Monday 30 May 2011

Hawes Water

Distance: 6km; with Lynsey & Isabel

On the way home from Centre Parcs we decided that we would like to go for a walk and the Hawes Water walk in the Lancashire ATP guidebook fitted the bill nicely as it was only a short distance off the M6.  Therefore we set off walking shortly before 2pm under mostly sunny skies (although there was a brief shower soon after we started).

We followed a path through the woods for a while passing a couple of gates and path junctions before entering a field filled with wild flowers.  We took the obvious clear path across a couple of fields before re-entering the woods and trying to find Hawes Water, but to no avail.  It transpired that we had taken the wrong path across the fields so we were now a few hundred metres too far east with no easy direct way to the lake with the pushchair; clearly I should have actually been map reading rather than just following the route description in the guidebook!

We opted to continue along the path we were on and passed to the west of Gait Barrows before reaching a minor road, which we followed west for a short distance before heading south again on a path towards Hawes Water.  After a quick look at the lake, we soon left the woods again and re-entered the fields on a clear path, which we followed across a couple of fields.  We reached a stile and detoured left along the wall for a short distance to reach our outward route at a gate; this was where we had gone wrong earlier as the correct route was slightly hidden by a small rise in the ground.  We returned along the track through the woods and reached the car at around 3:45pm.

Sunday 29 May 2011

Dufton Pike

Distance: 7km; Ascent: 300m; Solo
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On a family long weekend away at Centre Parcs near Penrith, I took advantage of a free morning to head over to Dufton to climb Dufton Pike, which is a hill I had been keen to climb for a couple of years since first walking past it on the way to climb the higher fells to the east.

I set off walking from Dufton at around 8:45am and headed north-east along the track that passes to the south and east of the hill.  Soon after entering open access land, I left the track and headed north through a gate and ascended up a small path to reach the south-east ridge.  By now it was quite windy with occasional rain and I soon entered the cloud.  The summit of Dufton Pike (Marilyn) was soon reached, unfortunately without a view.

I opted to descend a different way to the ascent for a bit of variety and headed down the obvious north-west ridge.  I soon dropped out of the cloud and the views were good.  At the end of the open access land I had to take a small detour to the east to pick up a public footpath that led down to the Pennine Way, which I then followed back to Dufton.  I arrived back at Dufton shortly before 11am and headed back to meet the others for a spot of swimming.

Saturday 21 May 2011

Macclesfield Forest

Distance: 6km; Ascent: 240m; with Lynsey & Isabel

As the forecast was significantly better for today than tomorrow, we opted to go walking with Isabel today.  Lynsey had never been to Macclesfield Forest before and there was a route there in our Peak District ATP guidebook so we headed there for the day.

At the Trentabank Reservoir car park we enjoyed cake from the snack van before setting off walking at around 11:30am.  The guidebook handily informed us that we should follow signs for "Forest Walk 2", but this didn't seem to exist; there was however a "Blue" route that seemed to be the correct route so we followed that instead.  The ascent soon began as we climbed up the forest tracks towards Shutlingsloe.  After a while we reached a locked gate with a kissing gate next to it, which was unfortunately too small to fit the pushchair through.  Therefore we had to remove Isabel from the pushchair whilst I lifted it over the gate.

Eventually we reached the end of the ascent and continued along a reasonably level section of forest track with occasional views across to Tegg's Nose.  Soon we were on the edge of the forest and had excellent views across to Shining Tor and neighbouring hills.  Upon reaching the road, we turned left and followed it as our book advised that the next section of path was tricky with a pushchair (and there was also a further narrow kissing gate).

After a few hundred metres of road walking we rejoined the waymarked route where it crossed the road; however the gate here was too narrow for a pushchair so we had to lift the pushchair over a low fence to gain access to the path.  After a short distance we turned left over a small stream and continued downhill on a rough track, which was the roughest section of path all day.  Upon reaching the road again we were faced with a narrow gap stile in the low wall, which once again required the pushchair to be lifted over.

There was then a short section of road walking before we were able to rejoin the forest walk at a gate.  We then followed the waymarked path back to the car park.  It had been an enjoyable walk, although it was somewhat trickier than we had expected from reading the description in the Peak District ATP book, although this could have been due to changes to the forest walk since the book was written.  However after the walk I read the description for the essentially the same walk in the Cheshire ATP guidebook and discovered that is was graded 5 rather than 2 in the Peak District book and it handily mentioned the various obstacles too.

