newsletter 33 – December 2009


NEWSLETTER 33               December 2009







Forthcoming meets  

– our planned events
for January – August, 2010                                     

Helvellyn Hostel Pack
– October, 2009

– Colin reports on the
trip with Keith, Michele, Anna, Szymon,

    Izabela, Mirek and Olifka.                                                                     

Climbing Instruction
– October 2009

– Michele, Steve,
Colin and Saul                                                                

Cadair Idris – September

– Keith, Michele,
Szymon, Colin, Anna and Bernice                                  

Fort Augustus,
Scotland – October 2009

Colin with friends
Trevor and Sue.                                                             

Colin's seasonal tip                                                                                  

Novemberfest weekend                                                                            

Lucky Horseshoe  – September 2009

Colin, Eileen and
Anna finally get good weather in Snowdonia              

News from New Zealand

– a recent e-mail from
Ann and Mike                                                             

Homage to Catalonia

– Eileen reports on the trip to the Spanish Pyrenees                                     

Late arrivals at the
Mountaineers' Ball                                                       

Merry Christmas

         – one and all!




Feb 11th
-14th                                      Scottish
Highlands. Onich.

Bunkhouse. Contact Matt. Now taking deposits.


March 6th
– Carneddau

the 3000 ft peaks  in one day! Contact


April 10th
11th                                     Lakes
–  Wasdale.

climb and walk in Wasdale with Steve.


May 8th                                               Snowdonia.

with Anna.


(Whitsun)                                   Highlands
– Lochnagar.

trip.  Dates TBA. See Matt.


June 12th
13th                                      Corris.
North Wales.

at the Coventry MC hut with Ann & Mike.


June 19th
20th                                     Canoeing
on the River Wye.

prev. exper. needed, but you need to be a competent swimmer.  All kit provided.  See Andrew for details.


20th                                            Cadair

Solstice. Come and greet the new dawn with David.


July 10th
11th                                       Mid-Wales

with Colin.


14th                                         Peak

walk, bike with Keith & Michelle.


Other Events – all


( Autumn)                                   Skye
SYHA guided Cuillins
holiday.  (details from David)

– Odessa Valley                
(details from Eileen)

Reeks – West Cork, Ireland.   
(see Matt)



And there's much more than
this going on!  Visit us on a Thursday
at Attleborough Liberal Club, Bull St Nuneaton for impromptu activities, or
ring Colin on 024 76  372 
or Matt on  024 76 758 
if you can't get down. And don't forget our website at




News of these social events just in.  Please see Michele for further information.


Jan. 15th          ‘Aladdin'           
 –  Panto at the Abbey Theatre, Nuneaton

Mar. 20th         Bedworth
Symphony Orchestra


Helvellyn Hostel Pack – October,

Colin reports on the trip with Keith, Michele, Anna,
Szymon, Izabela, Mirek and Olifka.

     We gathered at the agreed meeting place near to Thirlmere a
little later than planned, possibly because our Polish and Czech friends were
enjoying their first visit to the Lake District and letting photo opportunities
get in the way of forward progress.

     No damage done, we set off for Stick's Pass on a mild and
sunny morning with pleasant walking. 
After more photos we slowly climbed and eventually turned into the mist
for Raise, Whiteside, Lower Man and eventually Helvellyn.  As time was getting on Colin and Anna
descended Striding Edge (Anna's number-one target) while the others descended
Swirrel Edge before going on to Catsyecam. 
Lower down we all re-connected before walking on to Helvellyn Youth

     The hostel was fine and it was a bit of an innovation for me
to have my hostel meal served to the table by the staff rather than have large
amounts of mashed potato scooped onto the plate at a serving hatch. 

     Later, whilst watching TV in the common room, we learned with
interest that in Poland ‘Fawlty Towers' is known as ‘Nice Hotel' and one of
their most popular TV programmes is ‘Poland Has Talent'.

     In the morning we organised our own breakfast, there being
more than just a passing interest in the impressive stuff that Szymon and his
friends were consuming. 

