Club Activity

Striding it out on the Yorkshire Three Peaks

posted 10 Jun 2019, 21:05 by Swindon Mountaineering [ updated 10 Jun 2019, 21:12 ]

Alastair Guinee

April 13

Trip report! At the end of March, 5 of us from the club went to North Wales to attend a Poor Weather/Night-Time Navigation training course. It was subsidised by the BMC and run at Plas y Brenin... on a very sunny weekend.

Myself and Ed traveled up Friday night so we could get some climbing in on Saturday morning (after a hearty fry-up of course). We climbed at Little Tryfan, a nice and popular little slab crag.

We met up with Lee, Theresa and Jane back at PyB in the afternoon for the training course. Our instructor was brilliant and very knowledgeable. He got us doing pacing exercises, where we would count how many steps it takes to walk 100m. It's a little antisocial counting steps whilst you walk, so an alternative was to time how long it takes to walk 100m.

Using these techniques help you keep track of how far you've walked. In zero visibility, you won't be able to see any reference points to help you.

We also covered compass bearings and back bearings, a part of the course where we all got to admire Theresa's state of the art compass.

Our guide also gave us some great map reading tips. A green dotted line on the map indicates a route with a public right of way.... but that doesn't necessarily mean there is a path there. A black dotted line indicates a footpath, ideally you want a black and green dotted line together. It's not uncommon to see a green dotted line on its own on the map and spend time looking for a path that doesn't exist!

Map clutter: sometimes there's too much information to display on the map, so some of it is left out. We used a river crossing which had been left off the map to make room for the name of a hostel (which they had likely paid to have on the map).

What can you trust on a map? Fences can move and can be taken down. Footpaths can become disused when shortcuts are found and become more well trodden. Be cautious when choosing features on the map to navigate with; what you see in reality might not match up. Stone walls are less likely to move, mountains... even less likely. Have features you expect to see along your chosen route which you can use to confirm you're still on track (tick features). Have an obvious feature to look out for that will indicate you've gone too far (check feature).

We found a flat forested area on the map, but when we arrived it was a hill! Sometimes discrepancies are purposely put on maps. If this "flat" region appeared on a rival map, it would show that the competitors had simply copied the map instead of surveying the area for themselves.

We finished the course by hiking up to the top of Crimpiau and back down, all in the dark. The technique here was to feel the steepness as we walked and constantly assess whether this matched with the contours on the map, using the lines as a guide.

We all really enjoyed the course, and learnt a great deal of new skills and refreshed old ones.

Sadly Theresa and Lee had to leave Sunday morning. Jane went for a walk, keen to test her navigation skills no doubt, and Ed and I went climbing again. This time we went sport climbing in the Australia quarry crag. I was blown away by the sheer scale of the quarry and thankful to survive my first time climbing on slate!

Thank you to Andy for organising the course and to those who came for making it so much fun. Hopefully we can organise something similar in the future!

posted 10 Jun 2019, 21:03 by Swindon Mountaineering [ updated 10 Jun 2019, 21:15 ]

Peak District 18th -22nd April 2019

Thanks to all who could make the Peaks over Easter. We camped at Upper Booth campsite just outside Edale, some of us arriving after work on the Thursday night and others arriving on Friday and Saturday.

Friday we all climbed at Birchens Edge and on our return to the campsite made the best of the weather by having a BBQ .

On Saturday Andy, Hannah, Tom, Vanessa and myself were joined by Chris, Dom, Marnie and their dogs Rufus and Winston from bucks Scouts climbing Club. We walked up the highest point in the peaks Kinder Scout. Chris and I took a small rack and a rope and climbed a route on Kinder Downfall called Zigzag. Theresa and Lee spent the day climbing at the plantation on Stanage Edge. On our return to the campsite we were joined by Ed and Emily. That evening we all enjoyed a hearty pub meal in Edale.

Sunday we all headed to a venue called Windgather, a friendly crag with grades for all abilities. That evening some of us walked into Edale for some well deserved pub grub.

Monday, after packing up from the campsite some of us went off and done the Hathersage traverse (shopping and breakfast) while others went walking and running, all making the best of the weather and putting off the journey home as long as possible.

Great trip guys, look forward to the next one!

Andy E.

(Edit post)

Scotland, Ben Nevis and Glencoe, 4th March - 12 March 2017

posted 26 Sep 2017, 17:57 by Swindon Mountaineering [ updated 10 Jun 2019, 20:58 ]

Participants, Clive, Andy D, Sid, Mike P, Chris, Ed, Lee, Theresa, Martin, Simon.

Organised by Chris and Theresa.