Sunday 15 May 2011

Bridgend Woodland

Distance: 4km; with Lynsey & Isabel

It was raining heavily as I packed the car at the youth hostel this morning, but by the time we reached the car park at Bridgend it had become lighter.  Our All Terrain Pushchair Walks book included one walk on Islay, so we planned to do that this morning before catching the ferry back to the mainland this afternoon.

We set off walking in full waterproofs with Isabel protected by the rain cover in the pushchair at around 11am.  The first section of the walk was along good forest tracks, which made for reasonably quick progress.  After we crossed the River Sorn, we turned right onto a less good grassy track although it was still plenty wide enough for the time being.  However as we headed further along the track it became narrower, although the majority of the time it was still just about passable with the pushchair, normally with at least one of the back wheels being in the vegetation beside the path rather than on the path.

There were also some very boggy sections of path, sometimes covered with flagstones, that required wheelbarrowing to get the pushchair through them.  By now the rain had pretty much stopped and it was beginning to get quite warm.  After reaching a crossroads, the path improved again and we were soon re-crossing the River Sorn and heading back up to the car park.  It had been a good stroll and a good final walk for the holiday.

Saturday 14 May 2011

The Paps of Jura

Distance: 18.5km; Ascent: 1430m; Solo
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Although Lynsey had had two days out hillwalking when we were on the mainland, I had deliberately saved one of my days to tackle the Paps of Jura.  My original plan had been to take the car over to Jura for the day, but as the SYHA hostel was locked between 10am and 5pm this presented a slight logistical problem for Lynsey & Isabel.  After exploring all the possibilities, i.e. the Jura bus, we concluded that the only way that I could do a circuit of the Paps of Jura and still make the last ferry back to Islay that day was for us all to go over to Jura and Lynsey to drop me at the three arched bridge.  I would then walk back to Feolin Ferry, which would leave Lynsey & Isabel free to return to Islay when they desired.

It was quite windy at the three arched bridge when I set off walking at approx 9am.  It was dry and overcast but low cloud covered the tops of the hills.  I followed a rough, occasionally boggy, path across the hillside south of the Corran River.  Every so often a group of two of three fell runners would pass me heading in the other direction, and a new group passed me approx every 20-30 minutes until early afternoon; they were participants in a sailing and fell running competition that involved sailing from Oban to Mull, climbing Ben More, sailing to Jura, doing a round of the Paps, sailing to Arran and then climbing Goatfell.

As I got closer to the Paps, the head wind seemed to get stronger and I began to wonder whether I was actually going to be able to get to the top of any of the hills.  I decided that it was likely that the wind was being funnelled through the bealach south of Beinn an Oir and down Gleann an t-Siob; hence I pressed on in the hope that it would be less windy once I was out of the valley.  This proved to be correct as I ascended steeply north towards Beinn Shiantaidh.

There were good views of Loch an t-Siob as I ascended, but I soon ascended into the cloud accompanied by rain.  The ground became more rocky with a mixture of small outcrops and lots of quartzite scree.  At one point on the ascent, the cloud broke and I got good views across to Corra Bheinn and out to see, but these were soon replaced by the inside of a cloud again!  The cloud remained light as I reached the summit of Beinn Shiantaidh (Graham) at 11:40am and it briefly cleared to the south east for a few minutes on the top.

It was very windy on the summit, but I was informed by a couple of passing fell runners that this was the most windy of the three paps today, which was good news for the rest of the walk.  After having an early lunch in the summit wind shelter, I headed off down the windy west ridge.  As I approached the bealach, the cloud cleared briefly and I got a glimpse of the onward route.

I initially took a direct line up Beinn an Oir, following a faint path over a few small scrambly sections.  About half-way up, I detoured to the north over easier ground; this may have been the long grassy rake mentioned in the guidebook, but in the mist it wasn't entirely clear.  After ascending west for a distance, I came across a cairn that in the mist looked to possibly be the summit, however it turned out not to be high enough.  I continued south west past the remains of a couple of buildings before reaching the trig point on the summit of Beinn an Oir (Corbett) at 1:30pm.

It was less windy on the summit, but I still took shelter in the wind shelter whilst enjoying the remainder of my lunch.  I set off down the south ridge, passing a few more fell runners on the way.  About two thirds of the way down the ridge, the cloud cleared and I got good views across the lochans in the bealach to Beinn a'Chaolais.

In the bealach I met the last group of fell runners of the walk who said I would find the ascent of the final pap fun as there was a long scree slope from this direction.  However, I managed to pick a line up on more stable ground just to the left of the scree.  There were good views across to Islay and Colonsay as well as of Beinn an Oir and down Gleann an t-Siob.  However there was still cloud hanging over the top of the hill, but after ascending into the cloud, I soon reached the summit of Beinn a'Chaolais (Graham) at 3:15pm.