     Leaving the hostel we again made for Stick's Pass on a much
breezier morning.  Higher up, Keith,
Michele and Anna took in Sheffield Pike before catching us up at the pass where
it was quite cold and blustery.  Lower
down the walking was quite pleasant as we stopped for a break in the
sunshine.  Again interesting Polish food
came out of rucksacks with the sausage being passed around and going down very

     Back at the cars all was in order.  Thanks to the drivers. 

     A splendid weekend.


Climbing Instruction
– October 2009


Michele, Steve, Colin and Saul

     This was the second of the climbing days under the instruction
of Deborah Laugharne, who brought along trainee instructor Jim to help out.

     There were due to be more of us but circumstances conspired to
keep others away.  On the plus side,
those of us who could attend got more attention as a consequence.  On our day it was windy and cold so we were
directed to Yarncliffe Quarry rather than the original destination of Stanage

     Deborah was very organised and reassuring and I would
certainly consider engaging her for any future activity.

     We did Centipede (VD),
Corner Crack (D), Ant's Crack (S), Ant's Wall (HS 4a) and Ant's Arete (HS 4a). 

     Steve also did Wake Me If I Die (E1 5b).  We spent some time practising setting up
belays before moving on to Grindleford Station café for a drink.

      Excellent day!


Deborah Laugharne's website at



Cadair Idris –
September 2009


Keith, Michele, Szymon, Colin, Anna and Bernice meet
up with Ann Hobson, Mike, Steve and John from Coventry MC.


     From Minffordd we
climbed up the main path, with Bernice and Michele soon deciding to do their
own thing.  The mist gradually began to
break up, but not until we came out of the summit shelter. 

     Steve and John from
Coventry moved off

more quickly, while the remaining
six continued to Gau Craig at the eastern end of the ridge.  From there it was a steep descent to the
road and the track back to Minffordd, with the afternoon and evening being the
best part of the day.

Fort Augustus,
Scotland – October 2009


Colin with friends Trevor and Sue.


23rd – Glas Bheinn
and Meall Mor

Two small hills either side of
the Rannoch Moor road on the way up. 
You have to start early for this. 
Wet underfoot.

24th – Meall Dubh

Wet underfoot and some rain from
above but another one for the list.


Rain, but cleared up enough for a
ramble to a nearby hill for a trig point.

26th – Carn a'
Chuillin 816m

No rain today but dull throughout.  Some pretty empty country for as far as the
eye could see.  Two ptarmigii (sic).

27th – Carn Mhic an
Toisich 680m

Rained steadily until about 2.30 pm.  A long way across a very wet moor.  Highpoint – successfully getting the car off
a wet grass verge.

28th – Meall a'
Chrathaich 679m

More rain than expected according
to the forecast.  A couple of sunny
spells were quite nice but the moor was saturated.

29th  – Drying out.

30th – Creag Dubh

Drove to Glen Roy to try and miss
the rain.  Failed.  Short walk but gear wet through again.

31st – Carn a'
Chaochain 706m

Given permission to park near to
farm.  Covered in mud with coos (sic)
all over the place.  Drizzle with mist
higher.  10 km of moor saturated.  Rain. Eventually reached summit but driven
on by Sue to trig point beyond, which was one of the very few not yet visited
by our trig group.  (Playing silly baggers again! – Ed.) On return streams much higher
with one in particular not far short of requiring wading!  Would have made little difference.

1st Nov

Drove south to Trevor and Sue's.  Rain in central and southern Scotland
awesome.  Several river valleys in
Northumberland flooded.  Had to wait for
2 hours while Trevor's car was sorted by the RAC.



Colin's top tip for maps 'n
stuff.  Check it out!

(eg Landranger £4.89 not
£6.99, Explorer maps £5.55 not £7.99)



Colin reports on his trip to the Brecon
Beacons with Debra, Keith, Michele, Richard, David, Matt, Eileen, Sheila, Andy,
Saul, John, Szymon and Izabela.


