Solo projects

Date for your diary: Sat 23rd of May, My birthday “outing” in Chester.

Friends Ski-Ing

Reading the financial managers report for my pension the other day, it listed potential global risks.

A shrinking Chinese economy, tension in Ukraine and a fall in worldwide oil prices were listed.

But that’s not the real problem. There is a sickness in the people of Britain today, something that cuts through every culture, religion and social class.

I’m talking of course, about Ski-ing.

This sport has a veneer of respectability, which cleverly hides sinister and questionable goings on (in a fashion not seen since the days of Jimmy Savile !).

And I know what I’m talking about. I’ve suffered personally at the hands of this snow based jackboot of pastime.

Only the other day,  Nikki decided to desert me and waste a week of her time on this futile hobby (made all the worse, by taking 2 of our closest friends with her, Christine and Sue).

So, off to the slopes these “Jihadi brides” headed, and I was left to my own devices for a week.

But not so bad, it allowed me to do some solo projects of my own.

Ramshackl train to Buxton

My first project, was to return to Buxton.

I had many happy times there over the years, mostly with my friend Frank Walmsley.

I took the Friday off, and get the early train to Manchester, then another train to Buxton.

Surprisingly, I last got this train 20 years ago, and its just the same.

The High peak trail Buxton

I worked out a route involving sections of the High Peak and Tissington trails for my journey out (I would be staying the night at Hartington hall youth hostel).

It was fab to be alone with just the trail for company. I was in my element.

I continue walking and the weather improves

It was mostly grey during the day, with occasional spurts of sunshine.

Most importantly, it didn’t rain (which was good, as I’d covered 21 miles by the time I arrived at my destination).

Delightfully, there was a fish and chip van at the village when I arrived, so a warm bag of chips was my reward.


Hartington hall youth hostel

The youth hostel is a beautiful building. Some friends had stayed previously and showed me pictures, so it was on my list of places to stay for this year.

The usual efficient check in at the YHA.

My private room

I had some bad experiences last year at Castleton YHA, where some Chinese people thought 2am conversations with all the lights on in the dormitory was acceptable.

For this reason, I opted for my own room. On-suite, with full English breakfast, it all came to £32 for the night which I thought was a real bargain.

Once I’d showered and changed, I headed back into the main building. A couple of pints and a nice beef madras, before I relax with my book and a few more pints.

The staff and other residents were very friendly and I was completely at home.

But I was also exhausted, so away to my bed by 9:30pm.

Walking back to Buxton

I eat a breakfast big enough for 3 poeple to prepare me for the day, then rucksack on back, I set off.

A different route back to the centre of Buxton (18 miles, and mostly cycle routes, so a lot flatter).

My fantastic tent

At 13, Frank and I went camping, and I was introduced to Cold stream farm camp-site.

I’ve been there a few times since, and it always has special memories for me.

My 2nd night, wasn’t as comfortable, but in my little tent, with my kip mat and sleeping bag, I was set up nicely.

A couple of pints and dinner in the town, then back to my tent for some shut eye.

In the morning, I made a cup of coffee on my stove, packed everything away, and headed into town where I had breakfast and got the train home.

Back in my house for 1pm, a hot bath beckons. Overall, a smart little weekend away.

Daily express

For the next 5 days, I’m back at work in the daytime and catching up with stuff in the house in the evening.

I saw this headline. I really couldn’t care less about Jeremy Clarkson, but ‘Walking adds years to your life’, just confirms something I’ve always believed anyway 🙂

The Snowdon Ranger Youth Hostel

The following weekend, I’m heading for Snowdonia.

I meet Sam and Dave in Wrexham where we have dinner at Elihu Yale (a Witherspoons pub I’ve grown fond of). Apparently, Elihu Yale founded a University in Wrexham, and then later founded the famous University in America.

I have a nice steak and a pint for the unbeatable price of £8, then we set off.

A weekend had been arranged by Birmingham IVC.

They had booked exclusive use of the Snowdon ranger hostel, somewhere I’d always wanted to stay.

Throughout the weekend I was endlessly impressed with how organised they were, with rota’s for cooking and washing up (the hostel is closed at certain times of year and only opened for exclusive hire. In this case, the warden had turned up, unlocked the doors, turned on the power and left us to it!).


The Watkin path completedVarious groups head out the next day. I’ve got clear and exact plans of what I’m going to do.

Last year I’d attempted to walk every route up Snowdon, but failed due to not completing the Watkin path (and indeed a failed attempt in January this year).

So, I set off with Sam and Dave, and we drove to the start of the walk.

The weather was quite horendous. Very near the top, there was a decision about whether we should continue. I saw some people coming down the hill, so it was decided we’d ask them how for to the top, and go from there.

The path had become very hard to follow, and it turned out we were going the wrong way. The lads said they could get us back to the path, but Dave and Sam decided to call it a day.

Left at the path, I set off on my own. Freezing, trousers soaking, with only a cheese sandwich from the Moneypenny canteen to keep me going.

It was only 2k I was told. The first was pretty flat, but the one after was really steep, and at times I was climbing through scree and snow on my hands and knee’s.

A while later, the path I’m on joins the Ryd Du path and I know I’m only 300m from the top.

At the top, I get a quick photo taken, then off down the hill (this time I’m going down the Snowdon Ranger path, which will take me straight to the hostel).

Walking back down the Snowdon ranger pathHalfway down, the clouds clear, and I get this view down the hill.

Arriving back at the hostel, Sam and Dave are snoozing. I have some hot chocolate, get a shower, then get an hours sleep.

In the evening, we have another excellent meal, washed down with cans of Tesco lager 🙂

Happy and content, I drift off to sleep.

Caernarfon castleNo clear plans for Sunday, but the weather was very wet again, and there wasn’t much enthusiasm for the walk I wanted to do to Marchlyn Mawr.

Instead, over breakfast we heard from some people (who’d been the day before) that Caernarfon castle was having some building modifications, and because of this, it was free entry.

Off we went, explored the castle for 2 hours, had a pint at the Black Boy pub (amazes me they get away with calling it that) and then head back to Wrexham.

Dave drops me off at the station and 3 minutes later I’m on a train thundering towards Chester.

Later that day, I’m re-united with my darling Nikki (after almost a week, I’ve forgiven her ski-ing foolishness) and we have dinner at Artichoke.

Two adventures over 2 weekends. Not much time for admin and faffing about, but life as its meant to be lived in my opinion.

Near and far, the search for adventure continues…

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