Archive for January, 2014

Mardale Head


Today I went to undertake some voluntary work for the Lake District National Park on Gatescarth Pass at Mardale Head. The weather wasn’t brilliant but any day on the Fells in bad weather is better than a day in the office on any day.

Looking down from Gatescarth Pass to Mardale Head

Looking down from Gatescarth Pass to Mardale Head

Very wintry even on the lower slopes – and plenty of snow above 350m

Looking back into Mardale over Haweswater - one of my favourite views!

Looking back into Mardale over Haweswater – one of my favourite views!

Lowther Castle from the park on my way home after a good morning in Mardale

Lowther Castle from the park on my way home after a good morning in Mardale





Winter walking in the ‘Gorms’


Just back from a great week in Scotland with the first half being spent around Glencoe and the second half in the Cairngorms at Aviemore. The weather turned really wintry by the end of the week when I was doing a CPD weekend with the Mountain Training Association based out of Glenmore Lodge. On Tuesday the sunset as it faded was really good as I drove around Loch Linnhe – not a classic sunset by any means but the light was interesting as was the backdrop looking across to the Nevis Range.


Over the week I had some seriously good walking even though the avalanche forecast was considerable on the northern slopes and even managed a good grade 1 in Coire an t-Sneachda in the northern corries. By the weekend the weather became extremely challenging – high risk of cornice collapse, high avalanche risk, winds of 84mph gusting to well over 100mph, appalling (MWIS description!) visibility with extreme whiteout conditions and severe windchill! All in all perfect weather to undertake some continuous personal development with like minded folk!

On the saturday, we went out for some winter navigation training and ended up with one of our party destroying both crampons (snapped the bars on both feet) despite being a slim built female and walking normally over polished ice above Coire Laogh Mor. Most of the time on the ridge was spent staggering into gale force winds with zero visibility walking on compass bearings – nothing like it to test your skills!

On Sunday the weather was even worse for a day of practising steep ground skills – snow anchors, belays, etc. The road to the ski resort car parks was closed due to snow and high winds so we walked from Glenmore Lodge through the forest following the Alt Mor stream heading up to Castle Hill just to the north west of Chalamain Gap. However we only managed to struggle to the plateau level with Coire Chas before we huddled on the snow to avoid being lifted away by the wind. Sam pulled out her anemometer and measured the wind speed at 84mph constant – a clue as to why we were making slow progress now – time to change plan and head back to the safety of the forest and some low level skills practice!

IMGP1564This photo shows the blizzard conditions as I reached the foot of the headwall and you can just see the gully of Aladdin’s Couloir and the cornice at the top where I topped out.

IMGP1569This was the view on Saturday as we headed across the top of Coire Laogh Mor – Loch Morlich in the far distance  beneath the cloud and in the midst of Glenmore Forest. You can sense how strong the wind was as the spindrift hides the bottom of our legs as it thrashes across the slope.

IMGP1570At 1743 it was time to head down over the ridge to the warmth of a mug of tea, slice of cake and an evening lecture on avalanche safety.

Overall, the weekend was a tremendous experience in which to learn by skills practice but also by spending time with those that have much experience to willingly share – I for one cant wait until the next MTA CPD weekend. For further information or details see the Mountain Training Website at

Alternatively, if you want to develop or acquire mountain skills check out Glenmore Lodge at

Enjoy your winter wherever you are and above all, be safe.




addiction (əˈdɪkʃən)




  1. the condition of being abnormally dependent on some habit, esp compulsive dependency on narcotic drugs


vulnerability, subordination,enslavement, subservience, overreliance
= love of, passion for, attachment to, affection for, fondness for, zeal for, fervour for, ardour for
Well a new year clicked over last night and I reflected on what 2014 could mean for me and many others. So I thought about what I do and where I want to be during 2014. I brain dumped (not a long job I hear my friends say) and realised that I have developed something of an addiction! I don’t make resolutions that get all too easily sidelined my everyday issues or problems – instead I create personal objectives and mine for 2014 are as follows:
  • Undertake the Coast to Coast walk in reverse from Robin Hoods Bay to St Bees in June
  • Complete the Coast to Coast by bike in two days maximum (ideally in 1) in May
  • Walk Hadrian’s Wall
  • Walk the Cumbrian Way
  • Complete the Wainwright’s in 2014
  • Pass my Winter Mountain Leader Assessment in February
  • Gain my Level 1 Coaching qualification in Paddlesport in March
  • Realise a long term ambition to trek in the Himalayas
  • Rekindle my interest in landscape photography

As I listed them, it became apparent that I have become obsessed or addicted to outdoor activities and all it involves. Addiction or obsession sounded a little extreme so out came the Oxford Dictionary to verify if I was becoming ‘abnormally dependent on some habit’. Addiction is usually associated with some compulsive dependency on something harmful so that didn’t ring true. However looking at the synonyms associated with the noun and it became much more clear – love of, passion for, attachment to, affection for, fondness for, zeal for, fervour for, ardour for – I have developed an addiction for outdoor activity! I certainly love it – the freedom, the variety, the lack of human despoilation (in some areas), the need to protect it for future generations, and the need to learn more about the landscape of our planet.

Certainly the addiction brings challenge – time needed to pursue it – many of us are relatively money rich and time poor, with the knowledge that wasted time can never be regained or bought back from the grim reaper waiting for us all! The ability for those around us to accept our need to do these things that can sometimes be more than a little exclusive – after all its not everyone who wants to spend winter nights in snow holes, or camping in remote locations in adverse weather just to get that photo or bag that peak!

To be addicted to the outdoors or outdoor activity, fitness and health is paramount – or is it? Maybe the exercise, the fresh air, challenging yourself to move out of your comfort zone to learn more, the inherent risk associated with extreme sports actually helps you to remain fit and in rude health! One thing is for sure, none of us can foresee the future and what might be lying in wait somewhere down the line.

The only thing as humans we can do is ‘carpe diem’ or sieze the day – don’t allow yourself to put off until tomorrow that which you can do today!

So my addiction remains and I’ll chase my objectives hard in 2014 – they may not be earth shattering or for the benefit of greater mankind but maybe along the way I can do some good by volunteering with the organisations I work with, help some young adults grow and appreciate the needs of developing countries, give something back to those less fortunate than me, as well as creating some objectives for myself.

Good luck to all of you who have created resolutions and for those who haven’t, why not start to feed your addiction and work out how to make every day special for you and at least one other person on your way. Above all, get out there and enjoy the beautiful natural landscape that surrounds us here in the Lake District – it will definately improve your perspective on what’s important – have a successful and fulfilling 2014!

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