The summit appeared to be perched right on the edge of the plateau and I would imagine there would be good views from here if it wasn't cloudy.  I didn't hang around very long as soon after I arrived at the summit it started hailing.  I picked a route down the south west ridge until I descended out of the cloud; then I headed directly for the vehicle track near Lochan Gleann Astaile.

I reached the vehicle track at around 4:40pm, with only just over an hour until the ferry.  Hence I walked very quickly along the vehicle tracks, whilst admiring the views across the Sound of Islay.  As it was getting closer to the ferry time, I kept looking across to the sound to check if the ferry had left yet.  Eventually I reached the jetty at Feolin Ferry when the ferry was half-way across to Jura; I had made it just in time!  A few minutes later I was back on Islay where I met Lynsey.  It had been a very good, but tough, day's walk.

Friday 13 May 2011

Gruinart Woods & more Whisky

Distance: 1.5km; with Lynsey & Isabel
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With the weather being a mixture of sunshine and showers, we went for a morning stroll on the Gruinart woodland trail.  There were views over Loch Gruinart from the viewpoint near the start of the walk.  The woods were filled with a carpet of bluebells and there was also plenty of gorse in flower.  We arrived back at the car shortly before midday and headed to Islay's newest distillery, Kilchoman, for lunch.

We spent the afternoon at various places on the shores of Loch Indaal, including visits to Bruichladdich and Bowmore distilleries and there were good views of the Paps of Jura from several different vantage points.

Thursday 12 May 2011

Islay's 'Singing Sands' & Whisky

Distance: 3.5km; with Lynsey & Isabel
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After a rainy start to the day we set off walking at around 11:30am in bright sunshine.  After passing Kilnaughton Bay, we ascended up a minor road before descending through a boggy field to reach the beach of Traigh Bhan.  The beach was a beautiful spot with the sweep of sand broken up by lots of little rocky outcrops.  Apparently this beach has 'Singing Sands'; however we were unable to get the sand to sing!

We headed north along to coast to the Carraig Fhada lighthouse, before continuing along the coast and returning through the sand dunes to the car.  We then headed to the Ardbeg distillery for lunch (and some whisky of course!) and then onto Lagavulin and Laphroaig distilleries.

Wednesday 11 May 2011

Port Lobh & Colonsay House Gardens

Distance on Port Lobh walk: 5km; with Lynsey & Isabel
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We had planned to go for a walk along the west coast north of Port Mor this morning, but we were thwarted by a lack of car parking possibilities. Instead we returned to the golf course where we had parked yesterday afternoon and walked south from there.

It was dry, overcast and windy when we set off walking shortly before 10:30am with Isabel in the rucksack carrier.  We headed past the airfield and down onto the pretty beach in the bay of Port Lobh. We then picked up a path over the next headland, where we got excellent views over the next beach, sand dunes and across to Beinn Oronsay. After returning to the car by a similar route, we headed back to Scalasaig for lunch at The Pantry.

Later that afternoon, after we had finished packing, we took tea & cake at the Colonsay House tearoom before going for a stroll in the woodland gardens. A lot of the paths were quite narrow, so we were a little bit restricted on what we could take Isabel along in the pushchair, but we still managed to do a pleasant circular walk. We returned to Scalasaig and boarded the ferry to Port Askaig on Islay.

Tuesday 10 May 2011

Beinn nan Gudairean & Tobar Fuar beach

Distance on Scalasaig hill walk: 5km; Distance on Tobar Fuar beach: 1.5km; with Lynsey & Isabel
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This morning we headed out on a walk in the hills around Scalasaig with Isabel in the rucksack. We followed the track behind our accommodation up into the hills. We soon reached the very windy summit of Beinn nan Gudairean where we briefly admired the view before descending to get out of the wind. We followed the track to the north to join the road, which we followed back into Scalasaig, with good views across to Jura.

Whilst Isabel was napping after lunch, I nipped up to the monument on a hill above Scalasaig from where there were good views, although it was quite wet and windy.  Later that afternoon after it had dried up, we all headed to the west coast for a brief amble around Tobar Fuar beach, where there were lots of mysterious slate cairns on some of the rocky outcrops on the shore.  We returned to our accommodation and shortly before dusk, I nipped back up to the monument to admire the sunset and the views across to Jura and Islay.