Bwlch gets our vote

     The Star Bunkhouse is situated in Bwlch between Crickhowell
and Brecon and convenient for the Brecon Beacons and the Black Mountains.  It cannot be said that the weekend was
anything but wet, but if you missed it you missed out and I would certainly use
this location again.  There was a
definite lack of house rules (unlike some recent places we've stayed in).  We were just left to be sensible and to get
on with things.  Also the pub across the
road was very welcoming, as was the one used by many of the group on Saturday

Friday – the clans

     On Friday Debra and I got out on nearby Tor y Foel.  At 551m. this wasn't really mountainous, but
very pleasant other than for the fact that the ground was saturated and it was
slow going across wet fields.  Keith,
Michele and Richard also got out onto Sugar Loaf near to Abergavenny, where
they presumably had a similar experience. 
Early arrivals settled in while messages were passed to the others
warning of a massive traffic build-up at Monmouth.  Those who missed the message were there for a long time.


David gets extreme

     Saturday was wet. 
While Izabela stayed in doing all of our washing-up chores David headed
off for the Brecons.  It was
appalling.  At one point David was on
all fours in the mist, wind and rain when he passed a soldier crawling along in
the opposite direction.  Pen y Fan was
missed out as being too dangerous before he headed back. 

Colin gets furtive

     I also did my own thing, heading for Myarth from the
bunkhouse.  ‘Where?' I hear you
say.  Well, it's a hill bagging
thing.  All you really need to know is
that folks aren't really welcome on Myarth so doing it in the rain on a
November morning is about the best way to go undetected.  Even farmers and gamekeepers have a morning
in bed from time to time.  Sorry to turn
down your offer to come with me, Eileen. Your company would have been welcome
but that bright red cagoule might have attracted the wrong kind of attention.

The rest get round

     The others headed for Cefn Moel and the round of Llangorse
Lake from the bunkhouse.  With the rain
and wind the group split up but most ended up in the pub at Llangors.  Three cheers for the bloke in the pub who
offered Sheila a lift back to the bunkhouse, as she was really suffering with a

     Keith and Michele tried a second hill but got blown and
buffeted about, while Eileen's group rounded the lake (much bigger than usual)
and ended up walking along flooded roads. 
If you haven't seen Saul's photos via e-mail or on our Facebook site
then have a look, particularly at the one of Szymon, who looks as wet as we all
felt.         Back
at the bunkhouse we took it in turns putting our stuff in and out of the drying

Everybody loves Saturday night

     The evening went well. 
There was plenty to eat (and more for breakfast and lunch) and we all
sat around a large table together.  The
buffet system seems to be here to stay – and a very good system it is too.  There was lots of variety and we have some
pretty good cooks nowadays.  Alcohol
consumption was down on last year, but that would have been a difficult one to



     Sunday morning started bright with promising sunshine.  However, by the time we were all ready to
leave it was pouring again and everyone had a very good reason why it was not
convenient to go out.  Many thanks to
all the organisers, chefs and drivers.


So, where is it to be next year?

Lucky Horseshoe  – September 2009


Colin, Eileen and Anna finally strike it lucky in

   All previous attempts by Anna to do the Horseshoe and to see
something of it as well had failed.  So
with the possibility of a decent day we parked up at Pen y Pass (now £6 per
day) for another try. 

     Higher up it was misty, but as we climbed it
began to break and although cool it remained mostly clear. 

   We crossed Crib Goch but it was 2.15 before we reached the summit,
where it was quite busy for a Thursday. 
Testing out the new café was expensive (You have been warned!) but the
building and interior weren't too bad. (Praise
indeed, Colin! – Ed.)

   We descended the Watkin Path,
where it is a bit steep and loose, before climbing

Y Lliwedd and descending back to
Pen y Pass for 6.05pm. 


     Good day!


Breaking news from New Zealand


Colin forwards a recent e-mail from Ann and Mike:

We are still  having a
lovely time in NZ.

Flew to Bangkok, saw Buddhist temples. Flew to Auckland in the
North Island, cycled East Cape Ride – 300 miles. Day trek on the Tongariro,
crossing emerald-green volcanic lakes. Rotarua thermal springs.  Wellington City – lovely rose gardens, ferry
over Cook Strait to Picton.  Went to Marlborough
Sound – a day walk on the Queen Charlotte Trail.  Kaikora, whale watching (no whales, but saw albatross, great!)
Have seen lots of varieties of native birds, great with my binoculars! 