As has become an SMC tradition, the winter meet travelled north to Scotland, and for 2017 was based in the Glencoe and Fort William area. Three four berth cottages were booked for eight nights in Ballachulish in Glen Coe, and in addition a number of nights were also booked in the CIC hut located under the north face of Ben Nevis. This allowed some flexibility depending on weather and conditions.

The 2017 Scottish winter had so far been one of the mildest on record, and any snow and ice buildup had been quickly depleted by a succession of warm winds from the south and west. Therefore, as we travelled north on the Saturday, expectations of good winter conditions were suitably realistic, more so as we passed the Lakes looking more summery than wintery. However, as we arrived in Glen Coe, at least the weather was good and was forecast to stay so for the next few days.

Our three cottages were fairly modern and well equipped, although a succession of toasters, kettles and storage heaters gave up the ghost during the week. Importantly, the website promises of nearby facilities (always a critical factor in selecting climbing accommodation) were fully met - a pub, restaurant, supermarket and a fish and chip takeaway, all within a couple of hundred yards. We checked out the pub that evening.


An early start, I seem to remember 7.30 am, saw us driving north through Fort William to the north face car park, from where the path to the CIC hut started. It was a cool sunny morning and, shouldering heavy packs with enough gear and food for up to three nights, we started the two hour slog up to the hut. A well made path took us through the conifer forest on to the mountain side and increasingly impressive views of the north face with a reasonable snowcover. The sun had now cleared the cliffs of the north east buttress, and necessitated removal of excess clothing.

On arrival at the CIC,we had a quick look around and spread sleeping bags on vacant mattresses , and as the day was yet young, decided to do an easy climb up to the summit plateau. No 5 Gully seemed to fit the bill, a 450m Grade 1, easily angled snow all the way to the top. The hoped for 50 mile views out to the Western Isles failed to materialise as the clear summit views seen on the walk in, were now obscured by cloud. A short walk south over Carn Dearg summit brought us to No 4 Gully which, although initially steep, was the standard descent route back to the hut.


Simon had joined us late the previous night, having dallied awhile in a Fort William cafe building up his fat reserves for hard days on the hill.

With a good weather forecast, two ropes of three tackled Ledge Route, one of the best routes of its grade on the North Face. It takes a zig zag route along a series of, (unsurprisingly), ledges, which alternately look down into No 5 Gully, and out over the Great Glen.

Descent was north down the slopes of Carn Dearg to join the path rising up from Achintee and along the Allt a Mhuilinn back to the hut

Two others made an attempt on Tower Ridge, fired up by enthusiastic talk from a guide the previous evening but missed the start in misty weather.


The forecast was for deteriorating weather conditions later in the day so most of us romped up and down the Douglas Boulder Gullies, and were back at the hut for some lunch by midday. We then packed up and walked out back to the car park and a welcome shower back at the houses.


A windy and stormy day meant a trip to Ice Factor for many, a windy bike ride for one and a minor epic on the Pap for another.


A wet start to the day but clearing to a brilliant sunshine with distant views. Six spent a long day on the Aonach Eagach and two climbed Dorsal Arete.


A poor weather day, with visits to Glencoe tea shops and local sites.


Several people drove home and others climbed Dorsal Arete along with many guided groups.


The remainder departed on the long drive south, and so ended the 2017 Winter Trip.

Easter 2012, Sid Withey

Seatoller campsite, Borrowdale.

With Martin, James, Dave, Tracy, Andy Dennis, Rick, and Bev cor 2 nights only

Lift up with James W plus Pan the Lab in the boot. Beautiful weather n. of Brum and in the Lakes until pm

Delivered dog to Ambleside after departing motorway at Penrith.

Friday, low cloud and drizzle followed by rain from early pm.

With Martin, James, Rick, Tracy, Dave and Andy

Parked at Honister, over Grey Knotts, Brandreth, Green Gable and Great Gable. Descended steep and loose scree to Beck Head and ascended both peaks of Kirk Fell. Retraced steps to Beck Head and contoured below Great Gable, crossing Ennerdale/Windy Gap path. Then contoured west of Brandreth in poor visibility back to Honister.

Saturday, weather improving through day, calm with bright intervals.

With Martin, James and Dave

From campsite up to High Spy and northwards down the ridge to Catbells followed by lakeside walk back to Grange. Picked up there by James' friend with prospect of climbing, but James only as M's gear locked in A's car

Sunday, mainly cloudy am, increasing wind and rain pm

am with Martin, Dave and Rick

Lift to Rosthwaite then up Castle Crag, descent to Grange and tea shop.

pm with Martin

Hard bash up to Bessyboot and Rosthwaite Fell. Difficult navigation in thick cloud and deteriorating weather and rugged confusing terrain with interesting scrambling, to Glaramara