Monday 9 May 2011

Kiloran Bay & Carnan Eoin

Distance: 4km; Ascent: 140m; with Lynsey & Isabel
We had a restful morning in and around our accommodation including a wander down to Scalasaig to investigate the brewery, shop & post office, which is pretty much all there is in the village. After Isabel had had a good nap we headed out walking for the second half of the afternoon.

We set off walking along the beach at Kiloran Bay at 4pm with Isabel in the rucksack carrier. It was sunny and the views across the beach were good to the hills beyond. At the far end of the beach we met a vehicle track, which we followed as it ascended gradually. By now the sky had started to cloud over, but it was only a short walk up a small path through heather to reach the summit of of Carnan Eoin (HuMP), which we reached shortly before 5pm.

The views from the summit were good but it was very windy and it looked like rain was on the way so we didn't linger. After descending back to the vehicle track, we followed it behind the beach to reach the car shortly before 6pm, just as it started to rain.

Sunday 8 May 2011

Ganavan Bay & Ferry to Colonsay

We woke to heavy rain so having remained in the hostel for as long as we could we headed to Cruachan power station visitor centre for a look around the exhibition and some lunch. By the time we had returned to Oban and bought some food the weather started to improve. Therefore we opted for a short stroll on the beach at Ganavan Bay and the coast to the north. Again there were excellent views across towards Mull and Lismore.

Later that afternoon we took our first CalMac ferry of the trip, to Colonsay. The weather was now sunny and there were excellent views of the many islands that we passed on route to Colonsay.

Saturday 7 May 2011

Seil & Easdale

Distance on Seil: 3km; Distance on Easdale: 2km; with Lynsey & Isabel

As we had to leave our lodge near Oban this morning, we had a reasonably late start due to having to pack everything back into the car! We headed south to Seil and after a brief stop to admire the Clachan Bridge we drove to the southern tip of the Island at Cuan for our first walk of the day. We set off walking at 11:30am, with Isabel in the rucksack carrier, and managed to take a wrong turning and almost ended up in someone's garden (this of course is the problem with rights of way not being marked on OS maps of Scotland).

After seeking out local knowledge we were soon walking along the correct path north to meet the shoreline. The sun was out as we followed the shore northwards for 1.5km with excellent views of Mull and Easdale; we returned the same way and reached the car at 1:30pm.

We drove round to Ellenabeich and headed off for our second walk of the day; this time with the pushchair as there was a route on Easdale in our All-Terrain Pushchair Walks book. The ferryman kindly helped me lift the pushchair onto the small boat for the short crossing of Easdale Sound.

The walk was an anti-clockwise circuit of Easdale island past some of the interesting remains of its slate industry including many quarry pools. I took a brief detour to the highest point on the island to admire the views. Just as we were nearing the end of the walk it started to rain very heavily. As the ferry waiting room doorway was too narrow for our pushchair we went for tea in the island tearoom whilst the thunderstorm passed overhead. After 45 minutes or so, the storm had passed and the rain died down so we headed down to the jetty for the ferry back to Seil.

Friday 6 May 2011

Glencruitten Woods

As Lynsey was away climbing the Dalmally horseshoe for the day, I again had Isabel to myself for the day. Once the rain had stopped and the sun had come out I went for a short stroll, with Isabel in the rucksack carrier, in Glencruitten Woods to an excellent viewpoint over Oban Bay and Mull.

Thursday 5 May 2011


Distance: 12km; with Lynsey & Isabel

Today was the day that the weather broke and became more typical of previous trips to the west coast, i.e. overcast and rainy! We decided to go and explore the island of Kerrera, which had a route in our All-Terrain Pushchair walks book. The small ferry was designed to carry the occasional vehicle, so we had no trouble wheeling Isabel on in her pushchair.

We set off walking soon after 10:30am and it was drizzling intermittently. There were good views across the Sound of Kerrera as we followed the vehicle track around to the Kerrera Tea Garden. Luckily this also had an indoor room, so we were able to get out of the rain. By the time we had finished our good lunch the rain had pretty much stopped so we wandered down the grassy track towards Gylen Castle, which we admired from the pretty bay of Port a'Chaisteil.

After returning to the tea garden we continued on a less good vehicle track to the house at Ardmore. From here we headed north on a rough track, which required the front wheel to be locked and occasionally having to lift or wheelbarrow the pushchair over some of the more tricky obstacles. However the ride must have been comfortable as Isabel remained asleep throughout!