Next trip is 6-day trek: The Grand Traverse, Greenstone and
Routeburn.  We stay in huts.  Weather has been very good. All the flowers
are in bloom:  honeysuckle, roses,
lupins – all growing wild.


Now in the South Island, staying with a friend of
Mike's.  Yesterday we got back from a super trip on Doubtful
Sound.  This was an overnight trip on a ship in a fjord.  We saw
penguins, dolphins and seals.  The weather wasn't brilliant but the
food made up for it.


Today we did a delightful walk on Ben Lomond, with wonderful views
across the lake.   Queenstown is near too.  



Love from Ann and Mike



Homage to Catalonia


Eileen reports on this year's trip to
the Spanish Pyrenees in August / September with Keith, Les and Ann.

Acclimatisation and culture

     Easy Jet flight from
East Midlands Airport to Barcelona, arriving in the city at about

6 pm on the Wednesday evening. 
We booked into our hotel, which was conveniently situated near the city
centre and spent some time exploring, booking bus tickets and finding somewhere
to eat.

     We spent the following
day exploring the city initially on the city tour bus then on foot. I found
Barcelona to be an amazing place and very easy to get around, having a very
efficient metro system. Ann and I went to a concert in the evening – two
excellent classical guitarists playing amongst other things pieces from
Carmen.  The concert was performed in a
church, so excellent acoustics. The men went off to find a bar.


Wind Horses

     Friday we caught the bus
to Baga and to the mountains. The route we had chosen was called Cavalls Del
Vent (Wind Horses). As well as a hiking route this is also a competition route
for hill runners. I think the record holder completed the route in just over 9
hours. Our plan was to do it in 5 days.


Bus to Baga (altitude 788m) 8.5 km walk (3hrs 15 mins excl. breaks)
to the Refuge de Rebost (1,640m). Although the paths were well marked, the
trail was marked with orange spots or circles; they were not always that easy
to follow. 


Rebost to Cortals de l'Ingla Shelter (1,610m).  We started the day walking through a black
pine forest.  Then into alpine meadows,
followed by quite a strenuous climb to the summit of LaTosa (2,537m). A short
break at the Niu d'Aliga shelter then along the ridge and a big descend into
the Moixero Meadow, calling in for a cup of tea at the Serrat de les Esposes
shelter before making our way on to the Refuge at Cortals de l'Ingla. We were
treated to the most spectacular mountain scenery throughout the day, and on the
wild life side managed to see lots of alpine flowers, a few eagles and wild

Day's total: 22.6 km with 1,600m ascent
and 1,590 m descent.  Total walking time:
8 hrs 25 mins (excluding breaks).


Cortals de l'Ingla Shelter to Gresolet Shelter (1,280m), again
walking through spectacular mountain scenery, alpine meadows, pine forests and
mountain scree. The route is very rocky in places as we pass through the
Grosolans mountain pass (2,430m), crossing from the Moixero Massif into the
Cadi Massif. Great views of eagles, and Les managed to spot a couple of
chamois. The last 3.3 km of the route involve 570m of descent which was very
severe in places.  I found this rather
challenging to say the least, but we all made it without incident. 

Stats for the day: Distance 24.6 km with
1,560 m ascent and 1,842m descent.  Total
walking time: 10 hrs 45 mins (excluding breaks).


When we got there…

           … the shelter was bare.

     To this point all had
gone to plan, but when we arrived at the Gresolet shelter we found it deserted.

