciting and romantic about bunk beds 🙂


The following morning, after a cooked breakfast, we head off.

I spent the morning catching up with old friends, and before you know it, were at a waterfall known as Janet’s Foss.

In this picture, the excellent Amanda (of Dave and Amanda fame) and “none-weedy” Ray are present. NWR was discussing doing an organised walking trip to Morocco, and having been there twice I was able to assist.


A while later, we arrive at Gordale scar.

It was one of those Eureka moments for me.

Realising the only way to get through it, is to climb up or around a waterfall, I realise I’ve been here more than 20 years ago with with Fairbridge Drake.

I’d actually climbed up the waterfall in the pouring rain then. I had no interest today, as I posses a brain now, unlike 20 years ago, and a simple fall onto rocks could easily break bones.

In those days, I just got in the van, and they drove us to the countryside so I would have had no idea where I was.

A few people attempt it. In the end, my mate “Alpha male” Dave succeeds (and in doing so, strands himself from the rest of the group for the next 2 hours 🙂

We follow a different route, around over a hill and have some coffee.


On the final leg of our walk, heading for Malham Cove, we find the National Trust have setup tents to have a Carol service.

A few pork pies and mulled wine are purchased by the group (we’re nice people and we like to help charity’s and the local economy).


Finaly a view of Malham cove from the bottom (we’d had a break for lunch at the top).

Bad weather had been predicted for the day, so Graham (the outgoing Chair who organised the weekend and lead the walk) had arranged for a fairly short walk of just a couple of hours.


Which meant that we got back for about 2pm.

I thought it was nice to sit by an open fire and relax with friends for the afternoon.

This picture was taken by accident, but as the pints filled me up and the afternoon wore on, it reflects pretty much what I could actually see 🙂

In the evening, we had our Christmas meal, Secret Santa and I laughed and chatted with my friends into the night.


The following day, full English again. After some initial messing about, we got out.

An initial conversation about Peny Ghent didn’t stick, as people wanted to walk straight from the hostel.

Everyone expected the weather to be foul, but despite mud underfoot, the sun came out.

At one point, we walked through a field which was awful. Thinking aloud, I commented “what a bedraggled piece of sh1t field this is”. As I looked around, all my friends were laughing.

We stopped at a little cafe in the village which “encouraged” muddy boots (which is different, as most places only “allow” muddy boots).

We had cake and some nice coffee, before heading home about 2. Bath and drinks, then dinner in Artichoke to wrap up a brilliant weekend.

Thanks for Graham and Jo for organising. Another fab year, and I can’t wait for Christmas 2015.