By the time we reached the vehicle track at Barnabuck, it was raining again and it continued to rain for the remainder of the walk. We followed the vehicle track eastwards back to the jetty to wait for the return ferry, which is when Isabel woke up. All in all it was a good walk with some good views despite the weather!

Wednesday 4 May 2011

Cruachan Horseshoe

Distance: 14km; Ascent: 1770m; Solo

It was now my turn to have a day out in the hills, so I opted for a round of the Cruachan Horseshoe given that it included my closest unclimbed munros (along with some munro tops and a corbett).  I set off from the road at around 10am and began the steep ascent up through the woods; it was already quite warm so the ascent was hard work!

Eventually I reached the track below the dam and soon started to ascend up onto the the south ridge of Meall Cuanail (Munro top), whose summit I reached at midday.  It was very windy here, but there were excellent views of Ben Cruachan and out to the west towards Mull, Morvern & Lismore.  I descended over rocky ground down to the bealach before ascending the south ridge of Ben Cruachan; the first 50m or so were up a scree path; this was then followed by areas of boulder fields.  I reached the summit of Ben Cruachan (Munro) at around 1pm and had lunch enjoying the excellent views north along Loch Etive towards the Glencoe hills and Ben Nevis.  There was barely any wind on the summit and in the other directions I could make out Jura, Rum and the Cairngorms.

I descended the east ridge, scrambling down a small gulley and continuing past an awkward slab to eventually reach the summit of Drochaid Ghlas (Munro top) soon after 2pm.  I continued heading east to climb up to the summit of my second munro of the day, Stob Diamh (Munro).  Again the windy was quite strong on the ascent, especially in the bealach, but it was quite calm on the summit itself.  The views from here were excellent, especially looking across toward Ben Lui and neighbouring hills.

I descened the south ridge and reascended to reach the summit of Stob Garbh (Munro top), with the sun still shining.  I continued south and descended to the bealach.  From here, Beinn a'Bhuiridh presented a uniformly steep unpleasant looking slope, which I slowly picked my way up.  Eventually, I reached the summit of Beinn a'Bhuiridh (Corbett) shortly before 4:30pm.  After briefly taking in the view, I hurried back down to the road to meet Lynsey & Isabel, where I arrived at 5:45pm after an excellent day in the hills.

Tuesday 3 May 2011


Distance: 8.5km; Ascent: 200m; with Lynsey & Isabel
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Due to the car having developed a new feature, we were forced to spend the day in Oban whilst the problem was being investigated.  Therefore we decided to do the walk from Oban detailed in "All-Terrain Pushchair Walks: Argyll & Lochaber" for the afternoon.

We walked up past Polvinster Duck Pound, where we were promised that ducks were always present; however there were none to be seen today; nevertheless, it was a pleasant spot.  After passing through some woods, we reached McCaig's tower, which was based on the Coliseum in Rome but seemed slightly bizarre in Oban.  However the views of Oban, Loch Linnhe, Kerrera, Mull and Lismore were excellent.  We returned to the sea front and enjoyed a welcome ice cream :)

Monday 2 May 2011

Sutherland's Grove

Distance: 4.5km; Ascent: 140m; with Isabel
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As Lynsey was out climbing Beinn Sgulaird today, I took Isabel out for a stroll in the backpack. We headed for Sutherland's Grove and set off walking soon after 10am on the Lochan Walk, which was variably described as 3 miles or 5 miles depending upon which sign you believed!

The path alongside the gorge was pleasant, but as it was so dry there was very little water so the waterfalls weren't particularly impressive. We reached the reservoir shortly before 11am, where there was a good view towards the nearby hills. On the descent through the forest there were good views of Loch Creran and we reached the car shortly before midday.

Sunday 1 May 2011

Beinn Lora

Distance: 6km; Ascent: 370m; with Lynsey & Isabel
With Isabel in the rucksack carrier, we set off walking from Benderloch at around 11am with barely a cloud in the sky.  We ascended steeply up through the forest with good views out over Ardmucknish Bay.  After a break to feed Isabel, we reached the edge of the forest where the views started to open up.  We continued to the summit of Beinn Lora (Marilyn), which we reached at 12:30pm; this was Isabel's first Scottish hill.

The views were excellent, especially towards Mull and Morvern, but as it was quite windy on the summit we didn't stay too long.  We headed back down to the edge of the forest, where we had lunch at a conveniently located picnic bench.  We returned through the forest, taking a slightly different route from the ascent and arrived back at the car at 2pm.  There was a cafe near the carpark, so we headed there to feed Isabel whilst Lynsey & I enjoyed milkshakes and scones.