Archive for August, 2013

Back from my travels and into my own backyard for some R&R

29/08/2013

After much of the summer touring Peru and Northern Morocco, it was just the kind of day that I had missed whilst away. Machu Picchu, the Amazon jungle, the Peruvian desert, the Moroccan Rif Mountains with its vast cannabis fields, gorges and Mediterranean backdrop all pale into insignificance with what’s on my doorstep.

The day was slightly overcast, but no rain or high wind forecast. With Linda working at Glenridding Tourist Information Centre, I decided to load the rucksac, put the kayak on the roof and head off to the Ullswater Valley with her.

I headed up Helvellyn to make the most of quiet slopes and calm weather and enjoy the edges. Fortunately by the time I got to the Hole in the Wall, the sky was still clear and visibility still ok. As soon as I hit the edge proper though, the cloud started to swirl and drop a little – just enough to make it eerie and restrict long distance views.

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The cloud just started to drop and swirl as I reached Striding Edge

It didn’t stop the enjoyment though – there is something special about Helvellyn in my mind – so much more so than any other peak in the Lake District – maybe it’s because I’ve known it for so long or maybe it’s because it has the most exhilarating ridge walk in the Lake District bar none! It is a special place and hopefully will remain so – no litter or mess like Scafell Pike, Ben Nevis or Snowdon – just craggy rocks that threaten those who abuse them!

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What a view – the Tower Rock and Red Tarn!

After reaching the Gough Memorial (always worth reading to remind you of how vulnerable we are) I headed straight for Swirral Edge to descend – the mist was now full on and visibility was probably 5m at best along the ridge line – enough to heighten the senses though! The view down Swirral Edge was a good one.

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The view along Swirral Edge towards Catstycam – I promise it’s there!

After just over three hours I was back in the car park and lunch with Linda before heading off to the lake with my kayak to get some much needed paddling on Ullswater. How perfect a lake it is – quiet, picturesque, unspoilt and so variable along it’s three distinct reaches. I paddled from Glencoyne up to Glenridding and up the Goldrill Beck to Side Farm before heading back down to Howtown and returning to Glencoyne – paddling the length of Ullswater or pretty close to it anyway. The views are always awesome from the water and today was no different as I looked up to the beautiful Place Fell from my kayak.

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Looking towards Place Fell from my peaceful spot

All loaded up and back to Glenridding by 1530 – 6 hours after dropping Linda at work – now that’s what I call a wholesome Lakeland day. Now to top it off with a pint of Cumberland Ale!

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Northern Morocco July 2013

27/08/2013
Sunset over Gibraltar

Sunset over Gibraltar on the return home

Just returned from Northern Morocco with a group from World Challenge. Needless to say the weather was hot and didn’t see any rain for the whole two weeks.
We started with a trek from Chefchaouen across the Rif Mountains to Oued Laou on the Med coast before undertaking a community project near to Tetouan.
Chefchaouen is an amazing medina with blue painted buildings and innumerable souks to meander through. Legend has it that the blue is more easy on the eyes in the bright sunshine than white and it was the sign of a jewish home.

Chefchaouen street

Chefchaouen street

The medina was superb with ancient walls protecting it from moorish marauders it has the feel of a safe town locked into a sun blessed valley.

After 4 days trek through the Rif Mountains and the vast cannabis fields we arrived at the mediterranean  coast town of Oued Laou, enroute to Tetouan where King Mohamed V was in summer residence.

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Lunch stop in a beautiful limestone gorge in the Rif Mountains

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King Mohamed V’s palace in Tetouan

The community project in Bousemial, near Tetouan gave the group plenty of time to practice concreting, bricklaying, digging, and painting skills! Some great work was done and new friendships made with the local community as we stayed with a family and even went to a traditional wedding (over two nights until 4am in the morning – although we left well before that!)

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The group with many of our local community helpers

After the project we made our way back north over the Straits of Gibraltar for a last night in the British enclave before flying back home.

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One of the smallest runway’s I’ve seen – just in front of the Rock of Gibraltar – they have to close the main road that runs across the runway when a plane lands or takes off!

There were plenty of signs of ‘britishness’………

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All in all, another great expedition with some wonderful people and we have left the community in a better position than when we arrived through some dedicated effort and friendships.


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