     The dormitory was open
but no signs of the warden. We sat and waited for a while and then discussed
our options. No one fancied the difficult 3.3 km climb back up to the last
shelter we had passed.  We did have a
few bits of food between us, crisps and the like, and we did have access to the
dormitory so, at a push, we could stay but would have no food for the following
day. Unlike all the other shelters there was another building a little way up
the hill and Keith and Les went to investigate. Our luck was in as it turned
out to be another refuge. This one was built in the 1800s and was an
extraordinary building,


attached to a church and little changed since the time of
construction. Although it was not officially open, the owner – a lovely lady
called "Esperanto" – very kindly took us in, cooked us a meal and provided us
with a bed and breakfast. Unfortunately, she only spoke Catalonian, which made
conversation a bit difficult.  However
with Keith's Spanish and a bit of sign language we got by.  Keith was all for torching the other shelter
(Way to go, Keith! – Ed.) and we
barely restrained him from heaping all kinds of ills on the warden, who had
returned by the time we left in the morning. After saying our farewells we set
out on our next leg of the circuit.



Gresolet Shelter   –    Sant Jordi Shelter

The Gresolet shelter is at the lowest altitude (1,280m) of all the
shelters and the morning started with a climb up to the Coll de la Bauma
(1,577m), mainly walking through forest with lots of thyme and lavender bushes.
Here again we encountered a problem: the route was being re-marked, and we
dutifully followed the markings but ended up in a village quite a distance from
where we should have been. We located where we were on the map but still had a
lot of difficulty finding our way through the forest to where we should have
been. This cost us about three hours. We eventually found the right route and
continued to descend into Cal Cerdanyola (910m), the lowest point on the
circuit. The route from here starts to climb, with lots of stream crossings,
scrambling over large boulders and fairly steep and rough terrain. This was
probably the most strenuous but exciting part of the circuit and when we
eventually arrived at the Sant Jordi shelter we were all exhausted. We had
planned to carry on to the Rebost shelter a further 11 km away but at
17.30  it was too late to start out and
still make it in time for dinner at 20.00 hrs.

Day's stats: Difficult to work out
exactly but in the region of 20-24 km. 1,040m ascent, 780m descent. Walking
time: 9 hrs 15 mins.



Sant Jordi shelter  –  Baga (788m)

From the shelter we headed in a southerly direction towards the Ca
L'Escriu (1,310m) and over the Col (1509m), then downhill through beech and
pine forests to the road. We followed this road for 4 km back to the small town
of Baga, where we had time for a leisurely lunch before catching the bus back
to Barcelona.

Day's stats: Distance 11 km. 199m ascent,
788 m descent. Total walking time: 3 hrs 30 mins. 


Warming down…

   …and more
culture for some

On our return to Barcelona we had another rest day sightseeing. Ann
and I went to the Gaudi Museum, the guys to the Sea Life Centre.  Then we headed for the beach to catch some
rays and top up the tan. We had a further morning in the city before catching
the bus back to the airport and our flight home.


About the route

The Cavalls Del Vent is a circular tour of

97 km from Baga back to Baga, although we did more, having deviated
from the route on a couple of occasions) There are 8 refuges or shelters on
route and we were given a card so that we could collect the stamps from each
shelter to prove that we had completed the route. The refuges provide a very
good evening meal, bed in a large dormitory, breakfast and basic washing and showering
facilities. Like all places, some are better than others. Most sell drinks and
snacks. It was late in the season so we had most of the refuges to ourselves.
The weather was hot and sunny throughout with temperatures in the high twenties
and early thirties.


Marks out of 10…

I think that this has been one of the best club trips so far. The
walking was challenging at times, with long days, but very rewarding with
spectacular views and varied terrain. I loved Barcelona, where we found lots of
interesting things to do and see on our rest days. A great combination and a
great contrast – from the noisy, bustling city to the quiet solitude of the


And finally…

For any fans of I'M SORRY – I HAVEN'T A CLUE, here are this
issue's late arrivals at the Mountaineers' Ball.   


Just in time for the Ladies'
Excuse-Me, would you welcome please:


Mr and Mrs Beenah and their snappy, screwy daughter Cara,


From South Wales…   Mr and
Mrs Vann and their daughter Penny,


And all the way from South Asia…

    Mr and Mrs Oo and their
achingly cool daughter Kate.


A massive



to all our
contributors.  Great stuff!  Keep it coming!




If you've
got a great story but no time to write it up, give me a ring and I'll interview
you for the mag.

– Andrew



The views
expressed by contributors are not necessarily those of the editor or committee.


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